Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Concerts in a Post Scarcity Society

One argument you might hear or even be motivated to make regarding the feasibility of a post scarcity society is that there will always be something that's scarce.  A common example is that people would still need money to pay for tickets to attend concerts, because the musicians, availability of concerts, and number of seats or space for concerts is limited.  I'd like to provide a different perspective by analyzing the situation and dynamics involved, to show that there might not necessarily be support for this argument with concerts as an example.  It seems to me that in a post scarcity society, the abundance of concerts might actually increase.

Musicians are dependent on ticket sales, just like everyone else is on our trade-based economic system of today, to put roofs over their heads and food on their plates.  For that, they're dependent on and utilize resources and tools relevant to their business, such as marketing, ticket sales, and copyright laws.  Although these kinds of things are necessary for bands and musicians in a scarcity and trade-based economic environment, in a post scarcity society they're obsolete and unnecessary.

The creating and marketing of singer or music personalities and bands - like name brands for products or services - is done by the music industry to generate and maximize record and concert ticket sales.  This kind of thing plays a significant role in attracting demand for entertainment to concerts, which results in concentrations of a large amount of fans and audience members.  Since people need day jobs, it creates a scarcity of audience members for musicians by limiting the days and times that concerts can be scheduled, such as after business hours, weekends, or holidays; so, this also plays a role in contributing to the concentration of audience members at concerts.  In a post scarcity society, people won't need day jobs; so they'll have more availability for attending concerts at any time or day of the week.  This will free up more time and days for musicians to hold concerts, resulting in smaller concentrations of audiences for each concert.

In our present-day economic world, the number of professional or career musicians are relatively few and far between, compared to the overall population.  How many people would rather spend more time practicing and making music instead of having to work at some day job that has nothing to do with making music?  In a post scarcity society, more musicians or people interested in providing this form of entertainment will have more free time to hold concerts, thus increasing the abundance or availability of even more concerts.  There are many people who are either skilled at singing or playing an instrument, but can't play famous songs in concerts because they'd get stonewalled by the issue of copyright infringement.  Some fans are more interested in a song or genre of music rather than the personalities or bands.  In a post scarcity society, where intellectual property protection will no longer be necessary, anyone who enjoys making music will be free to do so.

There might be some people who are big fans of certain musicians or bands, and they might attend them more frequently, but that just means they won't be at any other concert.  People will eventually get bored or tired of attending concerts frequently, or attending the same concert over and over.  It's like listening to a broken record repeat the same segment endlessly; ever know anyone who enjoyed this?  Die-hard fans of a certain band or musician are probably so rare that it's not going to pose a dilemma.

Is there an example, besides concerts, that can be used to make the argument that there are some situations that still require money in a post scarcity society?  Maybe - maybe not.  Even if there are a few obscure situations where there is scarcity of some sort, I don't think there would be enough to prevent a society that's predominantly based on the post scarcity system from being feasible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why do some people think that global warming is a hoax?

There are people who don't believe that human beings are causing any global warming at all.  Some people refer to them as "global warming deniers."  No amount of persuasion or browbeating will change the mind of these so-called global warming deniers.  As far as they're concerned, there isn't any conclusive evidence that it's real, or it's a hoax.

There's actually a plausible reason for why these individuals won't believe that global warming is happening, or that humans are causing global warming to happen.  The rationale is that there's no way to know for certain that the evidence that shows that global warming is happening isn't being tampered with or manipulated to personally benefit someone, somehow.  This should not be ignored or dismissed, because it's the same kind of argument that's used against scientists who argue that there is no conclusive evidence of global warming or that humans are the cause of global warming.  This conflict-of-interest controversy goes both ways.

The next question that might come to someone's mind is how to get around this dilemma.  As long as we live in a society based on trade and money, there is practically no way to resolve it.  We would all have to become experts on climate science, make direct observations ourselves, and come to a conclusion on global warming and the role that humans play in causing global warming.  The problem is that this isn't a feasible solution.

The only other option that I can think of is to eliminate the conflict of interest itself.  Fortunately there might be a way to do this; but right now it's not possible, and no one knows when (if ever) it will become possible.  In order to eliminate the conflict of interest, we're going to have to transition to a post-scarcity society.  There's a bonus to transitioning to a post-scarcity society when it comes to the issue of anthropogenic global warming, which is that in such a society we will be able to better manage, more efficiently improve, and even eliminate the need for some of the activities that are responsible for producing pollution in general.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mirror Image Humans

I wonder about some things regarding human beings and life in other parts of the universe.  I also wonder if there are other people who have pondered these same or similar things.  Let's assume that the human pattern is not necessarily something that's unique to Earth, and there are humans on other planets.  Let's also assume that all these humans on different planets developed independently from each other at the biological and chemical levels.

One thing I'm curious about is this: would they all be the same as us when it comes to the sidedness of our internal organs?  Or, is there about a 50% probability that some would be reversed (i.e., mirror image) versions of us?  What I mean is this: would they all have their hearts and stomachs on the left side, and liver on the right side, of their bodies; or, would half of them probably have their hearts and stomachs on the right side, and liver on the left side?  I believe that it's possible that some would be reversed versions of us.

Another thing I'm curious about is this: if it were the case that about half are reversed versions, then I wonder if the hemisphere of the planet that organic matter spawned from along with the coriolis effect played a role in the development of organisms.  Would it be possible to determine which hemisphere life spawned from based on the version of symmetry?  By hemisphere, I'm referring to the sides of the planet that spin clockwise or counterclockwise, not hemisphere based on magnetic polarity association.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Infringement of Freedom of Speech with Advertising

How can any laws or so-called "regulations" that ban the advertising, in one form or another, of poducts - such as tobacco or alcohol, or services - such as abortion clinic procedures, be constitutional?  Does the First Amendment say that you have freedom of speech...unless you're advertising a product or service?  No, it does not anything like that at all.  There are no exceptions to freedom of speech, whether you're advertising something or not.

This even includes advertising illegal products - such as counterfeit items, or services that are illegal - such as contract killing, because the advertising of such products or services is not the same thing as actually trading or providing those products or services.  It could even be argued that the advertising of illegal products or services would be helpful to law enforcement as well as work against those who participate in the underground market.  Even if you disagree, and believe that it is acceptable to ban the advertising of products or services that are illegal, it still doesn't make any sense to make it illegal to advertise products or services that are legal.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No, Dummy, the Sun Revolves Around the Earth.

(revised 4/27/2012)

It seems that everywhere I turn, people argue that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  Typically, it seems to come from highbrowed "boneheads," people parroting these "boneheads," or an instructor teaching about the Solar System.  Who is right, and who is wrong?  It might seem like all of them are correct, but actually this isn't true.  Unless they're talking about the model of the Solar System or addressing something in the context of astronomy - because of the "inherent" context involved, it is incorrect for them to state that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

The reason I say "inherent" is because when introducing the subject of astronomy and describing the model of the Solar System (as part of the subject), it is necessary to explain that the Earth is revolving around the Sun.  If this is done, then it can be considered inherent for the audience - but only in that context.  The reason I refer to the highbrow types in question as "boneheads" is not necessarily because they are boneheads per se, but rather because what I mean is that they are just omitting the essential "in the model of our Solar System" part.

In general, though, we do not live in a model, or a single context.  Reality is that the Sun revolves around the Earth; not the other way around - at least that's the way I see it.  Science is about observations and what you can make of them, and - of course - seeing something is one way to make an observation.  On a clear day, I have observed the same thing over and over, which is this: the Sun has always risen from the east and settled in the west, every time I checked.  The only thing I can make out of this is that the Sun is revolving around the Earth, not that the Earth is revolving around the Sun.

For anyone who isn't (or doesn't recognize that they are) an Earth dweller, allow me to put this into perspective; you see, I am an Earth least that's what I've been told by others who seem to be under the impression that they too are Earth dwellers, anyways.  As an Earth dweller, my frame of reference corresponds to the point on the surface of the Earth where I happen to be, and that's where I can make my observations.  I've always been able to make that same observation about the Sun, along with the utilization of a compass, maps, and landmarks, no matter what point I happened to be on the surface of the Earth.

Reality is that our frame of reference as Earth dwellers for this kind of situation is the Earth, not the Sun - because we're not dwelling on the Sun. The Earth, more specifically: the Earth's surface, is what I have in common with other Earth dwellers.  So, when we Earth dwellers are communicating with each other, unless another frame of reference is specified, the Earth and the frame of reference it provides is the one we ought to be using by default.  It doesn't make sense not to do so; we should be utilizing the things from our common environment to bridge gaps and allow us to be consistent with each other, not engaging in acts that generate confusion (e.g., what do the words sunrise or sunset mean to Earth dwellers, if they're told that the Earth revolves around the Sun without specifying the context?).

Even "rocket scientists" use the Earth as a frame of reference.  They must; otherwise, they'll end up with undesired outcomes.  You see, their job is to blast rockets off the Earth's (not the Sun's) surface; from the perspective of the Solar System, these rockets are sitting on launch pads on the surface of a planet that's rotating and orbiting the Sun; before they blast off, these rockets are still spinning, or waving, because they're on the surface of the Earth.  There are actually 3 spins involved with the rocket; one spin is the Earth orbiting the Sun, the second is the rotation of the point on the surface of the Earth (i.e., the launch pad), and the third is the direction the rocket is pointing.  There are also 3 wave patterns involved with the rocket; one is the distance from the Sun, the second is the angular position with the Sun relative to the Earth's center, and the third is vertical to the plane of the Solar System as a result of the Earth being tilted on its spinning axis.

Now, will any Earth dweller looking at a rocket sitting on a launch pad be able to observe any of these spinning or rotating motions?  No, they won't.  Once these rockets blast off, then the "rocket scientists" have to start taking into account these spinning and waving motions, if they want to transition from the Earth's frame of reference to the Solar System frame of reference; because in this frame of reference, these motions would be observed.  The reason that the model of the Solar System was conjured up by and for the field of astronomy is because of the way it is helpful and useful for analyzing and studying the Solar System.  For "rocket scientists," it simplifies part of their tasks.  My point is not that science is wrong, because I don't believe that it is wrong; my point is that we need to know how to communicate properly, understand what we're talking about, and know why something is right or wrong.  This example I discuss is not the only case; there are other situations where similar types of communication problems occur as well.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Incentive Dilemma for Post Scarcity Society

I believe that the main prerequisite for transitioning to a post scarcity society is the development and implementation of automation technology at an adequately advanced enough level.  This level is one in which automation can irrigate and grow all of our crops for us, build our homes and other facilities for us, operate a transportation system that can take us practically anywhere in the world, acquire the raw resources for constructing and maintaining our infrastructure, and perform any repetitive, menial, and undesirable tasks for us.  I believe that it's possible to automate practically anything, and that we can transition to a post scarcity society before being capable of automating everything.

An advantage of having a post scarcity society is that trade, whether in the form of a monetary system or bartering, would no longer be necessary in order for anyone to get whatever goods or services they need or want, such as food, shelter, transportation, information, or any other product or service they need or desire, whenever they need or want them.  This in turn would mean that many of the problems of today's society, such as war, poverty, government corruption, and almost every type of crime imaginable - just to start with - would vanish.

A question one might consider, regarding the feasibility of transitioning to a post scarcity society, pertains to an apparent dilemma: the dependency on incentives, rewards, or compensation - such as a paycheck, for people to be motivated to achieve or accomplish the tasks that are needed in such a societal system.  I believe that not only would there be no such dilemma, but also that there are more dilemmas with our present-day system of trade.

Let's briefly consider a trivial consumer situation.  Suppose you see an advertisement for a product that you can afford and you want to get it today, so you go to the store to purchase it.  When you go to the section of the store and look for it on the store shelves, but they're sold out and won't be getting another shipment until a few days later.  A store being out of stock of a product is one kind of dilemma.  Now let's take a look at a related example.  You've decided that you want a product that you've been aware of for a while, perhaps because it's something that you now need.  This time you go to the store to purchase it, but instead of it being out of stock, it's no longer available because that product has been discontinued, which is another kind of dilemma.

Here's one more example I'd like to mention: you want to get a product, and there are a list of common features that you conceive of that you'd like to have on this product which you'd like to purchase, and you go to the store to see what they have available on the store shelves.  You find several products that have one or another feature you want, but none of them have all the features you desire.  Or, perhaps there are some products that do have every feature you desire, but they also have some undesirable features as well (e.g., you have space constraints and the version of the product doesn't conform, or it's something superficial like they don't come in your favorite color), or they don't fit into your budget because it comes with too many other "luxury" features that you're not interested in.  The point is that you're only going to find versions of products that manufacturers decide to make available to consumers.  Unfortunately, this is necessary for the market.  Companies must determine what are the optimal set of products to put on the market so they can mass produce them and make them as affordable to as many consumers as possible; otherwise, too many potential customers would not be able to afford the service of custom-designing every single instantiation of a type of product.  So here, the dilemma is that the product is not available in the way you want it.

Another situation that one might argue poses a dilemma is the fact that in order for all the tasks that need to be performed in our present-day trade and market economic system, someone has to be willing to step forward and take a job that might not be very pleasant or desirable to them.  Such an issue is probably not recognized as or considered a dilemma because we don't have a significant enough problem with filling job vacancies.  Can you imagine what would happen to society if there were no nurses, truck drivers, plumbers, teachers, janitors, chemists, police officers, garbage collectors, mechanics, lumberjacks, etc., because people didn't want to do those jobs, because everyone thought they were too dirty, unpleasant, undesirable, or difficult to do?  The potential dilemma is that if we had a problem with even one of those occupations being empty or having too much of a shortage, it would be a disaster to society.  Fortunately, we usually have enough people who are willing to take a job either because they want or need the money, or they're just looking for something to do to fill their time & keep them busy.

The reason I believe that there is no incentive dilemma for a post scarcity society, in general, is because even within a trade and scarcity-based society, there are still many people who are willing to donate things to charity and their time to volunteering for the benefit of society as a whole.  If we take this into account, even the fact that despite being within such a trade and scarcity-based society we still have people such as those who serve as volunteer fire fighters and emergency response personnel willing to risk their lives in a moment's notice, I think we would be able to see that the dilemma in question is nothing to be concerned about at all.  Because of this, we won't have to be able to automate everything; only the repetitive, menial, and undesirable tasks.  More people will be free to do what they enjoy and perform useful & beneficial tasks that they want to do.

Here are some links to learn more about volunteering:
Why Do People Volunteer?
Where do you volunteer?
Harris Polls: Americans Donating Less, Volunteering More

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Are Dragons Really Just Legendary Creatures?

I wonder if dragons are just a myth.  On one hand, we have two different cultures, European and Asian, that seem to have "documentation" - in a manner of speaking - from about the middle ages, of the existence of some large, lizard-like or snake-like creatures.  They're very scaly - usually green (just like some snakes and lizards), mean looking, and life-like.  On the other hand, we've got these bone fossils that scientists have dug up; when they piece them together they get a picture of these large reptile-like and bird-like creatures.  As far as I'm aware, all these types of fossils are considered dinosaurs; but I don't think I'm the only one who is amazed at the resemblances between dragons and dinosaurs.  When dinosaurs are portrayed in drawings, they typically seem to be rather smooth-skinned, bland, cartoonish, and a little lifeless (but not so much when their bones are in a pose structure in a museum).  Aside from the differences in some details, it's almost as though the two can corroborate each other.  So what seems to be the problem with arguing that the two are identifying the same thing?  Is there one, and why?

I think the problem, besides the potential claim that all fossils are dinosaurs (and implying that they all ceased to exist long before humans came into existence), is the way dragons are characterized by folklore and the drawings that are associated with them.  The European version is a fire-breathing creatures with 2 legs, 2 arm-like appendages, and sometimes 2 wings.  As far as I'm aware, there don't seem to be any vertebrates with more than 2 pairs of appendages in existence today (I'd be interested in finding out if there are).  There also don't seem to be any organisms that can generate and aim (i.e., "breathe") fire - as in the chemical process of combustion, or a plasma.

Now let's put this into perspective.  How many ostensive witnesses from the era of several centuries ago were biologists or any type of scientist?  Even if they were, would they qualify or even be considered scientists or biologists by today's standards and criteria?  I would surmise that if there were people encountering some large and hostile creatures back then, they were probably something like villagers being attacked by them, or knights in shining armor who were deployed to fight and destroy them.  In either case, they're either people who had a fear of being attacked and eaten by these giant monsters, or warriors who were trained to try to chop its head off, and didn't have an understanding of biology like we do today - or of reality in general.

If that were the case, then these people probably didn't consider stopping and looking at it to observe many details about it.  For example, it could have been that these monsters in question could jump very high, so it seemed like they could fly.  They probably noticed that animals which could fly, such as birds, bees, and flies, had wings.  This probably inspired the artists' renditions of dragons from back then to include wings.  Notice how small they typically seem to be in relation to the rest of the body; would such a creature be able to use them to fly?  Perhaps they were confusing a sail for a wing structure, since they probably didn't know any better.  Another example could be that they didn't differenciate one type or species of dinosaurs from another, such as a spinosaurus-like creature that ran around and attacked them from a pteranodon-like creature that flew around and attacked them.

As far as the fire-breathing issue is concerned, I don't think it's very difficult to find an explanation for that.  Consider that there are animals that inject venom, such as snakes and spiders.  When bitten, people generally attribute the pain as a burning sensation in some cases.  Now, why would they use the word burn if they know there is no fire involved?  I'd say it's because the two forms of pain feel the same, not because venom is fire.  If a person from the middle ages with limited scientific knowledge and understanding were attacked by some acid-spitting dilophosaurus-like creature, wouldn't they also describe the pain as burning and maybe even be under the impression of being shot with a flame thrown from its mouth?  I'd think so.  We do know of a creature that has a defense mechanism of spraying an unpleasant chemical and making a banging sound - the bombadier beetle.  There are also fish that can shoot a stream of water to knock their prey off of a leaf and into the water.  I believe that these cases can illustrate, when you combine the features, that there may be or have been creatures capable of achieving what may seem to be the ability to throw a flame.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Area Covered by World Population

Have you ever wondered what percentage of the earth's land surface would be covered by the world's population?  If you want to do this, you need 3 things:
  1. a value P for the total number of people of the world's population
  2. a value A for an area that the average person covers
  3. a value S for the area of the earth's land surface
You also need a formula to calculate the percentage, and it is 100 multiplied by P multiplied by A divided by S percent.

Let's say that the population P is 7 billion, the area that the average person covers A is 2 square feet, and the area of the earth's land surface S is about 1.6 times 10 to the power 15 square feet.  Now we are ready to come up with a percentage:
  • 100 x ( P x A / S ) % = 100 x 7 x (10^9) x 2 / (1.6 x 10^15) % = 0.000875 %
That is a miniscule amount of area compared to the total area of the earth's land surface.  To get an idea of how much area this is, we just need to multiply this percent by the total area of the earth's land surface:
  • 1.6 x 10^15 x 0.000875 x 0.01 square feet = 14 billion square feet
A square mile is about 28 million square feet, so 14 billion square feet is about 500 square miles.  The state of Rhode Island is more than twice that amount.  This means that we can double the world's population and it will still fit into Rhode Island.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why the Concept of Infinite Demand is an Illusion

If you've ever had an all-you-can-eat buffet for your meal, then you can probably realize how the notion of infinite demand of a product would be nonsense.  Disregard the fact that in our economic system of today, you are paying a "one-time fee" each time.  The point is that this is an example of a situation where a consumer has unlimited access to an available supply of a product - specifically, all kinds of food.  There are several reasons you won't stay there until the restaurant closes for the day, for example you get full so you're no longer hungry, and there are other things you want to do besides eat non-stop all day.

That's just one example.  There are actually plenty of other examples, including some that don't even involve paying anything.  Imagine the first water fountain that comes to your mind, at the mall, the office building, school, a hospital, or wherever.  Have you ever noticed the lack of endless lines of people with barrels waiting to fill them up to take advantage of the access to this free supply of water?  I have.  I wonder why?  Just kidding; I don't.  Same with restrooms; people can utilize them without paying for access to them, then leave when they're done taking care of business.  How about an elevator as yet another example?  Ever come across one that requires you to insert a quarter before the doors will open or you can select your floor?  Perhaps there is one out there like that somewhere, but I've never come across one.  There are also things like libraries, TV, radio, and the Web that also allow access without fees (other than ISP, electric bill, one-time purchase of devices, etc.) to things like information, entertainment, and software.

The reason that there would seem to be an infinite demand to an available supply of something is because there is an infinite demand for money.  The problem is that money (in the abstract sense) is not actually an available supply of any kind of product.  Here's why: imagine you're offered a check made out for the amount of $500 million (a real one, not one that's going to bounce), but in exchange for it you're told by the person writing out that check that you have to be stranded on a desert island, you can't tell anyone where you'll being taken, you may not give that money to someone else, and you may not bring any kind of communication device before you'll receive the check.  Imagine what you can do stranded on a desert island with a check for $500 million.  Not much of anything, right?

Even if you were allowed to go to a bank to cash in your $500 million and bring it with you before being dropped off on the deserted island, what use would that pile of cash be to you?  Well, actually there is something you might be able to use it for, such as building shelter or making blankets (let's just say that the person who wrote you the check gave you a needle and adequate supply of thread, etc. to help you make these things).  But in that case you're actually using the physical medium for money to physically construct something out of this cash, and it has nothing to do with the value or denomination printed on them; in other words, you could just use the same material used to make the cash without it being currency to do the same thing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Resolution for the Abortion Issue

For a non-anarchistic but liberty-loving society, there is a simple way to resolve the issue of abortion.  First I'll explain what abortion is; then, I'll address why it's a problem. Once this is done, it may become more apparent how it can be resolved - but I'll explicitly state it in case it doesn't become apparent to everyone.

To clarify, I'm not referring to miscarriages; I'm talking about so-called "elective" abortions.  There are actually 2 things that happen when abortions are administered:
  • termination of gestating (ending pregnancy, at any time)
  • feticide (slaughter of unborn children)
The first one - ending pregnancy - is not in itself what so-called "pro-life" groups are against; it is the second one - killing of unborn children - that is an issue for them.  The so-called "pro-choice" groups want the right to be able to have the first one - ending pregnancy - administered at any time.  The reason that feticide is an issue is the same one that makes killing innocent adults, or anyone else who has been born, an issue; for these cases, we have laws that state that doing such a thing is a crime.

Now we can more easily see why it has been a problem, which is that the "pro-life" folks are opposed to feticide and the "pro-choice" folks are opposed to laws which prohibit the ability to end a pregnancy; if we outlaw abortion, only the "pro-life" folks get their way - but if we don't outlaw abortion, only the "pro-choice" folks get their way.  If you can't already figure out what the solution is, that's okay - I'll give you the answer.

The solution is to make it legal to end pregnancies, but not kill the unborn child.  See?  That was easy, wasn't it?  Am I the only one who has ever considered this option?  Why hasn't anyone else seemed to have thought of this?  Why do people seem to be stuck in this false dilemma mindset?  Perhaps it's because we didn't have the technology to make such an option possible, and maybe we still don't quite have the technology to make it feasible, yet.  There might be ways to remedy this problem, but first I think I should explain how the ending of pregnancies without killing unborn children can be achieved.

I believe that there could be several ways of ending pregnancy at any time without committing feticide.  All that would basically be necessary is to either transfer the fetus to a surrogate mother, or incubator specially designed to allow the fetus to develop at any stage.  An incubator specially designed to allow the fetus to develop at any stage would be beneficial for those who want to have children, but are unable to do so (e.g., for health reasons).  It would also be beneficial for expecting mothers if either they or the fetus are in some kind of health risk due to the pregnancy that could affect either one of them.  Perhaps it could even reduce or eliminate the need for caesarean sections, as well.

Regarding the remedy to the technology feasibility problem, if at least an attempt is made to preserve the life of a fetus by either trying to transfer it to a surrogate mother or specially designed incubator - but it does not survive, then at least it could be construed as a death from natural causes rather than feticide.  I'm confident enough that the "pro-life" community would be much happier with this situation than having to deal with living in a world where unborn children are destroyed, under the guise of women's rights.

Women with no health issues who wish to have abortions because they simply don't want to have a child at the moment, an abortion is basically unnecessary; so they would probably be better off simply carrying to term then giving up their child to adoption, for the sake of both their health as well as the health of the child.  If that's not good enough for them, because they want the pregnancy to end immediately, the solution I propose here has no disadvantage for them; not only that, but the advantage is that they won't live to regret that they had an abortion that ended their unborn child's life later on, which has actually happened in some cases.  Their child would simply be adopted by someone from a long waiting line of individuals who want to have a child but are unable to.  In the case of surrogate mothers who receive a fetus transplant, they can simply be legally accommodated with having the right to skip the adoption process if they wish to be the parent.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why the Flat Tax Rate Ought to Simply be 10%

I believe that there should be a flat tax, and that this rate ought to be 10%.  First I will explain the basic idea of the Laffer curve, which I'll use as a visual aid; then I will explain how it's perceived by political regiment.  Lastly, I will try to explain why I believe taxes ought to be this exact rate.

The purpose of the Laffer curve is to illustrate the notion that there's an optimal tax rate point (that is, a peak) for generating the maximum amount of revenue.  It also illustrates how revenue first increases as the tax rate goes up, then decreases beyond this peak.  The following figure shows a basic Laffer curve that assumes a tax rate of 50% as the optimal point for maximizing the amount of revenue that can be generated.

One simple variation of this curve involves a peak that skews towards a lower tax rate, as shown in the following figure.  I call this the Individualist's Version of the Laffer Curve (as in fiscally conservative or libertarian minded political leanings).

Another simple variation of this curve involves a peak that skews towards a higher tax rate, as shown in the following figure. I call this the Socialist's Version of the Laffer Curve (as in the "central planning" type of political leanings).

To show why 10% is the best tax rate, consider this: what is the difference between calculating 10% and 12.5% of a value, such as income?  The answer is simple and straightforward - with 10%, there is a convenient shortcut - no calculation is necessary to determine the amount; all that is necessary is to move the decimal point one digit (or place) to the left...and BOOM!  You're done doing your taxes.  On the other hand, with something like 12.5%, it is necessary to perform a calculation to determine the amount.  Yes, I know that taxes are much higher than this for many people, and I'm just not going to get into how convoluted and absurd taxes actually are today (which is what I think we ought to get away from in general).

This calculation shortcut trick can be used with other rates besides 10%, such as 1% (i.e., move 2 decimal places instead of 1), 0.1% (move 3 decimal places...), 90% (move the decimal point 1 digit to the left to determine how much a taxpayer keeps rather than pays), 99% (move 2 decimal places...), etc.  In the following figure, I show a variation of the Laffer curve that makes the assumption that the revenue generated at these rates jump to a significantly higher amount, and that at 10% and 90% they could conceivably be higher than the peak of the curve itself.

Tax rates of 1%, 0.1%, 0.01% probably aren't going to be as effective at generating revenue, and even get into fractions of a penny at smaller rates (for most income levels), and 90%, 99%, 99.9% would probably be very politically unpopular, so 10% seems like the only feasible option.  The name of the game here is psychology. If the average taxpayer can easily figure out how much they have to pay in taxes, they'll be able to more easily get it taken care of and over with, and much sooner as well so they can go on with their life as an employee and consumer (which some might argue is probably good for the economy).  A 10% rate might encourage more people to pay taxes (rather than avoid or dodge them) as a result of being very low.

I would imagine that taxpayers would also be happier with a low and simple flat tax rate of 10% every year.  They'll have more money to spend, which in turn could lead to less unemployment, poverty problems, and a healthier economy in general.  By keeping it this way year after year and having increased revenue each time, there's also the potential benefit of the government being better funded, reducing the national debt, and further improving the economy.  I don't think this sounds bad for career politicians who favor a flat 10% tax rate.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Age of Capitalism

We live in the age of capitalism.  Is this a bad thing?  With the problems that result, such as greed, poverty, crime, war, corruption, terrorism, balkanization, cronyism, money junkie-ism, and lastly, artificial scarcity, one could argue that there certainly is plenty of room for improvement.  But, assuming that we could improve these conditions, what path should we choose?  If there's a path that can take us to a utopia, then great!  Let's take it.  I'm sure that few, if any, would object to transitioning society to something that wonderful.  The exception could be found in the religious communities, such as Amish individuals.

I'm not going to try to argue that utopia is impossible; however, if you're going to claim that there's a path that can take us to a utopia, then you must first prove to me (and everyone else) that it's real by showing it to us.  Otherwise, the logical presumption would have to be that it does not exist.  Until then, what other options do we have?  Is there one?  I believe there is, and it's called "post scarcity" (and if you've never heard of it, then look it up on your favorite Web search engine) - but that is something that we'll have to work on developing to get there.

In the mean time, while we're stuck in the age of capitalism, what can we do to minimize its problems and use as a catalyst to transition away from the problems of capitalism and towards a post scarcity society?  Capitalism exists in more than one form, and the solution exists in which form of capitalism we choose.  There's only one that offers the best chance of taking us in the right direction, and that is the free market form of capitalism, along with a governmental system that is only as large as is necessary (i.e., the smallest that's feasible).  No other form of capitalism stands a chance of improving problems and will decrease - not increase - the chances of transitioning to a post scarcity society.