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Income inequality (Part 2)
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This discussion is naive and you guys know it. Resources, be they the result of brute physics or some kind of creative design are still there for everybody's benefit and will require specialist skills to access them. Of course those who take the trouble to learn those skills will be the major beneficiary of any wealth created - but other people will still benefit by having access in degree to the wealth generated as well as to commodities that they otherwise wouldn't; if they didn't no wealth would be created. This has nothing to do with income inequality which is all about degree. It's about the fair and proportionate distribution of the wealth created by such activities and whether the top echelons who control them should be allowed to cream off so high a percentage of it for themselves and their shareholders such that those at the lower levels are left with less than is necessary to provide even the most basic level of existence in return for their labours. It's about the role of the State to intervene (or not) in such abuses - and further whether it is right for the State to deliberately engineer such conditions that the base currency of peoples labour is devalued to the point where such abuses can be perpetrated (by for example flooding the labour market with huge amounts of imported labour in order to put downward pressure on wage levels).

On a wider stage it's about the role of first world countries in exploiting the resources of poorer nations to their own benefit and getting away with paying effectively slave labour incomes to the local workforce simply because they can, in asset striping those nations to their own benefit without payment of equitable return simply because they have the economic might to be able to dictate the terms under which the operations are carried out. By actively and deliberately seeking to ensure that those lesser or undeveloped countries remain so in order that they are unable to take control of their own resources and pull themselves up to the same level as the economic masters that currently exploit them.

This is what income inequality is about - not whether oil should be doled out bucket by bucket to each person as it comes out of the ground.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post Peter.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter I disagree with so much of that. First and foremost, capitalism as is defined today, has lifted literally millions of people out of poverty AND in the developed world had re-defined what poverty is. In the US many of those considered impoverished, have cable TV, have a cell phone, wear nice clothing, have a roof over their head and food to eat. Many of them have disposable income they spend to eat out, or to buy nice things for their family. Granted that doesn't describe the impoverished in 3rd world countries who would consider that rich beyond measure.

But the other part is something that many here have said. Wealth is not zero sum. There is not a limited amount of wealth and if I have more, you have less. If the govt takes 50% of my wealth, that doesn't automatically make the poor any less poor. Now you could say, well business or corporations have a responsibility to pay their workers more. But try to run a business and do that and see how that works out for you. A business strives to keep costs down so that their competitors that are keeping costs down don't put them out of business. People will pay the lowest price available for goods and services. They don't care about your "social contract", they only care about paying less. By its very nature, this behavior drives down costs based on the free market. What is naive is to deny human nature.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Our Economic Problem -- Greed or Ignorance? [In-Depth]

Quote:

Photo by midwinterphoto at flickr.com


Many commentators on the crisis that has rocked banks and stock markets all over the world would tell us that the problem is simply greed. But a brief look at the remarkable insights into economics of the Canadian Jesuit, Bernard Lonergan, would suggest a rather different diagnosis, as well as a new way out of our recurring economic injustices, argues Peter Corbishley.


"Greed and fear on the way up and greed and fear on the way down" was how the editor of a national newspaper, speaking recently on BBC TV, characterised the current economic crisis. His version of key economic drivers, as well as his belief that boom and slump are the inevitable counterpart of these drivers, presents a bleak scenario of the human condition. Runs on banks, the 'credit crunch', job losses are an inevitable part of what it is to be human. Maybe all moralists, secular and religious, concur on greed as the root of the present malaise. Bernard Lonergan would beg to differ. In 1980, while describing how recession turns to depression, into a crash, and even stagnation, he wrote:

Quote:
In equity it (the basic expansion) should be directed to raising the standard of living of the whole society. The reason why it does not is not the simple-minded moralist's reason: greed, but the prime cause is ignorance. ... When people do not understand what is happening and why, they cannot be expected to act intelligently. When intelligence is a blank, the first law of nature takes over: self-preservation. It is not primarily greed but frantic efforts at self-preservation that turns recession into depression, and depression into crash.[1]


So, in our ignorance, we are now heading for a recession, and maybe worse: panicking by queuing up outside Northern Rock, promoting non-competitive mergers or spending billions of public money on bailing out the banking system. But what is that we are ignorant of?[2]

[...]

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everything is fine here.

Stocks are up (Check)
Wages are up (Check)
Inflation is steady (Check)
Unemployment is very low (Check)
Poverty is down (Check)

Recession? Where does he get that. Recessions are cyclical so he is bound to be right eventually. Outside of that there is no sign of a recession.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

SoulBiter wrote:
[...]

Recession? Where does he get that.


FYI, article is a decade old.

But I considered it eminently worthy of dragging from the dustbin, since the then-current economic harbingers-of-gloom were merely a convenient foil for an analytic thumbnail of Lonerganian economics.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoulBiter wrote:
Everything is fine here.

Stocks are up (Check)
Wages are up (Check)
Inflation is steady (Check)
Unemployment is very low (Check)
Poverty is down (Check)

Recession? Where does he get that. Recessions are cyclical so he is bound to be right eventually. Outside of that there is no sign of a recession.
He's more interested in spreading the propaganda than accuracy.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poverty is of course absolute or relative: I get that and my reason for posting above was to attempt to frame where the discussion on income inequality should lie rather than get into the right or wrong of any given position.

Your post, with respect SoulBiter, seems to be angled rather toward the latter than the former.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Income inequality is on the individual person, not the government. If you want more money then get up and do what it takes to make more money.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
This discussion is naive and you guys know it.
The naive part is thinking that politicians actually want to do something about income inequality. What they actually want to do is put themselves in the money flow and siphon off a portion for themselves. How else do our "public servants" get so damn rich??

peter wrote:
Resources, be they the result of brute physics or some kind of creative design are still there for everybody's benefit and will require specialist skills to access them.
Why do you think resources are "there for everyone's benefit?" Resources exist. People exist. I don't see the connection between them, except for the connections we create.

peter wrote:
Of course those who take the trouble to learn those skills will be the major beneficiary of any wealth created - but other people will still benefit by having access in degree to the wealth generated as well as to commodities that they otherwise wouldn't; if they didn't no wealth would be created.
I agree.


peter wrote:
This has nothing to do with income inequality which is all about degree. It's about the fair and proportionate distribution of the wealth created by such activities and whether the top echelons who control them should be allowed to cream off so high a percentage of it for themselves and their shareholders such that those at the lower levels are left with less than is necessary to provide even the most basic level of existence in return for their labours.
How do you define "fair and proportionate?" If I create a business, why is it not up to *me* to define my profit margin? If the people don't like what I pay, they don't have to accept the work. If the customers don't like my price, they don't have to buy my product. My profit margin is already constrained by these factors. How is a bureaucrat going to be wiser than these market forces? How can he come up with an arbitrary number that encapsulates something as emotional and nebulous as "fair?"

peter wrote:
On a wider stage it's about the role of first world countries in exploiting the resources of poorer nations to their own benefit and getting away with paying effectively slave labour incomes to the local workforce simply because they can, in asset striping those nations to their own benefit without payment of equitable return simply because they have the economic might to be able to dictate the terms under which the operations are carried out. By actively and deliberately seeking to ensure that those lesser or undeveloped countries remain so in order that they are unable to take control of their own resources and pull themselves up to the same level as the economic masters that currently exploit them.
The governments of these countries don't have to allow foreign companies to "exploit" them. They only do so because they are getting a cut. The problem is the corrupt governments of these third world countries.

But let's say that these governments suddenly became virtuous and demanded that the foreign companies pay better wages or they can't do business in that country. What happens when the companies say, "Nevermind, we'll go somewhere else"?? The people of that country are still screwed. If they could take advantage of their own resources, they would. They need foreign investment and technology. While this relationship doesn't always start out on the best terms, it does get the ball rolling and improves the conditions in those countries over time. You have to look at the direction of change, not merely current conditions. We are eliminating extreme poverty from the face of the earth. The trend is going the right way.

While you are telling us "what it's about," why don't you direct some of that towards the one who is bringing mythological concepts to material goods? My post was in response to him. You can say that the issue isn't what I brought up, but what I brought up was a reductio of his points. Take it up with Wos.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Zarathustra wrote:
[...]

While you are telling us "what it's about," why don't you direct some of that towards the one who is bringing mythological concepts to material goods? ...


"Mythological concepts"? You mean like resources being "there for everyone's benefit"?

I thought we all learned that in Kindergarten, let alone Sunday School.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wosbald wrote:
+JMJ+

Zarathustra wrote:
[...]

While you are telling us "what it's about," why don't you direct some of that towards the one who is bringing mythological concepts to material goods? ...


"Mythological concepts"? You mean like resources being "there for everyone's benefit"?

I thought we all learned that in Kindergarten, let alone Sunday School.
Well, I agree that it is childish, but I was talking about something more. According to Wikipedia, social mortgage is dependent upon the idea that resources and goods are created by the Creator who intends for them to be used for the benefit of all. This is like saying lightning is created by Zeus, who wants us to conserve and share electricity. You don't set public policy, much less the global economy, on the whims of the gods. You are pretending to talk politics, but you are actually preaching religion.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Zarathustra wrote:
Wosbald wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
[...]

While you are telling us "what it's about," why don't you direct some of that towards the one who is bringing mythological concepts to material goods? ...


"Mythological concepts"? You mean like resources being "there for everyone's benefit"?

I thought we all learned that in Kindergarten, let alone Sunday School.


Well, I agree that it is childish, but I was talking about something more. According to Wikipedia, social mortgage is dependent upon the idea that resources and goods are created by the Creator who intends for them to be used for the benefit of all. This is like saying lightning is created by Zeus, who wants us to conserve and share electricity. You don't set public policy, much less the global economy, on the whims of the gods. You are pretending to talk politics, but you are actually preaching religion.


So, if we were to do a little verbal legerdemain and substitute for "social mortgage" something like "responsible use" or "sharing is caring", then you'd be on-board with resources being "there for everyone's benefit"?
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Natural resources are not there for our benefit; they are simply there and we have figured out useful ways in which to apply them by applying physical or chemical changes to them.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
Natural resources are not there for our benefit; they are simply there and we have figured out useful ways in which to apply them by applying physical or chemical changes to them.


+1

If I am digging in my backyard and stumble on a thick vein of gold, that is my gold to dig up and sell. Its not a community gold mine and I am under no obligation to use that money for the common good. Further if I take two ordinary items that no one thinks anything about, and I figure out a way to put them together that everyone will pay for the new item, again I am under no social obligation to give that away, sell it for less than the market dictates, or use the proceeds of those sales for the common good.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoulBiter wrote:
Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
Natural resources are not there for our benefit; they are simply there and we have figured out useful ways in which to apply them by applying physical or chemical changes to them.


+1

If I am digging in my backyard and stumble on a thick vein of gold, that is my gold to dig up and sell. Its not a community gold mine and I am under no obligation to use that money for the common good. Further if I take two ordinary items that no one thinks anything about, and I figure out a way to put them together that everyone will pay for the new item, again I am under no social obligation to give that away, sell it for less than the market dictates, or use the proceeds of those sales for the common good.
Exactly. That last example is especially relevant, because most money in this world is not made by things just lying in the ground, but by people putting things together--like computer code--in ways that no one else thought of doing. The greatest resource is human intelligence, and that is only "for everyone's benefit" in as much as everyone is free to use their own. My intelligence is not owned by everyone else.

Nothing is a resource naturally. It only becomes a resource when someone figures out how to use it. Oil was just this annoying worthless sludge before we learned how to refine it into fuel, and buit engines which could burn it and turn it into mechanical work.

The simple fact is that resources ARE NOT for everyone's benefit. That's just not how the world exists in reality. (If it already did exist like this, no one would have to make this argument.) The only way to make this claim is with the words "should be" inserted in there. And then it becomes incumbant upon you to justify why we should alter the facts of this world because of your two words. We all know where the justification for your implicit "should be" comes from, Wos. If you can formulate your argument based on a nonreligious grounds for this justification, we could still debate it as a political concept. But as it stands there is no way to debate it. It's simply false. That's not the way the world is. If you think things should be different, you have to explain why.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoulBiter wrote:
If I am digging in my backyard and stumble on a thick vein of gold, that is my gold to dig up and sell. Its not a community gold mine and I am under no obligation to use that money for the common good.


You do have to be a little careful on that one--sometimes when you buy a house you might not necessarily own the [b[mineral rights[/b] on that land. Weird, I know, but true. Some property owners out west of Forth Worth ran in to that problem--they owned property sitting inside the Barnett Shale region but did not own the mineral rights to any shale oil or natural gas.

The flip side can also be true--Ms. Lebwohl owns some mineral rights on land she does not own. Her great-great-grandfather had been gifted land a long time ago, including the mineral rights. The family has sold some of the land and none of it belongs to her (only some of her cousins) but she was given a share of the mineral rights, so every now and then she gets a check.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

Farm bankruptcies increase nationwide, report says

Quote:

American Farm Bureau Federation released a report in late October 2019 showing increases in farm bankruptcies nationwide, with the largest number of bankruptcies coming in the Midwest. (Provided, Farm Bureau)


Farm bankruptcies continue to increase nationwide, with the largest number of such filings coming in the Midwest region, according to a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The report, by Farm Bureau economist John Newton, details the number of bankruptcies per state in the 12-month period ending in September 2019, how those bankruptcy numbers compare to the year prior, and an overall discussion of farm income.

Farm income is at record-high levels, but that doesn't tell the whole story. According to the report, not only are bankruptcies up, but farm debt is projected to reach record-high levels and producers are taking longer to repay their loans.

The Farm Bureau report shows Wisconsin with 48 bankruptcies; Nebraska, Kansas and Georgia with 37; and Minnesota with 31. The Midwest region, made up of 13 states including Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, had 255 bankruptcy filings, far more than any other region.

Those numbers aren't surprising to Megan Roberts, a Mankato, Minn.-based educator on the University of Minnesota Extension's Agricultural Business Management team. The region has a high number of dairy farms and row crop farms, both sectors stressed by current events. Dairy prices have been low for multiple years, and trade issues, including tariffs and lack of trade agreements, have hit corn and soybean growers particularly hard.

"Those particular agricultural commodities are really struggling from a financial perspective," she says.

But Roberts says it's the prolonged downturn in the farm economy that makes things difficult. While there is no one reason for the increase in bankruptcy filings, poor prices over a number of years definitely play a part.

"It's not just a one year downturn," she says. "Bankruptcies happen and loan deficiencies happen when there are more prolonged issues."

[...]

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

+JMJ+

NOTE: Translation by Google Translate and slightly augmented by Wos


Coronavirus and financial markets: we are in Sarajevo 1914 [In-Depth, Opinion]

Quote:




Map by Laura Canali, 2011.


The bullet is the pandemic. Archduke Francesco Ferdinando is neoliberalism. Either change the system or we all succumb. Starting from Europe.


[...]

The feared black swan -- the more or less improbable and highly disruptive event -- shatters the carefree daydream, revealing the fragility of an economic and financial system structured to underestimate risks in order to maximize profits in the short -- the very short -- term. It is a "destabilizing stability", as Hyman Minsky called it; the product of decades of excesses erected in a system. The architects of this world-system and the economic operators who animate it are in most cases greedy, not stupid. It is now clear to them that the virus, by imposing draconian measures of social distancing, at the same time constricts supply and demand -- therefore, both the ability to produce and the ability to buy. And they look toward the prospect of society having sufficient income to fuel consumption, given the concrete risk of chain failures and related employment costs induced by the pandemic.

[...]

This crisis is systemic. In retrospect, the virus will be the bullet that kills Archduke Francesco Ferdinando, the rhapsodic event that tips the balance of a situation which is now too precarious to stand the test of reality and history. The systematic nature of the crisis -- of which 2008 retrospectively appears to be the disturbing preview -- implies that the system must change, ere we succumb to unbearable consequences. Developments are emerging that are capable of subverting the geopolitical, as well as the economic environment.

First of all, there emerges the direct and indirect return of the State to the economic situation. The pandemic is, in fact, global only in its ruthless biological form. (Geo)-politically, it reveals the wide spectrum of approaches, priorities, and responses which will be necessary to consider in the months and years to come. From the outset, it manifests the continuous salience of the State as an organizational unit and guarantor-of-last-resort of the collectives it contains. This does not exclude, of course, the coordination and collaboration of subsidiary entites; but it puts the lie to the claim of the State's complete overcoming by historical accident. A culturally and geographically overdifferentiated humanity, one which is counted in billions, needs minimal organizational units. The Limes does not become in itself a doomsayer merely by identifying structures of organization and action that ward-off chaos and permit the "systeming" of intelligence, resources and will. We built a global Internet of electronic entanglement, yet we forgot that our geopolitical reality also needs a basic architecture that allows individuals to have a cultural, institutional and psychological reference. A place to call home.

Looking ahead, there emerge on the horizon the incentives for overcoming the neoliberal paradigm. Its major flaw lies is not in "globalism", but in the conception of the individual as an instrument of the economy, when it should be just the opposite. The ubiquitous appeals, in all sectors and all countries (including the United States), for governments to guarantee an economy that risks collapsing -- as indeed already in 2008 -- are symptomatic of a unspoken taboo which seems to break against the shock wave of public uncertainty. This taboo's extreme twentieth-century alternative, i.e. authoritarian command, is a recipe that has already been tried and is not to be too much lamented. On the possibility of finding other ways between the two extremes, Europe could -- should -- have something to say, that is if it could only speak the word.

In Europe's current philosophical-fiscal architecture, a significant return of the State to guarantee the equity and stability of economic and social systems is widely dismissed as impractical, because it would imply (and will imply) the defeat of German ordoliberalism and its economic "austerity." And because, as it is the State's economic-fiscal policy, i.e. the action of the governments (which in the case of relatively small and strongly interconnected economies such as the European ones can only be concerted to hold in the medium-long term), which is alone able to go where the efficacy of central banks can no longer reach, it requires unprecedented political coordination.

On this, we must be absolutely clear: either Europe is finally made or it is finally shattered. Regardless, this 2020 won't leave unmarked the time it has found.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And how would changing the system "Save us all"? How would a different system given us a different outcome in any economy when no one is producing?
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