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Conflicting Thought

Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

I'll put it this way. There is a prominent and influential American economist, Robert Lucas, who is associated with the U. of Chicago, and who has even won a noble prize that basically made the comment that the study of inequality isn't a legitimate field of study for economics.

Here is the quote:

"Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution."

My reaction to reading that is who in the fuck died and made you the economics discussion obersturmfuhrer there Lucas?

Think about that. A prominent economist basically saying that the study of inequality and distribution is "seductive and poisonous".  Does that have any logical basis? No, I would think not. It has to come from bias, likely influenced by cultural attitudes, at least to some extent.

Fortunately, there are a few smart people that have rightly ignored Lucas' opinion on this matter and are trying to seriously study these matters.

Yes, that does sound ridiculous. Although from what I know about the man he is very active in growth research. So he might have meant that it is more important to focus on growing the economy rather than the distribution of what it produces. Given that if you achieve the former, the latter will probably get sorted out indirectly anyway. 

If you take China for example, its income inequalities have certainly risen since the economic reforms that began in the 1980's. But the economic growth since then has been so high that all segments of society have seen massive improvement in living standards. Even if some groups gained more than others. 

21 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Economics might be dismal, but I am not sure it is a science. Today I heard in the radio that some council for the German ministry of economics "corrected" the prediction of the 2019 growth rate to 0.5 %. In january or so they were at 1.0 % (or whatever, I am not looking this up, you get the message). In any natural science people would be laughed out of the lab or the lecture hall if they expected to get paid for memoranda and predictions they had to "correct" by a factor of two within  two months. In economics that's just par for the course. I am not saying that it is useless but their pretention to be like physics are insufferable.

That is an issue with the social sciences in general, and economics is hardly worse than the rest. On the contrary I would argue that economics is more "scientific" than average, given that its theories and models tend to be based on large sets of statistical data.

At the end of the day though, you just can't expect to achieve the same degree of certainty when predicting the behavior of sentient beings as when predicting the behavior of a sewer pipe or slab of steel.  

 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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5 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

Yes, that does sound ridiculous. Although from what I know about the man he is very active in growth research. So he might have meant that it is more important to focus on growing the economy rather than the distribution of what it produces. Given that if you achieve the former, the latter will probably get sorted out indirectly anyway. 

If you take China for example, its income inequalities have certainly risen since the economic reforms that began in the 1980's. But the economic growth since then has so high that all segments of society have seen massive improvement in living standards. Even if some groups gained more than others. 

That is an issue with the social sciences in general, and economics is hardly worse than the rest. On the contrary I would argue that economics is more "scientific" than average, given that its theories and models tend to be based on large sets of statistical data.

At the end of the day though, you just can't expect to achieve the same degree of certainty when predicting the behaviour of sentient beings as when predicting the behavior of a sewer pipe or slab of steel.  

 

Ah, another trickle-down, rising tide lifts all boats, supply-side believer, eh?

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

Ah, another trickle-down, rising tide lifts all boats, supply-side believer, eh?

Not really a matter of being a believer or not. If you enact policies that grow the economy at a faster rate than income inequalities increase then all of society will see improvements from them. This definitely seems to have been the case for China's market liberalizations after Mao died. 

Reaganomics or what Thatcher did is not the same, since that did not really result in those economies growing faster than other developed countries. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

Yes, that does sound ridiculous. Although from what I know about the man he is very active in growth research. So he might have meant that it is more important to focus on growing the economy rather than the distribution of what it produces. Given that if you achieve the former, the latter will probably get sorted out indirectly anyway. 

Lucas' line here is pretty much the line taken by the conservative movement here in the US. Except there is about no evidence that their "pro growth" policies have ever worked. In other words we got more inequality but didn't get the extra growth. In short it seems we were a sold a bad bill of goods.

59 minutes ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

If you take China for example, its income inequalities have certainly risen since the economic reforms that began in the 1980's. But the economic growth since then has been so high that all segments of society have seen massive improvement in living standards. Even if some groups gained more than others.   

Well there is a lot a of inequality in China right now and the question is whether they need that much inequality to have a decent rate of growth. I suspect they don't. With communist like that who needs capitalist?

Also, it isn't a secret that China needs re balance their current economy towards more consumption. And a more robust welfare state could help to resolve this.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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11 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Except I never said anything about equal outcome. Quite the contrary in fact.

Careful, this is a mistake when discussing such issues. It's too often assumed that leftists think in terms of equal outcome. I certainly don't. Equality of outcome is a disaster. What I'm talking about is equality of opportunity.

In which case, we're on pretty much same page, along with everyone else. I'm hard pressed to find anyone who'd argue that various people should not have equal opportunity.

However, this is not what good portion of these thread is about. Some posters here are not talking about better education, state support for young start-up businesses, scholarships for excellent students, call for more transparent relations between companies and politics, anti-dumping laws and other stuff which could be categorized under equal opportunity set of goals. What they are talking about is taxing and distrusting the rich (OP even claims we shouldn't trust them when they're giving away to charities), because being rich must mean they got their wealth in unfair or deceitful way, and thus need to be "punished". That's not equal outcome per se, but it's a step in that direction.

12 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Funnily enough, I do believe that *has* been tried, and has been *very* successful.

Please, do tell more, for it sounds swell. When and where was it? Where can I find more information?

12 hours ago, Rippounet said:

You just need to study how free quality education correlates with greater social mobility.

Correct, but redundant, I think. Pretty much everyone reasonable today thinks that public education should be free, available to everyone and as good as it can get (at least in Europe; in USA, if I understood correctly, students struggle for years or even decades to repay their student loans after they've graduated) - indeed, it's one of pillars of equal opportunity you mentioned above.

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8 minutes ago, Knight Of Winter said:

In which case, we're on pretty much same page, along with everyone else. I'm hard pressed to find anyone who'd argue that various people should not have equal opportunity.

However, this is not what good portion of these thread is about. Some posters here are not talking about better education, state support for young start-up businesses, scholarships for excellent students, call for more transparent relations between companies and politics, anti-dumping laws and other stuff which could be categorized under equal opportunity set of goals. What they are talking about is taxing and distrusting the rich (OP even claims we shouldn't trust them when they're giving away to charities), because being rich must mean they got their wealth in unfair or deceitful way, and thus need to be "punished". That's not equal outcome per se, but it's a step in that direction.

Please, do tell more, for it sounds swell. When and where was it? Where can I find more information?

Correct, but redundant, I think. Pretty much everyone reasonable today thinks that public education should be free, available to everyone and as good as it can get (at least in Europe; in USA, if I understood correctly, students struggle for years or even decades to repay their student loans after they've graduated) - indeed, it's one of pillars of equal opportunity you mentioned above.

Anyone with a billion dollars made that money off the labor of others (maybe not the JK Rowling example but Bezos, Gates, etc).  The US has had 40 years of massively cutting taxes on the uberwealthy and general flattening of a progressive tax structure.  This is the opposite of equality of opportunity, it doesn't just maintain a status quo of wealth distribution, it actively concentrates wealth in the hands of the wealthiest.  

And equality of opportunity is the song the Reagan's and Paul Ryan's of the world sing while they're doing it.

It's also asinine to claim that taxing the rich is 'punishing' them, rather it's funding society from those who have benefitted most from it.  And anyone else who makes more will have to chip in at the same rate.  A flat tax structure is functionally regressive.  

Sorry for the US centric post but here the people banging that drum are the ones who are slashing public education, healthcare, and environmental regulations.  That's how 'equality of opportunity' is practiced here.

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Posted (edited)

I have a small prediction/bet that even if the US doesn't turn into a permanent dictatorship/oligarchy right now, they'll be functionally 2nd world by the 2060. Both global warming and the oligarchy rent seeking / regressive behavior are cutting off the legs of their economy and promoting brain drain (sometimes 'healthcare drain'). They probably think they can loot the rest of the world with more Fox News lookalikes and their massive war machine. I'm not so certain the US will survive unfragmented other nations just withdrawing credit or just decreasing the credit rating and ignoring their patents and aggressively punishing neo-lib propaganda with the USA fall example.

 

Trump for instance just tried to impose hyper exploitative 'free trade' treaties with canada and mexico and was thankfully blocked by Pelosi, i'm pretty sure that eventually Canada will rather deal with Japan and south america than a deranged bullying fading power. This will be the time the USA will be at its most dangerous, which Trump is accelerating. Good governance and trust is worth more than gold.

Edited by Serious Callers Only

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Lucas' line here is pretty much the line taken by the conservative movement here in the US. Except there is about no evidence that their "pro growth" policies have ever worked. In other words we got more inequality but didn't get the extra growth. In short it seems we were a sold a bad bill of goods.

Well there is a lot a of inequality in China right now and the question is whether they need that much inequality to have a decent rate of growth. I suspect they don't. With communist like that who needs capitalist?

Also, it isn't a secret that China needs re balance their current economy towards more consumption. And a more robust welfare state could help to resolve this.

Yes, I agree in the case of the US. But I think it depends on whether he means America or less developed economies. Because in the case of the latter one could indeed argue that they should focus more on policies that increase GDP growth rather than those for fair distribution, until they have achieved a certain standard of wealth. 

That is kind of what the Chinese are doing. These days they are enacting more policies aimed at reducing poverty and promoting public welfare and so on, but that is because they are relatively rich now. Well, not like the West yet but definitely compared to where they were just a decade or two ago. 

Edited by Khaleesi did nothing wrong

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Knight Of Winter said:

 

12 hours ago, Rippounet said:

You just need to study how free quality education correlates with greater social mobility.

Correct, but redundant, I think. Pretty much everyone reasonable today thinks that public education should be free, available to everyone and as good as it can get (at least in Europe; in USA, if I understood correctly, students struggle for years or even decades to repay their student loans after they've graduated) - indeed, it's one of pillars of equal opportunity you mentioned above.

As in other spheres, there is something of a disconnect between what everyone reasonable thinks and what is actually happening on the ground though.

For example, despite the ideal, the UK has increasingly burdensome student loans, plus a massively underfunded public education system. There is a serious issue recruiting and retaining teachers. Quality of schools is a postcode lottery, to the extent where school catchment area substantially effects house prices.

I see this as symptomatic of our increasingly plutocratic world. Public consensus is increasingly subverted.

 

Edited by A wilding

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

 But I think it depends on whether he means America or less developed countries.

Given other shit Lucas says, I'm quite sure he meant America too.

1 hour ago, Khaleesi did nothing wrong said:

 Because in the case of the latter one could indeed argue that they should focus more on policies that increase GDP growth rather than those for fair distribution, until they have achieved a certain standard of wealth. 

You could argue it. But we won't know until we make a good attempt to model the issue and make an empirical investigation of it. And according to Lucas ,evidently, any investigation to distributional matters and how it ultimately affects human welfare isn't legit. And I think that is a bunch of horseshit. It's almost like Lucas wants to cut off an entire field of research and exploration well because he just doesn't like it or something.

 

Edited by OldGimletEye

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Posted (edited)

We may need to develop the perfect society the Greeks dreamed of just to survive the corrupting influence of unrestrained technological oligarchy.

 

Realistically i think this is going to get worse, and worse and worse, until major regional wars break out and the oligarchs and millionaires/billionaires are hunted down by the survivors when they try to go with 'business as usual, lets just implement more tax avoidance schemes'.

Edited by Serious Callers Only

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Re: The Equity vs Growth Trade Off

Typically when issues arise about equity and growth get talked about, it is usually framed as there is a trade off between having more equity at the expense of growth. But, this framework misses two key points.

1. The equity/ growth trade off may not be and is probably not linear. There are likely certain points where too much inequality can harm economic growth.

2. Probably analyzing it terms of equity versus growth is the wrong way to see the issue anyways. It probably should be something like the equity/welfare trade off. If slightly less growth raises human welfare, then so what. Also, neo-classical economics is often viewed suspiciously by many on the left as promoting right wing economics. To the extent that is true, I won't comment. But, I will say, under the neo-classical paradigm, a dollar given to a poor person is likely to have a bigger increase in that person's marginal utility, than giving the dollar to a rich person. Interesting enough, this basic fact doesn't seemingly get mentioned by certain sorts of people.

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41 minutes ago, Knight Of Winter said:

However, this is not what good portion of these thread is about. Some posters here are not talking about better education, state support for young start-up businesses, scholarships for excellent students, call for more transparent relations between companies and politics, anti-dumping laws and other stuff which could be categorized under equal opportunity set of goals. What they are talking about is taxing and distrusting the rich (OP even claims we shouldn't trust them when they're giving away to charities), because being rich must mean they got their wealth in unfair or deceitful way, and thus need to be "punished".

Two sides of a coin. If you want genuine equality of opportunity you need to get rid of the main obstacles first, that is, the super-rich and their despicable ideology of the dominant. The idea that you could get one without the other is bogus.

I agree with what @larrytheimp wrote, which is true for the entire world and not just for the US: right now, defending the super-rich in any way only leads to concentration of wealth -and power. This needs to be addressed if we want real positive change - including addressing climate change.

41 minutes ago, Knight Of Winter said:

Please, do tell more, for it sounds swell. When and where was it? Where can I find more information?

Try finding what economist Ha-Joon Chang wrote about the Asian Tigers. It shouldn't be hard to find, though I can't remember in which of his books he discusses this point. I would expect him to have authored some decent articles on the topic as well, or at least to have referenced some in his bibliographies.

41 minutes ago, Knight Of Winter said:

Correct, but redundant, I think. Pretty much everyone reasonable today thinks that public education should be free, available to everyone and as good as it can get (at least in Europe; in USA, if I understood correctly, students struggle for years or even decades to repay their student loans after they've graduated) - indeed, it's one of pillars of equal opportunity you mentioned above.

Except the EU's current goal is to align itself with the US... So it's one thing for reasonable people to agree (whoever that is), and another to see it implemented or protected...

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3 hours ago, Knight Of Winter said:

In which case, we're on pretty much same page, along with everyone else. I'm hard pressed to find anyone who'd argue that various people should not have equal opportunity.

However, this is not what good portion of these thread is about. Some posters here are not talking about better education, state support for young start-up businesses, scholarships for excellent students, call for more transparent relations between companies and politics, anti-dumping laws and other stuff which could be categorized under equal opportunity set of goals. What they are talking about is taxing and distrusting the rich (OP even claims we shouldn't trust them when they're giving away to charities), because being rich must mean they got their wealth in unfair or deceitful way, and thus need to be "punished". That's not equal outcome per se, but it's a step in that direction.

Please, do tell more, for it sounds swell. When and where was it? Where can I find more information?

Correct, but redundant, I think. Pretty much everyone reasonable today thinks that public education should be free, available to everyone and as good as it can get (at least in Europe; in USA, if I understood correctly, students struggle for years or even decades to repay their student loans after they've graduated) - indeed, it's one of pillars of equal opportunity you mentioned above.

Maybe some of them didnt get their Billions in a "deceitfull" way, (i doubt it though, and it certanly was and is unfair), but for me the real problem is not exactly in how they make their money, the problem is that they can hoard all that money and the incredible power  (coercive power too) that comes with it. 

And i dont have "faith" in reformative politic either, cuz i dont belive they want the system that made them billionaires to change in any meaningfull way. And as we saw with the reforms that took place in the pass, they dont last, why?, in my view, becouse the system is inheretly flawed, and the poeple and corporations that benefit from the system wont allow for them to last, and will lobby for them to be changed back, and will succed eventualy, cuz they are billionaires and extremley powerfull and influential, and capitalism works in their favor. 

And the term "equal opportunity" seems meaningless to me. Its been so used and abused that it sounds like a buzz word, like a reformist word. i dont trust that is being use in good faith. 

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Posted (edited)

Of topic, but, know what's abuse?

This: https://www.npr.org/2018/12/13/676300525/almost-15-000-migrant-children-now-held-at-nearly-full-shelters

BTW, the florida DA is also corrupted (not really surprising considering they're falsifying the vote), they whitewashed the human trafficking prostitution scandal with those GOP creatures by saying 'there is no proof that this chinese national that doesn't speak english was trafficked'. America is a failed state right now, soon to turn into a genocidal evil police state. Get out while you can, if you can. To a country with nukes, preferably not even in the same continent, not that that will help exactly.

Edited by Serious Callers Only

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6 hours ago, Knight Of Winter said:

Some posters here are not talking about better education, state support for young start-up businesses, scholarships for excellent students, call for more transparent relations between companies and politics, anti-dumping laws and other stuff which could be categorized under equal opportunity set of goals. What they are talking about is taxing and distrusting the rich (OP even claims we shouldn't trust them when they're giving away to charities), because being rich must mean they got their wealth in unfair or deceitful way, and thus need to be "punished".

Can we talk some more about how the obscenely bloated uber billionaires are transparent and create equal opportunity?

Ya, the most expensive real estate deal ever done in the USA, with the result a tacky, falling apart monstrosity of a boondoggle -- and it's not even finished yet! -- all ffinanced by the  honest, generally poor taxpayer:

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/04/hudson-yards-financing-eb5-investor-visa-program-immigration/586897/

 

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4 hours ago, Conflicting Thought said:

And the term "equal opportunity" seems meaningless to me. Its been so used and abused that it sounds like a buzz word, like a reformist word. i dont trust that is being use in good faith. 

The Hunger Games had equality of opportunity; everyone had the same quality of official preparation, the weapons were there for anyone to grab, and the winner achieved a life of relative luxury by means of their own effort and natural ability. Of course, everyone else ends up dead, but hey, they had the opportunity to win!

I'd say the range and distribution of possible outcomes is of more concern than how equal the opportunity to achieve one specific outcome is.

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3 minutes ago, felice said:

The Hunger Games had equality of opportunity; everyone had the same quality of official preparation, the weapons were there for anyone to grab, and the winner achieved a life of relative luxury by means of their own effort and natural ability. Of course, everyone else ends up dead, but hey, they had the opportunity to win!

Hey, we can all be like Whitman, Price, and Haddad, last season's winners.

No, last season's losers.

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Posted (edited)

Donald Trump has a hot new take on this topic:

https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-new-proposal-cheats-8-million-working-people-of-overtime-pay/

To be honest, this feels less like a proposal and more like 'look at i could do for you business interests, if you support my coup'.

Edited by Serious Callers Only

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