masaccio

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3 days, 10 hours ago
  • I’ve read Harvey’s article, and it does nothing for me. I’m on the road and don’t have my copy of Piketty’s book, so I won’t go into detail here.

    Let’s look at this sentence: “Capital is a process not a thing.” Really? Marx says

    The composition of capital is to be understood in a two-fold sense. On the side of value, it is determined by the proportion in which it is divided into constant capital or value of the means of production, and variable capital or value of labour power, the sum total of wages. On the side of material, as it functions in the process of production, all capital is divided into means of production and living labour power. This latter composition is determined by the relation between the mass of the means of production employed, on the one hand, and the mass of labour necessary for their employment on the other. I call the former the value-composition, the latter the technical composition of capital.

    The “means of production” are factories, machines, and so on. They are most certainly things.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post The Dangers of Wealth Inequality

    2014-07-27 13:25:06View | Delete

    Nice, thanks.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post The Dangers of Wealth Inequality

    2014-07-27 13:12:22View | Delete

    If you think charter schools are superior to your public schools, read the article. It doesn’t sound like these kids are learning anything beyond specific behaviors.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post The Dangers of Wealth Inequality

    2014-07-27 12:18:27View | Delete

    There is little or no choice for parents in New Orleans. Pretty much all the schools are charter schools, and there are no regular public schools to talk about. Again, the article is worth a read.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post The Dangers of Wealth Inequality

    2014-07-27 11:45:44View | Delete

    The article is fascinating, please read it. As I read it, the parents have zero role in the schools.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-21 06:55:21View | Delete

    On your point about Ruml’s views on corporate taxation, it’s important to remember that when you describe how a system works, you aren’t making normative judgments, you aren’t addressing moral or ethical or justice concerns. Ruml’s description is either accurate or it is wrong. His ideas can be used to support policies all over the map, not just policies that we like on such grounds, or other grounds. Randy Wray points out in Modern Money Theory that there is nothing contradictory with conservative ideology in his explanations of the working s of our system.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 17:44:28View | Delete

    Ruml’s views mirror those of MMT. The controlling factor is inflation. We could easily build the society we want out of wasted or underused resources without raising inflation, whether or not we raised taxes. For a very short primer, see this link. http://bit.ly/WxprMa

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 17:40:50View | Delete

    All those things you describe are paid for by the fabulously rich with a few tens of millions they won’t miss at their current level of taxation. Take away their money and suddenly this funding gets to be a noticeable expense. Gradually you force them out.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 17:37:15View | Delete

    That’s a fair question, which I didn’t address. The first step is to get progressives to acknowledge that capital is the problem. The speakers at NN14 don’t.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 17:33:26View | Delete

    This is Thomas Frank’s review in Salon: http://www.salon.com/2014/05/11/the_problem_with_thomas_piketty_capital_destroys_right_wing_lies_but_theres_one_solution_it_forgets/

    I lost interest in Frank’s “review” when he wrote:

    despite his commitment to cant-free prose, it is not an easy read. Besides, most of what Piketty tells us has been told to us before, many times over, in a three-decade long parade of forgotten treatises and sad New York Times stories on downsizing and deindustrialization.

    This is an absurd reading of the book, and an indication of someone too lazy to read numbers and try to understand them.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 16:35:57View | Delete

    We don’t agree on this. See this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m9ape8carjw6asu/Boys%20State%20June%204%202014.pptx

    We have the resources, just not the will.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 12:53:03View | Delete

    The column is hilarious. First, it says exactly what I say here: the discussion is about income inequality, which is not the right focus. The right focus is on capital inequality. Second, there’s the patronizing tone, “Of course, no one should use this observation as an excuse to stop helping the less fortunate.” Really, pig?

    Third, the observation about rising world income is utterly irrelevant to the thing he wants to talk about, income inequality. The system is structured to pile up income and wealth for the filthy rich. That was accomplished by wielding the power of money and power by the filthy rich in a deliberate campaign.

    Tyler Cowan is a buffoon.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty and His Critics Chapter 4: Netroots Nation

    2014-07-20 12:11:23View | Delete

    Other nations are moving in this direction. France has a specific wealth tax. If we move the issue of wealth taxation to the front burner here, we can get this going, just as you suggest.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty’s Ugly Projection for US Inequality

    2014-07-14 07:33:53View | Delete

    There is nothing wrong with working hard and eventually having a comfortable life, but even that is slipping away. There are plenty of people working really hard, maybe at several jobs, for less than a decent life, and plenty more who would work hard for a decent life if there were jobs. And what kind of decent life includes weeks and months of being laid off and chasing around for another job while your family worries?

    Then look at the projections for the ability of the middle class, those who have some assets, to hang onto those assets in the face of rising inequality, and the intensity of the efforts to kill off Social Security and Medicare. How will people have a decent life when they retire if they were unable to accumulate assets during their working lives, and those crucial programs are slashed?

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty’s Ugly Projection for US Inequality

    2014-07-13 14:21:36View | Delete

    I hope you are right about the possibility of change. I’ve though for a long time that the middle class has more to lose than any other group, and they might be able to figure out that things have to change to protect their class interests.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty’s Ugly Projection for US Inequality

    2014-07-13 12:48:33View | Delete

    Thank you, and thanks for the close reading. I fixed it.

  • masaccio commented on the blog post Piketty’s Ugly Projection for US Inequality

    2014-07-13 12:41:04View | Delete

    It’s amazing how quickly we will wipe out the middle class, isn’t it? Using Piketty’s definitions, less than 20 years on the same trajectory will do the job. I put numbers to his class definitions in this post, in case you’d like to see what that actually means in this country.

  • One easy way to hold to a promise to buy only US made products is to fund operations in the US that can provide them. For example, in the clothing business, there are plenty of skilled cut and sew people in rural Tennessee around Cookeville, and cut and sew was a profitable business for decades until the giants consolidated and moved the business overseas. Here’s a long but excellent article on the productivity of factory workers around Sparta, TN: http://www.vqronline.org/reporting-articles/2014/06/losing-sparta

  • Your illustration of Stoneyfield supports my point. There was nothing to be gained by selling out to a big company. The owners could have run the business and earned steady profits. They chose to cash out by capitalizing future earnings, which is a traditional Wall Street explanation for why owners should sell. But, if they don’t sell, they collect their earnings every year, grow only fast enough to meet actual demand, and serve decent ends while producing a decent product.

  • Rodney writes:

    The company had had a “salary ratio” that said no one could be paid more than seven times as much as the lowest-paid person. This became unworkable and needed to be scrapped when the company got so big that highly skilled managers became a necessity.

    I really wonder about this. First, being a good manager isn’t really that hard, and there are plenty of studies that show that highly paid managers don’t do a very good job of running their companies. Just look at the Great Crash: every single giant FIRE company got hammered by stupid management decisions, if not by outright fraud. In the wake of the Great Crash, they scrambled to dump the entire problem on the rest of us, and get us to bail them out.

    Second, in light of the first point, there are ways to grow slowly enough that you can train your management in-house.

    Third, the incompetent bunglers on Wall Street who urge small companies to grow too fast are completely wrong every time. I have seen a number of small companies grow slowly with management coming from the inside, with selected to fill holes in the structure, mainly technical people in accounting or IT.

    Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that there was nothing to be gained by rapid growth.

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