Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Socialist Business Model

Make a few people insanely wealthy
  (+2, -5)
(+2, -5)
  [vote for,
against]

This is a financial product which has a cap on returns. Any excess e.g. a few points above inflation are used to insure future returns and invest or expand businesses the stakeholders are interested in.

* Insuring future returns means literally to invest in hedge funds to stabilise the returns.

* Investment or expansion is based on no expectation of investment growth. But no loss either - we're not throwing money away. The stake bought in new ventures could feed back into the hedge or main portfolio, but the stake in perpetuity must be run under this idea's financial product description.

Essentially what we create is a feedback loop of limited returns guaranteed above inflation that spreads wealth. Investors could choose to put a few % of their investments into this scheme. Call it a wealth spreading guaranteed return fund.

Makes a lot more sense than the 'sharing' or 'maker' or 'open source' communities that are just pissing away their energy for the 1% to take advantage of.

[edit: Oh right, I forgot the subtitle. The 10-100 executives managing this fund would be highly remunerated. They might also invest.]

bigsleep, Nov 24 2016

The Levellers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levellers
[not_morrison_rm, Nov 29 2016]

The Diggers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diggers
[not_morrison_rm, Nov 29 2016]

Farm Bot https://farmbot.io/
[theircompetitor, Nov 30 2016]

What have the robots ever done for us? https://youtu.be/-6-gLy9yL3U
Me, talking about what robots is and isn't. [Ian Tindale, Nov 30 2016]

Who Moved My Cheese https://en.wikipedi..._Moved_My_Cheese%3F
Enough of a thing to have a Wiki page [theircompetitor, Dec 07 2016]

Incent the decision makers to go somewhere else https://www.yahoo.c...come-225817190.html
Brilliant [theircompetitor, Dec 08 2016]

[link]






       I suspect I am suffering from winter-induced dumth here, but I'm not sure I get this. In fact, I'm sure I don't.   

       Is this basically an investment portfolio, with the caveat that any profits above some cap are re-invested in the portfolio? Is the idea that any single investor's profit is capped individually? Or wha?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 24 2016
  

       //re-invested in the portfolio?//   

       Ok, say we invest in some shares and it out-performs inflation. The primary idea of the fund is for security is we share the proceeds between -   

       * Hedge reinvestments by the fund manager (highly paid)
* Investments into your choices of things you'd like to be run under this scheme where most profits go back into new businesses or businesses entirely run under this scheme.
  

       Let's take an example - Apple's R&D department. People like investing in education and research but don't feel it should be linked to profit. Apple realises that there is very cheap research to be had by creating Apple R&D Co. with shares that guarantee limited return - excess profit going back into the fund.   

       Ok, its a bit hard to get your head around, but imagine placing conditions on buying a new iPhone - "I'll buy one, but so long as you don't make any more than 10% profit - I'd like some of that as a discount and some of that reinvested in medical research and some to go to education grants."   

       Everyone has the choice that if they are doing well they can donate a small percentage to the greater good - so the idea is a financial product that does this and does it like Open Source Software where any derived work (or reinvestment) is subject to the same scheme. For Open Source that means free, but for this fund it means limited profit.
bigsleep, Nov 24 2016
  

       I'm gonna need a bigger brain.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 24 2016
  

       the only proven way to spread the wealth is to make companies public and accept direct investment. Such that as an Apple shareholder, a relatively small investment would cover every iphone I've already bought and will buy, much less the profit margin. And pretty much everyone has the opt-in choice to do that.
theircompetitor, Nov 24 2016
  

       //the only proven way to spread the wealth//   

       You might be confusing socialism with doubling down.
bigsleep, Nov 24 2016
  

       I'm not that socialist. Popular bimbo song   

       "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs) is a slogan that Karl Marx made popular in his writing Critique of the Gotha program, published in 1875. " Wiki for English impaired. The main one was hosed.   

       From each brain to it's ability ?
popbottle, Nov 24 2016
  

       It sounds like a useful financial instrument, it just has nothing to do with socialism, unless you're confusing socialism and charity.
Voice, Nov 24 2016
  

       Another way to think about it is a business angel who takes a smaller percentage of the business but redistributes 100% of profits.   

       I really don't think people died in the world wars to enable you to give all your money to Apple and all personal data to Facebook and Google. It's not that modern businesses don't come up with some great disposable shit, but they are resting on the shoulders of giants. The giants being the veterans and the average man wanting to survive and not any new business owner suddenly valued in billions.   

       It's great that billionaires now are putting some of the money back into charity, but its just them exercising their power where they'd like - its not like people can vote to spend a few extra billions on housing or education.   

       I think in general its time to give up on the American dream of random obscene wealth and embrace security and moderate, comfortable wealth. It's our choice whether to *ensure* money goes to people in average jobs rather the pockets of the elite and 1%. This idea presents a mechanism to do just that by multiplying the effects of re-investments into a wealth sharing economy.
bigsleep, Nov 24 2016
  

       //it just has nothing to do with socialism//   

       Under the final analysis no. Other than that if some of the money can't go to shareholders, it must go somewhere else. And eventually the system will preclude all pockets of the 1% by virtue of the contract on 'derived markets'.   

       In essence, I don't think the lack of obscene profit will affect many companies. Maybe from making stupid acquisitions like Microsoft destroying Nokia, but not intrinsically making them a better or worse investment. They may think a bit more responsibly. In what kind of world do we allow any entity to throw around billions of dollars worth of power unchecked (besides the US looking for oil control in the middle east) ?   

       I'm not religious but in terms of continuity and security of society, why on earth is Mark Zuckerberg more powerful than the Pope ? (Besides the recent reports of his resurrection).
bigsleep, Nov 24 2016
  

       Because Z invented something that people find enjoyable, or at least spend their time keeping up with?
RayfordSteele, Nov 24 2016
  

       //Another way to think about it is a business angel who takes a smaller percentage of the business but redistributes 100% of profits.// Now, you see, [bigs] old bean, if you'd posted that as the idea then I would have understood.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 24 2016
  

       //why on earth is Mark Zuckerberg more powerful than the Pope//   

       Because instead of believing in 5,000 year old fairy tales, people prefer to keep up with the Kardashians.   

       // you might be confusing socialism with doubling down//   

       Whereas you're confusing socialism with anything that might actually be workable.   

       // obscene profits//   

       Is that anything like tennis elbow?
theircompetitor, Nov 24 2016
  

       //Whereas you're confusing socialism with anything that might actually be workable.//   

       Let's recap for the average american -   

       Capitalism - Sell your grandmother
American - Die if you can't afford healthcare
Socialism - Look a little further than the family unit
Communism - State controlled allocation of jobs.
  

       'Workable' depends on how you perceive life. One mans psychopathic serial killer with 50 years costly imprisonment is another mans neglected child in need of a little more support. The latter needing a smaller amount of early investment. I may be confusing socialism with economic or common sense.
bigsleep, Nov 24 2016
  

       It's a kind of financial perpetual motion machine and, like a physical perpetual motion machine, will eventually run down in practice. True, there's a problem with the way investment works now, but that problem is mainly to do with rent-seeking and positional goods, and this solution doesn't help with it. [-]
pertinax, Nov 25 2016
  

       You can never have an equal spread of equality throughout humanity, at least not in any satisfactory way. It'll always trend to equilibriums far away from that central equality at the slightest perturbation. And I don't think it is a worthwhile goal, to ensure everyone has a fair share of what took effort and time to produce by some. Why bother?   

       What should however be aimed for is a fair spread of opportunity to be in the position to produce and reap rewards for doing so. At the moment, there isn't - the extreme cost of living and lack of any income at all prevents arranging adequate supply of raw materials and tooling that can match this surplus of time currently experienced.   

       Concordant to that is the perverted education we're subjected (or subjecting) to that emphasises stupid admin and office jobs over production and creation. It is as if those that work with their hands are looked down upon by those in recently ironed shirts and blouses, and this is the first thing that requires change - that harmful snobbishness characterised by revelling in not knowing how to change a lightbulb or fuse. What would follow is a flow of younger people into trades, apprenticeships, emphasising craft skills, as they are the root of production from which all other surpluses spring - nowhere else.
Ian Tindale, Nov 25 2016
  

       //let's recap for the average human//   

       Sooner or later you run out of other people's money.
theircompetitor, Nov 25 2016
  

       That aphorism neatly applies to the credit crunch, too.
calum, Nov 25 2016
  

       Indeed. Though, as Keynes noted, in my favorite quote of his, in the long run, we're all dead.
theircompetitor, Nov 25 2016
  

       Socialism, to one degree or another, is practiced in all modern states, elements of state social safety nets date to the dawn of civilization. Policed communal grain storage against famine for example. It is as eminently workable and sustainable an idea as any other and does not fundamentally run the peril of "running out of other people's money".
WcW, Nov 25 2016
  

       //like a physical perpetual motion machine, will eventually run down in practice//   

       I already addressed this. Companies with ridiculous profits tend to find ways to use the excess money and acquire over-valued businesses, or completely inappropriate businesses e.g. Microsoft going into mobile phone hardware. So many incidences of billions being written off. If Microsoft had partnered with Nokia in a non exclusive deal then we might still have one of the best mobile phone brands. But they had more money than sense and ran it into the ground. Likewise I don't think Apple would fail if profits were halved.   

       I can imagine a scenario where all companies have a percentage of stocks with limited profit - this is effectively raising corporate tax globally. Which is a really good thing. Businesses would make wiser decisions spending money and it apply pressure to reduce ridiculous salaries given that minimum wage is minimum wage.   

       //but that problem is mainly to do with rent-seeking and positional goods//   

       This idea is not to change the economy to that extent - people can still buy whatever they like.   

       // lack of any income at all prevents arranging adequate supply of raw materials and tooling that can match this surplus of time currently experienced.//   

       Agreed. I entered IT at a time when one person could make a huge impact. Now you need a team, often with expensive software and equipment. And then you've got patents which mean you need serious money to fight off lawyers in the case that you've got a really good idea but its been already vaguely patented by "voice plus moving head" by some large corporates. In my mind this is yet another example of 'the establishment crushing hopes and dreams, not creating opportunities and generally not acting as an enabling force.   

       //Socialism, to one degree or another, is practiced in all modern states//   

       Yes. It's just tax. If you don't pay tax you don't get the socialist or collective benefit - be it military equipment, a healthcare scheme, education, policing, housing assistence etc.   

       While many of the services are provided in socialist countries by independent businesses, any business competing for tax payer's money is subject to the scrutiny of an ombudsman organisation whose job is to spot corruption, gouging and price-fixing even if there is only one player in the market. I think this is a big difference with how totally free markets operate where players can get together and rig a market or a monopoly can basically charge what it likes. You could say that the practice of using ombudsmen to oversee business is a socialist practice in itself.   

       I personally don't believe in a free market - one day of work for anyone means pretty much the same where-ever in the world it is. Sure it's cheaper in some countries, but those are just countries where they employ children, work 16 hour days or don't bother about factory building codes - its cheaper because life is cheaper there. The whole free-market thing needs to binned as much as the concept of a drone strike on a wedding party in New York is different from a drone strike on a wedding party in Islamabad.   

       //Because instead of believing in 5,000 year old fairy tales, people prefer to keep up with the Kardashians//   

       Religion has had its day, but the less radical variations have a couple of thousands of years of moral guidelines. I'm not sure we get that from reality TV.   

       //in the long run, we're all dead//   

       Pretty much the conclusion I'd expect from some exploiting society with only a vestige of hope for their own children.   

       People are continuing to vote for 'not the establishment' and it means many and varied ways of empowering and giving security to the individual, as an antithesis to a power-player who spots an opportunity to destroy pensions and lives, buy a huge boat and bugger off.   

       At least Robert Maxwell had the decency to commit suicide after ruining so many lives.
bigsleep, Nov 25 2016
  

       //At least Robert Maxwell had the decency to commit suicide after ruining so many lives// Yes, but he had to buy a huge boat in order to do so.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 25 2016
  

       //Yes, but he had to buy a huge boat in order to do so.//   

       Philip Green is ready then. I'm looking forward to the posthumous deknighting.   

       Did you know a similar bloke just got elected president across the pond ?
bigsleep, Nov 25 2016
  

       sorry, [bigsleep], Keynes is a stimulus economist beloved by liberals, and that's his quote. It's meant to say the opposite of the previous quote (the other people money one) -- meaning society must do something (as opposed to in the long run, we'll run out of money paying social security). Do let the venom drain occasionally, it'll help clear your judgement.   

       Taxation is not socialism.   

       As to ancient Egyptian granaries and the like [WcW], I doubt the people assembling the pyramids felt they lived in socialist times. Good management is not socialism -- quite the opposite. The same evolutionary mechanisms that drive markets do also require a level of cooperation -- to a point.   

       There is a scenario of gradual absorption of the means of production by the state, one that is being enabled by technology and the gradual repeal of scarcity. I think we might see it within 50 years. Maybe half that time.   

       But it is never, ever, ever, ever going to happen by appeal to man's "better angels". That way lies Venezuela or worst.
theircompetitor, Nov 25 2016
  

       We just have to agree on a minimum standard of life beneath which none of us would ever want to live, no matter what the circumstances, and enforce that as a basic human right paid for by collective taxes based on the 'there but for the grace of God go I' mind-set.   

       Any one of us can end our lives pushing a shopping cart, and eating dog food.
If a people are shareholders in their societies overall wealth, then the lowliest of them deserve what you would feel the right to demand if forced to live in their shoes.
  

       Once there is a true minimum standard, there's nowhere to go but up from there.   

       Is that socialism?   

       Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness works for me. Definitely not socialism.   

       I can envision a situation where the production of food is wholly automated. In that scenario, one can also envision that the state would invest in such production, and after that point, it would seem to be immoral to actually charge for food (while it would still be moral to charge for a restaurant meal).   

       This has been impossible to date because humans are not sufficiently motivated to work as automated machines would, but would likely be possible in our lifetime.   

       Until then, no one has been able to figure out a way around moral hazard, and there's good evidence to believe no one ever will. It might even be possible that one will not be able to create a good enough AI without a sense of moral hazard, in which case the utopian scenario I outlined would ultimately be impossible -- but that's a discussion for a different day.
theircompetitor, Nov 25 2016
  

       //Any one of us can end our lives pushing a shopping cart, and eating dog food.//   

       <Yorkshire accent> You 'ad a shopping cart?<\Ya>
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 25 2016
  

       //There is a scenario of gradual absorption of the means of production by the state//   

       I'd agree to that in that the state is the stop-gap between business and the people. That maybe true in the past and probably true in the future, but we are living in dynamic times where the state cannot ride above (reflect) the people and an idiot has been voted into power.   

       I get what you are saying in that its difficult if not impossible to defy market forces of the idiocracy kind - be it a free market or populist democracy, but we are living in an age of exigent circumstances. Technology is moving way faster than any moral code. Again, why do we have really young multi-billionaires ? I'm not knocking a market giving perks to those who work hard and can be successful, but an individual having the power of the GDP of a small country ? That's just plain wrong. Scale that up and its like saying Trump owns the US (but luckily he just has a 4 year lease).   

       A free market - I get it. It will take time but it will eventually get there. If long term weather trends are a problem then a business might fill the gap of predicting whether global warming is actually a problem. But in our present times we need to be aware of the opportunities of being pro-active rather than reactive.   

       In a democracy choice and opportunity are key values, but you get absurdities like Monsanto suing farmers for the use of their genetics purely because weather has polluted a neighbouring farm with undesired genetically modified Monsanto seed.   

       You can talk about a free market as an abstract value as much as you like but should the farmer be allowed to sue Monsanto for the pollution of his crop or should Monsanto be allow to sue the farmer for illegal use of patented genetics ? The small farmer is trying to run an 'organic' crop.   

       On the one side a family business with long term moral values and on the other side a corporate business which really doesn't give a shit.   

       So do you stand for a purely commercial 'free litigation market' or respect mom and pop businesses ? In that mom and pop are being sued for something they didn't want in any regard.
bigsleep, Nov 25 2016
  

       //I can envision a situation where the production of food is wholly automated. In that scenario, one can also envision that the state would invest in such production, and after that point, it would seem to be immoral to actually charge for food (while it would still be moral to charge for a restaurant meal).   

       This has been impossible to date because humans are not sufficiently motivated to work as automated machines would, but would likely be possible in our lifetime.//   

       Are you related to trump ? Because that is just that kind of kind of rabbit in headlight trap that got an idiot elected.   

       Sorry if I've replied twice on this - "Humans should compete with robots and technology [on a personal level]" - are you insane ?   

       TC, I have spent a lot of energy interacting with you and you turn out to be just a bolstering class A retard, having no values other than covering your own vested interests.   

       You owe something back now - start spilling some apologies or trying to fill a void.
bigsleep, Nov 25 2016
  

       Why are young billionaires just wrong? Musk is single handedly dragging space tech into higher gear, yes, I prefer that to more social programs, ultimately, I believe that it's more useful to all humanity. And if I'm wrong, so what, it's his money, that's the point.   

       Whether you like it or not, we do not live the way we live thanks to the old crotchety guy spinning cautionary tales in the village tavern about ever trying to do things differently and the wrath of the gods, but because of the guys that survived despite defying him.   

       I'm not sure what you find so offensive about the fact that automation will replace most work, it's kind of obvious now (though I've certainly believed it since the 80s). I'm finding it odd you're getting incensed over me saying eventually, that kind of socialism is possible, maybe we're just talking in a different language.   

       As to sanity, the sane thing is to worry about your interests, in graduated circles of care (yourself, family, village, country, planet, etc). To be sure, Raynd comes closest to describing my philosophy.   

       The insane thing, to paraphrase the definition, is to know human nature, but continuously expect different results.   

       I'm sufficiently comfortable with my IQ level to avoid responding to the other insult other than to assume you had a different word in mind but perhaps lacked the vocabulary in the immediate moment.
theircompetitor, Nov 25 2016
  

       //Why is it wrong?//   

       In a democracy choice and opportunity are key values, but you get absurdities like Monsanto suing farmers for the use of their genetics purely because weather has polluted a neighbouring farm with undesired genetically modified Monsanto seed.   

       You can talk about a free market as an abstract value as much as you like but should the farmer be allowed to sue Monsanto for the pollution of his crop or should Monsanto be allow to sue the farmer for illegal use of patented genetics ? The small farmer is trying to run an 'organic' crop.   

       On the one side a family business with long term moral values and on the other side a corporate business which really doesn't give a shit.
bigsleep, Nov 25 2016
  

       //Monsanto suing farmers for the use of their genetics purely because weather has polluted a neighbouring farm with undesired genetically modified Monsanto seed. //   

       Actually that didn't happen. They sued the farmer for deliberately sewing Monsanto seeds and then deliberately using Roundup knowing they were resistant.
Voice, Nov 25 2016
  

       //This is a financial product which has a cap on returns. //   

       So, an unloved financial product left on the shelf in favour of those without a cap on returns?
AusCan531, Nov 26 2016
  

       Instead of taxation, bring the responsibility of opportunity improvement toward a personal level, and any money earned above a base threshold is categorised as to how it will be spent (and similarly if it is stored): if it is on leisure consumption and signalling / status positioning, there's not a lot of opportunity improvement there (although arguably, not none), whereas spending on equipment, even if just a new drill or kitchen mixer, spending on materials and stock, should be regarded as going some way toward the same end that the government would like to move in (circuitously and widely) in terms of making opportunity happen and making home-grown production rise. In other words, spending on something you can use for making, selling what you make, or avoiding buying an imported one, or making your own service, or offering your knowledge of it, contributes to local production increase and should be rebated or compensated for by not attracting a cream-off. (Or by gaining a negative cream-off, if you can imagine such a thing - just run the film backwards).   

       A thing that needs to happen is to turn this (not new but newly named) maker economy into something that isn't just a hobby or part-time occupation, but a prime force of distributed industry, highly local and highly granular. It saves the whole loop of taking some money off of people, and making industry happen in a big but distant and disconnected way. Obviously some of that has to occur too, but I suspect it'd happen anyway, whereas the biggest help can be injected or enabled at the personal and local level.   

       Incidentally, take everything I've just said, and apply it to recycling. Why should I be bullied into precision recycling only to be giving the materials away free for the local council to try and profit from? I'd like to be doing it myself - producing and selling back the recycled output. If I could sell back paper and cardboard, in some useful form, as well as plastics, metal and glass, I'd directly benefit and so would the environment (whatever that is).
Ian Tindale, Nov 26 2016
  

       One of the last champions of fighting against obscene profits is dead. My condolences, bigsleep. May all the demons of hell, should it exist, welcome him with open grills.   

       As to Monsanto, I'm not sure how it's connected to startups making obscene money, patents for genes is certainly worth a discussion.   

       Has nothing to do with this WIBNI though
theircompetitor, Nov 26 2016
  

       //Actually that didn't happen. They sued the farmer for deliberately sewing Monsanto seeds//   

       There were many instances.   

       //So, an unloved financial product left on the shelf in favour of those without a cap on returns?//   

       I'm not saying a cap on everything above inflation, but a percentage re-invested under the same principle. You could look at it like a partially private company or a percentage co-op. I'm sure it would have a market if it were tagged as one of many other socially responsible investments.   

       //in terms of making opportunity happen and making home-grown production rise//   

       I've often thought that handing out equipment for zero or cheap rent would be a good idea. It doesn't have to be this years fashionable model. Maybe individuals need to put down a sizeable deposit to enter the scheme so they don't just sell the stuff.   

       //this WIBNI though//   

       Well its a financial product. People can opt in or not, it's not a call for taxation policy.   

       Some good comments on the news this morning regarding the UK government working towards making the global economy work for everyone and not just the Philip Greens of this world.   

       //obscene profits//   

       It's only a problem if the wealth isn't trickling down be it say to cover everyone's healthcare or not provide a comfortable wage. This is what Brexit and Trump are all about. They are both the last opportunity before the public really throws their toys around in a few years.   

       In a sustainable sense, there is definitely something wrong with an IT business overtaking a well established manufacturing brand in a matter of years. Google have done well with value back-fill after over-valuation but I can't help but think their success is in a large part down to the blank sheet of paper that internet technology provided. Similarly social media, genetic engineering and soon to come AI.   

       Idea aside, its almost as if their should be some new market tax to slow the growth of runaway markets and their bubbles. Hard to manage if that includes repackaging bad debt, but that is the complex world we live in - its not mom and pop stores and living *that* american dream anymore. It's corporate angles on removing wealth from the average person.
bigsleep, Nov 27 2016
  

       Facebook. < 35 year old billionnaire. Any wealth it removed would be from media & advertising companies. Created a nearly endless industry of social marketers, thus surely creating jobs for otherwise unemployed English majors.   

       Google. < 40 year old billionaires. Who did they kill? Britannica sales people?   

       Uber. < 40 (I think) billionaire. For sure decimated holders of taxi medallions, who in turn used to benefit from monopoly pricing. Definitely helped consumers. There are Uber drivers in SF that are making six figures. Until the self-driving car, but then they can invest in those.   

       Changing the education system and the safety net are sorely needed for the pre- singularity window -- after that who knows. But taxing innovation is not the way to do it. Disrupting the old models, drastically reducing the cost of education not by fiat, but by competition and new business models, therein likes some hope
theircompetitor, Nov 27 2016
  

       //Changing the education system and the safety net are sorely needed for the pre- singularity window -- after that who knows.//   

       It's laughable that you think that only this change in technology warrants any modification of the way we run society, again Brexit and Trump are examples of things already running off the rails (as if it hasn't been boiling since Thatcher and Reagan, or in fact ever since the invention of the first automated production machines).   

       //Until the self-driving car, but then they can invest in those.//   

       This speaks volumes. It's like you are saying that if you are a taxi driver, then to continue to have an income you invest your thousands of dollars into driverless cars rather than actually do any work. Surely this is exactly the same for car manufacturing, or needleless to say, the clothing industry.   

       Of course given that recipe, the only people who can benefit from the demise of the taxi driver are those with large amounts of disposable savings. And the rich get richer.   

       It will be interesting to see whether Britain and the US abandon a free market in favour of being mostly self-sufficient - the natural consequence. The US can't compete with China and the UK can't compete with anyone.   

       The worrying thing about all this protectionism is once the drawbridge is raised the only influence the US can have on the rest of the world is military - and the world has had enough of that kind of thing. If the Iran deal is torn up, then basically the US can only sit and watch unless it invades and it will just turn out like Iraq and Afghanistan.   

       I'll give the G summits a little credit. Sure they are pro-business, but I bet many topics are to prevent the shit really hitting the fan. Odd that minimum wages are going up and serious talk about basic incomes - that doesn't fit any business model of the free market.   

       So [TC] you can have a proactive opinion rather than just defend your 'pre-singularity' interests.
bigsleep, Nov 27 2016
  

       This thing about the 'rich get richer'. More precisely, why do the poor not get richer? If someone gets richer, there's obviously an opportunity to do so, and it'd be stupid not to fall into that opportunity. Are we saying that said opportunity is only made available to one side (the side that will be called 'the rich', about to get richer)? Or is it available but not visible or known, through some sort of optical occlusion or informational asymmetry? Is it visible and available but not understood or recognised to be an opportunity? Is it identified as an opportunity but something else stands in the way of making use of it to 'get richer' (just like 'the rich' do)? Where does the impedance lie? Surely we'd all be better off getting richer.
Ian Tindale, Nov 28 2016
  

       My main question is: how does this work? There are maybe two flavours:
1. the idea as a description of a prudently run but also presently profit-making business, where the shareholders elect not to take cash out but instead plough it back into the company. This is baked, so I am assuming that this is not what is being proposed; or
2. the idea as a product. if you're selling a financial product, then you would expect that the product is going to generate income, growth or both. If the idea is based on the assumption that cash coming out of the product is invested back into the business(es) then it is presumably profit-making. If the businesses are profit-making, wouldn't it be more tax efficient for the businesses to not punt the money back up to the investor shareholder (that is, to the product) and then have it be pushed back down into the business (which will result in a loan relationship or some changes to the equity structure - dilution of founders etc) but instead to keep the cash where it is (like the v baked option 1)?
  

       I suppose that there might be (a) customers for ethical investment fund products but will there be (b) already profit-making businesses happy to forego a share of the profits in return for getting the net of tax profits back in? Am I overcomplicating this? We could offshore it to assist with tax, I suppose.   

       Maybe the magic of the idea is that the investee companies (that is, the profit-making businesses whose profit is what attracts purchasers of the investment product) might like the idea of pooling their profit with other profit-making companies so that any fluctuations in trading could be smoothed out across a well-structured investment product portfolio (minus the revenue for shareholders, and minus any tax), giving each investee company a better shot at consistent re-investment funds to drive growth / R&D / whatever. The socialism then is primarily as between capitalistic enterprises, rather than between the retail investors, really.   

       Still hitting the problem of how the cash gets back into the businesses, though.
calum, Nov 28 2016
  

       I will say I do enjoy these regular bouts of bigsleep and theircompetitor shouting past each other and failing to engage on the matter which is really at hand: a semantic argument about "socialism"
calum, Nov 28 2016
  

       I haven't noticed myself shouting, but there are certainly trigger phrases, obscene profits being one of them. The desire for socialism appears to be a disease of the mind, a side effect of cooperative behavior, like god is a side effect of pattern recognition. Sadly, there doesn't appear to be a fully effective cure.   

       Having said that, I do believe that the repeal of scarcity is coming (primarily because of capitalistic impulses), and with it, a sufficiently drastic reduction in the cost of living (and a rise in standards of living) as to make the current argument meaningless. That is unless it is prevented from happening by those who think they can make people into ants.
theircompetitor, Nov 28 2016
  

       //I suppose that there might be (a) customers for ethical investment fund product...   

       Investors are currently free to transfer any and all of their 'excess' profits to whichever charity or social cause they like. What's appears to be missing I suppose is some sort of compulsory aspect which really isn't missing as that's partially what taxes on profits are about.
AusCan531, Nov 28 2016
  

       //Is it identified as an opportunity but something else stands in the way of making use of it to 'get richer' //   

       Well yeah, that's what I said about [TC]'s recommendation to retire an buy shares in driverless cars. According to him, they just have to sink all that disposable wealth into shares in driverless cars.   

       //If the businesses are profit-making, wouldn't it be more tax efficient for the businesses to not punt the money back up to the investor shareholder (that is, to the product) and then have it be pushed back down into the business (which will result in a loan relationship or some changes to the equity structure - dilution of founders etc) but instead to keep the cash where it is (like the v baked option 1)?//   

       Effectively it prioritises new investment. Re-investing in a cash-cow is pointless, they will just piss away the money making stupid acquisitions etc. In fact, you might even get a better return by diverting some money into some more speculative ventures.   

       The money doesn't back into the same business but a proportion according to the product you chose goes into other investments. The important thing to realise is that a portfolio will soon saturate with businesses under this plan and will spread to wider investments ... which will saturate under this plan and spread to wider investments. It effectively turns your portfolio into a collection of co-op businesses whether they are or not.   

       //Having said that, I do believe that the repeal of scarcity is coming (primarily because of capitalistic impulses), and with it, a sufficiently drastic reduction in the cost of living (and a rise in standards of living) as to make the current argument meaningless.//   

       I'm guessing you are talking about the singularity again and have no clue how this 'drastic reduction in the cost of living' is going to happen. You haven't answered my point about Uber drivers and where they get that sudden stack of wealth, let alone licensed taxi drivers. Or whether their working career is no over. The more right wing would just say they have to re-train and move to find a job.   

       This idea is not to create socialism overnight, but to provide a business model without slow government promotion of ideologies like national health-care. It's not a 100% cap on profits, you can choose your product, maybe just a 1% cap on profits to spread wealth.   

       But then there is that question I posed about the taxation and control of new markets. You could argue that the invention of social media was a "well done, you deserve 100% of the profits" or you could look at it as exploitation of civilisation up to that point and the taxation of new markets and legislation should be punitive, and global especially in a global economy.   

       Human genetics is a similar business. Should that be entirely driven by business or should there be some global clamp-down on applications and profit.   

       And then we get to extreme technologies like AI. This could be Google, the US government, the UK, China - obviously the first past the post is basically going to run the world. The socialist would want the benefits spread across all countries rather than the loser pressing the nuclear button.   

       I don't think I'm talking past [TC] but he has just to write anything substantial other that post industrialisation there have opportunities for a limited number of people to become extremely wealthy. I still haven't even had a hint from [TC] how he'd address poverty in light of huge business collapse in a local area. But then again I've read enough to know he really doesn't give a shit about people on the whole.
bigsleep, Nov 28 2016
  

       //But then again I've read enough to know he really doesn't give a shit about people on the whole//   

       Really Bigs? That's the best that you can do? TC has a different view than you on how to best organize society to maximize development (personal and societal) so you come up with a sweeping ad hominem attack?   

       I suspect that difference between you and guys like TC and myself is that while we're all concerned that there are poor people in this world - you're mostly concerned that there's wealthy people. You see the economy as some sort of zero sum game where if Person A gets more of the pie then that must mean that Person B gets less. It's better to encourage more people to bake more pies.
AusCan531, Nov 29 2016
  

       //It's better to encourage more people to bake more pies.//   

       And the people who can't afford pies still can't buy them.   

       I totally get the trickle down effect, and that middle class people can afford mobile phones and premium pies. But there is an increasing class of people who can't afford either and have to resort to state handouts and food banks. And these are people who bolstered the economy with regular 9-5 jobs.   

       We are living in a service economy of the top 10% - all other jobs are trickle-down. The world biggest sectors are cars, mobile phones and tourism and if that doesn't scare the shit out of you then I don't know what will. It's not about pies but about how to share the wealth especially when the music stops playing and there aren't enough chairs to go round.   

       We have a surplus of pies, food, mobile phones, cars and every other comfort, but society is levered towards the rich. And very dependent on fashionable and rich sectors. That *should* worry you.   

       Google GDP by country and sector.
bigsleep, Nov 29 2016
  

       Bigsleep, ultimately you are making a Luddite argument, which has not proven correct since at least the invention of the horse plow.   

       To the extent it will come true, the level of automation would make a corresponding drastic reduction in the cost of living. It's not more complicated than that
theircompetitor, Nov 29 2016
  

       Umm, actually it *is* more complicated than that, because of rent-seeking and positional goods, as mentioned earlier.   

       Sorry to harp on about this, but a failure to acknowledge how positional goods work has vitiated the thinking of both left- and right-wingers for some time now. The right-wingers fail to think about it in the economic context, the left-wingers in the psychological context.
pertinax, Nov 29 2016
  

       Maybe look at earlier "socialism", the levellers, the diggers and I seem to remember William Godwin (?) advocating that children should collect the rubbish as they like getting dirty..maybe not his best one..   

       links
not_morrison_rm, Nov 29 2016
  

       //We have a surplus of pies, food, mobile phones, cars and every other comfort, but society is levered towards the rich. And very dependent on fashionable and rich sectors. That *should* worry you.//   

       There is no point in history, since the invention of agriculture (and thus the initial accumulation of wealth through land) where that hasn't been true. It was true in Mesopotamia, and it's true today in Venezuela and North Korea, and in Moscow and in New York. It will always be true. The only question is how did they get rich, and how many of them there are.   

       BUT, there has never been a larger percentage of humans on the planet who are NOT at the brink of starvation. Never been a larger percentage of humans that can read and write. Never been a larger percentage who can travel beyond the 25 mile radius of their home town. Never been a larger percentage with odds to live to 100 and beyond. Never been a larger percentage working because they enjoy what they work on. Never been a larger percentage that can spend time in Internet arguments while "working" and making a six-figure living. And that trend is not going to change.   

       The hollowing out of the middle class is not going to be fixed by WIBNI regulation of capital accumulation. And we have to be very wary of "well-intentioned" fixes like sending everyone to college, which ultimately is great for the employment prospects of college professors, but saddled an entire generation with unsupportable debt. The fix will ultimately be a combination of market driven changes in education, and an upcoming manufacturing revolution that will make the industrial one seem like child's play. And yes, to some extent we can no more predict the jobs of the future than the buggy whip manufacturer could predict web designers. We really can't even predict that money will not start growing on trees :) Exciting times ahead.
theircompetitor, Nov 29 2016
  

       There you go...first read about this in a book, the author's initials were K and M.   

       "To whiten bread, for example, bakers sometimes added alum and chalk to the flour, while mashed potatoes, plaster of Paris (calcium sulphate), pipe clay and even sawdust could be added to increase the weight of their loaves. Rye flour or dried powdered beans could be used to replace wheat flour and the sour taste of stale flour could be disguised with ammonium carbonate."   

       It got to the point that more than 20% of the bread was not food. For some strange reason, some people thought capitalism might not be the best path to follow...
not_morrison_rm, Nov 29 2016
  

       At least obesity and widespread diabetes wasn't a problem.   

       In all seriousness what's the point? That humans are selfish and will seek to maximize their own gains?   

       One of the most common embezzlement cases (usually leading to a firing squad) in the old Soviet Union was "sanded" concrete, given how workers in state companies stole raw materials and everything they can get their hands on, sometimes leading to the actual collapse of buildings. And food -- oh boy. One only needs to look at today's Venezuela to know where that goes.   

       Betting on the selfish gene is the surest way to ensure prosperity for most. Haven't seen any evidence anything else can work, UNTIL production can be taken out of human hands.
theircompetitor, Nov 29 2016
  

       Current eduction normalizes out the acceptance door to any kind of work. If everyone gets a degree then even working on the checkout in Asda or Tesco will require a degree to even apply for it. It doesn't mean the work is worthy of a degree-passing student. Worse, as all jobs are gatekeepered by lunching women with inadequate ridiculous lives outside of working in HR, it means nobody is going to get any actual jobs unless they're docile and tamed and tick all the boxes on what it's like to work in HR - in other words, HR only employs people like themselves.   

       As I'm no longer a teacher or lecturer (was an utter waste of time in the end, turned into an admin job, i.e. someone else's job) I'm far less in favour of a higher than ideal influx of students into higher education, and more in favour of apprenticeships and similar level on-ramps. I say we need to highly value ways of getting people into, not necessarily a trade or craft, but modes of interfacing with practical frictions, affordances, styles, behaviours and energies in the real world.
Ian Tindale, Nov 29 2016
  

       Farmbot, eh? The opening statements are a bit suspect, they sounded like lies to me, to strengthen the case of the product that follows. I like the idea of the 'CNC' (such a dated term?) XYZ plotter, but in no way is that thing a robot. It's not a robot. It's a 3D plotter, with specialized heads. The vision feedback is not adequate to cope with unexpected and unplanned environmental situations. Look at the plants growing there - eaten to buggery by slugs while the 'robot' just looks on and does nothing. If cats trampled the plants, again, does nothing. Most of the plants there are small and tidy. We grow tomatoes and they'll dwarf that thing, growing all over the place in an unruly jumble unless tied back and nipped properly. It'd have to recognise that, and be able to do something about it. The amount of plants it can grow is not sufficient and more like a bit of a novelty for those beardy young men and women in lumberjack uniforms to think they're 'participating' in real life the way it used to be before we invented the shaver and cd player.   

       I mean, I like the idea of a gardening robot, but that's not a robot. It relies on everything going to plan. An ironing robot would be an equally useful idea, but again, it has to ascertain an uncertain world.   

       I define a robot as being a system with ability to form processes for sensing and actuation toward a goal within high-uncertainty high-ambiguity environments (as I say in my video "What have the robots ever done for us?"). Farmbot isn't quite that. It is an XYZ plotter with special heads - about as complex and smart as an all-in-one printer/scanner, but not much more.
Ian Tindale, Nov 30 2016
  

       //The money doesn't back into the same business but a proportion according to the product you chose goes into other investments. The important thing to realise is that a portfolio will soon saturate with businesses under this plan and will spread to wider investments ... which will saturate under this plan and spread to wider investments. It effectively turns your portfolio into a collection of co-op businesses whether they are or not.//
OK. I understand now. My issues are now structural. What we have here is a classic investment fund perhaps with some philosophical changes. I think.
  

       Mechanics: the top level product aimed at ethical investors with an enterprise bent. The money they put in to the fund by subscribing for shares in the fund is then invested in existing, profitable companies with a decent track record that are looking for a smoother cashflow than they might currently have (for example, for supra- annually cyclical businesses like heavy rail maintenance). That investment, from the fund, into the engineering firm (to take the rail maintenance example) takes the form of a loan, with interest attached and all the usual monitoring, security and financial covenant compliance bells and whistles attached. The interest the fund receives is 95% retained for further investment and 5% paid out to the investors in the fund. The 95% is then reinvested in other companies in the fund's portfolio to fund growth and smooth cashflow worries.   

       I'm talking about loans rather than equity investment because in the pre-profit stage loan funding is self- defeating, so an equity investment is more typical at that stage and consequently, these necessarily profit- generating businesses will not be stoked by the prospect of losing a chunk of their company. Better that it is a loan. But then what is the innovation? That the subscription that the top level investors make for equity is rewarded with an income-like return? There are already income funds. Maybe the innovation is that there's a fund which is explicit that it is capitalistic- ethical, rather than touchy feely greenypeacey ethical.
calum, Nov 30 2016
  

       Socialism is a failed philosophy.   

       It has never suceeded. It can never succeed.   

       It's just wishful thinking, It's not predicated on the harsh realities of human nature.   

       Get real.
8th of 7, Nov 30 2016
  

       Capitalism is a failed philosophy.   

       It has never succeed.   

       It feeds the worst aspects of human nature and fails to accomplish common goals.   

       Realistically nobody wants to live in a purely capitalistic society.
WcW, Nov 30 2016
  

       // Maybe the innovation is that there's a fund which is explicit that it is capitalistic- ethical, rather than touchy feely greenypeacey ethical.//   

       You recapped the idea better. That is exactly what I meant - thanks. And it doesn't have to be just a 5% reinvested, a could be a 80% profit / 20% reinvest deal.   

       //Socialism is a failed philosophy.//   

       I think this strikes at the heart of the idea. The [TC]'s of this world would want to turn everything into a jungle. And yet people do vote for publicly funded healthcare or free education or all kinds of social programs that do not benefit an individual directly. I'm sure the answer is not to appeal to the animal in everyone but for those in leadership to help educate people to back the de-polarisation of wealth and power, because on the whole it benefits society not to have a bunch of pissed-off poor people around - It's just the gated vs non-gated versions of society.   

       Sure, maybe some 'socialist' programmes are brought in by the back door by some lefty governments, but somehow those policies do no get repealed. Likewise we can see the complete mess of (semi-)privatised healthcare or privatised public transport that was an order of magnitude cheaper under national funding.   

       In many cases it just needs a bold move. In the US that could be invading another country or Obamacare, but these things are tested and may stick despite public opposition.   

       This idea while not being the be all and end all of turning capitalism into a sustainable society, does give some kind of opportunity for investors to get a return and be ethically responsible. In fact, just the kind of ethics that social media loves to drive.   

       //rent-seeking and positional goods//   

       Sorry I skipped the early mention. Absolutely. A society essentially driven by mobile phone profits or subsidised technologies on the basis of advertising is a pretty artificial economy.
bigsleep, Nov 30 2016
  

       //It feeds the worst aspects of human nature and fails to accomplish common goals//   

       "worst" aspects of human nature as defined by those who want to forcibly redistribute wealth. It's not "worst aspects", it's human nature.   

       //The TC's of the world want to turn everything into a jungle//   

       No, actually we'd all still be living in the jungle if socialism was human nature.   

       What the TC's of the world want is for the government to not act as a racketeering outfit.   

       What I've now said N times in this thread and elsewhere, is that the freedom from basic needs is achievable in the near term via improvements in technology (eliminating selfish actors in the process) -- and that's the only way it is ever going to happen. You may not believe that it will happen, or you may believe it will take 100 years instead of 15, but I don't see how that's connected to jungle living. I'm saying to achieve the effective goals of socialism -- everyone living free of fear and basic needs -- will in fact be accomplished only because there's billions, in fact trillions to be made along the way to getting there, just like one of the reasons we'll make it to Mars in 30 years is PayPal's IPO. It's not so difficult to understand, it's just seems to be difficult for you to accept.
theircompetitor, Nov 30 2016
  

       //does give some kind of opportunity for investors to get a return and be ethically responsible.   

       Umm, what's stopping them now? Do you feel this in as opportunity which is currently unavailable? You and every other investor are perfectly free to donate anything from 0% to 100% of investment profits to whatever 'good cause' you choose. Most of these are tax deductible as well. If you choose to donate 0% (which is and should be your right) then the profits are taxed - with those funds still going towards 'the collective good.'   

       Is your innovation that these monies deducted at source beforehand? Or are we, as I suspect, dancing around some sort of compulsory component to your model to force other people to invest in what you deem as an ethical manner?   

       Also, what's the procedure if there's (as happens in the real world) obscene losses? I'm already dealing with that scenario myself. I moved to Oz in the 90's to set up my business. If my partner and I made $1M, over whatever time period, the Gov't takes 30%. This leaves my partner and I 35% each to either take (where it will be subject to further taxation) or reinvest in the business. If the business failed and we'd LOST $1M, then then our third partner, the Gov't, graciously says "That's 100% all yours boys. Feel free to play again though."   

       As for Rent-seeking and positional goods, like Pertinax says, this posting doesn't help with that so can't be used as justification. Nonetheless you try: //A society essentially driven by mobile phone profits or subsidised technologies on the basis of advertising is a pretty artificial economy.   

       You say that as if you're saying something important. Even if is 'artificial', what does that really mean? That it's unlike the 'natural economy' of the village market and therefore bad, full of sodium, gluten and preservatives? Even in the village market there are people flogging decorative jewelry, telling fortunes and selling gemstones and woven talismans - all of which have very little utilitarian value. These could all be described as positional goods but that doesn't stop Billy the Baker from trading a loaf of bread for a pretty bangle to give to his lady friend.   

       Once again Bigs, I suspect that your entire motive here isn't to lift to poor but to drag down the wealthy because of a bitter "Why should they have so much when other people have so little?" attitude. I'm not concerned about inequality so much as I am concerned about helping everyone at the bottom of the economy achieve basic levels of housing, food, education and opportunity. One of the ways I do that is by hiring several dozens of people and buying untold amounts of goods and services from other suppliers in my selfish quest to achieve 'obscene profits'. Now I have not and probably never will reach those pinnacles but it's fun trying and I'll be damned if I let some envious sourpuss say "your future profits should be capped at X% because I think that's a fair level."
AusCan531, Nov 30 2016
  

       The economy became artificial the day we traded a cow for a wife. Certainly the day we went to money that's not backed by gold. It means nothing -- just an antiquated, Luddite understanding of the economy.
theircompetitor, Nov 30 2016
  

       //Once again Bigs, I suspect that your entire motive here isn't to lift to poor but to drag down the wealthy because of a bitter "Why should they have so much when other people have so little?" attitude.//   

       Well yes, [AusCan531] that's pretty much it, particularly for the servicemen and all the giants that have gone before us. We don't have to tromp up and down a field with an ox or laboriously make our own clothes - but just get a tractor or a loom, or pesticides or a helicopter.   

       Just because we were sold a lie (for me in the 80's) that the world was our oyster and it was all self-made, it was just a lie and we were tricked (probably honest mistake) that working bloody hard was the road to liberation. The reality is we owe far more to the guys e.g. laying down roads decades ago, and preventing us speaking German than anyone in government would care to admit. It's all relative and these days kids are born with a silver smart-phone in their mouth which is a also a double-edged sword of leasing their life to a big cooperate in terms of personal data.   

       If you look at the opportunities offered to the previous generation and the generation before that, it was less and less about technology and more about class. Now its just pure technology and money. The old boys networks and those with piles of cash will still do very well by being able to invest and hedge.   

       // I moved to Oz in the 90's to set up my business. If my partner and I made $1M, over whatever time period, the Gov't takes 30%. This leaves my partner and I 35% each to either take (where it will be subject to further taxation) or reinvest in the business.//   

       Sounds like an honest business. I'm taking you didn't move to Aus to found an online business like Google. And Google can now free-think away from any iffy war connotations other than a post-profit PR refinement exercise.   

       And don't mention Microsoft, that idiot Gates owes me a fortune for that pile of crap I've had to support to the wider family (being the only IT expert) for over a decade. And now he's donating to causes of *his* choice. There's profit and there's obscene profit. If you work bloody hard then 5 times what other people earn is not a bad deal ... but 1,000,000 times ?   

       Just saying. Being in the right place and the right time should not entitle inordinate wealth, sure 5x wealth, but they didn't lose a limb fighting for freedom.   

       It is a difficult conversation when for some reason immigrants want to come to Europe or Australia, but it doesn't negate the lie sold to my generation (the Thatcher set).
bigsleep, Nov 30 2016
  

       The universe does not give a fuck. It is a very hard lesson. Occasionally a very difficult lesson. But it's the one lesson that is definitely not a lie. Seems that you missed that class.
theircompetitor, Dec 01 2016
  

       //The universe does not give a fuck. It is a very hard lesson. Occasionally a very difficult lesson. But it's the one lesson that is definitely not a lie.//
Och, I don't think anyone here is under any illusions about that. What's at the heart of the disagreement is how closely we humans should huddle together against the chill indifference of the universe.
calum, Dec 01 2016
  

       Sorry, [calum], that may be the point of safety net, but it does not properly describe the vindictiveness of some of the annotations here. Otherwise we wouldn't have "idiot" Gates, who employs over 1,000 people at the Gates foundation alone! (and over 100K at Microsoft) while trying to solve malaria. Because apparently [bigsleep] has relatives that are worse than everyone elses at connecting to a WiFi printer? That's not economic discussion, that's drunk uncle "down with the rich" discussion.   

       You''re aware of Moneyball and how that changed sports, right? The cold reality of statistics versus all the "experts" in the field.   

       This is exactly the scenario with socialism and communism, in part because of early childhood conditioning. So we "feel" that capitalism feeds our "worst" instincts. We "feel" that the rich have to pay their "fair share", and we feel outrage that Buffet pays a lower rate than his secretary, while paying millions, as if we don't understand that the only fair taxation system should be to split the cost among citizens equally (try the progressive taxation model while paying for lunch or dinner with friends). We feel that no one should make 1M times what someone else's makes.   

       Cold, indifferent statistics prove that human impulses are unable to properly manage communal property, and in fact, selfish impulses take over. This is why Cuba and Venezuela are where they are -- near total collapse of the economy in Venezuela in a decade. But, the proponents of socialism carry on -- because "no one" makes 1M times what someone else makes. That's not huddling closer, that's sheer envy, and just a blatant refusal to acknowledge the reality that you would simply replace the super rich with the super politically connected in any socialist system. There is in fact no greater concentration of wealth than in a socialist system. China, is actually a great example, where most of the billionaires generate directly out of relationships with the Politburo   

       But [TC]! you say, we're not talking about full socialism. We're talking about safety nets.   

       Well, if we were, that would be a different discussion. Here, we are talking about artificially limiting how much someone can make with the goal of spreading the wealth. And that will ultimately always lead to Ayn Rayndian scenarios. It has ever been so, and it will always be so, UNTIL you can take the human factor out.   

       What [bigsleep] fails to comprehend --- utterly -- is that the reason the multiplier is so big -- the reason you can build WhatsApp and Instagram and become an instant billionaire -- is because you can reach so many people -- by definition, improve the lives of so many people -- of billions. The fact that you also "invented" something like Pokemon Go but weren't the "lucky one" to build it fails to encompass that it was ever thus, just think about every person that ever made a burger before Ray Kroc. The fact that it can now happen in five years instead of 50, or 500, is a bloody fucking miracle of capitalism. I'll thank you to keep your paws off of it.
theircompetitor, Dec 01 2016
  

       It should be fairly obvious that the ideal has something that could be called socialism about it in parts and something that could be called capitalism about it in other parts, but quite clearly isn't either of those things throughout. A nation state - properly - should afford care of the citizens through (and I always say this) getting the education and health duties done correctly. This might look like socialism but it isn't, it's just what a proper mature grown-up country should be doing - caring for the people. It should also get completely out of the way in terms of business and trade, and let that happen the way that businesses and free enterprise wants to happen, given a good mix of cooperation and competition.   

       The problem seems to be what you call these things - for some reason the americans are shocked when they hear the word socialism as though it always means 100% socialism turned up full and all the bad that that can have, and for some reason the british are really not very familiar with what it is like to have a success mentality of being a winner, or that doing so isn't vulgar.
Ian Tindale, Dec 01 2016
  

       [tc], 1. I wasn't looking to explain anything to do with the tone of the discussion.
2. I hope you don't actually think that I was talking about safety nets because I wasn't.
3. I get that you have a position in relation to socialism and understand both your position and, I hope, the reasons you have for your position.
4. But - and this is the point that I alluded to when I referenced the semantic argument - is that from here it seems that you are imagining that the discussion is about socialism as implemented in the Second World (or post-Second World hold outs) when compared to the benefits of capitalism but in fact the discussion is about - or at least I would hope that it is and will be about - an idea for an only very vaguely socialist approach to encouraging stable growth in capitalist enterprises.
calum, Dec 01 2016
  

       Then perhaps a discussion of slippery slopes is in order :)   

       So I don't buy the sustainability or stability argument either. More later at keyboard
theircompetitor, Dec 01 2016
  

       I don't know if we want to start talking about slippery slopes - who knows where that'd end up.   

       For the record, I can see the motivations for the idea but based on my day to day experience of corporates looking for funding of various types, I can't see this idea getting the uptake it needs to fly: investors will only go in to the fund if they think there'll be a return (however modest) and there won't be a return unless there are enough cash generative businesses with (a) a socialist bent and (b) a need for finance that can't be served cheaper elsewhere. That said, I've never been renowned for my optimism.
calum, Dec 01 2016
  

       It could work if the thin top layer of redistribution of help were a kind of lottery, and a kind of rebate-benefit thing for (mandatorily) participating in such a lottery.
Ian Tindale, Dec 01 2016
  

       The goal for for-profit corporations should be maximization of profits. There are plenty of other vehicles, including foundations, non-profits, etc, that can still have meaningful cash flow and appreciation (say the Gates foundation or Harvard endowment) to serve various social goals.   

       The risks of "unfettered capitalism" (i.e. the stability argument) are typically not identified correctly. Yes, the absence of regulation will lead to excesses. But true country or civilization wide blowups are typically fed by government policy, from runaway inflation, to tariffs, to artificially lowering borrowing cost, eliminating actuarial risk from underwriting loans, etc.   

       The notable (but actually still debatable) exception to this are monopolies, since the absence of competition reduces moral hazard and encourages abusive behavior. Debatable because the worst monopolies are actually also a result of government policies (e.g. FDA approval process for EpiPen competitors, etc).   

       Further, growth is not a zero sum game. Most of the ultra-successful corporations that IPO are owned by institutional investors, and through them, pension funds. Those funds, in turn, already allocate investment across a spectrum of risk. If we don't want millions of govt. and union employees to lose their pensions, we better hope the investment managers that are running their money get the type of returns that are made possible by crazy growth stories.
theircompetitor, Dec 01 2016
  

       First off apologies for the occasional lowering of tone of the discussion. I find it very hard to understand that some people believe in themselves so much they think that they deserve a huge chunk of the worlds wealth despite so much has gone before these people to enable them.   

       //The fact that it can now happen in five years instead of 50, or 500, is a bloody fucking miracle of capitalism. I'll thank you to keep your paws off of it.//   

       That's a weird comment. If anything society needs more time to digest technologies. We are incredibly early adopters of websites and mobile phone payment technologies that keep breaking down and exposing individual wealth to criminals. Many could argue the exploitation of fossil fuels as a modern technology will kill us off or it could be the race to AI, or it could be widespread roll-out of drugs that could have lasted millennia if only used for emergencies instead of cattle. Sure these things are great for early profit, but not so great in the long term.   

       You have to ask, how much profit does anyone need in the short term, or in fact could we wait until the technology is safe, stable, secure and sustainable ? Obviously the only answer to that these days in a global market is global regulations.   

       //an idea for an only very vaguely socialist approach to encouraging stable growth in capitalist enterprises//   

       Indeed it is. When the tech and car bubble crashes in a few years we have a major problem of civil unrest. The idea is an attempt at 'responsible capitalism'.   

       //If we don't want millions of govt. and union employees to lose their pensions, we better hope the investment managers that are running their money get the type of returns that are made possible by crazy growth stories.//   

       I think you just quoted Fox News - "crimes against the economy!"
bigsleep, Dec 04 2016
  

       Can you explain what gives anyone the right you question what anyone else needs?
theircompetitor, Dec 04 2016
  

       Well, [tc], so long as we're living on one planet with finite resources, I think everyone has the right at least to question what everyone else needs. I can question what you need. You can question what I need. We can talk about it. It's irksome, but better than a savage struggle to the death in the ruins of civilisation.   

       Once we go interplanetary on a large scale (and I hope that's soon), then the calculus changes, and we can all head off to the frontier to take our destinies in our own hands. But that's not where we are just now.
pertinax, Dec 04 2016
  

       Oh I don't know, what's going on now in tech startups is akin to a wild frontier type of ethos, a bit like a gold rush*.   

       * in that the only people making money are the tool makers and sellers.
Ian Tindale, Dec 04 2016
  

       //Well, [tc], so long as we're living on one planet with finite resources//   

       Rockefeller's or Carnegie's drive to have more resulted in everyone having much more, rather than everyone having to do with less. Ditto Bezos or Brin or Gates or Jobs. Our feelings on the subject (see the Moneyball reference above) do not change that statistic.   

       Can you help put this feeling into context for me? The feeling of "how much does this person need?"   

       Is it most similar to how I feel when I lend money to my brother in law and he buys a new car or goes on vacation before finishing repaying?   

       Or more similar to how I feel when I see someone on welfare with the latest model phone? Or is that different because the Internet is a right?   

       How about buying beer on foodstamps?   

       Ironic that those who have no problem seeing the finite resources of the planet, have a much tougher time recognizing the finite resources of their own sovereign state, much less the finite resources of the subset of the population that finances the sovereign state. Put in other words - everyone always sees the limits of their own resources and wants more, and those appetites always -- yes always -- expand with capability, and always doesn't understand why someone else needs more.   

       The surest way for the pie to grow you have to unleash the animal spirits. They call them animal spirits for a reason.
theircompetitor, Dec 04 2016
  

       //The surest way for the pie to grow you have to unleash the animal spirits.//   

       I'm pretty sure the pies currently grow because of number of likes or other OCD traits. And for many people as I've said many times its not about the money. Many doctors just want to heal as much as they possibly can and do volunteer work as well as take a salary, rather than be the 'doctor / businessman' that earns the most money. Likewise in IT, I completely take my mind off the moneyball when thinking about various IT domains (in my history even billion dollar trading systems, and it wouldn't have been legal to take a cut of *that* business just because my fingers were all over it inside and out).   

       Given that to be true, someone who only looks at pie sizes all the time should be more of an accountant rather than 'a pure businessman'. An accountant (pure businessman) who wants to take a large percentage of the pie is therefore little more than a parasite on society.   

       You still didn't comment on how an Uber driver gets a sufficient stake in driverless car shares to maintain an income i.e. when they convert from a non-businessman with a trade to nothing more than an investor.   

       I really would appreciate you answering that point.   

       Or will taxi-driving just be seasonal work ?
bigsleep, Dec 05 2016
  

       Parasite is a deliberately offensive, judgemental word that is no more justified for a banker than for the person who asks do you want fries with that. Both can ultimately be replaced given sufficient level of automation, both will ultimately be disrupted.
theircompetitor, Dec 05 2016
  

       //Parasite is a deliberately offensive, judgemental word that is no more justified for a banker than for the person who asks do you want fries with that. Both can ultimately be replaced given sufficient level of automation, both will ultimately be disrupted.//   

       Sorry about that. I'm still having trouble adjusting.   

       You still didn't comment on how an Uber driver gets a sufficient stake in driverless car shares to maintain an income i.e. when they convert from a non-businessman with a trade to nothing more than an investor.   

       I really would appreciate you answering that point. Please.
bigsleep, Dec 06 2016
  

       I'll give a considered answer on Uber later
theircompetitor, Dec 06 2016
  

       Based on Uber stock price timescale or in a day or two ?
bigsleep, Dec 06 2016
  

       When I'm at a keyboard
theircompetitor, Dec 06 2016
  

       Looking forward to it.
bigsleep, Dec 06 2016
  

       One thing I'd like to interject with is my prediction as to how acceptance of 'robot' / automation tech will settle. I predict that it will, in an undercurrent at first, but later increasingly, be mistrusted and avoided for everything except low-risk low-variance low-complexity events, transactions and operations.   

       The reason I say this is because although we like to think that technology is either completely shit or utterly amazing, depending whether we see it mostly work or mostly not work properly, I think the trap area is when it seems to mostly work almost always for most people. This apparent success hides a lack of complexity in dealing with exception cases, in which not only can it fail, but frequently puts a human being at a significant disadvantage when it does (time consuming, costly, or even at a minimum, frustrating because it is faceless and there's nobody to talk to and hold the hand when things go incorrectly).   

       The realisation that behind crucial tech there may not be enough sophistication in processing designed in to capture exception cases of being a normal individual quirky human will increasingly pull people away from trusting it completely for anything other than the most basic routine and simplistic tasks.
Ian Tindale, Dec 06 2016
  

       //put this feeling into context//   

       I didn't say anything about a feeling. Perhaps you're confusing me with another poster.
pertinax, Dec 06 2016
  

       //those who have no problem seeing the finite resources of the planet, have a much tougher time recognizing the finite resources of their own//   

       That's a fair point. Both the economy and the environment need to function, if human life is not to become rather unpleasant, and a lot of political debate consists of the Left saying "how stupid not to see the reality of the environment" while the Right says "how stupid not to see the reality of the economy". In fact, they're both real. Unfortunately, it's difficult to sell a political vision that doesn't ignore (or at least oversimplify) one or the other.
pertinax, Dec 06 2016
  

       //confusing with another poster// Perhaps. The larger point is that the need to question the needs of others does not come from a particularly righteous place within us. And, it ignores the growing pie statistics.
theircompetitor, Dec 06 2016
  

       OK, so on Uber. First let's set some foundations -- sorry, this might get tedious for the uninterested...   

       Investing in taxi cab medallions is a time honored way, at least in the US, for a cab driver to make it into the middle class or even the upper middle class. I know multiple people with practically no education, that started by renting cabs from others, and eventually financed and bought medallions, bought several cabs (called a mini-fleet), and then make a living renting them out. Most stop driving at that point, some still do.   

       At it's high point, a taxi medallion in NYC was worth over a million dollars, maybe close to 2M. Now, two important additional points:   

       1. Of course at all times lots of cab drivers are just people falling out of other jobs, or students, or what not. They're not all millionaires, obviously.   

       2. To the extent the value of medallions made some cab drivers and cab owners rich, it was a value that was artificially driven up by government licensing. In effect, it was a regressive tax on city dwellers -- the # of cabs kept artificially low, creating artificial scarcity, increasing justification for higher fares, and increasing the # of times you are left standing out in the rain.   

       OK, so in comes Uber. Now, in the pantheon of "I could have invented that", there's probably no more obvious idea than car dispatch by phone. Limo drivers were the first people to have mobile car phones back in the 80s.   

       The main reason this didn't happen ages ago is NOT that there was no iPhone. The main reason it didn't happen before is that the regulatory framework is so insane no one ever had the balls to try! Even now, they hound Uber by restricting it in various ways in different major towns -- nothing that helps consumers -- primarily just protections for the taxi & limo industry.   

       So who got hurt already: well, I can't speak to whether or not cab drivers make less money. But I can tell you that I travel extensively and I haven't rented a car for business travel in 2 years. That's gotta make a difference at scale. Well, so screw Hertz and Avis, they were overcharging us on the navigation systems and insurance and gas anyway.   

       More notably, those nuovorich cab owners got fucked. NYC medallions are now less than half their value, at $500K. Imagine buying that medallion and a nice house in 2005. Boy, have you been screwed. You probably voted for Trump, even if you're from Pakistan.   

       Before I go any further: no doubt there are real tragedies associated with this. Perhaps with the above mentioned Pakistani whose life savings have been eradicated. Or perhaps the revenue manager at a San Fran Hertz branch, who just can't figure out what else to do to get the bonus that might send her kid to a better college, or simply hopes to not get fired though sales are down quarter after quarter.   

       And of course there are the happy stories of the Uber drivers that now found a way to make really decent living (100K plus in San Fran for those that drive professionally, i.e. make it a full time job). Or the student that drives part time, picks up rides when he can, and pursues his music career. Or perhaps it's the car dealer that figured out how to sell car leases that besft fit Uber drivers.   

       Who knows what outweighs what? Who is to judge? But what we do know is that there's never been a successful method of "managing" this, and yes, we do know that the pace of change is accelerating. China obviously is a partially managed economy, but ultimately they are relying on the chaos of capitalism to save themselves and their regime.   

       OK, so now to the next phase. In five to ten years, cars are driving themselves, trucks likely too. Uber may spearhead the self-driving service car, or might become completely irrelevant and dissapear if that model is instead offered by the car rental companies -- who have existing fleets that could be retrofitted -- or for that matter, Uber could become irrelevant because Apple or Google gets serious -- or because the car companies themselves want to do it.   

       The overall fleet size in the US and elsewhere is completely unpredictable -- how many cars will you have if you never have to worry about having a car? The number of car dealers that will lose jobs, in percentage terms, will likely be as devastating as the number of bus drivers that do -- and these are relatively well to do people today.   

       And boy, those car-pooling suburban moms will be completely out of a job, and won't be able to bitch about Jenny, who always gets out of her car pool day.   

       [bigsleep] you've been in the corporate world, you likely heard of this infuriating little piece of platitude called "Who Moved My Cheese"? They only show that to white collar workers when they get laid off. Probably worried that if they show it to a factory worker he'll smack them in the face.   

       Well, so the cheese is constantly moving. Society may be blind to it, or attempt to have cheese relocation centers -- whatever. It's moving. Get used to it. Worse, often it's on a spring-loaded platform. And the universe doesn't give a fuck.   

       And with that, a good morning to all :)
theircompetitor, Dec 06 2016
  

       I thought nobody would ever need to travel at all, automatic car or not, because we'd all be teleworking. That alone should've meant the end of workplaces, office buildings, rush-hour, peak fares and wearing clothes.
Ian Tindale, Dec 06 2016
  

       Indeed
theircompetitor, Dec 06 2016
  

       (marked-for-tagline)   

       " sorry, this might get tedious for the uninterested "
normzone, Dec 06 2016
  

       //Investing in taxi cab medallions//   

       Thinking about it, I expected that reply - you've either invested heavily in the market or you haven't.   

       In other countries the taxi market isn't as stitched up. Ultimately, Uber will be brought under the licensed cab market to ensure passenger safety and failing that, insurance cover.   

       Maybe this discussion is all about cheese moving insurance, and this idea is very much about preventing excess profit in a mobile cheese market.
bigsleep, Dec 07 2016
  

       Is that cheese moving thing actually a thing? It's bellendrical in the extreme.
calum, Dec 07 2016
  

       Edam if I know, but it sounds gouda.
normzone, Dec 07 2016
  

       [bigsleep] the safety net discussion is a worthwhile discussion, I don't believe profit maxing is a good way to go there.   

       Ultimately, current societal mechanisms are clearly inadequate -- hence the various electoral shocks. I get that you think sharing prosperity will improve that. But I would be concerned that any sharing of prosperity tends to reduce it, and in that can, and that can spiral. (I understand that let them eat cake can also spiral).   

       Economic wisdom says that the best the govt. can do in a down cycle is act counter cyclically. In fact, the best businessmen do the same (e.g. Buffett's buy when there's blood in the streets). Imagine a situation where to get unemployment benefits you didn't have to show that you went on stupid interviews for jobs that you're not qualified for or don't want, and instead were enrolled in a business class. That's a minor improvement, not a panacea by any means. But we just have to rethink how the social safety net spends its money if we expect to improve our reaction time to change.
theircompetitor, Dec 07 2016
  

       //I get that you think sharing prosperity will improve that.//   

       Yes, and an AI doing the work of a million people is not a unique case in history, so why the rules should be different in the future defies logic. It did start with the loom.   

       The second thing is that with the rise of the mega corporate, we have mega cheeses that can move around at whim depriving whole towns of cheese. At this point we should have required some kind of cheese insurance or have something more fine grained than monopolies control that has as its ethos baby cheeses, albeit this does go against the sanity of having efficient mass production.   

       //But I would be concerned that any sharing of prosperity tends to reduce it, and in that can, and that can spiral.//   

       I think it would just slow it down a bit, and not my that much. A lot of innovation is now coming from crowd-funded projects and many markets are stabilising. I can't think how supermarkets can possible change other than slightly refining some software, and then we have a ton of patents due to expire to make many common products really cheap.   

       In other words, if the global market tanks, there will still be factories selling the bare-bones products - a reasonable sub $100 smartphone, a $5000 car, reasonable priced food and houses ... that's a different discussion. And what I'm talking about here is the capital equity in the cloth, smartphone and car looms already in existence. Those factories will continue to exist just ticking over. Sure no big shareholder payouts but standards of living will be maintained so long as people show up for work.   

       Of course, all the pure business types will have nothing to do, no money to shift around not much investment to be done other than clone an existing plant.   

       Even though ([TC]) you do not recognise anything other than the rise of AI to be a game changer, this has been recognised by socialist parties and governments (the non mass-murdering kind), the UK has had some very left governments, not to mention Scandinavia. Let's just say that we both agree that at some point global economics will fail catastrophically, maybe with the rise of AI, maybe public pressure or common sense before that ...   

       Obviously attitudes to work and shared benefits take time to change, they tend to be cultural - some countries wouldn't have some national schemes any other way, the population of other countries would call these schemes communist. But one way or another, as you say, social safety nets and the cultural adaptation has to happen.   

       I think the point of many socialists throughout history is that wealth polarisation is a continuing pressure that must be continually diffused. The worst that could happen in a socialist culture should the shit hit the fan is that some people have a lot more because they worked really hard, but most people have roughly the same. What's more the whole discussion of who should have more has already been had because its part of the culture.   

       To enter into a socialist culture overnight with massive polarisation of wealth, a culture of greed and the possession of guns is not desirable.   

       The big question for US voters is what to demand now (corporate taxes are pretty much the only short term measure). The big question for you [TC] is when should the planning have started ? How many decades ago ? Or whether it should have been a continual programme since the invention of the loom ?
bigsleep, Dec 07 2016
  

       C'mon someone, mention "Hitler" not in quotes so we can call Godwin's Law ...
8th of 7, Dec 07 2016
  

       bigs, if you haven't read it already, I think Paul Mason's book "PostCapitalism" would be right up your alley
calum, Dec 07 2016
  

       Or failing that, the collected works of Charles Manson ...
8th of 7, Dec 07 2016
  

       I think my primary point would be that no amount of planning would be equal to the task :)   

       Let's start with the loom. How did the Victorian education model emerge? What drove that? How come we couldn't just keep going the way we were going before?
theircompetitor, Dec 07 2016
  

       The benevolent kind of trickle down effect rather than the pant wetting version we have today.   

       //I think my primary point would be that no amount of planning would be equal to the task :)//   

       Yes. That's a complete cop-out.
bigsleep, Dec 07 2016
  

       Right, so at some level an absurd, gilded age level of prosperity changed the world for kids. Today, an absurd, gilded age level of prosperity has one guy trying to fly to Mars while changing the electric infrastructure and creating a car company, while the other guy is also trying to fly to Mars while eliminating everything from retailers to supermarkets, while another guy invents Segway while figuring out insulin pumps and figuring out how to get clean water in Africa.   

       These are all idle pastimes. They couldn't be happening without the absurd level of prosperity. Perhaps for the selfish reason that one of them will discover immortality, or actually get to Mars, or some combination of the above, I value that more than cheese relocation reduction services. And believe me, my cheese has been moved plenty of times.   

       It's not a cop out. I'm saying you're solving the wrong thing the wrong way (and will fail). But I guess on that we'll have to agree to disagree.
theircompetitor, Dec 07 2016
  

       //I'm saying you're solving the wrong thing the wrong way//   

       <very long ranty response deleted/>   

       Simplified. Trump was elected (same as Brexit) on job security issues, mainly cheese moving to immigrants. Trump will also build a wall to stop cheese escaping, but I'm not sure he knows how business really works.   

       Likewise I don't think Thatcher or Tebbit had any empathy towards others to stop them treating people like mice.   

       This idea is a bit crap, but it does provide a non-taxation approach i.e. a non-governmental way to share wealth, which in Europe is currently being dominated by hand-outs to refugees from middle-east countries that didn't need messing about with from the US in the first-place - Waldo was in Pakistan.   

       The US had a chance to defuse the situation in Syria before Russia got involved and they didn't and to be honest I don't think that is anything more than big business throwing its idiotic muscles around. And given that Trump seems to be like a confused small child, he might have a little more empathy when he wakes up from a long nap.   

       Obviously mice, men and bullshit have existed for eons, austerity can take one of three forks in the road.
bigsleep, Dec 08 2016
  

       //eloquent response to ranty response deleted//   

       Let's just say that the world's leaders should not be able to look themselves in the mirror over Syria, but indeed they do, and they probably make duck faces while doing it.   

       When I say "wrong way...etc", I thought I gave some examples, but let me try to explain another way.   

       It's widely accepted that the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates where they are is the primary reason why the US economy recovered as it did, warts and all. Thus, keeping interest rates low did more than whatever the Commerce Secretary was doing, or the Infrastructure Bill, or extending unemployment benefits N times.   

       Now -- I'm not a huge fan of this strategy, and at least one major downside is actually the increase in inequality. But it certainly made a massive difference.   

       Many argued that it's fiscal policy that would make a much bigger and better difference -- we're about to find out, though we'll never get to see the full counterfactual.   

       But MOST would accept that if we did absolutely nothing, and just kept extending unemployment benefits, we would have been much much worse -- economy needed to actually improve to reduce unemployment.   

       So the current imperfect state, which in part led to Trump, is still much better than 2008, in a significant part because of Federal Reserve policy, improved.   

       By comparison, several "pull buying forward" programs for housing and cars failed utterly.   

       So these are examples of "wrong thing, but it does make a difference", versus "wrong thing, and it won't make a difference".   

       Of course some would say the Fed was a "right thing". But even the Fed would acknowledge that fiscal policy would have been better.   

       I've said it lots of different ways but I will try one more time. Doesn't matter if what you are proposing is or is not "taxation". How does it benefit anyone to punish productivity, to punish extra output. This puts me in mind of the type of EU rules that are no doubt at the root of the centripetal forces tearing it up.   

       I'm honestly a very pro-immigration person. But if we do know that automation is reducing the need for downscale labor, it is in fact the government's role to control the border, and act to reduce completely foreseeable problems down the road. Even though the main driver is actually corporate need for current profits -- which is understandable -- it is fair for the govt. to intervene, this is its domain. This would be doing the right thing for the right reasons. And if you're Japan with its demo problem, encouraging immigration instead would be doing the right thing for the right reason.   

       When seeing the outrage of EpiPen, calling the CEO in front of Congress and accusing them of profiteering is doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Acknowledging that the FDA process is what actually created the monopoly EpiPen enjoys and changing that such that others can get approved rapidly and get product to market, that's doing the right thing for the right reason.   

       I gave some small examples of things that can help at the edges with the coming storm (I guess the storm is already here). I will try to come up with something more meaningful a bit later.
theircompetitor, Dec 08 2016
  

       Ultimately all we need is to keep warm and hydrated. Any economy beyond that is superfluous. When governments learn and forcibly impose that, we're all somewhat screwed.   

       There is a confluence of situations here. We all share a planet and have a shared fate. And individualistc capitalism drives wealth.   

       Just as there are no ethical issues with a lawyer acting with the best of his ability toward the interest of his client, despite his client's guilt or innocence, there are no ethical issues with people working an existing system of capitalism in their favor. Now, there are 2 caveats to this: 1. The principle doesn't consider the scarcity of evironmental resources from which much of that wealth is generated, and 2. It also doesn't consider that the wealthy have a consistently greater influence over governmental policy to design said capitalist system in their favor. Because of these issues, I believe it must be held in some check or else cause what I might call a 'raw resource bubble' from which there is little escape other than off of this rock, which I've grown to believe is a stark impossibility, in all honesty.
RayfordSteele, Dec 08 2016
  

       Another caveat: people actually have to act in their best interest. This proves to be difficult for a vast majority of the population.
RayfordSteele, Dec 09 2016
  

       //the growing pie statistics//   

       OK, I've been reading about the "growing pie" analogy since the 1980s, and I haven't yet seen a counter to the point that the role of positional goods makes at least some of that growth illusory. There may be such a counter, but I haven't seen it.
pertinax, Dec 09 2016
  

       //Another caveat: people actually have to act in their best interest. This proves to be difficult for a vast majority of the population.// What great excuse that would be to dismantle democracy. Gotta be careful with that one.   

       Limited resources are genuinely limited -- streets are not paved with gold, after all. Though the diamond age will likely change that.   

       In a sense, what you're describing [Ray] with money influence is first mover advantage. And yet first movers lose all the time, though some times trust busting does help.   

       [pertinax] I think I understand your point, but regardless of deflationary drivers, ultimately each human has access to much more today than ever before? How can we legitimately say that the pie hasn't grown?
theircompetitor, Dec 09 2016
  

       //How can we legitimately say that the pie hasn't grown?//   

       Well, it's difficult to say with confidence whether it has or not, because no-one has yet found a way to measure or quantify positionality, so as to separate it from the other elements of value. For one thing, positionality varies by geography. In a somewhat crowded country, like the UK, or an extremely crowded one, like Singapore, a house or an apartment is very much a positional good, because it takes up scarce space, and thereby denies that space to another person. In a less crowded country, like the US or Australia, a house is more likely to be a genuine extension to the pie.   

       In the UK, in particular, rises in house prices can look like a growth of the pie (because the numbers describing the economy get bigger), while leaving many people - perhaps most people - worse off in terms of disposable income. It's complicated.   

       As a whole, the world is getting more crowded, not less, so the degree of positionality of goods is growing, and therefore accounting for a larger part of the apparent size of the pie. But it's frustrating not being able to measure it, and without such measurement we can't identify the point at which a pie which appears to be growing is actually shrinking.
pertinax, Dec 09 2016
  

       //Just as there are no ethical issues with a lawyer acting with the best of his ability toward the interest of his client, despite his client's guilt or innocence, there are no ethical issues with people working an existing system of capitalism in their favor.//
I am not sure that the analogy is perfect (what analogy is?) because the reason that it makes sense for a criminal defence lawyer to act in the best interests of his client is that the machinery and resources of the state are being brought to bear upon the future of the individual, and a vigorous legal representation is a step towards redressing that imbalance. The analogy falls down because the capitalist system necessarily includes within it inequality of resources and, in the true free market model, self-interest alone is the protection against that inequality. On the other hand, perhaps the analogy is instructive because it shows how we are prepared to grant protections for the purpose of the rule of law, but we (for certain values of "we") are not prepared to grant protections against the necessary inequality of the capitalist system.
calum, Dec 09 2016
  

       //certain values of "we"// indeed :)   

       Working diligently on my Capitalist Manifesto in my spare time, when I'm not busy crushing my enemies, see them driven before me, and hearing the lamentations of their women.
theircompetitor, Dec 09 2016
  

       Yikes, that wasn't directed at you, [tc], because I can't really get to grips with where you sit on the continuum from unregulated capitalism to command economy, though I get the sense that it is closer to the former than I am to the latter. I was thinking primarily of English people, because they keep voting for people who hate the concept of the state other than as a means of creating difference with other peoples.
calum, Dec 10 2016
  

       // In a somewhat crowded country, like the UK, or an extremely crowded one, like Singapore, a house or an apartment is very much a positional good, because it takes up scarce space, and thereby denies that space to another person. In a less crowded country, like the US or Australia, a house is more likely to be a genuine extension to the pie.//   

       I thought I understood what a positional product was, but now I'm wondering whether its -   

       a) An over-priced fashion item to position you in society with regulated scarcity
b) A commodity with natural scarcity.
  

       i.e. Bling vs supply and demand.   

       //How can we legitimately say that the pie hasn't grown?//   

       Define pie. Let's remove money from the equation by dividing everything by the minimum wage. Modern technology means you have to work less hours to get a tv, mobile phone, house or car. Production has become far more capable and efficient i.e. fewer man hours to make something. Thus we can buy a car for the price a tv was 50 years ago. Is that a bigger pie ?   

       However, profit maximising business practices (and competition in the property market) has led to a reduction in purchasing power. Not as much as the benefits that technology has brought, but enough for wealth polarisation to grow. With global competition, most western countries borrow heavily rather than tax the companies and financial institutions making a killing, which makes debt a public rather than economic problem.   

       When you equate money with oil or energy, which it practically is these days (with very little manual labour in all goods), our real level of society if you look around your dwelling for stuff, is gadgets per teraJoule, and obviously that pie is increasing. How the surplus is divided is just how a domestic economy is run. If you give all the surplus to the guy who patented 'mouse plus click' then society is in for a rough ride.
bigsleep, Dec 11 2016
  

       The pie grows, the suffering grows to match.
This would seem to necessitate a decrease in population but this assumption is false. Many hands make short work.
  

       We just have to determine what we are working towards.   

       Status quo, or something more.   

       Good point, [bigsleep]; I may be mis-using "positional" by conflating different forms of scarcity.
pertinax, Dec 11 2016
  

       Positional goods are defined as those that can move you around to face a different way, or lean back, or raise your arm, or move your legs apart.
Ian Tindale, Dec 11 2016
  

       The math is not so complicated, even without standard of living adjustments, and there is no need to look for complex answers to simple questions.   

       Perhaps as few as a couple of thousand cromagnon at what we'll call the start point. Billions now. The pie has grown. And it would honestly be absurd to claim that the slices are smaller.   

       It is not a paradox that upward mobility seems worse now, in the age where so much effort is being made to increase it. It's actually should have been the predicted result
theircompetitor, Dec 11 2016
  

       //there is no need to look for complex answers to simple questions//   

       Heresy!
pertinax, Dec 23 2016
  
      
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