Thursday, January 23, 2014

No shortage of anything: Or, why raising the minimum wage isn't going to hurt the economy.

In this economy we have more REAL deflation than inflation. This doesn’t show up in the official numbers, of course - they always tell a tale of inflation - but the key indicator of where we are is how much money is chasing the goods that are available. In short: are we seeing a shortage of ground beef or a surplus?
We have more homes available that are vacant than we have homeless people, we have consumer electronics sitting on shelves waiting to go on sale, and food is going unsold and being wasted up the wazoo - to the tune of millions of tons per year - because no one can afford to buying it. Likewise the economy sees countless numbers of surplus cars (cars sitting on the lot but no one buying them), iPads always in stock, and so on. Speaking of ground beef, for all the input costs that are supposedly rising, you’re going to find it very hard to find an American supermarket whose meat section is in any way close to bare: a lot of that food will expire and get thrown out because no one has money to afford it. The truth is, aside from oil, almost nothing is even within sight of shortage. The only shortage America face is money in the hands of the working class.

Giving the working class more wages is going to drive them to buy up this excess stuff and actually justify its reason for being on the shelves-equivalent in the first place. We literally do not have any shortage of goods at all in this system. We waste a lot, we produce a lot that no one can afford to buy. Raising wages at this point brings us closer to equilibrium, not into imbalance. Not even close.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Do you hate labor unions? Well let's take a look at that, shall we?

Labor unions are primarily about collective bargaining.

What does this mean?

It means that when the company's stock is sky high and corporate execs decide that they need a raise and you workers - you know, the people who made the company successful - need a pay cut, you get the shaft. But wait, here comes the Union who fights back and stops your pay cut. Guess what that means? It means you get to share in the prosperity that you as a group made possible.

  • Oh but you as an individual can negotiate on your own for a better salary! Uh yeah, good luck with that. It's you versus the entire corporate board. You're hilariously outnumbered from the start. And these guys would rather you work for free. Giving you a raise? That hardly even happens for working class Americans anymore. You can thank the anemic job growth during the Dubya Bush years for that. But actually you could go back even further to Reagan's years.
  • Oh but if you don't like what you're getting paid, you can go elsewhere! How's that working for most Americans today? Every job out there has at least 3 people applying for it. And that doesn't even count the discouraged workers. It's more likely that if you find another job, they're paying even less. And for 10 years before Obama came along, employers were cutting back on offering benefits. So when you say you don't need a union to fight for you to get benefits, what you're saying is you'd rather pay for individual health care insurance elsewhere. This is a financial Darwin award-winning bad move. One well known fact about health insurance is that individual rates cost a LOT more than the group rates your employer can offer. So when you have a union fighting to secure health benefits for employees you could be saving hundreds or, depending on your pre-existing conditions, thousands of dollars per month. 
  • Oh but you're super talented! You could always leave and start your own company. Yeah, uh huh. How many of you John Galts out there have actually done that, much less been successful? 8 out of every 10 businesses fail, even those run by geniuses just like you. Take it from a successful business owner - you're going to spend less of your time applying your talents and more time hunting for clients in the first year, and then more of your efforts will go into trying to get them to pay on time. But wait, even if you clear all those hurdles, in some industries your consulting job will mean getting familiar with terms like Net 30 or Net 60. Pray you never have to learn about that. Now you know the real reason why only 20% of businesses succeed. What makes you think you'll be one of those 2 in 10?
  • Employees are expendable. CEOs are not. So, you're expendable? Ever see a lamb basting itself in front of a wolf? Yeah, that's you. Very few corporations die when their CEO leaves. Microsoft and Apple survived the departure of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, respectively. CEOs are just as expendable as you. Shocking, huh?
  • Oh but unions are corrupt! Of course, and there's no such thing as corrupt corporate leadership doing things like borrowing against an employee pension fund and then going bankrupt to avoid paying it back. And ending with a screw-you money shot like blaming the unions for the resulting mess.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Welfare loving Conservatives strike again! Texas has more food stamp recipients than even California or New York

I mean, I understand why California has the biggest number of food stamp recipients. Ask any Conservative - they'll tell you we're a haven for lazy brown people and illegal immigrants. No wonder we have so many food stamp recipients... that is, if you buy their racist nonsense.

But Texas, I mean, come on. Here's a state full of white upstanding cowboy Republicans who pull themselves up by their bootstraps from childhood onward. The state of guns, cowboys, cattle barons, rugged secessionists, proud church going communities, Chuck Norris, and Rick Perry...

... and 1.278 MILLION food stamp recipients, even more than California's 1.140 million. (And California's population is larger. Now consider that.)

This is even more odd when you consider that proportionally speaking, Texas has more white people and fewer minorities than California

Haven't Conservatives been telling us for ages that it's mostly liberal areas and lazy brown people who get food stamps? That doesn't explain Texas.

So how can it be Conservative Rick Perry-voting Texas have more food stamp recipients than left wing California?

How will Conservatives explain away this much hypocrisy?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ladies And Your Prospective Husbands, Have You Considered Buying A Synthetic Diamond Instead?

"Diamonds are a girl’s best friend." This song, performed by Carol Channing in the 1949 production of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and made popular by Marilyn Monroe in 1953, has become a de facto motto for companies selling diamonds and for the ladies who desire them. DeBeers, the world’s largest diamond mining company, invented the phrase "Diamonds are forever." Diamond rings first became popular in the 1930s and exploded in popularity after these memes began to spread. However, diamonds - or, more explicitly, diamond mining operations - are not friends of the working class and they are certainly not popular with Mother Nature.
Diamond Mines are Dangerous for Workers
Natural diamonds are typically mined from countries where workers are exploited - paid low wages for their work, and worked to death in deadly work environments. Child labor is rampant in the diamond industry.
Conflict Diamonds
The diamond trade is also often used to fund wars. These are called blood diamonds or conflict diamonds.
Diamonds mined for war funding and with the use of exploited labor typically occurs in Africa, an area which is responsible for 2/3 of all mined diamonds in the world today.
The Environment
Even in countries where diamonds aren’t mined to fund wars or by child labor, mining is severely damaging to the environment. The carbon footprint for diamond mines is very high as they use a lot of fuel to extract diamonds from the earth, and animal habitats are also threatened in order to make and run the mines. Hazardous chemicals also leech into nearby water supplies from diamond minds, and water is used in large amounts during the extraction process. Deforestation is another occasional consequence of diamond mining.
Artificial Diamonds
Enter, synthetic or artificial diamonds. These diamonds, first invented by companies like General Electric for industrial purposes, are made by machines in a laboratory, use relatively fewer natural resources, and generate less pollution. In all, they cost around 15 percent less than mining diamonds from the earth, and offer an invaluable benefit when it comes to reducing the need for diamond mines. Synthetic diamonds are scarcely different from natural diamonds when observed by the naked eye, and thus they can be as beautiful as naturally mined diamonds.
Where to Get Synthetic Diamonds
If you have decided to make the decision to buy a diamond engagement ring that shows your love of human rights and Mother Nature as well as your love for your spouse or future spouse, there are certain hurdles to consider. For one, there aren’t a lot of companies that make synthetic diamonds for public sale as of 2013. Traditional diamond mining companies have a lock on the industry and pressure retailers into not selling these types of diamonds. Second, the technology for making synthetic diamonds is still maturing, and synthetic diamonds over a carat in size are almost never colorless. Public perception of synthetic diamonds also depresses sales, because people see them as not being as romantic as diamonds that are mined from the Earth. 
That said, there are certain companies that you can buy synthetic diamonds from. Here is a short list. Other companies include Diamond NexusSona Diamond Jewelry StoreNue Diamonds, and others.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Economic cognitive dissonance, summed up nice and easy.

The cost of living has gone up more than 100% since 1970, and corporate profits have gone up by more than 500%, while wages have stagnated, and nobody bats and eyelash, but if you start talking about wages going up to match everything else, half the country loses its fracking minds about it.

In short - everything must naturally go up except workers' wages?

Are you really willing to accept this?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Doctors are penalizing the poor in their war against Medicare... does society really need these kinds of "doctors"?

Fewer American doctors are treating patients enrolled in the Medicare health program for seniors, reflecting frustration with its payment rates and pushback against mounting rules, according to health experts.
The number of doctors who opted out of Medicare last year, while a small proportion of the nation’s health professionals, nearly tripled from three years earlier, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that administers the program. Other doctors are limiting the number of Medicare patients they treat even if they don’t formally opt out of the system.
Even fewer doctors say they won’t accept new Medicaid patients, and the number who don’t participate in private insurance contracts, while smaller, is growing—just as millions of Americans are poised to gain access to such coverage under the new health law next year. All told, health experts say the number of doctors going “off-grid" isn’t enough to undermine the Affordable Care Act, but they say some Americans may have difficulty finding doctors who will take their new benefits or face long waits for appointments with those who do.

Meanwhile, the proportion of family doctors who accepted new Medicare patients last year, 81%, was down from 83% in 2010, according to a survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians of 800 members. The same study found that 4% of family physicians are now in cash-only or concierge practices, where patients pay a monthly or yearly fee for special access to doctors, up from 3% in 2010.
A study in the journal Health Affairs this month found that 33% of primary-care physicians didn’t accept new Medicaid patients in 2010-2011.

If you’re rich, then this system benefits you. If you’re poor or elderly, well, you’re screwed.
Do we really need doctors who create this kind of environment?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Any Effort To Reduce Inequality Would Make Us All Poorer? Nonsense.

CEO pay has gone up more than 14 fold from 1970 to now, and not because of their compensation equals their marginal output.

It's more because of rent-seeking.

The Pay of Corporate Executives and Financial Professionals as Evidence of Rents in Top 1 Percent Incomes | Economic Policy Institute

Furthermore, the claim that cutting CEO compensation (and thus rent-seeking) would make the world poorer, is nonsense. For instance Harvard ivory tower-dweller Greg Mankiw states:
Then, one day, this egalitarian utopia is disturbed by an entrepreneur with an idea for a new product. Think of the entrepreneur as Steve Jobs as he develops the iPod, J.K. Rowling as she writes her Harry Potter books, or Steven Spielberg as he directs his blockbuster movies...
There's one fatal mistake in this theory. JK Rowling chose to stay in England despite their high taxes because she had a moral obligation to their welfare system.

So the going theory that reducing wealth inequality will make the world poorer because we'll have fewer Steve Jobs and JK Rowlings, is nonsense.

I've got another example to refute that, too: Linus Torvalds, the maker of GNU/Linux. If Steve Jobns and Bill Gates were to just up and quit because they couldn't become a multi billionaire then we'd have those resources going to Linux instead. Which is distributed for free. So much for marginal compensation.

Then there's the final problem of the theory of marginal compensation and its attempts to justify income inequality: if income inequality keeps rising indefinitely, then the 1% will find that nobody else can buy their products or services anymore. Then who will compensate them at all?