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Inequality

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    Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 03:33
How much is inequality in society a representation of solid economic laws? Is it just deserts for efforts made? How skewed is compensation for contribution to the economy, or is it skewed at all? How much is the field of economics an extension of politics, or is it something else?
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Great questions Captain Vancouver but first I want to ask you a question that I have been pondering from your other posts.

What do you feel are the practical limitation that a government faces in an attempt to establish rational income equality?  First I think we need to agree that income equality does not mean all incomes are equal only that the distribution is rational and somehow tied to contribution?   
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I think you are going back and forth.  If inequality is representation of the economic principles then surely it is a kind of politics which extend out of the economics field and economics is not the derivative of politics.
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 05:29
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Great questions Captain Vancouver but first I want to ask you a question that I have been pondering from your other posts.

What do you feel are the practical limitation that a government faces in an attempt to establish rational income equality?  First I think we need to agree that income equality does not mean all incomes are equal only that the distribution is rational and somehow tied to contribution?   

Policy is limited by popular support, political will, and technical competence. The first element is probably the most volatile, and can be swayed as much by fashion and trend as much as by educated consensus. 

After billions invested in promotion, the politics of the far right are now popular in many segments of Americans society, with the same fervor that bell bottomed pants and peace symbols were in the '60s.

This was not always the case. In the '50s, a relatively prosperous time, the tax system assumed a steep curve, with top rates at 90%. Times changes, as do fashion.....and spin efforts.

The thing that holds back initiatives such as a more progressive tax system, and greater spending on social programs, is the belief that it cannot be done. An invisible hand will creep through the marketplace, they would maintain, and slap people about the head and shoulders for trying such heresy. History, I'd say, proves otherwise (as do some prominent economists), but belief can often trump reality.

Other regions accept a higher tax, higher service economy, and they can hardly be said to be hard done by.

Who should get what is of course a complex question. Clearly paying everybody $30/month, Cuban style, is not on. I'd also float the idea that assuming a hedge fund manager who makes $30 billion in a year is earning every penny, is equally unsustainable and nonsensical. 

Ultimately, there is a huge amount of subjectivity in determining the value of input into society. It seems to me the key is to get as many as possible into the middle ground. That is, enough income to spend and promote growth in the community, but not so much that distortions grow through the use of funds in frivolous or low value expenditure. A vibrant middle class, in others words, with just small outliers at the top and bottom ends.

Our movement into the affluent, egalitarian society we have come to see as normal today really began with the active promotion of a middle class. The financial and tax reforms that flowed from the great depression, and the social programs after WW2 expanded that vast middle ground, and made the successful society of the 50s and 60s.
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The hedge fund manager is not earning every penny.  He is however allowing that exchange to take place.  It is only sustainable in so far as there is a demand for it.  In fact the fact that such an exchange takes place and allows businesses to become possible is also at the crux of the growth of a stable middle income society.  The US also became rich after WW2 in part because it took many high tech design from Germany, Italy, and Japan and converted them for output on American soil.
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 07:08
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Great questions Captain Vancouver but first I want to ask you a question that I have been pondering from your other posts.

What do you feel are the practical limitation that a government faces in an attempt to establish rational income equality?  First I think we need to agree that income equality does not mean all incomes are equal only that the distribution is rational and somehow tied to contribution?   

Policy is limited by popular support, political will, and technical competence. The first element is probably the most volatile, and can be swayed as much by fashion and trend as much as by educated consensus. 

After billions invested in promotion, the politics of the far right are now popular in many segments of Americans society, with the same fervor that bell bottomed pants and peace symbols were in the '60s.

This was not always the case. In the '50s, a relatively prosperous time, the tax system assumed a steep curve, with top rates at 90%. Times changes, as do fashion.....and spin efforts.

The thing that holds back initiatives such as a more progressive tax system, and greater spending on social programs, is the belief that it cannot be done. An invisible hand will creep through the marketplace, they would maintain, and slap people about the head and shoulders for trying such heresy. History, I'd say, proves otherwise (as do some prominent economists), but belief can often trump reality.

Other regions accept a higher tax, higher service economy, and they can hardly be said to be hard done by.

Who should get what is of course a complex question. Clearly paying everybody $30/month, Cuban style, is not on. I'd also float the idea that assuming a hedge fund manager who makes $30 billion in a year is earning every penny, is equally unsustainable and nonsensical. 

Ultimately, there is a huge amount of subjectivity in determining the value of input into society. It seems to me the key is to get as many as possible into the middle ground. That is, enough income to spend and promote growth in the community, but not so much that distortions grow through the use of funds in frivolous or low value expenditure. A vibrant middle class, in others words, with just small outliers at the top and bottom ends.

Our movement into the affluent, egalitarian society we have come to see as normal today really began with the active promotion of a middle class. The financial and tax reforms that flowed from the great depression, and the social programs after WW2 expanded that vast middle ground, and made the successful society of the 50s and 60s.

For once I don't have much to disagree with you on.  I know 20 questions gets tedious but what about unions?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 07:40
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

The hedge fund manager is not earning every penny.  He is however allowing that exchange to take place.  It is only sustainable in so far as there is a demand for it.  In fact the fact that such an exchange takes place and allows businesses to become possible is also at the crux of the growth of a stable middle income society.  The US also became rich after WW2 in part because it took many high tech design from Germany, Italy, and Japan and converted them for output on American soil.

I don't think I would use the word "allow". There is a regulatory framework that allows him to do what he is doing. What he is doing is milking the system to maximize his own return, in disregard of larger social values.

And who is demanding such pay scales? Surely not the mutual fund investor, or the day trader, or the bank officer charged with maintaining pension funds, or much of anyone else short of Wall Street wise guys, who see the world as a farmyard full of pork, ripe for the taking from the hayseed yokels supposedly in charge.

Business is possible due to the rule of law, a stable society, and regulations that have evolved over time in order to promote fairness and pro-social values. When these things are eroded (and they certainly are today), business becomes more problematic, and will start to resemble a jungle ecosystem more closely than it does a Norman Rockwell painting, if left unchecked. Business did not create a middle class society, indeed, it resisted it. It was only a groundswell of public opinion, expressed politically, that created the society we see today.

The US became rich after WW2, but so did other regions, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and eventually Europe and Japan. They did so not because they had found some exotic technology, but because they moved to a more egalitarian system, one that promoted middle class incomes and jobs, and moved away from the more rightest values of the '30s and previous times.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 07:44
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Great questions Captain Vancouver but first I want to ask you a question that I have been pondering from your other posts.

What do you feel are the practical limitation that a government faces in an attempt to establish rational income equality?  First I think we need to agree that income equality does not mean all incomes are equal only that the distribution is rational and somehow tied to contribution?   

Policy is limited by popular support, political will, and technical competence. The first element is probably the most volatile, and can be swayed as much by fashion and trend as much as by educated consensus. 

After billions invested in promotion, the politics of the far right are now popular in many segments of Americans society, with the same fervor that bell bottomed pants and peace symbols were in the '60s.

This was not always the case. In the '50s, a relatively prosperous time, the tax system assumed a steep curve, with top rates at 90%. Times changes, as do fashion.....and spin efforts.

The thing that holds back initiatives such as a more progressive tax system, and greater spending on social programs, is the belief that it cannot be done. An invisible hand will creep through the marketplace, they would maintain, and slap people about the head and shoulders for trying such heresy. History, I'd say, proves otherwise (as do some prominent economists), but belief can often trump reality.

Other regions accept a higher tax, higher service economy, and they can hardly be said to be hard done by.

Who should get what is of course a complex question. Clearly paying everybody $30/month, Cuban style, is not on. I'd also float the idea that assuming a hedge fund manager who makes $30 billion in a year is earning every penny, is equally unsustainable and nonsensical. 

Ultimately, there is a huge amount of subjectivity in determining the value of input into society. It seems to me the key is to get as many as possible into the middle ground. That is, enough income to spend and promote growth in the community, but not so much that distortions grow through the use of funds in frivolous or low value expenditure. A vibrant middle class, in others words, with just small outliers at the top and bottom ends.

Our movement into the affluent, egalitarian society we have come to see as normal today really began with the active promotion of a middle class. The financial and tax reforms that flowed from the great depression, and the social programs after WW2 expanded that vast middle ground, and made the successful society of the 50s and 60s.

For once I don't have much to disagree with you on.  I know 20 questions gets tedious but what about unions?

If I'm to sing the "Internationale", I'll have to dig up an old worker's cap, and red armband.

What about unions specifically?
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Captain Vancouver The thing about hedge funds which I'll just call the money market for a more generalized view is that it is the fundamental bedrock of wealth creation in the ultra modern era.  This is referring to the creation of wealth not in equal terms with tangible assets such as metals, property value, commodities and stuff like that but the age of super vast conglomerations which handle anything as derivative as marketing, entertainment subscriptions, wealth management etc. which These are in essence support industries which grew on top of the more concrete industries below such as construction and even good old fashioned banking.

The US's most expensive plane is the B-52 stealth bomber which costs 2 billion a piece.  It was modeled off of the German's development of some floating wing concept.  When Germany lost the war to the allies they had to give up everything that was part of their military industrial complex.  The only thing that kept them going was their well trained population which many in fact came to work for the US.

^Actually those "non tangible" wealth creation models are somewhat based on concrete things as they require technology such as satellite communication and large databases and obviously internet and computers.


Edited by literaryClarity - 07 Jun 2015 at 08:13
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

Captain Vancouver The thing about hedge funds which I'll just call the money market for a more generalized view is that it is the fundamental bedrock of wealth creation in the ultra modern era.  This is referring to the creation of wealth not in equal terms with tangible assets such as metals, property value, commodities and stuff like that but the age of super vast conglomerations which handle anything as derivative as marketing, entertainment subscriptions, wealth management etc. which These are in essence support industries which grew on top of the more concrete industries below such as construction and even good old fashioned banking.

I realize that the term "wealth creation" is much tossed about by financial vendors these days, but its meaning is more promotional than factual. Ultimately, wealth is based on natural resources, incremental improvements in technology and infrastructure, and most particularly in an educated and engaged workforce. Take away these, and you take away wealth. 

The banking and financial sectors are auxiliary to the larger economy; essential, yes, but not the foundation of wealth, merely the manipulators and organizers of it. It is only relatively recently that the financial sector has swollen to the large size it is today, in part I suspect due to deregulation, and hence the dangling carrot of getting rich quick and easily for some, and also the relative decline of traditional careers in manufacturing, etc. Whatever the reasons, the sector has grown in size and in mystique in recent years. 

I suppose one could say that modern finance allows for greater circulation of wealth through modern banking devices, but this again  gets back to technology, and reflects only the movement of wealth, not its creation.

Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:


The US's most expensive plane is the B-52 stealth bomber which costs 2 billion a piece.  It was modeled off of the German's development of some floating wing concept.  When Germany lost the war to the allies they had to give up everything that was part of their military industrial complex.  The only thing that kept them going was their well trained population which many in fact came to work for the US.

^Actually those "non tangible" wealth creation models are somewhat based on concrete things as they require technology such as satellite communication and large databases and obviously internet and computers.

As for jet aircraft, I believe you have your "Bs" mixed up. The B-52 is a 1950s era conventional bomber, nothing stealthy about it, although later versions have been modified quite a bit. You may be thinking of the B-1, a much newer invention, one based on stealth technology far removed from WW2, and indeed an expensive program.

Jet engines were understood, and at early stages of development in 1945; Germany had no soul franchise on these. The UK was very soon to have jet fighters and commercial aircraft, as were other countries. It was only rushed so much in Germany because they were taking a pummeling from strategic bombing, and were desperate to limit the damage.

I don't see where German technology had any significant effect on allied economies, with perhaps the minor exceptions of the rocket technicians who became part of NASA, and also Air Force missile programs.

The reason we saw an expansion of affluence and a middle class society after the war was the deliberate effort of governments to avoid going back to the depression of the '30s. They had learned their lessons, and now put into practice the checks and balances needed to restrain the corporate sector, and ensure fairness in wealth distribution. 


Edited by Captain Vancouver - 07 Jun 2015 at 18:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 19:32
Well I did say that they were support industries but they far exceed the wealth distribution loads or wealth creation (whatever you want to call it) of things like copper mining.

You are right about one thing.  I got the name of the bomber wrong but so did you.  It's actually the B-2.  It's the latest in stealth and the air force plans to retire it no earlier than 2040.


I believe this shape was derived off of the German concept.  Look at the similarity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horten_Ho_229
Quote
Since the appearance of the B-2 Spirit flying-wing stealth bomber in the 1990s, its similarities in role and shape to the Ho 229 has led many to retrospectively describe the Ho 229 as "the first stealth bomber".[3] A static reproduction of the only surviving Ho 229 prototype, the Ho 229 V3, in American hands since the end of World War II was later tested by the U.S. military, who found the basic shape, paint and laminating adhesive composition of the mockup copy would provide for 37% reduction in detection range against the British Chain Home radar of the 1940s, but no significant stealth benefit against most other contemporary radar systems.[3]





I know Americans like to say they invented everything but when it comes to modern warfare inventions the Germans basically wrote the book.


I once saw a documentary which gave a brief statement about Germany's manufacturing machinery being stripped from its still functional factories and placed onto American soil.  It's the spoils of war since America could not be paid with any land dividend.


http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2015 at 19:43
This is why the US remains the richest country in the world.  There really is no point for it to be involved with manufacturing anything but the luxury Ipods and cars of the world.  It shouldn't be manufacturing things like watches or keypads and non innovative things like that.  It began with those things and there is no sense that it should end with those things.




Edited by literaryClarity - 07 Jun 2015 at 19:44
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

This is why the US remains the richest country in the world.  There really is no point for it to be involved with manufacturing anything but the luxury Ipods and cars of the world.  It shouldn't be manufacturing things like watches or keypads and non innovative things like that.  It began with those things and there is no sense that it should end with those things.



Not quite sure what your point is here...1945 German technology is neither here nor there, as far as our discussion of inequality in 2015 goes.

The US is not the richest country in the world, by most measures it comes in around 10 or 12 or so, depending on who is talking. Why is this? I'd suggest to you that it is exactly the laissez faire, uber capitalism so favoured in certain segments of society today that have passed the crown on to others. 

While many countries have voraciously favoured their own industries and interests, Washington has voraciously favoured lobbyists and special interests, all in the name of "freedom", and the "law of the market". 

And so today American workers struggle to find a livable income, while manufacturing, and various services are now done offshore, in India, Singapore, China, Vietnam, and many others. The buzz word here is efficiency, but in fact this is not efficient at all, not in a strategic sense, because the long term effect is unemployment at home, at the same time that right wing demigods are disparaging progressive, social programming and enlightened policies that would swing the US (and many other western democracies) into a livable, 21st century paradigm. 

You've mentioned producing luxury items like Ipods. Yes,this is part of the mix, but one must also consider the larger implications. It used to take hundreds of thousands of workers ( highly paid) to make cars in America (one of the larger industries), today it takes a few hundred to design Ipods, or similar, and maybe a few thousand others in low paid, low skilled positions to transport and market them.

What are all those others going to do? There is the question of the 21st century. Because they are not all going to end up a 7-11, selling radiation burgers. They are not all going to end up at Wal Mart, greeting incoming customers.

To date, the answer in America, and to a lessor extent in some others countries, notably Canada and the UK, has been to deny there is an issue, and let the market forces do whatever. And what they have done is predictable. Labour has decreasing value, due to some of the items listed here, capital has much more advantage in our globalized world. New innovation today often comes with little effort or money needed. A kid gets an novel idea for the internet, and he is a billionaire. Hence we have an ever growing split, with the top end gaining remarkably, the middle class shrinking at a similarly striking rate, and the bottom end now completely dependent on subsidy, as never before.

There is a point for the US, and other countries, to do more than manufacture Ipods, and luxury items. Each sovereign society must take charge of their future, and ensure the needs of their populace. This may vary considerably across regions, but it will not, IMO, be OK to depend on an inflated, bogus, financial/lobbyist state of affairs.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2015 at 03:47
What do you mean neither here nor there I just told you a dozen ways in which the US got rich that no other country has done so in that particular combination.

I think we need to stop arguing if you can't even get yourself to admit the richest nation on earth is the United States.


Edited by literaryClarity - 08 Jun 2015 at 03:50
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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The reason the United States is a rich country are many and varied but it is not the richest nation based on a per capita scale.   It is certainly the richest large and diverse country and I agree that the numbers unequivocally point to the success of capitalism at creating wealth. 

It wasn't until 1905 that the US took the lead amongst the large industrialized nations in terms of per capita GDP.  By 1955 the lead had grown to be 30 percent greater than it's closest competitor the United Kingdom.  If you take into account size diversity and marginalized minorities the per capita GDP actual no longer reflects the relative wealth of the US.   Countries with less diversity clearly have an advantage.

Currently the European Union, and China have a higher GDP than the US.  The 2020 projections by the IMF show a staggering change with China at 16 trillion and the US at 23 trillion.  It's clear that the world's economists are giving capitalism as reinvented by the Neo-Con's high marks for economic growth.  

There are a couple of problems however the first is that a lot of the US wealth is in derivatives that don't represent actual wealth.  The derivative bubble is not just an attempt by liberal to push an agenda  as demonstrated by the fact that all known tangible assets are now dwarfed by the face value of derivatives.  The other serious problem with the projections is that it ignores income inequality which is associated with economic instability.

I'm actually very fond of capitalism and it has to do with the thrill of the chase.  Competition is not just good for the economy it enlivens individual existence.   Who doesn't like a high stakes game?  The problem is that like any other game their are cheaters.  The Neo-Cons have intentional gotten rid of the referees.  The game isn't just rigged it is a suicidally flawed ponzi scheme. 

This thread however is supposed to be about inequality not macro economics so we digress.

The liberal view seems to be that inequality can be measured by comparing incomes.  I think a much better measure would be equal opportunity not relative wealth.  Unfortunately the world of crony capitalism leaves very little room for advancement based primarily on ability.  Other factors place barriers on those with natural ability to advance.  The US has failed to make much progress in addressing the disadvantages of education, nutrition, race, and ingrained welfare subsistence.   What is most disturbing is the disappearance from the culture of the values that are best represented by the old maxim that from those whom much is given much is expected.   Going back to the sports analogy, not only have the referees retired from the game but there are too many people hogging the ball.

There are also less tangible measures of wealth such as quality of life that cannot be directly measured by incomes or poverty levels.  There is not much point in playing a game you hate no matter how big you win.   






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2015 at 06:54
Ok we're done here.  If we are talking about the US I expect we use the term as though we have some sense of the term as the name of a country, and not as the term of US citizens.
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Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

 

If I'm to sing the "Internationale", I'll have to dig up an old worker's cap, and red armband.

What about unions specifically?

I'm a big fan of labor unions in theory as an alternative to government oversight but they have not worked out well historically.  Beyond the obvious corruption issues they also seem to interfere with merit based promotion and artificially separate management from labor etc. etc. .

I'm leaning toward a high minimum wages and surcharges on foreign labor imports to replace labor unions.   
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Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

Ok we're done here.  If we are talking about the US I expect we use the term as though we have some sense of the term as the name of a country, and not as the term of US citizens.

Do you accept USSR?  Any confusion? 
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Huh? lol are you okay?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 04:07
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

What do you mean neither here nor there I just told you a dozen ways in which the US got rich that no other country has done so in that particular combination.

I think we need to stop arguing if you can't even get yourself to admit the richest nation on earth is the United States.

(Heavy sigh)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 08:02
Darpa robot challenge showcases further potential for automation

"To be sure, robots are lousy novelists, and they’re not very good musicians, either. But the question, Frase said, is ultimately one of fundamental human politics. “It may be possible in principle to have a society where automation means that we all have more leisure time, but people who are promoters of this tend to talk about it as something that will inevitably happen,” he said. “It most certainly will not inevitably happen. We could easily have a future where a few people get rich and everyone else is unemployed and miserable.” "


As society seems to have an evolutionary course towards a more egalitarian world I think many people assume it is irreversible.  The growing income inequality of the last two decades should make even the most faithful advocate of capitalism question that assumption.   I think it also points to a future in which the rich would gladly replace their annoying workers and servants with robots.  Now imagine robot soldiers and robot police and politician who don't need voters.   What makes conservatism particularly dangerous is the lack of imagination and the assumption that things will always be more or less the same.  By time the average modest income conservatives realizes what is happening it could be too late.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 08:03
US beaten by China - but in both cases, probably some of the worst countries in respect to inequality.

The image below is from this site:  http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PeaceB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 11:17
I seriously think we need more socialism.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 16:00
What a load of poppy cock.  The rates have been adjusted to match the purchasing power parity of the people's money and doesn't reflect the national state's actual liquid assets on a global trading basis.  Obviously if I converted my actual US dollars into Chinese renmenbi and went to China then I can purchase more quantity of some X product or service than if I just used money in the US.  But that's where the superficial differences end.

The real difference in wealth is what that formula entails.  Given the same situation in both China and the US if an alien mothership drops by and decides to invest the same amount of money by pouring investment dollars into both economies he would quickly witness the kinds of businesses that he will likely want to generate more revenue with in the US.  The goods and services that the US generates are high end and costly while the Chinese ones would be low end and easily purchaseable.  Furthermore the US simply has a lot more of it.

That's real inequality.  The fact that you can buy a fat dripping hamburger for 99 cents and will fill you up on any given day of the week is not the same as the person who chooses to consistently purchase real nutritious food at the grocery store and prepare himself a real meal using the amenities provided in his home and which is not the same as the person who can hire his own chef to do it for him.  The person who has the first option probably works as a sales clerk at the average low end store, the second probably works in some capacity which required some higher education, and the third option is one who works in the capacity of management.  They have different salaries, different tax rates, and different collateral.  You don't say that the nation of the first option is richer than the nation of the other options.  Just based on the actual fact that there are things in the nations of the second/third option which can't even be purchased at will by the nation of the first option.
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote literaryClarity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 16:05
Therefore China is not realistically projected to exceed in being richer than the US until some time in the future when the Chinese economy actually exceeds the US in production value and liquid assets on the global measuring scale.

Edited by literaryClarity - 09 Jun 2015 at 16:05
http://hwyst.hangzhou.com.cn/wmyzh/content/2013-10/09/content_4920423.htm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 08:38
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

The reason the United States is a rich country are many and varied but it is not the richest nation based on a per capita scale.   It is certainly the richest large and diverse country and I agree that the numbers unequivocally point to the success of capitalism at creating wealth. 

It wasn't until 1905 that the US took the lead amongst the large industrialized nations in terms of per capita GDP.  By 1955 the lead had grown to be 30 percent greater than it's closest competitor the United Kingdom.  If you take into account size diversity and marginalized minorities the per capita GDP actual no longer reflects the relative wealth of the US.   Countries with less diversity clearly have an advantage.

Currently the European Union, and China have a higher GDP than the US.  The 2020 projections by the IMF show a staggering change with China at 16 trillion and the US at 23 trillion.  It's clear that the world's economists are giving capitalism as reinvented by the Neo-Con's high marks for economic growth.  

There are a couple of problems however the first is that a lot of the US wealth is in derivatives that don't represent actual wealth.  The derivative bubble is not just an attempt by liberal to push an agenda  as demonstrated by the fact that all known tangible assets are now dwarfed by the face value of derivatives.  The other serious problem with the projections is that it ignores income inequality which is associated with economic instability.

I'm actually very fond of capitalism and it has to do with the thrill of the chase.  Competition is not just good for the economy it enlivens individual existence.   Who doesn't like a high stakes game?  The problem is that like any other game their are cheaters.  The Neo-Cons have intentional gotten rid of the referees.  The game isn't just rigged it is a suicidally flawed ponzi scheme. 

This thread however is supposed to be about inequality not macro economics so we digress.

The liberal view seems to be that inequality can be measured by comparing incomes.  I think a much better measure would be equal opportunity not relative wealth.  Unfortunately the world of crony capitalism leaves very little room for advancement based primarily on ability.  Other factors place barriers on those with natural ability to advance.  The US has failed to make much progress in addressing the disadvantages of education, nutrition, race, and ingrained welfare subsistence.   What is most disturbing is the disappearance from the culture of the values that are best represented by the old maxim that from those whom much is given much is expected.   Going back to the sports analogy, not only have the referees retired from the game but there are too many people hogging the ball.

There are also less tangible measures of wealth such as quality of life that cannot be directly measured by incomes or poverty levels.  There is not much point in playing a game you hate no matter how big you win.   



Pretty much agree here, except I'd say one need be cautious in assigning too much to capitalism. Yes, capitalism has seen success in the US, and other places, but one must also consider other factors in a successful economy. The US started out as -in comparison to Europe- virgin territory, full of natural resources. Import a continuous supply of low cost labour from Europe, tap into the capital of the then British Empire, disregard, for the time being, any thoughts of environmentalism, and yes indeed, you will have growth. Pretty hard not to under the circumstances.

One could turn things around and say that capitalism has been a "failure" in other places, such as Russia or Mexico, as other cultural and geographic trends there have produced a less than satisfactory version of a vibrant capitalist economy. Indeed, capitalism "failed" in the west during the 1930s, and it was only a shift towards socialism that saved it. Today we have state directed capitalism in China, one of the fastest growing economies ever.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 09:06
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

 

If I'm to sing the "Internationale", I'll have to dig up an old worker's cap, and red armband.

What about unions specifically?

I'm a big fan of labor unions in theory as an alternative to government oversight but they have not worked out well historically.  Beyond the obvious corruption issues they also seem to interfere with merit based promotion and artificially separate management from labor etc. etc. .

I'm leaning toward a high minimum wages and surcharges on foreign labor imports to replace labor unions.   

When we look at the difference in society between the 19th century, pre-union, and the working and living environment today, I think we have to say that unions have indeed had success historically. The polluted slums of London or New York then are a long distance from their current reality, and it is problematic to consider how much positive change would have occurred in the absence of union agitation. I think this is something often forgotten today, as many assume that today's working conditions just evolved naturally, which in fact they did not.

Yes, there is corruption in unions, as in any large organizations with money at their disposal. How corrupt is Wall Street, with its voracious search for profit at any price, financial institutions such as Enron, devoid of moral constraints, or even Wal Mart, that has produced billions in profits on the backs of ultra low wage workers?
 
So too with merit based promotion. How many in management really deserve their position, and how many have simply landed there due to influence, leverage, connections, good fortune, or other means? Again, there is the temptation by some to hold up "business" as a sort of holy icon, one untainted by the messier aspects of human existence, and surely a model for efficiency and success. I'd say reality is much more nuanced. Merit can also be overrated in many areas of the workforce. The fact is, in many moderate to low skilled positions, any number of employees could do, and usually will do a competent job. At that point, fairness requires looking at other factors to determine advancement.

I think a higher minimum wage and regulation of foreign labour are good ideas, but not sufficient to ensure fairness in the workplace. Those who favour financial gain over all other aspects of life will endlessly seek out ways to circumvent individual rules. That's why we need unions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 09:27
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:

What a load of poppy cock.  The rates have been adjusted to match the purchasing power parity of the people's money and doesn't reflect the national state's actual liquid assets on a global trading basis.  Obviously if I converted my actual US dollars into Chinese renmenbi and went to China then I can purchase more quantity of some X product or service than if I just used money in the US.  But that's where the superficial differences end.

The real difference in wealth is what that formula entails.  Given the same situation in both China and the US if an alien mothership drops by and decides to invest the same amount of money by pouring investment dollars into both economies he would quickly witness the kinds of businesses that he will likely want to generate more revenue with in the US.  The goods and services that the US generates are high end and costly while the Chinese ones would be low end and easily purchaseable.  Furthermore the US simply has a lot more of it.

That's real inequality.  The fact that you can buy a fat dripping hamburger for 99 cents and will fill you up on any given day of the week is not the same as the person who chooses to consistently purchase real nutritious food at the grocery store and prepare himself a real meal using the amenities provided in his home and which is not the same as the person who can hire his own chef to do it for him.  The person who has the first option probably works as a sales clerk at the average low end store, the second probably works in some capacity which required some higher education, and the third option is one who works in the capacity of management.  They have different salaries, different tax rates, and different collateral.  You don't say that the nation of the first option is richer than the nation of the other options.  Just based on the actual fact that there are things in the nations of the second/third option which can't even be purchased at will by the nation of the first option.

I't true that PPP GDP is not the same as nominal GDP, but such measures have relevance in our discussion of inequality. Money is merely a yardstick to measure a given portion of an economy; more important is what an economy can provide for its citizens. For example, some countries in Europe may have a lower per capita GDP than in the US, but a "richer" life, by some significant standards. Americans can be burdened by an expensive for profit health system, indeed sometimes bankrupted by it. Few in Europe have this problem, which means a higher quality of life, in this respect anyway. Two cars per family is the required ticket to participate in life in much of N America; in places like Japan or Singapore, it is not.

And there is nothing sacred about nominal GDP. Some aspects of production are wasteful or unsustainable, never the less, they go into making up GDP figures. If there was a massive oil spill in San Francisco harbour, the clean-up efforts would be reflected in GDP figures. China is building dirty, coal burning power plants, and this is increasing their GDP.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 09:31
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Darpa robot challenge showcases further potential for automation

"To be sure, robots are lousy novelists, and they’re not very good musicians, either. But the question, Frase said, is ultimately one of fundamental human politics. “It may be possible in principle to have a society where automation means that we all have more leisure time, but people who are promoters of this tend to talk about it as something that will inevitably happen,” he said. “It most certainly will not inevitably happen. We could easily have a future where a few people get rich and everyone else is unemployed and miserable.” "


As society seems to have an evolutionary course towards a more egalitarian world I think many people assume it is irreversible.  The growing income inequality of the last two decades should make even the most faithful advocate of capitalism question that assumption.   Ic think it also points to a future in which the rich would gladly replace their annoying workers and servants with robots.  Now imagine robot soldiers and robot police and politician who don't need voters.   What makes conservatism particularly dangerous is the lack of imagination and the assumption that things will always be more or less the same.  By time the average modest income conservatives realizes what is happening it could be too late.



I think this is a key issue facing us in the near future. We really do not need all to participate in the workforce, and the more this is insisted upon, the more distortion and dislocation will occur in society.

What to do with excess workers is a tough problem, but one that will need to be addressed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2015 at 05:04
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

 
I think this is a key issue facing us in the near future. We really do not need all to participate in the workforce, and the more this is insisted upon, the more distortion and dislocation will occur in society.

What to do with excess workers is a tough problem, but one that will need to be addressed.

The words excess and need should be replaced with surplus and demand.  There are and will always be plenty of labors that people may do to make life better for themselves and others.  
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