Minimum Wage Thoughts (Tevye Edition)

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319 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    That’s a lot of hands!

    But I’m a bit confused…

    So I get the GBI of $30K. I then take a job with a $70K salary. Do my checks stop coming? Do I pay, a minimum, of $30K in taxes? I mean, it seems that I should get my $70K total and no more… certainly not $100K. But how does that work in practice?Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

      Not a fan of Fiddler on the Roof?

      If you are making $70K, you are just paying taxes like normal.

      So no job, no income = $30k in benefits

      Full time job earning $15k = no taxes paid + $15k year in benefits

      FTJ @ $30k = no taxes paid

      Essentially a person can not take home less than $30k yearReport

      • So any job for <= $30K is effectively an unpaid internship?Report

        • Mike Schilling:
          So any job for < = $30K is effectively an unpaid internship?

          And anything under $40 would be paying peanuts, in the new paradigm. I think under this regime, there would be a lot of people figuring out how to live on under $30k a year. I… do not think that would be a good thing.Report

      • James K in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


        @mike-schilling is correct, your version of the GBI creates a 100% marginal tax rate for anyone working for less than $30k per annum, and I think even the most ardent opponent of the Laffer Curve must concede that a 100% tax rate is going to have disincentive effects.

        The normal formulation is to simply assess taxes on all income earned as normal, then give people the extra 30k.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to James K says:

          Did I type something wrong? If you make less than $30k, you pay zero taxes.Report

          • The “tax” is in the form of withheld benefits.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            The tax @james-k is talking about isn’t a formal tax. It’s the fact that you’d make the same amount of money if you worked or didn’t. For every dollar you earn, you get one less dollar of your $30,000 coming in from the government. Since it’s coming from the government, and the $30,000 becomes the new baseline, having the baseline lowered a dollar for every dollar you earn up to $30,000 is functionally identical to a 100% tax on all those earnings. You could have not shown up and done just as well in earnings.

            Under a plan of the kind @james-k is talking about if a person earned $8,000 in a year his after-tax income would be $30,000 plus $8,000 minus the taxes on $8,000.

            Of course, usually the number in these kinds of proposals, even by their more ambitious proponents, is more like ten or twelve, maybe fifteen thousand, not thirty (I don’t think). Of course, some of those proponents pair such proposals with insistence on eliminating nearly all other welfare programs like health care etc., so that those costs for individuals would come out of that number, while others would like to keep at least some significant existing programs (in particular health care, since costs there can so quickly eat up a basic income), with some streamlining and rolling some programs into the GBI, (cash-based ones including, in some proposals, Social Secuity, and cash-like ones like food stamps.)

            You want to add a GBI onto existing earnings. You want it to be high enough that it keeps people out of grinding poverty but not so high that they still don’t want to work in order to gain some comfort, choices, and assets (which they will). And in my opinion, you want to handle certain major, uncertain expenses (like health care) separately, since they can pretty much deep six a basic income for a given family in a given year if you throw them together.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

              …And, I should add, if we did look to eliminate almost all other welfare, then the number probably would have to be something more on the order of what you propose, @oscar-gordon. Twenty-something if not thirty.Report

            • James K in reply to Michael Drew says:

              @michael-drew has the right of it. For more information I refer you to a previous post of mine.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to James K says:

                @michael-drew @will-truman @mike-schilling @james-k

                We have to remember the other benefits to *some* low wage jobs, namely entry level: career advancement.

                My first job out of college paid about $32K. Under the proposed plan I could stay home all day every day and make $30K or go to work every day and make $32K. Hard to justify all that work for a measly $2K over 12 months. BUT, nowadays, I make $67K. And I couldn’t be making that had I not taken the $32K job.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

                Yeah, but if we could have engineered it so that your pre-tax income when taking that first $32,000/yr teaching job would have ended up being $47,000, and now that you have a $67,000/yr teaching job your pre-tax income would be $82,000, but at the earlier time your taxes would have been a little higher than they were, and now they would be considerably higher – but also so that all of your students’ families (and public-school students’ families) would have been guaranteed to receive $15,000 cash every year even if the breadwinner lost his job or couldn’t find one for a prolonged period, how would that have sounded to you?

                And: would having received $15,000 each year from the government from the time you turned 18 have prevented you from going to school for teaching, or from taking the initial $32,000 teaching job that led to a $67,000 etching job?

                These are not rhetorical questions.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Michael Drew says:


                I’m not sure I fully understand your first hypothetical.

                To your second… for a number of reasons, I would still have taken the path I did even with the $15K/year. There might have been some slight detours along the way but I’m never one to sit back and do nothing, regardless of financial stability.

                For the record, I’m not really disagreeing with anything you’ve said here. I’m disagreeing with the OP which said that folks won’t get off the couch for a job that doesn’t pay considerably more than $30K a year because they can get the $30K doing nothing. My argument is that those with a long-term plan who can leverage an entry-level, low-paying job into a higher-paying job down the road, it would be well worth it for them to do so.

                Not everyone is choosing between $30K for nothing versus $32K for full-time work between now and eternity. Some are taking that $32K job because in 5 years time they’ll be making considerable more and they’ll be very glad they got off that couch.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Kazzy says:

                Gotcha. I thought you were expressing a fear that the 30k baseline would lead to people choosing not to take the 32k job that leads to advancement. I actually do think that’s a concern with a GBI at such a high level that dissipates 1-to-1 with earnings all the way up to 30k. We want people taking those jobs for exactly that reason.

                A <15k baseline that adds on to any job anyone has (maybe up to a much higher income level, like ~100k), however, should have a much smaller effect of that kind. That's what I was getting at in the first graf. With my GBI you'd start getting 10 or 12 or 15k at age 18 and that would just keep on coming thru your after-school jobs, your college jobs (if any), your entry-level post-scholastic jobs; all jobs up to 75 or 100k or so. So when you took your first 32k job, your income would have been 42 or 44 or 47k – 32k more than the GBI.Report

          • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            Got it, long day yesterday enjoying the warm sun.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    Intriguing post. GBI seems to be the odd issue that is attractive to libertarians and the left. Though I imagine that if it were to be passed, it would be done more in a negative income tax way which probably means one annual payment.

    I still think the primary barriers for GBI are historical and cultural because most of human history had people needing to work or starving to death. It is going to take a lot to move past this and get to GBI. I can’t even say it is a concept known beyond the wonkosphere to a certain degree.

    The interesting issue is going to be how much of the percentage just chooses to live in 30K a year.

    BTW I think Mike’s point was wondering whether certain jobs or job categories will try and switch to unpaid labor because of the 30K GBI. I imagine this can happen with musicians, actors, social workers, professors, non-profit workers, museum workers, maybe entry-level gigs in hot fields, etc.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Tangential to @saul-degraw: there was a report on NPR this week about a move by the stage actors’ union to require union minimum wage for all acting work (in LA? Maybe LA is the unique exemption here and that’s already the case everywhere else, not sure). Don’t know if you heard it, what you think of it:

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Drew says:


        I do think one positive effect of a 30,000 GBI would be that it makes it more potential for people to do what they want including creating art. I also suspect that many people might oppose GBI for this reason. GBI might be favored by some liberals and libertarians, I think that many would just consider it a handout writ large. Americans seem to like their welfare as either being earned (Social Security, Medicare) or Indirect (The EITC and ACA). Direct welfare programs seem to make a lot of Americans extremely filled with rage.Report

    • Road Scholar in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul Degraw: Though I imagine that if it were to be passed, it would be done more in a negative income tax way which probably means one annual payment.

      Small correction, Saul: We already have the EITC and a worker can request that what amounts to an advance on that amount be their regular paycheck.

      Example: A worker projects that they will be eligible for an EITC of $1040. She files a form with her employer (it may be part of the W-2, I’m not sure) who then adds $20 to her paycheck each week after any deductions. The employer then deducts those payments from any periodic estimated tax payments they submit to the Feds so it doesn’t cost the employer anything to do so.

      I’m not sure if a GBI or NIT could work in a similar way. It would depend on the specific proposal.Report

  3. Road Scholar says:

    I’ll echo the concerns raised above and propose an alternative. Rather than just a check, I would propose guaranteed employment at that wage level to any adult citizen who requests it. It effectively sets a wage floor due to substitutionary effects while allowing a lower training wage for teenagers and interns. It would also provide a decent option for people like ex-cons.

    The costs would be much less and it wouldn’t create the perverse incentives since you would, in most cases*, be required to at least show up and do SOMETHING for the money.

    *That something may be caring for your young children or going to school. A lot of things can be rolled into this structure.Report

    • James K in reply to Road Scholar says:


      Work schemes have several problems:
      1) You may end up displacing other workers.
      2) If not, then he work tends to be pointless busy work, and hiring someone for a job you don’t need them to do is just an unemployment with added lying to them.
      3) Creating the illusion of employment will make the labour market less responsive to change sin labour demand. Sure, you sponge up all that excess supply during the recession, but at the price of making it harder for firms to get employees during the recovery.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to James K says:

        You also lose the productivity of people who are doing-make work rather than spending their days doing whatever they would be doing under a GBI scheme, at least some of which
        is likely to be socially (or individually) productive. Even if a bit of free money slightly blunts people’s motivation to be productive, requiring unproductive work in exchange for a GBI would further depress productivity. And “guaranteed employment”-type jobs that exist only to justify GBI payments are highly likely to be unproductive.

        GBI proponents have to admit that there would be some blunting of the all-out day-to-day scrabble to be productive enough to survive/maintain living standards compared to maintaining the daily threat of abject poverty, and be clear that the point of GBI is to ease that threat for humanitarian reasons in the hope that people will still want to do productive work in order to achieve greater prosperity than the GBI offers. But that blunting effect is no reason to pile the energy-sink of a government makework program on top of a GBI program, that would absorb the productive energies of participants.

        Either give them the baseline payment or don’t, but either way let people spend their days trying to find the niche in which their abilities best match with someone’s (or their own) capital configurations to produce an actually productive arrangement for society. I.e., in that respect, let the market do its work. Figure out how many and what kinds of government jobs the government actually needs in order for it to perform the functions you want it to perform, and let that be the extent of government employment. (And that needn’t imply any particularly small-gov vision of what the government should do or how many people it should do it with. It just says, let all government employment be linked to some government function we actually assign to it other than just “keeping people busy.”)

        (Maybe that’s the point of one of your points but I wanted to expand on it.)Report

      • Road Scholar in reply to James K says:

        James K,

        1) This is a valid concern, but not a huge one. I envision this as a walk-on/walk-off sort of deal. The money would be Federal but the work administered locally. Sure, a municipality would almost certainly be tempted to use this to offset existing positions, but they couldn’t really do it for anything that they really needed to have done since the worker would be under no obligation to show up the next day if they found someone to pay a buck more.

        2) [Shrug] Our current UI system requires beneficiaries to apply for a certain number of jobs per week. If unemployment is high and your prospects are dim, that’s pretty much busy work right there. Even if it is busy work it’s not really pointless. The point is to avoid the moral hazard of paying people to watch TV and eat Cheetos.

        3) All they have to do is offer $0.50/hr more and maybe make the job not suck too hard. I’m envisioning the office administering the program locally as also functioning as an employment and job training service. Recall my footnote where I mentioned that the “job” could very well be going to school.

        The only private employers that would be in a real bind would be the ones wanting to pay crap wages for unpleasant work. Which is a big part of the whole point. I’m just trying to apply economic logic to the problem.Report

      • Cardiff Kook in reply to James K says:

        @james-k @road-scholar @michael-drew
        Here is one approach to require work, make sure it is socially productive and NOT canibalize on existing labor relationships:

        Personally, I think it is brilliant. Not that this guarantees it will work. But it is something we should definitely consider trying and experimenting with. It basically guarantees a living wage, it encourages work, it holds employers accountable and it doesn’t subsidize Walmart.

        Much better in every way than guaranteed income or minimum wage.Report

        • Michael Drew in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

          If this is ever offered by conservatives I think liberals should take it, so long as the checks will start coming through the extensive problems and glitches that will attend getting the work clearinghouse to actually work, find people jobs they can get to, do satisfactorily, and get enough hours to satisfy whatever the minimum should be to get the GBI Morgan promises. I.e., so long as there is a long period of phase-in where people will be getting checks no matter what (since you don;t know how well the work markets will really work), and so long as there is lots of ongoing leeway for the system not working. Meantime, and after such time as this becomes policy, proponents can keep advocating for a simple GBI.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Road Scholar says:

      “Rather than just a check, I would propose guaranteed employment at that wage level to any adult citizen who requests it. ”

      Congratulations, you invented the WPA.Report

  4. Damon says:

    Never bank on passing some program that eviscerates the jobs in the social welfare bureaucracy.Report

  5. Brandon Berg says:

    The federal minimum wage is not a wage that, given a 40-hour work week, would provide enough money for most people in most parts of the US to be able to meet all their basic needs (i.e. a living wage).

    I question the premise. You can’t easily raise a family on it, and you shouldn’t try, but outside of a few cities with anomalously high rent, you absolutely can live on the Federal minimum wage. (Or the local minimum wage, which is what actually matters. Why people think the Federal minimum wage should be set based on the highest cost-of-living areas rather than the lowest is a mystery to me.) Sure, you’ll have to have roommates, and there won’t be a lot of room for luxury, but it’s doable.

    Say the GBI is $30K/year (~about $14.50/hr).

    So, this is nuts. To put this in perspective, until recently, I lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment in a moderately expensive coastal city. I had a car, spent a lot of money on food, bought health insurance and long-term-care insurance out-of-pocket, went out several nights a week, and generally didn’t worry much about spending. This cost me less than $40,000 per year.

    $30k/year tax-free buys a solid middle-class lifestyle. When you get that much money without lifting a finger, not working at all becomes a very attractive option.for a large percentage of the population. With a top-up GBI (the government makes up the difference), the effective minimum wage becomes not $15/hour, but $20 or $25/hour, because nobody wants to work full-time for an extra few thousand on top of $30,000.

    A negative income tax (flat income tax a $30,000 refundable credit) solves that problem, but it has a different problem, which is that it’s insanely expensive. At a 30% tax rate, you need to earn $100,000 a year before you’re paying anything in taxes. At 50%, the IRS doesn’t break even on you until $60,000. And that’s for a single person. The numbers double for two-earner families. The result is that you get huge percentages of the population not only paying nothing in taxes, but getting five-figure checks from the IRS.

    If basic income advocates want to be taken seriously, you need to be talking about subsistence-level basic incomes that are intended to supplement earned income, like a negative income tax with a $10,000 refundable credit—enough to get by if you have to, but much better when supplemented by even a low-wage job. $30,000 doesn’t survive even basic scrutiny.Report

    • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      I did not pick $30K out of the air. That is the yearly income one could expect if proponents of a $15 federal minimum wage get their way. This is what they want. This is what they claim is a “living wage”.

      I’m saying if $30k a year is what people truly, honestly need in order to be able to live, why are we constantly trying to distort the labor market to get that? Why are we foisting that requirement on employers who need work done whose value clears below that level, especially if we just have to make it up with complicated welfare benefits that cost money to administer?

      Just pay everyone $30K & be done with it. Employers will find other ways to attract marginal labor (Kazzy alludes to one way I was thinking of up above, I mentioned one or two others).Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Mad Rocket Scientist,

        Do the $15 minimum wage activists actually expect that to translate into a 30k yearly wage? Because that’s what you’d get for a 40 hour week, but most folks on the minimum wage don’t work 40 hours a week. Increasingly, they’re working 15-30 hours a week while still being asked to maintain full-time availability.

        In the last few years of my last job, I was categorized as a full-time employee (with the expectation that I’d be available to work any time of the day, any day of the week), paid $12.50 an hour, and still made only about 18k pre-tax. 18k doesn’t get you very far in coastal California.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

          Scheduling is one of those labor issues where I tend to be more sympathetic to labor than other issues.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

            Yeah, me too. My first retail job in 10th grade had me scheduled the first week for a smattering of days and when I showed up on Tuesday the next week, my managers expressed surprise that I showed up. “What? Why?” “You did a no-call/no-show yesterday.” “WHAT???”

            They showed me the schedule and explained to me that it changed *EVERY* *WEEK*.

            I was flabbergasted.

            It’s fairly easy for a 10th grader to adjust schedules, though. (Well, it was for me.) The expectation that a grown-up not know whether/how much s/he’s working next week? That’s painful.

            I suppose that I can understand that schedules need to shuffle around but this thing where people are on-call and might not be asked to show up *BUT* they might be asked to show up? If that’s not somehow remunerated, that’s abusive. (At my last job, carrying the pager got you 2 hours for every day you carried it. The folks who never had to carry pagers before saw that as a good deal and they jumped to be the next guy on the rotation. After a couple of days, they couldn’t give the dang thing away fast enough. And this was *NOT* a minimum wage job. I can’t imagine being asked to carry the leash for free.)Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’ve never been able to understand how the insanity that is retail work schedules is beneficial to the employer or the employee. I can understand that if you need to cover a lot of hours and you have a lot of flaky employees, people are going to be called in last minute to cover shifts all the time. What I don’t get is why it’s built into the system. What’s the cost of saying, “You work every Tuesday from noon to 8,” and having everybody understand the expectation and plan around it?

              I’ve heard that at places like SuperCuts, it’s to prevent people from building up a loyal customer base that recognizes them as “their” person, but WTF is up with doing it at the local grocery store?Report

              • To keep them from getting supplemental work?

                That’s intersting about Supercuts. When I worked there (’97 or so) that wasn’t the case, but things have changed (I don’t even think my position exists anymore).Report

              • SaulDegraw in reply to Will Truman says:

                Is there a job you haven’t had?Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Will Truman says:

                What I’ve been told is that they worry about a particularly popular employee opening a solo operation and taking a pool of customers along with them. If you make sure customers never build a relationship with one particular person, you don’t have to worry about that happening.Report

              • SaulDegraw in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Bigger companies are able to use data and computer programs to tell them when peak times are. This makes it worse for the employee because they might have days without a full shift or they get a lot of split shifts.

                I think the benefit for employers is a physic one power. This happened with dock workers until the 1950s. You could show up and worry about getting work. Work would be controlled by corrupt mobsters and the dock owners. this kept dock workers subservient.

                Of course taking about power as a psychic benefit makes you a real out there leftie in the U.S.Report

              • It allows micromanaging total hours. It also makes it simple to reward and/or punish people by changing their hours week by week.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                hypothetically, it saves on staffing. The problem with having someone show up every Tuesday from 12-8 is that it might be slow from 12-3, and you’d still be paying an employees full wage for less-than-optimally productive hours.

                Companies like Walmart have sophisticated algorithms that can predict hour-by-hour staffing demands, and so are capable of maximizing profits by making minor scheduling tweaks.

                There are a few problems with this, though: wages reflect an expectation of the difficulty involved. Someone who was happy making $80 for a full-day’s work isn’t going to be okay getting paid only $50 to nearly a full-days work just because he’ll only be at the job site for five hours. So it’s hard to sustain the level of productivity that you’re supposedly paying for. In practice, Walmart gives it’s more productive employees full-time predictable schedules. The last-minute predictive scheduling tends to be used for more desperate, less productive employees (along with some really questionable workplace culture decisions designed to make even their productive employees desperate).

                The other problem is that the sophisticated algorithms don’t always pay off, and are generally less useful if you’re not operating at the scale of a Walmart store. A lot of this predictive scheduling is carried out as a cargo cult business practice, where less advanced firms copy the superficial practices of a profitable business without understanding how or why those practices lead to greater profits.

                The grocery store I worked for cut hours significantly in 2008. In terms of easily-measurable productivity, there wasn’t much of a change. The number of cases stocked and items sold remained. but harder to measure things really suffered–the store wasn’t cleaned thoroughly, customers were waiting in line longer, employees had no time to help customers with questions, etc.

                The store was hoping to gain customers from higher-priced competitors after the 2008 crash–instead those customers came into our store once, but saw a messy and unfriendly store and decided that the high prices were worth it. We also lost a decent sized chunk of our existing customers. I’d guess that by 2009, our store’s customer base was down 25% from 2007 levels.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Alan Scott says:

                That’s what I figured the answer would be, and like you, I’m very skeptical of the value. Doing analysis on queue length for things like time/day of the week is probably extremely useful and it lets you set staffing levels for different times and days. But I highly doubt that they can use data from earlier in the day to figure out what will happen later in the day or even one week later. Maybe in outlier situations it turns out to be a win, but on average, I think you’d be way down in the noise. Most of the traffic spikes retailers run into should be either fairly predictable weekly cycles or really hard to predict one-offs.

                My observation at my local Safeway is that for all of the schedule fiddling they clearly do (most of the chatter I hear from employees is them trying to figure out who works when the next day) they usually have no fishing clue how many people they’ll need manning the cash registers at any given time.

                The worst part of it is that a lot of those people who are getting less than 40 hours per week would like to work 2 jobs but they can’t because there’s no way to reconcile two arbitrary schedules. One interesting possibility would be a third party labor pool management system that allows people to be employees of more than one retailer and for retailers to request X employees that meet their criteria from the shared queue. You set your “I’m available” hours with the queue management system and check your work queue to decide where you’ll be working next, sort of like Uber.

                If we’re going to treat workers like an amorphous paste commodity, we might as well go all the way and let them enjoy some of the benefits of it. It still sucks, but at least it allows you to make up hours if one employer’s fancy algorithms decide you’re not necessary for the week. It would probably work until one player realizes it can screw competing retailers by calling in a ton of one type of workers right before a competitor’s need peaks.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                “What’s the cost of saying, “You work every Tuesday from noon to 8,” and having everybody understand the expectation and plan around it? ”

                The issue is, what happens when that person who works every Tuesday from noon to 8 doesn’t show up? (has to take the kid to the doctor, has a car accident, got drunk, no-notice quit, whatever). You need a temporary floater who can come in on short notice.

                And once you solve the management problem of getting temporary floaters who can come in on short notice, why not just do that for *every* employee? You can cut costs by eliminating the entire category of “regular” employee.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Sure, every company with employees has to deal with random absenteeism, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. If you can have a person show up consistently more than 90% of the time without anybody having to do anything, that seems like a win. In fact, employers seem to consider pinch-scheduling replacements to be a burden. Volunteering to do it every day for every single timeslot seems counterintuitive. In any case, randomizing the schedule every week doesn’t prevent last-minute absenteeism. It likely increases it.

                I don’t see how a “regular” employee who comes in at a normal time without the overhead of being scheduled and told when to come in is any more expensive. In my experience, the most efficient system to manage is one that works under a fixed set of rules unless something exceptional happens. Then you spend whatever resources you need to deal with the exception and go back to normal scheduling.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Generally, it’s harder to deal with absent employees in an unpredictable scheduling system. First, when everyone’s working eight-hour days, you have enough coverage to make sure the important stuff gets done even if you can’t find a fill in employee. When your staffing is already cut down to the bone, that’s not an option. Second, when employers are so demanding about scheduling, employees are less willing to give up their precious free time to cover other people’s shifts. When folks are working reasonable schedules, they’re much more willing to accommodate change in emergency situations.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist Paying people $30k not to work would distort the labor market even more than a $15/hour minimum wage. For one, as I noted, it would likely dramatically reduce the supply of labor, creating a de facto minimum wage of significantly more than $15. Not to mention the distortion on the other end of the spectrum caused by the high taxes needed to pay for it.Report

  6. North says:

    It’s an intriguing proposal though I, like a lot of the commentariate, suspect a graduated phase in would be a better idea rather than a 100% marginal tax rate over 30k. It’s utterly unpassable, of course, but that doesn’t matter- forming the constituency to agitate for it is key to eventually passing it. The concept needs to be introduced to the population.

    I’m curious as to whether we’re there economically. If the economy isn’t capable of supporting that basic income level we’d get absolutely stupefying inflation. Also conservatives would correctly point out that that immigration would represent a massive problem for such a program. Even if you excluded non-legal immigrants from the system what do you do when they have children in the country who are legal citizens and entitled to the GBI? That would truly create some perverse incentives.

    Still at a high atmospheric overview I support the GBI as a concept and an ambition. It seems to me the most constructive way to square the circle of free trade concerns and growing worker productivity.Report

  7. aaron david says:

    “On the other hand, employers have all but given up on the idea of on the job training (or other advanced training) for all but the basic skills needed to do the job, or for the most dedicated and competent employees.”

    Could you provide some data and links on this, as I see it bandied around quite a bit, but it is totally counter to my experiences over 30 years in the workforce. From management positions that have said “you don’t have Excel skills? We will send you to computer school next week” to the six week training course my company makes every new employee take (and returning ex-employees) where they send you to training centers and if you live over a certain distance they put you up in hotels for the period. In my wife’s world, they really want her to get a masters, and are willing to provide time and a portion of the moneys needed (she is in public service and they cannot provide all.)Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to aaron david says:


      Maybe it is just because law is still a buyer’s market but the majority of job postings I see for lawyers all are highly targeted and want really specific experience and strongly imply or outright say that the ideal candidate will need no training or mentorship and can hit the ground running.

      Most of the mentorship I have gotten has been at the level of “Look at this previous example” and write a new version that is pertinent to the case.

      I have received very little in terms of mentorship. Just questions of “Can you do X or Y?”Report

      • aaron david in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I would say that is definitely a sign of a buyers market, and also a way to reduce the applicant pool.

        But the problem is extrapolating from one industry (law) to all industries and trying to then base policy on that. It gives wildly inappropriate answers for questions that might not need to be asked.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @saul-degraw I don’t know about law, but in software the “requirements” are often wishful thinking. The posting for my current job had a long list of requirements for very specialized skills and knowledge, none of which I had. They interviewed me anyway (in fact, their recruiter contacted me first). I eventually found out that not only were they not actually requirements, but that only a handful of the current employees met them. Law may in fact be different, but you really can’t infer that from the job listings.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    What would a GBI do to cost of living? Would people who didn’t want to work flock to lower cost areas and drive up the cost of living there?Report

  9. LeeEsq says:

    I never understood the arguments that minimum wage jobs were meant for teenagers who want to earn some money. This has never been the case for the entire history of the minimum wage because most of the businesses that employ teenagers still need employees who could work for the many hours teenagers are in school. High school was nearly universal in the United States when the minimum wage was created. Its not like minimum wage jobs are in businesses that are only open when school isn’t in session.

    Most minimum wage jobs were probably always held by adults that couldn’t find a better paying job for a variety of reasons. People just liked to pretend that minimum wage jobs were for teenagers because it made them feel better.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

      The minimum wage was created to protect the adult workers from exploitation from employers. Its purpose is to create a floor that says people must make at least x amount per hour in their employment. Anything else is unacceptable.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      While maybe not teenagers, most minimum wage workers are not sole earners. They’re often going to be dependents, or supplementary income. Over half come from households that make over $40k per year (more than two minimum wage incomes combined). Minimum wage earners run the spectrum, which is why (among other things) if we’re worried about household poverty, focusing on the minimum wage seems like a bad strategy to me. I’m not opposed to raising the minimum wage, but “enough to live on” seems like a misguided target.Report

    • Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:


      With Will’s caveats, I agree.

      Anecdatum: when I got my first job at a fast food place, most of my coworkers were either adults supporting themselves or their families (with the help of other income earners or with public assistance), or high-school aged students whose parents (or parent) required them to give a portion of their paycheck for rent. There were a small number in situations similar to mine: from a relatively affluent family with 1 1/2 wage earners (my dad had the main job, and my mom’s job supplemented the income but was not the major contributor) and using all the money for myself, either for whatever consumables I wanted or saving for college.Report

      • ScarletNumber in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        Gabriel Conroy:

        high-school aged students whose parents (or parent) required them to give a portion of their paycheck for rent.

        Isn’t this illgeal, at least for minors?Report

        • It depends on what you mean, exactly. (IANAL, etc., usw.)

          I guess that the parents can’t legally abrogate their responsibility to their minor children, that therefore, they can’t legally threaten to evict them, and that therefore, they can’t *require*, on pain of eviction, their minor children to contribute to rent. But I would also guess that a minor being under the care and authority of the major, the major would have the prerogative to sequester the minor’s wages. Maybe not in the sense garnishing wages, but in the sense of they have the legal authority to tell the minor how the minor is going to use the money.

          But I’m not sure if it always, or even “often,” goes to the level of a threat or an implied threat of eviction. Whatever the technical legality, in practice the situation is probably just, “you live under my roof and you work, so you have to contribute.” And a lot of these people lived in a trailer park nearby, and their parents worked very similar kinds of job. (The fast food place was in a mall, and that mall was near the trailer park, and in at least one case, my coworker’s mother was a mall-janitor.)Report

        • I don’t think so. It was a not uncommon policy growing up. My parents tried it, but junked it when they realized that just meant we wouldn’t get jobs.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

            I have no idea why parents who don’t need the money but want to install a work ethic in their kids would think this policy would be a good idea. It seems to teach kids that the work is exploitative with no gain for the employee.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

              I was told something to the effect of “You will have a job if you wish to live here. Perhaps your job will be to go to college. Perhaps it will be as an employee somewhere. If you choose the latter, you will pay rent.”

              The goal was to get me out of the damn house.Report

              • ScarletNumber in reply to Jaybird says:

                But there is a difference between charging a minor rent and an adult rent.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ScarletNumber says:

                I’m willing to give the adults in these cases the benefit of the doubt and start suspecting that they needed the kids to work and contribute in order to keep the household’s head above water rather than parents acting as Libertarian overlords collecting rents from the orphans living under their roof like they were some modern Fagin.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

              For my parents, I think it was to reinforce the idea “Everything costs money.”

              The same reason that every time she signed me up for Little League, Mom would tell me exactly how much it cost, and that Dad was at work right now so that I could play baseball.

              Also, perhaps the fear that if I had too much money, I wouldn’t learn the value of frugalty. Maybe even more this than the other thing.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                My parents raised my brother and I with a straight allowance. They were actually philosophically opposed to teenage jobs during the school year or even the summer. Out of all my friends with teen jobs, they only thought one really worked because she got to and from her job herself by bike. Kids who were driven by their parents were met with derision. Despite all this, I’m good with money.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


                What was the philosophical objection to teenage jobs?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                For the school year, I would figure that it would be so they’d focus on school. I’m not sure about summers, though. I thought Saul had a summer job at a camp or a lifeguard or a lifeguard at a camp or something.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                That was during college, not high school. My job as a lawyer was basically the first time I really worked in my life besides working for the parks system one summer in college.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy it was two fold. The first is that teenagers are basically supposed to study and do well in school. Jobs were seen as an obstacle to that because they take up time. The other is that unless your getting too and from your job yourself, in other words commuting, it isn’t real work.

                One thing that my parents wished Saul and I could do was work in a factory during college. Both of my parents had some factory work experience during their college years and thought it was valuable. They would have liked it if Saul and I could have it.Report

              • ScarletNumber in reply to Will Truman says:

                Will Truman:
                every time she signed me up for Little League, Mom would tell me exactly how much it cost, and that Dad was at work right now so that I could play baseball.

                Sadly, the Menendez brothers were not yet around to inspire you.Report

              • Chris in reply to ScarletNumber says:

                It’d be awesome if you were funny. Sadly…Report

  10. Stillwater says:

    Couple things:

    1. What goals are trying to be achieved by any particular policy prescription mentioned above? Eg, what is the goal of raising the minimum wage? What’s the goal of a GBI? What’s the goal of Rod’s proposal (I think it was Rod…) to subsidize the difference between market wages and a livable wage? Seems to me that raising the minimum wage is conceived by its advocates as shifting the basic-income burden onto the private sector with the hopes of decreasing the number of folks who need public assistance, whereas a GBI sorta gives up on all that, accepts that the poor will always be with us, and streamlines the way transfer payments are distributed to folks who need them.

    2. What does the future of the US labor force look like and how committed are we – as a society! – to an increase in the amount of transfers to the poor? That is, are we looking at a future with more people on PA or less? Seems to me how this question is answered might effect how we think about question 1.

    One thing I noticed in this comment thread is that both increasing the minimum wage as well as a GBI will have some pretty serious ramifications on not only the status quo but also on our economy down the road. So serious they might be considered decisive, yes? Where does that leave us?Report

    • j r in reply to Stillwater says:

      The economy is already going down that road. The only question now is whether we will adapt as best we can or we will try to hold on to an outdated model.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        j r,

        Yeah, I agree with the first part. I’m curious about the second part. Do you have any thoughts on what might be a better model moving forward?Report

  11. Michael Cain says:

    A GBI can remove the need for Social Security…

    A GBI as I understand your description represents an enormous change in how Social Security works. Today, the SS payment is guaranteed, regardless of other income. For example, a retiree today might get $15K/yr from SS, another $15K/yr from a pension, and $15K/yr from their personal savings. $45K per year, on which modest income taxes are paid (on the order of 5% of the total). As I understand your arrangement, because the retiree has $30K in other income, the GBI/SS payment would go to zero — the only way for the retiree to have $45K/yr in income would be to get it from the other sources alone. This makes it much more difficult to save sufficiently for retirement.

    There are a batch of other large adjustments that would have to be made with respect to care for the elderly. $30K/yr is less than the cost of almost any sort of assisted-living long-term care arrangement, but is far too much income to qualify for Medicaid (half of the total outlays for which are now spent on long-term care for the elderly, and the share is growing). Medicare premiums/deductables/copays are significantly cheaper than comparable policies purchased on the ACA exchanges (and would be even more so if the exchange customer base were expanded to include the 65+ contingent). The current retirement system consists of several parts working together — you can’t tinker with just one of them and expect things to work well.Report

  12. Oscar Gordon says:

    Good morning everyone, sorry for the delay in getting back here. There was warm sun outside all weekend, and this morning the internet at the office was down.

    I want to call out 3 comments specifically. First, from Will Truman:

    While maybe not teenagers, most minimum wage workers are not sole earners.

    This is a point that is actually borne out by data.

    MaCurdy found that less than 40% of wage increases went to people earning less than twice the poverty line, and among that group, about third of them are trying to raise a family on the minimum wage. In other words, something like 1 in 8 people who do receive the minimum wage (and ignoring any potential adverse effects of it), are actually in what you might call the “targeted” group.

    Second, Stillwater here:

    what is the goal of raising the minimum wage?

    This is really what I was getting at as I went hand over hand while thinking about this post. Advocates for a higher minimum wage are basically arguing that we should mandate a welfare program and force employers to fund it directly, with little to no apparent concern for the economic impacts that will be felt by small business or by the poor as prices rise. Jessie verbalized this in a comment on another post last week (can’t find it now), about how (& I am paraphrasing here) if a business can’t figure out how to pay it’s employees a living wage, they should not be in business. This is a very narrow view and one many small business owners would take exception with.

    In my mind, the minimum wage as a wage floor is not a bad idea, but only as a technical exercise, rather than a populist demand. A minimum wage should be set by looking at the wage the majority of employers are paying for the kind of unskilled work that a minimum wage typical falls to, and then set the minimum based on that. It should function as a safeguard to prevent excessive worker exploitation when the supply of labor outstrips the demand. It should not be a welfare program.

    If people need help, we should make use of the welfare state to help them. I suspect the reason we have these populist calls for a higher minimum wage are not because people can’t get help, it’s because they don’t want to. These are people who are working, and working hard, and trying to stay afloat & get ahead, and they don’t want to have to ask for help to make ends meet; either because they are proud, or, more likely, because we make asking for help more humiliating than it needs to be (and we structure that help such that it becomes less useful faster as wages go up, see James K link here).

    My policy prescription in the OP is not something I ever think will fly, and not just for the technical reasons pointed out by others here in the comments. Still, I think it is useful to explore extremes like this to expose the actual preferences & motivations. I do think we should have a kind of no questions, no strings welfare for people. Perhaps we just limit it to the working poor, people who are actively in the workforce and just can’t make end meet. Save the strings for people who are out of the workforce and perhaps needs a bit more guidance/motivation/something.

    Finally, Aaron David here

    Could you provide some data and links on this, as I see it bandied around quite a bit, but it is totally counter to my experiences over 30 years in the workforce.

    I don’t have data at my fingertips, but my workforce experience has shown me that except in a handful of skilled trades, the days of taking a talented or driven young person & apprenticing them are over. I think the primary driver of this is the growth of education. In my youth, I once got a job as a IT SysAdmin because I had managed to pick up some considerable skills with PC hardware & Windows Admin. These were skills I learned just tinkering with my personal PC, but they were enough to convince my old boss that I would be a good addition to his team. I spent about 6 months learning all about Windows, Unix, and IP networking & how to troubleshoot the systems while I worked & got paid. After a few years there, I was able to leverage that into a full on SysAdmin lead role, and later I was able to land a job as a trainer, and finally as a facilities manager, before I finished my Master’s & switched to an Engineering career. A path like that is rare today, because IT departments aren’t interested in training up a new Admin, and thanks to formalized education for that skill set becoming a quality product, they don’t have to. They can just demand proof of education, then spend the time & effort filling in workplace specific gaps, or filling in gaps that are minor.

    Back in my grandfather’s day, an engineer could get a BS in engineering, or apprentice to an engineer. The profession even created two exams for such people, the FE/EIT exam, and the PE exam. They are still given, but their value is minimal (well, the value of the EIT is minimal, the PE is still important in certain areas), and just completing the FE/EIT exam is probably not going to land you an entry-level engineering job.

    So yes, employers still offer training, but if you want a job that requires more than the most basic of skills, chances are you have to go to school for something before an employer will offer you the job and the additional training.Report

    • Cardiff Kook in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


      I am still a bit skeptical about this no more on the job training thing. It simply does not match my experience. It seems to me to have the odor of a new internet meme. If enough people repeat it and supply anecdotes and examples of it, then it must be true.

      For it to be true, I would expect to see long term empirical trends comparing the investment in human resources by companies over decades of time. Does anybody have or has anyone seen said data? Just asking!*

      Absent the data, my anecdotal experience is the opposite — everyone in my family has been trained on the job. They start at some entry level something or other and via OJT and development courses at work or supplied by the company as perks they work up the hierarchy. I suppose the recent recession may have slowed down this a bit, but is so, again this isn’t a long term trend but rather a short term impact of supply and demand.

      * btw, if the real issue is that more employers are requiring higher education certificates for entry into a job class, then this is a somewhat different problem with different likely causes and solutions than no longer supplying OJT.Report

  13. Cardiff Kook says:

    Please send me my $30 grand. I love things other people pay for. Can we also call it a right? Then I can feel noble when I get the payment!

    Seriously though, I am skeptical of the long term effects of paying people to do nothing. Reminds me of the line from Rocky Horror…

    Magenta:”Master, I ask for nothing!”

    Master:”And you shall receive it… IN ABUNDANCE!”

    I prefer experimenting with ideas where able bodied people are required to work and private employers can bid for their government subsidized services. There is a popular internet link on the idea somewhere. It is like a mash up of Craigs List and Uber.Report

    • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

      “Please send me my $30 grand. I love things other people pay for. ”

      If you are a middle class American property owner, that sentence is not sarcasm, but a truthful statement of fact. And you have already been given your benefit, many times over.Report

      • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:


        Not sure how to respond. First, as a property owner of the described class, not sure how I had it given to me. Actually I paid a healthy chunk of cash for it, and will continue to so for another eight years. In addition, I pay about $1500 in property tax per month. Maybe we are defining giving differently. Care to expound?

        Second, if I was “given” it by some creative definition, that still doesn’t negate my point which is that a world of overly generous free handouts (to able bodied people like my wife and me) incentivizes free riding and passive exploitation. Why contribute reciprocally with others when I can get a check for sitting at home all day?

        The normative argument, to be specific, is that I should not be given thirty thousand (or a home) for doing nothing that adds value to myself or others. This is an extremely counterproductive idea which would be expected to have dramatic and far reaching negative consequences.Report

        • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

          Of course you are not aware of how you are being provided benefits.
          That’s the whole point- for generations the middle class and above have crafted government policies to benefit themselves, making these benefits invisible, while keeping the benefits for the poor visible and evident.

          Examples would be the mortgage interest deduction, the favoring of suburban freeways over urban buses, regressive sales taxes versus capital gains taxes, and so on.
          The federal government doesn’t send you a check each year printed “GOVERNMENT HANDOUT- MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION”.

          I could cite others, but you get the idea- as I mentioned in the globalization thread, the laws and regulations governing trade and infrastructure are crafted to make life easy and provide benefits to the ones who do the crafting ( a point repeatedly made by libertarians!) while ignoring the needs and interests of the ones not at the table.

          In general, there exists an attitude that what’s good for the middle class property owners is good for everyone. Yet the others don’t have a voice by which they can inject their own opinions to the contrary.Report

          • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:

            I asked you to explain your cryptic reference. I am not unaware of the mortgage deduction. Jeez, how about a modest assumption I am not drooling on my keyboard? ( well, not much, just some occasional spittle)

            What you have done here is reframe the issue in an extremely disingenuous way.

            In group A we have me receiving something produced by my fellow humans which is taken from them and given to me for doing nothing, and which encourages and incentivizes me to continue to nothing “in abundance.”

            In group B we have me taking a formulaic deduction which leads to the final determination of my net tax rate relative to others – whom also (when looking at total share of income taxes paid) take said exemption. IOW, the deduction is figured into the tax rate.*

            On a larger scale though, you are equating a fee not charged with a check delivered. Not taking something is not the same as being given something. The former is potential redistribution not taken, the latter is redistribution both taken from one and given to another.

            Again though, nobody believes that tax rates without deductions would be the same as tax rates with deductions.

            * when I used to design auto insurance rate plans, the CMO once asked if I could create bigger discounts for marketing. I told her “yes, how big would you like?” I then explained that I can create any size discount up to 99% just by raising the base rate and then discounting for not having an adverse factor such as three DWIs this year. She didn’t get that bigger discounts just lead to higher base rates, all else equal. Oddly it took me about a half hour to explain it to her and she still kept forgetting if I ddidnt walk her through it routinely. My guess is you have fallen for the same mistake.Report

            • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

              A fee not charged IS a check delivered. What did you do to earn a special deduction, that your renter neighbor didn’t do? You borrowed money, while he saved.
              We have collectively decided we like this outcome, and tilted the tax tables to produce more of it.

              Nothing wrong there, but lets call a spade a spade.

              Lets reframe SNAP as a special tax deduction for nutrition; those earning less than a certain amount may file to get this tax credit- oh, and if they paid less in taxes, they get a refund check.

              Its no different than the EITC- some people get more in refund than they pay in taxes- essentially a government handout by another name.
              Fortune 500 companies do this all the time, with other tax issues.
              But the bigger issue is not taxes- its that the entire playing field is tilted in favor of some people, against others, in ways we don’t see since they aren’t stenciled with “government handout” on them.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:


                Seriously? Or are you just being argumentative?

                The top fifty percent of income earners pay virtually all income tax. The top fifty percent also almost all own homes. Thus the home deduction is a technicality added in to the income tax which on net is compensated by raising base rates or lowering other deductions and exemptions. Please reread my comment on base rates and deduction/ discounts. You seem to be stumbling over the offsets necessary to make the math work. Like I said, so did my CMO.

                Said another way, if congress wants/needs fifty billion in tax revenue they get to determine the base rate and the deductions, and they consider both elements in the computation of said tax, then to characterize the deductions as a gift is as silly as me raising auto insurance rates to a million dollars and giving a “gift” to consumer of 999,000 to “good drivers”. It is an accounting or math fiction. Trust me, I have sold tens of millions of policies based in part on this fiction, and oddly consumers seemed to love it. Still a fiction. We still always had to charge enough to cover costs.

                Second, Even if we put the gimmicks aside, a redistribution not gathered is in absolutely no way the same as a redistribution not given. In the former case we have the producer of something of value who is required to give a portion of what he produced to another, thus affecting incentives to produce. The latter is a redistribution to a non producer, which similarly affects the incentives and rewards of the non producer to non produce.

                Oddly, if not mistaken, the very logic behind the EITC stresses this difference. The intent is to make work more rewarding relative to leisure.

                Third, I have no love of the convoluted tax scheme created by politicians in great part for their own power. I agree they are trying to create relative winners and losers to fund the game for more political patronage. That said, the public goods supplied by the government do require funding.Report

              • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                This is another variation of the “You Didn’t Build That” argument.

                You assume you earned all the things you own, without seeing the invisible supports and subsidies that were crafted to make that happen.

                I’m challenging the legitimacy of your claim.

                Zooming up to the meta level, I am saying that you literally do not own 100% of the things you think you do- that there is a legitimate lien that can be claimed by the community on the fruits of your labor, a mortgage owed.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

                I don’t mind “you didn’t build that”. I mind “therefore, we are going to be charging you a fee on behalf of system maintenance”.

                I assure you, the people who see themselves as keepers didn’t build it either. And whatever they are doing doesn’t look much like maintenance.Report

              • Notme in reply to LWA says:


                If i paid for the stuff out of my own pocket then yes, i do deserve it. This is opposed to some who thinks they deserve a (blank) bc they are a mouth breathing meatbag.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Notme says:

                I would be the last one to take LWA’s side on anything, but I will argue that being a member in a society can have duties and obligations attached to it. Included in these duties can be a requirement that we each pay X % of our income in excess of Y in support of the infrastructure and well designed safety nets of the society.

                Of course, to avoid people like LWA and ACIS ( I think this is a new crime drama) from exploiting those they dislike, it is essential that the members of society have sufficient voice and exit options.

                But that said, I am sure you and I agree more than we disagree, especially compared to the statist master distributors amongst us.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                I will argue that being a member in a society can have duties and obligations attached to it.

                I totally and absolutely am 100% willing to sign on with this. I am totally and absolutely willing to discuss the duties and obligations of everyone. How much are these duties and obligations up for negotiation? Are there any members of society whose duties and obligations are not, in fact, up for discussion or negotiation?

                To what extent am I allowed to be involved in calling for norm enforcement against those who I see as not pulling their weight?Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                To what extent am I allowed to be involved in calling for norm enforcement against those who I see as not pulling their weight?
                I think that’s the charm of a basic, minimum income. That’s the point where, while you might chide, but you get over it.Report

              • LWA in reply to Jaybird says:

                The negotiation is what is occurring right here, and at every election time.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

                Negotiations seem to revolve around why other people shouldn’t be negotiating with what’s expected of others.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Shut up”, he negotiated.Report

              • ScarletNumber in reply to Glyph says:


                +1 for the allusion to the greatest line ever written.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Jaybird says:


                Exactly! With duties and responsibilities comes commensurate input on the duties and responsibilities of others. When I said exit and voice I meant it. To avoid the exploitation of the productive by the unproductive (which many “progressives” do indeed sadly relish), there needs to be reasonable opt outs and voice on the details.

                If I agree to pay twenty five percent of what I earn over twenty five thousand, I also want input on what it takes to qualify for protection under the safety nets. Of course the details of how we negotiate this are indeed messy. In general, I suggest smaller states where possible with opt outs on programs in advance.

                This would pave the path to reasonable safety nets and minimal exploitation. My voice, as expressed here, is that I support safety nets with strong work obligations. In other words, it looks more like insurance than redistribution. I am anti free rider, and anti rent and privilege seekers, whether corporate, personal or governmental. Rent seekers are social parasites. Parasites suck. Literally.

                Note: by free riders I mean able bodied people who are capable of working but don’t. Any society which doesn’t take care of the infirm, elderly or children is simply barbaric.Report

              • Dave in reply to LWA says:


                You assume you earned all the things you own, without seeing the invisible supports and subsidies that were crafted to make that happen.

                This argument needs to die a horrible death because it fails to take into account that the invisible supports and subsidies are available to all companies in a given marketplace.

                If Company A has a larger share of the widgets market than Company B, is that because of the invisible supports and subsidies available to both A & B or does it have to do more with reasons unique to Company A (superior product, better management team, marketing, etc. etc.).



                Tell me how the invisible supports and subsidies played into the rankings for each of these companies.

                Good luck.Report

              • LWA in reply to Dave says:

                Are you seriously trying to argue that corporations amass market share solely due to a level and impartial playing field?Report

              • Dave in reply to LWA says:


                Answer my question.

                Tell me how the invisible supports and subsidies played into the rankings for each of these companies.

                I’m not suggesting that companies don’t use rent seeking to gain competitive advantage, but I want to put a bullet in the head of the idea that somehow “society” at large, through “invisible supports and subsidies” has a strong influence on market share, especially in markets dominated by large companies each with the ability to influence the political and rulemaking process.Report

              • LWA in reply to Dave says:

                I’m not sure why the topic shifted to market share, rather than overall wealth and success.
                Wealth and success are in fact strongly determined by rent seeking, favoritism, and priviledge.

                The Lockean homesteaders had the government helpfully exterminate the Native Americans from their land, yet are still held up as exemplars of sturdy individualism;
                Thousands of farmers received free electrical distribution courtesy the New Deal era taxpayers, yet they and their heirs rail against welfare handouts;
                Millions of property owners outside major cities received a windfall of wealth when the taxpayers ran the Interstate near them; yet proudly tell us how bootstrappy they are.

                Trace the history of any large corporation, and you will find a taxpayer gift.Report

              • Dave in reply to LWA says:


                I’m not sure why the topic shifted to market share, rather than overall wealth and success.

                Because it shows a glaring hole in the “you didn’t build that” argument. At some point, something other than privilege, rent seeking or favoritism separates competitors in a market. Look at Ford vs. Toyota. Both are major corporations and both, as you say, are recipients of “taxpayer gifts”. Both have more than enough resources and privilege to achieve rent seeking and favoritism, so much so that I’d consider them equals in that department. I’ll even meet you halfway for the sake of this argument and assume that their “gifts” in some way produce a baseline that provides a high probability of success.

                Does any of this have anything to do with why Ford sells more cars than Toyota? No. At some point, how firms respond in competitive markets are going to play into the equation. This is Business 101.

                Also, let’s look at a different example – the Mom and Pop hardware store vs. Home Depot. Are the owners of these stores successful because of rent seeking, favoritism and privilege or have they found ways to stay in business despite the nearby competition?

                Where I live, small businesses have some degree of geographic advantage keeping the big box retailers away, but these businesses have also been around for a very long time and built their businesses and reputations from scratch. No amount of taxpayer gift can account for the level of service these places provide, a level that is substantially greater than what you’d get in a big box store. That must count for something because the big box retailers haven’t run them out of business.

                With respect to the rest of your comment, you seem to be bothered by the fact that people take pride in the work they do and not give the government the proper due for it’s contributions. Maybe there are more important things to think about. Who knows.Report

              • LWA in reply to Dave says:

                OK if you are arguing that skill and merit do in fact play some component in success, well I am in complete agreement.

                I’m not sure why this blows a hole in the You Didn’t Build That argument;
                One component is individual skill and effort, another is community support and contribution.
                YDBT is saying we should acknowledge that a certain portion of the fruit of our labor is the result of that community contribution, and the community rightfully has claim to it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

                the community rightfully has claim to it.

                How far are we willing to go with this?

                The death penalty?
                The Lottery?Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:


                You are just shifting your arguments around in the hope one finally sticks.

                I am fine with the assumption that a member in good standing of a society owes obligations to said society. I would add the caveat that the individual needs to have exit and voice options, but let’s let that pass for now.

                My original argument is on incentives. If you incentivize non work and non productivity , you will tend to get more of it. If you tax or disincent work and productivity you will tend to get less of it. The net result of this dual action is less pie divided among same number of people. Not a good thing if you like pie.

                Thus I recommend programs which both help the poor and encourage them to add value to fellow humans via reciprocal service (they add value to others, we or better yet those served pay them). I caution against programs which create free riding and needless redistribution from the productive to the unproductive. Programs can be structured well or poorly. I am far structuring them well.Report

              • zic in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                I think it’s important to recall that (outside disability,) people get limited public assistance, and besides food stamps, only receive public assistance for a couple years.

                There is great value in transitional aid; and people who cannot transition typically have other stuff going on, be it health problems (including mental illness), family issues, drug addiction, etc.

                I also think there’s a lot of stuff — farm aid and defense contracts — that are forms of generation dependence on government that are presented as independence and entrepreneurship.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to zic says:


                I agree with transitional aid and safety nets. Completely. I also agree handouts to agribusiness and such are total BS.

                I am against free riding and rent seeking in all its guises. That is why I am suggesting productive aid to those really in need with value creating incentives, not its opposite.Report

              • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Actually, I completely agree with you- work is important, and duties are reciprocal.
                I mentioned before that if we apply a duty to help, there is a reciprocal duty to work.Report

              • zic in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                The top fifty percent of income earners pay virtually all income tax. I rather think this suggests a problem of too many incomes too low, actually.

                Income inequality creates structural weakness within the tax system; and it’s a matter of policy or not if we choose to broaden the base through regulating wages or fostering opportunity or we can continue to just live with the balance as it is and decide that it’s not the structural weakness people talking about income inequality seem to think it is.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to zic says:


                I am strongly pro inequality when structured in a productive manner. We should design the system to reward those producing unimaginable value for others with unimaginable riches. Then if we are lucky, we will get countless zillionaires and all our problems are solved. Entrepreneurs, inventors and such are the driving force of human prosperity.

                I agree though that there can be problems if too few pay too much of taxes. The masses can be tempted to use democracy to “get” the wealthy and the productive . Certainly that happened in 1938 in some places. There is always a Jew somewhere to be found. We forget this at great risk.Report

              • zic in reply to Cardiff Kook says:


                I have no idea why you brought Jews into this discussion; and it didn’t serve you well.

                The economy is driven by consumer spending; if most workers are so poor they cannot pay taxes, they’re also not helping improve the economy with spending. It’s a matter of balance; not of ideology. If we pay subsistence-level wages to half the workforce, we’re going to end up with subsistence-levels of economic growth.

                This discussion veers wildly confusing working poor (WalMart workers) and non-working in pretty confusing ways; but all the incentives to work in the world don’t change the fates of on-demand laborers who can’t meet their basic needs and can’t contribute to the tax base, despite their work.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to zic says:


                Perhaps the substantive part of my argument was lost in the above threads. To clarify I am arguing for a living wage for every able bodied person. To do so, I recommend a subsidized labor pool where employers compete for talent rather than a guaranteed handout for not participating.

                Here is the link on the details:


                Minimum wage is counterproductive as it tends to affect non heads of household, it tends to make it economically infeasible to hire anyone with marginal productivity below the floor, it benefits the more skilled unfairly vs the unskilled and is discriminatory in effect against youth and minorities and it makes society less evonomically efficient (effectively making the pie smaller for all).

                The above linked program provides guaranteed employment, guaranteed living wages and does so in a way which pressures Walmart to be a better employer, while simultaneously addressing all the above points. It is a better idea than guaranteed income or minimum wages.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to zic says:


                Re: inequality and MW. Yes, inequality is bad, but the gap you are thinking of is not the only gap.

                Questions I don’t have data to answer (& don’t have time to hunt for):

                From the cities/states that have set higher MWs, what is the effect of raising the MW for jobs in the next quintile up? i.e. If the local MW is hiked to $X, what happens to the wages of the jobs that were paying $X?

                Does their pay go up? Why? Is it because employees costs went up, or because employers had a hard time filling jobs at that rate now that the cost of marginal labor is set at $X? (i.e. wages aren’t just pay, they are also social signalling).

                What about the next quintile above that? If there is a ripple. where does the ripple stop. and how strongly is it felt at certain points up the wage ladder?Report

              • j r in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                To say what @oscar-gordon is saying in a different way: a positive shock to nominal wages is never enough to spur growth in real GDP.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to j r says:


                Well, I don’t know that is the case, perhaps it would spur growth. What I am saying is that enough cities & states have hiked their minimum wages that we should have data on what happens to people above the marginal wage worker.

                For instance, SeaTac just spiked its minimum wage a few years ago. What is the ripple effect? Have costs gone up for affected businesses? Have they lost business to cheaper surrounding areas? Did wages go up for people making more than the MW?

                Did the inequality gap lessen, or did we just shift the baseline?Report

              • j r in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                I was thinking about a positive wage shock across the whole economy, for example what would happen if congress passed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15. The chances are that, by itself, would not automatically lead to a boost in real GDP.

                The sort of local minimum wage hikes that we’ve seen, I’m not sure what the effect will be. It’s possible that we will see an increase in economic activity in those areas. The question is whether we’ll see a corresponding drop in activity in surrounding areas.

                From a purely academic standpoint, I’m glad that it’s happening. There ought to be a lot of economists studying the effects and that will add to what we know about the topic.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

                A fee not charged IS a check delivered.

                By whom?Report

        • ACIS in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

          “incentivizes free riding and passive exploitation. Why contribute reciprocally with others when I can get a check for sitting at home all day?”

          This sounds like the typical conservative greed argument that fails to account for much of reality. People get bored sitting at home all day, at least most people do. I know people who are disabled and have no choice but to mostly sit at home all day, and their worst complaint is the lack of mental stimulation inherent in it.

          People will find things to do. Many of them will be interesting things. Many of them will be things that benefit society. You’ll see a rise in civic clubs, in hobby clubs, and in people utilizing resources like public parks.

          There are far worse things in the world than having a small percentage of the population engaging in their own devices, instead of worry about where their next meal is coming from.Report

          • LWA in reply to ACIS says:

            Odd how the layabout argument never rises during discussions on inheritance, and why we must forbid it so as to not create a generation of lazy bums who sit around on their parent’s wealth.

            If a guaranteed income led to laziness, one would expect empirical evidence- for instance, wealthy people suddenly stopping work and spending their days surfing in Fiji or something.
            Yet we are reminded, time and again by conservatives that Wall Street bankers work oh so very hard.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

              Assuming my plan somehow got off the ground…

              I think that initially there would be a period of people enjoying the bump in pay and the free time, while employers scrambled to find ways to attract employees or somehow deal with the loss of marginal workers.

              I suspect that, should the program sustain for even a few years, what we’d see if people going back to work, employers making more of an effort to appeal to employees through non-economic means (improving the workplace, providing training, etc.), and a lot of people finding a way to go to school and learn a trade of some kind so they could better position themselves to re-enter the workforce.

              I think the full-time layabout on the dole will be about as rare as the full-time trust fund kid.Report

            • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:

              I completely agree that large inheritance leads to laziness and dysfunctional generations. I am not a fan of leaving much money to my kids, especially when they are younger. But what is your point? That I should wag my finger at billionaires? OK. Consider it wagged at all reading this blog.

              Yes, guaranteed income for able bodied working age people in the amount of thirty thousand per family would reduce the need to gain employment ( and would incentivize not marrying). I am not sure that anyone arguing the opposite is even being serious.Report

            • Dave in reply to LWA says:


              Yet we are reminded, time and again by conservatives that Wall Street bankers work oh so very hard.

              You mean to tell me they don’t?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Dave says:

                Compared to whom?Report

              • LWA in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The maids and farmworkers with whom they would love to trade places, I guess.Report

              • Dave in reply to Mike Schilling says:



                You’ve heard of bankers hours, right? 9 to 5? When I was at one of the i-banks, the running joke was 9 am to 5 am, only it wasn’t a joke.

                120 hours plus a week for analysts and first and second-year associates isn’t uncommon. I was pulling 90 hours during my most active periods, but I wasn’t technically in the banking track when I was there.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Dave says:

                There are people (not me, thank,God) who work that hard for far less reward.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                So they do work hard. Sometimes snarks backfire. I’ve had a few do so too. Let’s move on. LOLReport

              • Dave in reply to Mike Schilling says:


                While that’s true, and I don’t mean to sound judgmental towards anyone no matter what work they do, the successful people at the banks generate high amounts of revenue. Back at the height of the real estate market, I was working indirectly on a M&A deal that generated about $100 million in fees and profits between the advisory fees, the financing fees and whatever spreads were made on raising and placing additional capital. It was a very large deal but that gives you an idea of the kind of fees that can be made in the more substantial M&A transactions. I think the advisory fee was something like $30 million.

                Another example: if we advise on a $500 million real estate transaction, maybe the fee we get on that is 25-50 bps. An IPO of that size gets 7%.

                With these kinds of fees involved, it’s no wonder people bust their asses to squeeze in as much transaction volume as humanly possible in as short a time as possible. I saw that firsthand on the CMBS side when the mortgage backed securities pools going into the market went from $500 million or so in 1999 to 2000 to as high as $10 billion in 2007. The more volume, the more you make.

                I don’t miss that business.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Dave says:

                And every so often they do stuff that requires $700 billion in bailouts to avoid destroying the world economy. But, you know, not all that often.Report

              • LWA in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                And they forge documents and seize houses they don’t own.
                But its not like they changed grades or something heinous like that which is why they were given a mulligan.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to LWA says:

                Not to go down that rabbit hole, but seriously, WTF was the DA trying to prove? And why the hell did he have criminal codes with such harsh penalties at his disposal that he could lay against them?Report

              • Both good questions. I assumed that because test scores help determine school funding (and, at the far end of that, which schools get closed), that it was charged as fraud.Report

              • Dave in reply to Mike Schilling says:


                “They” is too broad and the investment banking side of the business had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, the trading side of the business dominates profits and the C-suites. If I recall, it was the traders that pushed to uproot the traditional partnership structure of the investment banking firms and go public.


                But its not like they changed grades or something heinous like that which is why they were given a mulligan.

                Assuming that given a mulligan means avoiding prosecution, there’s probably a good reason for it – the chance of successfully prosecuting senior management was somewhere between zero and zero.

                When the government went after Angelo Mozilo and forced him into a settlement, it was for civil fraud. The government’s case against Standard and Poors was for civil fraud.

                The people in the Justice Department aren’t stupid. If they don’t think that they can devote substantial resources to high profile prosecutions without a good chance of winning a case, they aren’t going to try. Given that the government lost a high profile case when it attempted to prosecute two hedge fund managers from Bear Stearns, that ship sailed long ago.Report

              • LWA in reply to Dave says:

                Got it-

                The System is Just;
                The System produced Outcome A;
                Therefore Outcome A is just.Report

              • Dave in reply to LWA says:


                The System is Just

                I’d say it is what it is. Apply that to Outcome A as well. I made no subjective claims about justice in my comment so I don’t know why you’re doing it here.Report

              • LWA in reply to Dave says:

                Maybe we’re just saying the same thing-
                They got a mulligan for their crimes because they were rich and powerful, which is why there wasn’t a good chance of prosecution.Report

              • Dave in reply to LWA says:


                Maybe we’re just saying the same thing-
                They got a mulligan for their crimes because they were rich and powerful, which is why there wasn’t a good chance of prosecution.

                I’ll meet you halfway (maybe it’s a little more than halfway). Being rich and powerful gave them more than enough resources to vigorously fight off any prosecution, so much so that the government could have only pursued a criminal fraud case if 1) the probability of a conviction was near 100% and 2) the people being prosecuted were significantly high enough in the organization to make it worthwhile.

                I think the loss in the Bear Stearns case threw cold water on the Justice Department’s ambitions as well.Report

              • Kim in reply to LWA says:

                currents run deeper than you see (there were plenty of mensches in the banking industry too). And people have been punished for rampant redlining in the runup to the great crash.

                I’ll just note that not all punishment is legally obtained… and leave it at that.Report

          • Cardiff Kook in reply to ACIS says:


            Yes, I was giving the conservative greed argument. It is number 27 in the conservative greed handbook of pithy comebacks. You found me out!! Damn.

            On a serious note, I am sure some people will find something useful and socially productive to do. We could argue over what percent. But absolute loafing was neither my initial assumption nor necessary for my argument to hold true. All that is necessary is that we change the incentives so that on net we encourage people do less socially constructive activities on their own than they would if being paid a wage by one human to do something another human voluntarily agrees to.

            Voluntary employment is almost always socially productive (otherwise why are consumers paying for it?)

            “You’ll see a rise in civic clubs, in hobby clubs, and in people utilizing resources like public parks.”

            Wanna bet? My reading on the literature is that these activities are inversely related to free riding. That if you go into areas with high percentage of financial aid to those of working age you will find less civic involvement, fewer clubs, lower rates of volunteering and so on. Even if they are the same though, the net result in lost productive value to fellow humans is measurable via lost hours worked times average productivity.

            “There are far worse things in the world than having a small percentage of the population engaging in their own devices, instead of worry about where their next meal is coming from.”

            When did I say anything about them needing to worry about their next meal? I objected to somebody giving someone like me a free handout (paid via a third party) without expecting anything in return. My specific objection is if you reward adding no value you will get more of nothing and more of nothing is not a good recipe for a flourishing society. Got it?

            My suggestion was a guaranteed income with work requirements where bosses and employees could choose each other as per the link I attached above. It would lead to living wages for all able bodied humans, lead to better worker conditions, hold employers and employees accountable, improve on job development, and eliminate free riding. Feel free to critique the recommendation.Report

            • ACIS in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

              That was one of the most disgusting comments I ever read, filled with nothing but the bigotry I have learned to expect to see from conservatives.

              My reading on the literature is that these activities are inversely related to free riding. That if you go into areas with high percentage of financial aid to those of working age you will find less civic involvement, fewer clubs, lower rates of volunteering and so on.

              If you go into areas with “high percentage of financial aid” right now you’ll find people working multiple jobs, or spending the equivalent of full-time employment while facing all sorts of other time-sinks trying to maintain the level of financial aid that keeps food on their plates and shingles over their heads.

              If you go into those areas you will find people scraping by, trying to do the best they can. And you will find a lot of them doing a lot of good by their neighbors nevertheless, helping others with vehicle troubles or rides when they can, helping others repair things with scraps and duct tape and baling wire when they can.

              Give those people a basic income, the resources that you take for granted in your greedy outlook on life, and watch them shine, @cardiff-kook .Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ACIS says:

                Are there examples of this sort of thing happening?

                I mean, surely we have data on this. What does the data on this show?Report

              • ACIS in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes, @jaybird , there are examples and they show that the conservative stock claim is disconnected from reality.


              • Jaybird in reply to ACIS says:

                I’m not asking for “examples”, ACIS. I mean, I could write a short essay about how the immigrants who move to the suburbs of Paris who happen to be receiving government assistance show a much greater engagement with religious groups than the ones who aren’t but I’m pretty sure that you’d call that a strawman.

                In any case, your example is not one of “giving people welfare” but “giving people living in developing countries cash aid as opposed to other aid”. You’re not mapping 1:1 to what we’re arguing here. You’re changing the subject.Report

              • j r in reply to ACIS says:

                Yes, @Jaybird , there are examples and they show that the conservative stock claim is disconnected from reality.

                Stock conservative claim… right. Progressives just love giving money away with no strings attached. I guess that’s why so many progressives are out there championing a universal income or school vouchers.Report

              • Kim in reply to j r says:

                Most liberals are about as stuck in the past as most conservatives.
                47% of current American jobs gone in 20 years, and that’s the rosy outlook. If we lose computer programmers as well (that’s 50/50 chance, btw), well, I think you can take my point.

                Universal Income may be the only humane way forward. And we’re going to need the whole left to get it (even the lefties who call themselves–with good reason–conservatives) — because the reactionaries on the right are pretty powerful, and they’re doing a lot better at aggregating wealth to themselves, because their path to gaining wealth is far easier than “improving productivity”.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to j r says:

                “People used the money to buy cows and start businesses.”

                No one got the conservative/liberal irony there? Note the region has a minimum rural wage of near $0.36/hr and the folks CHOSE to engage in means of production even at that level.Report

              • ACIS in reply to j r says:

                School vouchers are just a scam to break the 1st amendment and funnel tax money to religious groups.Report

              • j r in reply to ACIS says:

                School vouchers are just a scam to break the 1st amendment and funnel tax money to religious groups.

                It is almost as if the same algorithm that created @notme decided that it needed to bring balance to the force.Report

              • Kim in reply to j r says:

                oy, yes. Except notme is pithier.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to j r says:

                Owww! Hot coffee through the nose!Report

              • Notme in reply to j r says:


                No algorithm, just my own special je ne sais quoi or maybe it’s my joie de vivre.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ACIS says:

                It doesn’t break the First Amendment if the voucher is given the parents first. Once they use the voucher, the government is no longer respecting an establishment of religion: the parents are. A prohibition against the use of vouchers is a violation against the Free Exercise clause of the first amendment as well as the part dealing with Freedom of Speech insofar as you’re banning the use of vouchers based on the content of the speech used by the teachers/administrators.

                Should the government be giving money to Catholic Schools? No. Hell no.

                Should the government be giving money to parents to choose a school? I am willing to argue about this one.

                If the government gives money to parents to choose a school, should any school that successfully meets State Requirements for education be taken off of the table? It’s wrong-headed to prefer schools that don’t meet State Requirements for education over ones that do because the ones that do refer to the existence of gods unironically.Report

              • ACIS in reply to Jaybird says:

                It doesn’t make money criminally gained if the mafia deposits it in the accounts of their perfectly legitimate laundromat for a month before the laundromat pays the mafia’s bills?

                Or maybe the two are the same thing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ACIS says:

                Are the parents the mafia in this analogy? And the schools are the laundromat?

                What’s the children here?

                I’d argue that if the mafia gives the laundry money to wash clothing, provides clothing, and gets clothing back that has been successfully cleaned, it looks, to all appearances, that the laundromat was doing what it was created to do.

                Compare to a laundromat that either doesn’t get clothes, then doesn’t clean the clothing it does get, and just throws the clothing away or maybe gives it back but it’s scorched or smells funny but, hey, it’s not related to the mafia… except there’s another gang that is telling you that you *MUST* use “Scorchy McSmellsbad Laundromat” instead of “Mafia Cleaners” because they don’t want money going to the mafia.

                Which brings me to:

                What’s the goal of the laundromat? Clean clothing?

                Seems to me that the vouchers should be usable at different laundromats and the people who think that Mafia Cleaners does the best job of making clean shirts should be able to go to Mafia Cleaners.

                Especially if they’re sick of government-approved schools not educating their children.

                They should at least have clean clothing.Report

              • ACIS in reply to Jaybird says:

                Money laundering schemes to divert tax money to religious institutions violate the 1st amendment no matter how you misrepresent it @jaybird .Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ACIS says:

                Here’s one that you can use in the future and, bonus, it’s used incorrectly most times that it’s used so you’ll have a lot of company.

                “You’re begging the question.”Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to ACIS says:

                That was one of the most disgusting comments I ever read

                What, do you not preview your own comments before submitting?

                Come to think of it, that actually explains a lot.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Brandon Berg says:


                I suspect MA is backReport

              • Dave in reply to Cardiff Kook says:


                I suspect MA is back

                Well, we did decide to open an OT child care service so I’m not surprised if he/she/it came back for circle time and a daily nap.Report

              • Dave in reply to ACIS says:


                That was one of the most disgusting comments I ever read, filled with nothing but the bigotry I have learned to expect to see from conservatives.

                How many times am I going to have to tell you to chill out?

                I grow very weary of your whiny ass shit. Stop.Report

              • Mr. Blue in reply to ACIS says:

                I wonder if ACIS seethes at people who use their government assistance to sign their kids up for daycare at the local church. Or people who use Pell Grants to attend a Catholic school.

                Maybe if we look at it right, we can actually use the First Amendment to defund organized religion. We are all subjects of the government, through the benefits we receive, are we not? And church and state should remain separate, no?

                But seriously, the difference between government funding going to Notre Dame through Pell Grants and the difference between vouchers going to Catholic school is lost on me, even though I am mostly against “school choice” in any form.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                School choice is a weapon to eliminate public schooling, to introduce a sort of apartheid where the rich get good schooling, and the rest of us get a shitty, shitty education where learning about evolution is unnecessary.

                This is not to say that there aren’t stalkinghorses who actually believe in school choice, or even that a handful of charters aren’t actually doing some good.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

                Eh. There are a lot of class issues with school choice.

                Mostly because the rich already get good schooling. Public schools in my part of town are awesome. Good teachers, good clubs, good sports programs, good band programs, good theater programs.

                If you just assume that the schools on the other side of the tracks are just as good, it’s easy to assume that the people who live there who are agitating for school vouchers are ones who just want to eliminate public schooling.

                Out of curiosity, was school inequality better or worse back when we allowed schools to say that Evolution was “just a theory”?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                It is easier to see proponents of school choice as solely parents in crappy school districts who just want better schools if you ignore the private school companies who have been agitating for school choice and SoCons who want the gov to pay for their religious schools.

                There just isn’t one group ( parents of kids is poor school districts) vs one group (public school supporters). The pro school choice movement certainly has parents who want better for their children. I’m very sympathetic to them. I’m much less sympathetic to parents looking for funding for religious schools. I’m suspicious of the various private school corporations who want to carve out a pile of public money for themselves. There have been those on the right who have talked about getting rid of public schools so it isn’t exactly wrong to think there are people whose aim is to get rid of public schools. Since you know, people have directly said that.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Jaybird says:

                Adding on to Jaybird. I take art classes at night in both of my local high schools. They are absolutely unbelievably awesome. Gorgeous campuses, all the amenities including Olympic indoor pools, full modern theaters, all the technology a kid would ever need, and so on.

                Then I see the school that my grandson has to go to. Bad teachers, bad principal, underfunded, a dysfunctional school board, a union which strikes for the first month of school (legitimately considering the school board), a bureaucracy which believes honors classes are elitist and so on.

                The difference is that my grandson lives in a poor, low property value, overwhelmingly minority, somewhat non English speaking neighborhood.

                The parents in Advantaged school district want nothing to do with choice. They love what they have– a guilded education system protected from both the institutional insanities and the student body of the other side of the tracks.

                I will say that education has one complicating factor which must be addressed by the school choice advocates. This is something nobody talks about but everyone knows. That is that one of the most important things in education is the peers in your child’s class. Thus there is a dysfunctional dynamic where everyone wants to get their kid in class with other well behaved smart kids (or what they assume are such) and out of schools with the opposite. Currently they do this via property values, but my guess is that will do something else in a choice environment.

                School choice is a fine idea to experiment with, and a necessary one to address the above inequities and institutional bureaucracy and rent seeking. However, it must come to grips with the nobody wants to let their kids get educated with “bad” kids (perceived or real) issue.Report

              • Chris in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                I think it’s best said that ACIS seethes, period.

                I must say that his current tenure here has lasted much longer than I predicted.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Chris says:

                To echo @dave : play nice, please. If you don’t think this applies to you, it’s still something that we ask everyone to do, so even if you don’t think this is aimed at you, please play nice anyway.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                Maybe ACIS’s argument does have merit. We could end Pell Grants and government-subsidized (and/or government-guaranteed) loans. We could then fully fund state universities, with the caveat that students must attend the nearest one. We could make them pay full-freight to the flagship university in the state capital, though for the sake of egalitarianism we should probably prohibit it altogether…Report

              • ACIS in reply to Will Truman says:

                First I’m accused of being someone’s mother, then a conservative asshole accuses me of “whiny ass shit”, @Burt Likko. You do a lousy job of following your own rules.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to ACIS says:

                I don’t care about your opinion on this subject, @acis .

                When I ask that everyone stop pissing in the swimming pool, pointing out that other people have previously pissed in the swimming pool does not earn you license to continue the whiz.

                Throwing criticism at me for issuing a generalized caution does not add luster to your claim to victimhood.

                A comment addressed at everyone is not aimed at any particular person. I did that because I did not and still do not care to dissect a comments thread and figure out who threw the first punch. I want the punching to stop, period, immediately.Report

              • Dave in reply to Burt Likko says:


                Final warning. Chill out or it will be done for you.

                You do a lousy job of following your own rules.

                Worry about the lousy job you’re doing or find another place to hang out.Report

              • Kim in reply to ACIS says:

                perhaps you ought to review the definition of asshole. A trip to urban dictionary might help. Burt may be many unflattering things, but an asshole isn’t one of them.Report

              • Mr. Blue in reply to Kim says:

                ACIS, in all seriousness. You know who you are. Everybody here knows who you are. And you shouldn’t even be here. That they have allowed this to play out is a generosity that you don’t particularly deserve. And even then, rather than being grateful for an opportunity to participate again, you instead come back with a sense of entitlement and persecution.

                You need to ask yourself why your behavior is so conspicuous that everyone figures out who you are over and over again, and why you attract the attention you do from Enforcement.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Mr. Blue says:

                Actually, I think we’re going to let that stand as the official end of our patience with this particular version of our sock puppet.



              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I’ll never get the whole Troll thing. It’s like they just can’t help themselves but be confrontational and rude.Report

            • Cardiff Kook in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

              Here is the a link on civic involvement. As I indicated, it reveals involvement is less for the poor and less educated.


              Charles Murray also wrote a book on the topic “Coming Apart” which was discussed on this site a few years ago, which provided more data on this phenomena within white America ( I have not read the book, though I recall skimming it at the library). It had data on church involvement and clubs and so on, and all were dramatically lower for the poor.

              Let’s remember what I am objecting to… Handing out checks to not work. What I am recommending is encouraging work though a guaranteed job program which would get the able poor back into the work force and back into civic engagement.Report

              • ACIS in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Here is the a link on civic involvement. As I indicated, it reveals involvement is less for the poor and less educated.

                You leave out the why. The poor and less educated are generally trying to subsist. They don’t have reliable transportation. They don’t have much to donate. They are often trying to fit multiple part-time jobs together for a subsistence income while battling housing and food insecurity. Fix all of THOSE problems and you’ll see a different result.

                All I see in your comments is the typical conservative demonization of the working poor.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ACIS says:

                “My point may have been refuted but the reason my point failed was because you’re a jerk.”Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to ACIS says:

                So you are granting that you were completely and totally wrong and that I was completely correct. OK. Now we get into the why. Please note that I in part agree with your solution that they need access to stable jobs. THAT IS WHAT I AM ARGUING FOR!

                Feel free to agree with this as well, but please quit calling me conservative. I am not and never will be a conservative. I am a classical liberal. I believe in a healthy state which supports free markets and science.

                Three legged stool: state, markets, science. This is the recipe of all modern developed states, though the details vary somewhat.

                Edit: Jaybird said it better! LOLReport

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Free Markets, Science and “Access to Stable Jobs” will be shortly incompatible. What will win, in your ideology?Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Kim says:


                Not sure why jobs will no longer be compatible with markets, science and government.

                Indeed my suggested link above to guaranteed jobs subsidized by the government seems to me to be a way to experiment with a world where marginal productivity of more citizens threatens to go below the necessary living wage.

                It is possible that technology can replace people at rates faster than people can adapt. I think a huge population of unemployed would be a terrible thing. The “choose your boss” program could offset this entirely, as it is pretty easy to exceed a marginal productivity of $40 per week. Indeed one would have to be actively counterproductive not to add this much value to others.

                And the link is indeed a blend of government redistribution/safety nets, markets and new technology.Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Tech’s going to put a lot of people out of work in the next few years. Not just truck drivers and taxi drivers. Accountants too, and fifty/fifty on computer programmers, if you trust the rosy projections. Doctors losing jobs as well (telemedicine, as well as knowledgebase computers and diagnostic equipment that needs less experience).

                But expect to see the most cratering in some of the lower skill jobs.

                Yeah, I suppose if you lowered the minimum wage to $40 a week, you’d still want carpet cleaners (and not an aibo to do it for you). But, um, really? Is that really the best we can do with people? If you leave people alone, they’ll find something to do… be it fixing cars, aesthetic improvements (Art!), or playing in a garage band.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Kim says:

                Our modern prosperity is based on the fact that we have formed a massive billion plus person network of reciprocal cooperation. People serve themselves by specializing in a way to serve others and then exchanging in a mutually beneficial way.

                Paying people to opt out and get a check for not contributing to their fellow man is counterproductive. It incentivizes opting out of the reciprocal network, and it does so by making participation in the network less rewarding.

                You are transferring $30K from those participating to those free riding. Bad incentives. I recommend getting everyone back into the game with a living wage and the freedom to choose their own boss. My recommendation creates a positive feedback system, yours introduces a negative feedback mechanism. Mine is self enriching. Yours self destructing.

                The fact that some will still do socially responsible stuff on their own is nice, but only affects the dynamic on the margin.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Kim says:

                Remote medicine isn’t going to put doctors out of business, but they *will* be more likely to operate out of a single location in a state where housing is cheap and malpractice laws favor the providers (pretty much the way credit-card companies work today.)Report

              • ACIS in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                You’re not right. You’re arguing that an apple isn’t an orange when people are talking about strawberries.Report

              • j r in reply to ACIS says:

                All I see in your comments is the typical conservative demonization of the working poor.

                Unless of course those working poor happen to be parents who want to send their kids to religious schools, in which case they are akin to money launderers for the mafia.Report

              • Kim in reply to j r says:

                Am I still allowed to demonize those who wish to defund education entirely? Because those are the people waiting in the wings when we start speaking of vouchers for religious schools… And they’ve got a good deal of power and influence.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

                I don’t know that there are that many people who want to “defund education entirely”.

                There might be a couple of nuts out there, but I think that there are many more out there who are saying something like “this school isn’t doing the thing that we want our schools to be doing, we’d rather send our children to a school that does what we want our schools to do and you already took our money so we’d like to use the portion of our taxes devoted to education and let us use that to pay off the schools that do what we want schools to do”.

                I’d compare to police departments.

                It’s not the idea of police that is so offensive to people.

                It’s that this or that particular police department is so very toxic that we’d be better off disbanding the police.

                There are some schools that we’d be better off without entirely.Report

              • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

                Kochs and their ilk are the folks I have in mind, Jaybird. So, yes, they are few in number, but they are also powerful people who wield a lot of influence.

                People who don’t want to pay for any government that doesn’t directly benefit them (at the expense of other people) annoy me. This is particularly so when they are wealthy enough that they could afford to live without any government at all.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

                People who don’t want to pay for any government that doesn’t directly benefit them

                I’m not talking about government that doesn’t directly benefit here.

                I’m talking about government that directly harms.

                The cops in my part of town are *GREAT* to people like me.

                That doesn’t mean that I should assume that the people who live on the other side of the tracks are equally well-treated by cops when they start talking about the need to disband the police department.Report

              • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

                yeah, I’m not exactly talking about you. I understand concerns about cops, truly. They are good concerns.Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                when 47% of american jobs will be gone in 20 years, I fear we got to ask “will we just be spending time now to train people, only to retrain them 4 times in the next two decades?”

                And that’s even leaving out the loss of enough jobs to make certain intelligence levels unfavorable to employment.

                Make work is still make work. At some point, it’s easier to give people money, and trust to their sex drive to have them produce Something Of Value.Report

            • Chris in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

              Time-traveling comments are still confusing me.Report

  14. Oscar Gordon says:

    Do I have a comment in mod?Report

  15. Oscar Gordon says:

    Cardiff Kook: My suggestion was a guaranteed income with work requirements where bosses and employees could choose each other as per the link I attached above.

    I do like the idea floated at the link.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Hey, it’s an even worse idea than modern day America, so it’s got that going for it.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


      I like Morgan’s idea well enough to take it if it were ever actually on offer as well. It’s a step forward, even though my preference would be a no-strings GBI.

      But the thing you propped the other day was to send everyone 30 grand a year for doing nothing (which disappears 1-to-1 with every dollar you earn up to 30k). That’s pretty different from Morgan’s proposal. You can totally like both; I also like Morgan’s as well as my own (which is to send everyone $15,000 a year that does not disappear as you work to earn money until you start earning in the neighborhood of $75,000). We can feel like we’d take Morgan’s if it were offered and nothing else was, and still prefer our own, making clear we’d take our own first if it were offered.

      So, to be clear, you still prefer your own proposal, yes?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Drew says:


        As I alluded to up above (the big comment), my original idea has weaknesses that I suspect would be fatal if it ever made it to law. So as stated, I’d have to decline it. But I’m a big enough person to know when my “good idea at the time” has enough holes to be sunk, and be OK with that.

        Really the whole post was me thinking out loud. And yes, I really do use “the other hand” approach when I work through things in my head (I blame Zero Mostel & a PBS pledge drive for influencing me at such an impressionable age). My conclusion is that jacking up the federal minimum wage as an anti-poverty measure is probably a market distortion that will have some pretty significant negative effects. I can understand cities who do this, especially if an urban area has a considerable cost of living index, but we should be careful when forcing that hike to other areas where the costs are lower.

        All said, however, I balk at the idea of forcing anti-poverty measures onto small business owners. I’d rather just find a way to do a direct transfer payment and perhaps provide some kind of education/training benefit for those who want to make more and are willing to train for work that we currently have demand for. And if the formal labor supply really is exceeding demand (such that targeted training won’t help), then we provide help in some fashion that at least provides for personal dignity (i.e. the link Cardiff provided).Report

        • Michael Drew in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Oh. Bummer.

          There are lots of ways to tweak your idea that could make it far more feasible. Eg. the amount. And the GMI element – make the M(inimum) a B(asic,) and add it onto earnings rather than eliminating incentive to work.

          I’m floating $15k, assuming it would come in below that ($12k is kind of an obvious option).

          Essentially this would separate out (a portion of) EITC into a separate check, so that people would actually see it and understand that they are getting it (which I think would be a good thing). But it would also alleviate poverty among the very poorest – those who can’t find jobs, such the vast population of people who are nearly locked out of the workforce due to criminal history. But it wouldn’t do too much to eliminate the incentive to find work – it’s still really hard to live on $1000 or $1250 a month (ahem). and if you kept that Basic Income payment each month no matter what you earned up tp the $75k range, then there also not be the implicit tax incentive not to work that strict means-testing for welfare set at low income levels as. (But yes, it would have some work disincentive effect.)

          Btw, there’s no reason the government couldn’t set up just the same kind of odd-job clearinghouse Morgan proposes, and even grease its skids with wage subsidies of a little less than Morgan proposes. Basically, I’m saying take part of the Wasrsler/EITC wage subsidies and give it to people up front.

          What do you think?

          I have to say, it’s a little weird if you’re going to propose giving people $30k one day, and then a couple days later decide you prefer a strict work requirement like Morgan has, when there are lots of ways to engage with ways to tweak something like your initial proposal to make it much more workable. I’ve described my idea about four times now, and you haven’t engaged with it that I’ve seen, even though it’s more like what you suggested that Warstler’s is, and is really the result of a fair amount of (perhaps misguided) thought about how to really make something kind of like (though much more limited than) what you proposed actually work.

          So are you just off the concept now? You do say you want no-strings “welfare,” but that could mean any kind of set of social services, not necessarily cash transfers (which is okay).Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Drew says:


            No, I’m not off the concept on ideological grounds, just off my original proposal on technical ones. Lots of folks in the discussions here have proposed tweaks and none of them have struck me as bad or unworkable (from tax incentives to the odd-job clearinghouse). I really just wanted to get away from the idea that we can alleviate or remedy poverty through minimum wage hikes, nor can we do it by making welfare something that is embarrassing or otherwise destructive to dignity*.

            The largest weakness of any GBI scheme is, to me, addressing the incentive to work (if it really is a problem; I’m sold on the logic of why it’s can be a problem, but I’m not entirely sure it would be a significant one, because people are not always rational in the way we expect), and dealing with fraud (the poor, infirm, & the homeless being preyed upon for their GBI money). As long as those issues are kept in sight & dealt with, I think something could be hashed out & made to work. Really, it’s the streamlining and potential efficiency gains that I think are the greatest strengths to such a scheme, and what would have to be focused on to sell such a thing to the population.

            people who are nearly locked out of the workforce due to criminal history.

            This was something I hadn’t even thought of! If there is a GBI, and it isn’t denied to those with criminal history (and it should not be; if someone is out of jail & done with probation, they’ve paid their debt & should have all their rights & entitlements restored), then the cost of keeping people with criminal histories out of the workforce will become a cost we all have to bear. It could help drive home the fact that we, as a society, are actively maintaining a welfare dependant criminal underclass because we can’t seem to forgive people.

            *Well, at least destructive from outside influence. Not much we can do for the person who is too proud to ask for help except send him a check. That said, people are going to have to be OK with the occasional parent who spends all the GBI on meth & forgets to feed the kids. Such people will have to be dealt with as they are identified, but they should not be a reason to end or alter the program in an attempt to stop that behavior.Report

            • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Oscar if you assume a GBI around the level that its proponents usually suggest: 10-the mid teens thousand dollars per year, roughly 1k and some change per month, the threat that it will diminish incentive to work seems very mild. You can live on a thousand bucks a month but you’ll be just scraping by at the very best. Now add 12k or so onto some minor full time job and you have a bit of money worth living under.Report

        • I blame Zero Mostel

          Was your other idea to teach the unemployed to sell 10000% of a sure-to-fail business?Report

    • Cardiff Kook in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      My experience* is that most GOOD IDEAS fail. But when they fail, they often do so for totally unexpected reasons. Often the things we thought wouldn’t work, do, and the things we were sure would be fine turn out to be disasters. New ideas dealing with human levels of complexity, regardless how good they sound, need to be carefully screened (they are infinite in number), then the best need to be carefully researched and tried in a small, dynamic, fast changing trial environments carefully protected from idealogues and bureaucracies dependent upon their survival.

      This of course isn’t always possible. Just ideal. I am all for local trials on guaranteed jobs or guaranteed checks. Governments are just real bad at this experimentation. If they got better at it, they would be able to solve orders of magnitude more problems and do so without creating as many negative externalities.

      * I was the corporate officer in charge of innovation and new product development at one of the largest insurance companies in the US.Report

      • ScarletNumber in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

        Cardiff Kook:

        * I was the corporate officer in charge of innovation and new product development at one of the largest insurance companies in the US.


        • Stillwater in reply to ScarletNumber says:


          I’m confused. Are you accusing the Kook of taking the same stuff as Rushbo?Report

        • Cardiff Kook in reply to ScarletNumber says:


          Kind of, yeah. Sadly. The best I can say about it is that I learned a lot about how to enact change in a change-resistant, absurdly regulated, giant bureaucracy.

          That said, I take a lot of pride that my work directly improved customer utility for millions of customers and indirectly for much of the auto insurance industry. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see an ad for a feature or consumer benefit which I helped develop or popularize back in the day.

          Oddly enough, I found being an upstart in a boring industry to be a blast.Report

      • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

        Most good ideas fail because they fail to be implemented for being too expensive.
        We have multiple countries planning the next iteration of apartheid, and at least one first world nation with genocide as the official plan to deal with climate change.

        There are other options.Report

        • Cardiff Kook in reply to Kim says:

          Actually most good ideas fail because they aren’t REALLY good ideas. Part of being a good idea is that it is capable of succeeding in the relevant environment. A good idea is first and foremost possible, and includes the path to success built into its implementation. A good idea which is not realistic is simply a pipe dream. See Bush’s Mid East policy.Report

  16. LWA says:

    Outdenting here for a bit.

    Part of what I would like to elaborate on is the idea of hidden subsidies, which is a poor term. I am thinking more of structural privilege or something.

    Our political world is constructed based on ideas of land and wealth that seem natural and self evident to us. Our physical world is constructed by what appears to be natural spontaneous orders- this land becomes a group of tract houses, that one becomes a dense urban core.

    We assume often that the rules are impartial and axiomatic, when in fact they are constructions, artificial things devised to favor those who craft them.
    This isn’t a conspiracy- its the natural tendency of everyone to see the world through their own lens.

    So when suburbanites vote for freeways, and spurn new buses, they think it just makes practical sense, not seeing how this is a benefit accruing to them.
    Money is forcibly taken from bus riders in the form of taxes, and given in kind to suburban dwellers who adamantly assert how self-made they are.

    Money is forcibly taken from my pocket, and given in kind to the children of dead authors, when their copyright is extended.

    As I mentioned in the globalization thread, money is forcibly taken from me to erect a legal system that forces me and a Chinese worker to compete, yet prevents us from cooperating.

    When the state says “This is a right, while that is not” it is conferring a benefit upon one person against another.
    When the state says “We recognize this claim, but not that one” it is conferring a benefit from one at the detriment of another.

    Our legal and political system is a series of gates and switches, chutes and ladders that boost this interest and hinder that one.Report

    • ACIS in reply to LWA says:

      Once long ago a man won something. Doesn’t matter what. It could’ve been a foot race, a fist fight, an election, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter was that that man realized that if he said he won because he was a man he could eliminate 50 percent of the competition.

      Then another man won something and realized if he said he won it because of the place he was from, he could eliminate more of the competition. Another added skin color, another religion, and so on and so on until eventually a pyramid was built with the winner on top and the elminateds only allowed a certain ways up the side based on how removed they were from the man.

      Then, when society would race the man near the top would look at all the people who must start much lower and saw that they still ran to catch him though only a lucky few were able to. So he told them “We are all running the same race. I am ahead of you because of how fast I ran. You just need to run faster”. And people being people they agreed this was so because once it had been so.

      To the few eliminateds who achieved the summit the man would show them how far they had come and praise them for their speed and strength, and the new man would agree that it was so. In agreeing, he often forgot those he had passed on the climb who had fallen though they too were fast and strong.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

      Money is forcibly taken from my pocket, and given in kind to the children of dead authors, when their copyright is extended.

      May I suggest reading stuff from prior to 1910? There’s some good stuff in there.Report

      • LWA in reply to Jaybird says:

        I already have the Communist Manifesto- what else is there?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        To dig more into this, my problem with Copyright is not the issue of whether I am obliged to pay for a book that I want to read and that some of that money goes to the children of the children of the original authors. That doesn’t bug me.

        Where copyright bugs me is with the idea that I cannot say something like “I’ve got a great idea for a story involving Popeye going to Middle Earth and beating the shit out of the Nazgul.” without paying to use these characters that OUGHT to be in the public domain.

        I don’t mind paying for access to the original work.

        I mind being told that I cannot have access to create my own original work.

        And the ironing involved with Disney being such a stickler about this when they ripped off fairy tales from the public domain to tell their own original stories just chaps my hide.

        But anyway: money isn’t being taken from your pocket when you choose to buy a copy of Lord of the Rings.

        It’s being taken from your pocket when you are told that you can’t sell your short story called “Longbottom Leaf”.Report

    • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:

      “Our legal and political system is a series of gates and switches, chutes and ladders that boost this interest and hinder that one.”

      You just gave the argument libertarians and classical liberals give for minimizing the reach of the state. Politics tends to be a zero sum game. Thus classical liberals recommend we keep the role of the state restricted to where it is necessary, allowing other issues to be solved via voluntary, positive sum orders.

      Thus the role of the state is primarily dealing with public goods, negative externalities and the enforcements of the rules and protocols (such as property rights, contract enforcement and rule of law) necessary for voluntary, mutually-beneficial actions.

      As the state grows in scope it increasingly encroaches into more and more zero sum activities and barriers to action (often to protect a powerful incumbent), and these lead over time to negative overall results.Report

      • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

        How can the state be reduced when those with power want it increased?

        In fact, even at its most ideal minimal size, it coercively takes money from all, to benefit the one set of people (those whose claims are recognized) and hinders others (those whose claims are not recognized.

        To test this theory, do a thought experiment:
        Imagine that the first European settlers in North America were libertarians.
        How would their interactions with the natives work out? Would it have ended any differently?Report

        • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:


          “How can the state be reduced when those with power want it increased?”

          I suggest you read Douglas North, Eric Jones or L. Birdzell. They and a half dozen other writers have taken on the issue of how states went from extractive, limited access orders of privilege and predation to the modern states with markets and democracy and science and Girl Scout cookies.

          “In fact, even at its most ideal minimal size, it coercively takes money from all, to benefit the one set of people (those whose claims are recognized) and hinders others (those whose claims are not recognized.”

          No, in its ideal size it establishes the types of impartial rules and regs and safety nets and redistributions which we would willingly choose behind a veil. To approach the ideal, classical liberals suggest such things as voice, a framework of minimalist intervention, constructive competition between and within states, and reasonable exit options so those feeling they are getting the short end of the stick can vote with their feet. These factors minimize exploitation and make the affair as mutually voluntary as possible.

          The modern breakthrough in living standards over the past three centuries occurred in the fragmented, easier than normal exit right conditions of Western Europe and the new world. Again, read North, Jones, Mokyr, Landes, and Birdzell for more details. I can supply the links for free summaries.

          “To test this theory, do a thought experiment:
          Imagine that the first European settlers in North America were libertarians.
          How would their interactions with the natives work out? Would it have ended any differently?”

          I assume they would have had to buy the land from the current occupants. I have no idea though how one transitions within a libertarian mindset* when negotiating between forager values and informal institutions and “civilized” values and formal institutions. What are your thoughts? Any libertarians want to chime in?Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

            The Dutch bought Manhattan. My recollection of that bit of American history is faded, so I can’t recall if it was a deal brokered at the end of a gun, or if it was a free exchange.

            I know some felt the deal was a raw one for the Native Americans, but unless it was done under duress, or it was somehow objectively dishonest (rather than a steal for the Dutch, in hindsight after the settlers built up the value of the land), it seems like a good model.Report

            • Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Manhattan was purchased from Native Americans who only held a minority of the island. It’d be like us selling Canada because we have Alaska.Report

            • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              It should also be noted that the natives had a very limited understanding of what they were “selling” the idea that they’d be excluded from that land or that it’d be changed so that they could no longer live or draw sustenance from it was likely pretty much alien to them.

              Assuming that the settlers were moral libertarians I suspect that it would have been very difficult for them to simply buy the land. They’d first need to be able to speak the natives languages and then explain exactly what it was they were requesting. Also they’d need a fallback plan for when the natives, once they began understanding what was being proposed, reached for their tomahawks in horror.Report

              • Glyph in reply to North says:

                Is the current understanding that what the natives *thought* they were selling was something like fishing/hunting rights to the land?Report

              • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                I think the concept of selling land wasn’t terribly part of their lexicon. So who knows what the hell they thought they were doing. But what was also not part of their lexicon was a full-scale population invasion…

                “We sell you rights to hunt here, and we won’t hurt you if we find you hunting here” is a plausible thing.

                Another plausible thing is “we’ll live side by side, you may have a village here” (congruent with the sense of “my land” as “area I have invested in”) and maybe grow crops, without a real sense that they were giving up the Entire Area For Good.Report

              • North in reply to Kim says:

                They didn’t really have villages so much as camp sites though. Semi permanent camp sites that they hopped back and forth from as the seasons changed maybe but really camp sites fundamentally.Report

              • Kim in reply to North says:

                The right to establish multiple camp sites, and to not get harrassed/killed for doing so, then.Report

              • North in reply to Kim says:

                We’re mostly in agreement really. The natives likely assumed they were selling the rights to use the land. Where they probably entirely missed the proverbial boat was the idea that the use they were selling was exclusive. I don’t know if exclusivity with regards to open land was very much on their horizon.Report

              • North in reply to Glyph says:

                I’m far from an expert but I believe that is the current understanding. The coastal tribal first nations people were hunter/gatherers. They moved about, hunted and fished. The concept of exclusive ownership of a static section of land was alien to them. If you’re a hunter/gatherer a static plot of land is virtually devoid of value; the game isn’t going to confine itself to a static plot; the climate will shift and the plot will be inhospitable at certain times of the year. You would have no reason to expend effort excluding others from it.

                So these Europeans show up and offer you things (which have distinct value to you as a hunter/gatherer) and in exchange ask for land. Note you’re both communicating in broken halting versions of each other’s language likely with much pantomime. As a hunter/gatherer of course you think they’re asking to be allowed to hunt/gather in your range of territory. What else could they desire?

                Also, an interesting libertarian question, the plagued the settlers brought with them represented an incredibly vicious externality. What would the correct libertarian response have been to that? Honestly, I’m not a libertarian myself but I suspect that there probably was not an acceptable way that libertarians could settle North America in that context. Maybe if they explored around a lot and found the Huron nation (they did practice a version of agriculture) or sailed south and bartered with the Mesoamerican nations for land rights (they definitely had some idea of such things).Report

              • Kim in reply to North says:

                Remember, there were extensive trade networks in North America… I’m hesitant to say that agriculture was something entirely foreign to the coastal Indians… (however, it is quite plausible that — without deception — it was not properly explained… it’s one thing to have a concept in a language, it’s another thing for it to spring to mind).Report

              • North in reply to Kim says:

                Just because they might have once traded some wampum or hides for a sack of maize does not mean that the coastal hunter/gatherers had any idea of how said maize was grown. Nor, for that matter, were the corn growing first nations people really growing their crops on exclusive plots of land they owned in perpetuity. As I understand the most common agriculture was to burn/clear a section of land to use for farming for a season or so then move on to a different one in the following year. So land ownership would have been sketchy for the growers themselves, let alone a distant tribe that might happen to trade for some of that produce.Report

              • Kim in reply to North says:

                Oh, people love to tell stories. A monoculture makes a great story…
                But I do agree, with the slash and burn ideas, there’s still not the idea of “English land rights” as we think of them now.Report

              • Chris in reply to North says:

                The tribes of the U.S. East coast, at least in the area that’s now New York City, were much more stationary. They had ranges, of course, which were used for hunting and agriculture, but they were pretty well situated and weren’t at all nomadic, from my understanding. The Wappinger, Lenape, and Mahican people all had large (often walled) villages with designated farm land outside of it, and established trading routes and relations with neighboring peoples and villages.They also had conceptions of and conventions for property ownership, including inheritance, though they weren’t quite like the European conceptions.

                A Mahican village:


              • North in reply to Chris says:

                That is fascinating. I was educated in Nova Scotia where the native Micmaq were emphatically nomadic and my understanding of native culture pre settlement is pretty peripheral. Though it’d beg the question as to why people who could set up villages like that would sell an entire island for a handful of beads.Report

              • Chris in reply to North says:

                I believe, as Glyph suggests, that the understanding was they were selling the rights to basically hang out, maybe build some stuff and go hunting, not to own the land in any meaningful sense.

                Though since they didn’t actually control the land, they may have been selling it to screw their neighbors who did.Report

              • zic in reply to North says:

                @north I highly recommend William Cronon’s book, Changes in the Land.


              • North in reply to zic says:

                I am much obliged Zic, thank you.Report

              • zic in reply to Chris says:

                As I understand it, there were (in the Northeast) two basic languages, algonquin and abenaki; each with many tribes, which can be thought of mostly as extended-family units. While speakers of the two languages traded, they also perceived each other as the enemy, and raided and made war. The Algonquin-speaking tribes had more fixed villages, the abenaki were more nomadic; but each had places where populations gathered through the year and traditional hunting and farming grounds. That image of a long house would be similar to a lodging built in any such place; rebuilt after being left vacant for part of the year, particularly by Abenaki-speaking tribes.

                Both were decimated by small pox, and both developed relationships with colonists; the Abenaki tended to align with French and the Algonquin with English. They were proxy soldiers in the French and Indians/King Philip’s Wars; a way for the french and english crowns to clash over territory without the expense of actually having to pay soldiers; and as their populations declined, european soldiers were paid with land they natives left uninhabited most of the time.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to North says:

                Good discussion. This is what I meant in my original comment of not knowing how modern state actors could even negotiate with foragers (though much of the Native Americas was of course agricultural with no such issue). Who negotiates with whom? Do the parties understand the ramifications? How does each side handle disputes or transgressions?

                Luckily, we do not have to answer it. It is a problem past as there are not enough foragers left to raise this to the level of a current problem (moment of silence for the sins of our ancestors).

                If it WAS a problem today, it is something which could the solved via common law and experimentation as countless settlers interacted with Countless foragers, each attempting to solve the problem in different ways with common law developing over the years and generations My guess is we could solve it if we needed to. I just have no idea how.Report

              • North in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                My cynical answer, Roger is that either we’d recognize the hideous externalities/power differentials and our modern governments would paternalistically forbid settlers from colonizing the ‘new world” (and enforce it) until the native inhabitants were capable of dealing with us on equal footing.

                Or, we’d individually work out compromises which would amount to individuals swindling and robbing the natives of their territories and history repeating itself.Report

              • j r in reply to North says:

                I’m no expert on the early colonization of the American continent either, but I think that it is a mistake to focus on the first stages. If my understanding is correct, the earliest stages of European settlers coming to America, at least North America, were relatively innocuous, at least in comparison to what was happening in Latin America and what occurred later. This is likely because North America was settled by small bands of settlers who almost immediately had to rely on native neighbors as trading partners. Whereas, Latin America was colonized by agents of imperial powers who were there specifically to claim land in the name of Spain and Portugal.

                The really shameful stuff that happened in North America came later and was not the result of any sort of misunderstanding. The Cherokees and others who were forcibly removed from their land to Oklahoma were not nomadic hunter gatherers. They were sedentary people with deeded title to their property. The U.S. government simply chose to ignore their property rights and evict them to make room for white settlers who wanted the land.

                Trying to tell this story in terms of competing property rights schemes misses the entire point that this is a story of white supremacy and legally enabled theft.Report

              • Kim in reply to j r says:

                Well put. even in Pennsylvania, where bargains were struck and kept, there was clear evidence of malfeasance on the white man’s part. “We will buy a day’s run to the west” was the deal, only to have the white man blaze a straight path and hire the fastest runner to nearly double the “intended” amount.Report

              • North in reply to j r says:

                Well JR the seeds of the later atrocities were planted in the initial more innocous settlements. Certainly the diseases themselves are a subject worthy of their own discussion. That said the comparisons then to now are apples to oranges. Our ancestors couldn’t realistically be held culpable for being pathogen vectors whereas if we suddenly discovered a “new world” today I think that modern humans could most emphatically be expected to be conscious of such considerations.Report

              • zic in reply to j r says:

                Actually, in N. America, the populations were light, and nearly wiped out by small pox (in some areas, up to 90%). So the few remaining people were pretty desperate for colonists/traders to settle, else there weren’t enough people for them to survive.

                Germ warfare was the first front.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to zic says:




                And MoreReport

              • Chris in reply to j r says:

                If my understanding is correct, the earliest stages of European settlers coming to America, at least North America, were relatively innocuous

                In North America, anywhere the Spanish weren’t, excluding the Caribbean for the French, this is mostly true.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to j r says:

                In defense of the settlers, the Indians didn’t build that.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

                It depends a lot on who did the colonizing. The French tended to have much better relationships with the Native Americans than the British colonists. A lot of British colonists did view the Native Americans as barbarians and savages. This was especially bad in the New England colonies, where the British wanted to set up a new civilization of godliness. Much of the proselytization was rather blunt.

                The French tended to have a much higher regard for the Native Americans. Catholic missionaries saw them as people of reason that just had the unfortunate tendency not to know the true faith. Protestant missionaries saw them as unruly pagans that needed to be disciplined by harshest Calvinism. Lay French colonialists were more likely to be impressed and adapt parts of Native American culture than British settlers. The French were more likely to intermarry to.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to North says:

                @ North
                As to the plague question, I think it would be important to identify the parameters. What was known and unknown at the time. Also what strategies were known and unknown at the time.

                It’s pretty easy at this point and time to look back and say “you were doing it wrong”.

                What do we think people 200 years from now will be saying about our externalities in this liberal democracy?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Joe Sal says:

                What do we think people 200 years from now will be saying about our externalities in this liberal democracy?

                “Still in all, every night we does the tell, so that we ‘member who we was and where we came from… “Report

              • North in reply to Joe Sal says:

                As I stated, Joe, our ancestors can’t realistically be held culpable for smallpox et all. They couldn’t even protect themselves from the diseases. But us, right now? We most assuredly would and should.Report

              • zic in reply to North says:

                @north maybe our ancestors can’t be held responsible for smallpox; but they can be held responsible for knowingly trading small-pox infected blankets.

                Some traders were participating in germ warfare, and I don’t have much problem with calling this a criminal thing and awful and don’t do that ever.Report

              • North in reply to zic says:

                I agree Zic, but those monsters do not, I think, indict their entire society. The initial infection vectors of smallpox were, I believe, by and large innocent. Now those vectors in todays society would not be considered innocent and if our modern societies permitted infection to transmit to a ‘new world’ the way it did in North America’s context they’d be uniquely morally deplorable in a manner that the old Europeans are/were not.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                Whichever country was in charge of doing that to the Natives, I hope their descendants rose up and threw off the chains of whatever horrible tyrant was in charge.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                If I remember correctly, the only documented instance of giving small-pox infected blankets to the Natives was by British troops, to the government responsible was the British. We should definitely kick them off the continent.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                (Munching popcorn… taking notes)Report

          • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

            All these things you desire-
            establish[ing] the types of impartial rules and regs and safety nets and redistributions which we would willingly choose behind a veil;
            a framework of minimalist intervention,
            constructive competition between and within states, and ;
            reasonable exit options

            are spoken of in the passive voice – they “are done”;
            Yet this must as a practical matter be done coercively, no?

            There must be some consensual agreement by those who hold the guns as to what these words mean and how they are applied.

            Even in your view of things, there exists a single monopolistic vision of what rights are which will be defended. Even if we get there through marvelously voluntary means, like some Occupy drum circle, at the end of the day, one version of rights will be defended, and the rest spurned.

            Chutes and ladders again, even in Eden.

            P.s. Not that I don’t enjoy the homework assignment, but for your homework I suggest you check out the commentary at Crooked Timber on Lockean property rights, currently posted.
            It is pointed out by superior minds to mine that Locke’s version of how rights arise was not universal, but particular to his moral intuition and culture. All other conceptions of property such as hunter gatherers were cast down the chute, while homesteaders were given the boost of the ladder.Report

            • Joe Sal in reply to LWA says:

              I couldn’t speak for the libertarians earlier as I find it to be a 5 mile hike to the left to reach that camp. Probably another mile to reach the moderates rally point.

              The natives likely had the better system at the time. The settlers system experienced cascade failures multiple times in the beginning until it adapted/reached critical mass. Hell, even today we see cascade failures of those systems.

              @ LWA
              you appear to be hung up lately on property rights, it may be helpful to unpack your thoughts or show a specific imbalance of your reference.

              At some point in the realm of rights I think you will find a hard point: The right to exist and self sustain. Possibly without any debt to the greater “society”.

              Unless your ultimate goal is to create un-self sustaining renters indebted to society. I have no idea why anyone other than statist socialist would want that.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Joe Sal says:

                That last paragraph… it’s why LWA stands a better chance than anyone I know of making a libertarian out of me. It’s “you didn’t build that” taken to its logical conclusion.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Will Truman says:


                Yeah, it’s strange. Sometimes you read him and the only way out of the dilemmas he constructs is to become a libertarian.

                Reminds me of the old Clash line… “He who F@*%s nuns will later join the church”

                Sometimes I wonder if LWA isn’t going to turn into a midlife crisis libertarian rejecting his progressive roots. Guess it beats not developing….Report

              • I think his crisis of ideology already happened, from Reagan Republican to communitarian lefty.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                I have no problem with ideological crises. I have a problem with ceasing to have them.Report

              • LWA in reply to Joe Sal says:

                I am hung up on property rights, only because they are the core of the conservative/libertarian argument.
                The YDBT argument only restates the view of the human person as only being fully whole and fulfilled when in engagement with the community, or that the community has a lien over some portion of the individual.

                If that seems creepy and unsettling, consider what you are asking of me.
                You want to coerce me into paying for a system of property and contract rights, and pay for their protection and enforcement.

                Am I allowed to have a say in this? Am I allowed to refuse? Can I place conditions upon my compliance?

                For example, can I counter your demand by saying I will contribute to your property rights only on condition you fund a social welfare scheme?

                This is the lien I am talking about- the negotiation between the individual and society.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

                I am hung up on property rights, only because they are the core of the conservative/libertarian argument.

                Don’t forget the “I’m not your mom, I’m not going to tell you what to do” core of it. (With the implied “neither are you *MY* mother.”)Report

              • j r in reply to LWA says:

                For example, can I counter your demand by saying I will contribute to your property rights only on condition you fund a social welfare scheme?

                The funny thing about this comment is that most people, libertarians included, have already said yes to this arrangement. You’re just too busy railing on about libertarians and Lockean property schemes to hear us.Report

              • LWA in reply to j r says:

                OK, I’ll bite- what is the libertarian argument in favor of a coercive social welfare scheme?
                Where is the libertarian argument that accepts a less-than-autonomous individual?

                I’m not looking for a cite, although that would be nice.

                I mean, in your own mind, what justifies my coercing Roger to pay for Social Security?Report

              • j r in reply to LWA says:

                Here’s the problem: you’ve gone from “social welfare scheme” to “Social Security.” There are lots of social welfare schemes that would prevent old people from living out their days in poverty that are not social security. Private retirement accounts, for example.

                As for citations, here’s one:

                Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty is all about how to structure a modern state, social welfare and insurance schemes in all, that still preserve individual liberty.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:

                The argument is simple.

                I agree to fund social security and Pay X percent of my income in taxes and I agree to use these procedures to change the rules as an agreed responsibility to join the benefits of the society.

                It is in effect a voluntary choice at a constitutional level. And it is one which most libertarians have indeed made, except those who have gone on to desert islands and cruise ships.

                Implicit in making this system MORE fair and impartial is the existence of alternative states or choices. I recommend more and easier alternatives and constructive competition for hearts and minds and capital. In no cases will the situation ever be perfect or ideal. At best we can make incremental gains.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                And by the way. I am overall pretty damn happy with the deal I get from my choice to live in the USA. I think I would also be pretty happy in Switzerland or Finland or other places as well.

                I can go on for hours about how it could be better or how it is getting worse on this dimension or the other. But all things considered, being born in the developed world today is effectively the same as winning a cosmic lottery compared to the actual alternatives over the past hundred thousand years.

                Sure the world is still fucked up. But it is better than it has ever been before and I hope to leave it a little better for those that follow.Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                I only hope to prevent it from getting worse. Sadly, I don’t see even that as being terribly probable.Report

              • LWA in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                See this is what I was getting at.
                Rather than talking about spontaneous orders and rights preexisting a state, we are talking about negotiations between equals.

                A negotiated settlement accepts the idea of imperfect autonomy, and liens on our claims.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:

                “Rather than talking about spontaneous orders and rights preexisting a state, we are talking about negotiations between equals.”

                Rights are conventions (really important ones!). And conventions assumes multiple people and the institutional roles and rules between them. Rights and protocols don’t exist in the ether absent groups of people. Rights are emergent based upon past interactions and solutions to common problems of coordination. The spontaneous order refers to the fact that the details of the institutions evolves over time, above and beyond the individual foresight of the various players.

                “A negotiated settlement accepts the idea of imperfect autonomy, and liens on our claims.”

                You lost me here. Not sure what perfect autonomy is, and what liens you are referencing. I assume we are speaking from somewhat incompatible frames of reference.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Culture does a lot of heavy lifting.Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Most rights are conventions… Some, though, are more or less inbuilt.
                There’s a certain amount of sense-making that mother nature is pretty good at influencing.

                Consider how we think of killing the Other versus forced sterilization… From a rational perspective, it is obviously worse to kill the Other than to “humanely” allow them to cease to exist. However, that’s not the deep, intuitive understanding we have. There’s something to be said for … innate morality (so long as we don’t mistake it for being better — or worse than rational morality).Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Joe Sal says:

                “The natives likely had the better system at the time.”

                The better system according to what standard?Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Equitable distribution/access to means of production. Ownership/value of the products of the production.

                Rents/rent seeking in terms: demand of paying for things that originally weren’t payed for.

                Supply sources were more decentralized and less prone to cascade failure. Low barriers to decentralize power hierarchies.

                Low resource allocation of weapon supplies/formation.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Wonder how those compare to twenty percent deaths via violence, lack of antibiotics, expected lifespan of less than forty years, half of children dieing before maturity, dental care involving rocks and string and no anesthesiology?

                Granted, I agree the forager lifestyle beat the farmer lifestyle by a mile. Egalitarian. Footloose and fancy free. I think the comparison between modern society and foraging would be a lot tougher. Viva la choice though.Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                Dental care’s mostly not needed without sugar to create cavities.
                Expected lifespan means most kids dying young, and some loss to warfare and childbirth.

                The natives had multiple agents capable of various kinds of “anaesthetic” (knocking someone out isn’t the only way to alleviate pain).

                And the kids got a longer childhood too! (not like today, when kids are becoming biologically adult at younger and younger ages).Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Kim says:

                Agreed, Kim. I can see people choosing foraging. I can see people choosing modernity. I can also see people choosing a mixture of the two, trying to reap the best of both worlds.

                I will of course add that the world supported less than ten million foragers at the max. Let’s assume the potential today is ten times that.

                We have an interesting situation, where one path leads to a hundred million people, and the other to ten billion or so. Perhaps the latter is more subject to “cascade failure”. Perhaps not. Interesting….Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                I feel that choosing foraging for ones children is a form of child abuse, personally. Stunting one’s child’s growth, mental or physical, ought to be prosecuted.Report

              • Cardiff Kook in reply to Kim says:

                Interesting….Joe assumes it is the rational choice, and you consider it a criminal choice.Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                We might, in a few years, be able to go back to the forager lifestyle. Certainly I see many deaths in our future.
                But to go back to the forager lifestyle, with computers in our hands and cellphones in our pockets, is a very different thing than to think of the forager lifestyle as it was.

                Also, I compared current times to forager lifestyle of then. Joe looks at the pastoral lifestyle of then, and compares it to the forager lifestyle of then.

                Certainly as a woman, it might be a good idea to have been a forager back then. Many more freedoms, in the main.Report

            • Cardiff Kook in reply to LWA says:


              The reason I speak in a passive voice is because we are not in fact developing these now. It would be better if we were – if societies, colonies and states were still forming as they did for five hundred years until recently. The path we have now was given to us by those that came before us.

              Yes, there is an element of how we all agree to change the rules (via, exit, voice or consensual experimentation) and that guns will enforce that nobody deviates in harmful ways without following the rules. And yes, that which is “harmful” and the rules were determined before we were born. These are the cards we were dealt.

              Chutes and ladders all the way, indeed.

              I would be interested in seeing if a modern libertarian would argue that “Since God gave us the land to improve, it rightfully belongs to those who improve it.” (Quiggin channeling Locke). I suspect the argument would instead be that there is instrumental value in assigning control of property to the party initially improving it.

              That this implies farmer or modern values and institutions rather than forager is of course true. ( Oddly I just finished reading Morris’ “Foragers, Farmers and Fossil Fuels” which deals with the value discrepancies — poorly imo)Report

              • Kim in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

                At least two countries are currently engaged in extensive discussions on how to create the next generation of apartheid, and make it respectable in the eyes of the international community.

                Do not mistake the current time as being stable, it is anything but. Hard times ahead, and death for far too many.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to LWA says:

      As I mentioned in the globalization thread, money is forcibly taken from me to erect a legal system that forces me and a Chinese worker to compete, yet prevents us from cooperating.

      You buy stuff made by Chinese workers, don’t you? That’s cooperating.Report

      • Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        And look you aren’t even deemed to be traitors for having a fucking opinion!!
        We live in a wonderful country, don’t we? My money goes towards prosecuting people (Treason!) for the simple act of choosing not to buy something, and I’m far from pleased.

        One step forward (with Iran), and now two steps back.Report

      • Cardiff Kook in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        And they could always move to Somalia, and be free of having to compete with The Chinese. It is a constitutional choice.

        On a serious note, I agree with the emphasis on cooperation as per @brandon-berg. The interactions between us and Chinese workers is one of cooperation. We choose to buy their stuff, or we choose to work with them via a supply chain in producing goods, or we choose to invest in their factory, and we choose to use their technology and inventions. All these are cooperative actions and all are expected to be mutually rewarding.

        There is a level of competition of course. It is competing to cooperate. Each of us wants to find mutually beneficial cooperative interactions of the above types. But just as in romance, we need to compete for the opportunity to cooperate. They want to sell their services just as we want to sell ours. We compete to exchange, which is a form of cooperation.

        This competition to cooperate drives the level of cooperation forward in a self amplifying way. It is in great part why we are so rich, and our ancestors so poor. We’ve accumulated larger and better and smarter and more specialized networks of cooperation. We’ve not only allowed the dynamic to play out, we have encouraged it to do so.

        The hidden subtext of the above quote is that not competing to cooperate would require physical violence or the threat of violence. The only way to prevent the Chinese from competing is to establish a privilege where we get to exchange goods with people and they don’t as backed by men with guns. Protectionism is a form of privilege and exploitation. But human nature relishes privilege, doesn’t it?Report

        • Joe Sal in reply to Cardiff Kook says:

          meh, the minimum wage is a barrier to compete with the Chinese. It allows multi-nationals to funnel products through their supply chain to reap profit.

          And one possibility of cooperating is to avoid paying a profit margin.

          (at least LWA doesn’t have his head so far up capitalism(3) that he’s blinded to that.)Report

          • Kim in reply to Joe Sal says:

            Competing with Technology rarely ends well.
            It’s why I consider Cardie’s idea about a $40/week wage to be rather silly. For that price, you might be doing something like spotting for a sniper. Boring work we could have the computer do easily.Report

  17. Oscar Gordon says:

    ACIS: That was one of the most disgusting comments I ever read, filled with nothing but the bigotry I have learned to expect to see from conservatives.

    You are one of those perpetually (or is it professionally) offended people, aren’t you? Or are you actively signaling your liberal/progressive/something credentials to someone so they’ll like you more & give you a cookie?

    Did you see how zic handled that offensive part? No raging, no ranting, just a simple statement that the comment was not well received. You know why Zic could do that? Because she has class. It’s why she is a valued member of this community.

    You should pay attention to Zic, you might learn something.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to ACIS says:

      Yes yes yes, we all agree this is a problem, which is why we are having this discussion in the first place.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to ACIS says:

      There’s only a 3 dollar an hour gap between 12 dollar an hour base pay at the Senate cafeteria and the $15 dollars an hour that’s the most common rate asked for among similar situated federal contract workers.

      if he’s needing to work an additional 30 hours a week to make ends meet, his erstwhile union asking for wage level that will only put another 120 dollars a week into his pocket is insufficient.Report

    • Mr. Blue in reply to ACIS says:

      It’s a good thing that the food stamp program exists, then.

      As long as they aren’t spending it at the local church’s Pancake Supper. Because money laundering.Report

  18. Oscar Gordon says:

    j r: There ought to be a lot of economists studying the effects and that will add to what we know about the topic.

    Man I hope so. It’d be an academic malpractice to not be looking at those numbers & effects from every angle imaginable.Report