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wasoxygen  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Total solar eclipse road trip

Asheville is my first planned rest stop, recommended by cW.

99% totality there will be interesting, but they will get a much better show if they can make a 60-mile trip to Greenville, or 38 miles on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway to Balsam.

Traffic could be a nightmare, especially getting back out, but that's all part of the adventure, right?

Good luck with the demo!

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wasoxygen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Bitcoin Cash starts today

    BCH spun off from BTC on Tuesday afternoon, and briefly traded over $700 on Wednesday (though it later fell significantly). But BTC hasn't really lost any value since the spinoff, still trading at about $2,700. So just before the spinoff, if you had a bitcoin, you had a bitcoin worth about $2,700. Now, you have a BTC worth about $2,700, and also a BCH worth as much as $700. It's weird free money, if you owned bitcoins yesterday.

    But what if you owned negative bitcoins yesterday? What if, that is, you had borrowed bitcoins in order to sell them short? Well, in stock lending situations, the normal way that this works is that the short sellers (stock borrowers) have to come up with whatever is distributed on a stock. If you are short a stock and it pays a $1 dividend, you have to come up with $1. If it spins off a subsidiary, you have to go out and buy a share of the subsidiary to deliver back to your stock lender. If it is acquired in a leveraged buyout for $13.50, you have to come up with $13.50. If it distributes a pony to each shareholder, you have to come up with a pony.

Bitcoin Exchange Had Too Many Bitcoins

wasoxygen  ·  25 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 26, 2017

No, I bailed. I was hoping the war would pick up the pace, but it left me wanting as much as the peace.

With nothing to show for February, I am behind this year. Unexpected hit was Star Maker, a forgotten classic by Olaf Stapledon. Modern Times was also very helpful, but The Beak of the Finch was the best nonfiction I've read in a while.

Heading out of town tomorrow and can't decide what to bring along.

blackbootz  ·  25 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I couldn't get through the first 30 or so pages of The Beak of the Finch. It was that good? Huh.

This summer has been a disappointment with reading for me. I've let myself be utterly distracted. Doesn't bode well for the semester ahead.

I think the economist mindset has really enabled a lot of laziness on my part. I'm thinking in short cuts and Pareto principles, marginal utility instead the long-term benefits of dedication and tenacity.

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wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

    And if you're ideologically opposed to vaccination...

True, and if I were honest I would admit ideology, not reality, is my motivation.

    What point are you making?

My point is that a policy like minimum wage has costs as well as benefits. We should try our best to do the hard work of understanding the complexity on both sides so we can make an informed judgment.

I learned a little about what working in retail feels like when I was a cashier. I learned a little about price floors reading Wikipedia. Both of these experiences inform my still-incomplete understanding.

I think that admitting an error and correcting one's math is a sign of openness to evidence, rather than a stubborn disregard of on-the-ground reality. The author (now) recognizes that "many of them don’t work 40 hours a week". I also mentioned my belief that the math "has too many assumptions to be very useful" earlier.

I believe that minimum wage contributes to unemployment on the simple principle that when stuff costs more, people buy less of it. I recognize that it also benefits some workers.

I think the discussion should be about whether the benefits justify the cost. But it always ends up being about Ayn Rand somehow.

wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

I have no idea what it is like to live in Burkina Faso. I imagine it is very hard for most people. But I believe Burkinabés (had to look that up of course) would be better off if they rely on vaccines rather than witch doctors, if they use condoms instead of potions to resist AIDS.

My lack of experience with their situation does not make my ideas wrong. Nor would a lack of empathy, though I don't see how a lack of empathy is revealed by starting conversations about how to help the poor, rather than talking about video games.

My experience in retail was unpleasant, but yes, it was one of those high school jobs that built character. At the same time, I was teaching ESL for fun and often drove a group of Togolese and Ghanaian students to and from their jobs at Walmart. There was a whole clan that passed through the modest townhouse of an early immigrant, and they were all wonderful, decent, hardworking and generous people. I developed a profound respect for their determination to overcome difficult circumstances, similar to the respect I have for you. I don't believe that hard work and determination will guarantee everybody good results, but I think it goes a long way.

I was a poor teacher, and didn't do much to improve their English, though they helped me with French and taught me some phrases in their local dialects. But they all found work at Walmart, those with better language skills in more people-facing positions, others doing stocking and cleaning. They weren't getting rich, but they were getting by, and over the years they moved on to better situations.

I have no doubt that being paid $15 per hour is better for an employee than being paid $10. I hope that no one assumes my alleged allegiance to ideological celebrities or movements blinds me to that obvious fact.

Walmart can pay two employees $15 per hour or three employees $10 per hour. One option is clearly better for two employees, and worse for the third.

Economic theory is utterly uncontroversial in predicting that a price floor promotes a supply surplus. In the case of wages, this surplus is expressed as unemployment. Opposition to minimum wage, in my case at least, is not motivated by some abstract worship of economic efficiency, but the very real effect on human welfare that policy can cause in the form of unemployment.

tacocat  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And if you're ideologically opposed to vaccination you might not want people in the third world to vaccinate their children. Disregarding the on-the-ground reality of suffering children and the visible results of vaccination.

What point are you making? You know what a price floor is? You worked in retail?

My point is if you're an ideologue who holds certain naive notions about the world based on academia and unrealistic theory, you're going to willfully ignore reality to fit your worldview or ignore it out of ignorance. Ignorance that shaped your worldview.

This guy has no idea what he's talking about. To the point that he corrected his math based on a 40 hour work week for employees. The math isn't the problem. The problem is he thinks workers at Walmart get 40 hours.

wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    And if you're ideologically opposed to vaccination...

True, and if I were honest I would admit ideology, not reality, is my motivation.

    What point are you making?

My point is that a policy like minimum wage has costs as well as benefits. We should try our best to do the hard work of understanding the complexity on both sides so we can make an informed judgment.

I learned a little about what working in retail feels like when I was a cashier. I learned a little about price floors reading Wikipedia. Both of these experiences inform my still-incomplete understanding.

I think that admitting an error and correcting one's math is a sign of openness to evidence, rather than a stubborn disregard of on-the-ground reality. The author (now) recognizes that "many of them don’t work 40 hours a week". I also mentioned my belief that the math "has too many assumptions to be very useful" earlier.

I believe that minimum wage contributes to unemployment on the simple principle that when stuff costs more, people buy less of it. I recognize that it also benefits some workers.

I think the discussion should be about whether the benefits justify the cost. But it always ends up being about Ayn Rand somehow.

wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

"If there are no public benefits, workers will have to make do with whatever salary they can get. Additional public benefits make them somewhat more comfortable, so they can be somewhat more choosy about employment, and if they receive sufficiently generous public benefits, they might choose not to work at all, unless they were offered a very high salary to make it worth their while."

It's just a thought experiment, I am not advocating anything in this paragraph. My intuition initially was that getting some public benefits made workers more comfortable, so they would accept lower salaries. To check my intuition, I imagined extending the size of the benefit to extremes in both directions, from "zero" to "very large," simply to make the consequences more obvious. It's not a proof of anything, nor a recommendation of anything.

kleinbl00  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Okay, thank you. We'll go ahead and leave that question unanswered.

Next question, why are you reliant on your intuition and thought experiments? I mean, you're basically attempting to imagine "Sweden." This isn't quantum mechanics we're talking about, it's economics. People study this shit for a living, using economic data and empirical experiments.

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wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

There are some good comments on the post, better than average internet quality, and they make me feel that the $20B calculation has too many assumptions to be very useful. We don't know how many workers make $10/hr; Walmart claims an average of $13.36. Many workers are overseas. We don't know how many are part-time. Noncash benefits are left out.

The comparison to Apple is a stretch, but even other retailers like Costco have very different profiles. Costco has far fewer employees, and far higher revenue per employee than Walmart. Perhaps satisfied employees work harder, or perhaps Walmart operates in different demographic areas with different shopping patterns.

It reminds me of an old conversation.

Say a Walmart wants to make a small expansion and has a budget of $30/hr for additional labor. What are the options?

Option 1 Hire Alice, Bob, and Charlie at $10/hr each. The Harvard comparison, claiming that there are many more applicants than open positions, suggests that this is what the unfeeling textbook would call oversupply. The market-clearing price is below $10/hr, so the textbook says to maximize market efficiency and ignore everything else Walmart should hire more people at a lower salary.

Option 2 But we can't ignore everything else. We want Walmart employees to be able to eat. So the alternative is to hire Alice and Bob at $15/hr each.

Question: What happens to Charlie?

In practice, Charlie fades away into the crowd of unemployed Walmart associate wannabes, and does the best he can with Plan B. Nobody blames Walmart for what happens to Charlie. But Walmart's decision to use Option 2 is what made Charlie switch to Plan B.

It's not obvious to me that two people making a living wage and one on the street is better than three people making less than a living wage.

kleinbl00  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The argument against Walmart is that its $30/hr additional labor budget comes from $10 worth of externalities provided not just by Alice, Bob and Charlie's taxes, but also Dave's, Edward's, Franks, Gary's, Hester's, Ignacio's, Janice's, Katherine's, Lisa's, Mark's, Nancy's, Oliver's, Peggy's, Quincy's, Richard's, Sam's, Theresa's, Ulysses', Verna's, Walter's, Xerxes', Yolanda's, and Zach's.

And that if Walmart can't turn a profit without sucking money out of every pocket in Alphabetsville, Walmart shouldn't be in business.

From a capitalist standpoint, a business that cannot operate without subsidy should not operate and Walmart is a subsidized corporation. From a socialist standpoint, a business that does not enrich the social fabric with its subsidy should not be subsidized and the preponderance of evidence holds that Walmart does not enrich the social fabric of the communities it enters.

wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

I kinda lost hope in our ability to have a useful conversation that time you made a clear and plausible argument about charity, I responded, and you said I completely misunderstood your point.

Though your statement that "The world will be a tyrannical and biased place if aid is determined by the charity of individuals" makes more sense to me now.

    For once and for all, why do you think that's a good thing?

I don't think it's a good thing. I think it's a true thing.

kleinbl00  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I don't think it's a good thing. I think it's a true thing.

So in other words all this progress over the past 400 years - the betterment of conditions for workers, the increase in the well-being of the middle class, the decrease in infant mortality, the gains in longevity... is all that stuff fruitless? Is all that stuff pointless? Is all that stuff an affront to capitalism?

WHY?

Why.

Should.

Workers.

Make.

Do.

wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

"If there are no public benefits, workers will have to make do with whatever salary they can get. Additional public benefits make them somewhat more comfortable, so they can be somewhat more choosy about employment, and if they receive sufficiently generous public benefits, they might choose not to work at all, unless they were offered a very high salary to make it worth their while."

It's just a thought experiment, I am not advocating anything in this paragraph. My intuition initially was that getting some public benefits made workers more comfortable, so they would accept lower salaries. To check my intuition, I imagined extending the size of the benefit to extremes in both directions, from "zero" to "very large," simply to make the consequences more obvious. It's not a proof of anything, nor a recommendation of anything.

kleinbl00  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Okay, thank you. We'll go ahead and leave that question unanswered.

Next question, why are you reliant on your intuition and thought experiments? I mean, you're basically attempting to imagine "Sweden." This isn't quantum mechanics we're talking about, it's economics. People study this shit for a living, using economic data and empirical experiments.

wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Let's formulate an official Hubski response to the FCC

Thanks for jumping in!

    If you don't have choices you are almost always stuck with AT&T or Verizon and bitching at those two is practically a meme now.

Not everyone complains, but those who do are more noticeable. Just about everyone has choices, even in the countryside satellite and mobile hotspot options are available.

My idea of improving the situation is to give the ISPs more freedom to innovate and compete, rather than putting restrictions on them.

I don't follow the logic saying that since we are unsatisfied with a small number of big players giving mediocre service, let's have one huge player provide all the service -- and make it the player that gets 20% positive reviews.

    I get my internet connection from the one provider (please read about its history, it's actually relevant) available in the area.

Two of the six paragraphs in that history are complaints!

Also:

    According to Eurostat, OECD and others, Internet access in Poland is among the most expensive in Europe. This is mostly caused by the lack of competitiveness and lack of know-how. New operators like Dialog and GTS Energis are making their own provider lines and offer more attractive and cheaper service. In February 2011, the Polish Office of Electronic Communication issued an order forcing the TPSA to rent 51% of their ADSL lines to other ISPs at 60% discount of their market pricing. As the result the prices are non-competitive, other ISP charge as TPSA making a guaranteed 40% profit, while TPSA has no incentive to lower its consumer prices, because it would result in lowering of wholesale prices as well.[citation needed]
Devac  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's a bit costly, but still affordable even in this weird economy we have. I'm paying about 13 USD for an uncapped 80 Mbps connection and that's not the cheapest plan available. Quite a different market. ;)

    I don't follow the logic saying that since we are unsatisfied with a small number of big players giving mediocre service, let's have one huge player provide all the service -- and make it the player that gets 20% positive reviews.

That's market dynamics. I don't understand it well enough to discuss. I guess I would prefer to have a variety of choices, but I'm not sure if that's a good enough reason either way.

    Two of the six paragraphs in that history are complaints!

Yes, but it's still better than TPSA that was here before. I can get you in touch with my father if you would like a sourced ranticle about the state of our telecom/ISP before 2003. I sure as hell don't want to hear those stories again. :P