User:Woozle/The Malign Hand

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page 26

[The Labor Leader] quietly but skillfully enmeshed large sections of the middle class in a gladiator's net of state dependency.

Side thought: to what end? What does the Labor Leader gain from this? People who are more dependent on the state will be more alert to corruption or failure within the state, surely.


Main thought: There is a legitimate point to be made about "state dependency" (dependency on the state). It's bad because:

  1. single-point failure mode (the state goes down = everybody suffers)
  2. less autonomy (even in an ideal democracy, everybody would have to agree before systemic change could occur)
  3. too much damn power in the hands of too few

The reason people legitimately want a state-run welfare system is more complicated:

  1. It's an obvious solution. It's where most of the money collects.
  2. It's easier for citizens of a nation to argue for a plan that involves a jurisdiction that they are all in (e.g. the US) than to argue for a plan to be implemented at lower levels that they don't share (e.g. individual states, small-s)
  3. Diverting the money back to the states (by reducing federal taxes or whatever) and then implementing a support network at the state level is a much more complex plan, requiring cooperation of political actors at multiple levels and multiple locations.

The Tytler process seems to be well advanced in most western countries, where the proportion of people who actually pay income on tax has been declining in recent decades.

Isn't this primarily due to falling income rates at the lower percentiles? And... is this true? No source given.

The problem is the same in every case: the benefit received is paid by others and is not linked to the behavior of others.

First half: why is this a problem? Second half: This is not true.

The majority benefit more than they pay.

You say this like it's a bad thing -- isn't this ultimately what we want? (Positive-sum game)

and a minority pay more than they benefit

-- obviously this isn't so good (though it kind of emerges logically from the previous statement; what would a better situation be, overall?), but who are we talking about? Also, why are we only talking about "pay" rather than other forms of contribution (such as labor)?

page 27

...is basically an elitist argument.

page 28

Everyone should have "investment in government" -- poll tax -- aaargh! -- implies that people were wrong to oppose that stupid idea. (If people depend on government, isn't that an "investment"? By this argument, shouldn't we regard government welfare receipt as an adequate substitute for a poll tax?)

Is the key disagreement between liberals and conservatives ultimately about the proper role of government?

  • liberal/me: government should protect the disempowered and defenseless
  • conservative: everyone should take care of themselves; government is for maintaining existing power-structures enforcing laws and contracts

page 29

  • arguments against compulsory voting
  • distorted argument against universal franchise

Hello -- EVERYONE (already) HAS "SKIN IN THE GAME"

  • Argument is further compounded with conflation -- "permanent one-party rule"
  • Then he turns around and argues against VAT because of its regressivity and opacity. Confusing... but primary target appears to be the idea of taxation in general.
  • Reaffirms that economic disparity is bad, disliked by all classes (funny how many people on G+ seem to be arguing that it's necessary)

page 31

Objection: Just because someone became wealthy without inheriting wealth does not mean they "earned" it. JERS does not necessarily disagree...

Progressive taxes are bad because they bring on the Tytler problem.

This is correct is you allow that the Tytler problem doesn't just apply to "the masses" but to whoever controls the government -- which is currently the 1%. This is why all citizens must have an equal say.

page 36

The Beliefs of Greenspan

page 38

meaning of "value"

page 42

price is value

JERS says the pigeons' behavior is nonrational, but this assumes that the pigeons have a 100% accurate model of the mechanism's behavior -- which they couldn't possibly have. For all they know, the behavior might change over time. Their behavior is a reasonable approximation of rationality, a good optimum response given incomplete knowledge.

page 46

Again, how is this irrational? Ignores the context. I bet the results would be different with repeated trials and the same subjects..

How is this only "apparently" rational

page 50

The Krugman quote should probably be paraphrased as "there are many fewer ways to be right than to be wrong". Perfect rationality is not required in order for the spirit of the quote to be correct.

page 52

  • What happens if you tell the humans what the rule is?
  • Are the pigeons exposed to the post-food interval scheme before the post-response schedule?
  • How do the pigeons behave if you train them solely on the post-response schedule, without ever exposing them to post-food?

page 56

There is no simple rule for making money on the market.

I gather that "buy diversely and hold" works well over the long term (unless civilization collapses).