Economy is Real



  • Continuing the discussion from another thread:

    (I'm done trolling, and I'm ready for that other thread to die already. Turns out I far more enjoy discussing economics with yall)

    http://what.thedailywtf.com/t/misandry-is-real/1092/416

    Answering the points that I assume ‘see above’ refers to:

    @M_Adams, post416, topic:1092 said:

    Resources historically have been limited in strict short term temporal scopes.  On the full historical scale, we have more resources per capita now, than ever before.

    @M_Adams said:

    That's just like saying because I privately own my farm, you can't ever own your own farm and be productive…

    If you like, I can grant that the amount of arable land and production per hectare has assumably only increased over time, but the fact remains that there is a real and immediate limit on how much land is available to own in this country and in the world.

    Now, I do understand how important having a title to the relevant land is to someone considering investing in property development and I acknowledge that, try as I might, I doubt I could ever create a better system than the existing one. (My first iteration would be: what if land were taxed such that average property prices remained constant (relative to ???) over time? But that would be a nightmare to bug test, and I'm not cut out for it)

    But the fact remains that If one person were to own all of the land in the world, I doubt anyone could stop them declaring themselves dictator for life. Now consider a situation where a single group of people—capitalists—own all of the land in the world. How different is that, really?

    @M_Adams said:

    I grew up next-to-dirt-poor ( Actually had a floor ).  I now own two cars, more tech than I can shake a stick at, a house, and have a nice retirement nest-egg.  Where was my "denial of market entry"?  Being that poor does, in fact, make me at "late-comer".

    I think that welfare, public schooling, regulations against predatory lending, etc are very important.



  • http://what.thedailywtf.com/t/misandry-is-real/1092/454

    I'm relatively optimistic about the corrective effect that social media could have on the mass media propaganda model.

    And just as the argument can be made that we've never had a pure free market, I would say we've also never had ‘pure’ democracy. Increasing people's control over their government is just as valid as, if not more valid than, decreasing the government's control over the people.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Buddy said:

    If you like, I can grant that the amount of arable land and production per hectare has assumably only increased over time, but the fact remains that there is a real and immediate limit on how much land is available to own in this country and in the world.

    For a substantial proportion of the land in the US, the limiting factor is actually availability of water for irrigation. Mind you, that need not be too big a problem: there are parts of the world with those sorts of constraints in spades and they manage to be very productive (e.g., the Negev) so the constraints in the US are only really coupled to current methods of working and not to the actual resource availability. Changing how things are done to something more efficient is a good economic strategy, one that's served mankind [spoiler]and womankind and trans-gender-person-kind[/spoiler] well for millennia.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Buddy said:

    I'm relatively optimistic about the corrective effect that social media could have on the mass media propaganda model.

    I'm sure I will regret asking, but how exactly do you expect that to work?



  • @antiquarian said:

    I'm sure I will regret asking, but how exactly do you expect that to work?

    "hurr durr television lies newspapers lie vote Ron Paul".


    Filed under: at least that's how it is in my beautiful country, except our Ron Paul is fucking insane



  • Well, I'm sorry to not disappoint you when you were expecting to be disappointed, but it
    s pretty much just baseless optimism. Just a feeling that the faster information can flow, the harder it is to control.



  • @Buddy said:

    I'm relatively optimistic about the corrective effect that social media could have on the mass media propaganda model.

    until the political season heats up then I go full bore to the 'no like' category.

    Filed Under: Paid message board trolls hijacked my thread.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Frank said:

    until the political season heats up then I go full bore to the 'no like' category.

    For a true political board, you have to restyle the “likes” to “hates”. A bit of CSS and you'll have everyone happy.

    Well, you'll have everyone cross, but at each other rather than at you. Bring popcorn.


  • SockDev

    I haven't done the political forum thing in a while, mostly because UK politics is actually fairly dull, but it can be fun to munch some popcorn.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Yeah; one of the main things wrong with UK politics is the monoculture in the official national politics (and most news media too). The last time it was truly fun was back in 1996–1997.

    I prefer lightly salted popcorn.


  • SockDev

    The hilarity is that they talk about '4 party politics' now that UKIP is any kind of major player but you have four parties that have all largely the same policies where left, right, up, down, or any other place on the political landscape don't actually seem to matter any more.



  • @Buddy said:

    If you like, I can grant that the amount of arable land and production per hectare has assumably only increased over time, but the fact remains that there is a real and immediate limit on how much land is available to own in this country and in the world.

    If the climate scientists are right, we should have Ellesmere Island beach resorts any day now, plus all the islands created from deep-sea volcanism.

    But for all practical purposes today, you're right. Land is a scarce commodity that grows very slowly (if at all), not unlike gold reserves, and is thus subject to the same deflationary pressures.


    Filed under: [In before someone posts a manifesto about the evils of "fiat currency" and a desire to return to the gold standard and/or Buttcoins][1]

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Groaner said:

    If the climate scientists are right, we should have Ellesmere Island beach resorts any day now

    You realise that that's a claim made by idiots, not actual climate scientists? (I'm not sure which side the idiots are on, but that hardly matters.)
    @Groaner said:
    plus all the islands created from deep-sea volcanism.

    Do you have the slightest idea how much material has to issue forth from one of those things to raise a seamount from the abyssal plain to the sea surface?

    Bah. This part of the argument is already spoiled by total idiocy and ridiculous hyperbole, and you're the one who brought it, @Groaner.

    Climate scientists are predicting a few degrees of rise in global average temperatures. Exact amount unclear because of vast number of non-linear feedback loops, not all of which are known. However, based on study of past conditions, what they see scares them and they suggest that changing the global economy to produce significantly less CO2 (and other greenhouse gases too, especially CH4) would be highly advantageous, and that the sooner we do it, the cheaper and less disruptive it will be.

    Or we can keep going as we are and then the costs when they hit will be much higher.



  • @dkf said:

    changing the global economy to produce significantly less CO2

    Or dumping white trash in the ocean to replace the ice-albedo effect.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Buddy said:

    dumping white trash in the ocean

    Sounds like a winner already, but what will you do with all those trailer parks afterwards?



  • @dkf said:

    You realise that that's a claim made by idiots, not actual climate
    scientists? (I'm not sure which side the idiots are on, but that hardly
    matters.)

    Do you have the slightest idea how much material has to issue forth from one of those things to raise a seamount from the abyssal plain to the sea surface?

    It seems you jumped on the first sentence of my post without focusing on the second, more important point (which you confirmed in your second statement): that available land is like gold reserves - growing very slowly.

    But if you want to talk about climate change (which has already been debated here ad nauseam), I'm not going to take sides beyond the following points:

    • Rising oceans are a Bad Thing (especially given coastal population densities)
    • Species extinction can be a Bad Thing (though some might argue it's natural selection at work)
    • Aggregate shifts in weather patterns a Bad Thing (i.e. increased frequency of hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, etc.)
    • Our understanding of Things is limited as you say, prediction of the future is difficult, etc.
    • Our economies/infrastructure are built around emitting greenhouse gases, and while it may be in our collective best interest to reduce emissions, they're not going to suddenly turn on a dime to being carbon-free
    • There is very little that you and I can do to change Things on the macroscopic level

    @dkf said:

    Bah. This part of the argument is already spoiled by total idiocy and ridiculous hyperbole, and you're the one who brought it, @Groaner.

    Hey, I'm just trying to pull my weight here.

    @dkf said:

    Sounds like a winner already, but what will you do with all those trailer parks afterwards?

    I think that helps solve the available land problem as stated earlier.



  • There is very little that you and I can do to change Things on the macroscopic level

    Why don't you start by not driving everywhere? Lots of people already don't drive everywhere. They do things like walking or riding bikes. And they don't have to have expensive gym memberships to get their exercise.

    Going to the gym, because you drive everywhere and waste 50 hours of manual labor for every gallon of gasoline you burn, is the epitome of a stupid and extremely wasteful allocation of resources.



  • @Captain said:

    Why don't you start by not driving everywhere? Lots of people already don't drive everywhere. They do things like walking or riding bikes. And they don't have to have expensive gym memberships to get their exercise.

    Going to the gym, because you drive everywhere and waste 50 hours of manual labor for every gallon of gasoline you burn, is the epitome of a stupid and extremely wasteful allocation of resources.

    That would necessitate living in the city. Down there, rent is at least twice what I'm paying now, and actually owning property is a fantastical proposition. Should I significantly reduce my ability to save for retirement (or a day where I don't have to pay rent or a mortgage to live somewhere) just to take one car off the road? What about the millions of other people in the metro area who are in the same predicament?

    I agree that it's silly and wasteful, but this problem was created by planners sixty years ago, and there's no easy solution. Affordable urban housing isn't going to magically sprout up like toadstools, and the housing that does get built is going to be pricey (a new row of townhouses just went up near my office that are selling for upwards of $1,000,000).

    Show me housing that costs as much as I'm paying now (or even marginally more) and that confers none of the sacrifices that come with living in the city (such as being limited by public transportation if you don't own a car and extreme congestion if you do own one), and I'd be interested. I'm not a fan of commuting and I'd love to be able to walk to work, but I don't have that option unless I suddenly start making gobs of money.



  • I agree that it's silly and wasteful, but this problem was created by planners sixty years ago, and there's no easy solution.

    No, this is a problem you made for yourself and for society. You are raising your standard of living by imposing costs on the rest of society. Fantastical costs. And society is not able to continue supporting these costs. Which is why you will soon see gasoline prices rise. In addition to taxes on gasoline. Once you're paying your fair share, you'll see it's no cheaper to live in the suburbs than in the city.

    In the meantime, enjoy our largess.

    Your waste creates toil, not productive work. Everybody has to work hard just to stand still, just because of waste.



  • @Captain said:

    No, this is a problem you made for yourself and for society.

    I don't see how I made it when it has existed long before my time and will likely continue to exist for quite a while. At worst, you might call me and the millions of others less-than-willing accessories.

    @Captain said:

    You are raising your standard of living by imposing costs on the rest of society. Fantastical costs. And society is not able to continue supporting these costs.

    They've supported it since my grandparents were my age. Two generations ain't bad. Granted, it used to be pennies for a gallon of gas, but we've managed to adapt somehow. I'm sorry that the Greatest Generation didn't plan and zone for efficient land use, but I was born a little too late to register my objection.

    Also, I find it fascinating that you equate "taking responsibility for your own financial security through rational life choices" with "raising your standard of living by imposing costs on the rest of society." Does that mean that to be free of sin, I must live paycheck to paycheck, or be in debt? Am I a deadbeat?

    @Captain said:

    Which is why you will soon see gasoline prices rise. In addition to taxes on gasoline. Once you're paying your fair share, you'll see it's no cheaper to live in the suburbs than in the city.

    The response to rising gas prices (and taxes) has been more efficient vehicles. It's gotten to the point that governments are considering alternative methods of revenue collection, since more efficient vehicles means less revenue in the long run.

    And if prices rise, it's because High Priestess Ayn Rand says the free market blah blah rational self-interest blah blah socialism blah. I was going to ask for her opinion specifically on rising fuel costs, but she said she had to go cash a Social Security check.

    If worst comes to worst, I can tighten my belt, suck it up and move downtown with all the hipsters and alcoholic 30-year-old frat boys. But what about the people less fortunate than you or I? They can't afford to live in gentrified cities, and can barely scrape by as is. Are they freeloaders for trying to carve out a half-decent life? How would they live righteously under your standard?

    @Captain said:

    In the meantime, enjoy our largess.

    Sounds tasty. Maybe I'll try it with some mai tais on the sunny beaches at Grise Fiord.

    @Captain said:

    Your waste creates toil, not productive work. Everybody has to work hard just to stand still, just because of waste.

    One man's toil is another's productive work. At least the mechanics and engineers get a paycheck for their time, which they can use to go pay their bills and attempt to live a comfortable life... until they're condemned as freeloaders for not having the desire or means to move into gentrified, congested cities.



  • I don't see how I made it when it has existed long before my time and will likely continue to exist for quite a while.

    You decided to move to the suburbs...

    Also, I find it fascinating that you equate "taking responsibility for your own financial security through rational life choices" with "raising your standard of living by imposing costs on the rest of society."

    I'm not equating those. What I am saying is that your gain is small compared to the loss you incur on everybody else. You are imposing a huge externality on others. Instead of increasing the nation's productive output, you waste its resources.

    What you don't seem to realize is that economic rationality isn't rational if it doesn't take all the costs into account. Pushing costs onto others is called externalizing costs, and it creates market distortions. And it is immoral from the utilitarian perspective that underlies the modern economic theory of "rationality".

    But what about the people less fortunate than you or I?

    I am poor. At least, as poor as anybody with multiple computers and a comfortable room in the city and a job that barely pays for it all. As poor as somebody who has to shop at Goodwill, because new clothes is too expensive (this is a problem that could be solved with more production, of course. But resources are being diverted to waste...). As poor as somebody who lives at the margin, in order to maximize his utility. But as a rational utilitarian, I have to refuse the proposition that makes everybody worse off.

    One man's toil is another's productive work.

    Not really, and that's the point.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Groaner said:

    - Rising oceans are a Bad Thing (especially given coastal population densities)

    • Species extinction can be a Bad Thing (though some might argue it's natural selection at work)
    • Aggregate shifts in weather patterns a Bad Thing (i.e. increased frequency of hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, etc.)
    • Our understanding of Things is limited as you say, prediction of the future is difficult, etc.

    We would be in agreement on these. (Species extinctions happen all the time — they're entirely natural — but significantly elevated levels of extinction are more of a problem. And we can't predict exactly how they're a problem ahead of time, which is much more of a problem as it means that we've not got so many choices when it comes to mitigation strategies. OTOH, climate change isn't the only way that we're having impacts in this area; general changing land use and predation — particularly commercial fishing and poaching — are also highly significant.)
    @Groaner said:
    - Our economies/infrastructure are built around emitting greenhouse gases, and while it may be in our collective best interest to reduce emissions, they're not going to suddenly turn on a dime to being carbon-free
  • There is very little that you and I can do to change Things on the macroscopic level

  • Of course things aren't going to change on a dime, and it's very difficult for most individuals to make a difference on their own. It's too important to give up on it though, and when people take action as a group it's much easier to have an impact.

    BTW, if someone comes up with a cost-effective way to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere, a magic wand or technical fix, get on with it and use that technical fix! Don't wait for every last jerk out there to vent their opinion on it.



  • @Buddy said:

    I doubt I could ever create a better system than the existing one.

    There is much wisdom in this statement.

    @Buddy said:

    But the fact remains that If one person were to own all of the land in the world, I doubt anyone could stop them declaring themselves dictator for life. Now consider a situation where a single group of people—capitalists—own all of the land in the world. How different is that, really?

    The many people are not a single person. This makes things very different. They will have different goals and situations. Does it matter that you've labeled the people "capitalists?" I'm not sure why you think the two situations are at all similar, except that they both talk about owning land.



  • @Groaner said:

    Rising oceans are a Bad Thing (especially given coastal population densities)

    True, but they're better than falling oceans, and what comes with that.

    @Groaner said:

    Aggregate shifts in weather patterns a Bad Thing (i.e. increased frequency of hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, etc.)

    What if they're a Good Thing? That is, decreased frequency?

    @Captain said:

    Your waste creates toil, not productive work. Everybody has to work hard just to stand still, just because of waste.

    Except we really aren't just standing still. And just because you can't see value in something doesn't mean it isn't productive.



  • @Captain said:

    You decided to move to the suburbs...

    When I got my first job that allowed me to move out on my own, the cheapest apartments in the suburbs constituted about 1/2 of my take-home pay. That's about the limit that leasing companies will allow before they say no thanks. That job at the time wasn't even in the city - it was in an office complex, and I was able to find an apartment less than 15 minutes' drive away. Considering that there were no sidewalks and 50MPH traffic, that seems a decent compromise.

    I suppose I could have rejected that job offer, and perhaps continued to live with my parents, working at a local fast food joint or something in walking distance, but they would hardly be delighted about supporting my ass (and were quite pleased when I was able to finally get out). I don't think it counts as a "choice" when that choice is made under duress.

    @Captain said:

    I am poor. At least, as poor as anybody with multiple computers and a comfortable room in the city and a job that barely pays for it all. As poor as somebody who has to shop at Goodwill, because new clothes is too expensive (this is a problem that could be solved with more production, of course. But resources are being diverted to waste...). As poor as somebody who lives at the margin, in order to maximize his utility. But as a rational utilitarian, I have to refuse the proposition that makes everybody worse off.

    I don't envy your predicament, but I will say that I respect that you stand by your convictions. Too many people in this world are hedonistic and whimsical and don't really stand for anything.


  • SockDev

    True story this. A few years ago my then-partner and I were working at WTF Mortgages doing the property purchase thing (instead of living with family, even paying rent in the process)

    At the time, we were earning something in the region of £20,000 between us (me = mid-low level paper pusher at WTF Mortgages at the time, £13k or so being industry typical, her temping having just moved to the area) and for the town we lived in, that wouldn't even buy a one bedroom flat. It's not what you'd call a big town or anything, either.

    Fast forward a year or so. Things have changed, both of us are now working at WTF Mortgages' parent company and we're commuting to London. Joint income now in the region of £85,000 per year. The hilarity: we were looking at a 2-bed flat in the town centre in which we lived, in the high street, above a bookmaker's... and for that, the asking price £189,500. 2.5x income - and bear in mind, we were both paying the normal 30% of total income as tax + national insurance, plus travel. With a base of, say, £2000 per month, I'd see maybe £1300 of that, so getting a property in the town I lived in - which is a damn sight cheaper than London - was virtually a non-starter once the mortgage for that was considered.

    We did, as it happened, find a place with the 'affordable housing' people. This is nuts, we were two 20-somethings, working in London with a combined income in the region of £85,000 per year and we had to look to affordable housing to get on the property ladder. The deal we got was pretty good, actually... £220,000 worth of house (3 bed mid-terrace)... for which we got a mortgage on 50% of it and paid rent on the remaining 50%, meaning that for only about £950 a month we could obtain the property. And that's without all the actual bills related to a property - that's not including council tax, utilities or food.

    And that was on the edge of the town, so a good 40 minute walk to the train station, followed by 45 minute train journey into central London, followed by a good 20 minute walk/bus (took about the same either way) to work itself.

    I'm still trying to work out how much of this was a WTF. What definitely was a WTF is that I gave up my share of the share of the house for nothing when we split up because I thought, for some reason, I owed it to her. In hindsight as much as I'm not a very nice person, I don't entirely feel as though I owed her nearly that much, but what's done is done.



  • @dkf said:

    OTOH, climate change isn't the only way that we're having impacts in this area; general changing land use and predation — particularly commercial fishing and poaching — are also highly significant.)

    I once had a business professor who replaced the "give a man a fish" adage with "teach people to build fish farms, and they will feed entire communities." If farm-raised fish can be raised to be indistinguishable from their ocean-caught brethren, I would imagine the economies of scale would crowd out the aggressive fishing. Plus, more available food. Take that, Malthus!

    @dkf said:

    Of course things aren't going to change on a dime, and it's very difficult for most individuals to make a difference on their own. It's too important to give up on it though, and when people take action as a group it's much easier to have an impact.

    BTW, if someone comes up with a cost-effective way to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere, a magic wand or technical fix, get on with it and use that technical fix! Don't wait for every last jerk out there to vent their opinion on it.

    I think incremental fuel economy improvements, lighter materials, alternative fuels and eventually electric cars are (more or less in that order) the rising tides that will lift all boats, at least for the share of automotive pollution.

    We're already pretty good at the fuel economy and lighter materials things (the good ol' C7 with its 6.2L V8 can get 29 miles per gallon or better on the highway). The infrastructure for CNG and E85 isn't as widespread as gasoline, but they are an option that exists today. Unfortunately, they're pretty expensive and limiting options (CNG requires some pretty big tanks that are slow to fill and E85 usually means taking a 1/3 hit to fuel economy - ouch), but they have the advantage of being able to cut certain unstable regimes out of the supply chain which have been the battlegrounds of proxy and real wars for much of the past century. That would free up resources to solve other problems*.

    *in theory



  • @boomzilla said:

    What if they're a Good Thing? That is, decreased frequency?

    I couldn't say one way or the other. I'm not a meteorologist or climatologist.


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