Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

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Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Vaniver » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:10 am UTC

I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby torgos » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:36 am UTC

Long live the Luddites!
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby kiklion » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:50 am UTC

Damn the Geneva convention! It's costing us thousands of jobs! What will our torturers do now? Do you expect them to change careers and join the army?

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:45 am UTC

If we didn't have any technology at all then everyone would have to work to barely survive and we'd have a 0% unemployment rate. We should do that.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby folkhero » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:52 am UTC

Jackson wrote:"What becomes of publishing companies and publishing company jobs?" Jackson asked the House. "What becomes of bookstores and librarians and all of the jobs associated with paper? Well, in the not-too-distant future, such jobs simply won't exist."

Maybe he thinks The Office is a real documentary.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Save Point » Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:07 am UTC

This thread needs more Bastiat and Schumpeter.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Zamfir » Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:44 am UTC

Partially as advocate for the devil, but also partially serious: isn’t there a grain of truth in the story, underneath the iPad-buzzword simplicity? At least at this moment in time, and on a time scale of a few years? After all, economies are clearly struggling to “rebalance”. There was an enormous jump in unemployment in the winter of 2008-2009, especially in the US. And that basically stayed, with only very hesitant movement back.

The economy, both of the US and of the wider world, seems to have trouble adjusting to the new situation since the financial crisis. Why should we expect that job losses from other causes will be smoothly compensated for? The main argument against Luddism is that fired workers will find other jobs in expanding parts of the economy, But that assumes a smooth and largely automatic rebalancing capability, and economies do not seem to be guaranteed to have that capability at all times.

We do have a clear, recent example of large job losses that were not compensated for by new jobs. Even in countries with large trade deficits, that could supposedly employ their unemployed in import-substitution. But that is not happening in for example the US or Spain, at least not quickly or on a large enough scale. So why assume that job losses at Borders will be easily compensated for?
Themis wrote:This thread needs more Bastiat and Schumpeter.

I guess their common theme is a promise of long run benefits from changes in the short run. But Schumpeter seems always very aware of the difficulties on the path from here to there. While Bastiat has a lot of these examples without time, where the implied benefits appear the moment the change is made. I guess he's not the only economist who has that tendency. The results are useful as teaching aids, but they are little consolation when you are 52 and the job you were good at has just been offshored.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby EmptySet » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:20 pm UTC

...is he confusing publishers and printers? I mean, several major publishers have their own e-book stores, so I don't really see that a shift from paper books to e-readers is automatically going to mean the death of publishing, even if you accept that such a shift is occurring.

Also, librarians do a lot more than stamp books. A lot of library work these days revolves around digital information, particularly the use of online databases, but library professionals are also in charge of promoting information literacy and a host of other tasks related to information management. Librarians are not going to die out because someone invented iPads. They may end up being called something slightly more trendy, like "knowledge management experts", however.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:29 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Partially as advocate for the devil, but also partially serious: isn’t there a grain of truth in the story, underneath the iPad-buzzword simplicity? At least at this moment in time, and on a time scale of a few years? After all, economies are clearly struggling to “rebalance”. There was an enormous jump in unemployment in the winter of 2008-2009, especially in the US. And that basically stayed, with only very hesitant movement back.

The economy, both of the US and of the wider world, seems to have trouble adjusting to the new situation since the financial crisis. Why should we expect that job losses from other causes will be smoothly compensated for? The main argument against Luddism is that fired workers will find other jobs in expanding parts of the economy, But that assumes a smooth and largely automatic rebalancing capability, and economies do not seem to be guaranteed to have that capability at all times.

We do have a clear, recent example of large job losses that were not compensated for by new jobs. Even in countries with large trade deficits, that could supposedly employ their unemployed in import-substitution. But that is not happening in for example the US or Spain, at least not quickly or on a large enough scale. So why assume that job losses at Borders will be easily compensated for?

I think the basic economic theory is sound - if you pay less for a given good, it's not as if the dollars you spend fall into a black hole (well, I suppose in theory they could if you decrease the amount you work in lockstep with the decreasing price of goods, but I digress...). The money you would have spent is turned around and spent somewhere else.

The problem with Spain and the US I suspect goes a bit deeper than technological substitution. Actually, I'd guess the problem is directly related to the import-substitution you mentioned. Spain is incapable of rapidly changing to an export economy as it's exchange rate isn't free floating within its own economy, but bound to the Euro. Spain doesn't have a sufficiently economy to compete with Germany on quality, and now it can't quickly compete with them on price either. The US may have arrived at a similar problem through debt. The recession in terms of GDP never got that bad, but the government increased it's spending by a trillion in a few quick years, about 40% of which was financed from foreign sources. This keeps exchange rates propped up, and prevents US companies from being able to offer prices as good as they'd be if our account balance was even. This probably isn't the entirety of the problem, but it's certainly a chunk of it.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Box Boy » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:44 pm UTC

EmptySet wrote:...is he confusing publishers and printers? I mean, several major publishers have their own e-book stores, so I don't really see that a shift from paper books to e-readers is automatically going to mean the death of publishing, even if you accept that such a shift is occurring.

Also, librarians do a lot more than stamp books. A lot of library work these days revolves around digital information, particularly the use of online databases, but library professionals are also in charge of promoting information literacy and a host of other tasks related to information management. Librarians are not going to die out because someone invented iPads. They may end up being called something slightly more trendy, like "knowledge management experts", however.

There's also the fact that some people prefer physical books, and that in the end, a library is cheaper.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:29 am UTC

Box Boy wrote:There's also the fact that some people prefer physical books, and that in the end, a library is cheaper.


Cheaper than, say, an online database of every book, with maybe a rental fee and DRM on the files or something? Or just the free version with 33,000 books?

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:31 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Box Boy wrote:There's also the fact that some people prefer physical books, and that in the end, a library is cheaper.


Cheaper than, say, an online database of every book, with maybe a rental fee and DRM on the files or something? Or just the free version with 33,000 books?


It's times like this that I wish I had an iPad or something similar.

I mean...

Hot damn.

Then again, there's something special about the way the pages feel in one's hands when you're flipping through them...
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby folkhero » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:35 am UTC

There's also something nice about being able to leave a book in your car without worrying about it being stolen, and lending or giving a book that you enjoyed to a friend.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:45 am UTC

folkhero wrote:There's also something nice about being able to leave a book in your car without worrying about it being stolen, and lending or giving a book that you enjoyed to a friend.


Enough to justify spending $10-$30 a book? Though, I probably will spend the $30 for when A Dance with Dragons comes out, in like 4 years, and Winds of Winter, in another decade or so.

Anyway, back to the thread topic. Is there anyone here who thinks mandating redundancy is a net gain for society? I mean, if we required all waiters to take a break every 10 minutes to do the Macarena and the Electric Slide, that would "create jobs" by forcing restaurants to hire twice as many waiters, assuming people still eat out as much, all paid for in the form of larger bills. Yet, people going out to restaurants don't gain anything for their extra expenses, except maybe a bit of entertainment. In the meantime, the services they would've bought with their "stupid dance money" suffer.

Seems people like Jesse Jackson Jr don't know the difference between "money" and "wealth".

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:42 am UTC

Actually, I'm a bit fuzzy on the difference, too.

I believe we did cover this increasing streamlining and alteration of jobs in Sociology this year. The process was called mechnization or something like that and for some reason I got the feeling that the text was viewing it as a bad thing as it took power and money away from the workers or something.

Does anyone want to add on to or correct my rambling post?
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:59 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
folkhero wrote:There's also something nice about being able to leave a book in your car without worrying about it being stolen, and lending or giving a book that you enjoyed to a friend.


Enough to justify spending $10-$30 a book? Though, I probably will spend the $30 for when A Dance with Dragons comes out, in like 4 years, and Winds of Winter, in another decade or so.

Anyway, back to the thread topic. Is there anyone here who thinks mandating redundancy is a net gain for society? I mean, if we required all waiters to take a break every 10 minutes to do the Macarena and the Electric Slide, that would "create jobs" by forcing restaurants to hire twice as many waiters, assuming people still eat out as much, all paid for in the form of larger bills. Yet, people going out to restaurants don't gain anything for their extra expenses, except maybe a bit of entertainment. In the meantime, the services they would've bought with their "stupid dance money" suffer.

Seems people like Jesse Jackson Jr don't know the difference between "money" and "wealth".


I've got a "Field guide to the universe" in A3 that I picked up for a fiver. I'd like to see an A3 Ipad do that for £5. Brilliant images, and much nicer too look at than on my TV/Computer screen. I still love my computer and the net, but looking at that book shows papers strengths.

[Edit]
I'm not sure if the "causes lost jobs" really applies all the time. I mean, every time you turn off an electric device "jobs are lost" or something. ;)
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:04 am UTC

I come across these people occasionally. I always want to say to them "Okay, seeing as you hate progress I'll be taking all technological advancements from you, seeing as you don't want them. Please give me your clothes, your house, the computer that you're talking to me through, your phone, oh, and seeing as you're over 30, you should probably be dead now. And technically biological evolution counts as progress so you are now a drop of primordial soup. Isn't this a much better lifestyle?"
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:12 am UTC

Triangle_Man wrote:Actually, I'm a bit fuzzy on the difference, too.


Basically, wealth is anything of value. Money is a measure of wealth*. It's important not to confuse the two, especially if you are in charge of the economy. Food is wealth. So is steel, and cattle, and copper, and timber, and land, and cars, and oil, and any commodity or item you could buy. Money is only valuable for what it can be traded for. If you were to double everyone's property, food, etc, they would be twice as wealthy. If you were to double everyone's money, prices would also double and no one would be any wealthier**.

It's one of those things that I laugh about when I hear about people hoarding gold. If the apocalypse is tomorrow, I'd rather be the guy with a silo of grain than a silo of gold.

*or a 0% interest loan, or a medium of exchange, or a measure of debt, etc

**Well, not exactly. In the long run, a one time inflation of 100% will occur, but until prices adjust, there will be some serious negative consequences to the economy.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Soralin » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:59 am UTC

folkhero wrote:There's also something nice about being able to leave a book in your car without worrying about it being stolen, and lending or giving a book that you enjoyed to a friend.

But with a digital copy, you could make backups of it everywhere, so that it was nearly impossible to lose or be stolen. And not only could you give it to a friend, you could give it to all your friends, at the same time, and still be able to use it yourself.

Err.. that is you can do those things, but there may be certain legal or corporate barriers put in your path to prevent you from doing so. But not being allowed to do such things can hardly be considered a fault of the format itself.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby folkhero » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:45 am UTC

It's not the digital copy of the book that I'm worried about getting stolen, but the reader. I'd rather be out a $6 book than a $200 reader.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby zmatt » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:52 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:It's not the digital copy of the book that I'm worried about getting stolen, but the reader. I'd rather be out a $6 book than a $200 reader.


Who leaves expensive electronics in plain sight in their car? shove it under the seat.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Arrian » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

Triangle_Man wrote:I believe we did cover this increasing streamlining and alteration of jobs in Sociology this year. The process was called mechnization or something like that and for some reason I got the feeling that the text was viewing it as a bad thing as it took power and money away from the workers or something.

Does anyone want to add on to or correct my rambling post?


This angst over lost jobs due to changing technology isn't new at all. It's been going on since the Industrial Revolution got rolling, and probably popped up at other times as well.

Mechanization was an issue back around the turn of the 20th century. People were afraid that we would be facing mass unemployment and economic disaster because tractors were making farms vastly more efficient and the transportation system (railroads, refrigerated cars, etc) was making it possible for farms to supply cities significantly farther away than previously. So the fraction of the population employed in farming was plummeting, (I'm going from vaguely remembered numbers here) from something like 50%+ employed at farming in the 19th century to 30% and falling by the 20's. (It's now around 3%.) What was to be done with all these poor, unemployed farm hands and farm kids who were getting replaced by impersonal machines? (Watch fritz Lang's "Metropolis" with that idea in mind.)

Except the unemployment of displaced farmers never really happened. Manufacturing exploded, our nation got tremendously richer, we entered a golden age by the 20's. Yeah we had the Great Depression in the the 30's, but I have never heard anyone say that unemployment due to mechanization was a contributing factor.

Now employment in manufacturing is falling even though the manufacturing sector is still as large or larger than it was at any point in the past. What are we going to do with all those displaced factory workers? Or Borders clerks? What makes you think that this time is different, that this time nobody will come up with a way to employ all these skilled workers who are currently underemployed?

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Sero » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:01 pm UTC

Right. What I've heard in this thread is some speculation as to whether members of the workforce who's job has been eliminated due to, in one way or another, the march of technology, will smoothly transition to new jobs made possible through same advances.

But the wording of the question is dubious. Smoothly? Or the implied 'quickly'? Doubtful. Yes, I am very confident we will eventually reach a new equilibrium in which those working in bookstores and printers and so on are employed in other endeavors. I am very confident that new equilibrium will be a net gain in standard of living for society. But I think a realistic time frame is 'within a generation', for a major shift.

In twenty, twenty five years, I suspect a lot of jobs will be, if not memories, then vastly reduced in number. I won't make any predictions as to what jobs or what sort of shifts, but I guarantee job distribution as a percentage of population will have changed significantly in that time. In that time, yes, there will be a lot of dislocations as workers find their jobs no longer economically viable and have to find new ones. And they will be opposed to it, because people are selfish and want stability. Nothing wrong with that, but from a detached perspective taking the long view, I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that this process is a bad thing, or that we should try to put our economy into a sort of technological stasis.

This process is always hard on a lot of people, and this time 'round it'll probably be worse than usual. We're in difficult economic times and that means less money to invest in new businesses, less new jobs being created, so the process will be slower and more painful for those involved.

The answer is not 'progress is bad, let us keep things the way they are', it's to do what we can to speed the process and make it less painful. Unemployment insurance is a good step, possibly, as are training/retraining programs. The questions should not be 'Is this change a good thing?' or 'Should we stop this change?' but 'How can we make this change happen more smoothly?'.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby zmatt » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:40 pm UTC

Whenever you have a technological revolution jobs will be destroyed and created. That is how society works. There is nothing new about this. It happened when the printing press was invented, when the car was invented, when the light bulb was invented etc. what happened to the carriage makers, the monks who transcribed books by hand and the candle industry?
Well the carriage makers got into the car industry, the candle makers reinvented themselves and the monks went back to doing whatever monks do. It may take a generation, but there is nothing evil about progress, and that people will be displaced is unfortunate but it is a fact that we will have to deal with.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Apr 22, 2011 6:09 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:It's not the digital copy of the book that I'm worried about getting stolen, but the reader. I'd rather be out a $6 book than a $200 reader.


Prior to the printing press, that book would cost you a half-year's wage. Plus, as more people buy the readers and more competitors enter the market, the price will fall to that of a CD player.

What's in a reader, a screen, a primitive operating system, and a few megs of memory? I can get a 64 meg USB flash drive for like $3 (meaning it probably costs a few cents to make), and I can't imagine the screen costing more than another dollar or so to make. In a decade or so, expect to find e-readers for $10; cheaper than a new book.

Hey, if the author only gets ~$1 per book sold through a publisher, it may very well be cheaper for an author to mass sell single-use e-readers with just the single book, than to go through a publishing company. So, be wary of publishing companies complaining about e-readers destroying jobs.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby aleflamedyud » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:51 am UTC

Arrian wrote:
Triangle_Man wrote:I believe we did cover this increasing streamlining and alteration of jobs in Sociology this year. The process was called mechnization or something like that and for some reason I got the feeling that the text was viewing it as a bad thing as it took power and money away from the workers or something.

Does anyone want to add on to or correct my rambling post?


This angst over lost jobs due to changing technology isn't new at all. It's been going on since the Industrial Revolution got rolling, and probably popped up at other times as well.

Mechanization was an issue back around the turn of the 20th century. People were afraid that we would be facing mass unemployment and economic disaster because tractors were making farms vastly more efficient and the transportation system (railroads, refrigerated cars, etc) was making it possible for farms to supply cities significantly farther away than previously. So the fraction of the population employed in farming was plummeting, (I'm going from vaguely remembered numbers here) from something like 50%+ employed at farming in the 19th century to 30% and falling by the 20's. (It's now around 3%.) What was to be done with all these poor, unemployed farm hands and farm kids who were getting replaced by impersonal machines? (Watch fritz Lang's "Metropolis" with that idea in mind.)

Except the unemployment of displaced farmers never really happened. Manufacturing exploded, our nation got tremendously richer, we entered a golden age by the 20's. Yeah we had the Great Depression in the the 30's, but I have never heard anyone say that unemployment due to mechanization was a contributing factor.

Now employment in manufacturing is falling even though the manufacturing sector is still as large or larger than it was at any point in the past. What are we going to do with all those displaced factory workers? Or Borders clerks? What makes you think that this time is different, that this time nobody will come up with a way to employ all these skilled workers who are currently underemployed?

WHY should somebody come up with a way to employ all those workers? Our societies have experienced MASSIVE productivity gains from technology over the past 30 years or so ("computer revolution", I suppose), and when we factor in technology going back to the Industrial Revolution and the Green Revolution it's EVEN MORE MASSIVE. At what point do we stop trying to shoehorn capitalism into employing unnecessarily large numbers of people and shift over to a society of leisure?

But then, I suppose leisure is the wrong word. People usually associate "leisure" with watching television or playing video games, and there should be some of that, yes. But what about freeing people from working for a living so that they can work for an ideal, giving massive numbers of people the time to be artists, craftsmen, chefs, scientists, gardeners, writers, travelers, and everything else that people so often want to be and that our society could so easily let them be at our current level of productivity?
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Dark567 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:57 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote: At what point do we stop trying to shoehorn capitalism into employing unnecessarily large numbers of people and shift over to a society of leisure?

When poverty is wiped out and when society no longer desires technological innovation, more construction, or new products. I.e. never. You also have account for current production, we still need enough farmers and manufactures to continue at the rate we are.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:09 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote: At what point do we stop trying to shoehorn capitalism into employing unnecessarily large numbers of people and shift over to a society of leisure?

When poverty is wiped out and when society no longer desires technological innovation, more construction, or new products. I.e. never.


I think this. Where would the money come from to support a leisurely lifestyle? Obviously technology makes things easier but I don't think it makes a leisurely lifestyle cheaper.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby aleflamedyud » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:17 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote: At what point do we stop trying to shoehorn capitalism into employing unnecessarily large numbers of people and shift over to a society of leisure?

When poverty is wiped out and when society no longer desires technological innovation, more construction, or new products. I.e. never.


I think this. Where would the money come from to support a leisurely lifestyle? Obviously technology makes things easier but I don't think it makes a leisurely lifestyle cheaper.

Technology makes any fixed lifestyle cheaper in both labor and money.

As to "when poverty is wiped out", shifting to more leisurely work hours (by lowering the limit on non-overtime work hours, for example) would spread jobs around. Establishing a basic minimal income for everyone (would that lead to hyperinflation?) would make a pretty big dent in poverty too, I imagine. In a more leisurely society, people don't actually stop producing new goods or services, they just stop having to continually produce more and better and newer goods and services to maintain a fixed standard of living in the face of automation. So people still make things (in fact, people will start making MORE varieties of things when not slaved to capitalistic monoliths), they just make those things because they want to make things rather than to avoid homelessness.

Or am I making a false assumption in thinking that the average human being is even a significant fraction as ambitious as me and my peer group? I don't think that a minimal income will make too much of an impact on people's drive to generativity when most people already value sociocultural approval and their peer group's approval more than mere dollars.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:19 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:
Or am I making a false assumption in thinking that the average human being is even a significant fraction as ambitious as me and my peer group?



Yep.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby aleflamedyud » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:28 am UTC

I still don't think so. I don't see why we can't have an economic system that supplies a basically decent standard of living for everyone so that our culture can encourage the pursuit of ambitions and dreams. Hell, I think that our hyper-capitalist system has actually discouraged the pursuit of ambitions and dreams by putting a price-tag and a salary measurement on each of them and basically telling young people that if they don't choose the "right" dream to pursue, they deserve a lifetime of debt, malnutrition, and evictions.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:02 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:I still don't think so. I don't see why we can't have an economic system that supplies a basically decent standard of living for everyone so that our culture can encourage the pursuit of ambitions and dreams. Hell, I think that our hyper-capitalist system has actually discouraged the pursuit of ambitions and dreams by putting a price-tag and a salary measurement on each of them and basically telling young people that if they don't choose the "right" dream to pursue, they deserve a lifetime of debt, malnutrition, and evictions.


What, just like a safety net where people can at least not be tossed out on the streets due to poverty? Well sure. But there's a long way between that and a TNG universe where everybody does things at their leisure and such.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:28 am UTC

Well, rather than have people learn pointless skills to do pointless tasks simply because the government mandates it *cough*most-of-law/accounting*cough*, we could simply tax and give those people the same exact funds, they could lounge about all day, and there would be no effect on the economy. Or, those competent minds could go into teaching, or some type of craft or service, or something more useful to the economy than simply mandating non-jobs.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Save Point » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:13 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Well, rather than have people learn pointless skills to do pointless tasks simply because the government mandates it *cough*most-of-law/accounting*cough*, we could simply tax and give those people the same exact funds, they could lounge about all day, and there would be no effect on the economy. Or, those competent minds could go into teaching, or some type of craft or service, or something more useful to the economy than simply mandating non-jobs.

Yeah....what? Law is a non-job, folks should go into teaching?

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Arrian » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:25 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:WHY should somebody come up with a way to employ all those workers? Our societies have experienced MASSIVE productivity gains from technology over the past 30 years or so ("computer revolution", I suppose), and when we factor in technology going back to the Industrial Revolution and the Green Revolution it's EVEN MORE MASSIVE. At what point do we stop trying to shoehorn capitalism into employing unnecessarily large numbers of people and shift over to a society of leisure?


We'll stop having work for people to do when we stop coming up with cool/useful/improved new things to do with the technology that created the last productivity boom. I don't really see that happening, ever: The most valuable natural resource is the human mind, people are always creating new things or better ways to use current things.

But then, I suppose leisure is the wrong word. People usually associate "leisure" with watching television or playing video games, and there should be some of that, yes. But what about freeing people from working for a living so that they can work for an ideal, giving massive numbers of people the time to be artists, craftsmen, chefs, scientists, gardeners, writers, travelers, and everything else that people so often want to be and that our society could so easily let them be at our current level of productivity?


That already happens a lot more than it did 50 or 100 years, or even a generation ago. Look at all the non-profits out there, all the charities, most of the people working there aren't doing it just for a paycheck. And all the indie book sellers and movie makers and boutique chocolate and cookie and cheesecake stores. People start those businesses because they love the subject, not just to make a buck.

The average job in the first world is no longer steadying-a-plow-behind-an-ox style drudgery, life has gotten tremendously better even in the last generation, much less the last century. And that's purely because technological progress made people more productive: Going from one farmer supporting two or three people to one farmer supporting thirty or forty people freed up a tremendous amount of talent and labor to create material goods in factories. Going from one factory producing enough for 5 or 10 people to one factory worker producing enough for 25 or 30 people is doing the same for other segments of society. I don't know what the next revolution will be, but I have no doubt that it will provide similar benefits.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:34 am UTC

Themis wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Well, rather than have people learn pointless skills to do pointless tasks simply because the government mandates it *cough*most-of-law/accounting*cough*, we could simply tax and give those people the same exact funds, they could lounge about all day, and there would be no effect on the economy. Or, those competent minds could go into teaching, or some type of craft or service, or something more useful to the economy than simply mandating non-jobs.

Yeah....what? Law is a non-job, folks should go into teaching?


There are reasons for those services. Problem is, Federal and State laws make the law needlessly complicated, requiring you to hire extra accountants or lawyers, spending money on things that you shouldn't have needed in the first place. For example, the incredibly Byzantine tax laws. It should be simple enough to say "I earned X this year, so government takes Y". But then there are all the various forms of income being taxed differently, the thousands of "tax credits" and other loopholes that are a tax on anyone not hiring an accountant. Hey, if a company posts a loss in this year, its loss can be carried over to next year, even if another company buys it. In other words, if a company worth $1B loses absolutely everything, at 40% income tax it is still worth $400m in tax reductions to someone else that wants to avoid taxes. Crazy, right?

Estate law is incredibly bizarre (I doubt the people writing it understand it), and if the law was simplified then you could sack a few lawyers and accountants. Of course, the American Bar Association is one of the more powerful lobbying groups, (if not the most powerful seeing as half of congress, and the President, are lawyers), making any streamlining of the legal system nearly impossible.

Similar arguments could be made against half the bureaucracies in government. For example, food stamps, medicare, medicaid, soc-sec. All could be replaced with a single agency that provides the bare basic welfare to every citizen, like Norway or Sweden*, only checking that said citizen exists/still alive.

In the meantime, the country/entire world is denied the other labor that the accountants and lawyers would've produced. Keep in mind that a law degree is a doctorate; every lawyer position "created" by needlessly complicated laws takes a moderately intelligent** person out of productive society.

*I think? Anyone know if it's different than that?

**I'm assuming slightly above average intelligence for lawyers, on the average. I've met too many dumb lawyers, and doctors for that matter, to say that high intelligence is needed for those jobs, compared to, say, engineering. Though, it helps.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Triangle_Man » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:28 am UTC

I'm being a bit whimsical here, but couldn't it be said that the advent of the internet and communications technologies are sending u's through another job revolution?
I really should be working right now, but somehow I don't have the energy.

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Soralin » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:25 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:When poverty is wiped out and when society no longer desires technological innovation, more construction, or new products. I.e. never. You also have account for current production, we still need enough farmers and manufactures to continue at the rate we are.

Well, not never, you just need enough automation to supply those things: i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_scarcity Automated mining, providing materials for automated factories, powered by automated power plants, and all working to produce more of the same, as well as whatever else we want out of them. Production, and even growth, are possible even with 0 human labor. :)

We may not be quite there yet, but it doesn't seem like we're too far off. For farming, less than 2% of jobs in the US are in agriculture, and it's constantly shrinking. This, even though the US is one of the largest producers and exporters of food and other agricultural products, behind only China and India (And the EU if you take them as a whole) for total agricultural production.

And manufacturing keeps becoming more and more automated. See for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lights_out ... cturing%29
FANUC, the Japanese robotics company, has been operating a "lights out" factory for robots since 2001.[5] "Robots are building other robots at a rate of about 50 per 24-hour shift and can run unsupervised for as long as 30 days at a time.
Among FANUC's biggest clients are many US and Japanese automobile and electronics manufacturers. FANUC probably more than any other Japanese company has been instrumental in developing Japan's image as a producer of precision and quality equipment.[citation needed] Use of industrial robots has allowed companies like Panasonic in Amagasaki to run factories which produce 2 million television sets a month (mostly high end plasma LCD screens including the world's largest at 103 inches[chronology citation needed]), with just 15 people.[5]

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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby aleflamedyud » Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:49 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:I still don't think so. I don't see why we can't have an economic system that supplies a basically decent standard of living for everyone so that our culture can encourage the pursuit of ambitions and dreams. Hell, I think that our hyper-capitalist system has actually discouraged the pursuit of ambitions and dreams by putting a price-tag and a salary measurement on each of them and basically telling young people that if they don't choose the "right" dream to pursue, they deserve a lifetime of debt, malnutrition, and evictions.


What, just like a safety net where people can at least not be tossed out on the streets due to poverty? Well sure. But there's a long way between that and a TNG universe where everybody does things at their leisure and such.

Not a safety net, a basic and guaranteed standard of living that frees people up to pursue occupations that don't necessarily pay very well. Like hipsters (as someone noted), but when you get two of them together it should come to enough to raise a child.
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Re: Jesse Jackson Jr. : Progress Bad

Postby Triangle_Man » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:39 pm UTC

Do any of you get the feeling that we're trying to render humanity obsolete sometimes?
I really should be working right now, but somehow I don't have the energy.

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