The Massive Redistribution of Income That Has Occurred
04/25/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Here is the second chart to that post
The Massive Redistribution of Income That Has Occurred
04/25/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
From 1970 until now, a massive redistribution of income has occurred in the US favoring the wealthy and hurting everyone else. Workers have lost income and the wealthy have gained income.
The first chart below shows how productivity has continued to rise, but median family income has stalled out because the rich have hijacked the benefits of it. The income growth of the average American family closely matched that of economic productivity until some time in the 1970s. Then as family income began to stagnate, productivity continued to rise. According to the 2014 Global Wage Report by the International Labor Organization, the widening disparity between wages and productivity is strong evidence that there has been a significant shift of GDP share going from labor to capital, and this trend is playing a significant role in growing inequality. Income is allocated more now by corporate muscle, cabals and collaborations than the value of workers' contributions down the line. The CEO compensation scandal is the barest the tip of the iceberg here.
Much of the disparity is in the allocation of and access to capital gains, as a form of passive, unearned income or what economists call "rents." Capital gains accounted for 80% of the increase in income for households in top 20%, from 2000 to 2007. Looking back a bit, from 1991 to 2000, according to CBO, capital gains accounted for 45% of the income for the top 20% households for that whole period. Capital gains, minimally taxed, are one, growing way the rich are getting richer and the fault here lies squarely with the Federal Reserve.
The Fed has depressed interest rates causing the prices of financial assets to rise substantially, generating huge capital gains, simply by holding such assets. Of course, the rich own most financial assets. So the rich gain tremendously and everyone else loses out here. Just as the federal government did nothing to slow or moderate the export of American industry and jobs to Asia, when international labor markets opened up, allowing the rich to gain huge profits from reduced labor costs. In fact, the federal government greased the skids to export American industry and jobs to Asia, just as it earlier had to Mexico with NAFTA. No interim tariffs, adjustment time or help at all came from the government for America here.
The second chart below shows how much incomes HAVE CHANGED by income brackets between 1979 and 2011, that is, how much worse the skew in income between rich and poor has become in percentage terms during that period. Did the government try to stop it? Didn't happen. Not close. The rich just ran away with the store, all the while crying for more income tax cuts.
Mind you, we are talking here about the massive income redistribution in America WHICH HAS ALREADY OCCURRED. Republicans and conservatives have not complained about this income redistribution although they profess to oppose income redistribution generally. I wonder why.
The skew is now considerable. As of 2012, the top 1%'s share of pre-tax income is about 23% of all pre-tax income, based on widely-cited data from economist Emmanuel Saez, who uses "market income" and relies primarily on IRS data, which entails serious under-reporting and hidden off-shored income. A better estimate considering these factors, is in the 30 percent range. Honesty is not the strong suit of the rich and wealthy in America. Recall, they are from the business community.
The impact of the tax code on inequality is also tremendous. Looking only at pretax incomes, America's income distribution is not much worse than many quasi-banana republics, but its after taxes and transfer income distribution is among the very worse, largely because the tax code results in much income being transfer from middle and lower class America to the rich in the form of subsidies, bogus depletion allowances, special loopholes and the like. The subsidies alone hugely dwarf all welfare benefits and much else and the are benefits given to the rich. The tax code is a major transfer mechanism favoring the rich.
To make matters worse, little of this is understood by most Americans. They understand even less about the impact and effects of this worsened skew in income on the American economy. Even most economists fail there. We have a royal mess and a political quagmire surrounding it.
On Reading the Koran (Again)
03/10/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
It is truly hard to charitably read the Koran. Too much odious and offensive text and too much shabby history has to be edited out or ignored for a kindly, peaceful interpretation of Islam. As bad, the Koran's text could not pass muster in a decent freshman composition course. In almost every material regard, it is highly repetitive and its sentence and paragraph structure, even in the better translations, is awkward at best.
The Satanic verses notion centers around these facts as determined by historiography. In the early days, when his followers were very few and persecuted, and Mohammad was struggling, he paid overt alligence to and arguably worshiped the three pagan and feminine deities of the day, the Godesses of Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat whom he agreed were alongside Allah: The Arabian goddesses are mentioned in Sura an-Najm (Star) 53:19-22:
Now tell me about Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat,
The third one, another goddess.
What! For you [the Godesses] the males and for him [Allah] the females!
That indeed is an unfair division.
The statement that Allah was involved with female goddesses was in clear violation of the Old Testament declaration and mandate that there is one God, only one God and one shall worship no other Gods. Violation of this mandate, under Old Testament law, was punishable by death.
When the inhabitants of Mecca heard Muhammad's confess the importance of the ancient goddesses inside the Ka'aba, they immediately revoked their ban on him. Some followers who believed in the Goddesses had immigrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) before Mohammad confessed his alligence to them. They started to return home after hearing of Muhammad's confession and his acceptance in Mecca. However, later they were shocked to hear that Muhammad had retracted his confession and admitted that he had fallen prey to the whispering of Satan. In Sura Hajj (Pilgrimage) 22:52-53, Muhammad confesses his mistake, alleging that all prophets were tempted by Satan who inspires them with demonic verses, as if they were actually revealed by God.
The Koran -- which is generally claimed to be divinely inspired by God -- itself thereby admits to Satanic verses. Exactly which they are beyond the initial quote is unclear, but the idea of contamination once raised and confirmed cannot be set aside. It holds sway. Early Koranic scholars agree on this history and problem. As his following grew, Mohammad later reverted to the only one God theory and implicitly abandoned belief in the three early feminine deities. Salmon Rushdie by no means invented or discovered the satanic verses in his novel of that name.
Then of course there was Mohammad's pedophilia, which is only pedophilia by present day standards. The practice of having young wives was common among many clans and tribes during the era. His last wife was six or seven when betrothed to Muhammad and nine or ten when the marriage was consummated.
More importantly, more than one historian and scholar has concluded Mohammad was mercilessness towards the Jews and claims he had no aversion to politically expedient assassinations, was disposed to breaking promises when he found it advantageous, engaged in retaliation towards those who mocked him and was cruel and ruthless in dealing with his enemies generally.
As a prophet, in these regards, Jesus has not been understood to be so problematic.
The Quest for the Historical Jesus
03/10/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
The quest attempted to answer the question of what was Jesus like as a person. Since the 18th century, it has proceeded in three waves or historical eras, each with its own new historical approaches and criteria, to the point where now scholars concede defeat and argue there are so many irreconcilable views about the personality of Jesus that we cannot know him. The question scholars now face is did the historical Jesus ever even exist. More than a few now believe he did not.
Christian writings and those referring to them abound, saying Jesus was a real person and telling us about him and his miraculous deeds, but Christians are notorious for their fabrications and making things up. The Nicene creed reflects that by pressing credulity beyond its breaking point.. Most importantly, the secular evidence, while itself generally somewhat scant on many subjects, leaves the question hanging by the barest thread to preclude the conclusion there was no historical person of Jesus. However, even that position arises in the context of a more general understanding that much Christian documentary evidence is fraudulent or are forgeries. These issues are the framework of this note.
Christian literature on Jesus is not to be relied upon. This is so for two reasons First, Christians take as true whatever they believe based on faith. Secondly, Christians are well known to cheat when dealing with the written word; Here are salient examples:
1. There is no reference to the Trinity in the Bible. For a time, people understood there was a single reference, but the Church now concedes what scholars have argued which is that a bit of marginalia was "mistakenly" incorporated into the text by an early Christian Scribner.
2. Doubting Thomas was not a doubter at all. The argument was created to have John become a gospel instead of the Book of Thomas which said intercession by clergy and Saints was not necessary to communicate with God. Elaine Paigles at Princeton argues the gospels are much more integrated and coherent when read with Thomas replacing John.
3. Mary Magdalene was not a woman of questionable background and repute at all, as the Church now concedes. She was a wealthy, well educated and smart woman who early Christian patriarchs did not want to recognize as a disciple.
4. The reference to Jesus in Josephus' (30-100 c) secular History of the Jews has been shown to be a fabrication, in whole or in part, probably by Catholic bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in the 4th century.
Aside from Christians writings and those referring to them, there is no mention in any secular writings of Jesus at all, save the tampered with and questioned one in Josephus' History written c. 94. This is notwithstanding the large crowds Jesus is said to have attracted, the miracles he is said to have performed in front of those crowds, his attack on the money changers in the Temple of Jerusalem and his public crucifixion, after his exchange with Pontius Pilate and his carrying of his cross through the streets.
There is nothing in any other Jewish writings either. Nothing is cited in the extant works of Justin Martyr, Theophilus Antiochenus, Melito of Sardis, Minucius Felix, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Pseudo-Justin, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Methodius, or Lactantius. No Roman records during Pontius Pilate's terms as governor of Judaea contain anything. Nothing in any other known secular writings either. There is only the questioned paragraph in Josephus, the Testimonium Flavianum (TF) which reads:
Antiquities 18.3.3. "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day."
There is huge debate in the scholarly and lay literature about the authenticity of this paragraph allegedly included by Josephus. The arguments pro and con are numerous. Opinion on the authenticity of this passage, as surveyed by Louis H. Feldman among scholars who authored the relevant literature from 1937 to 1980 in "Josephus and Modern Scholarship," found that 4 scholars regarded the Testimonium Flavianum as genuine, 6 as mostly genuine, 20 accept it with some tampering by Christians, 9 with much tampering, and 13 regard it as being totally a fabrication. The included bias is that most such scholars are themselves Christian or strongly oriented to that faith.Non-Christians rarely become scholars in this area or concern themselves with this matter.
The importance of the TF is understood by all because it is key to the accepted existence of a historical Jesus. Otherwise, the FT would be of no great concern or moment. The scholars involved understand Christians writings are not to be relied upon as fact. The TF is the lone answer to the question of what other non-Christian reference is there to Jesus in antiquity.
The broad consensus of Christian scholarship is the TF is totally or partially fraudulent. In 1995, it was also discovered that the TF closely parallels very similar language in Luke which was written before c. 62.
The central point here is the very existence of the historical Jesus hangs by a very tenuous and the barest of threads, once Christian and Christian referenced literature are excluded. John the Baptist and James the Just are mentioned, with little question, in Josephus' History. However, absent the TF, the argument Jesus never existed is quite strong. One scholar, Dr. Richard Carrier, a key figure in the Jesus Project, a noted scholar, an atheist and a recognized master of new historiographical and statistical techniques, concludes that "With the evidence we have, the probability Jesus existed is somewhere between 1 in 12,500 and 1 in 3".
Alternatively, if he did exist, Jesus was likely a minor and largely self proclaimed personage of no real consequence upon whom Christians fabricated their Christ and faith. As possible, he was a composite of several minor persons of the era. The will to believe is strong. These are the strongest likelihoods, in my view, especially when I consider that Christian eschatology in the Church today relies on little more than the idea that some person died, was resurrected and ascended into heaven. Christology has replaced the personage of Jesus in Saul's provision of this superstructure.
The Treatment of Women as War Booty in Antiquity
03/10/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
What follows is a comparison of Israelite (Old Testament) treatment (I) vs. Muslim treatment (M). Either way, it was no day at the beach for women captured. Neither culture has currently, centrally and squarely repudiated these ancient ways. The Islamic State clearly follows them, at its best.
A. Deuteronomy 21:10-14: "When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her."
B. Muslim position disjointedly dispersed within Koran and the Hadithes but comparatively explained below:
1M) Muslims were allowed to take female captives / slaves.
1I) Israelites were allowed to take female captives / slaves.
2M) Muslim men had to wait until the female had her first period, then they could rape the female slaves - a right recognized in Islam because the slave was the man's property.
2I) Israelite men had to wait an entire month before they could marry the woman. The idea was to let her mourn her losses in peace.
3M) Muslim men did not have to marry the slave in order to have sex with her.
3I) Israelite men had to marry the slave in order to have sex with her. This marriage gave the woman full rights as a free woman. In the event of a divorce, she had complete freedom.
4M) Muslim men could use the slave for sex, then later sell her to another owner who could use her for sex, and so on.
4I) Israelite men could not sell the woman they married as a slave.
5M) Muslim men had the option, but was not obligated to marry or free her. He was not obligated to change her status of slave.
5I) Israelite men "purified" their prospective wives as cleansed from slavery's status.
It mattered not whether the woman, prior to capture, had a husband, dead or alive under either system. Note that the Israelite position slips away from the idea as women as chattel. Deuteronomy became oral tradition around 1406 BC, at the end of the forty years of wandering endured by the nation of Israel. The Koran was revealed over 23 years in Muhammad's life, 610 to 633 ce. Progressivism is not a hallmark of Muslim thinking. It is more primitive, but came much later.
Where should we think the phrase "booty call" came from?
Catholics and the Court
03/06/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Catholics comprise 25 percent of the US population yet are 67 percent of our Supreme Court justices. The conservative majority of five is all Catholic. Yet not a single law school of any catholic university ranks in the top 25 American law schools. That said, most of the Catholic justices are of better law schools, however.
I have often said, I could go into America's top ten most populous cities and after six months in each choose 18 lawyers (enough to create two supreme courts) each of whom is legally more knowledgeable and astute than all but the Jewish Justices on our own Court.
Our justices are by and large as bad as they are primarily because they are too often chosen 1) for their politics and 2) their predictability. Conservative Catholics fill that bill well for conservative presidents, unfortunately. Liberal justices are less predictable, but liberal still. Top scholars argue Supreme Court justices too rarely decide cases according to the applicable law, but often decide cases according to their political predispositions and then rationalize their decisions with such law as their clerks can paste together.
We certainly do not have the best and the brightest on our Court.
Confusion About Money
03/06/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Money is not a government IOU or an IOU at all.
With an IOU, the I is whom? The U is whom? A Federal Reserve note is fiat, issued by the sovereign federal government that is usable to pay federal taxes and is used by legal mandate as legal tender to pay all debts because the full faith and credit of the US says it can be, period. It is not redeemable from the government for anything and it need not be to work as a currency.
I argue, as such, it is not a meaningful IOU, but that money when loaned or created by a bank for a "loan" has to be paid back and so it is the money that is owed, but the money is not the IOU. Actually, the loan agreement is the true IOU, but not the money itself.
Credit is best thought of I believe, as in "a line of credit;" as money that has been arranged to be borrowed but hasn't been yet. Once borrowed it becomes a loan and has to be paid back. Credit doesn't have to be paid back. A loan is the vehicle by which credit is used.
There is immense confusion and misunderstanding out there on these issues..
More On Debt and a Stable Economic Environment
03/06/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Borrowing makes sense in a realistic and uncompromised interest rate environment when the present value of profits from a real investment sufficiently exceed the on-going costs of borrowing at such rates to make that investment contemplated worthwhile, given the macro economic uncertainties involved. This is true both for private debt and public debt that is incurred for real investment purposes. The system fails and excessive private debt is incurred, however, when the natural interest rate environment is compromised by federal intervention in pursuit of a zero interest rate environment. Investment cues and signals become masked and skewed in the direction of incurring excessively debt, now for whatever purpose.
In short, the Fed has destroyed the natural interest rate cues, has provided false real investment signals and, as a result, has induced massive private debt formation, not only in regard to real investment efforts, but also in regard to borrowing for all other purposes as well. Debt servicing too largely looks only to repayment of principal.
The Fed thinks it is helping, and it did immediately after the crash, but the simple truth is the Fed's continuing policy of attempting to regulate the economy by interest rate control and manipulation has destroyed the true calculus and market for real investment and it has undermined the economic stability and certainty needed for real long term investment by escalating private debt to too precarious levels. Also, by excessive QE, the Fed has also pushed stock and bond prices in secondary financial markets to excessive and precarious levels as well. By these means, the Fed has unwittingly destroyed the stable and more certain economic environment needed for long run real investment.
The Fed's role, and its tools and how it uses them, need to be reevaluated. It has badly erred here.
On the Human Condition
03/06/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Our condition is layered. Foremost and underlying it all, we must care for our bodies daily. We must sleep, bathe, eat, cloth, eliminate, procreate, transport and otherwise care for, move and attend to our physical selves every day. The time this takes is inordinate. I guess a good 40 percent of our lives are consumed by such bodily endeavors, as I will call them.
Then there are the functions of learning and doing. On learning, whatever the forms it takes, and it takes various forms for each of us during our lifetimes, it does not come quickly or for some easily. Our reach, with both formal and informal education, corresponds to our basic intelligence and the opportunities we have or make for ourselves. But the essential condition is that we all have to start from learning scratch here. The fine educations and wisdom of earlier generations, and their nuisances, are too largely taken with them to their graves. We must learn from and sort our sources as best we can.
I venture a further guess that another 50 percent of our lives are largely divided into two phases -- formal and informal learning into our twenties, and then our vocational endeavor(s) after that, with a continuing degree of overlap between the two. The doing of something to earn our livelihood, after our formal education, like our formal education itself, is very time consuming. This is the stage of getting ready to do and then actually doing.
I would guesstimate the residual 10 percent of our lives is spend interspersed and divided between leisure, recreation and the pursuit of enjoyment, on one hand, and our individual efforts to give to or deduce some sort of meaning from our lives. We all wonder if and what any purpose to our life might be, and that set of queries reflects on how we should live our lives. We worry about our answers, tentative though they might be, and whether we will have any serious regrets at the end of life.
The bodily endeavors at 40 percent, the learning and doing endeavors at 50 percent and the recreational and wonderment endeavors at 10 percent is basically our lives. The learning and doing endeavors can be as pedestrian as learning little and laying carpet, as tragic as engaging in war and then rebuilding, or as exalted as becoming a legitimate and honest billionaire or a Nobel laureate. No matter how we land out, we are all restrained by these time allocations, notwithstanding some minor reallocability at the boundaries. Then we each die.
This is the basic human condition we rarely think about or mention.
The Great Ripoff
03/04/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Cutting government research spending and short term profit maximization that disinvests in the development of longer term human research capital is killing US technological innovation. Other countries are moving ahead of us now, particularly those with public investment.
Most major technological breakthroughs have come from combinations of longer term private human capital development and well funded government research. Smart phones, beginning with the iPhone, are a perfect example. Let me go further and argue no great wealth, such as Apple's, is to be had without private and public interaction on both the development of human and physical capital for innovation. Without both, serious wealth formation becomes nearly impossible.
But there are two main villains now destroying this successful mix. One is the incredibly ignorant drive of conservatives to cut the funding for government research as being wasteful and the best way to curb deficits because they won't raise taxes, and the second is the neoclassical maxim that corporations should be run so as to maximize the present value of future profits. This latter rule presses too hard for a view that is much too short term, as I will explain.
Short term profits get maximized because they weight much more heavily in the present valuing of future profits and hence higher current share prices. As bad, corporate officers' compensation too much takes the form of stock options which cue on these results. A worse case scenario is the neoclassical position coupled with stock buy backs to raise share prices. The term structure of profits is skewed toward the present. Short term profit maximization and CEO compensation both badly squeeze the development of private human capital within corporations needed for innovation. Quick easy projects and higher employee turnover replace projects that are much more profitable in the longer term and better developed internal human capital The neoclassical view is too narrow and short-sighted and it gets the incentives wrong in too many regards here.
The keys to great long term growth are a) well funded longer term government research, b) the longer term development of human capital for innovation with in the private sector, and c) a stable and reasonably certain economic environment to allow for investment in the interactive results of a) and b). Our problem is we simply don't get it. Conservatives kill a), Short term profit maximization kills b) and the resulting economic consequences of both destroy c).
The ripoff is because what I describe currently was not always so. Once, government invested heavily in longer term, less restricted research. The private sector recruited and developed longer term human capital for innovation. And government provided a stable and predictable economic environment and infrastructure for longer term investment. The result was the formation of the great wealth and fortunes that we see today -- but whose owners now claim they did all by themselves and that to tax them at rates reflecting what actually happened, so as as to obtain the public's return, amounts to stealing from them personally.
And conservatives actually buy it!
On Being of Like Kind
03/01/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
After selling my large home on 20 acres, I deliberately and as an experiment moved into a gated, country club, community and joined the club. To say the community was Republican would be redundant. The community revolved around the club. Prospective club members were carefully screened and scrutinized, complete with interviews. It helped that I was well-educated, had a good income and ran around in a collectible Mercedes convertible. I also wore an expensive watch and dressed casually, but very well. I worked to make myself fit right in. I adopted the trappings well and kept my views to myself.
I was the only progressive there, but carefully kept my mouth shut and instead listened and observed carefully, occasionally even with a patronizing manner. I encountered more than a few Dick Cheney types at social and club meetings, parties and get togethers. What I learned in a nutshell was this --
Any social policy or change by government that threatened higher incomes was absolutely verboten and much discussed. Welfare and tax cuts were de regueur. Only people of like kind were really approved of -- ergo, the gates, the club and the tight, well networked community. These people strongly discriminate against -- to the point of overt social rejection -- any and all people who are not very much like themselves and who differ in any material regard. They vocally professed to despise people of color, different mindsets, lower incomes, unmarried working women, welfare recipients, democrats and anyone who thinks differently than they do. Parties and significant alcohol consumption were required to have them really loosen their tongues and open up on these matters. But they did and frequently. Otherwise, they put on a nominal and cordial face in all directions. But again, basically anyone who was not like they were was to be looked at askance if not rejected out of hand.
After this experiment of living among such staunch Republicans, many of the lizard brained variety, I sold out totally and moved aboard my boat over in San Diego. It was definitely an experience. I flew so far below the radar that before leaving, at a party I was toasted and made the country club's honorary world roving reporter. I have twice been invited back to speak, but both times have made excuses.
New Directions on Where We Are Headed
03/01/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Assuming good health, people perform, both academically and otherwise, according to their effective IQs, that is, their IQs as enhanced or not by their executive function capabilities (basically, the effective ability to get things done quickly and well). Academically, IQs are highly predictive. This creates advantages and disadvantages for various groups. Jews have a mean IQ of 116; Hispanics, 89; Blacks, 83; Whites, 100; and north Asian Americans, 106. Of course, within each group, there are those who have IQs well above and well below their group means. This is important to keep in mind. One implication is many blacks have higher IQs than many whites. These are simply means on normally distributed populations. Not surprisingly therefore, Jews, Asians and smart whites drawn from a large enough pool generally do well. The rest too largely don't, except for those well out on the right tails of their group distributions. Unfortunately, the jobs available do not well line up with those finished with their formal education at whatever level.
Robotics has started to and will progressively create jobs at the top end, retain jobs at the very bottom and too much gut most everything in the middle. Already, robots can do surgery, legal research and analysis, cut hair, perform investment analysis and drive cars in heavy traffic.And we are just getting started. Robots work 24/7 with maintenance needs of about 15 minutes every two weeks. Their capabilities are increasing exponentially and their costs are declining rapidly. Managers love them -- no worker hassles, unions, sick leave, vacation management or anything of the sort. Norelco took the manufacture of its shavers to China for cheap labor but then brought manufacturing back to an all robotics factory. Electronics manufacturers on the Rim have hundreds of thousands of robots on order. Worker displacement is not just limited to the US.
Already about 43 percent of the US working age population (ages 15-64) is unemployed. This figure is up from 37 percent about 8 years ago. Currently, only about 45 percent of the population 18 and older have full time jobs. These are not good numbers. The push is on, not only in the US, but worldwide as well. I am aware of no governmental or other efforts to stall these trends or to impede the incursion of robotics. The US government does not even have a position or policy in these regards. The quantum of useful discussion here is too largely limited to academia with an occasional popular commentary.
Even these high unemployment figures do not fully reflect the glut of goods and deficient demand for them in world markets at existing prices. The prospects for deflation loom, both domestically and as imported. Productive capability out runs our consumption ability. Commodity prices -- often the factor input prices to production processes -- are in decline. Passed on, they lower prices further just as cheaper imports do. Both cause prices of competitive domestic goods to fall as well. Interactive, depressive factors abound. However, at any and every level of unemployment, robots continue to threaten. Robotics is not the automation of old, which like computers, helped us do our work and be more productive. Robots are out to replace us.
Many job vacancies exist in the US for those with high effective IQs and good educations at the top end of the employment spectrum, especially in STEM areas. The very bottom has many openings too, because their jobs are manual and many are too complex to be well programmed and algorithms cost effectively developed. The work needs doing, but the robotics ROI is too low. However, no one likes the wage rates at that end of the employment spectrum, and many would prefer to mooch off family and government rather than do that work. It is understandable, but it drives conservatives who prize a good work ethic absolutely nuts. How to handle the matter is a social policy issue. However, in time it may become moot as I will indicate.
The upper middle and lower middle level workers -- usually with good work habits and ethic -- is where the real help is going to be needed. At some future date, only the bottom and top end jobs will be available. The service sector can only absorb so many mid-level displaced workers. It is already bulging at the seems. Much of the middle level jobs will simply be gutted. We are already beginning to see that. Then we are eventually going to need to tax capital (the wealthy) heavily and have government provide a guaranteed income to all by means of, for example, a negative income tax. There is no real alternative, except huge social unrest, rebellion and perhaps even revolution. People cannot make do with nothing. Then we can fight over minimum income levels and what people should be doing. It is going to be messy, unless the robotics revolution is stopped and I don't see that happening. A second Renaissance is also a possibility because leisure is the basis of culture and there should be much leisure.
We are getting these points more quickly than most imagine. The public discussion is far behind the developing reality. The need to work is now seriously and rapidly starting to decline and disappear. Growth is stalling and deflation looms from the glut of unsold goods worldwide at falling prices, but we are psychologically not at all ready for these developments. We are too caught up in Horatio Alger stories and the last two centuries,
Discriminating Against Blacks and Women
02/27/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
A Harvard Business Review study from 2008 found that as many as 50% of women working in science, engineering and technology will, over time, leave because of hostile work environments.
The reasons are varied. According to the Harvard study, they include a "hostile" male culture, an imposed sense of isolation and lack of a clear career path from negect. An updated study in 2014 found the reasons hadn't significantly changed.
Most women in the Harvard study said the attitudes holding them back are subtle, and hence more difficult to challenge.
This raises the question of whether, if elected, Hillary Clinton will be treated any better than Obama, especially by Republicans of the lizard-brained variety.
02/27/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
A friend resurrects our earlier discussions on Jews and why there is antisemitism. She thinks I am antisemitic. However, by the ADL test for antisemitism, I am clearly not. I do reject the idea, however, than any criticism of a Jewish group makes one antisemitic. There is no good reason Jews should get a free pass on all they do. Their behavior, like everyone's, is open to challenge. The charge of being antisemitic is too often just to shut non-Jews up. Even the word is preemptive because many Arabs are a Semitic people as well. I don't buy it the whole approach. Here succinctly are my views on Jews. Recall I spent most of my academic career and and professional working life among Jews,
To clarify: historically Jews have had a problem with greed and over reach. World attitudes toward Jews do not come from nowhere and nothing. No other ethnic group has this problem that the Jews do. However, time has altered matters, although attitudes lag behind. Most Jews have corrected the problem, largely by becoming more secular and integrating themselves with the rest of us, wholly or partially, and by abandoning much of their religion and culture. Out marriage is now hugely on the rise. Some teachings of the Torah and Judaism remain problematic however, but most now ignore them. But a few don't.
I personally think 1) Jews running the Israeli government are greedy and over-reaching in regard to their Palestinian land grabs and settlement policies in Israel -- all as justified by several sections in the Torah and therefore are supported by conservative Jewish religious leaders as well, who, in turn, support the Likud government, and
2) that Jewish bankers and regulators largely controlling the major banks on Wall Street are greedy and overreaching in how they run those banks -- which is and has been to the great detriment of the American people and to the middle class whom they gouge and defraud extensively much too often.
Aside from those two groups of Jews and 3) those who knowingly and willingly support and endorse such practices and policies of either or both groups -- I have no problem with most all of the rest of the Jewish community. They are generally smart, hard working and often successful. Many contribute a great deal; note especially their high percentage among Nobel laureates. More power to them.
The Torah, Judaism and Jewish culture still have aspects of the greed over reach problem implicit in them, but most Jews now understand that and side step the worst of it in one manner or another. Secularization is one way. The Ultra Orthodox however honor those sections and remain a problem.
Religion more generally is anathema. Witness the Koran and its interpretation by fundamentalist Muslims, as another example.
On Doing Laundry
02/25/2015, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Laundry . . .
. . . is an abomination or, more accurately, me having to do it is . . . at least to my way of thinking. I hate doing laundry. I even stall and freeze up thinking about it. I procrastinate. I even buy new shirts to avoid it.
Unlike most countries of the world, American Samoa, a US protectorate, is too largely a service-free zone or country. The reasons for this are because ---
CENSORED by suggested discretion.
For example, there are no laundry services in the country None. It is all do it yourself at a local laundromat. And forget dry cleaning. It is not to be had. By contrast, in many Mexican ports, a woman will paddle out to your boat in a panga, collect and do your laundry and return it to you folded, all for a reasonable price. Even in middle Tonga, which is much smaller, many shops take in your laundry, do and fold it, and charge you reasonably and by weight. Here laundry help is zip. You have to sort, wash, dry and fold your own laundry and do it in a room full of hot running driers in the ambient tropical heat. It is the pits.
My current laundry bags require a fork lift just to move them. The weight is made worse by the fact I use towels the size of bed sheets for sheets and they are heavy. Two is a machine load right there. Also, the problem becomes worse the more I procrastinate. That is not true for all tasks procrastinated on. Some even evaporate, although not many. I even have friends e-mailing me from afar to ask if I have done my laundry yet and trying to inspire me to do it.
At some point here soon, I am going to have to bite the bullet . . . and throw all those dirty clothes away and get a new wardrobe.
Thanks to my public whining and throwing of retrieved rocks, I have received a bailout of sorts. Although it is to hell and gone, a bus does run to a small shop which, as a secondary business, does take in and do laundry at a reasonable price I am told. Tomorrow -- upward and onward -- although in the back of my closet I have discovered two more clean shirts, so perhaps, the day or so after.