Showing posts with label economics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economics. Show all posts

Friday, April 1, 2016

Winning Is Not the Only Thing

For white dudes winning is the only thing. Winning is a zero sum game by definition. If you are not a winner you are a loser. It is possible to opt out, even for white dudes, but their culture makes it hard to do. White dudes from little leagues, to presidential candidates are taught that those who do not win are losers. Doing whatever it takes to win is not only acceptable it is exemplary. Destroy your body and life with drugs? If that is what it takes to win -- go for it. Destroying your family and friends to take the next step to the win, no problem, they will be destroyed anyway if you lose. Winners can buy new families and friends. Ersatz families and friends flock to winners. It is all part of the game. If you can't win by the rules, simply change the rules. If winning is the only thing, rules like taxes are for the ordinary people. (AlphaGo is a white dude machine. If it can't win it seems to stoop to insults in losing.)

There are other ways of living your life. White dudes rigging the rules so that heads I win, tails you lose means opting out of the game is the only rational solution for most people especially those that are not white dudes. Trying to play by white dude rules means accepting the heads white guys win, tails you rules that are provided by the white dudes. Those challenging the white dudes at their game are never going to win. The only option is to opt out of the white guy zero sum game. This is frequently done by white guys, you just never hear about them. You see, they are failures. No matter what they have done for themselves, their families, or humanity, they didn't win and therefore are failures.

Opting out at one point in US history was a respectable and adequately compensated choice for most men and some women willing to work. In the post WWII consumer driven economy unemployment was low and temporary for most willing and able workers, and even marginal workers were able to provide necessities for their families. That all changed by design when the white guys invented Voodoo Economics and found an unemployed actor to sell it for them. The bigoted white guys were already in congress and once voodoo economics and right to work laws made opting out difficult if not impossible; the winners were fewer and fewer and took all the winnings. This works for a while, but sooner or later those that can no longer opt out and still survive reclaim their lives, traditionally in America by electing a progressive, but with pitchforks if that fails. In the words of Kris Kristofferson/Fred Foster made famous by the iconic failure Janis Joplin "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."

The only way to prevent this is to provide a way for people to opt out comfortably if not necessarily successfully. Providing basic needs for those who opt out, see Scandinavian socialism and post war unions, makes it possible for people to opt out of the zero sum game and still be human. In a modern society where mass production is essentially labor free, the consumption driver for the economy is gone. Some countries are recognizing this and providing a basic stipend that is liveable if not comfortable. Those who wish to contribute to society, and most reasonable people do, will find ways to contribute with artisanship, sale of intangibles on crowd funding sites, and innovation. None of which is possible for a person struggling to feed a family or even hermself.

I was brought up by a famous athlete who opted out of the winning game, probably because he was too nice a guy and nice guys are losers, and found a niche for himself in what is now called Human Relations Management. There are no winners in that field, pay is not commensurate with the responsibility of not only providing the necessary support for those who might become winners, but not incidentally those who are not winners but still contribute to the enterprise. One of the earliest admonitions from dad was a 1908 quote from Grantland Rice
For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name
He writes—not that you won or lost—but how you played the Game.
recycled in a poem Alumnus Football, which I just read for the first time in researching the quote, which is a poem about life after being a super star athlete, in a game where the rules are the white guy rules of winners and losers. My impression from dad and from others was that originally at least for the athlete the game was more important than the W. Perhaps the loss of that attitude is what is wrong with the American culture and economy today. 

From a very limited exposure to Chinese culture, it seems that this attitude of playing well at whatever level you are at is the most important thing. Western culture has intruded a bit, but even Apple is finding that exploitation, that is creating losers, is a losing game in the East. There is an adage among Asian weiqi players, "If your life is troubled; look to your weiqi game. Perhaps Google should learn from that.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reparations and Politics   In which At-Nehisi Coates takes Bernie Sanders to task for not feeling guilty enough about white supremecy to insist on reparations.

You can't unscramble an omelet. Reparations like affirmative action polarize society and are therefore political suicide. I notice that Coates has no suggestions on how to make reparations work. Just that they are his wet dream of something or another. And where do you begin with the reparations? Native Americans? Black men? Black women? White women? American Veterans? There have been enough atrocities in the USofA let alone the rest of the planet, that choosing one group for reparations would merely turn all of the equally deserving victims into enemies of both the recipient and the granter of the reparations.  Add to that the white supremacists who think they earned their supremacy and are entitled to the spoils.  Any attempt to redistribute those spoils is politically impossible, particularly if any single group is singled out as more deserving than the rest.  What is Coates' plan to attack white supremacy?

At least Bernie Sanders has a plan to redistribute wealth that has a chance of helping all disadvantaged citizens. 
  • Single payer medicine treats all the same, the rich and the poor have equal rights to sleep under the hospital roof and receive the same care. While the comfortable may choose to pay a premium to heal in first class, they get to the same result at the same time.  
  • Higher education for all at any college one can be accepted into at no cost is at least theoretically egalitarian.  Different preparation and support from parents and mentors will tip the playing field so that those with less preparation will be at a disadvantage, but so will the  lazy and stupid denizens of the privileged.  
  • Rebuilding the infrastructure using local labor is ideally egalitarian although political reality is less so.  The best one can do politically is focusing your infrastructure on the disadvantaged areas and hire locally.
  • Breaking up banks and making the local subsidiaries responsible for fraudulent activities by making restitution to those damaged paid for by punitive fines to the National banksters would help all equally but since the disadvantaged were the primary victims they would be primary beneficiaries.  As an example if Banks were required to return fraudulent foreclosed homes to the original mortgagee repaired to code compliance where known or to homeless families where the original mortgagee is unavailable homelessness would be a minor problem.   There are more foreclosed homes unoccupied today than there are homeless.  
  • A living minimum wage is known to raise living standards for all as minimum wage earners spend essentially all of their earnings.  A living wage is a foundation that supports all wages as employers who require more than minimum skills will be forced to raise wages to attract the skills they need.  A living wage is also "fuck you" money against an exploitive employer as the employee is not a paycheck away from destitution.    

     Have you read "A Case for Reparations?" -  Coates

OK. I read it. I see a lot evidence that black people (Coates usage) have been treated badly and therefore deserve special consideration but I see no case for reparations as the only or even a desirable solution. In particular I see no case at all that reparations should be considered by Sanders or would be a better solution than Sanders' announced policies to mitigate the problems of all the disadvantaged. As black people are heavily over represented in the disadvantaged population, why commit political suicide by advocating reparations. Simply giving foreclosed housing back to the former owners and forcing the bank to pay for code compliance would overwhelmingly benefit the black population as Coates notes in the article.

I agree that the case for reparations for all I mentioned in my post is unassailable. So is the case for justice for unarmed blacks killed by police. And a thousand similar cases of injustice. But aside from "Look at what a good slactivist I am." what do the arguments accomplish.

     That's part of why affirmative action is still so essential.

Please compare for me affirmative action and "a truly blind admissions" policy on graduate success if the university is paid the same for all admissions. There will still be structural differences, but the stupid white guys wouldn't even get in the door. 
Most of the top tier private universities are "need blind" in admissions, but preferences are given to athletes, legacies, and rich kids. I suspect they consider ethnic balance and gender issues as well.  I know of one top University that first sorts applications on academic excellence, that is, those below these standards are not suitable for admission under any subcategory.  Once that threshold is passed department heads, coaches and development people are permitted to assign preferences: Superstar, preference, and desirable.  Once those preference tiers are considered, the admissions department applies demographic and gender preferences to the mix and admissions are issued. 

Many elite High Schools today have to discriminate against North and South Asian women to get a balanced student body. That is, give the white boys a chance.  Both Lowell and Lincoln HS are magnet schools in SF with a high Asian demographic. IIRC both tried to restrict Asian admissions by applying a higher academic standard for Asians. At least Lowell has resolved the issue by restricting academic admissions to 70% of the admissions.  The other 30% come from middle school recommendations based partly on academic excellence but considering other criteria including special preference for schools underrepresented in last year's admissions.   

Affirmative action like reparations in the absence of other indications of merit are simply causes for failure and resentment.  Lotteries are a good indication of rewards based on nothing but chance.  Most winners end up worse off eventually than they were before winning, victims of "advisors" and other scam artists that help them get rid of their windfall.  Perhaps I am simply lacking in imagination, but I can think of no way to administer reparations that would not cause resentment among those in the reparation class that missed out which inevitably would be a large majority if reparations are significant for any recipient.  

I assume this is why Coates refuses to spell out how reparations would work for black people.  Just that reparations are like motherhood and apple pie. They are all great concepts until somebody has to decide who gets the child subsidy or the apple pie. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Just Wanting to Be.

From Facebook
I want to live simply.  I want to sit by the window
when it rains and read books I'll never be tested on.
I want to paint because I want to, not because I've got
something to prove.  I want to listen to my body, fall
asleep when the moon is high and wake up slowly,
with no place to rush off to.  I want not to be governed
by money or clocks or any artificial restraints
that humanity imposes on itself.
I just want to be, boundless
and infinite.
Unknown Author
The comment 
A guaranteed personal stipend would make this possible. If your infinite boundlessness includes contributing to your society you can climb out of your narcissism and do so.
was taken as an insult by the poster who saw the image as an enjoyable reading and posted it apparently without further thought. 

The quote from the image seems to be new age and stolen by the OP, but no worries, it is a common new age failing.  They just want to be, sourcing quotes, and other intellectualizing is to be avoided.  
Possibly the new ager stole it from a Zen writing, the thinking is Zen, the word tracks are new age. 

But to our muttons.  The stipend, assuming it is sufficient for the basics of living, universal medical care as part of the package would be a fascinating gumption (Pirsig sense) filter.  Some of a new age bent would read by the window, smear paint on canvas, with no thought other than personal ego enrichment. Perhaps staring at their own reflection in a pool should be added to the list.  

Others would simply vegetate in front of whatever is popular on the big screen at the time, tweet or snapchat, and otherwise remove themselves from the gene-meme pool.  No judgmentalism, removing oneself from the gene-meme pool is a popular and possibly reasonable choice given the human condition today.  And not bothering your neighbor humans while doing so is laudable.  

A few may decide that Homo Sap. is salvagable and try to do what they can to improve the lives of others if only by giving away that painting to a friend to show that you are at least trying to bring a bit of joy to someone else.  It might end up on the refrigerator door with the kids but at least you cared enough to share.  Then again it might end up on someone's wall, probably virtual these days, for others to enjoy.   Or perhaps think about that book that you read by the rainy window.  Maybe it was good enough to share and discuss with others who can read.  They are the only ones who matter in any event, and maybe you all can teach others to read.  It may seem futile, as reading and thinking about it are discouraged by all media these days as reading and thinking about it are fatal to belief, bigotry and hatred.  But there are a few out there that do so and they are the last hope for this media saturated world bent on the destruction of all for the profit of the few.  Too bad the few won't survive in the gene-meme pool either except, if we are lucky, as warnings along with all the others that put personal ideology or gain against the rest of the world.  

It is fortunate that some of the countries in the far north are realizing that those who must spend every waking moment staying alive have no time to read books or paint even with nothing to prove. They are already providing free meds and education for as long as one can get admitted, and some sort of universal basic income is being implemented.   If I were much younger I would probably move to one of the smaller countries north of the 50th parallel which are likely to survive the destruction of the temperate zones which seems irreversable at this point.  My choice would be Iceland if only because the Universal Basic Income is already in place and the Jolabokaflod, or the "ChristmasBook Flood." is a delightful tradition where people actually spend Christmas Eve reading.      

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

San Francisco, Manhattan, Transit, and Gentrification

From a Facebook post on New Subways in SF.
 New Yorkers do not lament Manhattan. Super high density south along the waterfront with subway access to downtown, (midtown in Manhattan) gives the best of all worlds. I lived in midtown for 22 years in NYC and took subways everywhere north, east, south and west. I even took a subway to Hoboken to get to my car. Car was only good to west and southwest. Even the occasional trip north was easier west of the Hudson.  J'Carlin 

Current political correct thinking among the marginal middle class is that gentrification is bad.  It displaces the poor, and incidentally the marginal middle class, in favor of all those productive rich techies, many of whom are not like "us."  "We" do not want SF to be like Manhattan, the ultimate in gentrification. 

The problem with this thinking is that transportation is what enables the marginal middle class and the poor to take advantage of gentrification, as service people to the gentry.   In Manhattan in my lifetime the lower east side, Hell's Kitchen and everything north of 96th street was tied to downtown and midtown by the subway system, so that servers, artists, and grifters were a short cheap ride from the source of all the "New Money" that is money generated externally from the local economy.   


Friday, September 30, 2011

Elizabeth Warren on Success

Perhaps the lesson for the wealthy that trashing the social support is trashing self will soon be apparant. The writing is on the wall, and the night is falling.

No less of a Robber Baron than Henry Ford said (paraphrased) if I pay my workers enough to afford a car they will buy one and support the economy. The other car companies had to follow and for better or for worse the American economy was built on the automobile and the auto workers. Short lived as all progress is, by the late 20's wealth was moving up again and Hoover was attached to informal communities all over the country.

I recently read an article that by the end of each month even Wal-Mart is finding out that starvation wages can't even buy the cheapest shit in town.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Gospel of Wealth

Op-Ed Columnist - The Gospel of Wealth -

"The United States once had a Gospel of Wealth: a code of restraint shaped by everybody from Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie. The code was designed to help the nation cope with its own affluence. It eroded, and over the next few years, it will be redefined."

Please note that the Robber Barons of the 19th Century did well by doing good. Building the railroads, the banks, the commercial empires, the utilities etc. Some frittered away their fortunes, others used them to create libraries, universities, and other public assets. But the important thing was the way they made their money. Today's super rich are rebuilding the financial system, the information infrastructure, and the other necessities of modern living.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Scientific Illiteracy in America

Scientific Illiteracy in America - Beliefnet :

"The good science journalists, are no longer found on the general news channels. They are on the blogs sponsored by the real science popular journals that are written at the GED level or higher. The US is headed for a self selected third world underclass of science and general education illiterates coexisting with an educated small segment of the society that does the science, technology, and economics that matters.

Whether or not this educated minority will be able to support the third world underclass is mostly a political issue but I suspect that the third world economists will insure that meaningful adequate 'stimulus' support to pay for the subsistence retail jobs will be shouted down by the couch potato media and their 'conservative' that is super rich supporters. I hope the fundamentalist churches are up to providing the beds for the believers that will need them."

America Goes Dark -

Op-Ed Columnist - America Goes Dark - "The antigovernment campaign has always been phrased in terms of opposition to waste and fraud — to checks sent to welfare queens driving Cadillacs, to vast armies of bureaucrats uselessly pushing paper around. But those were myths, of course; there was never remotely as much waste and fraud as the right claimed. And now that the campaign has reached fruition, we’re seeing what was actually in the firing line: services that everyone except the very rich need, services that government must provide or nobody will, like lighted streets, drivable roads and decent schooling for the public as a whole.

So the end result of the long campaign against government is that we’ve taken a disastrously wrong turn. America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Overpopulation Solution

The harmful aspects of religion - Beliefnet

And what do you propose we do about all those overpopulated areas of the earth? Haiti is a perfect example. It has a population density of 10 or 11 times the USA. Please help us poor theists know what is right. Should we send them more food, medicine and cash to help them 'rebuild' their country? What does science tell us is right?

J'C: "The dismal science: Economics, says food, medicine and cash, without rebuilding or building the infrastructure, will simply make the problems worse. The men, now fed and healthy will continue to rape their wives or women according to the dictates of their God whenever they are not pregnant, whether or not the men have the resources to support the resulting children.

The real solution is to carpet bomb the areas with contraceptive sponges with native language instruction on how to use them. Condoms would help as a supplement and for disease prevention, but you would have to teach the women how to put them on the men without their consent. (With their teeth, no man can resist a blow job.) But the key is to give women control over their fecundity. The sponge won't come out until the woman can afford the next child. 'Hey, prick, if you want to be a father, fork over the support.'"

This has been a hot button since a news article about an Imam telling people it is all right to rape your wives if they do not consent to more children. And the Pope saying no contraception under any circumstances. Sure a lot of American and European Catholics tell the Pope where he can jerk off and do whatever makes sense to them, but the poorer Catholic nations don't have that luxury. The math is simple 1+1=2 or 2.2 to be exact. Any more than that and you doom your country to poverty and the next natural disaster or war will cure it. It is a dismal science but if you can't do the math you lose.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tax, borrow or inflate.

Theism - anti-democratic? :

I think that democracy is terrible at self-correction, since democratic governments tend to increase taxes, borrow, or inflate the money supply 'unsustainably', and it is very difficult to reverse this process.

"As my Econ Prof said, so what? Governments have many ways to pay for the pork and wars and the pork and wars generate income so it all comes out even in the end. By the way this is true for all government types, democracy has no patent on tax, borrow or inflate."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Poker Insight and investing

Poker Insight: "You can find a step-by-step tutorial on all this, free of charge, at — start at the beginning and see how far you want to take it. If you learn enough to realize that you don't know enough, find an investment advisor who understands these concepts and has the long-term track record to prove it. There is a saying in the poker world that applies to the stock market: if you can't tell who the patsy is, you're the patsy."

The link is a decent quick introduction to playing the market. I haven't checked out the wealtheffect.

In Defense of the Recession Blame Game - TIME

In Defense of the Recession Blame Game - TIME: "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, except that right now everyone wants a little piece of it. The mob has been chanting for months, ever since former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson arrived in late September on Capitol Hill to warn of disaster, pass around his three-page plan and demand $700 billion to fix the problem."

Or from their chemicals on dead trees edition:

The venting of spleen is not a science--it is a joy.

Go on line and vote for your favorites.

They are all there Mozilo, Graham, Paulson, Fuld, and of course Madoffwiththesmartmoney.

I had a little trouble with Madoff. How bad is it to screw people who should know better and agreed to the screwing. As I am well known to say victimless crimes are not crimes, where do I stand on this? I have little sympathy for victims of Ponzi schemes, and pyramid scams. They all think they will get out on time. But as you will see in the next post. Look for the patsy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trickle down economics

Finally we really get to see what they mean.

Tom Toles.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dear American

McCain, you must be joking!!! - Beliefnet Forums: "'Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Selecting the Bail Outs

Can we just ignore the fire on Wall St.?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Morality of Consumption

The Religion of the Market - Beliefnet Forums: "As one trained in Economics, it is not clear that consumption is particularly immoral. Whatever is consumed, is produced, and the producers derive economic benefit from the production. They in turn consume the production of others, who benefit right down to the peasants driven off their subsistence farms in China."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Economic Success and Community Service

Intuitive vs. Rational thinking - Beliefnet Forums: "Just because the brilliant doctor is paid well for using his intelligence to cure cancer, does not mean he is not using his inherited gift to serve the community."