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Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization.  We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
   —   Abraham Flexner
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On This Day In:
2020 Haunting Illusions
True Color
Crackin’ The Flags
2019 Maybe A Slight Advantage
We Should Never Give Up On Our Dreams
2018 As I Recall
2017 Truly Generous
2016 Choose Your Destiny
2015 Fast And Firm
2014 Neither Head Nor Heart
2013 Lonely, Foolish, Love Songs
Batting 1.000
Coward, n.
2012 At Least A Little More Difficult
2011 Speaking Of Fear

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In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.  It is up to us.
   —    Carl Sagan
[An Inauguration and rejoining the Paris Climate Accords are just a start.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Hoping For #46 In January 2021
2019 Interesting, But Not Fascinating
But Try To Eat The Low-Hanging First
2018 Me, Too
2017 Apt Enough?
2016 Now Or Ever
21, Pause, Restart
2015 I Am Shocked, Sir, Shocked…
Lucy & FSND-2
2014 Less Difficult
2013 The Spirit Of Liberty
2012 The Essential Freedom Of Aloneness
2011 A Problem Of Scale
Fred Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
2010 Another Book, Another Jog…

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I just think that – when a country needs more income and we do, we’re only taking in 15 percent of GDP, I mean, that – that – when a country needs more income, they should get it from the people that have it.
   —    Warren Buffett
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On This Day In:
2020 Steppin’…
2019 Every Vote Counts
2018 Or A President
2017 Pleasures
2016 Why Not?
2015 Je Suis Charlie
2014 To The Nines
2013 Higher And Truer
2012 Life’s Last Question
2011 A Single Heartbeat
A Little Male Humor – WHY MEN SHOULDN’T RETIRE

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Aside from a moral obligation to treat workers well and pay them a living wage, there’s nothing to prevent more companies from jettisoning full-time employees and shifting to lower-paid gig workers.
They’d just be following what has been happening for decades in other fields.  Just as manufacturing shifted overseas for cheaper labor and as gig economy apps drove down wages for taxi and delivery drivers, the pandemic has hastened the gig-ification of white-collar jobs.  The gig economy might have been a crowded space before COVID-19, but the booming economy masked its workers’ struggles because many of them could find other jobs to supplement their income.  Now, that extra work has dried up, and their desperation is more evident than ever.  When gig work is the only pie that’s available to millions of people, sharing it means that some don’t even get crumbs.
   —    Alana Semuels
In her article: “As the gig economy grows, its workers’ paychecks shrink
In: Time Magazine, dtd: 1-8 June 2020
This article also appears online with a different title: “‘It’s a Race to the Bottom.’ The Coronavirus is Cutting Into Gig Worker Incomes as the Newly Jobless Flood Apps
The specific link is: https://time.com/5836868/gig-economy-coronavirus/
You may have to go through a paywall to view the online article.
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On This Day In:
2019 Or In This Case – What’s Wrong
2018 Just Passing Through
2017 True Torture
Happy Thanksgiving – 2017 !!
2016 Overtaken
2015 Alone Praying
2014 A Full Man
2013 Off Defending The Universe
Taking Precautions
2012 Never, Never, Never
2011 Testing 1, 2, 3

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“Are you a socialist?” Ted Turner asked Carl Sagan.  “I’m not sure what a socialist is,” Sagan replied.
But I believe the government has a responsibility to care for the people,” Sagan said.
“I’m talking about making people self-reliant, people able to take care of themselves,” he continued.  “There are countries which are perfectly able to do that.  The United States is an extremely rich country, it’s perfectly able to do that.  It chooses not to.  It chooses to have homeless people.”
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On This Day In:
2019 He Claims It’s Fake News And Spies
2018 Mine, Too
2017 Who’s Turn Is It Now?
2016 Before You Vote In November…
2015 Two Faithful Thoughts
2014 Love Light
Orange October (III) – Giants Advance To National League Championship Series (NLCS)
2013 Nothing Ridiculous
2012 Keeping Faith
2011 Summon Us, Don’t Criticize Us
2010 Obama’s Wars – Book Review
Game Two – Hearbreaking Loss

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In 1971 the social scientist Herbert Simon anticipated the attention economy when he wrote that in an information-rich world, the most scarce resource is the one that information itself consumes: attention.  “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently,” he wrote.  Here’s how the designers of our devices, social platforms, operating systems, and websites have decided to allocate our attention: They have placed a bounty on it, monetizing our data and our gaze.  Advertisements and other types of persuasive communication — political ads, entertainment, social media alerts — are all gunning for that bounty.
  —   Zeynep Tufekci
From her article: “In Praise Of One-Trick Ponies
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: October 2019
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On This Day In:
2019 Boxes
2018 Hoping For Better Come November
An Honest Binge
2017 Give And Keep
2016 No Change Here
2015 Campbell’s Law
2014 Dignified Values
2013 Unappreciated Skill
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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There is nothing wrong with, and much to be gained by, using our mind analytically, but to use it almost exclusively in this way is unbalanced and has a not insignificant responsibility for the perilous state of affairs on our planet.  Though the odds against it happening seem to be mounting, perhaps a more intuitive way of thinking about he world might help us to recognize and reduce in time our overdevelopment of and overdependence on the ever-growing machinery that is supposed to make our lives easier and better.  We are swept along by technological development so that in our urban environment, many of us interact increasingly with electronic devices and less with other human beings.  In addition, our culture is gradually losing our knowledge of and our direct connection with the natural or unprocessed things of the earth.  With a more intuitive way of thinking about our lives could come the realization that our very survival may depend on the other forms of life our present political and economic systems are destroying.  At the least, a better synthesis than we have now between the analytical and the intuitive, in which the intuitive gets equal attention, seems necessary to our longer-term welfare.
  —   Herman Kauz
From his book: “Push-Hands: The Handbook For Non-Competitive Tai Chi Practice With A Partner
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On This Day In:
2019 It’s Only Funny If You’re Old Enough To Know What “Film” Was
2018 Bourne Wicked Blonde
First Things First
2017 This Explains A Lot
2016 Me Too
2015 A Proper Price
2014 Well Hard
2013 Because I Can
Eloquence, n.
2012 Why Bother?
2011 Peculiar Notions

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If you don’t figure out how to make things work from a broader societal perspective, you will pay a steep price for many years.
    —    Brad Smith
President, Microsoft Corp.
As quoted by: Romesh Ratnesar
In his article: “Trust
Appearing in Time Magazine,  dtd:  16 September 2019
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On This Day In:
2019 Eureka!
2018 Learning About My Humanity
2017 Laugh Or Shake Your Head
2016 The Expected Cure
2015 Of Two Minds
2014 Pride And Remembrance
2013 Repeating Bad Memories
2012 No Sooner
2011 Just Cheesy!
Are You Illin’?

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It’s a simple fact that technology has been weaponized by private companies against democracy.  Corporations are not people.  They don’t have souls.  They’re institutions designed to make money.  And the way the government has always dealt with them is to regulate them to the point where they cease being dangerous to the public.
    —    Barry C. Lynn
Executive Director
Open Markets Institute
As quoted by: Romesh Ratnesar
In his article: “Trust
Appearing in Time Magazine,  dtd:  16 September 2019
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On This Day In:
2019 Does Terrible But Not Important Count?
2018 Have You Stretched Today?
The Original
2017 Being Nice
2016 Zero To Some = Most
2015 Born More Obligated
2014 Rage And Fury
2013 Successful Children
2012 For God So Loved The World
2011 Go Cheeseheads!!
Structured Mentality

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The central event of the twentieth century is the overthrow of matter.  In technology, economics, and the politics of nations, wealth in the form of physical resources is steadily declining in value and significance.  The powers of mind are everywhere ascendant over the brute force of things.
   —    George Gilder
[I wish this were true, but then I remember, we still have wars.  —   KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Up For Progress
Day 1.5: Done (For Now)
2017 And Second By Second
2016 Bakeries And Coffee Shops
2015 Spirit Not Form
2014 Sometimes Even Kneeling Seems Insufficient
2013 Hobgoblins
2012 Got Sleep?
2011 Not Another Barren Corner

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Technology feeds on itself.  Technology makes more technology possible.
  —  Alvin Toffler
From his book:  “Future Shock
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On This Day In:
2018 Great Views
Day 8: One At A Time
2017 Trump Supporters Will Always Find An Excuse
2016 More Posts
2015 A Last Request
2014 It Matters
2013 And You Are?
2012 Not Too Late
2011 Persistence
2009 Health Care?

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“An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity,” she says.  “I have never seen that, or experienced it, really, in my adult life.”
  —  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
As quoted by Charlotte Alter
In Ms. Alter’s interview / article: “The Making of AOC
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 3 April 2019
[Actually, they’ve seen nothing but prosperity.  What they haven’t seen is increasing personal prosperity or any hope it (increasing personal prosperity) will happen in their lifetime.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 The One Thing
2017 Never Give Up
2016 Which Generation Are We?
Congratulations, Kyle!
2015 Centered
2014 Economic Trinity
2013 At Both Ends
2012 Holding Allowance
2011 The Power Of Good

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Capitalism, however, has been here before.  One of its great historic strengths has been its ability to reform and change shape as social needs and democratic demands shift.  In the late 19th century, parties of the right in Europe brought in a wave of progressive reforms to suit the times, from expanded union rights to the social insurance that began the creation of the modern welfare state.  In these cases, there was a pragmatic and also a moral imperative at work to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.
Yet today, politicians and thinkers have largely stopped making the case for capitalism as a moral good.  What we have instead are abstract ideas about the supremacy of markets.  At the same time, the surges in inequality seen in country after country are corroding the moral principles that underpin capitalism.  The ethical basis for capitalism must be that it offers better life chances for a majority of citizens.  If it is failing to do that, what is the justification for its dominance as an economic system?  Little wonder that a Gallup poll found only 45% of U.S. young adults view capitalism positively, a 12-point decline in just two years.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to alter our lives to an even greater extent.  AI is best understood not as an upgrade of our existing structures but as a general-purpose technology (GPT), like electricity or the steam engine.  GPTs are transformative in their social and economic impacts, reaching into every aspect of life.  “Some people believe that it’s going to be on the scale of the Industrial Revolution,” says Demis Hassabis, the AI expert who co-founded the pioneering machine-learning company DeepMind.  “Other people believe it’s going to be the class of its own above that.”
The crucial factor for managing these changes is time.  In 1900, the proportion of the U.S. population who worked in agriculture was 38% and the proportion who worked in factories was 25%.  Today only 1.5% of the population works in agriculture and 7.9% in factories.  So there’s been a catastrophe of unemployment?  Absolutely not: the losses were more than made up for by growth in other sectors of the economy, which went from providing 24 million jobs in 1900 to some 150 million today.  Most of the new varieties of work simply didn’t exist at the dawn of the last century.  Given time, we know from experience that a society can manage this kind of transition.  The question is, do we have that time?
…Think about what the working life will be of a person who can expect to live for a full century.  What can we say about the likely span of her economic and political life?  The only absolute certainty is that it will involve change.  It will not be static.  It will not involve doing the same thing in the same place over and over again.  Unless we are all prepared for change, we are not prepared for the coming world of work.
At the individual level, the prescription for what we should do to prepare for this new landscape is relatively straightforward.  For a life of multiple careers and skills, people need an education that prepares them for a lifelong process of training and retraining.  They will need, more than anything else, to learn how to learn.  Flexibility and resilience will be crucial.  It won’t be easy, but at least we can see it clearly.  At the level of society it is harder.  Let’s be honest: this is a vision of insecurity, projected across a working life.  It is a clear principle of economic and political history—one we’re relearning today — that humans hate insecurity.
What we need is to rethink the relationship between the individual, the corporate sector and the state.  In recent decades, we have seen a “great risk shift” — to borrow the term of the Yale social scientist Jacob Hacker.  Individuals in temporary, insecure, giglike employment are taking on risks that used to belong to the corporate sector.  Not coincidentally, the share of GDP going to the corporate sector as profits has risen and the share accruing to labor as pay has gone down.
That trend, and that risk transfer, are not sustainable over time.  We need a social safety net focused on career support rather than just simple unemployment benefits.  Companies and individuals and the state must work together to build an enhanced and more flexible version of the welfare state that overlaps with lifelong training and education.
The architects of this new industrial revolution, by the way, agree with this proposition.  Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Facebook and one of the pioneers of deep learning, said recently that every economist he has spoken to agrees that governments must take measures to compensate for rising inequality brought about by technology.  “All of them believe this has to do with fiscal policy in the form of taxing, and wealth and income distribution.”
We also need a functioning marketplace.  The collapse of U.S. government action in the area of antitrust and competition law has led to a damaging concentration across most industries — from cable TV to airlines, online advertising and farming.  While a new generation of robber barons controls huge sections of the U.S. economy, corporate profits surge, wages stagnate, and fewer ordinary workers have reason to believe in the capitalist system.
The final component of what we do next concerns not what we do but what they do — “they” meaning the elites who have profited most from the trends of recent decades.  Quite simply, those elites have to pay their taxes.  They have to stop using offshore havens and accounting tricks to hide their wealth from the societies in which they live and from which they make their profits. Instead of founding think tanks and gorging on discussions about improving distant lives, they have to attend to the lives around them in the places they actually live.
A new emphasis on the role of the nation-state; a new partnership between the state and the private sector and the individual; new action on lifelong learning and training; higher and fairer taxes; less security for big corporations: these things shouldn’t be unthinkable.  It is strange and sad that the least likely thing on my wish list is the idea that elites will change their behavior.
But elites may have to change if they don’t want change to be imposed on them.  This coming wave of technological transformation has the potential to be the most serious challenge modern capitalism has faced.  For people who don’t have the chance to change and adapt and re-skill, a pitiless world ruled by algorithms and machine learning, in which they have no utility, no relevant skills and no security, could look completely unlivable.  Facing that prospect, the populations of the developed world may do things that make the current populist moment look polite, low-key and lawful.
    —    John Lanchester
From his article in Time Magazine (dtd: Feb4/11, 2019): “Economy: Leveling The Playing Field
The article also appears online as: “The Next Industrial Revolution Is Coming.  Here’s How We Can Ensure Equality
The link to the entire online version is: http://time.com/collection/davos-2019/5502589/next-industrial-revolution/
[Please note: This article is extensively quoted without permission from the author or from Time Magazine.  I personally subscribe to the physical version of Time Magazine and have done so for almost 50 years now.  I make no claim to ownership of the article or its ideas.  I do NOT normally post so extensively from an article, but this was (to me) a powerful article about the future of civilization, so I have made an exception.  The ellipses indicate where I have edited out portions of the article.  I hope neither the author nor Time Magazine will object to my editing or use of the article.  Obviously, I encourage all of my readers to go to read the original.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 New And Old
2017 Ever
2016 At The Center
2015 True Value In Life
2014 A Potential To Be Concerned
2013 Fine No More
2012 Have You Checked Your Height Lately?
2011 Are You Convinced?

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Wealth should be like manure in the field.  When it is in a big pile it makes a bad smell.  But when it is distributed everywhere across the field, it makes the soil fertile.
   —    Leo Tolstoy
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On This Day In:
2017 No Universal Thinking
2016 Supervise The Results
2015 Just Magic!
2014 It Lies Ahead…
2013 At Least One Difference
2012 Are We, Are We?
On Not Playing The Game
Scale
2011 Nutcracker And Nooks
Seeing Differences

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Global climate change is one of the causes for the current drought in California and across much of the mid-west and southwestern United States.  Despite what #IncompetentDonald says, that’s just the unfortunate truth.  The thing about science AND reality is they don’t care whether you believe in them or not OR what political party you support.
On visiting the California Camp (Butte County) fire area and viewing the town of Paradise which was destroyed by the recent fire, #PresidentIdiot said we can deal with forest fires the way they do in Finland by raking the underbrush.  If only we had better land management.  Setting aside the fact this is a lie – the Finn’s don’t manage their forests by raking brush and that their President never told Trump they did, as #PresidentTrumpIsALiar claims, let’s take a look at what this “proposal” might cost (this is just a scribbling on the napkin guesstimate):
First I Google’d how many acres of forest land there are in California (Federal land only):   19,000,000 acres
Next I Google’d how long it takes to clear 1 acre of land of leaves – (in a level garden, using a blower and machine lawn-mowers / cutters):  3 men x 3 hours = 9 man-hours per acre.  This includes bagging and taking the leaves to the dump.  This was a private sector estimate at $40 per hour per person and with supervisory overhead (profit margin), a minimum of $500 bid for the job.  Please, note the bids I found are for back yards and gardens.  The quotes are not for brush, hills, mountains and dense forests which may either have no roads or be too steep / rugged to have road access.  In other words, you’ll have to hike there just to use that rake of yours.
That’s a rough $9.5 BILLION dollars ($500 x 19,000,000 acres)!!!  But, of course, we all KNOW that the private sector is MUCH more efficient than the government, so we can assume this is an accurate estimate and a lower cost than if the job were done by Federal workers.
So, how many workers is that?
19,000,000 acres * 9 man-hours per acre = 171,000,000 man-hours
171,000,000 man-hours / 2,000 man-hours per year of work = 85,500 man-years of raking.  (The good news is you don’t need a high school diploma to use a rake.)  Talk about full employment and a Civilian Conservation Corps!!!!
The most level management organization in the world is (wait for it…) the Catholic Church which has ONLY four levels between the parish priest and the Pope (Monsignor (parish), Bishop (diocese), Cardinal (region), Pope (Church) ).  If we adopt the standard rule of seven for supervisor efficiency (except at the bottom of the table) we are left with also hiring 1 supervisor per 36 rakers (2,375 supervisors), 1 manager per 7 supervisors (340 mngrs),  1 senior manager per 7 managers (49 senior mngrs), 1 executive per 7 senior mngrs (7 execs), and 1 “Head of Raking for California”.   Yes, I know that’s 5 levels not 4 (like the Church), but the numbers are the numbers and we don’t have God to routinely make miracles for us.
So, that’s an extra 2,772 folks who will be on staff but not raking.  Now, obviously, these folks are going to make a lot more than the $40 the private sector was going to charge for a “raker”, but let’s assume it’s ONLY $50 / hour.  The cost of this management will be:  $277,200,000.
So, President Trump’s “idea / proposal” to rake the underbrush to prevent future fires will need to hire / use about 88 THOUSAND people and cost  somewhere around $9.8 BILLION per year.  And that’s ONLY for Federal land in California.  And, let’s not get into who’s going to drive the trucks moving the undergrowth to the dump and / or where we’re going to find landfills large enough to hold all of the compost.  Oh, don’t forget the cost of the rakes and the plastic bags to hold the undergrowth during transport.  It boggles the mind…
This is the kind of ridiculous suggestion you get from a man who is so stupid he believes he is smarter than “his” generals (we are still in the Middle East and Afghanistan), “his” economists (we still have no tax relief for the middle class), “his” political advisors (Republicans just lost the House in the mid-terms), and “his” intelligence services (Russian had nothing to do with #DumbDonald getting elected), let alone “who knew healthcare was so complicated” (we still have no Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act).  Basically, this is what happens when you elect an incompetent con-man / grifter to be President.
And, no, I don’t seriously believe any company in the private sector is going to pay someone $40 / hour to rake / blow leaves.  I do believe that is what they will charge you, though.  Okay, enough scribbling…
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On This Day In:
2017 Federal Deficit, National Debt And Tax Cuts For The 1%
2016 Picky, Picky, Picky
2015 Another Limitation On Religion
2014 Enduring
2013 Tell Me More…
2012 Passing…
2011 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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