Comments

  • Machines should take over 90% of jobs and money should not exist
    First about the money. It is true that money is a medium of exchange. I'm arguing that in today's world, a medium of exchange has become obsolete.Madman

    A medium of exchange might be obsolete, IF there was enough of everything for everyone, OR IF all goods were extremely scarce. In the first instance, one would just consume what one needed. In the second instance, barter would prevail. In between the two extremes, where there is much, but not enough for everyone, the sorting out of goods and needs is greatly improved with some sort of exchange medium.

    Then, if we would have enough for everyone, private property is not needed since private property is money expressed through the ownership of commodities.Madman

    I don't think this is set up right. The value of private property (factories, railroads, airlines, warehouses, stores, cropland, etc.) lies in its capacity to produce commodities. Commodities (clothes, chairs, beds, food, cars, books, TVs, etc) are personal property. Money, as an exchange mechanism, doesn't drive the system. It can't, really. The average person works to produce enough value (to the society) to obtain the commodities he needs.

    Some people accumulate surplus wealth (from the labor of many people) and pile up wealth for themselves, which enables them to own "real" property--factories, apartment houses, farms, railroads, stores, etc.

    We don't actually have enough of everything to go around. It is not possible for all 7.3 billion people to live like first world people do. The first world--industrialized, advanced economies--consumes much more than its proportional share of stuff. There actually isn't enough oil, aluminum, iron, clean water, productive lands, etc. to produce our quality of life for everyone, and we are far short of there being so much of everything that one can just go get it, for free.

    There are perhaps 1 billion people (Europe, North America, Japan) consuming a very big share of the world's resources. There are another 2.5 billion-3 billion in China, India, and in some major urban centers in the rest of the world that might attempt to fully industrialize and live like the first world does. As they do, shortfalls in raw material occur. There just isn't enough "raw material" to support a doubling of first world consumption. (Take concrete. The world is experiencing the limits of supply in that there isn't enough sand to go around. Not enough sand? Only certain kinds of sand make good concrete. It can't be too fine, too course, be contaminated with salt, and so on.

    So, to make an exceedingly long story (many volumes) short, money--or something like it--is needed to facilitate trade in goods that are in short supply.
  • Machines should take over 90% of jobs and money should not exist
    Is this just a lack of imagination? Is it just anchoring in something so as not feel the nihilistic void? :Dschopenhauer1

    No. Granted, many jobs positively create nihilistic voids, but many people find some jobs enjoyable. They like the tasks involved in the job. (It doesn't have to be a high level job.)

    Finding anything in life satisfying might be impossible for people whose lives seem to be enclosed in nihilistic voids. And if one does find life satisfying, one probably is not enclosed in a nihilistic void.

    Never mind trigger warnings in classes, media broadcasts, and the like. Never mind alerting people to foul language or violence. We should have an alert system which advises people that they are approaching a nihilistic void, or they are about to enter an area which has a number of nihilistic voids. For instance, one might be about to sign up for a class in some weird Disadvantaged Studies Department. There should be an audible warning that proceeding with registration for that class may locate one within a nihilistic void.

    Similarly, if one is about to take a job in data entry (out of sheer desperation for a job) a klaxon should alert one to the depths of existential despair and nihilism which await the person doing data entry.
  • Machines should take over 90% of jobs and money should not exist
    Robotic production isn't the norm yet, but a lot of production work in factories and offices is now done by computers and computer-operated machines (robots). In the years ahead, more work will be performed by robots.

    Replacing workers with robots will not, in itself, usher in the kind of revolution you are proposing. The whole relationship of property and persons would have to be abolished.

    The hours necessary to produce what is necessary could be reduced right now for many people. Some people (brain surgeons) will have to continue working long hours. There is no reason to have many classes of workers spending 8 hours+ at work. It isn't just that machines can take their place, a lot of work would be superfluous in a more rational economic system.

    Whether work should be eliminated is open to question. Many people find the work they do reasonably satisfying, and many people define who the are by the work they do. On the other hand, a lot of jobs are so devoid of meaning they should absolutely be done by machines. A lot of clerical work fits into that category (for me at least).
  • Machines should take over 90% of jobs and money should not exist
    the real problem with money is that the amount of it in circulation is greater than the amount of resources available for production and consumption.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    If that were the case, the money supply could be reduced, solving the problem. Too much money in circulation chasing too few goods causes inflation.

    Metal coins (gold, silver) are not impervious to inflation, either. In ancient times currency was inflated (or debased) by adding base metals to the precious metals, allowing for more, less valuable, coins to be struck.
  • Ideal Reality: How Should Things Be?
    Vote NO on MoutainDwarf Utopia.

    You have all these grand ideas, but when it gets down to details, you're going to set the minimum wage at $12/hr??? Why not $9/hr? Or $99/hr? Or do away with wages altogether?

    Is the world really broken? Actually the world is working the way it is supposed to work--which doesn't mean that everything is just peachy keen, of course. The world can be quite unpleasant, but its unpleasantness is quite explainable, and given the assholes that are running things, its really amazing that things aren't much worse. Give it time...
  • The Shoutbox
    She really was. Seinfeld had a lot of good lines and really super delivery. George was the ordinary deluded guy. Kramer was reliably off the wall -- great body humor.

    But Elaine... just perfect.
  • The Shoutbox
    Why can't a woman act like a man?

    G. B. Shaw via Alan Jay Lerner.

    Also, you know Seinfeld wasn't a documentary. (Though for silliness, there's nothing better. I also liked the episode where Elaine says to the woman looking for her "baybay" i.e., boyfriend, "Maybe the dingo ate yo baybay." )
  • The Shoutbox
    choosing male would offer you an easier life.Hanover

    It's also a better life. That's why orthodox Jewish men say that prayer thanking God they weren't born as women. Of course, if a Jewish man had been born as a woman, he would feel like he was born in the wrong body and would want to be returned to dickdom as soon as possible. I knew a secular Jewish woman who became a very orthodox man. He was much happier that way.
  • The Shoutbox
    Indeed. Here's a book review you might like: Howard Schwartz
    reviews The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and The Growth of Governmental Power by Stephen Baskerville.

    The book is, among other things, a discussion of the increasingly disadvantaged role of men. It's in today's issue of Quillette
  • The Shoutbox
    Ah ha -- Rama has arrived. Time to launch the rendezvous crew. (As reported in today's Guardian and explained by Arthur Clark):

    tumblr_ozr4tceH071s4quuao1_540.jpg
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    Consider Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. They make simple products: drinks made out of water, a secret syrup, carbon dioxide plus aluminum, plastic, and (mostly in the past) glass. A significant portion of their income comes from selling just water in a plastic bottle.

    What is there not to like about Coke and Pepsi? Nothing. Actually, 50% of hard core Stalinists prefer Pepsi, and the other 50% prefer Coke

    How could one criticize these inexpensive universally loved products which people individually choose to buy and drink? Who wouldn't like to buy the world a coke? It's the real thing! So buy it, asshole.

    First, soft drinks, without regard to the brand or the maker, are expensive forms of nutrition-free beverages. The drinks are high in sugar, contain caffeine, a mildly addicting alkaloid, or are sugar free but contain artificial sweeteners which have zero positive function in the body.

    Second, they are environmental unsound. It isn't so much the syrup (which is a combination of cola nut extract, fruit juices, and some other unknown stuff). It's the environmental costs of petrochemicals and aluminum used to contain the product. There is also the cost of shipping and cooling the nutritionally useless product. (It isn't even as good as plain water.)

    Speaking of water, in India Coke and Pepsi are drawing down critical aquifer to make their products. They also draw down aquifers containing unusually good water to sell as... water. How much does Pepsi and Coke pay for the water diverted from normal human usage to abnormal "bottled water" usage? Nothing.

    Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Royal Crown, 7UP, and every other bottled drink company externalize the cost of the 200 billion cans per year. 2% of the world's energy is used in mining and refining aluminum, the highest energy cost for any metal. The energy needed to make 4 aluminum cans is about the same amount of energy in a 12 oz can of gasoline.

    About 93,250,000 cans have been recycled so far this year. 93.5 million vs. 200 billion made and wasted.

    17,000,000 barrels of oil 535,500,000 gallons per year go into making plastic bottles. 190,000 homes could be heated with the the energy needed to make a years worth of plastic bottles. Last year the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.

    Bottled water is not more healthful than typical tap water in Europe, OZ, NZ, and North America (and some other countries, as well).

    Coke gives life? Not really.

  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    Yah, but you keep talking as if you were in the stone ages of business when you put the whip on workers and forced them to work while starving in your factory... Today it's not the same, at least not in the West. That may happen though, unfortunately, in places like China. Business has evolved and changed.Agustino

    Of course I am aware that industry and business has changed. Only 9% of American workers labor in factories. Larger percentages work in transportation, warehousing, wholesale, and retail of physical products. Service work employs the bulk of the remainder in a wide variety of fields, everything from bio-molecular research to fabric design to night watchmen. You are a service worker, albeit self-employed. There are also a large number of people engaged in entrepreneurial work, mostly providing one kind of service or another.

    The nature of business, however, has not changed since the stone age. Whether a product is being made or a service being performed, the object is to add value through labor (in your case, typing furiously away on your computer). When hired help perform service labor, the value they receive in pay for their work must be considerably exceeded by the value of the services sold. If it isn't considerably exceeded, then either no profit is produced, or not enough profit is produced to satisfy the desires of the proprietor. So whether one is talking about workers in an early 19th century cotton mill or workers writing code for a killer iPhone app, it's pretty much all the same.

    Your POV of business is from the proprietors' side. My POV is from the workers side. I could enthuse about the glories of free enterprise from your POV, but you are already doing that. NO NEED further adulation.

    The situation of labor--excluding elite laborers in academic institutions, industrial research, civil service, the arts, entertainment, and such--is not great. I'll speak only for the US situation. Here there has been a continual slide of income and purchasing power since the 1970s. It has gradual, rather than precipitous. The "good times" of the post-WWII economic boom ended in the 1970s, It isn't that people were suddenly reduced to begging on the streets, such as happened in the Great Depression. Rather, the average worker's standard of living has been ratcheted down, notch by notch.

    The reason people have not experienced worse consequences is that workers have greatly increased the number of hours worked. First spouses (e.g., women) started working part-time jobs to supplement household income. Then these spouses started looking for full time jobs. The previous full-time male started adding small part-time jobs. sometimes older children also started taking jobs (like 15-17 year olds)--and not stuff like mowing lawns.

    The increased labor helped a great deal. Another approach that households have used to hold on to the standard of living that they previously had, or if younger--think they should have--is credit card debt. Buy it now! Don't save up for some decent furniture; the replacement car; the replacement or new whatever -- buy it on credit. This works quite well, as long as one limits credit use and pays it off as quickly as possible. That's not usually what happens.

    Home equity loans are another approach that many workers have employed to hold on to what they felt to be reasonable expectation. Their house needed work (normal wear and tear, added children, relatives moving in, etc.). The quickest and supposedly least risky way to obtain the funds was through a home equity loan: You have, say, $40,000 in equity. You might borrow $30,000 against that. It's essentially a second mortgage. What often happens is that some of the money is spent on repairs (new roof, kitchen replacement) and then credit card debt is paid down. However, the kitchen product didn't get finished, and credit card debt starts recurring. Plus, there is the second mortgage to pay on.

    At this point, any slippage in standard of living is likely to be permanent, because the options to stave it off have been used. All this has been going on since the 40+ year decline in income and living starts started. A substantial share of the working class has now been economically dried out. They don't have any more.

    Some people, in the upper portion of the working class--the people who call themselves middle class--have had to do the same thing, except that their incomes are higher and generally they have not been drained of economic resources.

    The uppermost portions of the working class, the actual petite and haute bourgeoisie, and the super rich have, of course, not experienced any losses at all. They have benefitted from the economic policies since the Reagan administration (1980-1988) and following that were intended to benefit them. People like you (not you, personally, of course) take well off people as the standard model, who if they need to work are often quite industrious, and say to the working class: "Well, if you were industrious, you too could be well off! All that you have to do is get off your fat asses and get to work."
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    I can agree with BC, which I do, without subscribing to the boilerplate Marxism you've been peddling in this thread.Thorongil

    Haven't you noticed the boilerplate Marxism I've been peddling?
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    making the world safe for capitalism... The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-yRKfD2GIk

    Here we are, seeking out the reds
    Trying to keep the communists in order
    Just remember when you're sleeping in your beds
    They're only two days drive from the texas border

    How can a country large as ours
    Be scared of such a threat
    Well if they won't work for us
    They're against us you can bet
    They may be sovereign countries
    But you folks at home forget
    That they all want what we've got
    But they don't know it yet

    We're making the world safe for capitalism

    Here we come with our candy and our guns
    And our corporate muscle marches in behind us
    For freedom's just another world for nothing left to sell
    And if you want narcotics we can get you those as well

    We help the multi-nationals
    When they cry out protect us
    The locals scream and shout a bit
    But we don't let that affect us
    We're here to lend a helping hand
    In case they don't elect us
    How dare they buy our products
    Yet still they don't respect us

    We're making the world safe for capitalism

    If you thought the army
    Was here protecting people like yourself
    I've some news for you
    We're here to defend wealth
    Away with nuns and bishops
    The good lord will help those that help themselves
    I've some news for you
    We're here to defend wealth

    We're making the world safe for capitalism
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    No, the real question is "Which side are you on?"

    Which side are you on?
    They say in Harlan County there are no neutrals there.
    You'll either be union man or thug for J. H. Blair.§
    Which side are you on?

    § Harlan County Kentucky is coal country. J. H. Blair was a County Sheriff in the pocket of union-busting miner-killing coal companies.

    Pete Seeger
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iAIM02kv0g

    Barry Bragg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbddqXib814
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    Wealth is a measure of your control over (1) value-creating mechanisms (production), and (2) distribution networks that can make them widely available.Agustino

    And how does the Hinduja family have control over production and distribution? They do it the old fashioned way. They own it.

    Well someone like the Hinduja family, they would help maybe 40-50 million or more people per year.Agustino

    Regular Mother Theresa's they are.

    It would be more accurate to say that 40-50 million people help the Hinduja family. Without their 75,000 employees and millions of consumers, the Hinduja family would be back in Karachi peddling used pots and pans from a small cart.

    Look: I think everybody understands that successful businesses are run by talented, hard-working, more-or-less honest opportunists and exploiters. The legal and political systems of the West, and some developed/developing countries is structured to disproportionately favor and facilitate opportunism and exploitation.

    Capitalism is based in that legal and political framework. Without it, opportunists and exploiters would have to resort to crude and primitive methods (a la mafia) to succeed. Capitalism avoids individual mafia operations by legalizing and enforcing exploitation of both workers and consumers by the opportunistic companies it spawns. At least it does now. In an earlier era of capitalism, there wasn't all that much difference between a crooked operation and a righteous one.

    I don't know how big your operation is. I am guessing you are more like a hard-working farmer who works by himself. He has to do all the hard work of running the small farm--and it is a lot of hard work. His profit at the end of the year are his own. If, however, he is a bright opportunist and owns many farms and employs many people, he will--of necessity, since he is a capitalist--exploit the people that work for him. He will get rich, they will not, though they are doing all the work and he merely cracks the whip.

    He will pay them as little as possible. He will fire them if they start organizing a union to protect their own interests. He will probably fire them if he thinks they are not working hard enough. He might not offer any health insurance. He might not give them vacation time. If unemployment in his neck of the woods is high, he will feel very secure. There's always somebody else who wants a job. If unemployment is very low, he might be forced to pay more, or offer benefits. If things get too bad, his employees might organize a walkout, leaving crops unharvested and several thousand cows waiting for their twice daily milking.

    Enlarge the situation to the size of the Hinduja family, and that will explain how they got where they are.

    I have to go now. I didn't get into the selling side of opportunism and exploitation.
  • In the debate over guns I hear backtracking on universal human rights
    Where good detective and police work are most needed is in the violent slums, where detectives and police don't like working very much. It is unacceptable for multiple killers to not be tracked down and arrested. Yes, it's difficult in the ghetto to do that, but it can be done.
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    If the rich see that their wealth might be confiscated in the near future, they will simply move it elsewhere before the law is passedThorongil

    It should be well within the capabilities of the G20, or G30, to bring an end to tax sheltering by pisspot countries.
  • The Facts Illustrate Why It's Wrong For 1% To Own As Much As 99%
    Maybe Sapientia can, but I can't guarantee that wealth distribution would not decrease the standard of living. Taking all the wealth of the rich and dividing it up evenly among the population would almost certainly not work out well. A better approach is to bring about change in the distribution of wealth more gradually.

    In one of my quoted passages, the economist noted that the present extremely disproportionate distribution of income was not always the case. The present imbalance has accumulated since the 1970s. Within the structure of this society, the best bet would be to squeeze the wealth out of the rich by a series of tax reforms which would aim at two things: Putting idle cash to work (like buying municipal bonds for infrastructure), and secondly, extracting the wealth through taxes. Tax law could make receiving an out-of-proportion income very disadvantageous.

    It is my belief that putting the rich on a stringent diet and gradually spreading the wealth would be constructive. Giving people a huge windfall would probably result in tons of wasted money and inflation, as way too much money suddenly started chasing the normal supply of goods.

    One of the changes I would like to see is a guaranteed minimum income. The economy has changed, and we are probably not going to see anything close to full, good employment again. Long-term unemployed and people who have left the workforce (because there was no work), need a minimum stable income both for social stability and for their own good. Everything paid to them will be spent back into the economy. It's really quite doable.