Thett and Spacetime discussion thread

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  • thett3
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    this is for me and my pal Spacetime to discuss policy and just throw ideas around. anyone is of course welcome to join. the only rule is that we avoid culture warring. our last convo was about UBI/technological unemployment 

    my current opinion is that technological unemployment is already here. We can see it everywhere, from the rise of "bullshit jobs" to the "gig economy." The economy actually HAS improved since the recession and people really are being pushed back into work...but it isn't enough. entire fields are in rapid decline, and not enough new positions are coming in to replace them. The unemployment rate might be low, but the underemployment rate is extremely high and rising.

    at the same time our system utterly fails at producing the kinds of jobs that are difficult to automate--high skilled blue collar work.

    what do we do?
  • bsh1
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    --> @thett3
    Some kind of negative income tax or some income-based solution which tries to make up the difference might be useful. Suppose we assess that a person needs to make $40,000 a year. If you make $0, the government should give you $40,000. If you make $20,000, the government should give you $20,000. If you make $39,000, it should give you $1,000. If you make $40,000, you should not get the rebate. I like this better than a UBI, because it's arguable more targeted to those who need it most. Bill Gates doesn't need UBI checks.
  • thett3
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    Another idea I’ve been floating around, and I mean all of this unironically: 

    The ideal education system would be structured like this: 

    Elementary School mostly unchanged except that recess is two one hour periods a day, and all schools are required to take their students on an annual camping trip and an annual trip to some kind of museum. School lunches are to be healthy. No sweets, no preservatives, nothing our great grandparents wouldn’t recognize. Funding will be increase to allow all school meals to be made from scratch that morning. 

    Starting in middle school, half the day is devoted to physical activity. A morning run is followed by a breakfast of steak and eggs (with vegetarian options for those who want or need them.) Then mandatory weight lifting. A shower, then hit the books for class. A healthy lunch will be provided and then after class ends students are required to participate in the following sports depending on the season, regardless of interest or skill level: boxing, baseball, and and an elective sport of their choice. In eighth grade one hour out of every week will be devoted to ballroom dancing class, which will culminate in a dance at the end of the year that students are encouraged to take a date to. With the exception of math, no more than one hour of homework per class, per week. 

    exercises for girls will be slightly different  

    High School: swimming and or cycling can take the place of the morning run, but other than that the morning excercises and schedules are unchanged. By this point students have begun to be sorted into tracks based on the German model depending on the students grades, scores on IQ tests, and self reported level of academic interest. Every school will have a woodworking shop, an automotive shop, and an ag barn. Students who can’t or don’t want to go to college will be exposed to as many fields and trades as possible and set up for apprenticeships when they graduate. 

    At this point, all after school sports are elective (but you still must participate in one at all times). The only rule is that all students must participate in one combat sport. 

    All seniors will take a personal finance course that emphasizes saving and investing. 

  • thett3
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    --> @bsh1
    negative income tax is a lot better. It does provide a bit of a perverse incentive but it would be a lot more affordable and way more politically defensible than giving bill gates ubi checks, as you say

    but I wonder what people on these programs are going to do all day. Empty hands being the devils workshop and all that. I’ve thought it might be a good idea to bring back the WPA
  • bsh1
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    --> @thett3
    I wonder what people on these programs are going to do all day.
    That's a harder question to answer. I think that, ultimately, as robots automate more and more, the only things that will not be automatable will be handicrafts, artwork, design, literature, and things of that nature. Things which require creative input. In the short term, WPA is a good idea. Very Bernie Sanders-ish. But, long term, I think the future of work lies in creative fields.
  • Greyparrot
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    Learn to code.
  • spacetime
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    --> @bsh1 @thett3
    I think the mainstream obsession with employment is totally misguided. Jobs are merely a byproduct of business operations. There has never really been any guarantee that the economy will generate enough jobs for everyone, or that all those jobs will pay enough to sustain a decent standard of living. And that's only going to become more and more true as labor-automating technologies continue to advance. Instead of uselessly trying to manipulate businesses into creating jobs and raising wages, the government should simply offer an unconditional financial safety net to all its citizens. Those who want to work for additional income are free to do so, whereas those who don't want to work (or are unable to find work) can survive regardless. Meanwhile, businesses are left alone to do what they do best -- competing against one another to sell goods and services at the lowest possible prices.

    So the real question is: what's the best way to structure the safety net?

    I'm undecided, but I don't support Bsh1's proposal because it would ensure that no one ever works any job that pays less than $40,000. Any viable safety net needs to preserve the incentive to earn additional income. It's also worth noting that the "Bill Gates" criticism of UBI fails to recognize the reality of progressive taxation. Anyone who earns more than $60,000 or so at their job would end up having their entire UBI taxed away, so UBI isn't actually wasteful at all, and it would also end up costing way less than critics are claiming with their rudimentary estimates.

    As for the question of what unemployed people are gonna do with their lives... Spend time with family and friends. Attend religious services. Participate in volunteer-based community projects (e.g. farming, public works). People can come up with socially constructive things to do. I really don't buy into the idea that employment is necessary to find meaning in one's life. Seems like the prevalence of that idea is mostly just a product of societal indoctrination.

  • thett3
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    --> @bsh1
    That's a harder question to answer. I think that, ultimately, as robots automate more and more, the only things that will not be automatable will be handicrafts, artwork, design, literature, and things of that nature. Things which require creative input. In the short term, WPA is a good idea. Very Bernie Sanders-ish. But, long term, I think the future of work lies in creative fields.

    Yeah, I think even Yang understates the issue long term. Some jobs, like an HVAC technician, I don’t see being automated away for an extremely long time...but what people are missing is that the issue isnt just automation. The kind of work my dad does (he’s a technician for some pretty advanced equipment) isn’t something that can realistically be automated for an extremely long time. However the newer stuff is far less mechanical are far more electronic, so there’s a lot less labor in fixing stuff. It’s more about swapping out components that can no longer be fixed. Subsequently it takes a lot less labor so for every two older guys that retire they usually only hire one young guy. I think this is the story in a ton of fields, as things get more advanced there is just less work to go around. 

    Im hoping that we are just wrong about this (after all 90% of people worked on farms 150 years ago) but it does seem like this time is different. You can already see an extremely stratified economy because of this. And $1000 a month isn’t nearly enough without even mentioning the issue of what people are going to do all day. It might be rough in a few decades 
  • spacetime
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    --> @thett3
    I fully support your proposed education reforms, except for the vocational stuff at the end. I believe that employers should have to bear the full burden of occupational training & credentialing. The government doesn't need to be involved in post-secondary education at all.

    The K-12 education system (which should be expanded to include Pre-K as well) should focus exclusively on general life preparation -- social intelligence, physical fitness, survival skills, English literacy, financial literacy, civic awareness, etc... and it should also rely far more on project-based assessments, rather than test-based assessments. I think such a system would produce much healthier, more well-rounded adults than the status quo does, and it would also probably end up costing substantially less per student. 
  • spacetime
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    --> @thett3
    What does your ideal healthcare system look like? 
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @spacetime
    Do you believe that nude wrestling should be included in the curriculum?
  • spacetime
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    --> @ResurgetExFavilla
    Do you believe that nude wrestling should be included in the curriculum?
    Absolutely it should!
  • spacetime
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    --> @thett3
    Yeah, I think even Yang understates the issue long term. Some jobs, like an HVAC technician, I don’t see being automated away for an extremely long time...but what people are missing is that the issue isnt just automation. The kind of work my dad does (he’s a technician for some pretty advanced equipment) isn’t something that can realistically be automated for an extremely long time. However the newer stuff is far less mechanical are far more electronic, so there’s a lot less labor in fixing stuff. It’s more about swapping out components that can no longer be fixed. Subsequently it takes a lot less labor so for every two older guys that retire they usually only hire one young guy. I think this is the story in a ton of fields, as things get more advanced there is just less work to go around. 

    Im hoping that we are just wrong about this (after all 90% of people worked on farms 150 years ago) but it does seem like this time is different. You can already see an extremely stratified economy because of this. And $1000 a month isn’t nearly enough without even mentioning the issue of what people are going to do all day. It might be rough in a few decades 

    If the goal is a full employment economy, then heavily regulating technological advancement is an absolute necessity. If it turns out we were wrong and there actually are more jobs getting created than automated, then we can always loosen up the regulations in the future.

    And I still am sympathetic to the idea of striving for a full employment economy. It would be the most socially constructive and fiscally responsible system of income distribution. I just don't know how realistically attainable it is.
  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @spacetime

    If the goal is a full employment economy, then heavily regulating technological advancement is an absolute necessity. If it turns out we were wrong and there actually are more jobs getting created than automated, then we can always loosen up the regulations in the future.

    And I still am sympathetic to the idea of striving for a full employment economy. It would be the most socially constructive and fiscally responsible system of income distribution. I just don't know how realistically attainable it is.
    Why don't we just set a bunch of nukes off in the upper atmosphere?
  • spacetime
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    --> @ResurgetExFavilla
    Why don't we just set a bunch of nukes off in the upper atmosphere?
    This is a very innovative policy proposal, and I certainly hope one of the 2020 presidential candidates adopts it.
  • spacetime
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    If the goal is a full employment economy, then heavily regulating technological advancement is an absolute necessity. If it turns out we were wrong and there actually are more jobs getting created than automated, then we can always loosen up the regulations in the future.

    Wow, I actually didn't think of it that way before. I'm really insightful and persuasive. 

    Friendship ended with UBI utopia. Now: full employment is my best friend!
  • Snoopy
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    I think automation can be thought of as an increase in American productivity through advantageous tools and effective implementation, rather than necessarily replacing jobs.  To the contrary, the blue collar worker may actually provide an increasingly valuable service assuming they are enabled to compete.
  • thett3
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    --> @spacetime

    I'm undecided, but I don't support Bsh1's proposal because it would ensure that no one ever works any job that pays less than $40,000. Any viable safety net needs to preserve the incentive to earn additional income. It's also worth noting that the "Bill Gates" criticism of UBI fails to recognize the reality of progressive taxation. Anyone who earns more than $60,000 or so at their job would end up having their entire UBI taxed away, so UBI isn't actually wasteful at all, and it would also end up costing way less than critics are claiming with their rudimentary estimates..

    If you structure it extremely poorly, maybe. But not if you make sure that each marginal dollar you work is worth more than what you give up with negative income tax. For example, you only lose one dollar for every two that you earn. 

    The bigger I see with a negative income tax is that tax law is structured on an annual basis. Say we decide that we want to guarantee everyone $20,000 a year, based on your tax returns. Most people could survive on a $1700/month stipend. But give them 20 grand for the year up front as cash and there’s basically a 0% chance that they make it through the year without being completely broke. It’s just the nature of how the average person is with money...the tax system would have to be totally rebuilt 


    As for the question of what unemployed people are gonna do with their lives... Spend time with family and friends. Attend religious services. Participate in volunteer-based community projects (e.g. farming, public works). People can come up with socially constructive things to do. I really don't buy into the idea that employment is necessary to find meaning in one's life. Seems like the prevalence of that idea is mostly just a product of societal indoctrination
    I totally agree that working sucks, and that it would be a benefit to people if they could do something meaningful with their lives instead of working. But for every out of work, UBI supported person who would do stuff like go on month long backpacking trips, volunteering constantly, and helping fix up his church, how many others would spend 12 hours a day watching television? I just don’t know how it’s going to shake out. Working at McDonalds flipping burgers sucks but it is way better for the mind and spirit than watching 12 hours of television a day. 
  • thett3
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    --> @spacetime
    Wow, I actually didn't think of it that way before. I'm really insightful and persuasive. 

    Friendship ended with UBI utopia. Now: full employment is my best friend!

    Stopping technological advancement is a good way to get curbed stomped in a few decades by countries that don’t. There is no easy solution 
  • spacetime
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    I believe that employers should have to bear the full burden of occupational training & credentialing. The government doesn't need to be involved in post-secondary education at all.
    If the goal is full employment, then this obviously wouldn't work. The government would need to coordinate with employers to create a new post-secondary education system that actively prepares American workers for the jobs that exist (which the current system doesn't do at all).

    The K-12 education system (which should be expanded to include Pre-K as well) should focus exclusively on general life preparation -- social intelligence, physical fitness, survival skills, English literacy, financial literacy, civic awareness, etc... and it should also rely far more on project-based assessments, rather than test-based assessments. I think such a system would produce much healthier, more well-rounded adults than the status quo does, and it would also probably end up costing substantially less per student. 
    I still stand by all of this, though.
  • thett3
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    I think automation can be thought of as an increase in American productivity through advantageous tools and effective implementation, rather than necessarily replacing jobs.  To the contrary, the blue collar worker may actually provide an increasingly valuable service assuming they are enabled to compete.

    Good (and true) perspective. Huge swaths of jobs did not exist fifty years ago, and that will certainly happen again. It might not end up being a bad thing at all. 
  • spacetime
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    --> @thett3
    Stopping technological advancement is a good way to get curbed stomped in a few decades by countries that don’t. There is no easy solution 
    Yeah, that's a risk for sure. Ideally, though, these regulations would represent more of a temporary slow-down than a permanent ban. And hopefully we can also count on those other countries getting fucked over by technological unemployment.
  • spacetime
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    --> @thett3
    I totally agree that working sucks, and that it would be a benefit to people if they could do something meaningful with their lives instead of working. But for every out of work, UBI supported person who would do stuff like go on month long backpacking trips, volunteering constantly, and helping fix up his church, how many others would spend 12 hours a day watching television? I just don’t know how it’s going to shake out. Working at McDonalds flipping burgers sucks but it is way better for the mind and spirit than watching 12 hours of television a day. 

    Yeah, it's basically impossible to predict how such a drastic lifestyle change would play out on a societal level. That's why it's much safer to stick with what we know and pursue a full employment economy (to the extent that doing so is possible).

  • spacetime
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    --> @Tejretics
    i hereby invite u to the thread

  • ResurgetExFavilla
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    --> @thett3
    Stopping technological advancement is a good way to get curbed stomped in a few decades by countries that don’t. There is no easy solution 

    This is why we need to send the entire world back to the stone age. My Bond villain org has a few openings, come interview at our volcano base.