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Thread: The US fragile democracy Exposed

  1. #521
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    I'd say that a guaranteed minimum income would be a better solution
    Not sure I understand what you mean by that. What would happen if an employed person fell below the minimum? What about and unemployed person.

    I know there's bee alot of talk about Universal Basic Income. Is that what you're referring to? If so, I don't feel I know enough about it. My gut reaction is that I don't see the point: "what does this give you that a welfare state doesn't". But I know it's gaining support and I suspect I'm probably missing the point.

    Certainly it would have been a great mechanism during the Covid lockdowns. It would have naturally taken care of people with no need for exceptional measures like furloughs etc.

    And I guess it makes a lot of sense in an increasingly automated world. I think advances in AI and automation have a real chance of making the vast majority of us redundant and that raises some big social questions. If automation is maintaining productivity but making the masses redundant, what happens to the fruits of that productivity? Does it all go to the business owners? That's what our current model would result in but then what happens to the rest of us? I can see that Universal Basic Income would provide a fairly elegant solution to that issue.
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  2. #522
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    Yeah, that's what I was referring to, but 'universal' seemed a bit grandiose.

    I was not all that keen on the idea, but when you look at the state of the welfare state in the US, it looks better. The idea for all of those things is to keep people fed and not homeless, but not all that much more. Currently, that's a patchwork of programs for different people in different places with all kinds of rules, caveats, stipulations, and other things. Could it all be rolled into a single program, weighted by cost of living for different regions (something that is relatively well understood), such that all people get at least X?

    It seems to me that the goal could be more effectively met by doing that. However, it seems like there is a large number of people who are largely motivated by ensuring that nobody pass them on whatever ladder they think they are on. Everybody knows the difficulties they have been through, and doesn't know the challenges a stranger has faced. For some reason, a large number seem to assume that strangers haven't faced challenges, and shouldn't be able to get anything lest that person be able to get ahead of them, no matter what miserable point that might be.
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaggy Hiker View Post
    Could it all be rolled into a single program, weighted by cost of living for different regions
    What might the unintended consequences be? Doesn't that just encourage predators to raise the cost of living everywhere?

    More and more suppliers of goods and services to consumers have aggregated into fewer and bigger regional and national corporate hands. With a rule like "shovel money based on local cost of living" they'd be free to increase prices and raise the local cost of living.


    But if you don't think that's likely then why are outfits like Amazon, Walmart, etc. allowed to charge Henry Lowdollar of Cheapsburg WV the same prices as Fancy Nancy living high in Walled Vineyard Estates CA? Shouldn't there be a law that Henry only pay prices scaled down to his community's relative cost of living?


    Or is this yet another case of picking winners and losers because you think you and yours would be among the elite winners?

    The Walmart, Amazon, etc. situation already makes the lost cost folks subsidize you high living folks.

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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    'universal' seemed a bit grandiose.
    As I understand it universal refers to the fact that everyone gets it, from the unemployed to CEOs of multi nationals. The idea is that you'd offset it with a tax increase that effectively clawed it back from anyone who wouldn't have needed it under a traditional welfare system. So it sort feels like a relabelling to me. But I can see that it's probably easier and cheaper to administer and it effectively holds the safety net in place for everyone which is a good thing when, e.g. an unplanned for global epidemic knocks everyone's plans out of whack.
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  5. #525
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    Quote Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
    What might the unintended consequences be? Doesn't that just encourage predators to raise the cost of living everywhere?
    Yeah, it could, but think about how that would happen. To raise the cost of living, you have to raise prices for things across several different industries. As it stands, the cost of living is probably not 'lowest' in every category anywhere in the US. We have VERY low electricity, high and rising housing, low to mid groceries, above average gas, all the broad based taxes, etc. We aren't the bottom in any category, nor the top in any category. Our average cost of living is a bit on the low side. What would have to happen to raise the cost of living? We're certainly doing so with housing, so no work would be needed there, so wouldn't those predators need to work across the sectors of energy, materials, and food? That would be one octopodian predator.

    Code:
    More and more suppliers of goods and services to consumers have aggregated into fewer and bigger regional and national corporate hands.  With a rule like "shovel money based on local cost of living" they'd be free to increase prices and raise the local cost of living.
    That's what anti-trust is about. I realize that trust busting is in bad form, of late, but it's seeing a bit of resurgence. However, there is currently no indication that they price at the top end, currently. It certainly could happen, it just hasn't yet. Does Amazon show different prices to different people for the same item based on zipcode, currently (or actually IP address, but zipcode is a better understood stand-in)? That would allow for some interesting arbitrage, and I haven't heard of that happening. That's not to say that it won't, but that really is what anti-trust is about.

    Code:
    But if you don't think that's likely then why are outfits like Amazon, Walmart, etc. allowed to charge Henry Lowdollar of Cheapsburg WV the same prices as Fancy Nancy living high in Walled Vineyard Estates CA?  Shouldn't there be a law that Henry only pay prices scaled down to his community's relative cost of living?
    No, that would be absurd. The law would be that they can't charge MORE for the same thing for Fancy Nancy. What they charge for Henry Lowdollar is currently driven by the market, and Fancy Nancy benefits from that market a bit more than Henry Lowdollar. He has essentially made the market, which means that Nancy is getting the widget for market value, not for the markup she'd pay for the boutique shop.

    This isn't universally true, for the most part. My sister lives on Orcas Island. There's a pretty high cost just to get onto that island. I think I paid about $50 to get over there in a car, and that's subsidized by the state to some extent. Delivery trucks pay far more, but they also carry a large number of packages. So, what is the cost per package for delivery via UPS to Orcas Island? That I don't know, because they don't charge me anything extra to deliver to the island, even though they must be paying probably more than $1/package most of the year. Everything else on that island costs more because the merchants have to pay the cost to get merchandise delivered to the island. So, it may be that Amazon or UPS eat the extra cost of delivery to the island, thereby meaning that the goods are down at what Henry is paying even though the cost of living is considerably higher.

    So, you might say it has already happened, but you'd be more correct in saying that the elites don't care. The rich don't drive this, the middle class does, and especially the lower middle class. Price competition is for them, not for the rich. Price competition for the rich, where it happens, seems to be in the opposite direction. High end goods compete on exclusivity, which is partly created by artificially high cost. So, Amazon competes by keeping prices low, which may well drive others out of business, but high end goods compete at keeping prices high. When it comes to consumer goods, it just isn't a large portion of the budget for the rich. They simply aren't going to notice whether the price of meat has gone up by fifty cents a pound, whereas a person in the lower middle class may be forced to change their diet as a result of the same shift.
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  6. #526
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyDexter View Post
    As I understand it universal refers to the fact that everyone gets it, from the unemployed to CEOs of multi nationals. The idea is that you'd offset it with a tax increase that effectively clawed it back from anyone who wouldn't have needed it under a traditional welfare system. So it sort feels like a relabelling to me. But I can see that it's probably easier and cheaper to administer and it effectively holds the safety net in place for everyone which is a good thing when, e.g. an unplanned for global epidemic knocks everyone's plans out of whack.
    Well, I was thinking of grandiose in terms of our 'world series', which includes only the US and a few Canadian clubs. Still, that IS what I was talking about. We have such a patchwork at this point, that I would think that a person could game the system far more easily, and I would also expect that more people could fall through the cracks. That's a problem with patchworks: They tend to leave holes.
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  7. #527

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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    Though I didn't think dil's argument was valid, it did make me curious about pricing on Amazon. For some reason I just assumed that the manufacturer/distributer would control the price and Amazon took a percentage. I decided to check it out and I was way off. If you got a couple of minutes you might find this interesting.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/amaz...changes-2018-8

  8. #528
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    I was thinking of grandiose in terms of our 'world series'
    Ah, got you. Come to think of it, we really need to explain the concept of "football" to you sometime.

    Pricing targeted by the customers wealth is already happening in a lot of service industries, travel and insurance industries being the most prominent that I'm aware of. If you earn more they charge you more. I think it would much harder for Amazon to do that because they sell physical products rather than services and somehow (in a way I'm struggling to define) the psychology of that is different. I'm not surprised that they're doing demand based pricing as Wes linked (though I'm quite surprised at how aggressively they seem to be doing it) but that's actually very common already - as any Texan electricity customer can attest.
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    I wonder if Amazon's pricing could be manipulated to advantage by a large enough group working together?

    Say there is some current (lots of stock) specific well respected product a lot of people need or would want given the right price. Say, something semi-consumable like "WarpCo ruggedized waterproof 2TB pocket-sized USB portable SSD."

    I wonder how many it might take to band together and promise not to buy them for a while, just browse the listing every day without pulling the trigger. Then on Drive Day when the price has been dropped below a target threshold most of the group jumps in and places an order during a set hour.

    500 shoppers? 1000 shoppers? Or many more to shift the PriceBot?

  10. #530
    Super Moderator FunkyDexter's Avatar
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    Hey, it worked with GameStop

    I'm not sure. It would easy to engineer the price upwards, you just get everyone involved in your nefarious plot to buy at the right time. Engineering it downwards is harder because you're relying on everyone not involved to not buy. That's a big ask.
    Last edited by FunkyDexter; Mar 2nd, 2021 at 05:18 AM.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter - Winston Churchill

    Hadoop actually sounds more like the way they greet each other in Yorkshire - Inferrd

  11. #531
    Super Moderator Shaggy Hiker's Avatar
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    Re: The US fragile democracy Exposed

    I think you'd have to be VERY selective about what you were targeting. Your suggestion seems like it might be a good choice for such an item. What you need is something where the demand is not very low, but also not very high. If it's very high, then getting enough people to stop buying that it would show up in purchasing numbers would be prohibitively difficult, while if the demand is very low (like 1/month, or so), then getting people to stop buying also wouldn't show up. In fact, if the demand is low enough, getting people to band together to attempt to drive down the price might result in the item leaving the market entirely.

    It would be a cool experiment, but it seems like it would be terribly difficult to pull off effectively.
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