I don't know how we get from here to a place where these problems become solvable (or even what that place looks like) and from there to a world that is actually going to sustain us again. So its hard to have much confidence that we have much of a future beyond the later part of this century. My children will by my age then and I don't envy them.
Generalization: most of those problems are political rather than technical, and unlike with technical problems, if you make a wrong guess about how to solve a political problem, the costs might be unboundedly catastrophic (e.g. world war).
I personally believe that the best response to global warming is open borders, because it would mean that all the people who:
* are living in the global south could relocate somewhere colder and further inland, if they wanted;
* are subsistence farming, but who would be great engineers, scientists, etc. given the right opportunities, would be more likely to get those opportunities.
Most people think that open borders would be bad, and I don't think I will be able to persuade them otherwise in my lifetime.
In general, alternatives to persuasion in politics amount to seizing power and/or changing the rules of the game. Even if I thought I could do that, which I don't, I wouldn't, because all too often in history, the cure is worse than the disease.
That's why I think these problems are hard -- and why I'm scared of people who propose grand solutions to them.
The US used to accept basically anyone, but it did not have any Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, unemployment benefits, etc. In EU states, the problem is even more severe, as they provide more benefits, to those who pay taxes an to those who don't alike.
So, high life standards, advanced social protections, open borders: pick any two.
The opposite is true. Immigrants generally work very hard and accept minimal wages. (This is one reason why many citizens would prefer not to compete with them in the labor market.) Their labor can be highly effective in supporting an economy with strong, potentially expensive, social programs.
In the US, our problem is that we've found that we can make them work even harder for even lower wages, and provide them even less social support, by making them "illegal."
Not if they are eligible for social programs without working hard, then you get a different kind of immigration than US gets. US gets hard working people since immigrating there as a non hard working person is just dumb. However when Europe takes refugees who are eligible for social programs as soon as they arrive then they don't really get hard working people, those are the kind of people you would get more of if you opened your border and gave everyone the same social security nets.
The economy provides tax dollars. If immigrants are working hard for low wages, they're supporting the economy and economic growth. You're thinking very unclearly if you gauge the economic impact of a worker, or a class of workers, solely on how much income tax they pay.
That economic growth is going to shareholders, not the immigrants who are being squeezed for their labor at low wages.
People with high wages pay into social programs (Medicare and Social Security comes out of W2 income). Shareholders, via taxes on capital gains, do not. Ergo, underpaid immigrants are exploited by the shareholder class, at the detriment to society as a whole.
Economic growth for growth’s sake is not a metric to be chased when you're discounting quality of life to achieve it.
Do you have any sources on this claim? I'd be interested to read.
2. Your study is 20 years old.
3. The Center for Immigration Studies is not un-biased on immigration. The exclusive focus on Mexico might have been a giveaway. The first section of their Wikipedia entry:
“The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is an anti-immigration think tank. It favors far lower immigration numbers, and produces analyses to further those views. The CIS was founded by historian Otis L. Graham and eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton. The organization was founded in 1985 as a spin-off from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and is one of a number of anti-immigration organizations founded by Tanton, along with FAIR and NumbersUSA.”
It seems kind of insane how everyone crams into the same old cities.
Companies do it because the workers are there, workers do it because the companies are there, and every city just becomes a crowded, unaffordable hellscape.
Is it not possible to build new towns and expand them anymore? There's plenty of land as far as I can tell...
I also think that immigrants from a generation or two back tend to be spread out much farther. There's a large Indian population in the Detroit area, for instance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indian_Americans_in...
Bottom line: Immigrants, like the rest of Americans, go where the jobs are, and if that gets more spread out -- as might happen as a long-term response to COVID -- then so will the distribution of new arrivals.
Can't really speak to the experience elsewhere.
And ultimately, it may even work out in your favor to live in a high COL place. The rents are higher, but usually your pay is relative so proportionally cost of living is about the same. That means in a high cost of living state, x% of your income is more money to invest and grow, and over a career that can lead to a significant difference in wealth.
If you don't like the cities, why not take advantage of open borders leave?
Open borders seems to be the solution to your problem, not the cause.
> For instance, if the problem lies with migrant welfare use, the most keyhole solution-like approach is to change the rules, or enforcement of rules, surrounding migrant welfare use.
Another option is open borders with a migration tax .
At the end of the day, I think that once someone adopts the mindset that, prima facie, it's morally wrong to deny people the right to move where they wish, it becomes a lot easier to shift one's thinking away from "identify that there are hard problems and give up" to solving those problems.
This is just bad. The quality of my life is directly related to the amount of support people around me get. I'm expecting a reduction in social support for the poorest would directly lead to increase in crime. In addition, people generally want things like emergency services being available to everyone, otherwise they'd have to see people dying on the street. I'd rather avoid both of those, and avoid open borders, than have open borders, rampant poverty, crime and people dying on the street. "But without open borders, that problem just translates elsewhere - there are poor people dying of crime on the streets of Africa right now!" Yeah, but then let's solve that problem instead. It's much cheaper for me & my taxes to give someone in a low-PPP country social support, basic job, housing and medical insurance.
restrictions on use of welfare for immigrants seems "fair" in a sense. at least, it doesn't leave them worse off than they were in the first place. I have to suspect this is a non-starter politically though. outside of a certain group of libertarians, most people who think it's morally wrong to prohibit free movement probably also consider it morally wrong to let people starve in the streets once they get there.
The keyhole solution I favor would be something like: a US passport for 10 years, with no political rights or access to SS/Medicare/medicaid/etc., costs $10k, if you lived here for 10 years and didn't get arrested or anything then that transitions into full citizenship; maybe if you earned a certain amount of money/paid a certain amount of taxes in that time, you get your 10k back. Something like that, anyway.
(FWIW my first choice would be a much, much lower barrier to entry -- this is what I came up with to try to address concerns like those raised in this thread.)
But, again, if you accept that the default moral position is non-violence -- i.e. people have a prima facie right to move where they want, and if you threaten to hurt them for doing so (by putting them in jail, or making the only available border crossing extremely dangerous), then you are acting wrongly -- then I think it becomes natural to begin looking for solutions to whatever externalities you can think of. That's why I favor arguing the moral case for immigration before anything else: http://www.owl232.net/papers/immigration.htm
The difference is that humans have this unique ability: self awareness. Humans are able to see themselves as a separate entity, as opposed to other humans. This also us to reflect on our own needs and desires, but also about the desires and needs of other individuals. It's this ability that has led to the emergence of language, culture and technology.
A human economy is an extension of the behaviours you'd see in other species. It just so happens that humans are able to steer that behaviour. The trouble is that we aren't that good at gauging the extent to which we get to control individual as well as collective and emergent behaviour.
So, reality is layered. On an abstract level, a human economy is seemingly based off a complex set of artificial social constructs used by humans to describe and handle that reality; but on a much lower level, a human economy is the net result of emergent individual and social behavioural patterns which, in themselves, have a clear overlap with other species. The fallacy then is to try and draw a clear border between those two levels.
If you believe you are self-aware then I suspect that it's more a problem of recognition than self-awareness being absent.
If you don't believe that you are self-aware, that's really interesting. Please elaborate!
Certainly I think that's what my parents were implying when they accused me of it. At least I doubt they were worried I was a p-zombie.
There are approximately 570,000 homeless people in the US. Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $188 billion. The median price of a house in the US is $218,000. Jeff Bezos could buy every homeless person in the US a house at that median price, and still have $63.7 billion, leaving him the 5th richest person in the world.
And that's massively more money than is necessary to solve the actual homelessness problem in the US, which doesn't require 570,000 homes (because more than one person can live in one home) and doesn't require median value homes (because much cheaper homes are adequate). Yes, buying housing for hundreds of thousands of people would drive up housing prices, but surely a massive influx of capital would prompt more construction to meet demand. This is absolutely doable if Bezos decided to do it.
In short, the entire US housing crisis is smaller than a manufactured scarcity that only exists because Jeff Bezos has decided that $63.7 billion isn't enough incentive to work at Amazon, so 570,000 people should be homeless.
I realize I'm singling out Bezos here--yes, Bezos is a terrible person, but there are other billionaires who could easily solve the US housing crisis, and there's an entire system of people who have sided with the billionaires over the homeless time and time again. The responsibility for this travesty doesn't rest solely on Bezos' shoulders.
I also realize that homelessness isn't our only problem. There is real scarcity, and simply fixing income inequality isn't going to fix all scarcities.
But there can be no doubt that at least some of our most chronic problems only exist because there is a consensus that solving those problems isn't worth the wealthy giving up a portion of their wealth. You can argue whether that's justified or not, but you can't argue that these problems aren't solvable.
 188,000,000,000 -(218,000 * 570,000) = 63,740,000,000
What about the people living in those homes now? Where do they move? And: Wouldn't the price of homes rise if Jeff Bezos were to start buying them up?
With recent cash injections by the US Fed and government totaling over $5 trillion, loans or not, we've demonstrated that the dollar is not scarce. Even in the face of inflation worries these injections will probably continue to offset losses and try to make the current administration not look as bad for mishandling the pandemic and following economic crisis. The inflation worry seems mitigated by international use of the dollar with maybe 10x more people interfacing with the currency in some way week to week versus just the US population. People working as Economists vs me with just a degree say things like "...the sharp drop in demand and prices for certain services and energy implies a significantly lower trajectory for both core and headline inflation." I'm not saying it won't catch up to the Dollar eventually, just that the short term worries seem appear offset by the massive pool of international users and curbed by the projected loss of GDP across that pool. I will not that this is not the same during economic booms, in fact that's exactly the right time to pull cash out of the system via higher taxes as it is being generated by the economy and productivity, not the Fed.
Before those injections, I've always thought that if we can provide the better part of a trillion dollars per year to Defense and now can pass on trillions to businesses (deserving or not), we can afford Universal healthcare, proper mental health services, an overhaul of public servants to counter corruption, favoritism, and police brutality. We can afford to feed and house those who cannot afford it themselves AND those impacted by the current economic crisis from those who lost their jobs to those working an 'essential' position but making less than a living wage. Perhaps if businesses were freed of the costs of healthcare administration and related benefits they can be obligated to turn that into investment in their business and employees vs pocketing the savings.
As an non-US example, the UK suddenly has the funding to feed millions of underprivileged kids through the summer. It's 120M sure but is a prime example of a politically explosive (the funding, not the cause) but totally feasible program if we recognize the money exists or can exist at little downside compared to the outcome ie feeding children. In terms of global hunger that does still seem to be a distribution issue, not a scarcity issue.
Investments in our youth are one of the best long term ways to fight inequality and more. We should be aggressively fighting to keep them fed, well educated, and motivated be that in the US, UK, or Senegal.
Again, I generally agree with your comment. Economics is all about resource scarcity and solutioning around those limitations. But I think some scarcity is absolutely self imposed be it for political reasons or simple human greed. Leveraging your access to a scarce resource is an incredibly viable business model in capitalism just like DeBeers. But, we can step back from the drive to more profit and recognize we have an ethical obligation to (channeling leave no trace here) not only leave things as good as we found it but do our best to make the world better and propel the next generation into even more opportunity. That's why people came to the US, opportunity, and we owe it to our ancestors and the spirit of America to continue that legacy.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk on ethical capitalism.
Fed balance sheet and inflation: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/the-feds-balance-sheet-just-...
Also but not from a major outlet: https://www.coindesk.com/fed-officials-see-anemic-inflation-...
And from a well reviewed blog: https://www.moneyandbanking.com/commentary/2020/4/26/inflati...
UK meals program: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/16/football/marcus-rashford-...
Investment in youth: https://www.brookings.edu/research/investing-in-the-next-gen...
And from another .edu: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/07/opportunity-i...
World hunger as a distribution issue (2013): https://www.cnbc.com/id/100893540
And here from a related non profit (find the 'Does the world produce enough food to feed everyone?' section): https://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-a...
However, we see this constantly in any manmade system (system as defined by Systemics), where we can't control the emergent behavior of the system.
It's worse than that because we're talking about systems where change is necessarily political, so in-group/out-group dynamics dominate the perceived discussion ("Democrats think this, but Republicans say that").
This is made worse when one is pleased with the emergent outcome of a system and so ex post facto makes up justifications, but wouldn't feel comfortable arguing directly for the outcome publicly (see "States rights").
It's a problem I think about a lot, and there just aren't any easy answers to either combat bad faith participants or to be convincing that systems thinking needs to be given more weight in discourse.
This is well said, and I have been very frustrated by this in recent years, too. The simplest clue I have is to look at who benefits from this perspective, and what means they have to spread this idea in the public sphere and discourse.
Start with the billions of people lifted out of poverty. Never in history have so many people enjoyed such a high standard of living.
The market isn't perfect and it isn't magic, and I don't mean to minimize climate change and other tragedies-of-the-commons, but in practice it's been very successful at improving peoples lives.
You might chalk it up to power structures, but that couldn’t explain the disparity in standard of living between the Soviet Union and Western Europe.
And even looking at history, the motivations of scientific development seems quite varied. War has been a key promoter of many fields of science, which has in turn lifted may people out of poverty. So we should have more world wars?
The system not only encourages but requires inequality. Today's billionaires accumulated that wealth off the back of countless toiling workers, many doing so in miserable conditions.
Why is it so clearly capitalism that lifted those people out of poverty, and not modern advances in technology, such as in food production, efficient transportation of goods, sanitation, and medicine?
Because of the evidence of India and China is compelling.
And in fairness, 'capitalism' is a very imprecise term which often means different things to different people.
So if the open market would be the only reason of the progress we should've seen something similar in the two countries.
The only similarity that they both share is a growing disparity between high income class and low income class
Also Chinese policy is more towards open trade than open market. I feel that complicated topic such as progress can't be condensed into one action that can deliver the expected results. In fact is always a combination of policy that bring the desired effect
I thought that the financial system was the consequences of wealth rather than the cause (otherwise this doesn't explain why none of the African stock exchange are fighting with NYSE for the most attractive stock market)
Wealth inequality is a side effect as some people do better than others.
If you want a good guess; the economy is complicated, there is no consensus on how it works and the plurality position on how it works among the public is badly misaligned with reality.
The public has a relatively simple working model of the financial world.
A)Keep money somewhere safe.
B)Lend money only to those you trust.
C)Save for a rainy day, because while things are good now, they won't be forever.
D)debt above your means is undesirable.
E)debt should be paid
F)no one is going to bail you out so manage things carefully
It takes a proper finance person to make the jump to:
A) Debt is fungible
B) when Credit is cheap, use it
C) Better to bust with a limited liability corp or other legal fiction than to not try
D) Money gets printed all the time. Don't worry about where it comes from or where it goes, it'll all come out in the wash (in theory, and in spite of the fact we know sometimes it doesn't)
E)If you do go bust, don't sweat it, bankruptcy is there for you, and if you're big enough, the government will bail you out through the taxpayers via enough lobbyist pressure.
Case and point: when the system has such stark separations between front and "back-office" concerns, and most of the "back-office" is never tackled as part of primary education, I find it a bit cheap to take potshots at the public for not knowing every intimate detail about how the sausage is made. The info may exist in the knowledge graph, but a successful query of the all the bits and pieces that result in something workable forming that stands the test of time is non-trivial.
1) There is a temporal mismatch between the need to consume economic value and the ability to produce economic value. The so called desirability of savings, and taking on debt within your capacity to reasonably repay are not first principals but rather results of this temporal mismatch.
2) Assets (as distinct from goods) are the best means to achieve the saving and borrowing in (1). A farmer cannot save food for retirement. Selling goods and services and lending the money to, or purchasing an equitable share in a productive enterprise is the best way to save.
We will always have finite resources. Given finite resources not every human need/wish will ever be achievable, and various people have various needs and wishes. There will always be a boundary between the needs that are achievable with very little resource allocation and needs that are completely out of the realm of possibility. On that boundary, people will always have disagreements about what's more urgent or not. Some things will necessarily be deprioritized, and for a segment of the population it will look like pressing problems are not solved and the system is broken to the core.
There is no way to get out of this, in any conceivable system with finite resources.
Austrians argue that this is the inevitable force of nature. Basically that economic plans are inherently under-informed.
So to a degree, a free market is “inevitable” to a degree. There is only so much control you can exert without mucking it up. The other alternative is place more of the economy under gov’t control and we’ve seen how well that works.
And have no idea why you think the future will be worse. Think about living in 1930’s France. The world was far more unstable than it is now, yet prosperity and freedom are more broadly available than ever before. Not sure what the doom and gloom prediction is based on - we are NOT in unique times here.
Because markets and financials systems behave like a force of nature. Nobody sat down and invented them, they emerged. The only thing you can invent is regulations.
However, you can't arbitrarily regulate markets, or credit. If you do, black markets and informal credit systems emerge. You can't arbitrarily set prices, if you do, shortages and scalping are the result.
There is a window where regulation doesn't fail, which is going to be fairly close to where the market wanted to go anyway - kind of like building a dam.
The powers that develop and promote this ideology will profit from it even as the planet is destroyed.
I had to stop reading after this. This is not how inflation works and it borders on the preposterous to surmise that CBs can monetize deficits without creating inflation because there is excess supply in one market.
All of these people who would otherwise have less/no money are now spending that printed money to purchase goods like food, thus driving inflation higher. You can debate the merits of people being entitled to basic services like food, but the economic pressures are fairly well understood, even by MMTers
For example, there is a naive belief that inflation is proportional to the money supply. This seems to be a garbled version of monetarism, which is no longer how central banks think about it, but even monetarism is more complicated than that.
Monetarist theory is based on MV = PQ, where M is the money supply and V is the "velocity of money".
The money supply can go up but velocity can go down (the people getting the money tend not to spend it), in which case there's no inflation. For inflation to happen, people have to want to spend more.
People can spend more or less due to fear, but it depends on the nature of the fear. Currently fear tends to make people spend less (if they can).
The argument is we have room to nudge inflation back to normal while also helping people.
Inflation is an average of price increases. You get price increases when supply can't expand as fast as demand while keeping the price of inputs the same. This depends on whether there are supply bottlenecks and what the nature of those bottlenecks are. There have been some supply bottlenecks due to deliberate closures, but mostly temporary.
In a recession, the assumption is that there is extra capacity already, particularly for labor.
I took this with OP stating (incorrectly imho) that a certain policy was not inflationary. I am not advocating that all inflation is bad.
Our current economic situation is more like 2008/2009 than a boom year where the velocity of money, not technically perhaps but the idea more or less, is very high. Even the decade since the 2008 crash has seen low inflation, at least in the US, and we've seen double digit drops in revenue and sales volumes for several months let alone numbers for the rest of 2020.
For a relevant example here, would WeWork/Uber/Tesla have raised billions in private funding in late 2009 or early 2020? Did the last decade boom in private equity cash on hand drive ability to gain investment ex. increase velocity of money in private investing? None of those companies are critical day to day for US citizens or the economy, at least compared to major banks or grocery stores and maybe they did actually see huge investments during difficult times, but I think the thought experiment stands.
But this is based on a very simple model that doesn't take inequality into account at all.
I think the government doesn't have to run deficits, it can always tax the money back out of the economy. (The only problem is nobody likes that, for some reason. People seem to prefer inflation to taxation.)
It's actually more honest, because it better shows what actually happens. Government prints money, (hopefully) invests into places that benefit the society as a whole, and then taxes the excess money back from wherever they ended up, destroying them (by not spending them again).
> People seem to prefer inflation to taxation.
That’s because they’re not the same thing, not at all.
Regarding inflation, you're right, there are other sources of inflation than just government printing money. Money are also created privately, and certain inflation is IMHO inevitable, because most goods and assets depreciate.
But I do think that the inflation, induced by government printing additional money, can be negated by taxation.
the reason for this is fairly obvious. if you have a positive net worth, cash is probably a small fraction of your total assets, which limits the direct harm you face from inflation. if you have a negative net worth (ie, you have debt), inflation erodes the real value of your obligations over time. in general, this is already priced into the interest, but you certainly wouldn't want to see inflation decrease while you're repaying a loan, and you might be happy to see it increase.
This assumes those goods are a scarce resource, so that increased consumption eventually leads to shortage. I can't quote sources, but my understanding is that we have enough food to feed everyone ATM, and any remaining hunger is just a failure of the economy to solve the distribution of currency.
We do have enough food to feed the world, but that would mean your food gets more expensive as other people consume what would otherwise contribute to downward supply pressure.
Your argument only makes sense if the excess food is given to people who can afford it and just want to eat for free.
Idaho potatoes were mentioned above. They are only being thrown away because the market does not want them. The mechanism by which this happens is price: prices drop low enough that it’s cheaper to throw away (we saw negative oil prices recently). One explanation is that other farmers saw this supply glut and raced to slash their prices. If we took all those excess potatoes and gave them away, then absent this excess supply, those other farmers would not have done this and prices would have remained steady or not gone down as much. Thus the artificial increase in quantity demanded is necessarily inflationary.
The risk that these potatoes might be dumped into the market pushed prices down. If you magically take this risk away, it doesn’t matter by which mechanism, that threat goes away and price responds.
If I’m another potato farmer and all of a sudden all those extra potatoes are teleported somewhere else, I will in all likelihood raise my prices.
Even the most progressive theorists would not debate this. It’s basic aggregate supply and demand.
There seem to be two different scenarios being conflated here.
You describe producers acting in response to the risk of future price changes.
It seems to me that others in the thread are describing a scenario where product is discarded because the price has already fallen so far that it is no longer profitable after accounting for various processing costs (ie things such as packaging and transportation).
In the latter scenario, if someone were to foot the bill for the redistribution itself there should be no direct effect on that specific part of the market. This assumes of course that the producers aren't compensated for the redistributed good (so it isn't significantly different than simply disposing of it). It also assumes that people don't resell or otherwise barter the product they receive (it's food and they're presumably starving so that assumption seems fairly reasonable in this case). (And of course there are bound to be countless indirect effects on the market as a whole.)
I understand what people are saying. Unfortunately this just isn’t how things work. If there were a way for this to occur, prices would respond. Ultimately markets aggregate information and package it up in a single metric we call price. If all of a sudden there was a new future demand for some good, no matter how you frame it, prices will respond.
Obviously this includes a number of assumptions which might not hold. The redistributed product can't reenter the market. It must only go to those who otherwise could not have purchased it or an equivalent in the near term. The total value being redistributed must be insignificant relative to the market as a whole (to limit secondary effects). Etc.
> markets aggregate information and package it up in a single metric we call price
In terms of the movement of information, product that would otherwise have been destroyed seems irrelevant. Consumers who were otherwise incapable of consuming seem irrelevant. Am I missing something?
Okay, so then we have absolutely no idea in which way the demand curve will curve then. If the demand curve can be any polynomial, then we have no clue if this will happen or not.
But it’s irrelevant anyway: a basic tenet of economics is that people are, in aggregate, utility maximizers. So yes, we do have an idea of some fundamental properties of the demand curve and it cannot simply be any polynomial.
And this is the portion that I'm critiquing. You're holding it as a constant curve sloping downwards.
> So yes, we do have an idea of some fundamental properties of the demand curve
Okay, sure, it relies on there being people who have demand for some commodity.
> it cannot simply be any polynomial
"Any polynomial" might be overselling it, but we can't assume it's sloping downwards.
Additionally they may be able to count the discarded product in a business loss category that yields a better tax write-off or qualifies them for assistance in a way that straight donation doesn’t.
To me your example feels like a Chesterton’s Fence scenario where government involvement is responsible for disincentivizing the common sense option of donating a surplus.
The author's ultimate assumption is that money supply is somehow decoupled from accumulation. People receiving money from the government and using it to buy their basic needs may not drive inflation because their labor is not being procured by anyone else AND those basic goods they are buying would not be produced otherwise. However, the constant money stream will drive accumulation on the other side of the economy.
The owners of capital (or the 1%, however you may want to call them) would become unimaginably wealthy in a scenario like this. And it would be hard to prevent that. A super wealthy class is already a big problem today. Imagine the influence that group would have in politics if they had 10x the purchase power they have today.
Another problem that I believe exists with instituting a UBI through money creation (e.g., MMT) is lack of innovation and market disruption. It essentially puts a tax on innovation. In order to hire people you now have to be able to afford to pay more than the government and still have sufficient funds to fight well-established mega corporations.
Think about startups before financing. Loans with interest used to be considered immoral - it's prohibited in the Bible. If you wanted to start a business, you had to save or find a lender that would let you take money and then just wait for you to give it back. And if you didn't pay it back, the lender could put you in prison. No wonder people didn't do that very often. Even with these new ways to fund a startup, you could lose your job and with it your income and healthcare coverage. What if that risk just went away? Of course some people would waste it, but think of all those folks that would turn their lives into hackathons until they struck gold.
I agree with your point: under a true UBI, workers would be able to seek their passions, do whatever they like to do. Doesn't matter if the position is risky or if the pay is low. Worst case scenario, if anything goes wrong, people can fall back on UBI and have their basic needs covered.
In my comment I meant to talk about the guaranteed government job thing that the article mentioned. In that case workers wouldn't have the kind of mobility or guarantees granted by UBI. Startups would actually be competing with the government for people.
I apologize I misused the term UBI before (which is what caused the confusion.)
I agree that in many points the article is not written carefully (and sometimes straight up wrong... Ca has no vent shortage, current thermal load doesn’t melt ice caps, zootonic pandemics even with current covid are not world shattering)
I.e. the scenario is workers spending $X of their employer granted salaries on goods they produce vs spending $X of basic job salaries that machines produce
More importantly, you’re conflating two things: we needn’t necessarily print money. Let’s presume your comment were correct. Nonetheless, in the absence of such monetary policy, consumption would plummet and deflation would reign. Thus, it is still inflationary.
This of course gets into the matter of why we would want CBs to create inflation in some circumstances: the simple answer is that it makes the economy a lot more predictable if they do. When the flow of nominal incomes grinds to a halt, prices throughout the economy have trouble adjusting downwards in response, so we get a recession and widespread unemployment. Stability is what matters here, not just minimizing inflation at all costs.
In your example, these truckers have stopped producing goods (services in this case). That means that production has gone down. If the supply of money remains fixed, there is more money chasing fewer goods and services. This drives prices up.
Said another way: if those truckers had less money (or no money) then they wouldn’t be competing with other buyers for goods, and prices would fall (purchasing power increases).
This is an extremely simplistic analogy and ignores other forces such as velocity and trade balances, but illustrates the point.
Maybe the 40K labor savings is actually offset by a 37K a year replacement to the labor force, who also now enjoy lower prices on all shipped goods. (Assuming there is still real competition in shipping)
In theory shipping prices would go down immediately, but in the real world it could take years for competitors to force the industry to lower costs by the full 40k.
Let's say that the equity holders of the various shipping companies keep the $40k savings all for themselves, and use those profits to buy more stock. Isn't that still going to drive inflation? The price of shares will continue to rise solely due to more money chasing them. And every buyer of stock is giving money to a seller of stock on the other side, who will then do what with that money? If it's capitalizing a new company, then the money will be spent into the economy. If it's buying existing shares, then the seller will now have cash to spend.
Either way, the money is still an active participant in the money supply. Meanwhile the government is creating new money each year to offset the salary losses of the displaced truckers. What used to be a 40K transfer from employer to employee is now a $40k diversion to other uses at the employer's end, and $40k of brand new money on the employee's end.
> The 30% who are working under federal jobs programs will have working lives completely decoupled from the workings of the market. The movements of markets – particularly financial markets – will be irrelevant to everyone except for a group of weird, chart-watching, twitchy nerds who fulfill the boring job of capital allocation to an increasingly irrelevant section of the economy.
> That money is mostly chasing the same goods that were available before the crisis (rent, groceries, and debt service) so it’s not crowding out other buyers and causing inflation (inflation occurs when more money chases the same goods, so buyers get into bidding wars that drive up prices – when the same quantity of money is chasing the same quantity of goods, there’s no inflation).
Here I think is the crux of the problem. In our (western civilization) societies, everyone wants to be a manager or a scrum master or at least a programmer, have a nice white collar job in the home office. Not many people want to do actual manual jobs, like painting or plumbing, even though these would actually be needed a lot. If we truly payed blue collar guys a market rate, no white collar jobs would exist, because what is the price for risking your health?
I think we are plagued by a very similar problem that plagued any human civilization before us. We have a system sustained by a psychopathic upper class, where clueless middle class, which wants to keep their white collar jobs, knows only one thing for sure - they do not want to become blue collar losers.
And the only innovation of the system we figured out was that we can make the middle class really big, thanks to productivity of technology. But unfortunately, that means we are actually underutilizing the possible technological advances. By relegating the maintenance of the technology to lower classes, we are limiting its potential, in order to preserve the middle class social status.
That’s a very coastal city attitude which in most parts of the US would seem utterly provincial. The man who owns the roofing company that’s redoing my roof shakes his head when he hears me talk about staring at a computer screen all day. The HVAC repairman who was at my house yesterday was horrified to find out that I need a special keyboard to prevent pain in my hands from too much typing. “Don’t you have insurance or workers comp?” he asked. He thought I was lying or mistaken when I laughed and explained that my injuries are mine to deal with on my own.
In my part of America, which is neither overly cosmopolitan nor a big city where all the wide-eyed, bushy-tailed dreamers are flocking, most people aim to work in the various trades after high school. The ambitious ones will move up in the world by owning businesses which employ tradesmen, but that’s about as far as most will go. To most HN readers this will seem like a colossal economic hole, but it’s nothing like it. Tradesmen with only a few years of experience make decent money, and business owners are enjoying conditions similar to those which HNers with “lifestyle businesses” aim to attain.
Yes, there are untold millions of Americans working menial jobs. Those jobs require no special skills or experience, which is why such workers are seen as expendable. To lump such workers and their plight together with decidedly blue-collar tradesmen is a mistake.
My parents knew I could make really good money with welding and masonry like other family members but also knew that we were rough to our body, I had a uncle who lost an eye on the job! To someone working 8-10 hrs in the Texas heat all year wearing your body everyday and being physically exhausted by closing time. Sitting in an office and surfing HN is paradise to my old friends.
Also the skills learned in this field are inflating fast. Compare that to learning a trade and applying that knowledge for a lifetime of work while build solid experience in time is also a bit different.
Also software jobs quite frequently lead mental wear as much as those trade jobs are rough on the body
Isn't that exactly what we do though? Doesn't pay (very approximately) correlate with required skill? For example, compare the salary of a skilled carpenter with some of the lower skilled "tech" jobs. All of your examples (manager, scum master, programmer) are decidedly high skill jobs when compared to the economy as a whole.
(As far as software goes, consider that demand for laborers currently outstrips supply. Prices adjust to reflect that.)
What you're really describing (IMO) is that everyone is competing with each other and we all want to be above average. Going back to your tech industry examples, I've heard it said that the majority of programmers think they're above average.
And I suspect one reason why we don't want to tackle climate change (or even generally take more advantage of technological progress) is that it requires a different skill set, the one that is lot more blue collar, and to make that transformation we would have to upset the existing social order.
In other words, I generally don't believe there is only one solution to the "market equations". Remuneration, price of different types of labor, also depends on cultural factors.
And because there is not always unique solution, you might end up in a local maximum of productivity. One way around it is what Doctorow suggests, we all gather around a table (well, metaphorically, with a government as our proxy) and decide, well, we have to do these things, and here are the jobs to be filled (and he further argues that we are in such local maximum regarding the climate change, and we can get out of it).
Sadly, it's been really difficult historically to get out of such local maxima without profound rifts in the society, civilizations often chose death rather than do this. And that's what I worry about, and I think we need to come to terms with.
Most of the people who go into management seem to do it reflexively. They see the word promotion and go for it. As you can imagine, they don't even get a respect upgrade, because everyone knows the cards.
Of course, the Post Office has a relatively strong union - particularly by US standards. That's the major hurdle for most blue-collar jobs. They don't even have a seat at the negotiating table. Without a coordinated voice and some power, workers take first offers. Companies can afford to pay shit wages the same way that factories during the Industrial Revolution could afford to work people to death.
It's hard and expensive to turn somebody into a programmer, and you can't scale it up as you wish. It's easy in comparison to have more people who can do dangerous jobs: you just need more children and wait 20 years.
For management and similar roles, I agree somewhat (it's much harder to pinpoint the skills required, and they often have less direct influence in the success of the company/project), but for the actual jobs, like software development and engineering? Yeah, they are high skill.
> Remuneration, price of different types of labor, also depends on cultural factors.
I don't think so. Unless you include religion and royalty where you can't just get into some career, the ones that are easy, low-risk and high-pay/high-power will always be attractive and you will be able to predict movements pretty well with market models.
Is it? We work in one of the few industries where self-taught may actually be the norm (or at least, a significant minority).
A good comparison is quality comments and coding standards. Consider if there was an enforceable standard for code structure, comments, documentation, etc like most decent github repos with developers striving to reach Linux kernel level overall quality. This would include a standard training/education process, collective bargaining and action for pay/benefits and standard to changes. It is a field where not every ISO standard needs to be applied in full, but there could still be some base enforcement.
Like, what if every code base was commented, well structured, and followed general best practices like to-code electrical or plumbing work? What if code review or inspections against a standard were enforced time set aside and sign off required before wrapping a project? What if the lowest bidder on a coding job had a floor due to set benefits and standing agreement on rates and max hours per week/day? These are practices the best employers may strive for and are able to apply but are required in most trades.
I appreciate a line comparing how artists are payed compared to trades: If a band is asked to do a show for the 'exposure' they should ask the planner to call the local plumbers union and ask their going rate for 4 plumbers for a 4 hour job. Home advisor has a few estimates but project data puts an average at $317/hour. Maybe a random band isn't worth $1200/hour or $5k a gig but some definitely can command that price. If most bands stuck to a standard rate range the planner will expect and budget for proper pay.
So if I understand you correctly is that blue collar jobs are not attractive enough?
So does the solution include one or more of the following?
- Increase the status of those jobs in society. This pandemic has shown us who the key workers are, so increasing the status of jobs that actually benefit society, e.g. street cleaner vs product manager for a betting company.
- Pay more for these key worker jobs
- Move to a 4 day work week, so people have more leisure time and live life a little bit more
- Provide other perks if you're classed as a key worker, e.g. discount on public transport etc?
(also I think calling "white collar" "middle class" is a bit ahistorical:
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23671937 but, as with "hacker", I guess I should make an attempt to go with the times, if reluctantly)
Cleese: I get a feeling of superiority over them↓.
Barker: I get a feeling of inferiority from him↑, but a feeling of superiority over him↓.
Corbett: I get a pain↑ in the back of my neck.
We have a broken two-party system where both parties abandoned their philosophical beginnings more than 3 decades ago to pursue headlong corporatist and globalist goals, with varying spins depending on what personally benefits party leadership the most. Both parties are working hard to systematically eliminate any real measure of freedom which exists for the average person in the nation, but taking different angles to do so. One party makes direct attacks on the very basis of our Constitution, the other party more subtly manipulates processes to disenfranchise people while acting to prevent them from having secure communications and privacy. Both parties actively support a police state, and both parties are out of touch with the realities of the majority of residents, especially those outside of cities. In neither case would I describe the current system as "ostensibly competing libertarian tendencies."
There are obviously many possible negative consequences and externalities that come from absolute freedom (libertarianism), but the current actions and words of both parties fly in the face of the claim that they are in any way advocating such a position; hidden, blatant, or otherwise.
Also, referring to "1984" as "COINTELPRO agitprop" is so tone deaf that it's nearly daft. George Orwell was a British author, first of all, and COINTELPRO was a domestic operation of the FBI in the US. Secondly, if you were to observe a theme in "1984" and follow it to its logical conclusion, I think it obvious that the books premise and message would be opposed to government operations exactly like COINTELPRO. In fact, 1984 captures the essence of our current situation pretty well to show you the dystopian future that awaits from giving up control to the state combined with technology capable of absolute surveillance.
Your comment reads like something written in a Chinese troll farm to push public opinion in support of Communism.
I think you might want to read my earlier comment again. I said "libertarian", in the "classical liberal" sense; I did not say "anarcholibertarian" or "anarchocapitalist" or "libertarian anarchist" or "autarkist". You've also mistaken my description of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism for a description of the not very good and rather outdated polemical novel in which it appears.
Given that nothing here responds to anything I actually said, there doesn't seem to be any basis for a more fruitful response than the one I have given. Please feel free to make another attempt, ideally without the misapprehension of my points. You're welcome to double down on the slander, though! For all that the intent is to insult, I can't help but find it amusing.
"Sociopaths, in their own best interests, knowingly promote over-performing losers into middle-management, groom under-performing losers into sociopaths, and leave the average bare-minimum-effort losers to fend for themselves."
Rao intentionally uses mean words to describe all players in the system.
When it comes to responding to climate change, I expect we will do basically nothing to prepare, and that we will abandon flooded coastal cities only after they’ve already been permanently flooded.
Are you saying that there isn't much in the way of medical research going on to try to come up with treatments, preventive measures, and potential vaccines or cures for the disease?
What do you think could be done to start that kind of research in the US?
The second cohort is a multiple in size of the first.
That's a weird way of looking at it. The people who do $job provide food, energy, building materials etc and taxes so some people can specialize on medical research.
It would be terribly inefficient if we just switched over the majority of the population to medical research. I doubt they'd make much progress, and at the same time pulling them from their normal jobs would create a lot of problems that would make some 10 million excess deaths projection pale in comparison.
Wikipedia quotes studies that put the estimated aggregate impact at losing about 0% to 20% of world GDP. That's comparable eg to moving from NYC to a place with average US GDP per capita.
That's certainly a lot, but perhaps not a world shattering impact.
(Edit: the studies quoted on that Wikipedia page are quite old by now. It would be useful to find more up to date material.)
For some thoughts on a government job guarantee, see https://web.archive.org/web/20200404052902/https://slatestar...
Here's a quote from Nick Bostrom from the Wikipedia article:
> Even the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report prepared for the British Government which has been criticized by some as overly pessimistic, estimates that under the assumption of business-as-usual with regard to emissions, global warming will reduce welfare by an amount equivalent to a permanent reduction in per capita consumption of between 5 and 20%. In absolute terms, this would be a huge harm. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, world GDP grew by some 3,700%, and per capita world GDP rose by some 860%. It seems safe to say that (absent a radical overhaul of our best current scientific models of the Earth’s climate system) whatever negative economic effects global warming will have, they will be completely swamped by other factors that will influence economic growth rates in this century.
However, I would go by the formulation in your quote "swamped by other factors" and not with "the net economic result could still be positive."
To make your formulation work, you'd have to say the net impact of business-as-usual growth and climate change. It's easy to misinterpret that.
Do keep in mind that difference places on earth will most likely be hit at a different magnitude. So some will suffer more than others.
That's a good argument for allowing more migration around the world.
That's basically Nordhaus' idiotic argument. Agriculture is only about 3% of GDP, so it looks like we can take that hit, no problem. Except - if we have no food, there is no civilization. See https://braveneweurope.com/steven-keen-4c-of-global-warming-...
Measuring climate change impacts on the economy only by total GDP is a really bad idea. You really can't neglect the dependencies in the economic production, especially on agriculture.
However, the studies quoted in the Wikipedia article take such considerations into account.
Measuring climate change impact by GDP is a good idea. It's not the only way to measure it, just one out of a number of useful ways.
For example, it is a useful way to figure out how much of our economic wealth we should be spending on fighting climate change:
US GDP seems to be about 60k USD per capita, or about 20 trillion USD total. Spending up to about 10% of that, or 2 trillion USD per year, on reliably fighting climate change might be worth while by that metric.
It also helps us to put into perspective the cost of programmes like the one talked about in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23770718 and make it comparable to energy efficiency campaigns or carbon sequestration, etc.
From the Wikipedia article you linked:
> As stated, economic estimates of climate change impacts are incomplete. Analysts have used integrated assessment models to estimate the economic impacts of climate change. These models do include estimates of some impacts, for instance, the effects of climate change on agriculture. In other areas, models exclude some impacts. An example is the possibility that climate change could lead to migration or conflict.
> Remediating climate change will involve unimaginably labor-intensive tasks, like relocating every coastal city in the world kilometers inland, building high-speed rail links to replace aviation links, caring for hundreds of millions of traumatized, displaced people, and treating runaway zoontoic and insectborne pandemics.
This does sound like a lot of work, but realistically it's like, what... maybe 10-20 years worth of actual human labor at current levels? Our capacity is so enormous that probably 90% of the things you'll interact with today were created in the past 10 years. If machines are slated to replace that amount of manufacturing, imagine the labor that would be displaced! If we could hypothetically throw double the labor into these projects than before these cities would go up instantly. Like Chinese Ghost cities.
Our civilization is already built. Most of the work went into building the required tools and technology which enable us to do more with less. Building skyscrapers is just large scale Legos when you have the right tools. What took Egyptians thousands of people now takes about 12 equipment operators. Now that we have those tools, now that we've commoditized them all this isn't really a "daunting" task for us as a species. Societally it presents new challenges, but humans are nothing if not resilient.
90% of professional motor-vehicle operators, retail workers, call center staff, radiologists, surgeons and other jobs can be unemployed due to the deployment of special purpose technologies whose development is well underway.
Some of those people, through the normal avenues of market-based resource distribution, will become plumbers, construction workers, and fill other-hard-to-automate roles in order to earn a living.
If the state institutes something like UBI, then still more of them will become artists, writers, community organizers and fill other roles that might earn them some money but would not on their own guarantee a full, stable income.
When global heating and sea-level rise create clear market incentives to rebuild the national infrastructure, those among the unemployed who are capable to work on that stuff will have a strong incentive to do so.
But for the state to, through a guaranteed jobs program, make effective use of 40-50% of the population in reconstructing national infrastructure as a response to global heating does not seem (to me) realistic. Are enough of those people capable of gaining the required skills for those kinds of projects? Where should they go and what should they do?
I mean, many technologies like carbon scrubbers already exist. Why aren't businesses buying them?
This is something we need to decide as a society to act on out of pure good faith, there will not be any profit to be made from the sacrifices that need to take place. People need to come to terms with just... being kinder. It would help if world leaders created jobs for this industry on a budget deficit and helped people get into those jobs.
Pretty week argument for or against general AI being possible.
Marine cloud brightening was proposed in 1990.
I find this deeply resonating.
Isn't sea level rise likely to only be a few feet? Regardless, Holland seems fine living below sea level. I don't think we really need to move cities kilometers inland.
And that's without the "leverage" of flat land: you might have to go a mile in land to find the first place that's an inch about the beach. Ever been on a flat beach when the tide came in? You can lose a lot of land to a very small rise in sea...
I think smaller local mixed solutions are more likely given the scale and the US approach to government...
> That is, I believe that even if we were – by some impossible-to-imagine means – to produce a general AI tomorrow, we would still have 200-300 years of full employment for every human who wanted a job ahead of us.
The guy think that automation is far ahead. And people are needed for the economy to function.
> That money is mostly chasing the same goods that were available before the crisis (rent, groceries, and debt service) so it’s not crowding out other buyers and causing inflation
Which is the same as saying that all people quarantined are doing BS jobs. Since they can be without that work but the economy is functioning and supporting all of them. Which means, if I'm reading it correctly, that we are already past the automation stage.
Here is one job that we could do without: The OP job. He is writing BS articles that probably could be written by the next few iterations of GPT-X.
2) The SF Bay Area has never had a ventilator shortage. In fact, we gave away 500 in March/April to other states because we have too many.
3) The article mixes up various timelines into an incoherent wall of text - General AI, corona pandemic and global warming effects all have different timelines.
4) The USA is run by oligarchs who have a policy of discarding workers, so that completely undermines the article - the unemployed will not be working on moving cities inland, they will just be forgotten and destitute.
(I hope when Cory is able to focus he can improve the article. Maybe there is something worthwhile in there.)
The point he was trying to make is that economy is not about money, it's about resources. Money has no value as such, it's a number in a system, or at best a piece of paper. Food is a resource, a ventilator is a resource. Economy is about choices, about how you allocate a resource, it's not about numbers.
What's your evidence for that? Unemployment was really quite low in the last decade up until a few months ago, with presumably the same 'oligarchs' already in power?
It's not good enough to just point to one statistic and cancel out a deeply complex claim like that one.
How do we know that?
> If there was no increase in federal minimum wage in a decade, you can see why employment went up in that exact same decade.
That's great news, if true. It suggest a very actionable strategy to keep unemployment in check.
(Though, of course, looking around the globe, even the absence of a minimum wage law doesn't make all other unemployment problems magically vanish.)
> It's not good enough to just point to one statistic and cancel out a deeply complex claim like that one.
Indeed. This was just to point out that the claim would have to be backed by quite a bit of evidence, because the surface facts about unemployment need quite a bit of explaining away first.
There was no evidence at all provided in the comment I replied to. So this was an invitation to bring some evidence.
I have no opinion on 'oligarchs', only on hypothetical 'oligarchs who have a policy of discarding workers'.
If you haven't... you really should
If doing that doesn't change any of your opinions on the matter... oh well, we're already doomed.
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf says that US unemployment rate for June 2020 was 11.1%.
(caveat: bei uns gibt's Kurzarbeit.)
It's useful to point out which countries / places you talk about. We only let the Americans get away without it.