Friday assorted links



I understand Spain doesn't want to give Catalonia its long demanded referendum/independence because it could trigger the disintegration of Spain as it is today (other regions would be in line to try the same route and eventually succeed) but I wonder why don't they let them go and see what happens? I believe Catalonia is more likely to struggle than striving as an independent nation.

This whole thing is a great long story about how lack of investment in country unity (and, in fact, investment in disintegration) leads to bad outcomes. If you'd have made a referendum in 1990, you'd not have seen a call for independence at all. Today Spain is in a far better spot than it was in the 90s, but yet, we see an increase in calls of independence, mostly from the youngest generations: At some point, one Jose Maria Aznar decided that it'd be far easier for him to govern if he had support from Catalonian regionalist parties, and they asked for almost full control of public education. Every decision made since involved strengthening Catalonian identity.

So now we see Spain's classic Caziquismo: regional governments led by very corrupt officials, which want to do whatever is possible so that they can steal more, both directly and indirectly, and the best way to do that is full independence. So instead of a call for less corruption across the entire country, every politician doubles down on corruption: Trumpism, in slightly different robes.

I suspect independence wouldn't go all that well for Catalonia, and that the EU would be pretty harsh with them regardless, but the costs of a split are just way too high to play games like letting them go.

I think Spain might have a hard time surviving if Catalonia goes independent... Galicia, Basque Country say hi!

The Basque country, sure. But is there any real desire for independence in Galicia? It's been part of the core Castilian nation going well back into the Middle Ages. although the local language is closer to Portuguese than to Castillian.

FWIW, Spain does not rank badly:

About 41st out of 190.

And I'm not seeing how regional officials are necessarily more corrupt than central government officials. What share of quondam state legislators are employed as lobbyists?

Independence is cool until..........Greece 2015 happens again: no cash.

#2 As someone gainfully employed, I would rather try a 25 or 30 hour workweek. But i'll concede UBI is something that will have to be adopted at some level, at some point in the not so distant future.

We already have UBI. It's called disability insurance.

There's a lot of cheating no doubt, but 53% of disability claims are denied. It's hardly universal.

I suspect the problem with the Disability program is less chiseling than the interaction between plaintiff's lawyers and arbitrators having turned 'disability' into a term of art the manifestation of which neither the programs progenitors nor the man in the street would recognize. I'll wager you characters in Congress like Henry Waxman managed to get dollops of language inserted into statutory law to promote this.

One fellow I correspond with is a solo practice attorney in Downstate Illinois. He says on his client list are a husband-and-wife pair collecting disability. He says the only disability they have is that they're both drug addicts.

Sometimes the scandal isn't what's illegal. The scandal is what's legal.

Please give Michael Kinsley the credit he's due, re: scandal. Or, are you Michael?

To qualify, you must be physically or mentally incapable of performing any paid job where you live.

A few days ago I read an anecdote about a guy on ssdi reroofing a building he rented. But someone with breathing problems from bad air in his workplace, eg a mine, might be both qualified and able to lay a square per day, completing a roofing project in 30 days of good weather. Lots of breaks to breathe from his oxygen tank.

No way will he get a job as a roofer.

I've seen this meme before and it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding. UBI means you get a check from the government regardless of your employment status. SSDI is the exact opposite: you lose your benefits if you become employed.

Government does not, and should not exist to provide jobs for people. Look at state governments across the country. Many states and municipalities are nearly insolvent due to the burden of their public sector workers. So much of state and municipal budgets are dedicated to salary and benefits, entire state budgets are crowded out by these obligations.

Even if these jobs remain private, we see governments already offering unfair tax incentives for corporations to create these jobs, at the expense of other jobs in the economy. There remains incredible risk for mission creep here, and government choosing which jobs are the chosen ones and which are not--is a choice they or any one group, is ill equipped to make.

#2: Yes, I'm sure it was just the "symbol" that led to an end of the Carter program. I'm sure the substance was actually fantastic.

#4: How can anyone feel good about this when all those women are white and none appear to be transgendered?

#4 Oh don't worry, they're working on that too....

#2. If we guarantee every American a job, and we're not willing to deport illegal aliens already in the country. Aren't we going to end up guaranteeing everyone in the world a job?

And what does it mean to have a guaranteed job? Can I take off for Vegas for a week, just cause I feel like it and come back to a guaranteed job? Can I harass my female co-workers without fear of getting fired? What if I attend an alt-right rally or say Anti-PC things on twitter?

What... You think people would game the system to go on vacation? How dare you! Next you're going to tell me that people will shirk while at work, like me, commenting on a blog.

A guaranteed jobs program along the lines describe would sharply increase the disability rate among low-wage workers.

That would be a scandal, and required a large wealth transfer program to these newly disabled individuals.

A guaranteed job could offer incentives (like a higher stipend) for good behavior-- and could also fire people and force them to start over at the bottom rung for bad behavior. And people do respond to incentives.

Who is going to administer such a stipend system? And determine what is good (and by extension what is bad) behaviour? Currently this is done i) by employers and ii) the market...

The market might not be perfect but it is the best system we have.

The market is more efficient than the government for sure, but the government does hire and pay people today, so it's not like there's no way for the government to design incentives.

it’s not like there’s no way for the government to design incentives

Somebody inform the central committee.

"but the government does hire and pay people today,"

And the government also fires people today. A guaranteed job means you can't fire somebody.

If you can be fired, then its not actually guaranteed.

If the job is "guaranteed" does that mean you can't be fired (or equivalently, that government must find you another job if you are)?

Can a job you can't be fired from be a "real job"?

2. "“If Democrats want to win elections, they should imbue Trump’s empty rhetoric with a real promise"

That's stupid. People hold you accountable for real promises. Empty rhetoric, not so much.

Thread winner.

Yet, President Temer can deliver on real promises. Why can't American leaders?!

Help me catch up here. Trump? ACA? Infrastructure? A secret plan to destroy ISIS? Bring Iran / Syria / North Korea to heel? Mexico pays for The Wall?

You are busy holding those accountable? How? Where?

I agree with Arnold's post, but I don't think he addresses the concern about mark-up increase very well. Yes, no markets are perfect, all firms have some monopoly power, and market competition still exists. All granted.
The question is whether increasing mark-ups indicate increasing market power. From there, a decline in market discipline follows.
The question of WHY markups rise (decline in VC as a component of overall costs) doesn't, by itself, answer this.

Short summary of 6 - the EU common market framework worked out really well for both Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly when confronted with China's entry into the global marketplace, and those countries able to manufacture quality goods will do well in the Chinese market.

#2 That is unironically the worst idea I have ever heard.

#4 Images are not a substitute for either reality or substance. Another classic example of how women (Cheryl Sandberg) trying to play make believe doesn't actually produce the result they're looking for. Just like Hillary.

#7 End up? It is already and will be a colossal 2x4 if these tensions develop into full-blown war. It would be enjoyable and highly educational to see what China would do with millions of refugees showing up on the border. I trust that the global voices pushing for more acceptance of refugees (at least in the white countries) will be just as vocal towards China when this happens. Nah....

#7: The best outcome with North Korea I think would be a back channel face-saving de-escalation. NK sees the lessons of Libya and Iraq, and they will never ever ever give up their nukes or stop reminding the world they have them, But they also know if they use them NK gets turned into a radioactive parking lot.

In the Cuban Missile Crisis, basically what happened was the US put some missiles in Turkey, the USSR said get them outta there, we said hell no, they said fine we're putting some in Cuba until you get out of Turkey. We could never publicly back down, but we secretly told them "look if you back down publicly with us promising not to invade Cuba again (Bay of Pigs), we will quietly get ours out of Turkey later". Wikipedia covers it well, an excerpt: "After a long period of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between US President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to avoid invading Cuba again. Secretly, the United States also agreed that it would dismantle all U.S.-built Jupiter MRBMs, which had been deployed in Turkey and Italy against the Soviet Union."

Long story short, competent American diplomacy should be able to craft a similar public/secret kind of deal with the Norks. That's one reason the South Koreans and the global markets don't seem too worried.

I'm not so sure the Cuban crisis is a good analogue and here's my reasoning which is three-fold. One, the combination of increasing political and diplomatic isolation of N. Korea and their native concept of "Juche" which in and of itself is a form of face-saving. As these tensions increase so does their isolation and their "self-reliance" (that's what Juche means) increases further not just because they need to save face but also because they have to be more self-reliant. An example of this would be when China officially stopped importing coal or their recent closing of all border crossings last week. China internally views N. Korea as it's "little brother" in the Confucian sense of the term, something numerous defectors and specialists have said the N. Korean government internally considers onerous and disrespectful, despite the economic linkages. N. Korea is more isolated now than it has ever been before so we are dealing with something unprecedented here.

Two, this is a nation that has only recently proved it is willing to commit major acts of violence (the island shelling and the sinking of that corvette) with high casualty counts against military personnel and civilians in response to perceived slights. "Perceived" is key here. They are losing their sense of proportion and in military situations that could get out of control very very fast.

Three, linked to the other two above is what I believe is a sense on both sides that this show can't go on forever (and it won't). Internally within N. Korea I'm convinced that the conversation has been had, at high levels and likely more than once, as to how much longer the regime can be maintained in the face of increasing economic and diplomatic isolation as well as what would happen should something unforeseen like another famine or other natural disaster comes along which could serve as a catalyst. After looking to the Syrian implosion I will never doubt for a second how willing regimes are to implode their own nations to preserve their power and status. I think N. Korea could potentially go that route especially if the catalyst caused a fracture within the top leadership (exp: Kim wants to ratchet down tensions but the military can't or won't...) or the regime suddenly realizes that the game is almost up and they'll be held accountable after the fact for human rights abuses etc.

Mark my words, the N. Korean regime will end and that day is closer rather than further away. I hope that collapse takes the shape of hungry soldiers defecting en-masse and streaming across the border in both direction while Kim commands a military that doesn't exist to fire away, but I think the outcomes are more 50/50 (upside/downside). It will definitely be earth-shattering regardless.

Fair points, we'll see. I would think the South wouldn't mind taking in their share of the defecting soldiers in that event, even if China might.

And back to my idea, if they can pull off the agreement, maybe we lift some of the sanctions so the regime can continue, as Cuba did. Cuba was no harm to us, and perhaps a North Korea we leave alone won't be either. They've kept their regime in place for 65+ years, why can't it continue? Obviously from a 'rights of man' standpoint it's tragic that the NK regime gets to keep doing its thing to the NK people, but this is realpolitik with a nuclear-armed kooky state.

You're right that Cuba was never a real military threat to us before and after the crisis, but the same can't be said about N. Korea which is already a massive conventional threat to it's neighbors. I agree that a diplomatic solution would be ideal, but the world really needs to start thinking seriously about what a non-diplomatic solution would look like because you can't have diplomacy with a nation that doesn't exist, and this one won't for much longer. Regardless of whether it collapses inevitably or is destroyed in the worst conflagration since WWII.

This regime lives on a knifes-edge, edgier and edgier every day, and diplomacy is getting increasingly more useless in getting what we want from them. Scary but that's the lay of the land.

Perhaps. Why aren't markets and the South Koreans as scared as you are?

I wonder how much Kim cares what happens to his people and his nation, relative to himself. Using nukes to stop an invasion would have a small chance of saving Kim, and a large chance of destroying his country and killing a big fraction of his people. Upon facing a certainty that he will lose power, he faces the choice of ordering the launch of nukes at the US or not--knowing that if he launches, NK will be destroyed and probably most of his people will die.

Clearly, he must convincingly signal to us that he will order those strikes. But I have no idea if he really will. And I assume the people actually in possession of his missiles will folllow that order, but again, following that order = guaranteed death for millions of your fellow citizens.

+1 to albatross - look at the comments in this thread--they talk about every topic except #7, which is underreported. Most Americans assume, having never lived outside the USA like I have for years at a time (three different countries for more than a year) that "everybody thinks like us Americans". But they don't. Recall a Japanese wealthy businessman in ~1999 wanted to take a rare work of art, a priceless painting of sunflowers, and burn it upon his death. Kim might do the same, with millions of Koreans in Seoul, like those Xi'an terra cotta warriors of the Chin (?) dynasty, supposedly representing subjects killed when their emperor died, to be buried with him.

@EverExtruder - Good analysis, but North Korea has shown it doesn't care about its citizens. If Cuba (which I have visited) can keep going, poor as it is, so can North Korea, even if a typhoon, a famine, or natural disaster hits. And if Kim develops a brain tumor and decides to 'go out with a bang', then Seoul can get nuked. All the more reason to silently assassinate Kim now.

Well obviously if we could just 'silently assassinate' Kim wouldn't we have done it by now?

Assassinating Kim "by now". Isn't there a joke about two economists who spot a hundred dollar bill on the ground? "It cannot be real or someone would have picked it up by now"? is the punchline, I believe.

In other words, devising a workable scheme to assassinate Kim could have been broached at the appropriate levels in the CIA (etc.) only recently.

And besides, it is not clear to us outsiders (and ignorant ones at that) that the problem is Kim. It could be possible that there is a powerful military clique that Kim is wary of, which is compelling him to be bellicose.

@Thor: fair points

Although I am and always will be an advocate for the value in certain situations of a decapitation strike, I'm concerned in this case because it might be more destabilizing than another solution.

And if China, N. Korea or Russia were to find out it was initiated by us....that would be terribly bad diplomatically and militarily.

I don't see the NYT article mention face-saving at all, but I agree any realistic de-escalation effort has to take that into account. Good luck with that, though: as a Westerner working in both Korea and Taiwan, I found the Asian emphasis on saving/losing face maddeningly illogical, but pervasive.

Kim's rhetoric has pushed him so far out on a limb I don't see how he would ever back down to a more reasonable position, no matter how rational it would seem to the rest of the world.

Re: #2 You must not have heard about the proposals to index minimum wage to median wage.

There is no minimum wage. I have not and will never believe there is. It is always $0 so indexing it to whatever doesn't matter. It is another artificial construct designed to remove power from market forces which are better at regulating the cost of labor in the long run, and do so anyway because these regulations force employers to adapt to reduce the cost of the artificially jacked wages anyway. Did you read the recent study about the minimum wage in Seattle?


#7 Decades of complacency regarding NK have come back to bite all parties in the rear. South Korean complacency in believing the threat is entirely fabrication of the bellicose Americans, all the while perfectly willing to allow their brothers and sisters in the North suffer in a nationwide gulag for the South's economic prosperity. American complacency spanning multiple administrations, who forgot that we were rapidly approaching the point where no living N Korean remembers anything other than the pathologies of the Kims and Sovietism. Chinese complacency in reveling in Kissinger's praise that they are the smartest people in the world, thinking 10 moves ahead but missing one right underneath their noses. And the global community's complacency at large regarding WMD and letting their guard down after the end of the FIRST Cold War.

The Chinese were (are?) also happy to have that Nork thorn festering in Uncle Sam's foot. Though they may come to regret Kim's bellicosity.

2. "“The job guarantee asserts that, if individuals bear a moral duty to work, then society and employers bear a reciprocal moral duty to provide good, dignified work for all,” Jeff Spross adds in the influential center-left journal Democracy."

There might be a practical duty to work but there is no moral duty, unless one is a Puritan/Protestant, and there is no moral duty for society to provide work for all. People don't necessarily want jobs anyway, they want money and the things that money can buy, which is not the same thing. That's why lottery winners usually quit their jobs. Furthermore, there are already arbitrary limits on who can work, whether they wish to or not. Someone age 13 might want an Old Navy hoody but can't legally work to pay for one. Another person age 80 isn't expected to be part of the work force regardless of his physical and mental ability and normally wouldn't be a new hire, even by the benevolent federal government.

Lottery winners usually don't quit their jobs:

I probably would quit my job, but I would not remain idle. at the very least I would devote myself at least part-time to volunteer activities. Three years ago I was unemployed for three months, but with a very healthy chunk of severance pay, so no immediate financial worries. After about three weeks (during which I accomplished some long-put off household projects and did some fun local stuff) I ended up quite stir-crazy. Some of us are not cut out for idleness.

Modest proposal: if you want more jobs then subsidize hiring. Especially at the low end, which is where unemployment is drastically higher. How about:

1. create a new payroll tax of 25% with no income cap.

2. Refund 100% of the additional revenue to employers in the form of a per-full-time-employee tax credit, applicable only to employees authorized to work in the United States. Burden rests on the employer to demonstrate work authorization in order to take advantage of the tax credit.

3. Peg minimum wage by statute to 1.5x the tax credit divided by 2000 hours/year.

In 2010, total wages were around $6T spread over 150 million workers. $6T * 25% = $1.5T. $1.5T / 150M = $10,000. That would yield a min. wage of $7.50/hr.

To further juice the market for low-income employees: remove the income cap on FICA and use the additional revenue to exempt the first $N of income from FICA.

Better yet: get rid of FICA altogether, fund it via the previously described payroll tax, and replace S.S. with a fixed-size old age pension that doesn't take into account past income earned.

A significant simplification compared to your proposal would be to dump all the minimum wage laws and the EITC and replace them with a negative FICA. So wages from $0.01/hour to $8/hour for the year, you get a FICA bonus on your check, then from $8-15/hour, you transition to breaking even, then once you hit >$15/hour for the year you start paying FICA as now (which covers SS/Medicare).

That way people can get hired for their market cost to the employer (so effectively full employment, unless you are such a bad employee that you aren't worth even being an intern in a fast food place) and we can explicitly quantify how much taxpayers (i.e. higher salary FICA payers) are spending on the wages/jobs program, but without the government bureaucracy and service market distortions involved in #2.

Of course that doesn't allow for tons more government bureaucrats and programs for benefiting the friends of politicians, so it may be politically impossible.

I was trying to propose something that was minimally disruptive with respect to existing taxes, laws, etc. If I had my druthers, I'd prefer something like what you suggested. With respect to FICA, I'd like to see it replaced by a "generic" payroll tax instead of the status quo where it is earmarked for specific programs (medicare, federal unemployment, social security). Would also like to see SS replaced with a fixed-size old-age pension that doesn't take into account work history. ("Fixed-size" would still allow for the pension amount to increase year-to-year to account for inflation).

A more than doubling of federal tax recipts, a tripling of income taxes is considered modest? Amazing.

How so? Intent was to be revenue neutral. All additional revenue from the new payroll tax would be refunded in the form of tax credits, so that the net change is zero.

#2. I see a universal jobs program as a literal dystopia: Democrat-operated political organization specializing in promotions and work assignment based on deviation from preferred sex, gender, sexual preference, disability, race, religion, and political self-identification, with work projects being focused in political advocacy, voter outreach, pork projects, political favors, organized political violence, and in the best case scenario, actual productivity that fails to meet a cost/benefit analysis.

Yeah this is not a good idea. Instead of guaranteed jobs though, couldn't we revise or expand some kind of service model like Teach for America and the Peace Corps? At least make welfare payments conditional on the person doing something useful, because doing something useful is just as important for overall well-being as the money.

chuck martel always posts that no one wants to work, they just want the money. Totally false, as the opioid crisis, the messed up kids of the rich, and just plain common sense proves. Lottery winners quit their jobs, sure, and then most end up miserable and broke.

It is ridiculous. Santos Dumont was the son of a rich man and he spent his fortune to invent the airplane and donate his invention to the well-being of mankind (instead of trying ti sell something he did not invent to make money over innocent people's deaths). President' Temer's 7-year son has millions to his name in real estate and he helped to choose the new government symbol using the flag colors which is much better the formwr president Rousseff's one.
Also, famous American Sociologist Roy Kaplan showed that “'popular myths and stereotypes about winners were inaccurate'—by which he meant that American lottery winners did not typically quit their jobs and spend lavishly".

Thiago, changing your name here isn't going to stop us from mocking you. Stopping your weird and logorrheic obsessions probably will though. Give that a try, m'kay?

Apparently, I can not comment under my name anymore.

The blog hosts finally got tired of your nonsense, and us mockers as well. Try to learn something from it.

Wouldn't it be more practical to block the IP?

I don't think they (or we mockers) want you gone, they just want you to cut the crap.

They banned Thiago Ribero? Why? It was hilarious.

Brazil is the greatest nation ever!

Problem with Teach For America and the Peace Corps is that they employ the type of people who won't need the program anyway. The peace corps has a page which provides an answer to the question "after finding out there are specific education and skill requirements successful applicants must meet, and that the process mirrors most competitive selection processes – meaning there is an application to complete, a strong résumé required, interviews offered only to highly competitive candidates and a background check, all for a limited number of available positions – the next question is often, “Why so many hoops to jump through just to help people?”"

I'm not sure how important work really is to well-being, nor how much people actually want to work. Most people retire around age 67 and their well being doesn't dramatically decline. Maybe it's specific to old people, but I think that it's not work itself that people want and would be miserable without,* rather, it's the lack of socialization and social acceptance that comes from not having a job when all your peers do that causes misery.

*And they do seem to want it, see the majority of lottery winners who don't quit their jobs.

It's cultural. It's "normal" to retire when you are old, and do retiree things with other retirees. As you said, it's not normal to sit on the couch while most of your peer group is out there being useful. This drives many to despair. There's gotta be a way to change the culture to nudge increasingly superfluous (as tech eats up more jobs) human laborers off the couch so they don't feel worthless and check out with oxy and video games.

They'd work if they were hungry. When social norms decay, I'm sure we can still rely on the same reason why a coyote spend all day looking for food.

Just saying.

Why wouldn't the GOP also be involved in operating those programs? They hold the preponderance of offices at the state and federal level after all.


GOP controls the legislatures but they don't control the administrative state. The vast majority of the people who work for the public sector bureaucracies outside of the security state are Democrats or least pro-government types. That's why they work there in the first place.

If you gave more funding to these organizations, they'd become informal lobbyists for public sector unions and other leftwing causes.

#2: "An effective job guarantee that eliminated unemployment and boosted wages without negative side effects could be a very good thing."

Yes, and harvesting the rainbows coming from the butt of a unicorn might be the perfect employment opportunity for those with the guaranteed job that didn't have negative side effects.

"A price ceiling on food without negative side effects could be a very good thing"

#2. This is a terrible idea. Massive misallocation of resources. Who decides what sorts of jobs need doing? This isn't like EITC which subsidizes something which is basically decided by the free market. This is the government allocating labor to particular tasks. It is central planning.
Moreover, given that a job is guarenteed, many people will conclude that they no longer need to learn skills that are actually in market demand, and you will end up with an even larger skill mismatch problem.
This is once again proof that the left is economically illiterate.


Literally how many times do we have to go through this. How many times and in how many places do we need to see how these policies wreck economies of scale and supply and demand equilibrium.

"But...but...real socialism has never been tried!" yadda yadda yadda. We need to create a fantasy camp for these people where they can go and actually experience the models they preach. Ship them to Venezuela. I'm serious.

They're a bunch of blithering idiots who have apparently learned nothing during 100 years of communist experimentation.

Sometimes I imagine what kind of make-work jobs program we could create. The first thing that comes to mind is hiring more people to clean up trash off the sidewalks.

But wouldn't that just encourage people to throw trash anywhere they please knowing that someone else has the responsibility of dealing with it?

And how are you going to monitor people to make sure they aren't just scooping up existing full trash bags and claiming they actually did the work themselves?

It seems like you'd need to heavily monitor the entire operation. It would be a logistical nightmare.

Not to worry. Most people would continue to work in the free market. A program like this would only be for those whom the free market rejects. As such it would be similar to a public recycling program, making use of what is not desired in the private sector.

I see. So there would be some rule that says you have to be fired from at least three jobs before you would qualify right? I mean, we wouldn't want to let just ANYONE get a guarenteed job, right? Just the economic rejects.

5 - Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons
Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons

7 - North Korea will China's France.

5 - Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons
Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos sillons

7 - North Korea will be China's France.

(2.) [Guaranteed jobs for all.] "That’s a truly radical policy idea." Uh no. That's called communism.

Communism is pretty radical policy. Radically stupid of course, but still.

As E.O. Wilson said about communism, "Great idea. Wrong species."

Yep. Anarchism/extreme libertarianism too. Both communism and anarchism make perfect sense on paper or at 3AM in a smoke-filled dorm room, but in the real world they are both totally unworkable.

Extreme libertarianism gave us the industrial revolution which resulted in a massive increase in human welfare.

Communism gave us purges, mass starvation and wasted human potential.

False, liberal, equivalence.

2. Instead we should aim for a world where no-one has to work. Fetishizing work in a world where technology could in principle take care of the basic needs of everyone is idiotic.

In the very long run sure, but clearly work is how many derive meaning and satisfaction today, as things like the opioid epidemic show.

In that case, let's not pay them for it.

Hence my idea of making welfare recipients do something for the money. We are already paying, they need something to do. Many people need to be forced to do something, or at least told what to do, even though doing so is better than doing nothing. Or, we can decide it's not a problem and stop worrying about declining labor force participation and opioid abuse in the hinterlands.

I see, so all you have to do to get a guarenteed job is quit your own and go on welfare.

Go ahead Hazel, but I doubt the guaranteed job will be better than the one you quit. It will certainly pay less.

I'm not saying any of this is a good idea necessarily, but if we're going to have a UBI, or even welfare payments, shouldn't we add a component of doing something useful vs just handing over the money?

I wouldn't prevent people from working; people who find doing toiling for bigger purpose satisfactory could still do it. I would merely cut the link between being able to survive and performing actions according to the rules of our economic system.

That should be the goal anyway, I don't know how close we are to being able to do it in practice. My gut feeling is that we are closer than most people like to think.

Sure, but the culture has to change so people who aren't working (because robots) don't feel like losers.

The beauty of status is that it's a ranking. If only liberals would learn that someone will always be on the bottom....What we can address is making sure race/gender/sexual whatever is not a legal impediment to status. Yay us, we've solved it. The legal system will not enforce status hierarchies based on those.

There will be stupid, lazy, drug addicted, alcoholic, ugly, awkward, short men, too tall women, gangly, fill in the blank. They will always be with us. And they will be low status. Trying to equalize money or job status just replaces one hierarchy with one more preferred by some other interest group, but with tax money and intrusiveness. If liberals want jobs to not have status then do it. Solve it at the root cause level. Do not choose social or "relationship"connections based on jobs or income. Marry a homeless man. Date a woman who lives at home and sells trinkets on Etsy. But you don't need more of my money for this. You can be the stupid change you want to see in this world.

If society's problem is worrying about feelings, then we don't need to worry. We've already cured all diseases, colonized Mars, achieved world peace, figured out quantum physics, solved climate change, etc.

Fair enough. I'm one of those coastal elites that Trump voters despise, so maybe all the sads of the unemployed dudes in Wisconsin and West Virginia aren't worth worrying about. They aren't starving to death, most aren't homeless, so let 'em oxy their way out.

Nobody who reads this blog's comment section is "elite."

Work is how we contribute to a better world. By doing things that others want.

You stupid, stupid, liberal.

#5: In the last 2-3 years I've read lots of texts from Catalan sources explaining that due the large number of multinationals from the rest of EU operating in Catalonia......those multinationals are motivated to lobby the EU to keep the free movement of goods, people and capital between the EU and Catalonia.

This idea is quite curious. Could Catalonia use as hostages these large businesses in negotiations? Will multinationals behave as docile hostages or will be actors on their own?

I don't think we'll see any dramatic scenario. If any, there will be some embarrassing capital controls like Greece in 2015 after everyone gets scared and want their Euros back at the same time.

4. As the baby boomers have aged, they are less interested in sex and more interested in hiking. Fairly normal behavior, though ironic from a generation which considers itself so unique.

2. There are two separate proposals here, one is guaranteeing everyone a job, the other is guaranteeing everyone a job which pays good wages and provides benefits in order to force employers to offer them themselves. If one believes that employers could afford to provide these wages and benefits without much impact on employment(I don't), as the article claims, why not simply force employers to do so directly, through an increased minimum wage and benefit requirements? But let's suppose that instead of offering 15$ an hour wages, the jobs offer minimum wage and are intended to be jobs of last resort. How bad a program would that be? I could think of many worse programs, such as our current program of importing tens of millions of legal and illegal immigrants and then scratching your head wondering why "private employers aren’t doing enough to make use of the US labor force," as the article does.

The basic problem is simple: there is a sub-population of Americans who are simply really stupid and/or ill-mannered or criminal. Employers would rather not hire them. Other ways to solve this problem include:

1. Give them money for doing nothing as in a UBI, or cover the female portion of this class with much de-reformed welfare benefits. A UBI would be either be prohibitively expensive or require such increased taxes that it makes a mockery of the "universal" aspect of it, and everyone reading this knows the perverse incentives that welfare caused.

2. Expand the EITC while reducing the minimum wage. No doubt, if employers had to only pay their employees 4$ and the government would make up the difference, they could afford to hire a lot more of them. There would still be the problem of de-incentivizing the acquiring of new skills that Hazel mentions as a problem with the guaranteed jobs program. I don't see it as a big problem however, because you can't train-away low intelligence or a felony record. And it could potentially be a lot more expensive than the guaranteed jobs program. If for everyone hired due to the program there are ten people whose wages are reduced, and for whom the government must make up the difference, it would be much less costly to have simply taken that money and given it to the beneficiaries directly. It is also a politically unfeasible. If you are a minimum wage worker, how would you feel about your pay being cut and made up for by a government benefit? Many would worry that someday the government check might go away without the wage being raised back. And they'd see that while they are getting little to nothing, their employers are saving a lot of money on labor costs, it will be perceived as a giant giveaway to the 'wealthy.'

3. Kick the illegals out and reduce immigration to a very low number.

I would prefer 3., but most likely is the solution of doing nothing, followed by government jobs programs.

If the main reason for declining labor force participation were immigration instead of technology, #3 would make some sense. But it's not, so it doesn't.

If the main cause of declining labor force participation is not a lack of government jobs, government jobs could not possibly solve the problem of declining labor force participation.

The employment-to-population ratio is currently 0.6 - quite near the median of the last generation. It's lower than it was in 2006 but it has not been declining in the last 7 years.

#3 is not only infeasible, but it wouldn't solve the problem either. Employers would still not hire the Americans who are too stupid or criminal to employ. They might raise wages to induce some not-stupid people to join the workforce, or hire more younger teens, but there not going to employ people with negative value.

Besides, reducing immigration to miniscule levels would require extreme levels of additional surveillance and policing that most Americans would reject. Internal checkpoints, national identity cards that you must carry with you everywhere, intrusive surveillance of who businesses are hiring, who landlords are renting to, etcetera.

So toll booths, driver's licenses, I-9 documentation, and audits on landlords. Definitely sounds like a nightmare. Soon you'll tell me companies can fire people for their political opinions.


Does Hazel Meade think employers and landlords pay taxes voluntarily? They are already under a lot of "surveillance."

Do they have to submit the names and identity papers of everyone they rent to to the federal government, so they can check to make sure they are legal residents?

Employers have to submit names and social security numbers to the federal government to pay taxes. Most landlords already collect that information to run background checks anyway, it wouldn't be hard to have them report it to the government.

What sort of toll booth operator is going to be capable of arresting an illegal alien who doesn't want to be arrested? Those toll booths would have to be manned by men with guns. And woe to you if you forgot your wallet at home and you happen to speak Spanish.

"What sort of toll booth operator is going to be capable of arresting an illegal alien who doesn’t want to be arrested?"

One who has balls? But you have to fantasize about toll booths manned by "men with guns,"(scary!) because it's not like there are other countries without immigration problems whose experience you can look to. It's all very theoretical.

The other countries without immigration problems are either not the kinds of places people want to emigrate to, or do not share a huge land border with a region of people who very much want to do so. The US has a fairly unique position here.


This idea is so nonsensical and stupid it beggars belief. Toll booth operators do not stop people who blow through the pay point, let alone ask for papers. This is moronic level conservative fantasy.

On the other hand, liberals have concocted a world that demands papers at every turn. And data to the government to include race and gender.

The truth is that the administrative state can easily enforce immigration status. If it can sue tech companies for not hiring black women as engineers, it can find and deport illegals.

However, the hilarious part is that institutions are made of people. And people who work for the government (minus the military and law enforcement) are comically in the leftist camp. Do not ever expect anyone in the SSA or IRS or NLRB to identify illegal immigrants and send in the feds. We have a situation where the entire administrative state is a wing of the Democratic Party. The ultimate interest group. No wonder repubs hate the government. They're paying in tax dollars for donations to Pelosi.


Besides, reducing immigration to miniscule levels would require extreme levels of additional surveillance and policing that most Americans would reject. I

The police forces, court system, and prison system in New York managed ca. 1985 to process 250,000 cases to conviction with a sum of about 100,000 employees.

Levels of 'surveillance' in New York in 1985 were not 'extreme'.

As for the Southern border, a cement wall topped with razor wire and punctuated with armed guards should suffice to reduce the flow to an inconsequential trickle. There wouldn't be surveillance of anything but the Rio Grande.

And what about people who overstay their visas? That's the principle source of illegal immigration at this point.

Border crossers are down substantially since Bush & Obama ramped up border security.

My response is above.

"As for the Southern border, a cement wall topped with razor wire and punctuated with armed guards should suffice to reduce the flow to an inconsequential trickle. There wouldn’t be surveillance of anything but the Rio Grande."

The Rio Grande plus the Pacific Ocean plus the Gulf of Mexico plus the tunnels across the border that have a way of periodically popping up. Right-wing Americans seem aware of the fact that large numbers of illegal immigrants enter the EU by boat and some might even recall that Cubans have been entering the U.S. this way for decades. Take a look at a map sometime and see how silly this border wall obsession is.

#2: I doubt you need much in the way of a pool of public sector jobs (we have the Job Corps as is) if you have a properly lubricated labor market (circumstances like those prevailing in 1930-41 excepted). Why not reduce compliance costs on employers* and replace means-tested welfare with universalistic programs on-the-one-hand and a negative-income-tax or wage subsidy on the other? You might try promoting a Japanese style base-pay-and-bonus model of employee compensation as well.

The bonus pay system in Japan has decreased over the years and isn't an incentive pay as much as a way of cutting pay temprarily during a notable recession.

I know. That's the point.

#5: Any separatist movement which declares an interest in remaining in the EU is a silly vanity project. Regrettably, silly vanity projects sell well in certain locales.

Catalonia makes an odd unit. Only a low-single-digit share of the population does not speak Castillan Spanish, the two other Catalanophone regions have little interest in departing Spain, and the majority of Catalonia's population lives in a single dense urban settlement. (Something hardly replicated anywhere in the world, though you do have few places like Kuwait or Singapore where the city is the state). To top it off, the central government in Spain has been fairly accommodating for 40 years.

4. Do a Google image search for the following (no quotes): happy american family stock photos

Then do a Google image search for: american inventors

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