Holt on April 16, 2011, 04:12:10 pm
Well ok sustainable as in we don't have to sacrifice a generation every now and then to prop it up.

Its inevitable.  The trick is making sure your little piece of the generation does not get sacrificed.  So far so good.

Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.

Aardvark on April 16, 2011, 05:38:42 pm
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The word "dictatorship" covers a lot of territory. It may be helpful to think of the UW as US rhetoric united European social democracy. Like the old Soviet Union, it is a rag-tag conglomeration of competing power blocs. And like the USSR, it is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. It could collapse at any moment. Today's US is a fair enough analog--especially for the immanent financial collapse and subsequent social unrest (and potential collapse). It is a dying empire, which is a good thing, but billions of innocent people will suffer in its death throes.

Do you have a backstory on how the U.W. was created? The story's emphasis is on showing an AnCap society, but I'm just as interested in the U.W.

Obviously, you're writing this, and doing a decent job of it, or I wouldn't care about the characters or relate to many of the issues. So, the U.W. is something of a conglomeration rather than a single unified entity.

Hmm. I can envision a sort of Super EU. The ultimate goal of the EU has always been a "soft" socialist dictatorship. Say Chavez and his ilk infect the rest of South America with socialist dictatorships. The US is on its way to becoming an immensely weakened socialist state. Africa is awash with brutal dictatorships. A united ME might come under a secular dictator like Hussein. India might revert to its socialist past. China is much more iffy; China is a dictatorship that sees the benefits of capitalism, but maybe they could go along with it to avoid being isolated.

It could happen that all the powers would get together and decide to stop competing with each other. Like Mafia families, they would divide the spoils in a permanently socialist world, all abiding under the same economic controls that would make the population dependent upon the government, but ruling from separate fiefdoms: Europe, China, the ME, South America, North America, India and SE Asia, Africa, and Oceania. There would be a central council of more or less equals. Naturally, there would be blocs within the council, and a preeminent bloc would emerge, whose composition might change from time to time. The council may or may not consist primarily of socialist ideologues, but I'm betting they all would be to some extent. Being at the top of a socialist, statist heap must be heady stuff with all those wonderful "helpful" government agencies to run.   

Is that about the size of it? I have trouble envisioning a less unified world government with a common socialist policy.

quadibloc on April 16, 2011, 06:15:47 pm
Its inevitable.  The trick is making sure your little piece of the generation does not get sacrificed.
Not good enough.

Just because a few people find jobs in a depression doesn't mean that everyone else affected by it is to blame. If it was their fault, depressions wouldn't happen, because a generation of lazy people doesn't just come along every so often.

However, while government is part of the problem, fixing a depression by getting government out of the way might have the immediate result of lots of people suddenly going out and supporting themselves by hunting and fishing and logging and trapping... with the result that the resource base for those activities becomes depleted.

Capital is the opportunity to transform labor to wealth, and so for the broad masses of ordinary people, managing it properly is the key to their survival. But just because the Marxist demagogues had a point, of course, didn't mean that their "solution" was any good. Unfortunately, no one has come up with an idea for a socialism as strictly limited as the Founding Fathers did for a government that was strictly limited.

I know that people here might feel that such an idea wouldn't do much good, but instead simply grease the skids on a slippery slope to Stalinism... but I am shocked that if not everyone agrees with Libertarianism or AnCap or some such idea as the right way to go, that there are no alternatives besides the obviously wrong one of the left.

China is much more iffy; China is a dictatorship that sees the benefits of capitalism, but maybe they could go along with it to avoid being isolated.
I don't see that China would be an obstacle to a UW. As long as they're a dictatorship, their capitalism would be no threat to a nominally socialist United World; if it makes them more productive, and thus able to put in more and take out less, all the better.

It's just individuals who can rock the boat that are a threat. The degree to which local economies are socialist or just call themselves socialist is almost irrelevant.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 06:21:09 pm by quadibloc »

GlennWatson on April 16, 2011, 08:09:04 pm
Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.

Maybe, maybe not.  The standard of living in the world and the USA has increased a lot in the last 100 years.  There is hope it will continue to do so.

sam on April 16, 2011, 08:25:54 pm
I know that people here might feel that such an idea wouldn't do much good, but instead simply grease the skids on a slippery slope to Stalinism... but I am shocked that if not everyone agrees with Libertarianism or AnCap or some such idea as the right way to go, that there are no alternatives besides the obviously wrong one of the left.

The center has collapsed.  Almost every elected poltician stands for socialism without a central plan and crony capitalism without markets or prices, a system worse than soviet style socialism.

If the Tea party is "extreme right" for proposing that we move back to the status quo of 2008, what would you call someone who want so move back to the status quo of 2004?  Ultra extreme far right super nazi extremists?

There is no center any more, no support for centrist policies, no one left for compromisers to compromise with.  Economic policies are heading for economic collapse, and politics is heading for civil war.  Every close election results in ballot box stuffing, and every episode of ballot box stuffing is more blatant, and the election it fixes less close.  At some point the economic policies result in the collapse of the currency, and the electoral policies result in people ignoring the outcome of elections.  I wish I could predict that the outcome would be anarcho capitalism, but something closer to Mugabe's Zimbabwe is more likely.

In the recent Wisconsin judicial election, massive and blatant ballot box stuffing did not quite get the leftist judge over the top.  The leftist judge was running on a platform of overturning the executive and legislature, of judicially exercising legislative and executive power.  Suppose the left had succeeded.  Would the right have accepted an obviously unconstitutional and illegal election?  Suppose they had accepted it:  Next time would have been even more extreme ballot box stuffing, and sooner or later there will be an election they will not accept.

sam on April 16, 2011, 08:42:20 pm
Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.

Maybe, maybe not.  The standard of living in the world and the USA has increased a lot in the last 100 years.  There is hope it will continue to do so.

In recent years, the standard of living in the US, as measured by the amount of food, petrol, clothing, cooking, and air conditioning the average person can afford has been falling like a stone, a state of affairs partially concealed by increasingly fraudulent statistics.

The last man on the moon left in 1972

The tallest building in the united states was finished in 1974.

Cars are becoming humbler.

US electricity production was growing exponentially until 1972.  After 1972 it grew more slowly.  Per capita electricity consumption  seems likely to have peaked around 2007 or so.

Supposedly GDP is still growing rapidly, just as supposedly inflation is zero, but it seems improbable that GDP is growing when per capita electricity consumption is not.

Holt on April 16, 2011, 08:57:38 pm
Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.

Maybe, maybe not.  The standard of living in the world and the USA has increased a lot in the last 100 years.  There is hope it will continue to do so.

Well in the UK gen Y faces 20% unemployment. They're less likely to ever own a home, have difficulty finding full time work and are more likely to avoid ever having children. We're a lost generation.

SandySandfort on April 16, 2011, 10:12:55 pm
Quote
The word "dictatorship" covers a lot of territory. It may be helpful to think of the UW as US rhetoric united European social democracy. Like the old Soviet Union, it is a rag-tag conglomeration of competing power blocs. And like the USSR, it is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. It could collapse at any moment. Today's US is a fair enough analog--especially for the immanent financial collapse and subsequent social unrest (and potential collapse). It is a dying empire, which is a good thing, but billions of innocent people will suffer in its death throes.

Do you have a backstory on how the U.W. was created? The story's emphasis is on showing an AnCap society, but I'm just as interested in the U.W.

I have a rough backstory. I need to fill in the details, which I will probably do in future stories. One of the obvious elements of the backstory of the UW creation is the real-world trend toward multinational unions. The EU, of course, but also the proposed North American Union (Canada, USA and Mexico) and regional common markets such as MERCOSUR in South America and the South American Union movement.

... It could happen that all the powers would get together and decide to stop competing with each other. Like Mafia families, they would divide the spoils...

And we all know how well that works out. Such alliances are dynamically unstable. As with OPEC, there is every motivation to cheat.

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity” -- William Butler Yeats

(of course, he probably meant "chaos" not "anarchy," but you get the idea.

Your analysis is cogent, as usual.

Apollo-Soyuz on April 16, 2011, 11:20:33 pm
Quote from: Holt link
Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.
Maybe, maybe not.  The standard of living in the world and the USA has increased a lot in the last 100 years.  There is hope it will continue to do so.

No, we're screwed. For at least the next 20 years. The US took on crushing debt so the banks were rewarded for failure. The budget is insane and unsustainable. Consider this recent quote from Rep. Hensarling:

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“On the one hand, this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget, frankly in the history of America in absolute terms… probably for that we all deserve medals, the entire Congress,” the Texas congressman said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “Relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error. In that case we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered.”

Oops! They let a little truth out...

J Thomas on April 16, 2011, 11:23:37 pm
Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.

Maybe, maybe not.  The standard of living in the world and the USA has increased a lot in the last 100 years.  There is hope it will continue to do so.

In recent years, the standard of living in the US, as measured by the amount of food, petrol, clothing, cooking, and air conditioning the average person can afford has been falling like a stone, a state of affairs partially concealed by increasingly fraudulent statistics.

The correct statistics take a long time to collect. The BEA says that the hasty statistics used to come out pretty similar to the right results they announce later, but it's getting increasingly skewed. I haven't noticed them explain how it happens that the data which is easier to get comes out consistently so much more positive than the data they can only find later.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financialization

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Supposedly GDP is still growing rapidly, just as supposedly inflation is zero, but it seems improbable that GDP is growing when per capita electricity consumption is not.


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Wolf (2009), for instance, noted that over the last three decades the US financial sector grew six times faster than nominal GDP and argued that there is something wrong ....
http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/6328

By official statistics the financial sector is still only 9% of GDP, but it has risen a whole lot in recent years. So, say you sell a stock. Nothing was created, only the stock changed hands, so that does not affect GDP. Only the transaction fees you pay to the broker for his services count.

Say you sell an option on the stock. You have not sold the stock but you have sold somebody the right to buy it. You have created a new financial instrument and that is part of GDP. Each time it changes hands after the first is not GDP, it's only people buying and selling. But when you create it, GDP goes up. When you buy or sell insurance. Etc. 9% of our GDP consists of people making financial instruments which is not "making things" in the traditional sense.

Also government's contribution to GDP has risen to $1.7 trillion out of a $14 trillion economy.

It could be argued that much of the "services" provided by the financial and the government sectors to GDP are illusory.

Apollo-Soyuz on April 16, 2011, 11:29:29 pm
I have a rough backstory. I need to fill in the details, which I will probably do in future stories. One of the obvious elements of the backstory of the UW creation is the real-world trend toward multinational unions. The EU, of course, but also the proposed North American Union (Canada, USA and Mexico) and regional common markets such as MERCOSUR in South America and the South American Union movement.

Have you ever noticed that NAFTA enables corporations to cross borders far more easily while doing nothing to allow citizens to relocate themselves to the new job markets?

My understanding of the EU is that when a country joins, companies can relocate in the new country while the new EU citizens may also move themselves, and establish themselves in any EU country to live and work and vote.

Normally, I wouldn't hold Europe out as a shining example of anything (except maybe nude beaches), but this sounds pretty good.

Aardvark on April 17, 2011, 04:06:21 am
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quadibloc

I don't see that China would be an obstacle to a UW. As long as they're a dictatorship, their capitalism would be no threat to a nominally socialist United World; if it makes them more productive, and thus able to put in more and take out less, all the better.

Maybe so. China is a weird case. They are an expansionist power, not one in decline. While the West is laboring under socialist policies and the debt such policies create, the Chinese government has a net surplus. Mao's vision is forgotten. The Chinese government has let the Chinese people loose to make money, the state is making the right steps to acquire control of foreign oil fields so their economy can continue to rise, and they are doing whatever they can to bully, destabilize, and weaken the powers in the region: India, Japan, and the US. They laugh at human rights and environmental concerns. China already have total control over their population, so why would such a power wish to join a world socialist union? It's socialist in some ways; the state does have control of everything, after all, but it's a pragmatic control, not really ideological.

Would they join the U.W. as nominal members to keep them out of their hair and to take advantage of the rest of the world's weakened economic state? Maybe, especially if they had the power to keep them that way. EFT is fiction, and it's far enough in the future when the conditions might be far different than they are today.

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Sandy Sandfort:

I have a rough backstory. I need to fill in the details, which I will probably do in future stories. One of the obvious elements of the backstory of the UW creation is the real-world trend toward multinational unions. The EU, of course, but also the proposed North American Union (Canada, USA and Mexico) and regional common markets such as MERCOSUR in South America and the South American Union movement.

That's an interesting approach. The unions have every reason to promote socialism, as they are one of the greatest beneficiaries. If they should win the current battle in the US courts and stuff enough ballot boxes, enough people might see the writing on the wall and sign on to get their piece of the pie It would be all downhill from there. I'm less familiar with South America, so I can't make any observations except to say that socialism has never gone away down there. Almost every nation in South America has had or is having a bout with it.

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And we all know how well that works out. Such alliances are dynamically unstable. As with OPEC, there is every motivation to cheat.

Mmm, for the traditional 19th century European model of infighting and shifting alliances, that true, and OPEC countries do indeed have economic reasons to cheat. But how would that work for an alliance of socialist powers? The closest thing to the U.W. in my head is the E.U. The swinish bureaucrats who run it take pains to suppress nationalism and disparate economic forces so they can get down to their lip-smacking Utopian vision of raping the masses and making them feel good about it. They have succeeded to some extent. A fair amount of people who live in the E.U describe their nationality as European rather than Italian or whatever.

I'm treading on sand here because this is not my story, nor my universe, but I would think that a conglomeration of super states such as the E.U., a North American Union, etc, would try the same thing. The people who run the U.W. would proclaim that man's vision of perfection is at hand, and that permanent peace has been achieved. Naturally, they would continue, to achieve this wondrous vision, certain adjustment would have to be made. They will unfold the U.W. banner and have everyone pledge allegiance to that, rather than to any regional flag. The economies would be harder to blend, but that's what socialists do. Think of a massive top-down structure, like a Ministry of Power. It would have control over power everywhere, across all the former state boundaries. The Ministry of education would control education everywhere. And so forth. After a time, an executive in the Ministry of Housing born in Rio would be able to transfer to Obama City in the former NAU and feel totally at home.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 08:04:44 am
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In recent years, the standard of living in the US, as measured by the amount of food, petrol, clothing, cooking, and air conditioning the average person can afford has been falling like a stone, a state of affairs partially concealed by increasingly fraudulent statistics.

According to Russ Roberts and the economists he interview weekly that is not true.  He is a conservative Austrian Economist at George Mason with more than a touch of libertarian in him.  He has a great podcast every weeks.  I think many here would really like it.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 08:06:04 am
Well Gen Y have been sacrificed for the Boomers wealth. All of us.

Maybe, maybe not.  The standard of living in the world and the USA has increased a lot in the last 100 years.  There is hope it will continue to do so.

Well in the UK gen Y faces 20% unemployment. They're less likely to ever own a home, have difficulty finding full time work and are more likely to avoid ever having children. We're a lost generation.

We still have a better life on average that 99% of all the people who ever lived.

GlennWatson on April 17, 2011, 08:18:51 am
No, we're screwed. For at least the next 20 years. The US took on crushing debt so the banks were rewarded for failure. The budget is insane and unsustainable.

Do you know what America's biggest health problem is.  We eat too much.
Do you know how much Americans spend every year on our pets?  We spend between $16 and $41 billion a year.
We are all but unassailable militarily.
We have a stable electoral system.
We have major problems but in the grand scheme of things, seen from a sweeping historical perspective we are doing better than average. That is undeniable
What will happen in the future?  I do not know.  But if the past 300 years is any indication things will get better.