Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wealth

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ucim
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:14 am UTC

sardia wrote:Why is it that we value driving down wages by competing on price, why aren't companies demanding the most value out of the market by competing on quality?
Some companies do. The question is more like "why do {most? enough?} consumers value price over quality?" I don't know whether it's the case or not, nor what the "ideal" ratio of price/quality "should" be. I can choose for myself, but I don't think it makes sense to choose for society (except that it's best for my shopping if society's choice matches mine)

CorruptUser wrote:Because with all the misinformation out there today, people don't know that product A really is better than product B. But they know B is cheaper. If there was a popular unbiased organization that have reviews, maybe...
You've heard of Consumer Reports?

For many products it's cheap enough to try a few. For others, you probably have friends who have tried the others. In some cases (cars, for example), you need to depend on others to do that kind of testing; I find CU to be invaluable (even though I sometimes disagree with them). But CU is small, and the marketplace is big. So, you have to take a chance.

This is true for employees and CEOs too. Heard the phrase "Nobody ever lost their job by recommending IBM stock"? Risk reduction leads to reward reduction too.

Then there are things like tripadvisor, yelp and {fill-in}'s list dot com. Those who are interested enough can actually get some good information. But it takes some effort. And there are some laws which mandate at least minimum standards for some items.

These are of course not guarantees - I hope you (general you) are not asking for that. But overall they tend to operate in the right direction.

Jose
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Chen » Mon Dec 15, 2014 1:17 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Because with all the misinformation out there today, people don't know that product A really is better than product B. But they know B is cheaper. If there was a popular unbiased organization that have reviews, maybe...


It's also hard to judge quality as objectively. Is this $2000 TV twice as good as this $1000 TV? In all likelihood, probably not. Maybe it's 50% better though. Or hell maybe you won't notice the difference at all once you've put it in your home and watch the things you normally watch.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 15, 2014 6:50 pm UTC

sardia wrote:http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/marlin-steels-smart-matrix-for-job-and-wage-growth/2014/12/12/977cd030-8151-11e4-81fd-8c4814dfa9d7_story.html
Let's change our perspective a bit. Instead of assuming we are on the cutting edge of free market principles in the US, let's think of it another way.

"It’s not unions or regulations or taxes or trade and immigrant barriers that have brought us “secular stagnation,” as the economists now call it. It’s the profoundly unimaginative, herd-like behavior of corporate executives and directors, cheered on by their short-sighted investors on Wall Street. And as long as profits and share prices remain at record levels, they don’t see any reason to change. "

Why is it that we value driving down wages by competing on price, why aren't companies demanding the most value out of the market by competing on quality?


Both sometimes happen. In fact, both can be viable strategies at the same time. Netflix has an explicit complete on quality policy for labor, for instance. Walmart, maybe not so much. Of course, you tend to see competition on quality at the top end of a given market. Your entry level food joints compete on cost and convenience, whereas the high end establishments can be many, many times more expensive, and require reservations, etc, and are thus not especially convenient or fast.

Lucrece wrote:Was meritocracy ever a thing? I don't think there's ever been a time realistically where interpersonal relationships don't overcome meritocratic choices. A lot of jobs also involve "vouching for", which is a fancy word for "is this your friend/family". Having experienced both jobs in healthcare/videogaming industry, it's been pretty obvious to me that getting into the higher positions, especially for the latter, involves the luck in timing/meeting the right person under the right circumstances, but that also the circle you move in involves someone who can lift you up from a lower position. There's a surplus of talented people already, and it will only get worse as more people get specialized upper tier degrees and experience in related programs.*


We have never had a pure meritocracy, for sure. Social relationships, etc have always counted. I'd say we're somewhat closer to a meritocracy now. At least leaders need votes instead of simply being born into the right family. A long ways to go? Absolutely. But some improvement has happened.

And of course, moving us closer to a meritocracy will probably improve efficiency further.

CorruptUser wrote:1) All 501(c) organizations may NOT pay their employees more than the President. Don't like it? Lose the tax exempt status. Similarly, a person can't work 10 jobs for different 501(c)s as a "consultant" to get around this. If you are running a charity (*cough*united way*cough*) you shouldn't pay anyone 7 figures.


Keeping good leadership when you can't pay them competitively can be a problem. People get fixated on overhead with charities, and yeah, reducing unnecessary overhead is important, but it isn't as simple as just lowering it all the time.

mat.tia wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:if you prefer a formal definition, wealth is the total market value of all assets owned by an entity, minus all debts owed by that entity

Then please, explain me if you will (I'd be thankful) how this can be measured in absolute value. What is the unit of measurement? If it is, as I think, money (dollars, euros, yen or w/e currency) how is it not relative to current market size?


Yes, it is measured in dollars. If your stuff is worth $30,000, and you have $10,000 in debt, you have wealth of $20,000. The end. You have a wealth of $20,000 regardless of if the overall market size is a million dollars or ten billion. Obviously, you cannot have a larger wealth that the current total market size, but this is not a real world concern. Increasing wealth production just means the pie is bigger. No one slice is larger than the entire pie, because that's not a thing, but that does not imply a zero sum economy.

mat.tia wrote:Tyndmyr, ucim, leady, jseah; what do you think about this inequality? I understand what you think about what many of us think about it. But you?
Is it ok? If so, why? Because it's "fair"? Because it's "healthy" for the economy? Or because we should just keep things as they are?


I do not care about inequality whatsoever for it's own sake. It's a useful economic indicator. There are many things we need to fix, and certainly metrics like "holy god, this sector of the economy is bleeding wealth" are useful for identifying problems. It's akin to noticing blood. Go, find out who is bleeding. Don't just mop up the blood and call it a day.

mat.tia wrote:Other answers to Tyndmyr, spoilered because probably not relevant to conversation
Tyndmyr wrote:Whenever I hear words like "unquantifiable" in this sort of context, it seems clear that the person is talking belief, not economics. An 'unquantifiable' amount of too much wealth giving too much power that needs to be "taken for granted" seems entirely arbitrary. How much is too much?

Can you tell a tadpole from a frog or do you need an arbitrary classification written in a book that says "Biology" in it to be confident about it?
I have my own opinions, luckily. Some of you guys seem to have strong faith though. Are you part of Block's Church of "Defending the Undefendable"?


Economy is a branch of math. This isn't about faith or opinions. Words tend to have very precise meanings in such fields. If you are claiming that a ratio exists, and that it is also unquantifiable, it looks like you're dodging falsifiability for your claim.

mat.tia wrote:
[speaking of ideal worlds in which money is not equivalent to power] Also, money will always grant power. That is in it's nature. You pay someone money to do something you do not wish to do yourself. That is a form of power. If money was entirely disconnected from power, it would no longer be money.

I'm afraid when it comes to "ideal" things, the only thing that prevents something to be possible is the imagination of the thinker.


Nonsense. The ideal interstellar spaceship is one that moves as fast as possible. Faster than light, obviously. This presents a problem for reasons other than "lack of imagination". Imagination is, outside of storybooks, not something that absolutely frees you from all limits whatsoever.

mat.tia wrote:
The rise of capitalism has coincided with reductions in war and poverty. Democratic, capitalistic countries, as a rule, don't generally go to war with each other. Europe is a particularly good example, as it's lengthy history of internal battles is being replaced by advanced, fairly capitalistic countries. Sure, capitalism comes in varying degrees, and there's room for improvement in many places, but it should be blatantly obvious that capitalism didn't invent war or poverty.

Can you show me some evidence of your claims? Can you also show me how you can confidently link the reductions of war and poverty solely to capitalism?
Can you show me where I said capitalism is the only cause of war and poverty?


Only cause is not necessary to debunk your claim. If adoption of capitalism over other systems produces a decrease, then obviously, capitalism is not the cause.

As for evidence, of course: Frank Wayman, 2002. "Incidence of Militarized Disputes Between Liberal States, 1816–1992"

As for simple matters of wealth, it is pretty trivial to look up lists of countries via GDP, GDP per Capita, etc, and quickly confirm that western, democratic countries tend to do pretty well for themselves. Wikipedia has a number of such lists.

As for the rise of capitalism coinciding with the rise in wealth, well:
Image

LaserGuy wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I'd say the distinction does matter. Because viewing inequality as the root problem means you don't need to keep digging.

If the inequality IS merely a result of a deeper problem, then ignoring that problem and just slapping wealth distribution on top may not be a good solution.

As a (likely only partial) example, I'll toss out the welfare cliff as a potential underlying problem. Perverse incentives reduce motivation to work, and thus likely reduce overall economic recovery among the lower class. Obviously, this would contribute to income inequality.


I'd think that the fact that productivity gains and GDP growth aren't being translated into higher wages is the problem, and inequality is the symptom. If minimum wage had kept up with GDP growth since the 60s, it would be over $20 per hour. Wages are being massively depressed, resulting in the bottom 90% keeping far less of the money that they earn, relative to their productivity. (Minimum wage hasn't even kept up with inflation, in fact).


Everyone always cherry picks the high point of minimum wage as the "if it had kept up with" starting point. Presenting the highest point as average/normal generally means that everything following is garbage.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:09 pm UTC

503(c)s exist specifically for 'the public good', providing services that if unprovided, the public would have to pick up the slack. So we let organizations like Meals on Wheels get a tax break.

I say that a person isn't willing to work 'for the public good' unless the pay is more than $400k/yr, that person does NOT have the calling and is likely NOT the right fit. You should NOT go into public service for the money. If you are in it for the money, sure you can do that, just not tax free.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:27 pm UTC

Why the focus on 501(c)? Is this where the "wealth sucking" is? I doubt it.

And even within the idea of 501(c)s being for the public good, they still exist to provide a service or good of some kind, and doing it better means more public good will be produced. If an expensive CEO runs the company well enough to generate his salary PLUS (say) doubling the amount of public good that is produced, then isn't this worth it over a less expensive CEO who doesn't run the company as well? Money doesn't always buy brilliance, but brilliance often costs money.

This is the same argument as is used with for-profit companies - there's nothing special about a 501(c). The CEO has an important job to do, and if he (or she) doesn't do it well, the company will not last. Now, it may be that a CEO that's "in it for the money" may in fact not run a 501(c) the way it should be run, but that is a judgment about the CEO, not about his or her salary.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:40 pm UTC

You do realize that every lobbying firm is a 503(c) right? And that many senators become 'consultants' to these firms after they retire? And that they have an incentive to keep those firms 'profitable' while in office?

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:50 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:You do realize that every lobbying firm is a 503(c) right?
501 or 503? (Not that it matters to me - I'm not a tax expert). In any case, the existence of lobbying firms (as I imagine you mean the term) is a problem, not the salaries paid to their CEOs. But I'm not sure that a solution won't generate another problem. to wit:

I'm ok with firms lobbying. It's kind of hard to avoid, one way or another. But large firms can lobby much more powerfully than small ones or the general public.

But then, I am ok with the general public, or small firms, getting together to lobby. But haven't I just described a lobbying firm? Which I'm not ok with?

That's the thing about freedom of speech.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:55 pm UTC

But are you ok with senators bending over backwards for lobbyists under the expectation they will get 7 figure salaries at those firms? Take away the salaries and the senators won't be so receptive.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:24 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:503(c)s exist specifically for 'the public good', providing services that if unprovided, the public would have to pick up the slack. So we let organizations like Meals on Wheels get a tax break.

I say that a person isn't willing to work 'for the public good' unless the pay is more than $400k/yr, that person does NOT have the calling and is likely NOT the right fit. You should NOT go into public service for the money. If you are in it for the money, sure you can do that, just not tax free.


That sort of logic is often used in public service too, and has the result of retention issues for the best and most qualified folks. Someone can be excellent at leading a charity without taking a massive pay hit for it. We don't demand that someone "have a calling" to work effectively in many another job, why here?

CorruptUser wrote:You do realize that every lobbying firm is a 503(c) right? And that many senators become 'consultants' to these firms after they retire? And that they have an incentive to keep those firms 'profitable' while in office?


Lobbying has many strange and usually bad effects, yes. I imagine that would continue regardless of CEO pay rules.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:35 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:But are you ok with senators bending over backwards for lobbyists under the expectation they will get 7 figure salaries at those firms? Take away the salaries and the senators won't be so receptive.
Yes, in the same way I'm ok with bad speech. The alternative is worse.

If you take away the salaries (at the NFP corps) other bait will pop up, like 7 figure salaries at for-profit firms that the lobbyist has connections with. While this might be harder to set up, it is potentially much more insidious. As Tyndmyr wrote (good analogy!), the blood isn't the problem. You have to find what's bleeding, and why.

Jose
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:07 pm UTC

There is a difference between losing a skilled EMT because minimum wage won't pay for his kid's college and a guy making a quarter million a year. Yes those guys make SHIT. While I do believe in supply/demand and all, I'm also of the belief that all essential services should have a living wage. I really am not comfortable with, for example, police that are always behind on rent.

$400k is upper middle class, you aren't losing people to greener (heh) pastures. At $400k/yr you have more money than you'd ever know what do with, though not enough that you could just do whatever you want.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:15 pm UTC

I would be fine with putting some kind of requirement into place that any lobbying to be done must rely on some form of third-party, peer-reviewed evidence.

Or either non-compete style clauses, to prevent congressmen from joining lobbying firms, or a strict limit on the financial impact of a lobby.

Given the egregious harm that lobbying has caused, I'd almost be okay with some sort of system in which lobbying has no effect -- perhaps keeping the congressman's identity secret, but not their voting record, so that lobbyists don't know who to pursue, or even more extreme measures like selecting congressmen randomly.

Or, even more aggressive, instituting a maximum wage.
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Lucrece » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:41 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Lucerne wrote:A lot of jobs also involve "vouching for", which is a fancy word for "is this your friend/family".
Or, "Is this person really as good/reliable/trustworthy as they look on paper? Because I don't really want to take a risk on an unknown." The latter part won't go away, because there's more to a job than just doing the job.

Jose


And you think your relationship to the person you're vouching for won't color that judgement? People ask people for vouchers they know will sell them in a positive light. Hell, quite a bit of these come off as favors.
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:51 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:I would be fine with putting some kind of requirement into place that any lobbying to be done must rely on some form of third-party, peer-reviewed evidence.
... so now that third party set of peers becomes the new target. And that's "ok" because it's not a congressman.

Smells like tobacco to me.

Lucrece wrote:And you think your relationship to the person you're vouching for won't color that judgement? People ask people for vouchers they know will sell them in a positive light. Hell, quite a bit of these come off as favors.
Of course it does. But that person still has to stand behind his recommendation or lose credibility. Would you give a great recommendation to a friend who asked you for one but did not deserve it?

No, nothing is perfect. It's asinine to expect that. There will never be a true meritocracy because merit itself is so nebulous. I would not want to live in a world where personal relationships do not count for anything. And there are many jobs whose essence is personal relationships.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:57 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:There is a difference between losing a skilled EMT because minimum wage won't pay for his kid's college and a guy making a quarter million a year. Yes those guys make SHIT. While I do believe in supply/demand and all, I'm also of the belief that all essential services should have a living wage. I really am not comfortable with, for example, police that are always behind on rent.

$400k is upper middle class, you aren't losing people to greener (heh) pastures. At $400k/yr you have more money than you'd ever know what do with, though not enough that you could just do whatever you want.


Nonsense. "more money than you'd ever know what to do with" is not an actual number. $400k/yr is pretty good indeed, but not for someone that could make a million. Money doesn't stop being interesting at a certain point. The same rules apply, the figures are merely larger.

You're using a hammer to try to kill a fly. Lobbying isn't going to be solved by twerking tax law for non-profits. There are *many* ways to give someone money in some fashion or another.

Lucrece wrote:
ucim wrote:
Lucerne wrote:A lot of jobs also involve "vouching for", which is a fancy word for "is this your friend/family".
Or, "Is this person really as good/reliable/trustworthy as they look on paper? Because I don't really want to take a risk on an unknown." The latter part won't go away, because there's more to a job than just doing the job.

Jose


And you think your relationship to the person you're vouching for won't color that judgement? People ask people for vouchers they know will sell them in a positive light. Hell, quite a bit of these come off as favors.


It's a reputational thing. Not necessarily friend/family. I'll vouch that certain folks are excellent at their jobs without personally being good buds with them. On the flip side, there are a few people in my circles I would *not* vouch for. Usually these circles, while heavily overlapping, are not entirely the same. Connections are *very* important, but it's not exactly the same thing as nepotism.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby elasto » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:30 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Nonsense. "more money than you'd ever know what to do with" is not an actual number. $400k/yr is pretty good indeed, but not for someone that could make a million. Money doesn't stop being interesting at a certain point. The same rules apply, the figures are merely larger.

However more money does stop bringing more happiness well before you get to $400k. In practice there's probably a negative correlation in fact, because the type of person earning that much likely is prioritizing earning money over other aspects of their life that would produce better returns - like spending time with their spouse, children or childhood friends.

As the saying goes noone ever lay on their deathbed wishing they'd spent more time in the office.

Now, the rich should have the right to choose a poor work/life balance that leaves them unhappier, but they shouldn't have the right to make wider society unnecessarily unhappy - which is what opposing progressive mechanisms brings.

Tyndmyr wrote:Economy is a branch of math. This isn't about faith or opinions. Words tend to have very precise meanings in such fields. If you are claiming that a ratio exists, and that it is also unquantifiable, it looks like you're dodging falsifiability for your claim.


Economics may be a branch of maths but it's practically in its infancy. The problem is it is predicated on human behaviour being rational when it is anything but. Numerous studies show people will act against their own self-interest - for example the rich prioritizing getting richer over getting happier mentioned above, or a person preferring to lose $1 if their opponent loses $2 than to gain $1 if their opponent gains $2.

Until economics can fully take into account the logic behind irrationality it will be flawed - and it will probably take the human brain itself getting solved for that to occur.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:00 am UTC

elasto wrote:Economics may be a branch of maths but it's practically in its infancy. The problem is it is predicated on human behaviour being rational when it is anything but. Numerous studies show people will act against their own self-interest - for example the rich prioritizing getting richer over getting happier mentioned above, or a person preferring to lose $1 if their opponent loses $2 than to gain $1 if their opponent gains $2.

Until economics can fully take into account the logic behind irrationality it will be flawed - and it will probably take the human brain itself getting solved for that to occur.


Uh... all economists know that humans are not Homo Economicus. And we understand much of the logic behind irrationality; those hard lines in those graphs are most well understood as a blurry range. Plus there's equilibrium levels of disequalibrium.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby elasto » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:28 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Uh... all economists know that humans are not Homo Economicus. And we understand much of the logic behind irrationality; those hard lines in those graphs are most well understood as a blurry range. Plus there's equilibrium levels of disequalibrium.


You and I are largely in agreement I think.

Remember, Tyndmyr's specific claim was that "If you are claiming that a ratio exists, and that it is also unquantifiable, it looks like you're dodging falsifiability for your claim" which was in direct response to a metaphor about "you know when something is a tadpole and when it is a frog but not necessarily when it goes from one to the other".

In other words, you and I are in agreement that economics is about blurry ranges (sometimes very blurry) - whereas Tyndmyr seems to be expecting things to be cut-and-dried like some high-school maths equation (and if they're not then you've analysed it wrong)

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:32 am UTC

Economics is a lot more complicated than what you would learn in Intro to Microeconomics 101. The 100 level courses are always oversimplified, because you can't explain a complicated subject without understanding the basics. Sort of like how we teach Newtonian Physics before Relativity.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby elasto » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:14 am UTC

I understand and appreciate that. Just not sure Tyndmyr does - else they wouldn't demand people produce hard lines on the basis that 'economics is just a branch of maths'...

It's like how people confuse accuracy and precision...

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:59 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:$400k is upper middle class, you aren't losing people to greener (heh) pastures. At $400k/yr you have more money than you'd ever know what do with, though not enough that you could just do whatever you want.
The fact that $400k is more than you know what to do with does not give you the right to say that he or she should not have it. For all you know, they do know what to do with it, and the fact that they got it in the first place points in that direction.

elasto wrote:However more money does stop bringing more happiness well before you get to $400k.
You know this through personal experience? And even if it were true, as you say further down, people have the right to make that choice, so it shouldn't even be part of your calculus.
elasto wrote:...the type of person earning that much likely is prioritizing earning money over other aspects of their life...
...and that type of person won't magically change into kumbaya if it's taken away from them. See, you're trying to change other people, but that's not what you can change.
elasto wrote:Now, the rich should have the right to choose a poor work/life balance that leaves them unhappier, but they shouldn't have the right to make wider society unnecessarily unhappy - which is what opposing progressive mechanisms brings.
No, that's not what opposing progressive mechanisms brings. Certainly not as a matter of policy.

Sure, unfettered free market isn't ideal either. But a society based on "you have too much money, give it back" is just wrong.

Jose
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:01 am UTC

ucim wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:$400k is upper middle class, you aren't losing people to greener (heh) pastures. At $400k/yr you have more money than you'd ever know what do with, though not enough that you could just do whatever you want.
The fact that $400k is more than you know what to do with does not give you the right to say that he or she should not have it. For all you know, they do know what to do with it, and the fact that they got it in the first place points in that direction.


You don't know how much I or my family earns...

I'm not saying they shouldn't make more than $400k. All I'm saying is that they shouldn't make more than $400k while the organization is not paying tax.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:21 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:You don't know how much I or my family earns...
Correct. But you put out a number claiming that it's more money than (generic) I'd ever know what to do with, but with no support for the claim. Well, I'd know what to do with it. And I don't make $400K/year.

CorruptUser wrote:I'm not saying they shouldn't make more than $400k. All I'm saying is that they shouldn't make more than $400k while the organization is not paying tax.
And I'm saying that you should not confuse an individual with the company he works for. It amounts to aiming to fix the symptom rather than aiming to fix the system.

Jose
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:21 am UTC

Umm... it is the system that's a problem when an organization is tax free "for the public good" and paying out 7-8 figure salaries. Sorry, if you are paying that much you aren't doing it just "for the public good". You can make profit, that's fine, but then pay tax.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:53 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Umm... it is the system that's a problem when an organization is tax free "for the public good" and paying out 7-8 figure salaries. Sorry, if you are paying that much you aren't doing it just "for the public good". You can make profit, that's fine, but then pay tax.
No, it depends on why it is paying out those kinds of salaries. If you don't address that, you're not doing any good.

But at this point we are just repeating ourselves, and I'm going to just let it go.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby mat.tia » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:02 am UTC

ucim wrote:
mat.tia wrote:The kind of distribution you illustrate has the only goal of rewarding the inventor of the apple-picking machine. (Assuming it was invented and built from scratch all by the same person using his own material).
In this simplified scenario, yes. The inventor did it all himself, using only what is available to everyone else. (I am not even talking about patents; in this scenario nothing stops my neighbor from building his own machine).

Ok. But so you confirm your view of a "fair" distribution of wealth as one having the only purpose of rewarding the people that augment productivity.
This seems very nonsensical and selfish to me.
Even assuming it makes sense to compare modern CEOs to apple-picking machines inventors that do all by themselves; what good do they do to society if they introduce improvements only to be paid for them?
I'd say this very far from noble concept of "being valuable" is very recent - and honestly disgusting to me. Great Men in the past did not do things to be paid back.
Sometimes, they were paid back, sometimes not. But great improvements in human history were not drawn by money incentive.
If it were so, we would study science and history from accounting books.
I do not know any name of any of the rich merchants. I know some names of big bankers, but those names seem to always come with negative or at least very cynical judgements.

I am NOT saying people should not be rewarded. I am saying it is not the top priority when it comes to deciding how to distribute wealth.

And in any way, seeing a CEO as the only/main responsible for ad advancement is like saying the tip of the iceberg is what makes it float.

ucim wrote:In an ideal distribution, people are rewarded for their value to other people. Sometimes that reward is financial, sometimes not. But everyone would be happy with the result, and nobody would feel exploited. At the same time, those who are unable to be very valuable to other people would not be cast aside. They would be nurtured by society (which is made up of other people), so that they could become valuable to other people. As a result of this ideal distribution, everyone would be encouraged to become valuable to (at least some) other people, and would be able to grow unfettered in that direction. At the same time, those with drive and ambition, who actually become very valuable to other people (indirectly, through scientific discoveries, commerce, invention, whatever) would be richly rewarded for this.
[...]
Real people have built-in wants, needs, and tendencies, some of which are not very nice. The ideal system uses these to advantage to create a halfway decent distribution. But with real people, I don't see how an ideal system will create an ideal distribution (if that can even be defined sensibly), without creating other far-from-ideal conditions. Because an economic distribution is merely one result of the way people interact.

Real people are not ideal people and real distribution of goods is not ideal; sure things. But we have a say and we ought to act so that the direction is towards the ideal; sure thing #2.
Now, it seems as your main concern regarding the wealth distribution is the rewards towards the "valuable" people.
I disagree with this being the only aspect to be taken into consideration.
Also I find very difficult to agree on ways to assess how valuable people are, how much they deserve. But something is sure: no man (or small group of) is worth 90% of humanity.
In any case, the important aspect about this is the one about people. We'll never get ideal people, but we might get closer to ideal people.
How? I say granting people basic rights, an education, a way to become valuable to society. An environment in which competition is important but cooperation happens too. A spread between rich and poor that can be filled, if one wants to dedicate to it. A set of rights that do not depend on a person's economic value, or, worse, on their given wealth; but on their being part of society.
People are not ideal. Repression is not the answer. Incentive to become closer to ideal could be.

ucim wrote:
mat.tia wrote:[(responding to CorruptUser)] If you decide to address point 2, you can:
2a) directly reduce their wealth
2b) regulate market to address wealth distribution so that it will tend to be more even
2c) regulate market and laws to limit CEOs decisional powers so that, despite their money, the have less power to limit competition
2d) revolutions of different sorts

[...]
I'd propose 2e (a variant on 2c) - at a certain point, when the company's size and structure start passing its risks and externalizing its costs onto the public, then that same public should start to have a say in how the company is run, or have an apporpriate share in the company's gains and wealth, based on the idea that it's sneakily being taken from the public in the first place.

I totally agree with this one.
As mentioned earlier, I think it should also be worth taking into consideration democratically fixed wages for "public" companies.
Wouldn't be this the more direct way to grant a person the right compensation for his value to society?

ucim wrote:
mat.tia wrote:no. ucim put words in my mouth I never even thought of. That's trolling.
Where? Which words? Your quote was empty.

"confiscating richs' wealth","in an ideal world we don't even use money"."Why should I tell you I'm willing to give up seven if I can get what I want from you for three?"," limitations on personal wealth "...

CorruptUser wrote:
mat.tia wrote:If you decide to address point 2, you can:
2a) directly reduce their wealth
2b) regulate market to address wealth distribution so that it will tend to be more even
2c) regulate market and laws to limit CEOs decisional powers so that, despite their money, the have less power to limit competition
2d) revolutions of different sorts


Umm, no.

1) All 501(c) organizations may NOT pay their employees more than the President. Don't like it? Lose the tax exempt status. Similarly, a person can't work 10 jobs for different 501(c)s as a "consultant" to get around this. If you are running a charity (*cough*united way*cough*) you shouldn't pay anyone 7 figures.
2) NO organization may donate money to a political campaign unless it was specifically founded to do so, and if it is it must disclose every person and the donation they made, and American citizens only. Sorry, corporations are only people when Ronald McDonald has to sign up for the draft.
3) Make it easier to form a union. Yes, I generally hate unions, but we went too far in the other direction.
4) Ban hired protesters. Yeah, that's a thing; you can pay people to protest for you. In my city at the moment, you can go downtown and see two people holding a sign in front of the Humana building. Those people are paid by a construction guild to stand there because the guild couldn't be assed to do it themselves. They are upset that Humana hired someone else, which to me is the equivalent of Toyota hiring a bunch of people to protest in front of your house because you bought a Ford. Sorry, grassroots campaigns ONLY.
5) About 2/3 the shit the Occupyers wanted, oddly enough. Get the money out of politics!

Why "No"? You added some good proposals. Great.

Tyndmyr wrote:
mat.tia wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:if you prefer a formal definition, wealth is the total market value of all assets owned by an entity, minus all debts owed by that entity

Then please, explain me if you will (I'd be thankful) how this can be measured in absolute value. What is the unit of measurement? If it is, as I think, money (dollars, euros, yen or w/e currency) how is it not relative to current market size?

Yes, it is measured in dollars. If your stuff is worth $30,000, and you have $10,000 in debt, you have wealth of $20,000. The end. You have a wealth of $20,000 regardless of if the overall market size is a million dollars or ten billion.

But do you realize $'s value depends on how much of it is out there? Saying $ 20.000 without saying how much a $ is worth is nonsense.
And you measure $'s value against another currency (ie: indirectly is just a proportion of the entire market).
So from the information so far I conclude wealth cannot be measured if not proportionally to the size of the market.
I understand the market can become bigger. Today's market can two yesterday's markets.
But one's wealth measure has meaning compared to the context in which one lives. So if yesterday I owned 60% of the market, today I own 61%, the rest has lost 1% of the market (it might have some more to eat, but still, is proportionally poorer).

Tyndmyr wrote:I do not care about inequality whatsoever for it's own sake. It's a useful economic indicator. There are many things we need to fix, and certainly metrics like "holy god, this sector of the economy is bleeding wealth" are useful for identifying problems. It's akin to noticing blood. Go, find out who is bleeding. Don't just mop up the blood and call it a day.

We are here trying to understand where the blood comes from, how to fix the problem.
You are standing there saying how stupid we are saying what we say. We asked you: what is this blood? Help us: what should we do about it?
You are standing there saying how stupid we are saying what we say.


Tyndmyr wrote:Economy is a branch of math.

Not at ALL. Economy is the discipline that studies the distribution of resources among men.
Just like any other discipline, it USES math to do its calculations.
Economy means "good management of the house" and it comes from the Greeks. This tells us two things:
1) it is about management: decisions to take, not things to accept.
2) it considers the world as a house: in houses live families, not enemies.

Now, back to the tadpole frog similarity, if you want to fix an arbitrary, fixed, ratio to discern from "healthy and unhealthy" inequality, go for it. Fix a percentage. Use the indicators you wish. What I'm saying is that I know for sure which side of the classification will the current status of things fall into.


CorruptUser wrote:I say that a person isn't willing to work 'for the public good' unless the pay is more than $400k/yr, that person does NOT have the calling and is likely NOT the right fit. You should NOT go into public service for the money. If you are in it for the money, sure you can do that, just not tax free.

So if I declare what I do I do it for the public good I deserve only up to a certain point.
Who should get more than that? Who does not do it for the public good?

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby leady » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:17 pm UTC

mat.tia wrote:But do you realize $'s value depends on how much of it is out there? Saying $ 20.000 without saying how much a $ is worth is nonsense.
And you measure $'s value against another currency (ie: indirectly is just a proportion of the entire market).
So from the information so far I conclude wealth cannot be measured if not proportionally to the size of the market.
I understand the market can become bigger. Today's market can two yesterday's markets.
But one's wealth measure has meaning compared to the context in which one lives. So if yesterday I owned 60% of the market, today I own 61%, the rest has lost 1% of the market (it might have some more to eat, but still, is proportionally poorer).


I think you keep making the same mistake, money exists to facilitate the transfer of wealth - it just so happens that for convienence a lot of wealth is measured in money. But saying wealth is relative to the market is wrong.

Economies are not zero sum, if I move from 10% to 11% of total wealth its likely the market size has grown from 100 to 105 in normalised dollars - ergo no one loses out.

What this discussion is really about is whether gaining a disproportionate lump of the growing pie is a symptom of a structural issue. I think it is (asset bubble), but I think we all disagree on the resolution, because I don't think this has anything to do with CEOs etc - its all stock, housing and commodities growth due to loose financial controls.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby mat.tia » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:57 pm UTC

leady wrote:I think you keep making the same mistake, money exists to facilitate the transfer of wealth - it just so happens that for convienence a lot of wealth is measured in money. But saying wealth is relative to the market is wrong.

Economies are not zero sum, if I move from 10% to 11% of total wealth its likely the market size has grown from 100 to 105 in normalised dollars - ergo no one loses out.

I do understand this last bit and I haven't argued on that.

What I am saying are two things:

1) merely on a theoretical (and useless) pov: wealth can grow absolutely, but can't be measured that way. Yes, normalized dollars are as good as standard-loaves-of-bread as unit of measurement. We could measure today's total wealth in 1300's loaves-of-bread. But it would still be proportional to a fixed wealth, in a fixed point in time. You cannot count wealth particles or weigh its mass. You can only compare it to another wealth.

2) the relevant point: the discussion is about wealth distribution, not wealth quantity or absolute wealth per capita. This is so because in a society it matters not only how much one individual has, but what proportion of the total he owns.
For many reasons: the most immediate being power distribution and the human tendency to compare one own's situation with others'.
A man living in the past owning X standard loaves-of-bread was rich with that. Now in a world where everyone owns 10000*X standard loaves-of-bread he would be poor.

leady wrote:What this discussion is really about is whether gaining a disproportionate lump of the growing pie is a symptom of a structural issue. I think it is (asset bubble), but I think we all disagree on the resolution, because I don't think this has anything to do with CEOs etc - its all stock, housing and commodities growth due to loose financial controls.

Can you explain me what makes you think the main cause of the problem is loose financial controls (not being polemic, genuinly ignorant)?
And what do you mean by that: is it because someone has been cheating?
Or is it because controllers have an interest in being loose while controlling - but have not been cheating?

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:17 pm UTC

ucim wrote:so now that third party set of peers becomes the new target. And that's "ok" because it's not a congressman.

Smells like tobacco to me.

I don't see why the third party couldn't be kept anonymous.
From the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute comes the ghastly suspicion my opposition's a fruit.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:04 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:I would be fine with putting some kind of requirement into place that any lobbying to be done must rely on some form of third-party, peer-reviewed evidence.
KrytenKoro wrote:I don't see why the third party couldn't be kept anonymous.
Because then we would effectively be ruled by a secret cabal who has no accountability to anybody. And with all that money chasing it, how long do you think it could be kept secret anyway?

mat.tia wrote:But so you confirm your view of a "fair" distribution of wealth as one having the only purpose of rewarding the people that augment productivity.
No, I affirm, once again, that a distribution of wealth is a result, not a target.
mat.tia wrote:Great Men in the past did not do things to be paid back.
...but I am not requiring this. Wealthy people still have the option of not accepting remunieration.
mat.tia wrote:I am saying it is not the top priority when it comes to deciding how to distribute wealth.
mat.tia wrote:As mentioned earlier, I think it should also be worth taking into consideration democratically fixed wages for "public" companies.
Wouldn't be this the more direct way to grant a person the right compensation for his value to society?
This requires some small (and immensely powerful!) group of people to get together and decide on a person's "value to society", a well nigh impossible task and one that would end up full of corruption. No, the best way is the direct way. I teach your son math, you give me six gold pieces. If that's too much, somebody else will offer to do it for five. If it's too little, I'll find somebody who will offer me seven. This doesn't guarantee every transaction is "fair" but it does tend to move transactions in the right direction.

If and when things get out of hand (which you seem to think has happened) some regulation can be applied, but the right thing has to be regulated. I don't think you propose regulating the right thing, nor for the right reasons.

mat.tia wrote:
ucim wrote:[re a "putting words in my mouth" accusation:]
Where? Which words? Your quote was empty.
"confiscating richs' wealth","in an ideal world we don't even use money"."Why should I tell you I'm willing to give up seven if I can get what I want from you for three?"," limitations on personal wealth "...
In this post:

"confiscating richs' wealth":
The context is: "Each [of the problems you referred to] should be lain out separately to be discussed. They may have as a common factor that it relates to wealth, but that does not make wealth the root cause, nor does that mean confiscating their wealth is the solution.". Here I suppose I accused you of proposing a solution that entails confiscating their wealth. Well, you are bemoaning the inequality of the wealth distribution, and I don't see how you can make it more equal without taking from the rich and giving to the poor, one way or another.

"in an ideal world we don't even use money":
The context is: "This is not even sensible Unless you mean[...]". So, if you didn't mean that, I'm saying "This is not even sensible". Disagree if you like, but no words in your mouth.

"Why should I tell you I'm willing to give up seven if I can get what I want from you for three?":
These are my words from my own mouth. I did not accuse you of saying this, I am asking you this.

" limitations on personal wealth ":
The context is: "So, limitations on personal wealth won't really address the actual issue you have with the super-rich.". I suppose I am again accusing you of proposing limitations on personal wealth.

You do seem to be insisting that the super-rich have too much money and (therefore, to fix the ills that causes) they should somehow be made to have less. However, I quickly went through your posts and could not find you saying this explicitly. You are however saying similar things to others who do say this; perhaps I was confused. If I have been misreading you, I apologize. Nonetheless your posts have a (shared) flavor that still focuses on the "too much money" aspect as a problem (with a subfocus on a tiny subsector of commerce: the nonprofits).

The problem (if there is one) is that money buys power in an amount that is disporportionate to the power some think should be granted.

The opposing problem is that attempts to fix this problem introduce other Bad Effects, some of which I contend are worse than the original problem (if it exists).

The actual wealth distribution is a distraction.

Jose
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:20 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Uh... all economists know that humans are not Homo Economicus. And we understand much of the logic behind irrationality; those hard lines in those graphs are most well understood as a blurry range. Plus there's equilibrium levels of disequalibrium.


You and I are largely in agreement I think.

Remember, Tyndmyr's specific claim was that "If you are claiming that a ratio exists, and that it is also unquantifiable, it looks like you're dodging falsifiability for your claim" which was in direct response to a metaphor about "you know when something is a tadpole and when it is a frog but not necessarily when it goes from one to the other".

In other words, you and I are in agreement that economics is about blurry ranges (sometimes very blurry) - whereas Tyndmyr seems to be expecting things to be cut-and-dried like some high-school maths equation (and if they're not then you've analysed it wrong)


It is a field of math. Sometimes these things are expressed in ratios or probabilities, and error rates exist. These are all quantifiable.

elasto wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Nonsense. "more money than you'd ever know what to do with" is not an actual number. $400k/yr is pretty good indeed, but not for someone that could make a million. Money doesn't stop being interesting at a certain point. The same rules apply, the figures are merely larger.

However more money does stop bringing more happiness well before you get to $400k. In practice there's probably a negative correlation in fact, because the type of person earning that much likely is prioritizing earning money over other aspects of their life that would produce better returns - like spending time with their spouse, children or childhood friends.

As the saying goes noone ever lay on their deathbed wishing they'd spent more time in the office.

Now, the rich should have the right to choose a poor work/life balance that leaves them unhappier, but they shouldn't have the right to make wider society unnecessarily unhappy - which is what opposing progressive mechanisms brings.


Does it? I don't think you've established that paying charity CEOs >$400k/yr decreases the happiness of society. Assuming that we should optimize for happiness, which is a questionable assumption to begin with.

Utility and happiness are not the same things.

Tyndmyr wrote:Economy is a branch of math. This isn't about faith or opinions. Words tend to have very precise meanings in such fields. If you are claiming that a ratio exists, and that it is also unquantifiable, it looks like you're dodging falsifiability for your claim.


Economics may be a branch of maths but it's practically in its infancy. The problem is it is predicated on human behaviour being rational when it is anything but. Numerous studies show people will act against their own self-interest - for example the rich prioritizing getting richer over getting happier mentioned above, or a person preferring to lose $1 if their opponent loses $2 than to gain $1 if their opponent gains $2.

Until economics can fully take into account the logic behind irrationality it will be flawed - and it will probably take the human brain itself getting solved for that to occur.[/quote]

Economics has been around for a while. The idea that a person wishing harm on another is irrational or not seeking happiness above all else is irrational shows only a limited understanding of rationality. It is not a disproof of economics. People have many goals. This is not necessarily irrational. Perhaps a person with many siblings is made happy by their well being, and seeks this, while the only child has differing priorities. No irrationality needs to exist to explain this.

What is irrational is if the person has a goal, yet is taking actions contrary to that goal. At which point, we explore why that behavior exists. Perhaps the goal they have stated is not their real goal. Perhaps they do not understand the probable results of their actions.

And in any case, a perfectly rational person is to economics what a frictionless perfect sphere is to physics. An example to illustrate something to a student. The lack of the former would not discredit economics any more than the lack of the latter invalidates physics.

CorruptUser wrote:
ucim wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:$400k is upper middle class, you aren't losing people to greener (heh) pastures. At $400k/yr you have more money than you'd ever know what do with, though not enough that you could just do whatever you want.
The fact that $400k is more than you know what to do with does not give you the right to say that he or she should not have it. For all you know, they do know what to do with it, and the fact that they got it in the first place points in that direction.


You don't know how much I or my family earns...

I'm not saying they shouldn't make more than $400k. All I'm saying is that they shouldn't make more than $400k while the organization is not paying tax.


Why? What does paying tax have to do with it? The rationale for an organization being tax exempt is on other grounds. Why should compensation also be limited?

If an organization is tax exempt for the betterment of society, and they are instead, harming society(via lobbying or whatever), the issue is one of poor classification, not of compensation for someone that works for them.

mat.tia wrote:Ok. But so you confirm your view of a "fair" distribution of wealth as one having the only purpose of rewarding the people that augment productivity.
This seems very nonsensical and selfish to me.
Even assuming it makes sense to compare modern CEOs to apple-picking machines inventors that do all by themselves; what good do they do to society if they introduce improvements only to be paid for them?
I'd say this very far from noble concept of "being valuable" is very recent - and honestly disgusting to me. Great Men in the past did not do things to be paid back.
Sometimes, they were paid back, sometimes not. But great improvements in human history were not drawn by money incentive.


Uh...a great number of historical accomplishments were indeed the result of someone trying to make a buck. Not all were successful, but the past is not some utopia free from folks striving for money. If anything, people were often more desperate, due to being more often in harsher situations. We no longer have to raid the next village over for food to not starve.

If it were so, we would study science and history from accounting books.
I do not know any name of any of the rich merchants. I know some names of big bankers, but those names seem to always come with negative or at least very cynical judgements.


A great many of the early explorers in the age of sail were motivated by dreams of wealth. Consider Amerigo Vespucci. You've probably heard of him in the history books, which often credit America with being named after him. Dude was a financier and stuff. His merchant work got him into exploring, which he parlayed into a massive salary running a school of navigation...which resulted in navigational discoveries. This was a benefit to his society, and also of benefit to him.

Your view of the past is quite rose-tinted, and not a little inaccurate.

mat.tia wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
mat.tia wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:if you prefer a formal definition, wealth is the total market value of all assets owned by an entity, minus all debts owed by that entity

Then please, explain me if you will (I'd be thankful) how this can be measured in absolute value. What is the unit of measurement? If it is, as I think, money (dollars, euros, yen or w/e currency) how is it not relative to current market size?

Yes, it is measured in dollars. If your stuff is worth $30,000, and you have $10,000 in debt, you have wealth of $20,000. The end. You have a wealth of $20,000 regardless of if the overall market size is a million dollars or ten billion.

But do you realize $'s value depends on how much of it is out there? Saying $ 20.000 without saying how much a $ is worth is nonsense.
And you measure $'s value against another currency (ie: indirectly is just a proportion of the entire market).
So from the information so far I conclude wealth cannot be measured if not proportionally to the size of the market.
I understand the market can become bigger. Today's market can two yesterday's markets.
But one's wealth measure has meaning compared to the context in which one lives. So if yesterday I owned 60% of the market, today I own 61%, the rest has lost 1% of the market (it might have some more to eat, but still, is proportionally poorer).


It is not a simple proportion. Inflation exists, but one cannot assume that the value of a dollar is directly proportional to the size of the market.

And anyway, if you WERE measuring wealth that way, inequity would be a decreasing concern, because as more and more people join the market, each person owns a smaller and smaller percentage, and thus, it is increasingly more difficult for any one person to own x% of the market. It is important to note that none of the richest living people would even crack the top ten richest people in history in raw inflation adjusted wealth, let alone by percentage.

But, as for context, yes, describing wealth in inflation adjusted terms is standard. You can just assume that anyone doing economics in any serious capacity already understands this.

Not at ALL. Economy is the discipline that studies the distribution of resources among men.
Just like any other discipline, it USES math to do its calculations.
Economy means "good management of the house" and it comes from the Greeks. This tells us two things:
1) it is about management: decisions to take, not things to accept.
2) it considers the world as a house: in houses live families, not enemies.

Now, back to the tadpole frog similarity, if you want to fix an arbitrary, fixed, ratio to discern from "healthy and unhealthy" inequality, go for it. Fix a percentage. Use the indicators you wish. What I'm saying is that I know for sure which side of the classification will the current status of things fall into.


HOW do you know this?

What you "know" is only as valid as the how.

mat.tia wrote:
leady wrote:I think you keep making the same mistake, money exists to facilitate the transfer of wealth - it just so happens that for convienence a lot of wealth is measured in money. But saying wealth is relative to the market is wrong.

Economies are not zero sum, if I move from 10% to 11% of total wealth its likely the market size has grown from 100 to 105 in normalised dollars - ergo no one loses out.

I do understand this last bit and I haven't argued on that.

What I am saying are two things:

1) merely on a theoretical (and useless) pov: wealth can grow absolutely, but can't be measured that way. Yes, normalized dollars are as good as standard-loaves-of-bread as unit of measurement. We could measure today's total wealth in 1300's loaves-of-bread. But it would still be proportional to a fixed wealth, in a fixed point in time. You cannot count wealth particles or weigh its mass. You can only compare it to another wealth.


That's what measurement IS. When I say something is twelve feet(or whatever), I am comparing it to a known fixed unit.

Obviously, one does the same with wealth.

mat.tia wrote:2) the relevant point: the discussion is about wealth distribution, not wealth quantity or absolute wealth per capita. This is so because in a society it matters not only how much one individual has, but what proportion of the total he owns.
For many reasons: the most immediate being power distribution and the human tendency to compare one own's situation with others'.
A man living in the past owning X standard loaves-of-bread was rich with that. Now in a world where everyone owns 10000*X standard loaves-of-bread he would be poor.


In that case, wealth distribution is not a problem, and so long as the world population continues to increase, it becomes increasingly less likely to become a problem. No one person owns a significant percentage of the world's assets.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:05 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Because then we would effectively be ruled by a secret cabal who has no accountability to anybody. And with all that money chasing it, how long do you think it could be kept secret anyway?

I am...really confused as to what you think I'm saying.

Let's say I want to lobby for bans on jumbo-size soft drinks in New York.

What I am proposing is that I would need to present at least one kind of third-party (neither soft drink corporations nor foodies) peer-reviewed (results verified by a second group of researchers) study that showed that this proposal would lead to better health results.

To prevent the researchers from being bought off, the researchers' identities could be kept anonymous -- essentially a form of double blind. The lobbyist and senator could still be as public as ever.

I'm highly doubtful that the same group of researchers would be responsible for every study on every subject ever, so I'm bewildered as to where you're getting this "cabal" idea, or the idea that they could be quickly tracked down and bought off. You would only need to keep the researchers anonymous in the first place so long as the study is being commissioned -- once the study is over, who the fuck cares if you know who they are.
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby PeteP » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:45 pm UTC

The anonymous idea requires that the study is only started when they want to present the idea, and a neutral group to anonymously find a group to study it. And somebody has to pay for the research, I assume the lobby group. The concept removes pre existing papers, because otherwise you can organize the paper beforehand and there is no anonymity.
Without the ability to use pre existing papers there could be broad scientific support for the idea, but the lobby group can't reference it and has to be rich enough to finance a new redundant paper which depending on the topic could take a long time.
Though I might be misunderstanding the concept.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:30 am UTC

PeteP wrote:The anonymous idea requires that the study is only started when they want to present the idea, and a neutral group to anonymously find a group to study it. And somebody has to pay for the research, I assume the lobby group. The concept removes pre existing papers, because otherwise you can organize the paper beforehand and there is no anonymity.
Without the ability to use pre existing papers there could be broad scientific support for the idea, but the lobby group can't reference it and has to be rich enough to finance a new redundant paper which depending on the topic could take a long time.
Though I might be misunderstanding the concept.

I have no problem whatsoever with preexisting papers being used, provided they are demonstrably third party and peer-reviewed.

At the bare minimum, I'm asking that lobbyists show that there is even the thinnest veneer of credible, non-laughably-biased scientific/empirical support for their suggestion. The anonymity idea is solely an option to the objection that this system should, apparently, not even be tried because the scientists would immediately be bought off too.

Disclaimer: I'm assuming, for this scenario, that scientists who have already published their results or, in some cases, are actually deceased, would be somewhat harder to buy off than reelection-focused, scientifically illiterate congressmen.
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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:17 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:I have no problem whatsoever with preexisting papers being used, provided they are demonstrably third party and peer-reviewed.
... and I have no problem with real scientific research being cited in lobbying campaigns. I do have a problem with anonymous research being cited though. It means the politician (and the public) cannot tell whether or not the research is legit. They are then relying on the third party rather than the research, which is a step backwards, not forwards. There's too much room for abuse. (And once the vote is cast, who cares whether the third party reviewed this research well or not?)

This strikes me too much as a "trust me" form of governance, where the entities being trusted (these reviewers) are not even subject to election.

KrytenKoro wrote:At the bare minimum, I'm asking that lobbyists show that there is even the thinnest veneer of credible, non-laughably-biased scientific/empirical support for their suggestion.
That would be nice and I'm all for that, but ultimately it's the politician who will make a decision. At the bare minimum, I think the politicians should be educated in the fields they will be making decisions on. That way they could tell the difference between real science and beef by-products.

But it doesn't even matter if the lobbyists come in with bribes. So long as the lobbyist and senator know each other, it doesn't matter what is in the research, does it? And at election time, if the public doesn't understand the issue (and why the politician made a dumb choice), it doesn't matter for reelection either. You can't hold somebody accountable if you don't understand the account.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:55 pm UTC

ucim wrote:... and I have no problem with real scientific research being cited in lobbying campaigns. I do have a problem with anonymous research being cited though. It means the politician (and the public) cannot tell whether or not the research is legit. They are then relying on the third party rather than the research, which is a step backwards, not forwards. There's too much room for abuse. (And once the vote is cast, who cares whether the third party reviewed this research well or not?)

It would seem to me that the peer-review would determine whether or not the research is legit. Mostly, what I'm suggesting is a minimum, to get us past the point where lobbyists can make claims (or simply buy votes without even relying on rhetoric) based on nothing at all.

This strikes me too much as a "trust me" form of governance, where the entities being trusted (these reviewers) are not even subject to election.

Given the well-entrenched corruption and misinformation in current elections, I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

KrytenKoro wrote:That would be nice and I'm all for that, but ultimately it's the politician who will make a decision. At the bare minimum, I think the politicians should be educated in the fields they will be making decisions on. That way they could tell the difference between real science and beef by-products.

I have no problem with requiring politicians to have degrees in the fields they vote on.

But it doesn't even matter if the lobbyists come in with bribes. So long as the lobbyist and senator know each other, it doesn't matter what is in the research, does it? And at election time, if the public doesn't understand the issue (and why the politician made a dumb choice), it doesn't matter for reelection either. You can't hold somebody accountable if you don't understand the account.

Right now, they're not really held accountable at all. Giving them some basic requirements (and maybe we could require that votes come with written justifications citing research, as with Supreme Court decisions?) towards any sort of emperical method seems like a step forward to me, even if it's not a panacea.
From the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute comes the ghastly suspicion my opposition's a fruit.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:21 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
ucim wrote:Because then we would effectively be ruled by a secret cabal who has no accountability to anybody. And with all that money chasing it, how long do you think it could be kept secret anyway?

I am...really confused as to what you think I'm saying.

Let's say I want to lobby for bans on jumbo-size soft drinks in New York.

What I am proposing is that I would need to present at least one kind of third-party (neither soft drink corporations nor foodies) peer-reviewed (results verified by a second group of researchers) study that showed that this proposal would lead to better health results.

To prevent the researchers from being bought off, the researchers' identities could be kept anonymous -- essentially a form of double blind. The lobbyist and senator could still be as public as ever.

I'm highly doubtful that the same group of researchers would be responsible for every study on every subject ever, so I'm bewildered as to where you're getting this "cabal" idea, or the idea that they could be quickly tracked down and bought off. You would only need to keep the researchers anonymous in the first place so long as the study is being commissioned -- once the study is over, who the fuck cares if you know who they are.


Who enforces this? If identities are kept secret, what keeps bogus results from being presented solely to support a desired outcome? This already happens to some degree when people put their names on things, adding anonymity seems as though it would enable fraud, not reduce it.

You give power to a group and add secrecy, and you're providing a large incentive for corruption.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:47 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:It would seem to me that the peer-review would determine whether or not the research is legit.
...and this peer review board would of course be completely impervious to pecuniary influence, especially when the paper in question is authored secretly. Who picks the peers? Suppose some other research is legit but its findings are... er... surprising. What encourages these peers to support/reject that research if they are likely to be suspected of fraud by virtue of being the same peers that supported/rejected this secret but politically charged research?

You fight fraud by fighting fraud. In the open. Not by creating yet another secret group and sewing "trust me" on their shirts.

As for requiring a degree in whatever a politician votes on, do you not see the impracticality of this? It's a nice rallying cry, but if we did that, politicians would never get anything done.

Oh, wait. :)

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
ucim wrote:Because then we would effectively be ruled by a secret cabal who has no accountability to anybody. And with all that money chasing it, how long do you think it could be kept secret anyway?

I am...really confused as to what you think I'm saying.

Let's say I want to lobby for bans on jumbo-size soft drinks in New York.

What I am proposing is that I would need to present at least one kind of third-party (neither soft drink corporations nor foodies) peer-reviewed (results verified by a second group of researchers) study that showed that this proposal would lead to better health results.

To prevent the researchers from being bought off, the researchers' identities could be kept anonymous -- essentially a form of double blind. The lobbyist and senator could still be as public as ever.

I'm highly doubtful that the same group of researchers would be responsible for every study on every subject ever, so I'm bewildered as to where you're getting this "cabal" idea, or the idea that they could be quickly tracked down and bought off. You would only need to keep the researchers anonymous in the first place so long as the study is being commissioned -- once the study is over, who the fuck cares if you know who they are.


Who enforces this? If identities are kept secret, what keeps bogus results from being presented solely to support a desired outcome? This already happens to some degree when people put their names on things, adding anonymity seems as though it would enable fraud, not reduce it.

You give power to a group and add secrecy, and you're providing a large incentive for corruption.

Okay, just to clarify, I was at most suggesting anonymity while they were running the research. Once the study's been published, there's little need to keep them anonymous because there's no longer a point to buying them off.

Literally all this is intended to be is a headstart on those wishing to bribe.
From the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute comes the ghastly suspicion my opposition's a fruit.

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Re: Top 0.1% to pass bottom 90% of Americans in combined wea

Postby ucim » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:29 pm UTC

But is research ever really the hinge point? I suspect not. The hinge point is just what it is that {group} wishes to accomplish. For example, a group might want to ban pornography, and another would want to publish it. What research would answer the question as to which group should prevail?

None. It's not even a question of research. It's a question of values - whether you want to live in a world with smut, or a world with censorship.

Each side could produce peer-reviewed research showing that their side would reduce {something or other}, and be right. But that raises the question of whether {something} should be reduced, or {other} should be reduced. Or whether it even matters to anybody except the publisher and the Women's League.

Research is a red herring in many cases. Probably most.

Jose
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