In Large Type

brilliant ideas in a big font… often gay interest or political topics.

Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Amazon vs Hachette

Posted by bert5 on 1 October 2014

A publisher served as a gatekeeper for expensive printing resources. If you have e-books which cost nothing to make, and a good writer is just a good writer — with or without the editor who only affects the quality around the margins (pun intended) — doesn’t getting rid of the publisher make sense?

Worst case, the author hires an editor on her/his own.

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Condition for aid: Homophobia

Posted by bert5 on 27 January 2014

Have African nations which have Christian leaders have done what the homophobic Americans wanted and passed anti-gay laws in order to receive aid?

Posted in economics, gay, Politics, religion | Leave a Comment »

What is the right amount of taxes?

Posted by bert5 on 26 November 2012

Let’s say we had to choose among several options:

  1. Pay a flat fee as an American citizen every year for gov’t services
  2. Pay an income tax as a flat rate of income
  3. Pay a progressive income tax with rates which increase on income exceeding certain thresholds
  4. Pay a wealth tax based on wealth and property owned

Rich people would love 1.  Why don’t they go for that?  Civil war and rebellion, perhaps?  Rich people propose 2, but they should rightly worry about the same thing.  Poor people are not all that unintelligent.  The truth is that for many years the US has had stability with a combination of 3 and 4.  Yes, we have some amount of 4 in many states where real estate property and upon death wealth is actually being taxed.

I’ve had many arguments with people who say, how is 3 fair or “paying their fair share” for the rich?  Actually, if you get right down to it, 1, is arguably  “fair” as well, but we don’t accept 1.  So something different from the most simple thought about “fair” is in play for taxes. Earlier this year Senator Elizabeth Warren brought into the picture the idea of community enabling people to get rich — the roads, the workforce, the education. That’s part of the responsibility of a person who got rich to give back (sort of like tithing). We have in fact made it compulsory, though rich people often do whatever they can to get out from paying this ‘share’.  A share that society deems is a fair tradeoff between incentive to make money and not having vast numbers of people as beggars on the street.

So again, what has worked in the past in the US is a combination of 3 and 4. As far as I know, I don’t see rich people finding it a grave injustice which needs to be rectified, and I don’t find them intelligibly arguing to go to regime of 1 or 2 (i.e. how would the lost revenue be made up by poor people without causing demonstrations and collapse of society a la Greece).  So long as we’re arguing, we only arguing about percentages. How does one say that 35% is fair and 39% isn’t?

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The right’s sudden love of austerity and balanced budgets

Posted by bert5 on 25 September 2011

Do conservative people own a lot of bonds or debt issues?  I guess it would make sense that they are too conservative to own equities, so maybe it’s the case.  Are they Chinese?  What’s behind the idea that we should prevent any inflation?  By the way, inflation is a great way to get rid of debts, and the US owes a ton of money.  It doesn’t quite make sense.  I guess there is some sort of right-wing Christian hard currency thing which is so random and not sensible.

What triggered this was I was reading Krugman again, and in the end he argues for the side of expanding government spending right now.

I also think that all of this convenient that for a Democratic President the Republicans are very intent on tanking the economy.

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What the average American says to themselves? “I’m so rich, I’m just like those billionaires who don’t pay no federal income taxes”

Posted by bert5 on 19 July 2011

I’ve always wondered about the Republican argument that people don’t want taxes raised on the rich.  They say that this is because they (Americans?) are aspirational and always thinking about when they might be that rich.  Let me try to follow that reasoning…

$40,000/yr might sound to some like a lot of money.  When the President Obama says he won’t raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 , I gotta think that people in the $40,000 range must say to themselves, in a thought of pure ego preservation: “Hey, I’m not far away from that tax hike.  I mean I’m not good at math, but with a few raises I’ll reach that income level and then, I’d be really upset about all those taxes I would be paying.”

Nevermind that $250,000 is one massive 525% raise away affecting these folks.  If they were to get a consistent 5% raise every year, they’d be 38 years away from hitting that tax hike (with inflation adjustments, probably even longer, at 2% inflation, it’s something like 62 years), and these people would probably be 10-20 years past their retirement age by then.

But let’s set the record straight to the rationalizers: if you aren’t paying federal income taxes, you are some of this country’s working middle class, just slightly above the poor.  You aren’t rich.  Depending on where you live, you might be barely getting by.

Is this another case of psychology where people don’t want to foreclose future options if they can avoid it?  In this case, the future option is to be making a ton of money without paying taxes on it.  There must be a way to combat this nonsense. Maybe we should generate some pride and attention around this idea:  If you make $250,000 a year, you are helping make it so that people making $40,000 can continue to pay no federal income taxes, and make it so that the paltry $40,000 sum is actually a living wage!  Be proud of paying your taxes, and helping out the old $40,000/yr you.


[Aug 2012] Now, I think there is a better explanation from this NYTimes Opinion piece.  Just like the lottery, people love to imagine themselves as rich.  And while they’re at it, why not really imagine what it would be like.  So: “Well, I’d really hate to be taxed, I think.”  Nevermind, that it’s pretty close to impossible to get to the level of wealth where such a thing would be a serious concern especially if one is only earning the average income in the US.  No one likes to imagine oneself as poor (and ignorant), not too much fun in that, though actually I found it an interesting experiment.

Posted in economics, Politics, psychology | Leave a Comment »

Why are unelectables running?

Posted by bert5 on 6 June 2011

It’s not that there seems little to lose from running, there must be a lot to be gained from running, even if you do lose.  Perhaps now candidates can funnel campaign money into anything they like, but especially paying huge salaries to friends and spending extravagantly on themselves even while their campaigns founder (Gingrich spends $40k on 3 days of private jet travel).

From the Caucus blog at NYT in a discussion of the Gingrich staff quiting en masse: “as the National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes, staffers don’t usually just get up and quit unless they have somewhere else to go, since even hopeless campaigns still pay the bills.”

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Panic and liquidation

Posted by bert5 on 13 July 2008

I’m not predicting this or anything, but wouldn’t it be cool if there was a run on a bunch of big banks: say Citibank, Chase, Fannie and Freddie and the Federal gov’t had to come in and save them all?  But what if the gov’t ran out of money and had to print a bunch more bonds.  But no one wanted to buy those bonds because they doubted the gov’t could pay the ever higher interest rates required as risk premium on those bonds.  And then the entire US economy would collapse.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

(No, I haven’t shorted the market, unfortunately.)

# # # Sep 25, 2008

Update: Not quite what I predicted, but some big ones have been taken over by the gov’t or went bankrupt, including Fannie and Freddie, Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Washington Mutual. Of course, the US economy hasn’t yet collapsed, so my prediction has not come true.

Posted in economics | Leave a Comment »

Opec minister: America’s mismanaged economy

Posted by bert5 on 5 March 2008

[NYTimes] I love the new OPEC stance.

Chakib Khelil, OPEC’s president this year, said the high price of oil was not due to a lack of supplies. Instead, he cited the “mismanagement of the U.S. economy” and blamed financial speculators for driving up prices.

“If the prices are high, definitely they are not due to a lack of crude,” Mr. Khelil said in Vienna. “They are due to what’s happening in the U.S.”

Not mentioned explicitly, the collapsing dollar. But come on OPEC guys, you can beat up on the Bush administration with more gusto and enjoyment now that Bush is a lame duck. What’s he gonna do, send Dick Cheney over to “talk” to you?

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Bank troubles spread: credit housing economy intertwined

Posted by bert5 on 8 September 2007

BW / Economist Seems what I previously hypothesized about jobs may have come to pass. But was it expected? Perhaps, says NYT.

# aug 16 post below

Link I would think that financial companies are the ones with the most trouble, having the actual bad loans on the books. But the general market place is taking a very serious beating right now. I guess the idea is that the overall economy is going to be hurt with the scarcity of money and credit. I wonder how bad this is going to be. Perhaps the market needs to unwind the whole easy money mentality of the past decade in this one summer.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Gut reaction

Posted by bert5 on 27 August 2007

Link  Well known stocks do better than others.

Posted in economics, science -ish | Leave a Comment »

In Africa, Chinese do what they do best

Posted by bert5 on 18 August 2007

Link NYTimes story on Chinese starting small family businesses in Africa.

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Wild ride for the market: Dow goes nowhere

Posted by bert5 on 10 August 2007


Close your eyes and ignore all the good and bad news?  Perhaps that would be better for your mental health.

Posted in economics | Leave a Comment »