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Author Topic: Melnibone
flydye45
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quote:
Liberal lab confirms conservatism

By George Will


California's increasingly severe and largely self-inflicted economic crisis will deepen May 19 if, as is probable and desirable, voters reject most of the ballot measures that were drafted as part of a "solution" to the state's budget deficit. They would make matters worse. National economic revival is being impeded because one-eighth of the nation's population lives in a state that is driving itself into permanent stagnation. California's perennial boast — that it is the incubator of America's future — now has an increasingly dark urgency.


Under Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best governor the states contiguous to California have ever had, people and businesses have been relocating to those states. For four consecutive years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in. California's business costs are more than 20 percent higher than the average state's. In the past decade, net out-migration of Americans has been 1.4 million. California is exporting talent while importing Mexico's poverty. The latter is not California's fault; the former is.


If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent.


Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenue — high income tax rates on the wealthy. In 2006, the top 1 percent of earners paid 48 percent of the income taxes. California's income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest and its business conditions among the worst, as measured by 16 variables directly influenced by the Legislature. Unemployment, the nation's fourth-highest, is 11.2 percent.


Required by law to balance the budget, the Legislature has "solved" the problem by, among other things, increasing the income, sales, gas and vehicle taxes. This, although one rationale for the federal government's gargantuan "stimulus" was to spare states the need to raise taxes that, in California, will more than vitiate the stimulus.


Proposition 1A would create a complicated — hence probably porous — spending cap and a rainy-day fund. Realists, however, do not trust the Legislature to obey the law, which may be why some public employees unions cynically support 1A. Another May 19 proposition, opaquely titled the Lottery Modernization Act, would authorize borrowing $5 billion from future hypothetical lottery receipts. The title is a measure of the political class's meretriciousness.


If voters pass 1A's hypothetical restraint on government spending, their reward will be two extra years (another $16 billion) of actual income, sales and vehicle tax increases. The increases were supposed to be for just two years. Voters are being warned that if they reject the propositions, there might have to be $14 billion in spending cuts. (Note the $15 billion number four paragraphs above.) Even teachers might be laid off. California teachers — the nation's highest-paid, with salaries about 25 percent above the national average — are emblematic of the grip that government employees unions have on the state, where 57 percent of government workers are unionized (the national average is 37 percent).


Flinching from serious budget cutting and from confronting public employees unions, some Californians focus on process questions. They devise candidate-selection rules designed to diminish the role of parties, thereby supposedly making more likely the election of "moderates" amenable to even more tax increases.


But what actually ails California is centrist evasions. The state's crisis has been caused by "moderation," understood as splitting the difference between extreme liberalism and hyperliberalism, a "reasonableness" that merely moderates the speed at which the ever-expanding public sector suffocates the private sector.


California has become liberalism's laboratory, in which the case for fiscal conservatism is being confirmed. The state is a slow learner and hence will remain a drag on the nation's economy. But it will be a net benefit to the nation if the federal government and other state governments profit from California's negative example, which Californians can make more vividly instructive by voting down the propositions on May 19.


Remember the story of the mule that paid attention only after being walloped by a two-by-four? The Democratic-controlled Legislature is like that. Fortunately, it has handed voters some two-by-fours — the initiatives. Resounding rejections of them should get Sacramento's attention.




[ May 13, 2009, 01:26 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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edgmatt
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I'm not surprised...economically socialistic ideas are not as efficient ( and never have been ) as capitalistic ones.

I'm more surprised that other states and nations keep trying to make it work.

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KnightEnder
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Wonder what George Will's income bracket is?

Got to admit it takes a lot of guts to go after teachers. Those damn salary whores!

KE

[ May 13, 2009, 01:49 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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flydye45
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Wonder what George Will's income bracket is?

Got to admit it takes a lot of guts to go after teachers. Those damn salary whores!

KE

Well said for a man who doesn't pay California tax rates.

Nobody is against education. One wonders if California's results are efficient on a per dollar basis. Or are only poor people allowed to ask those questions?

[ May 13, 2009, 01:57 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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cherrypoptart
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One might think that Obama would learn something from this. Keep raising taxes and unless you put walls around America, businesses and money will leave. The people who do stay will work less. Maybe put themselves on a 40 hour work week like France. Good for quality of life maybe, but don't expect to meet any budget forecasts that way.

But one thing that makes California different from America, and Obama put his finger right on it awfully quick, is that California doesn't have the money printing button. So no worries.

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KnightEnder
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Just noticing you never see screeds like that written by poor people. Hell, or even middle class people. I'm sure it's a coincidence.

KE

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Colin JM0397
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Poor and middle class, by definition, are not nationally-known columnists with an audience.

Talk to folks who live/work in CA - I'm sure you'll hear similar woes... Where's Jesse, by the way?
What I find interesting/telling/irritating is how local and state reps have a tendency to punish the voters and go for the jugular with “cutting costs”. Don’t hear about the chicken beak sharpness program research getting cut… Noooo, when cuts come and are necessary, it’s always the education threat. That one get’s the voters to dance.
On a related note, those teachers getting 25% more than the national average are, mostly, living in areas where the taxes and cost of living are more than 25% above the national average… It’s a wash.
What the CA voters need to do is pass a referendum that demands cuts, but doesn’t allow them to cut education costs…. Or forces equal percentage of cuts* across the board.
*real cuts, not the legislative-speak BS “cuts”. Such as last year’s 10% raise is being “cut” in half to a mere 5% raise.

I can live anywhere I want, so long as I remain in the US. For physical beauty and climate, I would live in Northern CA in a heartbeat - in the wine regions, specifically. However, I'll never move there with the state in such disarray as this and my salary going only about 1/2 as far as it does in NC. [Frown]

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KnightEnder
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My company has an office in Long Beach. Just yesterday they gave a woman here, not sure what she did but she only did it a few days a week, the option of moving to the Long Beach office or being laid off. She chose the latter.

Wonder why Long Beach can afford her and we can't if California is in such bad shape? And Colin I agree about the salary; they would have to give me a cost of living raise before I would go there and I would love to live there.

Thanks for clarifying my rich columnist, radio, talk show host point. That is exactly why we can't trust their rich asses. They aren't writing for the majority of people out there. They have too much interest and bias to be taken at anything approaching face-value.

KE

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flydye45
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Well said, Colin.

But lets give them full credit. "If you don't pass this budget, we'll cut fireman, police and teachers. So we will make you unsafe and ignorant if you don't give us exactly what we want." Nice.

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flydye45
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Thanks for clarifying my rich columnist, radio, talk show host point. That is exactly why we can't trust their rich asses. They aren't writing for the majority of people out there. They have too much interest and bias to be taken at anything approaching face-value.

KE

So...you don't have kids in school? You approve of politicians holding their education hostage to their budget whims? Do rich columnists have more of an ax to grind then say a teacher's union? The UAW? Are we supposed to accept their assertions at face value because they aren't 'rich'? What promotes their interest and bias? Do they just 'hate' teachers? Or was he actually talking about the entire state but you hauled out a Sacred Calf to divert the issue?
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KnightEnder
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Yeah, I pulled that Sacred Calf out of thin air? Next I'm going to try a rabbit out of a hat!

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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There's always the Big Finale:

Watch me pull this guy's head outta his ass.

(hint: DON'T roll up your sleeve)

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cherrypoptart
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Good point about the hostage situation.

So basically what the politicians are saying is that they've cut every bit of pork and fat out of the budget already. There is absolutely nothing left to cut, anywhere, except the salaries and positions of teachers, police, and firemen.

For some odd reason, and it may just be me, but I'm finding that just a little bit difficult to believe.

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KnightEnder
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I'm not ready to try that! For a lot of reasons...

KE

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flydye45
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It's a valid point, but a very small calf to have given terminal indigestion to such a large state. God forbid that a teacher gets paid a nickel less or one teacher gets laid off. How many people is your company laying off? Is the public sector supposed to be immune from economic downturns?

So far, you are doing a nice Aaron Impression. When you make a substantive point, let me know.

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kenmeer livermaile
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An amazing contortionist is in our midst.
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KnightEnder
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I don't know enough about California economics to make an important point. You got me. That is why I was making little irrelevent ones. Why they are upsetting you I don't understand? (I took time to read your article posting so I think that gives me the right to comment on it even if they are just small comments as long as they are accurate and reference the article in question, neh my friend?)

KE

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flydye45
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I've been following at a distance. This or that government union has had the government over the electoral barrel, from the teachers to the prison guards. Much like their energy fiasco, this has been a long time coming.

The most salient point was that of regular population and inflation increases would have put the state on a solid fiscal footing. But when one has a government credit card...

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flydye45
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As to why it is upsetting to me, this large public sector push, with goodies for every group seems oddly familiar on a Federal scale...
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stayne
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This is nothing new. Every time they want to raise more money, they cry of 'but teachers and firemen will lose their jobs!' WTF? I lost my job, too. Teachers and firemen are supposed to be immune from these problems? Obviously, I chose the wrong career.

My view is that Sacramento is a pack of thieves and fools. I could be wrong. I suppose it is just possible that there exists a pit in Sacramento where ravenous demons from hell are constantly trying to burst into our realm, and the only way we can stop them is to throw huge bales of cash down the pit and knock them from the ledges, but I doubt it.

Too many people getting stuff for free in California. It's just that simple. They sell this stuff with, "You don't want to help poor people! You're greedy and evil!" "Oh, you don't support education, you're greedy and evil!" The wailing and gnashing of teeth is simply this grown more strident, because people are getting wise to the trick, and because they just don't have any more to give. If you have all of the people who know how to fish giving what they catch to people who don't, and the fisherman starve or move away, sooner or later you have no fisherman.

I am right now in process of leaving California, and I am not alone by a long shot.

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Greg Davidson
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I am staying in California.
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flydye45
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I am staying in California.

Good. They can use the tax dollars.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
One might think that Obama would learn something from this. Keep raising taxes and unless you put walls around America, businesses and money will leave. The people who do stay will work less. Maybe put themselves on a 40 hour work week like France. Good for quality of life maybe, but don't expect to meet any budget forecasts that way.

What about a 40 hour work week like Australia?

Or do we get ignored because we don't fit your preconceptions of what a nation ran by liberals and socialists should be like? [Big Grin]

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flydye45
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Yes Rallan. And your military just made a strategic choice that since America is not going to be able to maintain Pax America for a variety of reasons, they (Australia) will have to start ponying up a lot more cash to 'keep the neighborhood safe'. I'm sure that Australia has bountiful monetary surpluses and will able to be stomach a even a meager 10% increase of their military spending with nary a whimper. [Razz]
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cherrypoptart
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When I mentioned that, I was referring to the legal maximum work week, as they call it.

http://www.fedee.com/workinghours.shtml

Weekly working hours for men and women Country LFS average hours for all workers (inc part-time) Average hours for full-time workers** Legal maximum†
Austria 38.0 44.1 50.0
Belgium 37.1 42.7 40.71*
Czech Republic 41.7 42.9 48.0
France 36.9 41.0 39.68
Germany 36.3 42.9 48.0
Italy 37.7 40.8 45.2
Netherlands 32.5 46.0 48.0
Poland 40.1 42.2 43.13
Spain 38.0 40.8 41.68
Sweden 36.4 42.7 48.0
United Kingdom 36.5 42.1 48.0††
EU27 37.7 42.1 48.0

There is a chart there that puts the legal maximum working hours in France at 39.68. It's like the whole country is unionized. Maybe it's just me but that seems crazy. And admittedly, maybe I don't understand it completely.

Are you saying they have the same thing now in Australia?

I can understand a law saying an employer can't make you work more than 40 hours. Of course, I can just as well understand a law that gives you plenty of right to quit if they try to, and plenty of reason, or no reason needed at all, to fire you if you refuse. All of that is well within the bounds of reason.

But passing a law making it illegal to work more than a limited number of hours a week?

That's just weird. Although I'll admit it has its appeal.

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edgmatt
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This seems to be the "money quote" for me from that link, cherry.

quote:
The real problem about working time, however, is not the imposition of statutory upper limits, but a social framework that makes it impossible for companies to operate efficiently within these limits. Rather than preventing those who wish to work longer hours from improving their income levels, the focus for EU policymakers should be on increasing the proportion of the employed workforce that are available to carry out their jobs. This means taking a long hard look at how much employee benefits are creating a 'time off' culture and providing financial incentives to spend too much time absent from work.
I know it sounds nice to not HAVE to work more hours, but wouldn't it be better to have the option? Right now, we all have the option, to some extent, how much we want to work; that is we can quit or not. But being unable to work more than 40 ( or 35 in the case of france ) will only hurt the country.

quote:
Taken from Thomas Sowell's 'BASIC ECONMICS'.

France, for example, specified 35 hours as the standard workweek, with employers being mandated to continue to pay the same amount for this shorter week as they had paid in weekly wages before. In addition, French law requires employees to be given 25 days of paid vacation per year, plus paid holidays - neither of which is required under American laws. Given these facts, it is hardly surprising that the average number of hours worked annually in France is less than 1,500 compared to more than 1,800 in the United States and Japan. Obvioulsy this has an effect on annual output and therefore on the standard of living. Nor are all of these costs financial.

I italicized those words.

He then goes on to describe how Doctors work 20% less on average, and how staff shortages in hospitals and nursing homes due to the 35 hour work week was "a key reason August's heat wave killed 14,000 in France."

In an effort to improve workers rights, work hour caps only reduce the number of workers, and lower the standard of living for the country as a whole.

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KnightEnder
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quote:
If you have all of the people who know how to fish giving what they catch to people who don't, and the fisherman starve or move away, sooner or later you have no fisherman.

Stayne, that's called 'being a father' and or husband. Not really part of this argument but it reminded me so much of my situation I just had to say. I'm making more money than I've ever made, but the amount I actually see is exactly the same; practically none, other than my poker account which I built up with my winnings and STILL gets raided by my wife whenever she needs to. It makes me wonder "why I keep on fishing?" [Smile]

KE

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:

But passing a law making it illegal to work more than a limited number of hours a week?

That's just weird.

The idea is that one oughtn't be coerced by economic necessity into inhuman working hours.

The USA also bans lots of things that it considers exploitative of human weakness. Drugs and prostitution, for example.

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KnightEnder
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Prostitution? I've always thought of the laws against prostitution to be about keeping women from being exploited? If it was to protect men I would say **** that, and where is the nearest brothel?

KE

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
In an effort to improve workers rights, work hour caps only reduce the number of workers, and lower the standard of living for the country as a whole.

Hour caps tend not to be about workers rights, but about fighting unemployment (poorly)

There's good research out there that shows that working more than 40-50 hours/per week in anything more than a short burst here or there actually leads to lower overall productivity, but the hour caps predate it significantly. They're there to force more people to be hired to accomplish the work that needs to be done; that's part of why it's a hard cap, and not just a limit on how many can be required.

(The other part is that a limit on how many can be required does pretty much nothing. Even if that can't require you to work more than 40 hours, they can set up a culture that forces it by only promoting people who happen to go over or by assigning independent deadline that necessitate it without putting in an explicit requirement.)

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RickyB
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cherry, the idea is that there isn't enough work to go around. If one guy works 60-70 hours a week, the other guy won't have a job. Not asaying it's a good solution, cause it kills bootstrapping, initiative and so on, but there is a logic here and a problem that the law is attempting to solve.
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IrishTD
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Isn't a big part of California's problem the fact that most of their budget consists of non-discretionary funding? I seem to recall seeing that being mentioned in prior years when they were having issues.
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flydye45
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I'm happy the Feds don't suffer under similar constraints.

This deals more with the graphic of non discretionary then the absolute laughable quantity of cuts coming from the executive branch. Who knows? He might keep pruning, the horse might sing, pigs might fly...I don't know where these departments are going to find that kind of coin after suffering from 10% budget increases..

[ May 14, 2009, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
I'm not surprised...economically socialistic ideas are not as efficient ( and never have been ) as capitalistic ones.

I'm more surprised that other states and nations keep trying to make it work.

It must be so tempting for a person in power. They can decide to do what looks best to them or they can decide not to act. If you have the hubris to run for office, you're going to want to act. Especially considering how dumb the market can seem at times. Do you remember tickle-me-elmo?
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edgmatt
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Yes, and I understand that concept. Its takes a huge ego just to run for President, and that is, certainly, the kind of person we want in charge. ( as opposed to someone with little confidence ) It would seem, though, that it takes a bit of intelligence to get to be in charge of a country. I used to think that a high intelligence also meant some sort of control over one's ego, at least enough to say to themselves "well no one has made it work before, why should I think that I could make it work now?".

quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:

The idea is that one oughtn't be coerced by economic necessity into inhuman working hours

Coerced? Inhuman hours? If I had a family of 3 or 4, and I needed money to feed that family and myself, I would work whatever hours I could so I could eat. It would certainly be an "economic necessity" that "coerced" me. I wouldn't want the government telling me that I am not allowed to work 60 hours this week.

A worker is a resource, and employers must compete for them. Their pay is part of their price. If one company offers 25,000 a year at 60 hours a week, and another company offers 25,000 a year at 40 hours a week, we can give a pretty good guess as to which company will get more applicants. A company needs employees exactly equal as much as the employee needs the job.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
economically socialistic ideas are not as efficient ( and never have been ) as capitalistic ones.
You know, every economist I know -- even the very capitalistic ones -- would disagree with you. There are quite a few situations in which an "economically socialistic idea" produces a more efficient result, especially when dealing with externalities.
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stayne
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KL, I know what you mean, but what I was getting at is that California seems intent on driving off business, which then means fewer jobs, companies laying people off to shore up stock prices, etc., and then people who WOULD be paying into the pool taking even more out in unemployment, social services, etc.

Dude, California was handing out IOU's for tax refunds earlier this year. They delayed a long time, and a lot of people needed that money. It really gets me that if I was late, they would come down on me like a ton of bricks, but they can take their sweet time keeping my money.

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RickyB
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"Coerced? Inhuman hours? If I had a family of 3 or 4, and I needed money to feed that family and myself, I would work whatever hours I could so I could eat. It would certainly be an "economic necessity" that "coerced" me. I wouldn't want the government telling me that I am not allowed to work 60 hours this week."

Of course you wouldn't. However, again, if you work 60 hours a week your neighbor will work only 15 and not be able to feed his family AT ALL. As for your concern for your family - this is where the programs of an actual welfare state come in. Your family will not starve if you work only 35 hours.

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edgmatt
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quote:
However, again, if you work 60 hours a week your neighbor will work only 15 and not be able to feed his family AT ALL.
What?? Suddenly I am financially responsible for my neighbor as well as myself? Or the company is responsible for assigning appropriate hours based on the needs of the employee? I'm flabbergasted.

A company's first priority is NOT to provide jobs to anyone anywhere. A company's first priority is to make money. It so happens that in order to make money, they have to produce something that somebody wants, so that somebody will trade money for that product. In order to produce something, a company usually needs to hire someone ( provide a job ) to assist in that production. If the company only needs one person to do it, then they hire one person. If they need two people to work 40 hours each to do it, then they will hire two people. If one guy offers to work 60 hours for slightly less money per hour, then that is an incentive for the company to give that person those hours. It is up to the other person to either offer the same thing, or try to get hired somewhere else. The second guy might say "listen I need more hours or I am going to quit." And then the company is forced to make a decision...can they function on one guy working 60 hours, or do they need two guys at 40 hours. If its the latter, then they tell the first guy he cant work 60 hours anymore, and now its up to him to find a way to make money some other way. If its the former, then they let the second guy quit, save themselves some money, and continue to produce things for people that want to buy them. AND they can lower their prices a bit and become more competitive, which helps ensure their own survival, which ensures the first guys job a little more too. And now it is up to the second guy to find money some other way.

At no point did the responsibility of either the first guy, the second guy or the company, shift from themselves to someone else. It is the self interest of each party that allows each one to produce money for themselves ( and a product for others ) in the most efficient way.

Why is the idea of personal responsibility so alien?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
A company's first priority is to make money.
It occurs to me that this is the single greatest evil done by incorporation. The instant you're publicly owned by "stakeholders," the perception is that nothing else should matter to you beyond the bottom line. I find this regrettable.
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