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wasoxygen  ·  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!

wasoxygen  ·  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  ·  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.

wasoxygen  ·  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  ·  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.

wasoxygen  ·  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.

wasoxygen  ·  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.

wasoxygen  ·  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.

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!


    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]

You make "a good ISP" singular, as if one product at one price point can satisfy all customers. Only a fifth of internet users subscribe to Netflix. 13% of Americans don't go online at all.

Telephone service is a utility, and there is a huge variety of offerings.

Water is a utility, and I know of only one kind of water, but you still get more when you pay more.

wasoxygen  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

    Step 2: Offer prices too low for any local competitor to meet.

Do you agree that this one, specific effect, lower prices when Walmart comes to town, is good for the locals?

    Step 3: Employ all the competitor's laid-off workers at 1/2 their previous pay scale.

General Merchandise Stores pay nonsupervisory employees an average of $12.72 per hour. Do you have a source for the 1/2 pay scale?

    Step 4: Point out that if they can't live off the Walmart wages, that the Gummint will support them.

One of the most interesting things I learned from Hubski, if I am not mistaken, is that government welfare programs put upward pressure on wages.

I don't think this is a widespread view, but I believe it is true. 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.

Or: imagine you receive a large inheritance. Now you don't need salary as much as you did before. Are you now willing to do the same job for less salary? Or are you more likely to quit, unless the boss offers a big raise to keep you around?

Suppose everything in the video is true. ISPs fix prices by colluding. There's not enough competition.

How does the FCC placing restrictions on what ISPs can offer improve competition?

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