msinaisuhtlaM

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Highway
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Highway » 16 Mar 2012, 18:49

Kolohe wrote:
"treat workers like human beings and they'll turn into customers"
Pet peeve - Ford made his fortune by ruthlessly eliminating any bit of skilled labor from his production process through automation, so he could replace those workers with unskilled labor who were, though highly paid compared to their peers, much lower paid than the people they replaced. He was the original 'outsourcer'. And once his competitors did the same thing (and had a better selection of vehicles), he wound up paying his workers the prevailing wage.
But... this does address part of what the continuing complaint about "What are more unskilled people are going to do?" This process just continues.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Hugh Akston » 16 Mar 2012, 20:33

Kolohe wrote:
"treat workers like human beings and they'll turn into customers"
Pet peeve - Ford made his fortune by ruthlessly eliminating any bit of skilled labor from his production process through automation, so he could replace those workers with unskilled labor who were, though highly paid compared to their peers, much lower paid than the people they replaced. He was the original 'outsourcer'. And once his competitors did the same thing (and had a better selection of vehicles), he wound up paying his workers the prevailing wage.
It's almost like he was treating his jobs program like a business.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 21:26

Mo wrote:Why do the first and last surprise you? Older people (and by this I mean people in their 60s+) tend to get sick more often, are less willing to wok long hours and are less likely to start new businesses. Even though the youthfulness of entrepreneurship is largely overstated, it tends to be a younger (30s and 40s) man's game and conservatism and low risk tolerance is a trait of the older population than the younger one. Even without generous pensions, old people will tend to check out of the workforce. I plan on retiring at some point in the future and it won't be due to SS or a pension.
Well, I don't see how the relative numbers matter, and that's what you seem to be stressing. I know 60+ people don't contribute as much as younger people, but I don't see how their large numbers in a society bring down the <60 folks, well other than the effect they have on inter-generational transfer payments, which I think we all agree is a drag on the economy, but other than that, I don't see what the effect of old people walking around in a society has on the people in their productive years. And I would have expected that normal advances in the economy among the productive folks would have outpaced any drag from shouldering an additional proportion of transfer payments. If there's 5 million people in productive ages in a society, how does having two versus one million old people effect the productivity of the productive 5 million, other than the inter-generational transfer thingy?
As for the women thing, it's a bit of both, but it doesn't hold nationality constant, so you're comparing Swedes and Dutch to Greeks and Italians. The former tend to have welfare states that encourage family formation (child care and such), while the latter have welfare states that encourage checking out of the workforce.
Okay, well I could see how comparing between different countries would be a very different thing from comparing within a country.

EDIT: corrected a mistake
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 21:33

Mo wrote:
Jadagul wrote:To reiterate: "government-funded" is completely irrelevant here. The ability to support private savings and private pensions is still dependent on the working/non-working population ratio.
This x100.
Maybe I'm dense (well I know I'm dense but that's besides the point!), but I don't see why.

I've often read that older folks are the richest segment of society. I don't see why their being around has to reduce the savings of people in their productive years if it's not forcibly extracted from them.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 21:41

JasonL wrote: 2) If a long run decline in population leads to a long run decline in surplus economic output, you are by definition making the world poorer. To argue that this is not a likely scenario, you are kind of proposing that some big percentage of people are not capable of being productive enough to feed and clothe themselves - that they contribute nothing to total wealth net of their consumption, and therefore it doesn't matter to total wealth if they were not born.
What if your argument that this is not a likely scenario is based on the assumption that people don't just pop out of nowhere, they are the result of decisions made by people who are already alive, and if people are making (ahem) rational, wealth and utility maximizing decisions, and one of these decisions is to have less than a replacement level number of children, why would you doubt that this decision would (on net) maximize wealth and utility like any other freely made decision?

(BTW, I know children aren't always the result of conscious decisions to make children; still, they are the result of decisions made, and the decision not to have children is the result of decisions too, even if not having children (or as many) isn't always the result of seeking that goal per se.)
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by thoreau » 16 Mar 2012, 21:53

fyodor wrote:
Mo wrote:
Jadagul wrote:To reiterate: "government-funded" is completely irrelevant here. The ability to support private savings and private pensions is still dependent on the working/non-working population ratio.
This x100.
Maybe I'm dense (well I know I'm dense but that's besides the point!), but I don't see why.

I've often read that older folks are the richest segment of society. I don't see why their being around has to reduce the savings of people in their productive years if it's not forcibly extracted from them.
There's three ways to save for retirement:
1) Squirrel away a whole hell of a lot under your mattress (either literally putting cash under the mattress or in a savings account)
2) Go to the market and invest in a portfolio that is likely to yield a substantial return over the course of a few decades (this excludes most savings accounts from option 1)
3) Buy something tangible that will appreciate in value.

Method 1 is hard. You have to save A LOT. Method 3 requires tremendous foresight and luck.

Method 2 is easier because you take advantage of exponential growth of investments, but it involves some sort of financial market, however safe or risky the investment might be. No matter how you construct your portfolio, if you are investing in anything with a realistic likelihood of enabling a comfortable retirement you are essentially betting on decent overall economic growth, averaged over a few decades. You might buy stocks, i.e. gamble that the business cycle will have more up than down over the course of a few decades. You might buy bonds or some other debt issued by people trying to grow some sort of enterprise. Again, you gamble that there will be people doing profitable things. It's easier to get a return on either of these if you have a lot of economically-productive (i.e. not yet retired from working) people around.

Or you could do some model where current workers pay for your retirement. They could do this by paying taxes, or they could do it by generating a profit for your former employer who has agreed to pay for your retirement. Again, either model requires that there be people who are working.

Now, of course, we can quibble a bit with Jadagul's statement that:
"government-funded" is completely irrelevant here
by breaking out libertarian scriptures and reminding ourselves that of course a retirement system (of whatever sort described above) works better in the efficiency of the pure Free Market (Allahu Akbar!). But that efficiency argument doesn't undercut the second part of what Jadagul said:
The ability to support private savings and private pensions is still dependent on the working/non-working population ratio.
If there aren't a lot of young workers, a government-funded system might be more fucked than a private system, on the margin. However, both are thoroughly fucked if there just aren't enough young workers.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jadagul » 16 Mar 2012, 21:59

fyodor wrote:
Mo wrote:
Jadagul wrote:To reiterate: "government-funded" is completely irrelevant here. The ability to support private savings and private pensions is still dependent on the working/non-working population ratio.
This x100.
Maybe I'm dense (well I know I'm dense but that's besides the point!), but I don't see why.

I've often read that older folks are the richest segment of society. I don't see why their being around has to reduce the savings of people in their productive years if it's not forcibly extracted from them.
This is both simple and important, so I want to address it on its own.

Basically, at any given time society is producing some amount of stuff. We call this GDP, but all that means is "how much stuff are we making right now?". Now, society as a whole can't consume more stuff than "the amount of stuff we're making right now" (I mean, I suppose we can put stuff in piles today and consume it tomorrow, but that doesn't really work because stuff decays and because so much of our "stuff" isn't actually a pile of physical objects. Services can't be stored in a warehouse).

So at any given time, suppose we have X people working and Y people not-working (they're retired, or in school, or disabled, or three years old, or trophy wives, or whatever). Then the amount of stuff that gets produced is proportional to X, while the amount of stuff consumed is proportional to Y; so the amount of stuff each person gets is propotional to X/Y. If you don't have people working they don't produce any stuff, and so there's no stuff to give to the retirees either.

I mean, take this to the limit case. Suppose demographic trends get very silly and we have twenty retirees for every working-age person. Then the retirees can't get health care because there aren't enough working doctors. The retirees can't go shopping because there's nobody working at the supermarket. There aren't enough garbagemen. There aren't enough home health aids. There aren't enough maid services. There aren't enough people working at the golf courses. There just aren't enough working people running around to do all the shit that needs to get done for the retirees would need to keep up their standard of living.

Now, in a situation that extreme, obviously what would happen is that some retirees would start working on the side and thus not really be retirees. Which just says that if something can't continue forever then eventually it will stop. But that's the logic. The standard of living of people who are retired is totally dependent on how many people are still un-retired and still doing productive shit.


Added: FFF, yeah, if productivity goes up _enough_ this stops being an issue. If the ratio of non-workers to workers doubles but the productivity per worker also doubles, then everybody's standard of living stays the same. But think about what happened--our productivity _doubled_ and nobody got any benefit from it. If the employed population ratio had stayed stable then everyone's standard of living would have _doubled_. And that's the disadvantage we're all worrying about.

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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 22:01

Jeebeesus, just invest in core mutual funds. This ain't rocket science, or even evil fisiks. Plenty of people have done the basic kinds of investments and are doing just fine. Or at least that's my understanding. I know my folks did that and they're doing fine. And would be without social security. Haven't you ever seen the "I'm spending my children's inheritance" bumperstickers on RV's? I could be all wrong about this (first time for everything), but my understanding is that the stock market has consistently increased over the long run and plenty of people have saved plenty for their retirement by taking advantage of that.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jadagul » 16 Mar 2012, 22:03

Past performance no guarantee of future results?

More importantly, the whole point is that no investment strategy will actually work if the employment ratio drops faster than productivity increases.

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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by thoreau » 16 Mar 2012, 22:04

fyodor wrote:Jeebeesus, just invest in core mutual funds. This ain't rocket science, or even evil fisiks. Plenty of people have done the basic kinds of investments and are doing just fine. Or at least that's my understanding. I know my folks did that and they're doing fine. And would be without social security. Haven't you ever seen the "I'm spending my children's inheritance" bumperstickers on RV's? I could be all wrong about this (first time for everything), but my understanding is that the stock market has consistently increased over the long run and plenty of people have saved plenty for their retirement by taking advantage of that.
Yes, and how do mutual funds grow? Do they grow because a magic fairy comes and multiplies the gold kept in Vanguard's vault? Or do they grow because the value of the fund reflects the growth of the enterprises that they invest in? If the later, how do enterprises grow? Magic fairies, or the effort of the people who show up to work?

The more people who show up to work, i.e. the more people who are not yet retired, the more enterprises that they can grow, and hence you can get enough return on mutual funds for people to retire.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 22:14

Jadagul wrote:
fyodor wrote:
Mo wrote:
Jadagul wrote:To reiterate: "government-funded" is completely irrelevant here. The ability to support private savings and private pensions is still dependent on the working/non-working population ratio.
This x100.
Maybe I'm dense (well I know I'm dense but that's besides the point!), but I don't see why.

I've often read that older folks are the richest segment of society. I don't see why their being around has to reduce the savings of people in their productive years if it's not forcibly extracted from them.
This is both simple and important, so I want to address it on its own.

Basically, at any given time society is producing some amount of stuff. We call this GDP, but all that means is "how much stuff are we making right now?". Now, society as a whole can't consume more stuff than "the amount of stuff we're making right now" (I mean, I suppose we can put stuff in piles today and consume it tomorrow, but that doesn't really work because stuff decays and because so much of our "stuff" isn't actually a pile of physical objects. Services can't be stored in a warehouse).

So at any given time, suppose we have X people working and Y people not-working (they're retired, or in school, or disabled, or three years old, or trophy wives, or whatever). Then the amount of stuff that gets produced is proportional to X, while the amount of stuff consumed is proportional to Y; so the amount of stuff each person gets is propotional to X/Y. If you don't have people working they don't produce any stuff, and so there's no stuff to give to the retirees either.
This seems like a rather static model. If X working people are maximizing their wealth through their decisions that, in part, lead to more Y, I would think there's at least a damn good likelihood that the production of X would more than make up for the extra Y's. It also seems like zero sum game. I don't know if I can articulate why, but it's hard to imagine that the Y's just somehow soak up wealth that would otherwise be enjoyed by the X's (in lieu of forcible transfer, of course).
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jadagul » 16 Mar 2012, 22:20

It's not that they "soak up wealth without forcible transfer," or anything. It's just that at any given moment, there's a maximum amount of stuff we could possibly produce with a given number of people. And the amount of stuff workers consume plus the amount of stuff non-workers consume has to be less than the total amount of stuff we can produce (some of it also has to go to capital upkeep etc). And if fewer people work, the total amount of stuff we can produce goes down, so either current workers get less, or current non-workers get less, or we stop investing and so future consumption goes down. Or some combination of the three. There really aren't any other options.

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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 22:20

Jadagul wrote:Past performance no guarantee of future results?
Well, in that respect, I'm only really talking about the past. If you think we've reached a break in history in which this will no longer work (as I believe Warren does), well that's another matter -- for the future.
More importantly, the whole point is that no investment strategy will actually work if the employment ratio drops faster than productivity increases.
I'm afraid I'm not following, but I suspect this is tautological. If you think declining population inherently leads to slower or negative economic growth, well then, there you go. Of course investments would not work if we're in perpetual decline. But whether population decline will lead to that is the entire question. Maybe you're introducing a new explanation for why that will happen that I'm just not following, but it seems like it's either that (in which case it needs to be analyzed on its own merits, which I cannot do since I don't understand) or it's a restatement of the thesis, in which case it's a tautological explanation for why old people will suck up younger people's money.

I think....

EDIT: added a negative that totally changed what I was saying (to what I intended to say)
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 16 Mar 2012, 22:27

Jadagul wrote:It's not that they "soak up wealth without forcible transfer," or anything. It's just that at any given moment, there's a maximum amount of stuff we could possibly produce with a given number of people. And the amount of stuff workers consume plus the amount of stuff non-workers consume has to be less than the total amount of stuff we can produce (some of it also has to go to capital upkeep etc). And if fewer people work, the total amount of stuff we can produce goes down, so either current workers get less, or current non-workers get less, or we stop investing and so future consumption goes down. Or some combination of the three. There really aren't any other options.
I don't know what to say. This just seems tautological to me. I just don't know if the "maximum amount of stuff we could possibly produce" is that tied to the number of people there are. There are just so many other factors that I don't think it necessarily makes sense to think of that as a controlling factor. And holding that constant is the basis of then postulating fewer (of those) people working.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jadagul » 16 Mar 2012, 22:33

fyodor wrote:
Jadagul wrote:It's not that they "soak up wealth without forcible transfer," or anything. It's just that at any given moment, there's a maximum amount of stuff we could possibly produce with a given number of people. And the amount of stuff workers consume plus the amount of stuff non-workers consume has to be less than the total amount of stuff we can produce (some of it also has to go to capital upkeep etc). And if fewer people work, the total amount of stuff we can produce goes down, so either current workers get less, or current non-workers get less, or we stop investing and so future consumption goes down. Or some combination of the three. There really aren't any other options.
I don't know what to say. This just seems tautological to me. I just don't know if the "maximum amount of stuff we could possibly produce" is that tied to the number of people there are. There are just so many other factors that I don't think it necessarily makes sense to think of that as a controlling factor. And holding that constant is the basis of then postulating fewer (of those) people working.

I mean, anybody who's working is producing something. Otherwise no one would hire him. So if more people are working more things are being produced.

But yes, this whole line of argument depends on the fact that total GDP = productivity * number of workers, so if number of workers goes down, then all else being equal GDP goes down. Since that's a true statement, this isn't a problem.

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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Shem » 16 Mar 2012, 22:34

Kolohe wrote:
"treat workers like human beings and they'll turn into customers"
Pet peeve - Ford made his fortune by ruthlessly eliminating any bit of skilled labor from his production process through automation, so he could replace those workers with unskilled labor who were, though highly paid compared to their peers, much lower paid than the people they replaced. He was the original 'outsourcer'. And once his competitors did the same thing (and had a better selection of vehicles), he wound up paying his workers the prevailing wage.
I said he treated them like human beings, not family.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Highway » 16 Mar 2012, 22:46

fyodor, the way I'm thinking of it, in line with Jadagul's argument, is that it's along the same lines as the specialization of labor, etc. So that for people to live, they essentially need things produced or services rendered. Thinking about it from 'ancient times', most people directly produced the things that they needed to live: food, shelter, clothing. As technology improved, people could produce more than just what they, or their family needed. Because person A could produce enough food for A, B, and C, then B and C could spend the time previously allocated to food production on other stuff.

Sorry, I don't mean this to be a 'labor specialization for dummies lecture'. But what happened through all that was that people were freed up to produce other things. Eventually, people got *so* productive, that not only could the people who were working produce enough things for everyone who was working, they could also support people who were no longer productive, either by fate or by choice. So that's when 'retirement' was, for lack of a better word, invented. It's because there's enough people having excess production capacity who are still producing that others can coast, soaking up that excess productivity. There's still enough food for everyone, still enough services for everyone like Doctors or restaurants or gas stations.

But given non-infinite increases in productivity, there is a point on whatever curve where when the ratio of productive to non-productive people gets too high, the productive folks can't produce enough to cover even the basics of everyone else. And it won't matter how much 'wealth' people have stored up, except that those with more wealth can price those with less wealth out of the goods. But there's not enough for everyone at some point.

ETA: This is what I said before (maybe in another thread) about perhaps the concept of 'retiring' will need to change, or people will need to stay productive longer. That the coasting can't be supported.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jadagul » 16 Mar 2012, 23:03

Highway: to be fair, we could all decide that, say, we want to take a greater share of our income in leisure. So it's entirely possible that the fraction of one's life spent not-working can go up over time, just because people will accept less material wealth in exchange for more leisure. And that's fine; there's nothing wrong with that. The problem with the demographic change is that it screws with people's ability to make _any_ of the tradeoffs we've discussed; they just wind up with less welfare.

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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Mo » 16 Mar 2012, 23:07

fyodor wrote:Well, I don't see how the relative numbers matter, and that's what you seem to be stressing. I know 60+ people don't contribute as much as younger people, but I don't see how their large numbers in a society bring down the <60 folks, well other than the effect they have on inter-generational transfer payments, which I think we all agree is a drag on the economy, but other than that, I don't see what the effect of old people walking around in a society has on the people in their productive years. And I would have expected that normal advances in the economy among the productive folks would have outpaced any drag from shouldering an additional proportion of transfer payments. If there's 5 million people in productive ages in a society, how does having two versus one million old people effect the productivity of the productive 5 million, other than the inter-generational transfer thingy?
Because productivity is an average of all people in a population. It includes the 20 year old workers and the 60 year olds and everything in between. As the balance of the population starts getting top heavy, the average goes down. The 20 year olds don't get less productive, there's just fewer of them to balance out the more numerous 60 year olds.
fyodor wrote:Jeebeesus, just invest in core mutual funds. This ain't rocket science, or even evil fisiks. Plenty of people have done the basic kinds of investments and are doing just fine. Or at least that's my understanding. I know my folks did that and they're doing fine. And would be without social security. Haven't you ever seen the "I'm spending my children's inheritance" bumperstickers on RV's? I could be all wrong about this (first time for everything), but my understanding is that the stock market has consistently increased over the long run and plenty of people have saved plenty for their retirement by taking advantage of that.
Except, like I said, if there are half as many productive people, the mutual funds will be made up of stocks that have half as much expected earnings and will be worth half as much. All of the sudden, the value from investing in mutual funds evaporates. Mutual funds are a great investment in the current paradigm: growing population + growing productivity. Mutual funds aren't just a black box where you throw money in tem and out comes more money. People buy stock in Coke based on the returns of Coke from today moving forward, which is based on a growing, wealthier, more productive population. A Coke in a world with a stagnant, shrinking, just as productive population is worth a lot, lot less. All of the sudden, that 5-10% growth in Coke stock* price turns into a 5-10% price erosion.

* I use Coke as an example of a broad market indicator. In a stagnant, shrinking market even the profitable sectors (like health care) will be bid up to the point where the returns won't be that great.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jennifer » 17 Mar 2012, 10:31

Mo wrote: If population growth doesn't matter, why do the Japanese need immigrants?
I answered that in the next bit you quoted:
Jennifer wrote:So why does a larger old population need a correspondingly younger population today? Well, for people who are not merely old but infirm, there's not enough young people to do things like "empty bedpans" or "help people move about" and whatnot.
There's no shortage of people to make clothes, raise food and other necessities of life; the only thing lacking is enough actual laborers to wipe the asses of people who can't wipe their own. I like the Japanese idea "Let's work on developing bedpan-cleaning robots" more than the Republican-American idea "Let's nag women to have babies even if they can't afford them*; actually, if they can't afford them it's even better, because those babies will grow up poor and desperate enough to do literally shitty jobs -- like emptying bedpans -- at a shitty wage that isn't enough to live on and then we can lecture them about how if they want luxuries like health insurance and vacations, they should go to school and learn how to do something useful rather than clean up after old folks all day."

*EDIT: It's also worth mentioning that, here in America, the ones most likely to blather on about the low birth rate and criticize women who so much as use contraception are also the ones who firmly oppose any sort of welfare spending unless it's for the extremely wealthy. They don' t just want a larger population; they want a larger population that's scared enough and poor enough to grab any shitty job they can get.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jennifer » 17 Mar 2012, 10:45

Mo wrote: You know where the value of my current assets are? Their expected future earnings. You know what happens if their expected future earnings get cut in half because there are fewer people to buy their products***? The value of my assets goes down 50%. You know what happens to my retirement plan if asset values drop 50%? It gets flushed down the toilet.
If prices also drop 50 percent, then what have you lost? Even if this happens, are you worried that you'll be naked, hungry or homeless, because there just won't be anyone able to make clothes, food or housing? I highly doubt that.

Any program requiring the next generation to be consistently larger than the previous one is bound to fail sooner or later. Higher birth rates wouldn't even "solve" that problem, just kick the can a little further down the road.
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Mo » 17 Mar 2012, 11:18

Jennifer wrote:There's no shortage of people to make clothes, raise food and other necessities of life; the only thing lacking is enough actual laborers to wipe the asses of people who can't wipe their own. I like the Japanese idea "Let's work on developing bedpan-cleaning robots" more than the Republican-American idea "Let's nag women to have babies even if they can't afford them*; actually, if they can't afford them it's even better, because those babies will grow up poor and desperate enough to do literally shitty jobs -- like emptying bedpans -- at a shitty wage that isn't enough to live on and then we can lecture them about how if they want luxuries like health insurance and vacations, they should go to school and learn how to do something useful rather than clean up after old folks all day."
There's more to life than eating, shitting and sleeping. If you think, "Hey, we've got bedpan changing and food production covered, so everything's dandy," it's not worth continuing this. Also, considering that your idea of life is having enough to cover food, basic plumbing and clothes, a life of changing bed pans is enough to live. Some people think going back to a dark ages lifestyle would be catastrophic.
Jennifer wrote:If prices also drop 50 percent, then what have you lost? Even if this happens, are you worried that you'll be naked, hungry or homeless, because there just won't be anyone able to make clothes, food or housing? I highly doubt that.

Any program requiring the next generation to be consistently larger than the previous one is bound to fail sooner or later. Higher birth rates wouldn't even "solve" that problem, just kick the can a little further down the road.
Why would prices drop 50%? Sure demand is cut in half, but so is output. Flat prices + half your wealth = bad news
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

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fyodor
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by fyodor » 17 Mar 2012, 11:48

Mo wrote:
fyodor wrote:Well, I don't see how the relative numbers matter, and that's what you seem to be stressing. I know 60+ people don't contribute as much as younger people, but I don't see how their large numbers in a society bring down the <60 folks, well other than the effect they have on inter-generational transfer payments, which I think we all agree is a drag on the economy, but other than that, I don't see what the effect of old people walking around in a society has on the people in their productive years. And I would have expected that normal advances in the economy among the productive folks would have outpaced any drag from shouldering an additional proportion of transfer payments. If there's 5 million people in productive ages in a society, how does having two versus one million old people effect the productivity of the productive 5 million, other than the inter-generational transfer thingy?
Because productivity is an average of all people in a population. It includes the 20 year old workers and the 60 year olds and everything in between. As the balance of the population starts getting top heavy, the average goes down. The 20 year olds don't get less productive, there's just fewer of them to balance out the more numerous 60 year olds.
Well I guess that's begging the question of whether that's really the most relevant formula to measure productivity, since that's what's being argued about. If that's the formula that's always been used, well then either I'm wrong in my contrary position, or else maybe that formula has been based on assumptions that don't necessarily apply universally.

I admit the stance I'm taking right now is a bit of a paradox for me, because I've also always assumed that increased women's workforce participation, particularly when that's manifested in participation at higher levels of the economy (i.e., management, ownership), would tend to be an economic plus. But then, I based this on two things. One was that it reflected the removal of barriers (albeit usually in the form of soft coercion, though of course there's some hard coercion in places of the world) that would limit freedom of economic decision making. The other was that it reflected a more efficient use of available resources. I never attributed to it being due to the amount of dead wood in a society*, as your argument seems to be based on (I know Jadagul objects to my talk of non-productive people "soaking up" wealth, but I don't see how that doesn't apply). Also, this said, I've wondered if this increased productivity as a function of increased women's freedom to participate and move up in the workforce has really been as clearly manifested as I would expect. You seem to have all this info at your fingertips; do you know if this has been observed? I would also observe that your position would seem to suggest a decrease in productivity as a function of increased life spans, at least when that increase exceeds the associated increase in productive years, which I would expect to happen at least eventually as we live longer as a result of better nutrition and medicine, if it hasn't happened already. Do you see it that way?

*I know homemakers are not completely "dead wood" to an economy, but I think we would agree that women who are homemakers because of legal or social constraints are not making best use of their abilities.
Your optimism just confuses and enrages me. - Timothy

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Kolohe
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Kolohe » 17 Mar 2012, 12:19

*I know homemakers are not completely "dead wood" to an economy, but I think we would agree that women who are homemakers because of legal or social constraints are not making best use of their abilities.
I would not agree that they are not 'making the best use of their abilities'* - but to be clear that's not the same thing as desiring the existence of legal or social constraints

*being a good 'Mom' is objectively better than being a mediocre mid-level manager.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

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Jennifer
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Re: msinaisuhtlaM

Post by Jennifer » 17 Mar 2012, 12:38

Mo wrote:
Jennifer wrote:There's no shortage of people to make clothes, raise food and other necessities of life; the only thing lacking is enough actual laborers to wipe the asses of people who can't wipe their own. I like the Japanese idea "Let's work on developing bedpan-cleaning robots" more than the Republican-American idea "Let's nag women to have babies even if they can't afford them*; actually, if they can't afford them it's even better, because those babies will grow up poor and desperate enough to do literally shitty jobs -- like emptying bedpans -- at a shitty wage that isn't enough to live on and then we can lecture them about how if they want luxuries like health insurance and vacations, they should go to school and learn how to do something useful rather than clean up after old folks all day."
There's more to life than eating, shitting and sleeping. If you think, "Hey, we've got bedpan changing and food production covered, so everything's dandy," it's not worth continuing this. Also, considering that your idea of life is having enough to cover food, basic plumbing and clothes, a life of changing bed pans is enough to live. Some people think going back to a dark ages lifestyle would be catastrophic.
No, there's far more than the bare necessities involved to have a good life. But we'll still have mass production, there will still be plenty of books and entertainments, plenty of luxury items ("Don't need this, I just want it"). We'd have to pay more for non-robot services, but I like the idea of service workers actually making enough money to live in something other than miserable poverty.
Why would prices drop 50%? Sure demand is cut in half, but so is output. Flat prices + half your wealth = bad news
Why do you expect output to drop? Humanity won't suddenly forget the principles of mass production; do you expect increased per-person productivity rates to quit rising, and start falling instead? If so, why?
"Myself, despite what they say about libertarians, I think we're actually allowed to pursue options beyond futility or sucking the dicks of the powerful." -- Eric the .5b

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