Comments on: Child poverty charts of the day A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: Gabrielle88 Thu, 24 Nov 2011 10:42:34 +0000 So sad to realixe that child poverty is growing. And it’s only in America. It’s really depressing to think of Africa, for example.
Youtube to mp4

By: KenG_CA Mon, 21 Nov 2011 06:13:38 +0000 Thanks, TFF, I enjoyed it also.

By: TFF Sun, 20 Nov 2011 12:51:13 +0000 Good points, KenG, and an interesting discussion.

By: KenG_CA Sun, 20 Nov 2011 00:44:53 +0000 The problem I have with building up people who make the world a better place is that they are human, and prone to make mistakes. And if you celebrate those people and what they have worked for, both will get discounted when their flaws are revealed. The media likes/seems to need to build people up and then tear them down. It’s not right, it’s not fair, but then that debate drowns out the real issues.

“Why not co-opt the concept?” Because it requires your audience to invest time to understand issues, and they don’t want to do that. I don’t think you can win that PR battle, the forces opposing a direct employment bill will spend more to twist it into a debate on socialism, deficits, and higher taxes.

“shutting down less profitable lines” has always been an issue, as it is subsidized by the tax laws. If corporations were able to immediately deduct the cost of capital investments (like a factory), they would lose much of their incentive for shutting down a marginally profitable plant years later, as they couldn’t write it down again. Let them take the deduction at the time of the investment, rather than amortize it over many years, and there’s no incentive to shut it down, and create an after-tax profit because they have a paper loss on the write down.

If we effectively penalize the accumulation of profits, and reward the reinvestment or distribution of them instead, we will see more jobs created, or at least profits will get taxed and then the government can invest them. But you’ve heard me say this before.

By: TFF Sat, 19 Nov 2011 22:13:40 +0000 “You think we should lionize wealth creators? Like who?”

The people who strive to make the world a better place, putting that goal on par with their earnings. Some of them are entrepreneurs. Some of them are government employees. Spans the gamut.

I agree with you that we should challenge the self-serving claims of those who SAY they are wealth-creators. But this doesn’t invalidate the concept, simply their right to own it.

“I suggest we don’t go down the route of discussing wealth creation when trying to transform society. It’s a dead end.”

Why not co-opt the concept? A direct-employment bill could easily be described as “wealth creation”. You are taking unemployed people, underutilized resources, and employing them to create wealth. Doesn’t that sound a whole lot better than “pork barrel spending”? Of course, you would then need to answer questions about the value of the wealth created. And challenges that there might be other ways to spend the money to create greater value. But wouldn’t those be good conversations to have?

“If they emphasized the top line by expanding their product or service offerings, I think that would be great – you know, like recycling profits to grow business.”

We could use some of that in this economy, yet I’m seeing trends in the opposite direction (pushing margins over volume, shutting down less-profitable lines).

Just a thought — I don’t know if that is THE answer or even part of one.

By: KenG_CA Sat, 19 Nov 2011 21:47:16 +0000 “Isn’t measuring wealth (on the societal level) by money a pretty silly concept in the first place?”

Well, yeah, but that doesn’t stop most people from doing it. Look, I’m with you, but when the public debate turns to the creation of wealth, they’re not using your yardstick. They use valuations of publicly traded companies and real estate. So I suggest we don’t go down the route of discussing wealth creation when trying to transform society. It’s a dead end.

You think we should lionize wealth creators? Like who? Guys running private equity firms that “create wealth” by borrowing money to buy profitable companies, and then load them down with debt to pay off their loans, and extract wealth for themselves? Guys like Donald Trump? I’m guessing you mean people who start new businesses that grow and create jobs, but those are not the people clamoring for tax breaks, waving the “I am a wealth creator” flag.

Sure, not all obsolete technology is useless, but the value of it has declined, and it will eventually be useless. Six year old computers are still very useful, but not 20-year old ones.

To your last question: I think it would be a mixed bag. A lot of companies chase revenue just for market share, and it doesn’t make the company stronger, but it does reduce costs for the customers. If they emphasized the top line by expanding their product or service offerings, I think that would be great – you know, like recycling profits to grow business.

By: TFF Sat, 19 Nov 2011 20:56:48 +0000 Isn’t measuring wealth (on the societal level) by money a pretty silly concept in the first place? As somebody asked recently, “If you lost your wallet over THERE, then why are you looking over HERE?” Money simply lubricates the creation and exchange of goods.

As for gold? The only thing sillier than pretending that paper is worth something is pretending that a certain comparatively useless metal is worth something. If I had a million dollars, converted into gold at the current prices, it would form a very shiny (and heavy) cube roughly 4 inches on a side. I could put that cube in front of me and cackle, “I’m rich! Rich like Midas! Rich, rich, rich!!!” Then after a while I would get hungry, and would start searching for somebody willing to trade me a hamburger for that four-inch cube.

Obsolete technology isn’t necessarily useless. One of my jobs at school is to recycle used technology into serviceable learning tools. Other institutions have been very generous with their six-year old “obsolete” technology, from which we tease another 4-6 years of life.

That said, most wealth is immediately consumed (and nothing lasts forever). Our infrastructure and capital goods may have a useful lifetime measured in decades, but without continued investment they depreciate. The key to societal wealth is to increase the supply of capital goods (including education) faster than they depreciate, and to utilize existing capital goods to the greatest effect.

Shouldn’t we lionize “wealth creators”? There will always be some who create more wealth than they consume, which allows other to consume more than they create. We lionize the great teacher for making her students lives brighter. We lionize the innovative businessman for employing thousands and enriching the lives of millions. We lionize Snookie for …um… well, I’m sure there must be SOME good reason for that.

Never confuse money with wealth. Never confuse the accumulation of hoarded money with wealth created. Certainly don’t confuse “price” and “value”, whether talking about consumables or assets.

The real estate bubble destroyed wealth, damaged wealth creation, by greatly expanding loan volume and mortgage interest (money flowing OUT of household pockets into the bank coffers) and by sucking talent away from more productive occupations. (How many Wall Street bankers does it take to change a lightbulb? Wall Street bankers don’t change lightbulbs. They wait for somebody else to change the lightbulb and swing a profit on the trade.)

I’ve been wondering: What would our economy look like if companies gave greater emphasis to the top line than to the bottom line? (Not to the exclusion of profits, but perhaps shifting the balance between the two?)

By: KenG_CA Sat, 19 Nov 2011 19:10:17 +0000 TFF, I don’t think we disagree much, except on the definition of wealth. Your definition, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, is not the one trotted out by defenders of the status quo, when they want to cut taxes for the wealthy, because they create “jobs” and “wealth”. I am constantly reading about how the “wealth creators” are lionized, and how the government hinders the creation of wealth, and in the context that they are using it, there is no “creation of wealth”. They believe that when real estate prices rise, wealth is created, and you know that isn’t true.

“national wealth depends solely on the work accomplished, NOT on the wages received for that work”. I agree with that, but that is not what other people mean when they talk about the creation of wealth.

By: tuckerm Sat, 19 Nov 2011 16:26:38 +0000 I think you need a Bill Clinton type of politician to go at this problem. A Democrat from the upper South (most likely AR, KY or WV) with a populist message that can effectively use class warfare to fight against identity politics. Unfortunately I doubt that’s going to happen, although the 99% frame makes it seem a little more possible.

By: KenG_CA Sat, 19 Nov 2011 13:48:13 +0000 TFF, no I don’t think it is much different. The human race extracts objects from the environment and adds work to it, and that increases the value of everything that is created, and that is proportional to the number of people who have lived on the planet. But if you measure wealth by how much money people have, the total amount that is in circulation can only increase by work creating more things of value (e.g. pulling gold out of the ground, since that is what the currency is allegedly based on), or printing it up out of nowhere. And if you print it up with nothing to back it up, it doesn’t really exist.

The fact that people live better today than in 1500 is not a measure of wealth, but of how humans have adapted to our environment, i.e., the technology we have created. If you want to include the impact of technology on money, technology also destroys value; the cell phone sitting next to me that costs $500 destroyed the value of computers thousands of times its size and cost, When new technology is created (work + elements extracted from the earth), other technological creations are obsoleted. We’re just constantly adapting to our environment, and the sum total of all value constantly gets redistributed whether people like it or not, but it doesn’t really increase a whole lot.