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Messages - thewake

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1
Principia Discussion / Re: I'm new, sad, angry and bring a warning.
« on: November 03, 2017, 08:26:39 pm »
To be fair, it's generally a bad idea to read any version of the PD. But for sure one without pictures should be avoided.

Why is it a bad idea to read it?

2
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 15, 2015, 07:51:02 pm »
In order to get an accurate picture you have to look at compensation and not just wages. Compensation is wages+benefits, and benefits are becoming an increasing portion of compensation. The ACA has mandated healthcare benefits be provided for many workers, so the trend isn't likely to go the other way anytime soon I imagine. It's a losing proposition for an employer to spend more (in terms of wages, benefits, and other costs) on a worker than the workers adds in value. I don't deny wages haven't increased as much as productivity, but wages are only part of what people get for working.

The NBER article I cited earlier states the issues:

Quote
Two principal measurement mistakes have led some analysts to conclude that the rise in labor income has not kept up with the growth in productivity. The first of these is a focus on wages rather than total compensation. Because of the rise in fringe benefits and other noncash payments, wages have not risen as rapidly as total compensation. It is important therefore to compare the productivity rise with the increase of total compensation rather than with the increase of the narrower measure of just wages and salaries.

The second measurement problem is the way in which nominal output and nominal compensation are converted to real values before making the comparison. Although any consistent deflation of the two series of nominal values will show similar movements of productivity and compensation, it is misleading in this context to use different deflators for measuring productivity and real compensation.

So, wages are not rising with productivity. Compensation is what is rising with it. This is an important distinction many of the above articles do not seem to get.

Before we move on let me drop a very informative article on the subject: http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottwinship/2014/10/20/has-inequality-driven-a-wedge-between-productivity-and-compensation-growth/

As an aside, it's relatively inherent in the nature of inflation that the value of the minimum wage will decline in real value if inflation rises and it stays constant. But the minimum wage isn't exactly the discussion I thought we were having.

Anyway, let's look at low skilled workers. It doesn't necessarily follow that, while productivity in the economy as a whole has increased, productivity has increased as  much, or at all, for every sector, industry, firm, and worker. It's certainly possible for productivity to decline in some cases. I imagine it's hard to get data for firms, and we currently can't measure productivity for individual workers, but different sectors/industries are a different story.

If we take a look at the stats, one can see that different industries in the US have experienced very different growth in their productivity:
http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2013/productivity/

This paper, while looking at the UK instead of the US, seems to support this conclusion about productivity being unequal in an economy: https://www.nber.org/papers/w13351

This article also seems to support the idea that productivity is different across sectors: http://esoltas.blogspot.pt/2015/09/inequality-and-productivity.html

To quote Soltas:
Quote
35 percent of the variance in the change between 1987 and 2013 in sector-level log hourly labor compensation is explained by changes in log labor productivity over the same period. A one-percentage point increase in productivity generated a 0.41-percentage-point increase in compensation.

As an aside, the data on the research on this seems to be a bit sparse, and I don't necessarily think it's very helpful for me to go digging in articles on JSTOR most of the people here can't access.

So one comes to the conclusion that productivity is unequal across the economy, which could (and seems to, at least from my perspective) explain, to an extent, differences in compensation across the economy. I wouldn't venture to claim it's the only factor. Also, the fact we (and economists, policy experts, etc) are still having a debate on this shows it is an open question that has not been settled yet. It's also obscured by the imperfection and incompleteness of our data and measures, differences in controlling for inflation, the political biases of the people having the debate, etc.

I must state again, I have made no claims here on the fairness of the situation. I'm only discussing what I believe the situation to be.

3
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 15, 2015, 03:53:01 am »
He cited the Heritage Foundation as evidence that workers are compensated fairly.  :lulz: There is zero further reason to attempt to engage in serious conversation with him.

I cited two sources, one of which wasn't Heritage. The other is NBER (which was also cited as source by Cain). Both say the same thing, practically. Anyway, attacking where something comes from fails to address it.

I also never claimed workers are compensated fairly. I just claimed workers are compensated in a way commensurable to their productivity.

4
Apple Talk / Re: Nigel, as my mentor on being an Angry Black Woman...
« on: November 14, 2015, 05:02:09 am »
White people love to steal Black music. It's practically the only way we've been able to make music ever since Beethoven died.

5
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 14, 2015, 04:59:13 am »
Compensation has closely tracked productivity:
https://www.nber.org/feldstein/WAGESandPRODUCTIVITY.meetings2008.pdf
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/07/productivity-and-compensation-growing-together

Workers do not tend to be paid (in total compensation, aka wages+benefits) less than 50% of their productivity.

To quote the NBER paper: "In 1970 compensation was 74 percent of the value added of the nonfinancial corporate sector. In the year 2006, it was 73 percent."

I don't know, it's possible CEOs are an exception, being paid way more than they "should" be? But compensation of workers in the entire economy has tracked productivity. It's certainly true that workers in a company, taken as a whole, contribute more to a company than a CEO. But each individual worker, compared to the CEO, is a different story. Although the main point I was making wasn't necessarily about CEOs in particular, but about productivity in general. The value added to hiring a worker with more skills tends to be more than a worker with less skills.

I'm entirely open to being shown that CEOs are paid way above the value they bring to a company. This would be quite an interesting exception to the rule.

6
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 13, 2015, 11:42:08 pm »

As far as value to the company goes, a CEO adds more value than any one individual worker. The decisions and leadership of a the people running a company have a lot more to do with how well a company does than any individual plastics worker.

The Koch brothers in particular? I wouldn't know for certain. ;)

Have you ever worked for a large company?

No.

The CEO does not make decisions.  That's what the board does.  What the CEO does is stand there with good teeth, looking like a leader until shit goes in the pooper and someone needs to be sacrificed to the Gods of the media.

The only proof of which I need offer is Tony Hayward.

I mean, I for one can admire a good set of chompers.

7
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 13, 2015, 11:33:24 pm »

As far as value to the company goes, a CEO adds more value than any one individual worker. The decisions and leadership of a the people running a company have a lot more to do with how well a company does than any individual plastics worker.

The Koch brothers in particular? I wouldn't know for certain. ;)

Have you ever worked for a large company?

No.

8
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 13, 2015, 11:28:09 pm »
They do produce very little on the margin. The addition of one more low-skilled laborer doesn't add as much in terms of production as the addition of one more highly-skilled laborer. People don't tend to get paid more than their marginal revenue product.

I'm not making a morally judgemental statement whatsoever, or calling them lazy. Quite a lot of the working poor work very, very hard. To give an extreme example, subsistence farmers work very hard, but they produce very little.

Who personally produces more?  The Koch brothers, or two minimum wage people pulling plastic parts out of injection molding machines?

As far as value to the company goes, a CEO adds more value than any one individual worker. The decisions and leadership of the people running a company have a lot more to do with how well a company does than any individual plastics worker.

The Koch brothers in particular? I wouldn't know for certain. ;)

9
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 13, 2015, 08:44:43 pm »
You really don't stop talking, do you?

There's an ignore function on this board. If I'm bothering you, use it.

10
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 13, 2015, 07:21:53 pm »
They do produce very little on the margin. The addition of one more low-skilled laborer doesn't add as much in terms of production as the addition of one more highly-skilled laborer. People don't tend to get paid more than their marginal revenue product.

I'm not making a morally judgemental statement whatsoever, or calling them lazy. Quite a lot of the working poor work very, very hard. To give an extreme example, subsistence farmers work very hard, but they produce very little.

11
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Theory of the Soul
« on: November 13, 2015, 05:27:49 pm »
Generally when I think of the "meaning of the universe," I take it to mean that it was made, or exists, for a purpose in the same way a burrito exists and its meaning is for me to eat it. Similarly with the "meaning of life." Aka, I'm talking some kind of inherent meaning. Not a subjective meaning/purpose. In fact, purpose would be a better word to get at how I'm thinking about it.

I do not mean to say that we cannot all individually, or collectively, assign a purpose to our particular lives and the world we live in from our particular point of view. But I rather think it's impossible to know if the universe has some kind of inherent meaning, at least it seems impossible for me to know it right now. On the other hand, it can be show that inherent in the burrito is the fact that it was made to be eaten (even if it never is eaten, and instead just sits in a freezer).

I'm going to quibble with your use of "inherent" here. The burrito has inherent properties, but meaning isn't one of them. You could have a burrito that was created for a television ad or a weird art project that was never intended to be eaten. The burrito has two meanings: the intended meaning from the one who created it (an internal interpretation of the creator "I am making this burrito for this asshole to eat") and the inferred meaning from the observer of the burrito (an internal interpretation of the object based on context and other factors "that burrito is meant for this asshole to eat because he paid for it," "this burrito is meant for me to eat," "this burrito is meant for me to eat but that asshole is eating it instead," etc).

I'd have to say your distinction makes quite a bit of sense, and avoids quite a bit of confusion.

12
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Wealth Inequality -- a red herring?
« on: November 13, 2015, 05:25:01 pm »
Wealth inequality seems to be a symptom of 2 things:

1. differences in the production of wealth, driven by a myriad of things like education, intelligence, ownership of capital, even culture and geography to a degree, etc.
2. seizing what others have produced, via the political process, theft, etc.

I'll acknowledge that, depending on what you consider theft, one could conceivably class things differently. A Marxian would class profits derived from a factory as #2, whilst I would (in most cases) class it as #1.

To understand inequality, one needs to address why the poorest generally seem to produce so little. And they do produce less as valued in the market (and if you take umbrage at that being our measure of value, well, that's a different debate. I don't claim that it's objectively just, but that's how we operate.) in comparison to people who have a lot of wealth (I'm talking general trends here, with inheritances being an exception). So, I think the most pertinent question is, how does one create a situation where those who produce much less of economic value currently are able to produce more? And that's where things like education, culture, geography, political rules, and etc come into play.

And I think this has somewhat been touched on here before, but too little wealth inequality may be a bad thing as much as too much wealth inequality is. Like the Laffer curve stating that the optimal tax rate (for max revenue) is somewhere between 0% and 100%, the optimal amount of wealth inequality for economic growth is somewhere between a Gini coefficient of 0 and 1.

13
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Theory of the Soul
« on: November 13, 2015, 04:43:12 pm »
Generally when I think of the "meaning of the universe," I take it to mean that it was made, or exists, for a purpose in the same way a burrito exists and its meaning is for me to eat it. Similarly with the "meaning of life." Aka, I'm talking some kind of inherent meaning. Not a subjective meaning/purpose. In fact, purpose would be a better word to get at how I'm thinking about it.

I do not mean to say that we cannot all individually, or collectively, assign a purpose to our particular lives and the world we live in from our particular point of view. But I rather think it's impossible to know if the universe has some kind of inherent meaning, at least it seems impossible for me to know it right now. On the other hand, it can be show that inherent in the burrito is the fact that it was made to be eaten (even if it never is eaten, and instead just sits in a freezer).

14
Apple Talk / Re: OPEN BAR: It's actually about ethics in fictional bars
« on: November 09, 2015, 09:44:25 pm »
pretty sure I've developed a lactose intolerance
Technically we aren't supposed to be able to digest the stuff anyway.
Odd to develop one though.  Probably related to some other dietary  change.

I think you can lose your ability to process lactose later in life. I'm 22. It generally seems to be stuff like milkshakes and whatnot that trigger it, not milk as bad. I had a pretty bad reaction to a frosty at Wendy's Saturday.

15
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Theory of the Soul
« on: November 09, 2015, 09:33:24 pm »
Maybe meaning is inherent in how we perceive the universe and not necessarily in the universe beyond us as beings who impose a meaning on the inputs the universe puts into our senses.

Assuming this to be true, it's only our perception of the universe which has meaning, and not necessarily the universe itself.

Of course I don't really know, but I like to speculate.

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