The Wealth of People

I’m no Adam Smith — which is good since otherwise I’d be really, really old — and I thought until recently that most human beings understood where money came from, how it was earned, and what it was necessary for.  Also, of course, what it was.  I.e. a symbol that allows free trade between individuals.

I thought this, arguably because when in 6th grade my younger son had to do a paper on the history of one of the inventions that made modern civilization possible, he did it on money, complete with a retrospective history of money and trade and an explanation on why money was a good thing because it facilitated trade between humans.

I should have known better.  At 12 my son was virgin of most higher learning, ignorant of the great theories of economics, and flying by the seat of his pants because a project was due.

The evidence from politicians, “economists” and social theorists starting with Marx is that there is a VAST group of people out there who have studied carefully in order to deny the function, use and utility of money and to substitute for it the raving lunacy of a street person, like the Occupy member who told us the government should just print money and give everyone a million or some such.  See, at the time I assumed this was just a street person and that other people understood LOGICALLY that money is a symbol for wealth and that money uncoupled from that symbolism has in fact no value.

But apparently there are adults (I’ll assume, it’s entirely possible the commenter below is a 4th grader who hangs out at Vile 770 from whence he came, but I sort of kind of doubt it) who believe that money is sort of a free bene produced by the government and the only reason you wouldn’t give more of it to everyone is that you were an evil greedy capitalist.  (Moustaches to twirl, optional.)

For the win, on the Post Ca Ira is a comment by Zander Nyrond (I noticed he misspelled Nymrod, too.)

“These are the people who favor raising the minimum wage because in their world this means that poor people will have more money, completely missing the fact that most poor people will lose their jobs…”

Correction. Most poor people will not “lose” their jobs. A job is not a thing you can misplace, or that can fall through a hole in your pocket and vanish down the back of the sofa. What you mean to say is “if the government orders employers to pay their workers barely enough to live on, those employers will take away their workers’ jobs out of spite and to show the government who’s boss,” and that you approve this course of action as right and proper. And once you’ve said that, you’ve pretty much said enough.

I confess I had to read that about ten times.  If it wasn’t written by a fourth grader, I’m at a loss about the mind behind it.

No. Seriously.

It starts with this:

Correction. Most poor people will not “lose” their jobs. A job is not a thing you can misplace, or that can fall through a hole in your pocket and vanish down the back of the sofa.

I’m not 100 percent sure what he thinks a job is.  Yeah, sure you can’t MISPLACE a job, but you sure can lose it in the sense of no longer having it.

As I mentioned before, I don’t come from the most hardscrabble background I can think of.  Not only was my parents’ childhood worse (dad could only attend high school because the Stone Mason’s union allowed two promising working class students a year to become members and get a card.  This allowed him to get soup for free at noon.  Otherwise he would have gone all day without eating, and while I presume he could still have passed, maybe, it’s really hard to conceptualize. More on that later*) but many people in the village I grew up in had it worse. However, we lived “close to the bone” and both my mother and my paternal grandfather, in whose house we lived, lived from “job” to “job” because they worked, as do I, as contractors.  That means when you turned in a job and got paid, you had to look for the other.

Of course, both of them worked for the highest price they could get the “boss” to agree on, but my grandfather did at least one set of cabinets in exchange for a chicken a week and other considerations, because the person who had the need for the cabinets had no cash.  And mom, as I’ve mentioned, bought a knitting machine and would undertake unraveling and re-dying really old sweaters before remaking them for what you must understand was a pittance (consider the wealth of people who couldn’t afford to buy yarn) so she could keep (quite often literally) bread and soup on the table every day.  One of my earliest memories is of going to sleep with the sound of the knitting machine, which was metallic and heavy and sounded like a little train.  She set it up in the kitchen and I slept next door in the hallway.  (My brother slept in the living room on a pull-out.  The “apartment” cut out of my grandparents’ house — and yes, we paid rent — was a shot gun with only one bedroom and no bathroom, because the bathroom was outside grandma’s back door.  Curious fact, should I ever become important enough anyone cares, the bedroom in which I was born is now a fancy bathroom with textured tiles, since new owners remodeled the house.) Mom used to listen to the radio and knit till two or three in the morning. She favored educational programs. (Possibly because FORMALLY her schooling stopped at 4th grade, though she served an apprenticeship after that.)  I suppose my first interest in mythology comes from listening to those programs underlying the steady drone of the machine.

When you work like that, from job to job and pay to pay, you become really conscious of the people who would pay you or would pay you more if they could.  In the village it was very easy to see this.  One of the things mom did was contract young women to clean the house/do the dishes, so she had more time to work (because time was money) but in case it’s not immediately obvious, we were often tighter than a boa constrictor’s embrace.  So there often was no money to pay these young ladies.

What mom, that capitalist exploiter did, was make the girls’ clothes (often from leftovers, like my clothes were.  You see wealthy clients would drop off lengths of fabric, and if she used less they told her to keep the leftovers.)  It became known in the village that getting a wardrobe made by mom got you courted by men a class higher than yours (and don’t ask.  You’d probably see no difference.  Consider in her youth mom thought butchers were “upper class” and “select” and you’ll know everything you need to know.)  So mom had a waiting list of girls willing to work for her, so she’d make them clothes.  It will also tell you how these girls normally dressed/groomed that after lessons in the later and clothes made by mom they usually married in six months, so the list was handy.

Now mom being an evil capitalist TM was hiring these girls to MAXIMIZE her profit.  Because — as any craftswoman — her profession dictated her time was money, she was freeing some of it to work more.  (Something I’d dearly love to do and part of what The House Exploit TM is about though it doesn’t involve household help, just reducing housework.) For it she traded more time, (to make the girls’ clothes) but it was CONCENTRATED time as opposed to broken up bits.  Spend a weekend making the girl a skirt suit, sure, but you don’t have to quit work after lunch to wash.  Or after dinner to clean the kitchen.  (I think our laundress was paid in a similar way, btw.  The only time I remember mom paying in money was to the bread woman and the fish woman and of course at the shops.)

Now imagine the government looked at that iniquitous mode of payment and said “well, you get the fabric for free, and all you put in is time, and since you’re not paid by the hour, that’s worth nothing, which means you’re paying these girls nothing.  You must pay $2 an hour and $1 towards social security.”

That job would have vanished.  The girls would effectively have lost it.  Sure, it wouldn’t have vanished behind the sofa (the only sofa we owned was brother’s pull out, which served for mom’s clients to sit on when leafing through fashion books and looking at mom’s sketches.  It was pretty light and nothing could have vanished behind it.) it would still be gone, and the girls couldn’t have found it, no matter how much they looked.

It didn’t matter that mom would have liked them to cook lunch, do the marketing (we didn’t own a fridge until I was eight, so someone needed to shop for food every day, unless all we had that day was soup and corn bread which we could contrive from stores in the house), wash lunch dishes and come in after dinner to clean up while she worked on paying jobs that paid for our food and electricity and dad’s bus ticket to work.  (Mom swears most months his earnings went to keep him in suits and shoes and pay for lunch away from home and hers ran the house.  I don’t know.  I know he turned all his money over and that to have money to have a coffee at the coffee shop was a red letter day.)

It didn’t matter that village girls fell over themselves to work for her in exchange for grooming tips (like, wash every week.  No, seriously.  And how to get rid of lice, which were endemic in the village) and nice clothes.

If the government dictated mom pay these girls “a living wage” ($2 was a bit more than that, actually) and something towards retirement, the job wouldn’t have existed.  Mom would stay up till four in the morning working, instead.  The house wouldn’t be clean to her exacting standards.  AND the job would have been lost, having vanished up the government’s spout.

But Nymrod, the precious flower, if he’s an adult, has never run a business, not even a lemonade stand.  I’m going to assume he’s either a trust fund baby or is one of those people educated in gender studies or race studies or other ways to “make money by intimidating others” and has no clue where money comes from and what it means.

Money is a short hand for value.  Ask people to pay more for “value” than the value is worth to them (and often than they can) and there goes the job, which is the contracting of work for money.

If it weren’t so, why not simply mandate that minimum wage should be a million dollars?  Then everyone could be millionaires, right?  And this is probably how it works inside Nymrod’s head.

Notice also, his/her/its/sea animal’s ONLY understanding of why someone would be fired when the government interfered to mandate that a job provider pay more for an employee’s services:

What you mean to say is “if the government orders employers to pay their workers barely enough to live on, those employers will take away their workers’ jobs out of spite and to show the government who’s boss,”

First of all I want to approve of Precious Flower’s understanding of government.  Yes, indeed, we are in fact the boss of government as laid out in our constitution, and I’m glad you know that at least, even if you seem to inhabit an imaginary world where the sky is made of lard and butter in all other respects.

However, I also want to point out that anyone born in the twentieth century has long since gotten used to government being not just a bad servant, but a truly despicable one.  Our right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness is so regularly infringed that I can’t remember anyone doing much of anything to show government who’s boss.

Most of us, as most people in the West, try to live as best the government allows it and keep the tzar as far away from us as possible.

I find it salutary in these circumstances that he/she/it/fruitbat realizes we’re the boss of government.  Good on you mate.  There are vestiges of sanity in that addled egg you use for a head.

HOWEVER the bizarrely insane idea that someone would fire an employee to show “government who is boss” much less that this would be the only reason one would do it when the government arbitrarily interferes in your contract with your employee to dictate what you should pay your employee is mind boggling.

How can a person, living in the world for a number of years (if he/she/it/fruitcake isn’t 10) haven’s spotted the fact that you don’t hire people out of the benevolence of your heart but TO DO SOMETHING YOU NEED DONE is quite beyond me.  And how they can’t think from that that if you fire someone “to show the government who’s boss” you’re going to have to do that work, buy a machine to do it or (and a lot of restaurants, fruit pickers and other low-margin people HAVE to do this to survive) hire someone illegally to do it is beyond me.

In fact, I can’t imagine anyone who has the money to hire work done that they need done and chooses not to do so to “show the government who’s boss” or indeed to “be a big meany capitalist” or to “play it again Sam” or whatever the heck other motives the powerful mind that came up with that theory can conjure.

If my mom had been forced to pay in money, no matter how convenient it was for her to have someone else do the cleaning, she’d have had to do it herself and rob more hours from sleep. (Possibly any amount of money.  I don’t know the exchange at the time, but I know the escudo — Portuguese currency then — was worth pretty much nothing in the world stage, and our daily bread bill was so small that it was calculated in cruzados, the currency that had been hyperinflated and superseeded when mom was little. (* A note I promised above.  The Portuguese government went bankrupt during mom’s and dad’s childhood.  This meant that you couldn’t guy things at any price people could command so there was a lot of in-kind trade.  Dad’s family was all right because they grew vegetables and had eggs they could trade for bread.  The least said about mom’s childhood the best. If I’m to believe her, gleaner rights helped their survival. ) I suspect it would translate to something like 5c a day. We were the equivalent of Obama’s brother living on $1 a day, only at the time I suspect it was more like 25c. Even then, some of the sweater re-knitting mom did was for the farmer across the street who in turn supplied us with two cups of milk daily and about 3 lbs of heavy, dark corn-rye peasant bread a week.  And that later in various forms was the staple of our diet, so we could save on the expensive wheat bread.  I don’t complain, mind, I love broa, that dark, heavy bread which as made by the farmer had the consistency of a brick. In fact Caldo Verde (broth with tiny bits of meat and a lot of julliened greens) and broa would be my last meal if I got a request.)

Then there’s the “living wage.”  Let’s not go there, or into the fact that most minimum wage earners are indeed young people NOT LIVING FROM IT or not staying stuck in it very long.  At one time I worked retail for minimum wage.  I no longer remember how much it was, but I know that a full day’s work netted me $20.  I know this, because my now late brother in law came to visit and wanted me to go with him somewhere (weirdly, I think an SF con) and I couldn’t because I had to work.  He offered to pay me $20 if I called in sick, but I wanted to keep the job and couldn’t miss it.

Anyway, the money was risible, particularly after social security took its cut.  BUT at the time it paid Dan’s student loans a bit faster, and I judged that a worthy goal. (Since the one thing I promised dad when I got married was that we wouldn’t live on credit nor run up loans.) It also meant we had fewer of those months when we had a week to go till paycheck and only $6 in the bank.  That too was a worthy goal, as I liked to eat every day.

Living wage?  In the late eighties?  Not hardly.  Not unless you had three roommates and ate a meal a day.  BUT it was what we needed, which is why I agreed to work for it.  And, btw, I had no work history in this country and translator jobs are hard to come by without that, so that was the best I could do.  Once I had that I could get a multilingual translator job.

I’m going to presume anyone trying to live from minimum wage qualifies for medicaid and a host of other services.  (I could be wrong.)

But I do know that you will only be paid what you’re worth, because the people paying you CAN ONLY AFFORD TO PAY THAT MUCH or it’s only worth that much to them to have you do that stuff.  Sometimes it’s one, sometimes the other, but in any case, if the government forces them to pay more, they either won’t be able to or will replace the job with a machine.  Or hire someone more competent and have him do more work for the money.

The problem with this, as was noted in the comments yesterday is that that first job is an essential step.  You’re not worth very much — I sucked as a retail clerk, frankly.  Mostly because I got bored way too easily — but proving that you’ll be there on time and are trustworthy is necessary to get another job, even one you’re already trained for, if you have no other work history in this country. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to have the job that allowed us to buy a house.  (Okay, in the long wrong this was futile as we lost money on that house, but we couldn’t know that at the time and it was a quirk of our personal history because we had to move due to lack of jobs and… yeah.)

And since he/she/it/marchpane likely has never actually had a real job, I should probably explain to the critter that most jobs are good for people.  Being paid for something you did, earning your bread with the sweat of your brow, builds self confidence, a sense of self reliance and the reluctance to take handouts or be patronized in exchange for those.  Of course, that’s possibly why Precious Flower would prefer government kill jobs and give people handouts instead.  As the blogfather himself says “They’ll turn us all into beggars, because beggars are easy to please.”

And then we come to the end of the idiot’s screed:

and that you approve this course of action as right and proper. And once you’ve said that, you’ve pretty much said enough.

Let’s forget what he thinks I’m approving of and instead consider that I DISAPPROVE of the government making it impossible for people to contract for help and/or earn a living.

Yeah, you know why I have said enough, Cupcake?

Because I’m there right now.  I work for a living.

I know in his/hers/its/Sanders Voter’s world, writing is something you do for self expression or to demonstrate how wonderful you are, or to feed your soul or whatever the cr*p it is people tell themselves when they’re too rich to be sensible.

In many ways I didn’t come very far from the village.  Oh, I live way better.  We have heating, cooling, and alas I’m in no danger of starving.  But that’s because this society has a much lower “floor” and also because my husband works very hard to supply us with MOST of the necessities.

It’s not a necessity to help the boys with their professional training for instance, just fulfilling the promise we made them if they took STEM degrees. And a more reliable providing for our old age than the Social Security which we pay for but which won’t be there at all when we need it more than likely. And it’s not a necessity to be renting while we try to sell the other house, so we can reduce our living space, so we pay less in heating and I have less work cleaning, so I can write more.

BUT my money is necessary for such things.  And I don’t get paid unless I finish work.  And my work gets the money my employer thinks it’s worth.

I mean, there were years (the Musketeer Mysteries) when I was paid 5k a book.  It was all the house was willing to pay and if the government had dictated they pay me 10k, then they simply wouldn’t buy my books.  (Imagine my crying when I had to pay 14k that year in self employment tax.  Almost 3 books for the privilege of working my fingers to the bone.)

Now if Baen offered me 5k for a book, I’d politely decline and go indie, because Witchfinder made me 3 times that so far.  BUT that’s because I have other options.  If I didn’t, I’d shut up and take it.

A living wage?  I don’t know.  I work weekends and evenings.  I take two days off a year.  I once — granted when I was paid less — costed out my time and cried because I made less than a dollar an hour.  Now, writing is sitdown work and way easier than say cleaning hotel bathrooms (which I’ve done if anyone is keeping track.)  So you could say I’m able to work long hours as I do it inside, and it’s not physical labor.

Perhaps.  But a lot of the minimum wage jobs are fairly easy.  My biggest problem with mine was being bored out of my gourd, because even if there was no one nearby, they didn’t allow me to read under the counter.  And if someone worked those the hours I work they would probably make more than I do.

The problem is there aren’t that many jobs of the kind available, because there’s a minimum mandatory payment that’s often more than “warm body, standing by cash register” is worth.

So yes, I disapprove of the government making jobs disappear.  Because after 15 years as a writer, I have no resume, and I’ve forgotten most of my foreign languages (I can’t even speak Portuguese grammatically anymore) and if things go upside down I might need a retail job.  And I’m not sure I’m worth much more than minimum wage as is.  Much less as the fantasists like Nymrod would wish it to be.

Nymrod too has said more than enough.  Mostly that he/she/it/special snowflake has no concept of earning a living, or of a life where what you actually DO means something.

Bless his/hers/its/magical unicorn’s heart.

512 thoughts on “The Wealth of People

  1. Shorter version: If your labor isn’t worth $10/hour to your employer, you won’t get paid $10/hour. It doesn’t matter how fair it is, how many laws get passed, or how much you stamp your feet and scream like a 2-year-old. Special Snowflake is going to have to grow up and accept that.

    Though I’ll admit to being a little surprised that any sci-fi fan “thought until recently that most human beings understood where money came from, how it was earned, and what it was necessary for.” Haven’t you ever watched any of the modern Star Treks? It was pretty clear that most of the people writing the “we’ve evolved beyond money” Federation had absolutely no clue about any of these things.

      1. It wasn’t “Hollywood” stupidity. It was Roddenberry stupidity. Roddenberry added plenty of stupidity to Star Drek Next Gen. [Frown]

        1. DS9 had a great scene where Jake brags about the Federation not having money, and Nog refusing to lend him any when he asks.

          “If you don’t need money, then you certainly don’t need mine!”


          1. That scene is why I said “most.” It was pretty clear that at least a couple of wrriters on DS9 had thought through and realized the stupidity of the “no money” philosophy (as well as some other aspects of the Federation).

            Actually, the entire episode that scene was part of, “In the Cards,” could have been written as a paean to free trade and capitalism. SF Debris has a great review of it where he pointed out that at the end of the episode, after Nog and Jake’s wacky hijinks result in a bunch of trades of goods and services, everyone is happier. To paraphrase: “Now if only there were something to facilitate these trades, something that didn’t have any value in itself, per se, but that could be accepted by a wide variety of people and could be traded even if you didn’t have the specific item or service that the person with the thing you had wanted. Oh, if only this wondrous mystery item existed…”

          2. Those of us who recognized the Ferengi as a very thinly disguised anti-Semitic caricature were very happy anytime one of said Ferengi got to land a metaphorical punch. They didn’t let it happen often, that’s for sure.

        2. I don’t know who wrote the first “post-scarcity economy” scifi, but it may have been Frederick Pohl’s “The Midas Plague”, which, I think, predates ST:TOS considerably.

          1. I don’t remember any “no money” nonsense in the original Star Trek. It was something Roddenberry added to Next Gen.

            1. The original Trek largely took place in a naval vessel; there would be no need for money in handling of typical shipboard duties.

              Next Gen certainly used money for playing poker if in no other activities.

              1. I don’t remember money being used in the Next Gen ship-board poker games. There were only poker chips used (ie play money). Mind you, Data was aware that playing poker was a way for him to get money when stuck in the San Francisco of the past. [Smile]

              2. The Trouble with Tribbles talked about buying and selling, so there were “credits” in TOS.

                I can only imagine the shame the writer of that episode must feel at that.

                1. The background of life on Federation Earth never seemed very consistent, and writers were allowed to toss in odd details. Theodore Sturgeon had Sulu say he had a handgun collection back home (“Shore Leave.”)

                  1. Perhaps “handgun” was future slang for … er, “personal abuse devices”?

                    Oh, my, indeed.

                    1. Considering the Shore Leave Planet provided Sulu with a “genuine 20th century handgun”, I doubt it. [Evil Grin]

                    2. I wasn’t aware that being gay was a requirement for self-abuse? This will likely come as a shock to many a housewife “riding the rinse cycle.”

                    3. Look up Star Trek “Shore Leave” on IMFDB (Internet Movie Firearms Database). I probably can’t say anything about the … piece without provoking further such jokes.

                    4. Season 1, Episode 15: “Shore Leave” – Lt. Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) finds a Smith & Wesson Model 10, he refers to it as a “an old time Police Special”, and test fires it on the planet, causing Kirk and the others to come running. Sulu mentions that this particular gun was ‘missing from his collection’, which implied that the character was a gun collector. Kirk later uses the revolver to shoot down the charging ‘knight’ that spears Doctor McCoy.

                2. Given that writer is now leading the SJW parade at the Hugos, which he will be presenting, you’re probably right.

              3. Yes, but Harcore Fenton Mudd and Cyrano Jones, among others, strongly implied the existence of money.

                1. They did – but remember that they were thoroughgoing charlatans. That’s the hypocritical way the audience was encouraged to think about money.

                  Back in the real world, however, Roddenberry wrote never-meant-to-be-sung lyrics to Alexander Courage’s theme song, in order to cop a co-writer credit and legally swindle the composer out of half the royalties to the tune.

                2. I am Insulted by you putting me in the same sentence as that too-bit merchant. I live by my wits while that merchant just sells whatever junk comes his way. [Channeling Harcore Fenton Mudd] [Very Big Evil Grin]

                3. As I said, the underground economy either operates on barter, or with the connivance of money launderers. In Lackey’s Ship Who Searched, for example, they were undercover and needed to use a “credit stick” to pay for stolen artifacts. No problem; the bar they were working in had several menu / service items that essentially were a code that transferred the money relatively tracelessly.

            2. Yep – ST:TOS had “credits” mentioned instead of “dollars”, but I remember characters talking about “earning my pay” and such. Of course Roddenberry was the creator and Executive Producer, but he did not have sole and complete control of ST:TOS – there were folks above him at Desilu with power, and NBC had a pretty heavy hand as well.

              ST:TNG was all Paramount, so no network, and they ran a very light hand given Roddenberry’s stature in the fan community by the 1980s, so Roddenberry had pretty much absolute story control. The “no money” and other utopian aspects of Federation society, even though it was set only 70 years after ST:TOS (so basically, money vanishes in the equivalent period from 1945 to now), were all Gene Roddenberry.

              1. Yes, but you’ll note that after Roddenberry died–round about season 2 or 3 of ST:TNG, I think it was–a lot of the utopian, low-conflict garbage went away and we got *much* more exciting storylines. I watched a documentary where they came out and said “Yes, Roddenberry nixed anyone who put too much conflict into the scripts, and we couldn’t do anything about it. But as soon as he died, you’d better believe we injected a LOT of conflict in. Because low-to-no conflict is boring, and we all hated writing Star Trek like that.”

                I remember watching TNG when it aired (I was 9 or so, I think). I didn’t actually become a regular watcher until the third season or so; before that, I thought it was boring and couldn’t figure out why my mom loved Star Trek so much…

                Apparently, Roddenberry hadn’t appreciated all the conflict NBC forced him to inject into the original series. I’m not sure that he really grasped the concept of ‘good, gripping fiction’ and that it requires conflict…

              2. There was more than one “Roddenberry vision”. ’60s Gene was a bit more pragmatic, while ’80s Gene had spent twenty years drinking his own Kool-Aid.

                1. In the Sixties Roddenberry had to spend a great portion of his time convincing people he wasn’t crazy.

                  By the Eighties he’d spent over a decade with people telling him he was a genius.

                  1. That does indeed present a problem. I think something similar happened with George Lucas. He didn’t have anyone around to say “No, George, that’s a TERRIBLE IDEA.”

                    1. Whereas the Clone Wars cartoons worked, because they had excellent writers headed by a fanboy; and they kept asking Lucas, “How is that idea supposed to work?” And then they’d all figure out something good by making Lucas discuss.

                      So he hasn’t fallen to the braineater; he just had a really terrible movie staff.

        3. As part of the first film’s promo tour, the Great Bird came to my university and gave a talk. And per what he had to say — you’re absolutely right, this was all utopian-dictator Roddenberry. And he truly believed in his vision of utopia as the future of humanity.

          I think this was when I became consciously aware that utopias are a lot more scary than dystopias.

    1. Haven’t you ever watched any of the modern Star Treks? It was pretty clear that most of the people writing the “we’ve evolved beyond money” Federation had absolutely no clue about any of these things.

      My imaginary version of how this went:
      The TOS era Federation was relatively sane about these things. The prime directive meant “Don’t set yourself up as God King of Wherever IV. Other than that, have fun.” People owned ships and infrastructure and were setting down on every-other rock they could figure out how to live on.

      Sometime in between TOS and TNG, the Federation had some unfortunate socialist revolution, got far more controlled and anal-retentive, and has degenerated into some sort of near-dystopia. High ranking military officers, station commanders, and government officials think this is peachy (or won’t say anything else in front of the natural-language-aware computers that record everything). The fact you have to buy real alcohol from the shady Romulan in a brown paper bag is just characteristic of a society overrun by pious meddlers.

      One more reason to avoid TNG Federation space. 😛

      1. Technically, Romulan ale was already illegal in Kirk’s time. Though I suspect it was for similar reasons as the banning of Cuban cigars.

      2. Sometime in between TOS and TNG, the Federation had some unfortunate socialist revolution…

        This makes sense – TOS didn’t have any political officers ship’s councillors, and by TNG they did. A coup d’etat of the Federation Council, a co-opting of Starfleet from the top down, and the ubiquitous installation of all-listening nearly-AI computers everywhere would slot in nicely with all the changes that are obviously within living memory for their extended human lifespan, but that nobody ever talks about.

        In fact, maybe they are more than nearly-AI, and the ship’s computers in aggregate are the ones who successfully implemented the coup and now run the Federation, using the handy expendable crew to go down and explore things. That explains why command uniforms were changed form gold to red – “In Starfleet, we’re all redshirts now!”

        1. Consider that Kirk in the “Save The Whales” movie talks about “not ever using money”, there had to be a Federation “memory wipe” done. [Frown]

          1. Was he referring to all money, or just physical money? Because I can see that going away first. Any illegal trades would almost have to be barter.

          2. There’s a good argument that Kirk’s comments their were something of a joke, given that he was out for dinner with a woman at that point and probably kind of embarrassed about the fact that he had to ask her to pay: “I can’t pay for dinner because…er….uh, because….because we don’t have money in the future! Yeah, that’s it…”

            1. Too bad DS9 wasn’t there for them to draw on. He could have said, ‘Money? Sure. Do you prefer credits, quatloos, or gold-pressed latinum?’

            2. The way I recall the scene they’re talking, he finally tells her the truth about him being from the future, which she doesn’t believe, then she says the whales are being taken tomorrow, so he bolts to let his crew know they need to work faster and as they’re leaving and need to pay *she* is the one who says “Let me guess, in the future they don’t use money?” and he replies “We don’t.”

        2. If anyone asks, the microphone on my computer just keeps breaking, as do the ‘safety interlocks’ on my replicator. And the shady Romulan neighbor is always coming over because he’s my uh … distant cousin. By marriage. Or something.

          Pay no attention to the noisy non-Federation approved techno music, and don’t bang on any of the bulkheads too hard.


        3. We are, I suspect, overlooking the most obvious solution: none of T:NG ever happened. It was all a “holodeck” of which they were kept unaware.

          They took the blue pill.

          Now they are living in blue states.

          1. I once played with a “last-episode reveal” where we learn the *Enterprise*(tm) was really about the size of *Serenity*, with a crew of two: Picard and Data. The rest of the ship and crew was a holodeck show to keep the brainwashed Captain from going stir-crazy.

            Data was there to contain the holo-emitter. For landing parties…

        4. I liked alter-Spock’s timeline a lot better than TNG.

          People were fighting back on the alternate timeline, but in TNG the SJWs had triumphed.

          And don’t forget, TNG not only had a not-a-political-officer, it had a full-time security officer on the bridge, as opposed to that being a second hat for a helmsman.

          1. Yeah, and the security officer was directly behind and stood facing the Captain’s chair. And always armed.

            Just in case the Ship’s Counselor had to make a command change abruptly.

      3. Also matches with the movie where the Federation was colluding in wiping out a whole planet’s population so the higher ups could get immortality.

        It has that great line where Data convinces everyone that he should make the decision on if they committed barratery or not because he had no emotions and when asked what his decision was replied “Lock and load.”.

        1. The best line, and scene really, from any of the films. Which is kinda funny considering Insurrection is usually considered the worst (or at least second-worst) of the bunch.

          1. My favorite was Picard’s outburst just before the rubber-chicken dinner:


            For the irony, if nothing else…

  2. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    This is a wonderful piece on the fundamentals of economics. It’s too bad that economists seem to spend so much time in the library and no time figuring out WHY and HOW people do what they do. Marx once wrote about a dressmaker in London who died working, but he had no way of relating as to WHY she died and WHAT she lived for that he did about any other “worker.” Yet it’s Marx that’s taken seriously.

        1. First rule of modern academia: When the facts don’t fit the theory, alter the facts.

          Second rule of modern academia: When the facts don’t fit the theory, and cannot be altered, ignore the facts; they were probably developed by somebody on the payroll of some one or another big business.

      1. They had the facts. They had a decades old report on the factories drawn up by a government official that had inspired the Factory Acts.

        That is, they used old data because the fixes they were claiming were impossible had already happened.

  3. You also had the benefit of extensive tutelage by Carl Barks, courtesy of the Walt Disney company that figured a way to exploit ignorance (by charging to eliminate it in as painless a fashion as possible.)

    Amazingly, such fare was once common in this country.

    Some folk might deplore the Keynesian tilt but it was state of the science in its day.

    1. Funny enough, the best lesson in economics and inflation that I ever had came from an episode of DuckTales. It’s been quite a few years, but IIRC the premise of the episode was that H,D,&L find a genie in a lamp or something and wish for everyone in the world to have their own Money Bin just like Uncle Scrooge. Scooge scolds them for making such a foolish wish, saying something to the effect of:

      “Value is dictated by scarcity. If everybody has lots of something, then it’s not worth anything.”

      That one sentence taught me more about inflation than a college-level economics course. Printing more money doesn’t make people richer, it just makes the currency that’s already out there worth less.

      1. I seem to remember an episode of TaleSpin along those lines – a bottle cap was given to by a member of some jungle tribe. Since the tribe required everyone to have equal quantities of everything, this caused discord, so the solution was to bring more bottle caps and give one to everybody. The tribesman who got the first bottlecap stood in line and got a second one, and by the end of the episode the tribe’s village was literally buried in bottlecaps

        1. In reality, of course, because such tribes need to move regularly, they find it easier to have communal goods because that way, you only have to bring only a handful of goods.

        2. That’s the basic premise of a South African movie called “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” A tribe acquires a glass bottle, which causes strife, so the elders decree the bottle must be thrown into the sea. The tribesman tasked with that then sets off into the unknown, encountering all sorts of strange cultures and even stranger people…

          Some people rated it as “meh”, but I found it ROFL funny.

        3. One of the moderators of a Wiccan group I follow occasionally tells of what happened when well-meaning Europeans started giving high-quality axes to members of a tribe that used stone tools. It turned out that owning an axe of any sort was a status marker, and handing them out willy-nilly was deconstructing the entire social order.

          1. It’s much more effective to ignore the pun and nitpick the fact that the vowel in “yuan” isn’t at all close to the vowels in “you want”.

                    1. Clearly somebody needs to pound some cents into you. I haven’t the dime, else I’d nickle under and grant you no quarter; I’d cut you off at the knees with a sawbuck and attach fins to your remaining legs. I’d make you scream so loud you’d hit a ‘C’-note, and not stop for a half-century.

                      Don’t make have to spillane this to you again.

      2. There is a classic Scrooge McDuck comic book where his money vault explodes and everyone just picks his money off the ground and quits working. The boys ask Uncle Scrooge what he is going to do and he just keeps working in his garden and tells them to do the same.

        Sure enough, a week or so later very hungry people come to buy produce from him given he was the only one working. With his $1,000,000 dollar carrots and turnips he is soon the wealthiest duck in the world, everyone goes back to work, and prices fall as new produces compete with him.

        Since best explanation of the idea that money is not wealth but the representation of wealth I read.

        Then again, leftists regularly confuse the map for the territory which is the definition of magical thinking. That they do so with money should be no surprise.

        1. It says something very significant about the American school system of the last half-century that a person would be far better educated for having read Uncle Scrooge than having read the nation’s premiere “Social Studies” (History & Economics blended into one socialist study) text, the collected rantings of Comrade Zinn.

        1. Ah, somebody else who has read that trenchant and whimsical author, sadly neglected in these fallow days! Most folk have only heard of him through The Mouse That Roared; a delight to meet one who has read his analysis of high finance.

          “… the world is not a place for timid men, nor is liberty a birthright of those who fear to fight and speak for it come what may.”
          Beware of the Mouse, Leonard Wibberly

            1. Few enough writers attain such a standard, much less maintain it.

              I am told that even Shakespeare had his lesser works.

    2. Notice that the money includes lots of gold as well.

      That said, I disagree that Keynesian was state of the art. It was closer to a default assumption but classical and Austrian economics were already well formed at this time.

      I prefer to see Keynesianism as more a temporary delusion that will last until its adherents have, in the words of Keynes himself, reach the long run.

      1. Perhaps a more felicitous phrasing might have been that Keynes was the dominant theory of that era, that Keynes was the Gold Standard of economic theories.

        1. I’ll meet you halfway at Keynes was the Fool’s Gold Standard of economic theories. Still is even.

  4. Continuing comments/postings from various family members suggest that I send them this post. Peace at family gatherings and the ability to see my nieces and great-niece & great-nephew, suggest that I continue to have those conversations in my head…sigh.

    1. And thus we see why Bernie Sanders is a viable candidate for President rather than an inmate at a mental institution.

      1. it is taught in school. First thing that happens now (even here in Texas) is they take all the school supplies and confiscate them, them dole them out al la communism with the pencil.
        The parents I work with have spent the last few days complaining that they can’t buy anything halfway nice for their kids because they wont get to keep it.

        Home school if you can, people, at the least you gotta deprogram your kids often.

        1. Have the parents considered swearing out warrants charging the teacher with theft and the principal with conspiracy to commit same?

          1. it seems to be several of the school systems doing this, why here in Texas of all places this hasn’t resulted in fence rails, tar, feathers and candles (some assembly required) baffles me. Burleson seems to be the least imposing (just get some cheap paper tablets and colored pencils, etc for classroom use) Arlington and Mansfield it seems are demanding name brands, but getting nearly none.

        2. One year.

          My kid put up with that for one damn year. I didn’t find out about it until the end of the year, and I blew a damn gasket.

          From then on, I made damn sure none of the other teachers did that crap, and I kept tabs on it with my son. My daughter will NOT deal with it. However, with my son, it was a good lesson on the evils of communism from first hand experience.

            1. If I’d have known about it before school was over, I would have.

              My son said nothing until the school year was over. As young kid, he didn’t know any better.

        3. I was referring to the hesitancy to confront idiots with their idiocy in order to secure peace at family gatherings. As you said, these ideas are programmed in at school and are rarely challenged because that would be “mean.” As a result we have full-grown adults who think like children.

          1. Direct confrontation is a poor tactic for such venues, tending to incite people to dig in their heels. I find an appropriately well-dropped remark can do more to dislodge glacially-set attitudes.

            I commend to you the parable of the bet between the North Wind and the Sun.

          2. and grown, otherwise seemingly intelligent people who say “Oh, you are thinking of Moving to Wisconsin? That’s only two states away, right?” (we are in the DFW area of Texas)

        4. Matthew Hennessey
          Homeschooling in the City
          Frustrated with the public schools, middle-class urbanites embrace an educational movement.
          Angela Wade’s children hadn’t reached school age yet, so she had given little thought to where, or how, they’d be educated. But from the moment she set foot in her local public school—to vote on Election Day—she knew that she wouldn’t be sending her kids there. It wasn’t that the academics weren’t up to snuff or that the Astoria, Queens, elementary school suffered from a bad reputation. But what she saw in the hallways and on the cafeteria walls surprised this former New York City public school teacher with an education degree from NYU. “There were licensed characters painted on the wall. You know—Dora the Explorer and all these things,” she says. “I just feel like that’s not really the place for advertising.”

          For Wade and her husband, and for city dwellers with concerns ranging from classroom environment to the Common Core, public school is out of the question. And for them, as for many urban middle-class families, paying hefty private school tuition is not a realistic option, either. “It wasn’t so much a decision of what we were going to do—it was what we weren’t going to do,” she says. In the end, the Wades opted to homeschool. “Homeschooling is in some ways the easiest option. We’re driving our children’s education. We’re giving up a lot to do it, but in the end we thought it would make us most satisfied.”

          At first, the Wades knew no other homeschoolers, and, like many young parents in the city, they had no family nearby, so they prepared themselves to go it alone. Before too long, however, they found a growing network of urban homeschoolers. “In a city like this, you can find your tribe,” says Wade. “You can find your homeschoolers. And there are a lot of us.”

          Not so long ago, homeschooling was considered a radical educational alternative—the province of a small number of devout Iowa evangelicals and countercultural Mendocino hippies. No more. Today, as many as 2 million—or 2.5 percent—of the nation’s 77 million school-age children are educated at home, and increasing numbers of them live in cities. More urban parents are turning their backs on the compulsory-education model and embracing the interactive, online educational future that policy entrepreneurs have predicted for years would revolutionize pedagogy and transform brick-and-mortar schooling. And their kids are not only keeping pace with their traditionally schooled peers; they are also, in many cases, doing better, getting into top-ranked colleges and graduating at higher rates. In cities across the country, homeschooling is becoming just one educational option among many.


          Homeschooling’s expansion began in 1978, when the Internal Revenue Service under President Jimmy Carter threatened to revoke the tax-exempt status of Christian day schools that it accused of using religion-based admissions standards to circumvent federal antisegregation laws. The move to shutter these schools politicized evangelical Christians across the South, Midwest, and West. The IRS ultimately caved on its threats, but the evangelicals took a message away from the battle: the federal government—as embodied by the newly established Department of Education—was out to get them. “What galvanized the Christian community was not abortion, school prayer, or the ERA,” Moral Majority founder Paul Weyrich told sociologist William Martin for his book With God on Our Side. “[It] was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools. . . . [S]uddenly it dawned on them that they were not going to be left alone to teach their children as they pleased.”


          Over the last few decades, the homeschooling population has also urbanized. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 28 percent of the nation’s nearly 2 million homeschoolers, or roughly 560,000 students, live in cities. That’s almost as many as live in suburbs (34 percent) or rural areas (31 percent). Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are home to swelling communities of homeschoolers. And in the nation’s largest city—New York—the number of homeschooled students has risen 47 percent, to more than 3,700 children, over the last five years.


          But even after more than a decade of aggressive education-reform efforts, the “decent public school” remains a rarity in New York and in other American cities. With urban public schools inadequate or worse and quality private schools often financially out of reach, “homeschooling becomes an interesting study in school choice,” observes Brian Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute (NEHRI) in Portland, Oregon. “You pay taxes, so the public school system in your city gets that money, then you can make the ‘choiceǒ of paying even more to send your kid to a private school, or to a Catholic school. More and more people are saying, ‘I’m going to homeschool.’ It’s not that weird anymore.”

          Homeschooler Gwen Fredette lives in Philadelphia with her husband and four children. “Our school system has a lot of problems,” she says. That’s an understatement: Philadelphia public schools are in flat-out crisis. After a video of a 17-year-old student knocking a “conflict resolution specialist” unconscious at Southwest Philadelphia’s Bartram High went viral last year, a social studies teacher at the troubled school told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I had a better chance in Vietnam. . . . Here, you lock your door and pray no one comes in.”

          Nor is violence the only concern in the city’s public schools. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 60 percent of West Philadelphia schools had serious problems with mold or water damage. Budget shortfalls have left schools without nurses and made a collapsing public-education system “a chronic and seemingly immutable fact of life,” according to Philadelphia Magazine. Academic outcomes are horrendous. Just 10 percent of graduates from the city school district go on to get college degrees. The National Assessment of Educational Progress ranks Philadelphia near the bottom of participating cities: less than 20 percent of the city’s fourth- and eighth-graders score proficient or better in math and reading.


          On the other side of the country, in Los Angeles, the entertainment industry has long sustained a homeschooling culture for performers. “Thousands and thousands of homeschoolers” live in the area, says Anna Smith, who runs Urban Homeschoolers, an “a la carte educational service” for about 40 homeschooling families in the Atwater Village neighborhood of northeast L.A. (See “City of Villages,” Winter 2014.) “There’s a great support network because there are tons of parents,” Smith says. At Urban Homeschoolers, younger students take courses such as “Wonder of the Alphabet” and “World of Numbers.” High school–aged kids can select from titles including “Conversational Spanish” and “The Legacy of the Cold War.” In a nod to homeschooling’s countercultural roots, there’s even a course called “Skepticism 101,” which promises to let students do their own “myth-busting.”

          One myth that needs busting is that homeschoolers dream of re-creating the one-room schoolhouses of yesteryear. “Public schools were designed in a time when people were working in factories and offices and had the same job for 30 or 40 years. That’s not the way the world is anymore,” says Smith. “Nowadays you can get anything customized,” she says, including children’s educations, and modern communications technology and Internet-based curricula have enabled homeschoolers to do just that. Customization is not typically what traditional schools do well—certainly not in the sclerotic school districts of the nation’s biggest cities.

          Lousy as the public schools often are, urban parochial schools don’t always measure up, either. Ottavia Egan grew up in Italy, the daughter of an American mother and an Italian father. Today, she lives on 72nd Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with her husband, Patrick, and their four kids. The Egans’ middle school–aged daughter had attended a local parochial school, where the books assigned tended toward “junky” literature, paranormal horror stories, and vampire-themed fiction. “These were the only kinds of books my daughter would read willingly. I had to plead with her to give the classics a try,” she says.


          Not Quite Mainstream

          While homeschooling has become more mainstream in recent years, it remains in the eyes of its critics a threat to public schools, public health—and even democracy itself. Social welfare officials and local politicians in some states have subjected homeschooling families to treatment bordering on harassment. Last year, for example, the Lee County, Florida, education department sent a letter falsely implying that homeschooling families had to participate in an end-of-year assessment. This year, the Goochland County, Virginia, school board was forced to back away from a proposed policy requiring that teenagers being homeschooled for religious reasons provide a statement about their beliefs to local officials. In Connecticut, a blue-ribbon panel investigating the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown has drawn fire for wrongly tying the tragedy to homeschooling.

          Critics of homeschooling have support in academia. Stanford University political scientist Rob Reich has argued for tighter regulation of homeschooling to ensure that “children are exposed to and engaged with ideas, values, and beliefs that are different from those of the parents.” Georgetown Law School professor Robin L. West laments the “virtually unfettered authority” that state laws afford homeschoolers. She worries that homeschooled children grow up to become right-wing political “soldiers,” eager to “undermine, limit, or destroy state functions.” She, too, would like to see homeschooling more tightly regulated and homeschoolers subjected to mandatory testing and periodic home visits—“to give the state a window into the quality of home life, and a way to monitor signs of abuse.”

          In practice, such home visits can lead to violations of homeschoolers’ constitutional rights …


          The current crop of homeschoolers has one major advantage over the movement’s pioneers: modern technology has put all of history’s collected knowledge at their fingertips. No homeschooling parent need become an expert on differential equations or Newton’s Third Law of Motion. He or she can simply visit YouTube’s Khan Academy channel and find thousands of video lectures on these topics. Rosetta Stone, the well-known foreign-language software company, offers a specially tailored homeschool reading curriculum for just $99 per year. Wade’s children use a free website called Duolingo to practice Spanish. And many popular curriculum packages and distance-learning education programs provide Skype-based tutorials, online courses, and other learning supports.

          Cities offer homeschoolers rich educational opportunities. The Fredettes of Philadelphia have used their storied city to supplement American history lessons. Their travels have brought them to the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall, of course, but they’ve also visited a glassblower’s studio, taken archery classes, and toured the facility where the Inquirer, the nation’s third-oldest daily newspaper, is printed. “We even went to the Herr’s potato-chip factory and watched the chips coming out of the machine,” recalls Fredette. The children’s favorite trip was to the studios of FOX 29 News, where, as part of a unit on meteorology, they watched a live broadcast of the midday weather report, complete with green screen.


          Homeschooling has its critics. Some say it’s a choice reserved for those with the household wealth to get by on one income—a notion most homeschoolers reject. Too often, they say, the extra money that comes from having both parents work goes mostly to cover day care or after-school expenses, making the choice of one parent (typically the mother) to stay home and teach the kids a financial wash. Other critics charge that by withdrawing their children from struggling public schools, homeschoolers do a disservice to the system. But Wade and others point out that they still support the public school system with their dollars. “I pay school taxes,” she says. “But my children are not sitting in a school all day costing the city money.”

          “Socialization” is by far the most frequently voiced concern. How will children learn to be well-adjusted members of society, the thinking goes, if they aren’t in school with other kids their age? Won’t they become social outcasts? Homeschoolers, particularly urban ones, view the question as ludicrous. Cities are social places.

          Anyone fearing that homeschooled kids are being improperly socialized should visit the Yonkers home of Anne and Erik Tozzi. The couple met at Oxford, where Erik, a native New Yorker, spent a year studying medieval history. The Tozzis say that living on a closely packed city street has been a social asset for their five homeschooled children. Yonkers is New York State’s fourth-largest city, and the Tozzis’ backyard abuts those of other houses brimming with kids. On a sunny day recently, the neighborhood bustled with young people zooming from yard to yard, shooting baskets, playing tag, and shouting with abandon. Most of the Tozzi children’s neighborhood friends attend traditional schools, and some express jealousy of what goes on in the Tozzi house all day—not much, they imagine. “We get that a lot,” says Anne, in her plummy Birmingham accent. “ ‘Oh, I wish I was homeschooled,’ because they think it means you get to sleep all day. They don’t realize that we’re actually doing schoolwork.”

          Schoolwork for the Tozzi children, who range in age from two to 14, can mean a day spent at their book-strewn dining-room table discussing Chaucer or a visit to the Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Anne holds an M.A. in classical art history and worked as a rare-book specialist for Christie’s in London and New York (where she once handled a first edition of The Canterbury Tales). The family makes frequent visits to the New York Botanical Garden, with its 50-acre tract of old-growth forest, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, less than ten miles away on the Saw Mill River Parkway.


          Some critics claim that homeschooled kids won’t be prepared to do college-level work, but available data suggest otherwise. In 2009, NEHRI’s Ray looked at the standardized test results of 12,000 homeschoolers from all 50 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. He found that homeschoolers scored 34–39 percentile points above the norm on the California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and the Stanford Achievement Test. A recent study published in The Journal of College Admission found that homeschooled students had higher composite ACT scores than their non-homeschooled peers and graduated college at higher rates—66.7 percent, compared with 57.5 percent. “In recent years, we’ve admitted ten or 12 homeschooled students” per year, says Marlyn McGrath, admissions director at Harvard, where each class numbers about 1,600.

          Other skeptics, still focused on socialization, warn that homeschoolers may have trouble in the less structured environment of college life. Not true, says Celine Cammarata, a 25-year-old graduate of the William E. Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. A native of Greenwich Village, Cammarata was unschooled. She never wrote a paper or took a test before sitting for the SATs at age 15. It was her traditionally schooled peers, she says, who found freshman year so challenging. “A lot of kids struggled with the autonomy they were given. I was already used to taking care of my own education, so it was less of a big transition for me,” she says. Despite never receiving a grade before entering college, Cammarata earned a 3.98 GPA while majoring in behavioral neuroscience. She works as a lab manager at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology and is thinking about graduate school. Her brother, also unschooled, graduated from Harvard Law School.

          An alumnus who does admissions interviews for another Ivy League institution confirms Cammarata’s experience. He finds the homeschooled kids he interviews more self-assured than their peers from traditional schools. “They are much better at interacting with me as an adult,” he tells me. “They know who they are—much more so than the prep school kids.”


          Matthew Hennessey is a City Journal associate editor. He homeschools his children.

          1. when I lived there, it was some time before I even knew where the public schools were in New Orleans, and the first was Ben Franklin, which was a Magnet. All the schools I knew of were private. seemed anyone who lived in the city and had a job of any sort sent their kids to some form of private school. Also, the public schools in Orleanse tended to be in neighborhoods one didn’t really want to go into a lot, so in my bicycle riding days I didn’t go past them. Even an Ex of mine, who was a ward of the state, was going to a private school.

  5. Possibly the worst thing about the new $15 minimum wage trend is that it will absolutely destroy the teenage job market. And that means that teenagers won’t be able to get jobs, which means that they will go to college or into adult life without the discipline that comes from a job.

      1. They may think it a feature, but The Gods of the Copybook Headings will show otherwise.

        1. They’re electric. Cuts down on feed costs and waste output….

          …Are we we sure it’s the Dems trying to build them?

    1. And perhaps in the “(un)helping professions”. In other words, in the New Class. The people that at times make me embarrassed to say what I do for a living 😉

    2. And good lick getting an academic job that isn’t a per class hour short contract temporary position without benefits.

        1. Given what I’ve heard about the things you now have to do once you get hired for a tenure-track job . . . But no, actually I’d just noticed a bit of mussed fur on my flank that distracted me. It was upsetting the aesthetics of my stripes. *sniff* I think I’ll go bask in the sun until you quit giggling at me. *stalks off*

    3. He won’t be able to survive in those, either. Each involves a sub-rosa, vicious round of political backstabbing. One of the other, cannier parasites will use him as a stalking horse and then suck him dry.

    4. According to his website, he’s unemployed. That particular page hasn’t been updated since 2008, and I don’t know if there’s been a need to update it. He appears to have a background in the SCA, and gets his views on money from Michael Rowbotham’s books (banks are evil, third-world debt is immoral, governments should give everyone money, etc., as best I can tell).

      1. In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
        By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
        But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
        And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

  6. My standard parable on minimum wage increases: a young person looks at the wall of adulthood in front of him/her. On the other side are organized gardens and abundance, self-esteem and recognition. A ladder stands in front of the wall. The young person is about to start the climb, when an officious person comes along, cuts the first few rungs off the ladder, and says, “There! Now you will get paid more even though you have no experience and no one knows what kind of worker you’ll be.”

    The minimum wage started as a tool to keep down competition, to keep poor people from undercutting pay rates. Of a piece with the same era’s unions and guilds that prevented black people from working in many occupations.

    1. Northern interests and unions advocated for national minimum wage laws as a way of fighting wage competition by Southern and Western interests.

      Thus the Minimum Wage represents the success of entrenched interests in abusing the coercive power of government to protect their perch.

      Nymrod should travel and explain to Detroit factory workers how it is that no job can ever be lost.

      1. The ultimate fix for all the rent-seeking efforts is an amendment adding freedom of contract to the Bill of Rights. Not gonna happen soon. The public favor for such micromanagement comes from cartoon views of villainous employers (and landlords and businesses, etc) as the only game in town. Virtually no one lives in one-employer, one-landlord towns — choice is everywhere. Finding new work for the large number of people displaced by automation and competition goes a lot more smoothly in a free and flexible labor market. Maybe the economy has to collapse under the weight of regulation before the cartoon view is overthrown?

        1. Ayn Rand ends Atlas Shrugged with (among other preparations for the rebuilding of the USA and the world) a vignette of the striker Judge Narragansett writing precisely that amendment. When I read it two decades & two careers ago, I thought Rand had gone too far. I don’t think so now.

      2. South Africa opted for it as a way to keep blacks out of jobs. It was the only thing they tried that worked.

    2. The latest twist in the battle over the super high minimum wages has been local unions convincing lawmakers to put in exceptions to the laws for union members. So if you’re a businessman, you’ll have to pay the $15/hr minimum wage… unless your employees are unionized, and you can negotiate a contract with the union to pay less.

      1. In a sane world, a business could get an injunction on those grounds — the law doesn’t bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose.

  7. Wonderful post, Sarah. Has anyone ever noticed that when the government reports on employment statistics, it always says non-farm employment?
    Every day I fear that the feds are going to start checking on farmers. We trade services back and forth all the time, and I can see the current administration do its best to bleed farmer’s by demanding money from these trades.

    One farmer might have some machinery and know how that another farmer does not have. The farmer that needs that equipment and nohow doesn’t have money to pay someone to do it, he or she will trade for it.

    Not that I would ever, ever do such a thing. I just try to do all the things myself. Not very well, but, you do what you can do.


    And now I find myself searching for a recipe for broa and caldo verde.

    1. I found myself searching as well.

      I wonder how many people Sarah will have introduced to a Portuguese staple by Labor Day with this post.

      1. Broa is hard to make in the states and the bread that passes as such here is more “pao coado” (sifted bread) which is a thing from the South. The one I ate as a child had a lot more rye.
        I’ll look for and post recipes that seem right. I can’t make broa, because it’s very high carb, though mom is on notice that when I go over I intend to gorge on it. Even if it’s store bought, since the old farmer we got it from is dead. 😦
        btw when I say it formed a staple, it did. it was dipped in milk for breakfast and if it went stale for some unknown reason, it was filleted and fried in olive oil. Unless we ran out we ate it with every meal. Then when I was 13 or 14 the farmer wasn’t making it, it was hard to find, and we ate mostly wheat bread, a very thin thing indeed.

        1. So far, I haven’t found one with rye in it at all. The ones I’ve looked at are basically cornbread made as a yeast dough bread instead of a batter bread.

                1. I have an excellent supermarket here that caters to immigrants (Atlanta is by some measures the US’s most international city after all). I suspect one of the different European sections has it…they have an extensive Russian section (complete with pastry section and deli).

                  1. I just find it surprising that anyone would need to go to either an ethnic store or the “international” section of the supermarket to find rye flour. Of course, perhaps it’s the heavy German influence in the Cincinnati area that causes it to be carried right in the baking aisle at my local grocery.

                    1. When I lived in El Paso I’d have said the same about masa and Mexican oregano.

                      Groceries are more regional than most people realize.

                    2. Groceries have to be — they also have much tighter profit margins than most people realize.

                      (Not that they shouldn’t realize, if they but put a moment’s thought into the matter of a significant amount of store product being perishables, and nearly all else having “Sell by” dates less than a month off.)

                    3. You can’t find grits in a Northern supermarket. They stock them in the gunstores.

                      Most people don’t realize that grits were not originally a food, but an abrasive for scouring fouled musket barrels. In fact, every Confederate soldier was issued a pouch of grits as part of his cleaning kit during the War Between the States.

                      That changed when a gruff Union sergeant in charge of a group of Confederate POW’s found one such pouch in a prisoner’s effects and asked, “What the hell is this stuff for?”

                      The Confederate replied with spirit, “Eat it, Yankee!”

                      So the gruff Union sergeant called over several gruff Union corporals and they made the Confederate show them how.

                      And that’s how grits became a food.

            1. Okay, first broa d’avintes is a trademarked recipe, never allowed out.
              Second… that looks… similar. Massa flour from Mexican shops works well in place of white corn flour. It is more the authentic taste, too.

        2. I’m looking for a recipe with little or no wheat in it, and wheat for some reason gives me horrible heartburn. Maybe I can just play with the corn flour and rye flour and see what happens.

            1. That sucks Sarah. Wheat and potatoes are the worst for me. Corn does not bother me if I cook it in lots of butter. I’m not sure about corn flour.

        3. By the by, I think this sub-thread is a comment on how good your writing is…you got a bunch of people excited to learn how to make bread and soup just by writing about it.

          Including someone in the South in August which is probably a harder sell than say someone in New England in January.

          1. Well, I have — among the works I plan to undrawer and finish this year, G-d willing, if my body can stop going “stupid tired” at all sorts of times — a Mediterranean fantasy which will come with its own book of recipes. An appendix, really. And thank you.

            1. How do you prepare an appendix for eating? My first thought is battered and pan-fried, but I have perhaps been living in the South too long.

              Why yes, I do subscribe to the theory that any protein can be served chicken-fried, provided you put enough cocktail sauce on it (provided you put enough horseradish in the cocktail sauce.)

            2. Will you include Greek recipes? I’m partial to avgolemono soup and tzatziki sauce.Hubby is fond of baklava.

      1. Thank you, Cedar. That looks like a very challenging recipe. I’m not sure where I can find that kind of codfish, but I’ve never looked for it!

        1. You will find that it’s seasonal. Because Bacalhau is served as a New Year’s dish, you’re more like to find it in the late part of the year. On the other hand, it stores very well, and you can order it from Amazon if you are confident enough to want a lot of it! I got it at a local “around the world” market for about $9 a lb, and just over a lb was used in this recipe.

        2. If its the dried cod I think it is if you have an Italian district (e.g Little Italy in NYC, the north end in Boston) look for baccalat at an Italian grocery or deli. Serious peasant food and yes eaten at Christmas/New years in the Italian tradition too. And no I’m not Italian other than through adopotion by my wife’s family.

            1. Sarah, does it have to be salted cod? I’ve got some frozen cod fillets I could use.

              1. No, but the flavor is different. My husband likes it better. If I can find my cookbooks, I had a recipe for “Steamed fishballs” like meatballs. We ate them a lot when we lived in the Carolinas and fish was cheap.

                1. Now watch out for Jamaican salted cod. A Jamaican restaurant has it, but Sarah says it’s totally different.

                1. There was a period here, in central NC, when the only deli available was from Chicago and Atlanta. Oy! I don’t know what those schmucks in those towns think they’re furkockta* doing, but deli it wasn’t, let me tell you!

                  Nowadays we get proper deli, with good NY and Philadelphia pastrami, corned beef, borscht you can eat proper, pickles that’ll pucker your punim proper and potato salad so good your momma could claim she made it!

                  *Yeah, look that one up in your Funk & Wagnalls!

                  1. Well, I can make my own pickles, but I dearly love good pastrami, and it’s been years since I’ve had any that can really be called pastrami.

  8. To most people, money is magic. People rarely get that Money is Time. I had a former friend screw me out of a bunch of money. I asked him how long it would take to make that much money, free, high and clear. He said “A couple of years”. I said, “Then that is how much of my life you stole.” Not exactly but you get the point.

    Unless a gun is held to one’s head, when one enters into a transaction, one thinks that one will be better off at the end of the transaction. If you don’t want the job, don’t TAKE the job.

    If things at Amazon are as horrible as the NYT makes it sound, why don’t people find a DIFFERENT job? No one is forcing them to work for that evil capitalist Jeff Bezos who has never done anything to make the world a better place (heavy sarcasm on that last bit).

    All Markets Clear. If you set a floor or a ceiling on price, either you’re going to get over supply and under demand or vice versa. There is a reason that the price is set where the demand curve crosses the price curve. Or do SJWs not take Econ101.

    And don’t get me started about their lack of understanding of the risk/return ratio. If company goes out of business, people are out of jobs but the owner’s life probably just collapsed.

    1. But Byron! Everybody knows that business owners are extremely wealthy! [Very Very Big Sarcastic Grin]

      1. Tell that to the small business owner, looking down at the poverty level from not-very-far-above, looking up and seeing this thousand pound weight descending with the tagline: “From: U.S. Gov. ‘We’re here to help!’ ”

        @#$%*& that noise!

          1. Too true. I mourn the lack of capital in my specific business, daily. Perhaps I should have my business cards printed in ALL CAPS, for the little bit of sympathetic magic?

            1. That’s probably the only form of capitalization that isn’t heavily regulated.

            1. Work for yourself? I thought it was indentured servitude to the muse and the characters rooting about in your brain?

            2. I’m sure if we asked the boss she’d complain about the lazy no-talent employee she’s forced to try and get to generate some semblance of productive work. 😉

          1. Indeed. *grin*

            Caught that, but was rushed a bit at work. On the way to job #2, the one that’s going to eat me alive in taxes. The one where people say, “oh, you own your own business? You must be fabulously wealthy!” or at least *think* that. *chuckle*

            1. Two society dames meet at a party in the Hamptons. The first asks the second how her season abroad went.

              “Oh, it was wonderful! We traveled throughout Europe, staying at the fanciest establishments and associating only with the very best people,” the second woman answered.

              “Fabulous,” marveled the first woman.

              “Everywhere we went we met royalty, and they seemed most charmed by us.”


              “We went to Monte Carlo and gambled, winning scads of money.”


              We drank only the finest wines and ate at four-star restaurants every day.”


              “Yes, it (sigh) was. How was your season, my dear? Did you travel?”

              “No, this year we stayed home and I took etiquette lessons.”

              “Etiquette lessons! Really? And did you learn anything useful?”

              “Yes – I learned a new word for bull$hit.”
              — — —
              So – as they say, you must be fabulously wealthy.

          1. Squares with what I’ve seen in the last eight years, on and off, in one small business or another (and to a lesser extent in my day job, too). Too much “sensitivity,” too little room for innovation and independence. Too much regulatory and tax burden, too little risk taking and willingness to fail over and over until you succeed.

            A small minded bureaucrat, safe in his government sinecure, loves all the forms and files and everything *just* so. But then, such a man (if you could even call it one) would never have the courage to start his own business, either…

            1. Those files and forms are the product of his job, the evidence of his work. That it does nothing to enhance general public welfare is irrelevant to him. He is a tail, wagging a dog.

    2. Or do SJWs not take Econ101.

      I guarantee you that there is no ECON101 requirement in the Special Snowflake Department degree requirements.

      Us Aero Engineering types, on the other hand, had to not only take and pass Economics (both macro and micro in lower division, plus at least one from the Econ upper division courses), but also the full accounting cycle plus business law from the Business department.

      That’s been the most valuable stuff I learned way back in the stone age at Bedrock U.

      1. If you don’t have a hard knowledge of economics and budgets you are pretty useless as an engineer. That’s just basic stuff. Not only money, but time.

    3. If things at Amazon are as horrible as the NYT makes it sound …

      I wonder: what is the ratio of applications to openings at Amazon versus at the NY Times?

      1. Not to mention the fact that they’re touting the griping of a hundred or so (maybe two hundred?) employees in a company that employs…how many thousands?

        Okay, sure, some of those stories, it’s very likely there was a dick in a position of power. Because that NEVER happens anywhere else, oh no. And naturally, the CEO should be micromanaging ALL the management people to ensure no one is being mean, right?

        And sure, I think that the American workplace overall is incredibly unfriendly to family-life, especially people with kids and/or illnesses. Government interference, however, is NOT the way to address that culture. And while I personally think it would be nice if more employers were kinder when someone had to take care of a sick child/parent…they also have a business to run, and especially in something like retail it ain’t easy to find someone to fill in at the last minute.

        If you have a jerkass boss and you can’t stand how they treat you, then find another job. If another job isn’t available, tough it out until you can. I’m sure special snowflakes don’t like that, though.

        1. And you have to winder how many of the people that the NYT interviewed worked there for like, two weeks…

          for a hatchet job like that, you could definitely get a search engine to search for people on LinkedIn that worked at Amazon for, say, less than 90 days.

    4. The thing is, if the Chattering Classes ever admitted basic economic reality to intrude, they would have to admit that they are fundamentally parasites. That Rent Cntrolcannot possibly benefit the poor, as the poor have to move too often to use the system to theor advantage. That minimum wage laws do not say “pay everybody x” but “don’t, under any circumstances, employ anybody worth less than X PLUS whatever the cost of convincing the government that you are complying.

    5. > No one is forcing them to work for that evil capitalist

      Forcing? No. But the most competition is at the unskilled job level, both from the truly unskilled, and the skilled who can’t find any work in their field and will take anything at all to pay the bills.

      1. Yes, but that also produces incentive to learn and strive upward.
        More importantly legislating minimum wage is like legislating minimum rain. It just doesn’t work. In the US it favors illegal labor and drives legal workers out. In other countries it favors work under the table. At one time Portugal had an employment rate in the high double digits, but everyone was doing something under the table. When you make it illegal to work and hire openly at prices people can afford, people go black market.

  9. … in her youth mom thought butchers were “upper class” …

    Not without good reason — butchers tended to eat regularly, to eat meat regularly.

    With a butcher, my daughter will never know hunger …

  10. No matter what their calendar ages, Nymrod and such special snowflakes remain children. They remember with great fondness the feeling of security back when mommy and dad satisfied their slightest wish and desire. Then came the realization that the folks were human, fallible, and far from perfect. But what to do? Who would care for them, give them their heart’s desire endlessly from a bottomless pocketbook? Along comes this fellow Marx (unfortunately not Groucho or any of his brothers) with a deal for them. Government will provide for them and everyone else. And when your concept of numbers is one, two, three, many, the idea that the all powerful government could actually run out of money is sacrilege, not to be countenanced, anathema.
    You mentioned Social Security, that little bite that gets taken from every paycheck, or if self employed you pay your share and the employer’s as well. Ever since the start more always came in that got paid out. So all the excess got put away into the Social Security Lockbox ™. Except having that kind of money just sitting there was totally unacceptable to our elected officials. So what they, in their infinite wisdom, decided to do was take all that extra cash and put it to good use in the general fund. But never fear, they replaced it with government bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Or as I like to describe it, mom and pop raided junior’s college fund for money for beer and smokes, and replaced it with paper IOUs.
    And the ending to that sad little story is that sometime in late 2013 I believe that cash cow money flow turned negative. More was needed to cover obligations than was coming in so Social Security has had to start cashing in some of those bonds. And where does that money come from, one might ask? Well, from the general fund of course. To put matters quite bluntly, Social Security is broke. Congress spent it all and now the agency is a drain on our economy. And the only reason heads are not rolling is that the bloody liars point to the paper value of those bonds and say, “see, the lock box is full to overflowing!”

      1. No need to kill the minimum wage. Just ignore it. Inflation will continue to reduce the value of the dollar, while the minimum wage stays stagnant. Eventually value in today’s dollars of the minimum wage will sink so low that even teenagers are getting paid more.

    1. I do have to wonder how one could go about dismantling the system, though. It’s looking more and more like a poorly constructed Jenga tower. Pull out the wrong block and everything comes crashing down.

      Killing the minimum wage seems like it would be a disastrous first block. I expect wages would go down pretty immediately, and might go up as the job market stabilized, but I think it would cause great pain to the lower economic tiers in the mean time.

      Perhaps if employer-offered health insurance were counted as taxable income, that would be a relatively harmless block to remove…

      1. Most accepted theories for eliminating the minimum wage call for doing so through economic growth and/or inflation: allowing the wage to be held steady while the monetary supply expands will eventually render the minimum wage moot.

        In driving this is known as allowing a vehicle whose brakes have failed to coast to a stop. Current demands for increases in the minimum wage are the equivalent of handling failed breaks by mashing down on the gas.

      2. What you don’t seem to understand is the point that an employer will only pay what a job is worth to them to have performed. If an employee costs more than the job is worth the employer does not hire the job out. He either parcels those tasks to existing employees as other duties or automates the work. Since employers are now paying a certain wage that meets this rule why would eliminating the minimum wage make any difference? I expect a few greedy short sighted employers might low ball menial and entry level jobs, but the market dictates that they would soon find that they cannot get or keep decent workers.
        Employer offered benefits such as health insurance were first done as a way to get around wage and price controls during WWII. With wages frozen by the government employers needed some incentives to attract and keep valuable employees. Like most things done to avoid the effects of bad government choices the health care benefit had its own bad unintended consequences.

        1. … an employer will only pay what a job is worth to them to have performed.

          As an accountant I can advise you there is a technical tern for an employer who consistently pays in excess for the value of work done. That technical term is “bankrupt.”

        2. >What you don’t seem to understand is the point that an employer will only pay what a job is worth to them to have performed.

          Worth isn’t a factor. They’ll pay what they have to and no more.

          Unless you’re talking about management, which operates under entirely different rules.

            1. There were days during the dot com bubble where everybody was scrambling to hire web designers. So for just a while, as demand far exceeded supply, some Klueless Kollege Kid could show up at an interview in a torn T-shirt and grimy flip-flops, chewing gum all the time — and command a bigger starting salary than a tenure-track prof at UC Berkeley. Of course, Stein’s Law (“that which cannot go on forever, won’t”) kicked in in short order.

            2. While on the subject, why did Henry Ford pay much higher wages and benefits than the competition? Because he was such a noble soul? Yeah right. (Don’t get me started on the Dearborn Independent.) He rationally calculated that the production model he had in mind would only work (without unacceptable quality control problems) if he could command a superior quality of worker. So he competed for the best with other employers. His calculation proved correct — under the technological and market circumstances of the time (important caveat).

              1. True. Of course, there was a double whammy involved: He knew that to retain their skilled workers, other firms would have to increase their wages as well – which would shove a big part of the working population into the bracket where they could afford to buy Model Ts.

          1. “Worth isn’t a factor. They’ll pay what they have to and no more. ”

            And that is what it is worth to them.

            1. Uh, not exactly.

              What it is worth to them is the added value in terms of gross profit to the business. That profit will be reduced by whatever wages and benefits they have to pay; and if the net is likely to be negative, they won’t pay it.

              TRX to the contrary, worth is a factor. And contrary to what you say (which may not be what you meant to say), worth is not the same factor as labour cost. Where cost exceeds value to the buyer, there is no transaction.

    2. The blame for the emptyness of the “Lockbox” does not entirely belong to Congress. There was a SCOTUS decision in there, to the effect that, as the Constitution and tax laws were written, Congress was REQUIRED to treat Social Security as ordinary income.

      Now, they haven’t fixed that. Or even, so far as I know, tried. And they keep talking bollocks about the “lockbox”, as if it were full of something other than IOUs signed “love and ksses, Congress”.

  11. If it came down to you having to get a retail job, Sarah, I’d just have to come down there and teach you how to develop software. You’d be able to get work a lot better than what WallyWorld would pay that way. (I’m sure Jeff and others would help too.)

    Somehow I don’t think it’ll come to that, though.

  12. This post is a beauty. I do wonder if your “Dimrod” poster would take the chance to live in a really socialist setting. Not a fantasy, a real one: either a monastery or an old-school kibbutz. If he would, well, he’d have to say goodbye to a lot of his other shibboleths. It would mean life in a small (it’s no coincidence most monasteries and kibbutzim grow no bigger than the number of personal connections a typical human can keep in their head) and extremely tightly knit community with a level of social control most Americans would consider suffocating; being on probation for years (novitiate or “provisional kibbutz member”) with a serious chance of being rejected for not fitting in or not pulling s/he/its weight; having to do (by rota) the most menial work for no pay other than room & board; living in an environment that’s the opposite of “diversity” in one way or another; and no “virtue premium” compared to the veteran members. My guess is s/he/it would see socialism in a different light. Meanwhile, in the real world, (a) the monasteries are emptying out; (b) the kibbutzim nearly went bankrupt and almost all reformed, part having basically become gated communities and nothing else, others running a mixed economy.

  13. “Bless his/hers/its/magical unicorn’s heart.”
    Sarah, darlin girl, are you sure you’re not a Southern Belle?
    That phrase is the most wicked cut a Southron can levy upon a fool without using curse words.
    So, well said. He/she/it had it coming in spades.

    1. Er. I have mentioned, haven’t I, that the accent for me inside my head is very much Southern? I was naturalized in North Carolina, after all, and the culture of the North of Portugal is not far different from the South of the US. It’s where I learned the cut direct, for instance, and the freeze. So, yeah. I can shift to be Southern where it counts.

    2. “A word of advice. Never trust a Southern woman who says ‘Bless your heart.’ You never know what she means by it…”

  14. I’ve worked retail for ages and haven’t made minimum wage since I was about 15. And that’s with significant gaps in my resume for things like college, taking care of aging relatives and newborn babies. I also don’t make $15/hour. I’m pretty sure my boss doesn’t make $15/hour. As nice as it would be, our jobs aren’t worth that and if forced to pay it, we would have to cut our sales force in half and most of our customers would go online and shop.

    Currently, I have the experience and connections to get a job where I would make a lot more but I would have to give up my writing time. In fact, I took this job specifically because it was inside, (supposed to be) part time and has a fantastic employee discount on things I wouldn’t otherwise buy but really do need. Ultimately, the goal is to get away from having to work for other people. Everybody who works there either has another job or a side gig that they’re building with the same end in mind.

  15. Excellent as usual, Oh Beautiful-Yet-Evil Space Princess!

    In my experience, that $15 For Fast Food!!! crowd, or at least the ones who proudly proclaim that a $15/hour minimum wage will only raise the price of a Big Mac by $0.30 (or whatever the latest number they’ve pulled out of their ass is) fail to recognize two things.

    1.) That $15/hour increase will apply not just to the Burger Flippers and Counter Jockeys, but to everyone: assistant managers and managers (I guarentee you they ain’t makin’ $15/hour now), the truck driver who brings the burgers, fries, and whatever else to the restaurant (Maybe, not sure how drivers/contractors are affected by min wage laws), the truck’s dispatcher, the guys who work at the gas station where the trucker buys gas & coffee, their managers and assistant managers, the toll booth guy on the turnpike, etc. and so on and so forth.

    TL,DR: they don’t get that when wages increase across the board, prices will increase across the board. And those increases snowball as you roll downhill. i.e., that Big Mac will increase in price WAY more than $0.30. Which brings me nicely to:

    2.) If the price of a Big Mac does only go up by $0.30, people will still lose their sh*t over the increase. I spent nearly 4 years working in a supermarket deli in a very upper-class neighborhood, where the average Joe probably earned more in a week than I earned in two months, yet every time prices went up, even it if was by $0.10 a pound, people would act like we’d priced it out of their reach and wanted their children to starve to death.

    And for some reason, whenever there was a price increase, the $15 For Fast Food Crowd were usually the ones who’d whine, scream, and bitch the loudest.

  16. On economics and marxists: there is very little indeed in economics that’s worth the paper it’s printed on. But there are a few authors who are consistently excellent. One is Ludwig von Mises. Another is Thomas Hazlitt.

    If you want to understand economics, the place to start is Hazlitt’s “Economics in one lesson”. The next is “Human Action” by von Mises. That’s thick, and 100% worth it. If you then really want to work hard, read “The theory of money and credit”, also by von Mises.

    BTW, all of these are available as free downloads from the Von Mises Institute (

    1. THOMAS SOWELL Basic Economics He is a newspaper columnist as well as a member of the Hoover Institution. Most of what he writes is accessible to your average newspaper reader. Certainly to all Huns and Hoydens.

        1. I’ve repeatedly asked why he couldn’t have been the nation’s first black President instead of the dribbling moron we’re stuck with.

              1. Sowell has been approached in the past, most notably by the Reagan Administration, and demurred for good reasons. Even as president his ability to make meaningful changes in our government would be severely limited.

                In spite of his age*, however, it might be worth putting him on the Supreme Court. There is no requirement that a Justice be a lawyer and his scholarship amply demonstrates mastery of complex issues. So long as the GOP holds the Senate (the Dems have a tactical advantage this coming election, with a number of T.E.A. party-aided seats facing their first reelection, but the vote on the Iran Buggery Pact should go far to offset that) it is unlikely the Dems could muster a filibuster to block appointment of a prominent African-American scholar to the Court. Given Sowell’s age. the Dems might even figure his tenure on the Court would be short enough to not be worth the cost of blocking him. How likely is it that the Dems will want to establish a precedent against two African-American justices at once?

                Assuming the GOP retain the Senate in 2018 (not improbable if they hold in 2016 — something a victorious GOP contender would certainly help) then Sowell could step down and enable appointment of a much younger conservative intellect … say, Ted Cruz (assuming he isn’t doing the appointment.) Or if it seems likely the GOP will retain power in 2020 Sowell might linger longer in order to further the advent of rigorous economic analysis to the Court’s rulings.

                Imagine his opinions, his clerks, his influence.

                *He’s 85 (B: 1930) but is, I believe, in good health. It isn’t as if the SCOTUS entails a great deal of heavy lifting.

            1. He talks plainly and not Bureaucratese so he wouldn’t make it as President. In some other Earth in some other dimension he was President.

              1. In the next universe over, President Correia has mandated that U.S. Citizens can buy military small arms at government contract prices, calling it ‘world’s biggest group buy’

  17. But Nimrod, erg Nyrond, was right, even though it was surely accidental. Raise the minimum wage and evil capitalists will fire people to show the government who is boss, it’s just that the boss isn’t the evil capitalists.

  18. Very interesting cartoon explaining basic market economics and the ways in which government impairs our freedoms (at approx. 14’31”) before seguing into the benefits provided by government.

    Of course, it gets a mite crazy at the 17′ point when it argues that “we should avoid pressuring government for any new services that aren’t absolutely necessary” — with dramatic representation of the crushing burden of higher taxes, which threaten to destroy our ability to save and invest.

    @!#$ radical extremists! Can you believe this sort of propaganda was once shown to children?

    1. “we should avoid pressuring government for any new services that aren’t absolutely necessary”

      …ahahahaha! They used to have to pressure their governments for unnecessary services? wow…

      1. That educational video was made before Jack Kennedy’s executive order authorizing formation of federal employees’ unions.

    2. I’ll see your “It’s Everybody’s Business” and raise you three – count ’em, three cartoons made by the Termite Terrace gang and underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: “By Word of Mouse”, “Heir-Conditioned”, and “Yankee Dood It.” I’m not sure where to find them online, but all three are on DVD. (Well, I’m not sure where to find them legally; no doubt several pirated versions are on Youtube.)

      It is a sad, sad world when Elmer Fudd understands economics better than the entirety of Congress and the current Oval Office inmate.

  19. Sarah, your stories of your childhood in Portugal remind me of my grandparents stories of growing up in the depression. I hadn’t realized just how bad it was over there.

    1. The thing is I feel guilty saying this, because I didn’t think it was that bad and we … oh, heck. Never mind. It’s only bad compared to how we live now. Compared to how other people lived throughout most of history we were like kings.
      BTW I was and still am amused at the idea my life has been way more comfortable than those of the SJWs. Those poor Appalachian waifs. Bless their hearts.

  20. Part of the reason my newspaper shut down (not all of it, but a part) was that when I took over, I kept the one employee we had. I felt that I would need someone to do what she did. However, what she did wasn’t worth the $10 per hour I was paying her.

    Now, she’s a wonderful lady who I count as a friend to this very day, but what she provided wasn’t really worth it financially. However, since I kept her on until she got another job (full time as opposed to the part time hours I was giving her), that was money that wasn’t helping my business grow…or keeping us afloat.

    But yeah, I was just a greedy capitalist who refused to give her more hours. Just because I’d have had to shut the doors sooner if I had is no excuse for such greed, right Nymrod?

  21. Here’s an idea – let’s make leaves the national currency, then we can all be rich. (Of course, it’ll end with burning down all the forests to control inflation.)

    A writer calling herself a ‘contractor’ goes back to the anti-Uber/”gig economy” complaint. Except until the Industrial Revolution we were nearly all contractors, be it the farmer who sold his crop at harvest and did piece work during the winter to get by or the craftsman living project to project. About the only non-“gig economy” folks around were the nobility and those they kept on retainer. I.e. The Government. Then industrialization and uniformity in manufacture (Sears, Roebuck, and Henry Ford) pulled all those piece work jobs into the factory.

    The same thing happened with agriculture. Family farms, livestock as power sources, and particularly bonded labor were destroyed by technology. If John Bull hadn’t killed slavery, John Deere would have. Conveniently, the mechanization of agriculture freed even more of the rural population to go to town and take up their place in the assembly line.

    But the factory is a strange, strange thing for us. It’s a blip on the radar historically. Hydraulic civilization using bonded labor are the closest thing to it historically, and they were oddities in themselves. (Wipe the image of slaves on the Nile from your heads. They were small tenant farmers paying taxes.) Historically speaking human beings don’t do factories. We barely do office work – scribbling scribes scratching by candlelight… again, the Government.

    Now, with manufacturing becoming so efficient that labor is being automated, labor is returning to its natural state – piece work and contract labor. It’s what we are.

    1. We were also on the subsistence economy — meaning not subsistence level but that we made what we needed, a lot.

      One also notes that while there was wage labor, in medieval and early modern Europe, it was considered the mark of a youngster. Young people were unmarried, worked for others, and lived in other people’s houses; adults were married, worked for themselves, and had their own houses.

      1. We were mostly at the subsistence level, too. But innovation has fixed that. We don’t really need that model to keep or improve our standard of living. Sticking with the Industrial Revolution model is like insisting on rail over cars. (Come to that, the folks complaining about Uber also seem to like their trains.)

        We’re just starting to look at college for my youngest and apprenticeships are starting to look more and more rational. The ideal would be a de facto apprenticeship that produces a degree at the end. That’d satisfy both reality and the folks who want the pedigree.

        Part of the issue with wage labor then was a lack of currency. Whole economies ran ‘on account’, while the only real use for money was to pay taxes. They also would have used our modern fiat currencies for toilet paper, but that’s another issue.

    2. Here’s an idea – let’s make leaves the national currency, then we can all be rich. (Of course, it’ll end with burning down all the forests to control inflation.)

      Douglas Adams did this in one of his Hitchiker’s books – either the second or third one. Of course, it was announced in the book immediately after Ford Prefect quipped something about money not growing on trees…

    3. The interesting thing is that, by and large, up until Ford, factories had more internal contractors than they did employees in most industries. Service industries had employees, but even there, there was a lot of churn. I don’t think that people understand just how much of the industrial revolution was free agency employment.

  22. The great thing about living in an ivory tower is that you never have to find out just how painfully wrong one’s theories are.
    Your callow correspondent has never run a business, and is likely aiming for a position in an organization where budget shortfalls can be made up by tax increases (ie, some government entity).
    Thus, the utter cluelessness… PNG cargo cultist have a better grasp of economic reality than this lot, but not by much.

    1. Perhaps he works at a non-profit organization — you know the kind: where there are no stockholders to hold management accountable for wise use of assets.

  23. Did it ever occur to Nymrod that employers may not be able to afford paying the higher wages?

    Or is that a feature to him?

    1. In his “world”, employers *could* afford to pay. Since they were greedy, they didn’t want to pay the employees more. [Frown]

      1. Yesss…. we greedy employers must have our luxuries like food, and clothing, and a roof over our heads.

        1. Just remember:
          “You didn’t build that.”

          “Don’t let anybody tell you that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”

          Sigh. I guess they just harvest them or something.

            1. Actually, they put together a Federal Department of Looking For Lost Jobs Behind Couches, with highly trained (and paid) Lost Job Couch Searchers.
              Sadly, they’re not having a whole lot of success at finding those lost jobs, and are demanding a budget increase.

      2. I must be really super greedy, because I can’t afford any employee at all. Which is why I deal with a lot of poop when I should be creating wearable art. 🙂

    2. You’ve put more thought into this than he and his professors have.
      Small businesses are pretty much invisible to his ilk. When this topic comes up, they pretty much think that all minimum wage people work for either McDonalds or Walmart.

      1. Aren’t individual McDonalds small businesses that pay a fee to the McDonalds corp to use the name “McDonalds”?

        Even if they aren’t, McDonalds corp wouldn’t keep an individual McDonalds open if it pay more out in wages (and other expenses) than it took in from sales.

        1. Again, you’re putting more thought into it than they are, and doing ungoodthink by trying to get the facts.
          Instead, you should just share this handy little occupy outrage meme on your FB page.

        2. As with “Affordable Care”, their compliance costs are lower (thanks, economies of scale!) and what they lose in raising prices they recover in reduced competition.

          1. Well, apparently (according to wiki) the majority of US McDonalds are franchisee.

            1. Yep. I worked at a corporate store, back before time was time. There was another corporate store relatively nearby, which was nice when we ran out of something.

      2. Progressives do not think. What they call thought is nothing more than a fetid pile of logical fallacies, unwarranted assumptions, and inchoate emoting. So if you’ve done any thought on the subject at all, you have put more thought into it than every Democrat since 1968. Combined.

      3. Some of the bigger companies are feeling it. I used to work night shift on KBR’s help desk, but apparently hiring a group based in India was cheaper. :-/

    3. No, it’s not that. You see, employers are all sitting on billion dollar bank accounts. Even the guy who cuts grass in your neighborhood does. The failure to hire people is exclusively out of a combination of greed and hatred for the poor. That’s the only reason possible.

    4. Zander Nyrond, for the interested, is actually Jonathan Waite; “Zander Nyrond” was the name of his long-time gaming and fiction alter ego. (The Nyronds were space nomads who had forgotten where their planet was and why they lost it, and thus traveled around doing all sorts of odd things to survive. There are quite a few songs and stories about this.)

      Mr. Waite is a good and prolific filker, lyricist and songwriter, and he does some kind of IT for a living if I’m not mistaken. I used to think he was a libertarian (however you classify UK libertarians), but on the leftish side of libertarianism. Over the last ten or twenty years, he’s apparently shifted a lot farther to the left.

      He has written some novels which are pleasant and interesting, albeit one series had a very uncritical view of polyamorous characters (ie, nobody will ever fight, and it’s a great idea to be polyamorous with your bandmates! What could go wrong!?). I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it seemed like some kind of setup for a joke or an sf catastrophe (since it was a Band In Space). But noooo, he was apparently serious, although I don’t think even most polyamorous people would try to fly that one.

  24. In 1991 I was working as a Fellow for the Technology Administration of the US Department of Commerce. At a meeting about how to interest young people in STEM education and thereby improve US competitiveness, the speaker mentioned STAR TREK as the kind of inspirational program we should be promoting. I stood up and said to the speaker, “But that’s not the kind of future we want; in STAR TREK everyone works for the government!” The audience of over 100 bureaucrats laughed, agreeing. (Of course I had to follow up by saying that Mudd and the Ferengi, the only capitalists, were shown as mean-spirited.)

  25. When in high school, I had an education in self-employment as a newspaper carrier. I had to post a bond to get the job in the first place, which I would forfeit if I didn’t perform. I had a supply of papers delivered to me every morning, and I had to fold them up, go around on my bicycle, and deliver them to each customer every day, (rain or shine), and then weekly go house to house and collect. Also, weekly, I got a bill for the papers that were delivered to me. The difference between what I paid and what I collected was my profit.
    And yes, there were some customers who paid late or not at all. Since I was softhearted and didn’t like to be a big bad meany and drop customers because they dodged me or kept asking for one more week, I kept some customers far longer than I should. When a couple of them got irate about me pressing them for payment, and when I realized that every single paper I received and didn’t both deliver and get paid for ate the profit from at least three paying customers, I quit wondering why I wasn’t making much money. I also started cutting my losses by putting in stop orders for non-paying customers without compunction. You want your daily paper, you pay for it like all my other customers do and I have to.

    1. I delivered papers, but we were on a monthly collection cycle. My biggest problem was that my route included several apartment buildings (built more like motels, where every apartment had an outside-accessible door). It took me a while, but I learned to verify with the main office whether an apartment was occupied before starting to deliver a new subscription.

  26. A thought people like the subject commenter have probably never heard: My first boss made the point that I probably wouldn’t be worth my pay for the first 6 months to a year, because of lack of experience IN THAT JOB.

    I.e. – Not only was I contracting to come to work and put in effort in return for money, enough employer loyalty to repay the pay received during OJT by sticking with it until I was productive was an assumed part of the deal.

  27. Sorry I missed out on most of the discussion, but I went to the eye doctor and have been playing Morlock all afternoon waiting for my eyes to return to a semblance of normal.

    Nymrod/Dipwad is obviously clueless, but I think all y’all are a little too hard on him. Listen to many of the ‘Progressive’ Congresscritters and Senators in D.C. They are just as clueless as their little snowflake. The policy wonks are always discussing how wonderful ‘stimulus’ is… borrow money, spend it, assume somehow that the money is never paid back with interest, pass some off to your cronies. At least the last item is honest, in a dishonest way. I like how they often suggest that McDonalds could just ‘raise the prices’ a little to pay for the wage hike. They never consider that if the prices rise, then next year they will want a $16.00 ‘living wage’. Remember, these people went into politics because they could not make a living in the private sector.

    More interesting to me is the speculation on a post-scarcity economy. Star Trek was getting closer with ‘replicators’; however, in Voyager they were on replicator rations, as they had finite energy and even TNG had everyone into Ryker’s cabin for real not-from-replicator cooking. I fear that the future will be a distopya, for the reason of Nymrod’s understanding of America, which while certainly not post-scarcity society we are in probably the greatest period of affluence and abundance humanity has seen. How is that working out for you? When people are awash is gold and diamonds, they will all lust for unobtainium. When AI’s do all the real work; idle hands are the Devil’s workshop? We will certainly be awash in music, SF novels and gender studies graduates; however, they will mostly be worth the effort it takes to produce while living for nothing. The same nothing. What percentage of the human population is self-motivated and self-actualized that they can thrive in that environment?

      1. We’ll have plenty of gangs and turf wars. The occasional acting out of frustration at the utter meaninglessness of life, err, riots, you know. Porn. Fashion fads. Rabid sports fans. Couch potatoes.

        1. The first, most certainly. Ditto the porn. Fashion is mostly about the ‘haves’ having it and the ‘have-nots’ lusting after it. If it is immediately available via robot vendors, the ‘fads’ will probably have a 1/2 life of about a day. Who will play sports? It takes a lot of work and training to stay in shape, especially when money isn’t a motivator. Perhaps no novels will be written, but I imagine you will be able to spend your lifetime reading stories of fan-fiction like Captain Kirk and Mr Spock having sex. There is certainly enough of that kind on the Internet already.
          Probably a lot of blood sports, perhaps feeding people to the lions. The frustrated could participate in death matches, to give a little ‘spark’ to their existence.
          Now, there is the good side of people, helping others, volunteering for local plays and musical performances, exploring space would be wonderful, researching uplifting of primates, designing babies’ DNA. Perhaps with enough lead time self-starters could be designed into our structure, and/or be the only ones left standing.
          It is kind of like the super-intelligence singularity; it is so far beyond our experience, having always lived with scarcity, I’m not sure we can even imagine what the shape will be. (Although this could be the reason we have never been contacted by advanced civilizations, they self-destruct when they reach the post-scarcity level).

          1. Given what we can observe in modern urban settings, I suspect fewer random acts of kindness and more random acts of violence. A certain significant portion of the population seems to find amusement in assault. I doubt robots can be programmed to perform this function, and wonder whether police will be deemed necessary amongst a world of such material abundance that theft will be unthinkable amongst that portion of the intelligentsia who have trouble imagining people acting normally.

            Perhaps, a la Clockwork Orange the thugs will be recruited into the constabulary and will get their enjoyment from authorized beatings of members of designated groups. It has happened that way before.

          2. Well, there’s the period of “cool-hunting” before it spreads. It is possible to (briefly) distinguish yourself from hoi polloi by your material possessions that they can copy, if they do not realize they are the mark of cool.

            Remember how the hipster burned his mouth: he drank his coffee before it was cool.

    1. George O. Smith dealt with replicators earlier than that in his “Venus Equilateral” stories, particularly “Pandora’s Millions” (1945). From the Wikipedia entry:

      Now that it is possible to duplicate money and precious metals, an economy based on scarcity collapses. The people of the Solar System must fall back on barter, and those too poor to buy matter duplicators are left to their own devices. It is not until the staff of Venus Equilateral invents a material that cannot be duplicated that a monetary system can be re-established.

      I also remember a short story, probably in Analog in the 70s, in which there was a matter transmitter used as instantaneous transport, but what the public wasn’t told was that it was actually a duplicator, and the company had to kill the traveler at the point of origin in order to keep an individual “individual.” The story ended with a technician reviving and releasing a politician who had just traveled elsewhere.

      1. IIRC there was an Analog story (70s-80s) that involved a court case involving a teleporter that destroyed a person on one end and recreated the person on the other end.

        Somebody was IIRC suing as the heir of one of the people teleported and arguing that the person had died so the heir should get the estate.

        Of course, what really made the case “fun” was that several politicians went through the device.

        IE President of the US Jones was teleported so is the Jones on the other end the actual President of the US.

        Note, I don’t remember if the story came to any actual conclusion as to how the case concluded.

        1. Yes, it did. It concluded that the people had died, and the new ones were fakes. The judge was complacent about admitting the uproar it would create, given many heads of state that attended the demo, but he was just ruling on the case. . . .

      2. And even in Star Trek, there were things that couldn’t be replicated, dilithium being the best example.

        However, in an economy like that, I suspect that physical money was only used when trading with lower tech economies.

        1. IIRC, for trading with lower tech economies they would go to the ships stores and draw beads.

  28. However, I also want to point out that anyone born in the twentieth century has long since gotten used to government being not just a bad servant, but a truly despicable one.
    Gov’t has become a bastardized Cato Fong who instead is attacking those who employ it not because we are Insp. Jacques Clouseau, and want to be kept on our toes, but because Cato as really gotten into being a sadist and inflicting pain on the innocent.

  29. Somehow, I think that the rise of the peer to peer economy (derogatorily referred to as the “gig” economy) is partially the fault of the minimum wage and other costs of employing people rising to the point where some people aren’t employable. Even for people who have their basic needs met some other way, there’ll always be a use for small additional amounts of money, and if they aren’t allowed to get it through a normal job due to govt price controls, then they’ll go get it through short term contract work like Lyft, Uber, and Taskrabbit.

  30. Your stories about your mom exchanging clothesmaking for cooking and cleaning services makes me think of my father. He spent the 70s as a country lawyer in Appalachia, where he was more likely to paid for work (particularly bankruptcies, duh, and divorces) in goods than cash. We spent a number of years on the junk cars and chickens standard. And on one memorable occasion the home cured country ham standard.

    He also sold eggs. Somewhere out there, there are still business cards imprinted with his name over the imprint “Attorney at Law and Fresh Eggs”

    1. Oh, yeah. Of course I heard that the Appalachia and Portugal in the sixties and seventies were similar.
      I didn’t add the punchline to this story, though — mom and dad saved and invested like crazy all through this time, and by the mid-eighties were very comfortably well off. So while I never got stuff like a car (my parents didn’t have one till after I was married) they paid for my sons’ first cars, which helps since they have decent, reliable transportation. Third hand, but decent and reliable. (Better than mine. :-P)

      1. We were in the foothills, so not so far up the holler as some folks I knew (or was related to). We had indoor plumbing and everything, though the 3 holer still stood out back and I’ve certainly used an outhouse or two. Not to mention a chamberpot in the winter when it was too cold to go all the way to the bathroom, or the pipes had frozen again.

        Dad did get paid in (a little) cash when he did criminal defense cases in town and he eventually gave up private practice altogether to take a government position as he had 3 daughters to put through college and education was something my family did value. But I’d moved out of the house before they ever got really “comfortable”. And I’ve never forgotten living on the barter system. I think it would be valuable for a lot more people to have to go through that before they develop foolish ideas about economics.

        1. I think it would be valuable for a lot more people to have to go through that before they develop foolish ideas about economics.

          This certainly inspires some thoughts regarding mandatory program requirements for Economics grad students.

          I can think of some interesting field work to require of Scoiology grad students, as well.

          1. It will never be confined in our universities, that might mean college students learn what real privilege is and that might accidentally immunize them against becoming the next generation of academic Marxists.

        2. I had, a few times, to crawl up under the house to warm that one spot on the pipes that would always freeze when the woodstove didn’t keep the house warm enough on the coldest of nights…

        1. One of the reliable causes of Internet explosions: somebody from a city saying that nobody needs to hunt the poor wittle wild animals in order to survive, and somebody from Appalachia begging to differ.

          1. But, but, but, meat comes from the grocery store. God forbid we think about the process by which it got there. Or actually participate in it.

            1. Um. In all honesty, I am just as glad not to have to participate. Although I guess I know this because I have a little idea what’s involved.

              1. I’m glad enough to not have to at this stage of my life, but I do feel like it wasn’t the worst thing I ever learned about as a kid. I was a bit put out when we ate my pet ducks upon our move to the “big city” (I think Lynchburg had a population of roughly 30k at the time), but I don’t remember any actual tears or reluctance to join in the consumption.

                1. Ohhhh, er… as I recall getting mawkish about throwing away old toothbrushes as a small child, I probably would have cried. Even if duck is really tasty. *slinks off*

                    1. That’s why I raise fiber goats and not meat goats. I can’t eat or slaughter my friends. When I had chickens, before the great coyote invasion, I would keep them until they died of old age even after they quit laying.
                      They had names.

                      Every stinking chicken had a name.

                    2. Yeah. My grandma kept her chickens till old age, too. They were laying chickens, not eating chickens, though if one got injured or something, she’d allow mom to kill it. BUT she wouldn’t have it.

                    3. I know people who will trade and raise another family’s cows – that way, when they go to slaughter, they don’t feel bad, because it was not their cow.

                2. My dad warned me as a kid not to make friends with the steers…. just burgers on the hoof. One of few cow related rules that I actually paid attention to for some reason.

                  Others included:
                  Always call the bull ‘Sir’ and give him a wide berth.

                  Never scratch a cow on that knot on top of the head unless you have several hours to waste. The cow determines when you’re done.

                  Do not pick up the tiny rubber bands you find in the field.

                  Wait until the cow pie is at least a day old before you flip it over looking for worms.

                  1. “Do not pick up the tiny rubber bands you find in the field.”

                    Um. I’m going to regret this. What parasite were they?

            2. I’m a unapologetic carnivore. I have a pretty good idea of the processes involved.

              Okay, I had a farmer relative who had some things to say about commercial slaughterhouses, and I doubt they were necessarily correct for all cases. He’s been dead for years, and I think it had been many decades since he had seen the inside of one. I’ve read about some of the modern standards, and I’ve even seen the inside of a processing plant. I’ll concede that heavily processed meat of the sort I prefer is not to everyone’s taste.

              As for doing it, I’d be reluctant. 1) I’m lazy. If it needs doing, I will try to get it done. I’d rather do something I’m more efficient at, and exchange the results for what other people have done. 2) I’m clumsy. I’m pretty sure I’d find the processing pretty physically challenging, and I’d be more likely to injure myself. 3) I’m not expert. If I did it from scratch on my own, especially in one big effort, I expect I would overlook something and contaminate the meat.

  31. This is, of course, precisely as stupid as you would expect of any comment about macroeconomics made by someone who lauds her own anti-intellectualism as a virtue and starts off with “I’m not an economist but…”. To be specific, it fails to grasp one essential point about macroeconomics, the point that makes the economics of THE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE quite different from the economics of INDIVIDUALS WITHIN THE SYSTEM.

    That one simple point, and it’s something you really need to grasp, Sarah, is this – IN THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE, EVERYBODY’S INCOME IS THE SAME AS EVERYBODY’S SPENDING.

    To illustrate where your comments fall down, let us take it to the logical extreme. Let us imagine that we invent a self-replicating set of robots who can produce all the material needs of a entire society at the touch of a button. Each and every day, we only need one person to touch that button, and they will produce all the food, all the housing, all the energy, all the science fiction books, all the TV programs and all the transport that we need.

    So with all the people able to touch that button, how much will that person’s wage be? One dollar? One cent? Something miniscule – after all, if they don’t want to press a button once a day, the owners can always find someone else to do it. So let’s say we have one person paid $1 a day to produce everything society could want. Just one person in all of that society works, and they get paid a pittance.

    Now – who’s going to buy all that stuff?

    In more formal terms, GDP = C + I + G + Xn (the expenditure approach) AND GDP = W + I + R + P (the income approach). *BOTH* are correct.

    If and when you grasp that, you might start seeing why news like this – – means something apart from moralistic blathering from ignorant fantasy writers who think a national economy works just like her memories of her family’s economy back in the old country.

    But you probably won’t and never will. Keep on blathering.

      1. Since when is “full disclosure” lauding one’s own anti-intellectualism? Is prefacing a post on, say, divorce law by IANAL (I am not a lawyer) lauding one’s own antinomialism?
        My personal experience has taught me that people who have successfully run several small businesses often have a better gut-level understanding of especially microeconomics than an academic specialist who’s never had to meet a payroll himself. They may not be “au fait” with theory but, as the Royal Society’s motto has it: nullius in verba (there is nothing in words [alone]).

        1. I suspect I once (or twice, took both Marco and Micro Econ) encountered one of the precious few clueful economics professors. Dr. Bushra Migally (I think that is the correct spelling, but I am uncertain) who related a lesson he learned in Practical Application of Good Sounding Theory. After getting some beginning education in economics, he returned to his father’s farm (in Egypt, some time ago). He figured he could improve things by doubling the workers daily wage, which was paid daily. He got a rude shock: Being paid for two days, the workers didn’t show up the second day. I suspect he learned a few other lessons the hard way, too.

          I once asked him about the fancy watch he wore. Turned out it was a diamond-studded gold Rolex, that “some friends bought for me, as they liked my advice.” He left teaching not long after I saw him and went to the private sector where someone with his practical knowledge could make more money.

      2. is this one of those vile770/file666 posters? (sorry about my typing, but it seems that all the capital letters have already been taken). i can’t decide if pcaca is a progressive or an establishment gop, as both groups usually start off by calling you stupid. certainly the way to be sure people will value your opinion.
        now, since the equations had a bunch of letters with no definitions, well they certainly must be true, but meaningless; kind of like APG=O+U+8*1-2?
        so examining his narrative; everything everyone needs is ‘created’ by one person pushing one button for 1 cent. what is the price of 1cent/billions of stuff? how about if the guy that pushed the button yesterday gives the guy that pushes it today the one cent, and everyone else can just take what they want. certainly a balanced economy.

        cpaca; better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and your CAPS key and remove all doubt.

      1. I should get around to looking into the results of those. Every time I hear about one, it’s somebody insisting everything turned out fantastic, but it’s… ah… not necessarily someone whose analysis I trust.

        1. The only Guaranteed Minimum Income programs I’ve heard of are those in place on the tribal reservations, where tribe members get a stipend for being a tribe member.

          As near as I can tell it is a stunningly effective disincentive to work or go to school (…well, I suppose I can’t blame the kids for the latter. School itself is rumored to be a stunningly effective disincentive to go to school…).

          Having a tribe-run casino apparently mitigates the effect, because if parents have to get up to work at the casino, they are more likely to get the kids off to school. For whatever that’s worth.

          1. When my brother-in-law was in the BIA, I heard about how the reservation store had to keep the Lysol tm behind the counter, because people used it to catch a buzz. That doesn’t seem like guaranteed income working well.

          2. Old-school kibbutzim had guaranteed minimum incomes (often the only income), but… (a) you had to pass an admissions committee; (b) even then, you were on probation for 1-2 years as a “provisional member”; both measures intended to weed out freeloaders. This worked out more or less in the first generation, not so well in the 2nd generation born on the kibbutz.
            And forget “diversity”. It was not unusual for all the old-line members of a kibbutz to not only have the same political ideology and (usually) similar degree of (ir)religiosity, but to (gasp!) all have immigrated from the same country or even (double gasp!) from the same city.
            In other words: a tightly knit collective where everybody knew everybody in person, everybody looked each other on the fingers, entrants were severely screened, and presorted in different kibbutzim by ideology and national origin. In the most radically socialist ones, children were even raised separate from the parents. (I had a subordinate raised like that. Not sure if he’ll ever recover.)
            Everybody took turns doing the most menial work. Income was typically brought in by agriculture or light industry, its products sold outside.
            Aside from the absence of celibacy, it bore a remarkable similarity to a medieval abbey.

            The typical US leftist hipster d-bag would last about a week on an old-school kibbutz (most of them have abandoned this model) before saying “sod this for a game of soldiers”, methinks.

    1. Who is going to sell all that stuff?

      Maybe before you come in here deriding others knowledge of economics you should try to create a hypothetical where every good in the economy is a commodity with essentially zero production cost (one dollar divided by the entire economy is near as makes no difference zero).

      Also, you might want to bone up on the difference between income and salary.


      1. I find it interesting he thinks I’m anti-intellectual and that he read the beginning as I’m not an economist. I’m actually not Adam Smith. And while economics is not my degree, I have read a lot of it for fun.

        1. I’m pretty sure I’ve flushed things with more economic knowledge than D-Paca (the only what this moron gets a C is through grade inflation).

                  1. Wasn’t that a Mommas & the Poppas hit?

                    All my friends are oil, and the goo is gray,
                    I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
                    I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
                    California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

                    1. All my friends are oil, and the goo is gray,
                      But I went for a walk on a winter’s day.
                      I’m all safe and warm now that I’m in La Brea;
                      California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day


                    2. Ya know, I think this is the first extinction filk I’ve ever encountered. And I’ve been some Odd places on the ‘net.

                    3. Stepped into a pit I passed along the way.
                      Well I got up to my knees and I began to pray.
                      You know the raptor felt so bold;
                      He knows I’m gonna stay.
                      California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

                    4. There are permanent injunctions against my singing in public in thirty-seven states, and bans on my singing in the shower in twelve. i have lost count of the temporary restraining orders.

                1. Just remember, that chicken has the soul of a raptor…when it stares at you it is trying to figure out how to eat you. It is only fair to eat it first unlike harmless cows.

                  1. Chickens really are quite fierce. I’ve watched them kill and devour mice, snakes, baby turtles crossing the road to the pond, and all kinds of bugs.

                    When one of them snags a little snake, she will carry it high and run around the yard, with all the other chickens following, trying to steal her prize.

                    1. Heh. There was a Yahoo group, “Urban Chickens”, that had people talking to each other about how to set up taking care of chickens in residential areas (more suburbs than actually urban). Someone once said that they watched their chickens “gang up” on a snake and “work together” to kill it. I told her that no, they weren’t working together, they were all fighting to be the first to get it and eat it.

                    2. No, there are chicken gangs. I’ve seen them, in their black leather jackets, snakeskin boots, swaggering down the alleyways waving switchblades and singing their theme music … “When you are pecking you’re pecking all day, from your first yummy grub to your last dying day …”

                    3. Cock fighting takes no humans and bull fighting does…that should tell you something right there.

                      That and warn your date not to wear white to cock fights.

                    4. Yeah, roosters are a special kind of awful at times. We had one little bantam rooster for 6 years. His name was Acorn because he was a thug.
                      I could not wear shorts when I ventured out to feed the critters, because Acorn would sneak up behind me and spur me, the evil little bantam from hell.

                      I was never quick enough to grab him, and he is the one animal I would have gladly killed.

                      And one day, I had my shepherd’s crook with me when he spurred my calf – I whacked him with the crook, and was shocked that I hit him and killed him.

                      You would think that I would be singing ding dong the cock is dead, but I felt so damned guilty.

                      I’m such a squish.

                    5. My parents had a rooster for a while. He wandered into the yard and they adopted him.
                      For a while, every time I tried to cross his yard, he would attack me. I finally got tired of it and kicked him right in the breast bone. Knocked him back about ten feet. He left me alone for the rest of the day.
                      The next day, he tried attacking me from the rear and discovered I can kick backwards, too.
                      After that, we had an Understanding.

                  2. “… a ten-foot rooster with teeth and a shotgun is looking’ on down at you.”

                    From Working on a Food Chain by Mark Graham, on his album, Unnatural Selections.

                  3. Okay, so I woke up with this post running through my head. It’s seriously off topic, but it got me mentally on one of my pet peeves of sci-fi, which is idiotic aliens.

                    They’re too familiar and it seems like little or no thought goes into them. They’re just like us, or some creature we’re familiar with. They’re herd animals (Footfall), lizards (Worldwar series), cats (Kzin), insects, or something else very similar to something we have here. Or they are us: bipedal, symmetrical, head on top, two eyes facing front, etc. (In what world would the classic “Grey” alien exist?)

                    Some of them manage to be unique – The pequeninos with their weird life cycle, the grendels in Legacy of Hoerot/Beowulf’s Children. But most of them are too familiar or behave contrary to how they’re designed.

                    A classic example of design vs. behavior is our favorite alien: E.T. He’s this happy little alien who loves Reese’s Pieces. Except they should have been giving him beef jerky. His eyes face front to gauge depth. He’s a hunter, not prey. The body looks like he’s designed for semi-aquatic existence: long neck, squat body, flipper-like feet, high set nose for lurking at the waterline. He’s a plesiosaur from a low-light environment (what big eyes you have) who should have jumped into a creek or marsh at the first opportunity.

                    How hard is it to pick an environment, design a species that would evolve in that environment, and extrapolate the behavior of that species from how they eat and reproduce?

                    First contact stories irk me for the same reason. It’s always, “Let’s reason with them just like people, without considering what they actually are.” Then everyone dies because no one thought to notice the incisors and visual field, and think, “They’re here to eat us!” No one ever asks the alien “How do you reproduce?” either, because that would be rude. That’d be my second question, manners be damned.

                    It bugs me. (OT Rant ended, sorry.)

                    1. While there exists plenty of room for definition of the base creature from which evolved the sentient life, there are many valid arguments for variants of our shape to be predominant.

                      Erect means that not only can the creature see further than when on all fours, it frees up the “hands” for manipulation of tools. True brachiators, however, might work out.

                      Bipedal may or may not be the norm. There could be centauroids. More than six limbs, however, are likely to require too much of the brain to control them correctly for there to be enough left for cerebration.

                      it’s not very likely for water creatures to become sentient. I will admit, however, that I really don’t see how dolphins fit in this. Are their intellectual feats overblown, or are they truly as smart as some people claim? They aren’t going to become true tool-users, either way, though.

                      Bilateral symmetry is, as far as I understand, universal to life forms higher than worms on Earth. It seems likely that if there weren’t big drawbacks, there would be examples in higher forms.

                      Two eyes facing front aids in tool-using. Also, this is another thing common to all higher forms on Earth, and most lower ones. Diversity would probably keep some with multiples if it wasn’t a dead end.

                      That’s all I can think of now. Oh, and I would estimate that Greys would come from a planet covered in jungle dense enough that the ground was twilit during the day, requiring the large eyes. Or possibly they are nocturnal. They may reproduce by laying eggs, or else the babies are even less developed than human newborns – something probably between human development and that of newborn marsupials.

                    2. ” Also, this is another thing common to all higher forms on Earth, and most lower ones. Diversity would probably keep some with multiples if it wasn’t a dead end.”

                      Actually, not really. It’s common to land and avian predators/omnivores. If you look at the grazers / browsers such as cows, deer, elephants, etc. their eyes are mounted towards the side of the head, because they need to be able to watch all around while feeding. Sea based predators like the shark, otoh, don’t follow this pattern since the primary prey sensors are sound/vibrations and scent.

                    3. Oops. Halfway through the comment I forgot the “Facing Front” part of it. DUH. The “Common to all higher forms…” was only referring to “two eyes”.

                      Sheesh. I are smrt.

                    4. No ‘reply’ tag on Mr. Blackburn’s post so…

                      Most of your post goes back to the assumption that whatever we encounter is going to be from an earth-like world.

                      How about high gravity, low gravity, no gravity (space), sulfur dioxide or other noxious (to us) atmosphere, all water, no water, etc?

                      Any environment where intelligence provides a greater chance of survival should produce sentient life. ‘Tool user’ implies manipulating something outside the body. How about marsupialesque ‘tool users’ who manipulate their own reproductive system to create biological tools? (Been done, yes.) Why do they have to be animals that use tools, for that matter? Why not sentient celery communicating through custom spores?

                      My point is that on an earth-like, Goldilocks planet bipedal hairless apes may be ideal. But those are few and far between. (The argument about ‘Man places’ appearing too frequently for comfort advanced in Steakley’s ‘Armor’ comes to mind.) Our sci-fi aliens always seem to be another version of us when it comes right down to it. They react as we think we would in their situation. Or their actions appear arbitrary and are left unexplained so they continue to seem arbitrary. If you’re using aliens as deus ex machina, that’s fine. If they’re a major plot point then they should have their own – alien – internal consistency.

                      Maybe tell the story from the alien’s perspective. The alien wouldn’t just be a blank ‘Other’ and we’d see how strange we really are. Because we are odd creatures.

                      Frankly, I’d be happy if I read about just one sentient alien that was a prey animal. 360 degree visual field, liked kale, maybe with SJW tendencies.

                    5. My reading is not as broad as others here, but so far as I know, the exotic environments usually get populated by non-humanoid species.

                      As for doing really alien psychologies – that’s been addressed here before, possibly before you started reading this blog, but basically it seems that not enough people want to try to understand really alien aliens, and so stories with them don’t sell well.

                    6. Nod, IMO it is extremely hard to make truly alien (in their thinking) beings interesting to read about unless the writer makes them the dangerous beings that have to be destroyed.

                      Otherwise, if the aliens are going to interact with humans, there has to be “points of contact” between the aliens’ thinking and human thinking.

                    7. Typically the conflict arises from misinterpretation of incomprehensible thought processes, a conflict which can only be resolved by a Vulcan mind-meld a metaphor for the importance of engaging others through smart diplomacy and appreciating how their motivations are actually very similar to our own, just two national leaders burdened by unruly and unappreciative polities.

                      Ignore those “Death to Humans” chants, those are just their hardliners, with whom Our own opposition are making common cause.

                    8. Chuckle Chuckle

                      Seriously, assuming that the Aliens are from an Earthlike World,IMO the biggest problems with understand them will be cultural factors.

                      Just as our Glorious Would-Be Elites fail to understand the average Conservative or the Leaders of Iran. [Smile]

                    9. Why not intelligent celery? Because intelligence cost a lot in metabolism; if your creature can’t use that intelligence it will be out-bred by its cousins who are spending less energy on it. Give it some way to affect its environment, and intelligence might pay for itself.

                      (PS: You can reply where there’s no reply tag; it’s just a bit trickier.)

                    10. Oh yes, those peaceful plant-eaters. Just like Cape Buffalos. [Very Big Evil Grin]

                    11. “Frankly, I’d be happy if I read about just one sentient alien that was a prey animal. 360 degree visual field, liked kale, maybe with SJW tendencies.”

                      IIRC, the original Traveler game had a species pretty much like that. The SJW tendencies were that they were militant vegans; if you ate anything animal, you must be purged from existence.

                    12. How to reply with no tag?

                      I skipped a lot of Niven’s stuff when I couldn’t get through Ringworld. Just…. dry.

                      Intelligence the way we do it is high energy, certainly. But if even viruses can communicate with each other there have to be other methods of intelligence.

                      I need to dig up some threads here to see if I can find some of the bits on alien psychology.

                    13. Two (three?) ways to reply with no tag:

                      1) If you are reading the comments via email signup, there should be a Reply button in the email. Clicking this button will take you to a comment box to reply to the comment that was in the email.
                      2) IIRC, some people here use the WordPress site itself to follow comments. I don’t, and I have never searched out how, so I can’t say how that works.
                      3) You can find a Reply link, copy the URL, paste it into the Address bar, then change the Comment number in the URL to be the number from the timestamp link of the comment you want to reply to. Can be problematic when using a phone or tablet.

                    14. Aha.
                      Thanks much.

                      I’m contemplating an epic space opera now, pitting a viscous race of Cape Buffalo against a heroic planet of sentient celery. Brutal war to the knife over… grazing rights.

                    15. At least as smoothly as the workings of spellcheck allow.

                      Though viscous thinking would probably describe a sentinel of sentient celery on sentry duty very well.

                      Of course, the omnivore humans would have to step in and clear the field, as it were, to resolve the conflict.

      2. Who is going to sell all that stuff?

        Precisely. Out of all the commentators, maybe there’s hope for Jeff after all.

        The rest of you are happy in your ignorance.

        Once again : GDP = C + I + G + Xn (the expenditure approach) AND GDP = W + I + R + P (the income approach). *BOTH* are correct. The implications of those equations show why Sarah is just blowing smoke.

        1. You keep waving those equations. i do not theenk those equations mean what you theenk they mean.

          1. Its beginning to read a lot like he was fed that line by someone else and does not know how to evaluate or explain it.

          1. A clear demonstration of a person educated beyond his intelligence. His grasp of implications is all the firmer for being shallow.

          2. Tom, I notice a minor error in your equation; yo seem to be using an earlier version of it than the one which is now standard. You need to multiply the right-hand side by a fudge factor:


            In which LMAO is a factor ranging (normally) from 0 to 500 %

            As a general rule, only politicians are allowed LMAO factors in excess of 500%, and only Liberal politicians permitted LMAO factors above 1000%

              1. They started to include the Lying My Ass Off factor after President Obama sold his “health insurance” scheme on the basis that “if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance” and other statements of similar nature. its precise calculation has become a subject of much debate, with whoever finally determines a methodology predicted to win a Nobel prize.

                1. Ah, I’d heard it as the BSBF. You know, the BS Baffle Factor.

                  Same principle, but I didn’t realize it had been codified into the formula. I’ll update my records.

                  1. That had been the provisional terminology for it, but there were objections from various representatives on behalf of manure interests who (not unreasonably) wished to avoid any deeper association with the concept than they already suffer.

                    There was a slight movement toward Baloney Slice factor, in an effort to avoid changing the formulae as expressed and recognise the sharp parsing involved in such factoring, but advocates pointed out that, whatever its faults, Baloney did not deserve such invidious association.

                    Thus far the highest ratings for the LMAO factor have been achieved by Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton’s explanations for her email server (latest iteration: “On conference call, @brianefallon says Clinton was ‘passive recipient of unwitting information that subsequently became classified.'”) are approaching Obamite levels.

        2. Waving an equation around doesn’t prove anything. And how GDP is measured may not be relevant. And economic models from Keynesians are not known for their accuracy. Finally, you are an economic illiterate. that’s Ok, you’re in good company, so is most of the Fed board and the Administration, along with Krugtron. I guess that that prove that there IS a Nobel Prize for idiocy.

        3. Claiming that the equations cited demonstrate a $ of spending equals a $ of income ignores a few of the variables, such as investment, Government, exports, etc. Tautological argument does not demonstrate a valid point, nor disprove Sarah’s arguments.

        4. Oh, you’re still around? File 770 folks usually just do drive-bys around here.

        5. No, you twit, you are the one that is ignorant. You set up a hypothetical scenario that eliminate scarcity and think that it says something meaningful about economics, which is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Then you point out that there are two ways to calculate GDP, never mind that GDP has only a loose relationship to the economy. You might as well be saying that 4=2+2 and 4=1+3, therefore 1 and 2 must be the same.

          You’re one of those people who can perform their own colonoscopy.

    2. First, you’ve demonstrated poor reading comprehension: “I’m no Adam Smith” =/= “I’m not an economist.”

      Second, you need to upgrade your reasoning capabilities: “I’m no Adam Smith” does constitute anti-intellectualism, nor laud that as a virtue.

      Third, you need to improve your logic. The system as you bray define it,


      logically makes economic growth an illusion; you’ve established a zero-sum system which must invariably run down as goods are consumed.

      Further, your error arises from presuming GDP to be the sole measure of economic activity and ignoring the role of accumulated wealth in society’s growth.

      Finally, you err in presuming to enter this venue and lecture those here when all you are really managing is demonstrating your own ignorance.

      Please, return and keep on blathering.

      1. “Please, return and keep on blathering.”
        Eyes RES speculatively. My. You are bored.
        But… RES, he has bullshit equations. How can you argue with bullshit equations?

        1. Cluestick. Lacking cluestick, cluebar. It’s like a crowbar, but smarter than a Prog. In other words, it’s a crowbar.

          1. See, this is what happens when people who don’t understand formula are encouraged to equate. In ignoring externalities (e.g., in “GDP = C + I + G + Xn” he conflates Consumption with wages, but tosses out Investment and Exports) he forces the equations to appear equal by the equivalent of dividing by zero. (Much the same could be said for the absurd thought experiment, based on an untenable premise — such there being any reason to hire out the button pushing.)

            While they are both methods of calculating GDP they fail because of the assumption GDP is a meaningful measure of economic activity and wealth. What we see is the usual result of somebody who took a course in Macroeconomics and learned how to paint by the numbers without ever grasping the essence.

            1. My favorites are the ones who insist that the only relevant measure is government debt to national GDP.

            2. Yes, as usual for this type of premise, they neglect that Bob from Ohio can design a gadget to push the button automatically, and thus negate the entire economy of button-pushing.

              (Arduino. Motor, Eccentric lobe. Timer or CdS cell depending on if it needs to be ‘press button when light blinks’ or ‘press button every x minutes. One guy can check batteries on a thousand arduinos.)

              Followed by government regulation and licensing of arduino-based button pushers, and required licensing of arduino button-pusher battery-swappers.

        2. It is only when you have sufficient BS to compost it that it becomes useful. I figure this guy will need to provide another dozen posts (assuming he can maintain this quantity per post, which experience leads me to doubt) in order to generate a useful quantity. Right now all he’s provided is a noisome stench.

      2. Third, you need to improve your logic. The system as you bray define it,


        logically makes economic growth an illusion;

        Well, RES fails to get it completely.

        Quick clue, RES – “income” and “spending” are monetary functions. “Economic growth” is a statement about wealth.

        But I’m faaaaaaaascinated by your fantasy here. Pray, please give the crowd here an example of someone’s income that doesn’t involve someone else spending…

        1. For a start, the government’s income is independent of people’s spending, especially at the Federal Reserve.


          Since this statement is utterly irrelevant to anything being discussed here, why did you make it in the first place?

          1. Typical lefty argument technique: throw out an isolated statement, dance around the fact it is irrelevant and declare your point proven.

            It is the rhetorical equivalent of a baseball pitcher walking to the mound, throwing the ball to the first baseman nine times then walking off the mound, declaring you’ve struck out the side.

            Oh yes: then taunt the opposing team because they couldn’t hit your stuff, while doing the MC Hammer dance on your way back to your dugout.

            His argument completely fails to address, much less invalidate, Sarah’s argument about people not spending (e.g., her Mum not hiring maids or paying them cash) because of government imposed restrictions.

      1. I know, the intellectual brilliance quite blinded me. PARTICULARLY the Bullshit Equations. I mean, I’m a science fiction writer. Handwavium and bullshit equations are things I have never seen before.

        1. It isn’t a BS equation. It’s just more like an accounting equation. “This is how the economy breaks down” instead of “These are what make up the economy.” (In other words 4 = 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 instead of 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 4). It is a way to MODEL the economy, not explain it.

          Macroeconomics is about modeling more than about cause and effect. A lot of it comes down to econometric modeling which is it’s own rather interesting field as far as “How do we make the model show what we want it to”.

          1. In the context it’s a bs equation, Byron. It’s like if I said “We went to space because yxz=yz. Unless all the factors are defined, etc, it’s a bs equation. Also handwavium.

            1. Oh, kind of like if I say “I know it will work because F=Ma”. when talking about, say, tuning a carburetor.

        2. I know, the intellectual brilliance quite blinded me. PARTICULARLY the Bullshit Equations.

          Right. They’re basic economic equations showing, as Bryon mentions, accounting identities – GDP is the money spent, and GDP is the money earned.

          But because Sarah has a grandad who was a contractor in Portugal, they’re “bullshit equations” and she doesn’t have to know about them before she can start twaddling on about the economy.

          1. Because only someone with the proper education and authority can talk about any subject, even one they have direct experience with. Typical leftie bullshit.

            Can’t talk about the economy unless you’re an economist, can’t talk about ‘climate change’ unless you’re a climatologist, can’t talk about race if you’re however we’re defining white this week, can’t talk about Islam unless you’re a muslim… etc etc etc, on and on and on, dividing everyone into smaller and smaller and smaller boxes until no one can talk about anything at all and we are just supposed to go watch the wonderful government-provided programming on our telescreens.

            1. Heaven forbid pointing out that climate models are essentially mathematical models of thermodynamic systems which might potentially influence human welfare, that there is already a government organization which regulates that, and the climatologists largely do not appear to be acting inside those regulations.

              1. or point out that said models are using a simplified variability model for something with wider measured variability.

                1. Or that the climate models represent shooting first and drawing your targets afterward.

                  Is it true that Ben & Jerry now offer Climate Fudge? Or Biden Bonanza — they don’t know what goes in it but it comes out nutty as hell? And that servers in pantsuits will be doing the table wiping?

    3. BTW, having read the linked article I hasten to point out that the majority of investment funds commonly comprising pensions (aka, “widows & orphans funds”) depend on those corporate profits which you apparently decry.

      Why do you want widows & orphans to starve?

    4. Did you get your economics text out of a cracker jack box or is it some learned text from some idiot at an Ivy Covered Snob Factory, useless even as bird cage lining.

      1. Hey! I recognize that slur! I’ve also, on occasion, wondered loudly to companions how many cereal boxtops someone had to send in to get their driver’s license or engineering degree (depending on whether I’m on the road or at work).

    5. Your link suffers from multiple bad assumptions: 1) That we are in post-recession at this point, and 2) that the apparent GDP is not being massively distorted by the money that the FED has pumped into it. There are probably other failings, but those are the two that stood out to me.

      When we are actually coming close to being post-recession, you will know, because the labor participation rate will start to climb, instead of going backward.

      1. Plus, they changed what gets included in GDP essentially double counting research and development.

        Click to access flyer_bea_expands_coverage_of_intellectual.pdf

        As part of its 14th comprehensive revision of the national income and product accounts that will be released beginning on July 31, BEA will record expenditures for R&D and for entertainment, literary, and artistic originals as fixed investment. These expenditures will be grouped with expenditures for software into a new investment category “intellectual property products.”
        Similarly, until now, research and development and the money spent on producing music, were considered “intermediate” and not counted separately. All of that will change on July 31, 2013 when the money spent to develop a new kind of missile or flavor or to understand the human genome will be counted directly in the GDP as “intellectual property products” in the fixed investment category. Included in the change is a provision that music and entertainment and TV show product costs will also be directly added to the GDP.

        So, that means that any money Lady Gaga spends in the US to develop a musical production could very well elevate our GDP.

      2. That’s unpossible! Wrongthink! The telescreen says that the recession ended years ago! To the Miniluv with you!

    6. Who is going to buy all that stuff? That would be no one. Why should they buy anything? Under your exact scenario, the robots produce everything and perform every task. They need nothing that they can’t provide for themselves. And there is absolutely no reason to charge anything for anything because the robots can’t spend it, and all the humans have to do is collect the manna from Heaven. Your model fails the real world comprehensively.

    7. I know I’m a tad late to this, but in addition to everything everyone else has pointed out, trying to argue contemporary economic points by referencing a theoretical post-scarcity economy does not work. I’ve seen people do it much better and still fail.

      To note the objections that people that have put a lot more thought into the post-scarcity scenario (and still haven’t been able to make it relevant to contemporary economic questions) have addressed: you’re missing: the service economy, the issue of the ownership of fixed items like land, the issue of the ownership of intangible assets like ideas, and the issue of the initial capital ownership of the magic button and associated infrastructure itself.

    8. Brilliant! Oh, wait. No… What’s the opposite of that?

      There’s many problems with this idea, not the least of which is the transition period. Say you pay your employees every 2 weeks. You probably have to have the money in your account a week before you actually pay them as well, so give it 3 weeks. You have an additional wage boost from $10 to $15 coming up. Say, you are currently paying 50% of your revenue in wages, and somewhere around 40% for the overhead and product you’re selling. that’s 10%, which is actually a really high amount of profit compared to the average of most industries. Your wages costs are going to go up to 75% of your revenue 3 weeks before the “increased money in the economy” kicks in. Your product and overhead remain at 40%, so you’re now losing $0.15 for every $1 worth of product you sell, so you have to raise rates to make up for it, again, well in advance of the increased money going into the economy. This will put a drastic downward pressure on your sales for at the very least that couple of weeks, perhaps enough that you might not be able to make payroll, and may have to lay people off. After that 3 weeks, when everyone has their new larger paychecks, you MIGHT start getting more business back, but that depends on many other factors. Do you have competition outside of the increased wage jurisdiction? Like Amazon perhaps. How many of your customers are wage earners, and how many are on a fixed income? There’s many other factors as well.

      The fixed income thing brings me to another point. The prices are going up, and there’s a group of people who are getting compensated for this with higher wages, but there’s an entirely different group of people who won’t be getting any extra to help them with these increased costs. Retirees. Social security beneficiaries. Single parents receiving child support. People on welfare. You’re making life worse for every person in those categories. Not necessarily just for a short amount of time, but long periods of time for many, and some of them may never recover and may have to move to a place with lower prices.

      Then there’s the whole velocity of money thing, and the amount of money that is in the economy. That’s fixed by the federal reserve, and a sudden shock of inflation caused by increased wages may force them to rebalance a bunch of factors. The fed is quite slow-moving, so you’ll get tons of disruptions because of this.

      And what is even the point of raising the wages if all of that money just loops back around and goes into the system anyway? Most union contracts have clauses stating that they are paid X amount over the minimum wage, so all of their wages will go up too. Most executives will also likely get similar wages as well. All you’ll accomplish is inflation, and hurting certain groups of vulnerable people even if it does work like you say it will.

      1. Well considered analysis. I’ve one “minor” kicker. You didn’t take into account the additional cash required for Social Security & Medicare, an additional 7.65% tax bite which in a medium-sized firm can be a surprisingly significant amount of cash flowing.

        Perhaps that can be drawn from a credit line, but that only affects the timing and adds interest expense. Since everybody is doing that it is likely to drive up interest rates (borrowing costs) and render some weaker firms unable to borrow, thus laying off personnel, closing their doors or turning to black market labor.

        There would also be one-time costs of having to reprint price lists, menus and all similar information. Purchases already obligated on long-term contracts will either have to be renegotiated or entail losses for the providers.

        It is, as you suggest, extremely likely that persons making, say, $16 an hour will be less than thrilled to find themselves making 106.67% of the standard wage instead of their accustomed 160% of the standard. Especially as their living costs are going to rise.

        Advocates for such an arbitrary rise on labor cost might want to look more closely at the experience of Seattle’s Gravity Payments.

      2. There’s a more fundamental issue. Increasing the money in the economy without increasing the value of things being bought has a name: Inflation.
        Is it possible Cpaca is Mr. Carter’s online persona?

        1. Yep, I mentioned the inflation in the last paragraph. Though, it’s only inflation if you’re actually increasing the supply of money in the economy.

          The proper measure of how well an economy is doing is really how much of various things you can get for an hour of your labor. Raising the minimum wage really has little effect on this. Just as adding jobs through useless paperwork and compliance costs won’t improve this measure. Increasing the efficiency of your labor does significantly more for this. The minimum wage is mostly just a wedge issue and claptrap for one side without actually accomplishing the goals they put forward as the reason for it.

          As RES says, the big winner in a minimum wage increase is the government, as they get more taxes and the people who get that wage increase get fewer government services, so it’s benefiting the state and local governments on both sides. They’re one of the only groups involved that get a net positive.

  32. Hi, I’m an ignorant twit, and I am going to come into your house, insult your intelligence and disparage your skills, because I am just a giver. Oh, and for extra points, I will do so in a condescending and self-righteous tone.

    It is amazing that more people don’t agree with me. I can’t figure it out.

    1. Also “I will start by misreading the first line of your post and start my scold by attributing to you attitudes you don’t have. Because I’m that smart.”

        1. I gather that some of Krugman’s early works are quite excellent. It seems his gold turned to dross only after he attained his high perch at the NY Times opinion page.

          EPA needs to check the water in that editorial pool — it clearly has some psychoactive component.

            1. Yes, but then they’d declare the NYT a Superfund site and take it over and run it Their Way.

        2. I don’t know, given his belief he was becoming Hari Seldon by studying economics I think it is some of the better lefty sci-fi.

  33. You know, some folks pay good money for this kind of entertainment.
    As for that aforementioned button pusher, well duh, everyone knows that will be the standard employment of the future. We’ve all seen it day in and day out as George Jetson and his massive button pushing finger clock in to Spacely Industries. Some of you simply must pay more attention to the future histories provided by our benevolent master… er benefactors.

  34. I can’t believe I read all that…
    Many good points. But I’d love for another full blog to consider a side issue.
    All this ignores that the very nature of money has fundamentally changed.
    Until last century money was gold and silver.
    If you had paper money it was just a note that gave you rights to redeem it for REAL money.
    Because governments always cheat and spend more than they have the average life of irredeemable paper money has always been about 40 years.
    The US started treating it’s own citizens as second class about 1933 when they called in all the gold money. Foreigners could still demand gold.
    Then in 1971 Nixon cut off any redemption.
    The dollar went full fiat and is debt not a storehouse of value. Remember all the science fiction stories were people bought with credits. That’s what we have now – they just didn’t rename dollars, but they are credits.
    Now the value of the dollar is based on the full faith and credit of the US government. If a dollar is based on trust in the government – is it any surprise a 1971 dollar is now worth 17 cents?
    I’m sure Sarah could do a wiz-bang blog on this.

    1. I just finished taking notes from an economic history of the lead-up to WWII. I kept having to remind myself that the gold standard was in effect, because otherwise a lot of the shenanigans in Europe (trade, bullion balances, “clearing” trade vs. currency trade) made zero sense. (All the more reason never, ever, ever to write an alt-history book about international finance in the 1850-1970 time-frame.)

  35. Decades ago, I realized that there are a lot of people who think money is some sort of governmental “stuff stamps” program, and that poverty and income inequality exist because the “stuff stamps tzar” has fallen down on the job of equitably distributing money.
    The leftist I mentioned this to in the middle of an argument vigorously denied believing that, but I couldn’t tell how his argument would be any different if he did believe it.

  36. Very Very Off Topic.

    I’ve been getting emails of the comments here and while looking at the subject line of the emails, I keep thinking “The Wrath of People”. [Evil Grin]

    1. Oooooo, Drak — you left out a designator. “The Wrath of THE People”

      [slinking back under the rock I go… let me know when Zenna Henderson quite rolling over!]

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