Showing all posts tagged economics:
Some people like to argue that more economic inequality is a good thing, because it is a "natural" byproduct of capitalism in a world of "makers and takers," "winners and losers," "wolves and sheep," [insert your favorite Manichaean metaphor here]. However, too much inequality is deleterious for both economics and politics -- for reasons that are intertwined.
Those who amass exorbitant wealth often increasingly use a portion of their gains to capture politics. While the mythological promise of trickle-down economics is that we must not have progressive taxation, because giving more money to the already wealthy is the only way to spur economic investment and innovation and create jobs -- in actual fact the majority of tax cut windfalls go to stock buybacks, offshore tax havens, regulatory capture, political lobbying, and campaign donations. All this is a runaway amplifying feedback loop that tilts the playing field further away from equal opportunity, social mobility, and democratic...
Money's value is as an exchange medium.
The more concentrated the money becomes, the less it is being exchanged.
When less money is being exchanged, the economy grows more stagnant.
If the economy continues to grow more stagnant, recessions typically take hold -- and deflationary pressures begin to realize the underlying devaluation of the currency and reflect that by lowering real purchasing power.
Suppose one person manages to hoard all the money (essentially this is the condition of Gini Coefficient = 1). Then, money is worthless. It ceases to have any exchange value.
Sadly this thought experiment isn't as extremist or far-fetched as one might think, considering the stats:
The three wealthiest individuals in America own more than 50% of the domestic populationThe eight wealthiest individuals in the world own as much as half the entire planetAnd this doesn't even begin to broach the topic of how overly concentrated money affects political power...
There is no point belaboring a "stop the identity politics!" argument because there is simply no way to excise the political clash of factions from the identities of those factions. There would be no point in clashing if there were no identities.
There is no polity without identity. The root of the word itself in ancient Greek referred to the relationship between a citizen and the state, and the rights one has in relation to that state. Whereas individual communities have historically had rights infringed -- often precisely because of their identities -- it is of course a logical imperative to defend one's rights under the rule of law. You use whatever tactics are available to you and that your ethics comport with to get your rights. All factions would do the same.
Some might say the predominant historical thread since the founding of this nation is the gradual parity-seeking of the many groups that have migrated here over the past 241 years (and much longer still, before that). M...
The federal debt is sort of like the balance on your credit cards, except with much lower interest rates (which we set ourselves). It also hasn’t been spent on consumer goods: it’s been spent on providing federal services, social services, and — generally — running the government.
So, once again this election cycle you will hear histrionic cries about how the national debt should trump (ahem) other priorities in the economic plan.
As long as we are comfortably able to keep paying the interest payments on the debt, there’s no particular reason to really worry about it — certainly not to the point of failing to provide needed services for the government. We have a solid track rating of paying our debts — one of the best in all of history — so we should probably not have a hard time refinancing if the situation ever becomes dire.
We pay about 2.5% interest on the debt, which ends up being a small fraction of our ~$17 trillion GDP. Much of the “debt" is actually money we t...
Capitalism appears to favor the Robber Baron archetype above all which, in hindsight, seems less surprising when one realizes it was largely architected by individuals who shared this same basic worldview: of strong social Darwinism, of wolves and sheep, and of the accumulation of wealth as the highest calling -- an end in itself, and in some deeply profound sense, the very birthright of Men (by which was meant "civilized" men of European descent, aka white dudes) as handed down, distantly, from God Himself.
Over time, if optimized for in society, selection for Robber Baron traits can produce strange anomalies like the 2016 US presidential election, which pits arguably the world's most qualified and well-connected public servant against a brash, blowhard billionaire who is attempting to pass off a political platform based on the size of his balls as a legitimate bid for command of the supposed free world. And winning, until rather recently when the GOP leadership has started to w...
Some interesting visualizations of state by state trends (you can hover over the individual states to get exact counts as a pop-up), via indexmundi:
Average commute time by state
Looks like NY and DC have the worst of it, with CA, MA, & IL not far behind.
New Yorkers are homebodies
The map represents people who are living in the same house they were in 12 months ago.
Poverty rate by state
It would be great if poor Southerners would stop voting against their own economic interest by siding with the GOP, who reels them in with racism while allowing bankers and elites to fleece their constituencies to the bone. Apparently people would rather be hateful but poor than tolerant and better off.
Women-owned firms (2007)
Black-owned firms (2007)
Another data point as to why Black southerners don't trust Bernie Sanders.
California got bidness
This map shows private, nonfarm private businesses by state.
p.s. any ideas how to avoid that framing effect with the embed...
Maybe CEO salary should be capped to whatever the Presidential salary is -- sort of like a "no one can stand taller than the King" sort of thing.
Historical Table of Presidential Salaries
President of the United States*
Every political pundit (or even remotely connected cultural pundit) is tying themselves up in knots to find the reason(s) -- we know it's complex, yet cannot seem to stop ourselves from Finding The One True Reason behind all things -- behind the sheer absurdity of this U.S. presidential election. No one can find the meaning in Election 2016, because we appear to have hit Peak Meaninglessness.
It is the moral equivalent of the 2007-8 financial disaster we also fomented: overweaning hubris and overconfidence in our ability to book tomorrow's profits, today. We so strongly believe in the Power of Progress to make us better people that, combined with our increasing impatience for the Glorious Future, we simply demand to leverage our Future Awesomeness, Right Now. Why wait? Technology helps create the illusion that we can Be Anything we want, whenever we want, as quickly as we want, simply by thinking it so -- and without all the pesky drudgery of having to wait for it, like unsophistic...
Something to notice about this week's latest brouhaha over whether Silicon Valley is the purple unicorn savior galloping toward planetary prosperity or the literal incarnation of living Satan (my vote's on both -- i'm engaging in hedginess), is that no one is disputing whether or not the conditions she describes are true. It is not The Facts of the Case that we are in disagreement about.
It is ideology.
In one ideology, it is perfectly OK for a billion-dollar food-delivery service to both pay and treat workers like shit. Reasons include:
"Those workers are Millennials, and everyone knows that all the Millennials are lazy good-for-nothings, so by the Law of Transitive Neoliberalism those whiny workers are actually being paid *FAR more* than they're worth, which is nothing."
"Sure, I had to go through the same bullshit myself. But it was so much worse back when i did it 5 years ago, LIKE YOU WOULDN'T EVEN BELIEVE HOW MANY WAYS IT WAS UPHILL IN 8 FEET OF SNOW BITCH -- and everyone ...
...with consumers their prey. And often government.
Anything will be said. "Trust us!"
Later, when deeply disturbing moral and ethical behaviors are painstakingly uncovered and whistleblown, the story becomes, "well, what did you expect, NOOB?! We are a business. Revenue is our highest calling and our only virtue -- everyone knows this, Khaleesi. Were you born yesterday?! Why did you believe our heartfelt and yet theoretically obvious gambit?"
Maybe sociopathy has now become the best one might hope for -- with the continuum pressing on well into the territory of the psychopath in modern times. With ruthless, win-at-any-cost predations glorified and held up on every pedestal, is it even a wonder?