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Old 8th October 2019, 07:05 AM   #121
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Then why even bring it up in reply to me? Do you think it's what I believe?
because you made a statement about supply and demand balancing each other on their own.
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:11 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Given the distribution in the first place is a matter of policy, not a matter of the natural order of things, I don't find the above a convincing argument.

Me neither. Anand Giridharadas - “Winners Take All” and the Paradox of Elite Philanthropy | The Daily Show (Oct. 8, 2019):

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Old 8th October 2019, 07:11 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
because you made a statement about supply and demand balancing each other on their own.
How is your imagined GOP view relevant to either of our positions?
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:23 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Much of their wealth is not cash. Wealth and cash are not the same thing. If the price of Amazon's stock declines, that decreases what Bezos is "worth", but no one else gains that wealth. His wealth is calculated by how many shares he has vs. how much people are willing to pay for each share on any given day.
Well, that's true. Wealth in the form of stocks is like some sort of "Schrodinger's Wealth," in that the cash value both is and is not "real". "Value" is esoteric like that.
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:25 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It would not "just go away", and people don't lose money via magic.
When the S&P 500 drops 100 points, it looses ~$1 trillion in value, where does this money go? When it rises 100 points it gains ~1 trillion, where does this money come from?
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:27 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
When the S&P 500 drops 100 points, it looses ~$1 trillion in value, where does this money go? When it rises 100 points it gains ~1 trillion, where does this money come from?
Isn't the value of the S&P literally the value of the money changing hands in actual stock trades?
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:31 AM   #127
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The economy is not a single thing. Some of it is zero sum, some of it is not.

Some money a billionaire makes he takes from other, some of it he creates.

When a company has 5,000 employees that are not being paid a living wage and the CEO makes 90 quadrillion dollars, there's a fair discussion about that being zero sum; the money going to the CEO should be going to employees.

The simple fact that the CEO dares to exist in the same world as you with more money is very different.

A Walmart Cashier making a non-living minimum wage might deserve more of Sam Walton's (or whoever's running that show now, one of his kids I think) money. (G)You do not.
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:40 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Isn't the value of the S&P literally the value of the money changing hands in actual stock trades?
I guess value could be a bit vague, Iím referring to itís total market capitalization which is the current stock price multiplied by the number of shared. The S&P500 covers ~80% of the combined value all publicly traded US companies.
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:55 AM   #129
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I'm not a stocks guy and I've never really understood all of it. But I think I heard that they manipulate the S&P 500 by constantly changing which companies it represents. As in the poor performers are dropped out in favor of better performing companies.

So I guess I always thought it was S&Ps "500 companies list", but it's really a "best 500 companies list", or something like that. Which makes perfect sense since you said it covers around 80% of the combined value.
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Old 8th October 2019, 11:25 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Is Amazon a Monopoly? Last time I looked there were plenty of other on line stores.

Except that when you look more closely, a huge percentage of those "other on line stores" are also Amazon. If you dig down into the fine print on those small retailer sites, you can very often find a tiny little logo "Hosted by AWS" aka Amazon Web Services. Not always, though. Some stores hosted by Amazon have no indication that they are linked in any way.*

Amazon's wealth is no longer driven exclusively, or even primarily, by it's retail business; but is increasingly generated by hosting services and storefronts for other businesses, large and small. Even some very large businesses depend on AWS for some of their services, rather than host them in-house; including a number of cloud service providers.

Amazon may not be a true monopoly yet, but it's veering increasingly close to that state; and in some cases, is an effective monopoly with only token and ineffectual competition.

*Note: I used to work for Amazon, so this is insider info.
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Old 8th October 2019, 11:40 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
To punitively tax this 110 year old woodframe house on a 33' x 120' lot as 'wealth' seems unfair to me.

But other than that yeah, the research shows there's possibly some merit in taxing wealth instead of income, especially where equities are involved, because they do represent power as well as just standard of living.

In the US, tax rates differentiate between is known as a "primary residence" and other real-estate; and a well-constructed wealth tax would take that into account. So the blue-collar worker who inherits a family house who value has increased dramatically due to circumstances outside of his control would not suffer an undue tax burden on that house; but if he happened to also have a vacation house in the mountains, or a summer house down South Beach way, those could see a much higher tax burden.
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Old 8th October 2019, 12:39 PM   #132
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Except that when you look more closely, a huge percentage of those "other on line stores" are also Amazon. If you dig down into the fine print on those small retailer sites, you can very often find a tiny little logo "Hosted by AWS" aka Amazon Web Services.
Amazon Web Services is a cloud computing platform. It's the platform Amazon itself uses to run its ecommerce sites. Other ecommerce sites on the AWS platform are not "also Amazon".

---

I would argue by analogy to the container shipping industry, but I think we both know how that would play out. So the following trivia is presented merely as food for thought:

Container shipping companies typically own maintain two distinct equipment inventories: Shipping containers, and tractor-trailer container chasses (chassises?).

A shipping container is the big box as such. You probably know what I'm talking about, but if not, they're just a Google search away. The trailer chassis is a heavy metal I-beam, with road wheels at each end, and connectors to mount the container and attach the trailer to a semi-tractor for over-the-road transport. Both kinds of inventory are tracked by the shipping company. They have serial numbers, tracking numbers, various codes, etc.

Anyway, here's the relevant bit: Shipping companies regularly lease their idle chasses to each other. It's not uncommon to see a Hapag-Lloyd container on an Evergreen chassis, or a Yang Ming chassis carrying a Pacer Stacktrain container. We do not infer from this that Pacer Stacktrain is just another part of Yang Ming, even though Pacer is making use of Yang Ming's idle infrastructure. Nor should we, because it's not true.

---

Anyway, there are online retailers that do use Amazon's actual ecommerce platform. Levi's, for example, has an Amazon.com "storefront". Doing business with Levi's there necessarily means doing business with Amazon.com, in a way that running someone else's own ecommerce platform on AWS infrastructure does not.

And then there are other ecommerce sites, like Alibaba, that operate completely independently of Amazon.com and AWS. I think. It would be hilarious if Alibaba is actually using AWS infrastructure to run parts of its ecommerce platform. However Amazon has been adamant about not decoupling the two business units, which is likely to deter major competitors who are unwilling to put more money in Amazon.com's pockets. (Even if they're not using Amazon.com's ecommerce platform. But even though Amazon maintains a close financial relationship between the two businesses, I'd stil not say that running on AWS infrastructure is the same as also being part of Amazon.com)
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Old 8th October 2019, 12:44 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Except that when you look more closely, a huge percentage of those "other on line stores" are also Amazon. If you dig down into the fine print on those small retailer sites, you can very often find a tiny little logo "Hosted by AWS" aka Amazon Web Services. Not always, though. Some stores hosted by Amazon have no indication that they are linked in any way.*

Amazon's wealth is no longer driven exclusively, or even primarily, by it's retail business; but is increasingly generated by hosting services and storefronts for other businesses, large and small. Even some very large businesses depend on AWS for some of their services, rather than host them in-house; including a number of cloud service providers.

Amazon may not be a true monopoly yet, but it's veering increasingly close to that state; and in some cases, is an effective monopoly with only token and ineffectual competition.

*Note: I used to work for Amazon, so this is insider info.
On another note, not only does Amazon not have a monopoly on ecommerce platforms, it also doesn't have a monopoly on cloud computing infrastructure.

Running their ecommerce platform on their own computing infrastructure isn't monopoly, it's vertical integration. And leasing its idle infrastructure to other companies, even other ecommerce companies, isn't monopoly, it's just good business.

I'm actually trying to figure out how leasing idle infrastructure to a competitor is monopolistic in any possible way. Maybe you're thinking of a cartel?

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Old 8th October 2019, 01:24 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Do you have some figures for that? I think that's a pretty good metric actually, though it is important to make sure we're comparing like-for-like (hours worked to pay for healthcare when you're 60 should be more than when you're 20, for instance, and given technological progress there are some things that you might have simply been left with no choice with that now have an option of an expensive treatment. Building codes have changes and so while you may need to pay more for you house today, you're also getting a different house than you used to, etc.)
For my specific comparisons on real estate, I was using specific houses that have been in place for 100+ years, basically in the Vancouver area. At this date, the houses are valued close to $0 and the purchase price is more about the land value. Interestingly, this even applies to brand new condos in the area. $2.5Million dollar condo is $300k of structure and $2.2 Million share of the $50Million land footprint, proportional to overall square footage.

That's why my neighbour's house was a good example. His grandfather bought it on a part time carpenter's salary. The house itself today borders on a teardown, but the land with a teardown on it is worth $3Million, which is well beyond the reach of a part time carpenter today.

Here's a house a few blocks away: [The house was a tear-down in 1983]

A list of some more nearby: [A Tour Of Vancouverís $3 Million Teardowns For Sale]

My mom's old house where she grew up is not for sale, so I can't post a link, but her dad bought it on a part time bartender's salary in 1939 (so, est = 30 hours per week, minimum wage + tips), and it's currently assessed at $3.1 Million. Well beyond a part time bartender's purchasing power today. Technically the house is identical, with the exception that it's 80years old.
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Old 8th October 2019, 02:32 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
That's why my neighbour's house was a good example. His grandfather bought it on a part time carpenter's salary. The house itself today borders on a teardown, but the land with a teardown on it is worth $3Million, which is well beyond the reach of a part time carpenter today.

In Seattle about five years back, a house that had been condemned for an immense Stachybotrys chartarum infestation sold for a million US dollars; simply because of the lot and location. Housing costs have been getting progressively worse since then.
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Old 8th October 2019, 04:39 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
For my specific comparisons on real estate, I was using specific houses that have been in place for 100+ years, basically in the Vancouver area. At this date, the houses are valued close to $0 and the purchase price is more about the land value. Interestingly, this even applies to brand new condos in the area. $2.5Million dollar condo is $300k of structure and $2.2 Million share of the $50Million land footprint, proportional to overall square footage.

That's why my neighbour's house was a good example. His grandfather bought it on a part time carpenter's salary. The house itself today borders on a teardown, but the land with a teardown on it is worth $3Million, which is well beyond the reach of a part time carpenter today.

Here's a house a few blocks away: [The house was a tear-down in 1983]

A list of some more nearby: [A Tour Of Vancouverís $3 Million Teardowns For Sale]

My mom's old house where she grew up is not for sale, so I can't post a link, but her dad bought it on a part time bartender's salary in 1939 (so, est = 30 hours per week, minimum wage + tips), and it's currently assessed at $3.1 Million. Well beyond a part time bartender's purchasing power today. Technically the house is identical, with the exception that it's 80years old.
Sorry, I did understand that issue as you presented it (at least I think I did and agree that it would be an issue with a wealth tax). You'd have people with low incomes who have "wealth" in the form of a house that they purchased at a low price and have been living in for a long time and is only at a high value because of rising real estate prices. Sure, they could sell the house now if the taxes were too onerous, but it seems pretty unfair that they should have to if we're trying to find a more equitable tax system. That issue that you raised seemed entirely reasonable to me.

The other issue that you raised was that in general the number of hours worked to pay for basic necessities has, on average, risen. That also seems like an important issue but it's one that's a little difficult to measure given that the nature of basic necessities has changed. I think food is probably the most straightforward, if we look at the price of produce or something. So I was wondering where you got that analysis and exactly what was being compared to what.
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Old 8th October 2019, 07:56 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Sorry, I did understand that issue as you presented it (at least I think I did and agree that it would be an issue with a wealth tax). You'd have people with low incomes who have "wealth" in the form of a house that they purchased at a low price and have been living in for a long time and is only at a high value because of rising real estate prices. Sure, they could sell the house now if the taxes were too onerous, but it seems pretty unfair that they should have to if we're trying to find a more equitable tax system. That issue that you raised seemed entirely reasonable to me.
There's also the issue of social policy regarding home ownership. The downstream effect of affordability shocks like 2009 was to [shift ownership of residential properties from occupant-owners to corporate owners charging rent].

Another poster was asking why we should create exceptions for occupant owners and further concessions for seniors, and this is what I'm concerned about. Seniors have less capacity to rebound and resume cashflow than younger owners. They have fewer years left to amortize payments, they have less physical ability, and they have less mental competence. It's more like concessions for the medically disabled. (I say this as somebody who is getting older and feeling the effects)

So my answer is that this cultivates individual home ownership in the long run.



Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
The other issue that you raised was that in general the number of hours worked to pay for basic necessities has, on average, risen. That also seems like an important issue but it's one that's a little difficult to measure given that the nature of basic necessities has changed. I think food is probably the most straightforward, if we look at the price of produce or something. So I was wondering where you got that analysis and exactly what was being compared to what.
I have done some charts, yes, and there are [other researchers that have explored it].

Here's where it gets a bit difficult to communicate the nature of the problem... not all necessities are getting more expensive, but there's a problem in that the select few that exploded in price also are major proportions of household budgets to begin with, and now they overwhelm the others at this point. There is no county in the USA where a minimum wage employee can afford to rent a one bedroom apartment. The fact that a one time purchase of a radio is $10 less is overwhelmed by a $1500/mo increase in rent and a $225,000 increase in education cost. Other categories that have exploded are education and healthcare. Economists argue that these have not increased in value or productivity, which is why it's a puzzle that they've become more expensive. The prevailing explanation is [Baumol Effect].
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Old 8th October 2019, 11:18 PM   #138
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
There's also the issue of social policy regarding home ownership. The downstream effect of affordability shocks like 2009 was to [shift ownership of residential properties from occupant-owners to corporate owners charging rent].

Another poster was asking why we should create exceptions for occupant owners and further concessions for seniors, and this is what I'm concerned about. Seniors have less capacity to rebound and resume cashflow than younger owners. They have fewer years left to amortize payments, they have less physical ability, and they have less mental competence. It's more like concessions for the medically disabled. (I say this as somebody who is getting older and feeling the effects)

So my answer is that this cultivates individual home ownership in the long run.
I agree, that makes a lot of sense and I think you've outlined the issues there very clearly.





Quote:
I have done some charts, yes, and there are [other researchers that have explored it].

Here's where it gets a bit difficult to communicate the nature of the problem... not all necessities are getting more expensive, but there's a problem in that the select few that exploded in price also are major proportions of household budgets to begin with, and now they overwhelm the others at this point. There is no county in the USA where a minimum wage employee can afford to rent a one bedroom apartment. The fact that a one time purchase of a radio is $10 less is overwhelmed by a $1500/mo increase in rent and a $225,000 increase in education cost. Other categories that have exploded are education and healthcare. Economists argue that these have not increased in value or productivity, which is why it's a puzzle that they've become more expensive. The prevailing explanation is [Baumol Effect].
Cool, thanks for that. I'll check out your charts, and also the Baumol Effect. I agree that this is a very worrying trend and a good metric of at least one aspect of progress in society.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:45 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Other categories that have exploded are education and healthcare. Economists argue that these have not increased in value or productivity, which is why it's a puzzle that they've become more expensive. The prevailing explanation is [Baumol Effect].
I would imagine that's a matter of great debate. I don't think professor and doctor salaries have risen nearly enough to account for the bubble-like growth over inflation and over the rate of growth in other countries seen in health care and education.

I'd imagine relaxed lending standards combined with the tightening of bankruptcy laws account for the increase in education debt and costs. The "financialization" of the economy hits real estate, education, and healthcare the hardest. (aka, the FIRE economy)

See:
https://www.ft.com/content/27212742-...4-e0bdc13c3bef

Quote:
Colleges, too, often invest in luxury facilities to attract richer (full-fee paying) students, or, in the case of the for-profit sector, take big profits (margins typically run above 30 per cent). Students are regularly over-promised financial aid in complex deals that then change year on year, just like the subprime mortgages that blew up in 2008.

The “financialisation” of education has grown in tandem with the rise of the financial sector over the past 40 years. In many cases, universities themselves are being duped by Wall Street into bad debt deals, just as public municipalities such as Detroit were in the run-up to 2008.
In health care, it's probably primarily CEO as well as stockholder profits. Doctor pay is higher in the US compared to other countries, but it can only account for a fairly small percentage inflated costs in the US.
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Old 9th October 2019, 01:30 AM   #140
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Apple sold 52.2 million iphones in the first quarter of this year. Most of those were the new $999 phone. A lot of people are very dumb with money.
Apple spends around USD 1.8B /year on advertising.
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Old 9th October 2019, 02:55 AM   #141
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Except that when you look more closely, a huge percentage of those "other on line stores" are also Amazon. If you dig down into the fine print on those small retailer sites, you can very often find a tiny little logo "Hosted by AWS" aka Amazon Web Services. Not always, though. Some stores hosted by Amazon have no indication that they are linked in any way.*

Amazon's wealth is no longer driven exclusively, or even primarily, by it's retail business; but is increasingly generated by hosting services and storefronts for other businesses, large and small. Even some very large businesses depend on AWS for some of their services, rather than host them in-house; including a number of cloud service providers.

Amazon may not be a true monopoly yet, but it's veering increasingly close to that state; and in some cases, is an effective monopoly with only token and ineffectual competition.

*Note: I used to work for Amazon, so this is insider info.
True few realize Amazon is a backbone of the much of the internet.
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:09 AM   #142
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Apple spends around USD 1.8B /year on advertising.
What does that have to do with people buying overpriced crap they don't need? I could spend 2 billion dollars advertising my shined up turd, it doesn't mean you should buy it, especially if you're living paycheck-to-paycheck.

(I'm not saying an iphone is a turd, by the way. Just an example.)
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:14 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
What does that have to do with people buying overpriced crap they don't need?
Everything?

Either that or they're just wasting money.


Quote:
I could spend 2 billion dollars advertising my shined up turd, it doesn't mean you should buy it, especially if you're living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Oh, you believe advertising doesn't work and Apple are wasting their money? Interesting proposition, you could save them a literal fortune, you should let them know.


Quote:
(I'm not saying an iphone is a turd, by the way. Just an example.)

Why do you think they spend all that money on advertising if not to get people to buy their products?
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:53 AM   #144
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No one is saying advertising doesn't work-but again, where is personal responsibility here? If you can't afford something, you shouldn't buy it.

And the reason I brought up the iphone is because it's something people keep replacing before they actually need to. It's the epitome of excess. And in a thread where we are discussing people living paycheck-to-paycheck, this is a very relevant example. So....rich people should give their money away because people just have to put that new phone on a 24 month payment plan? We aren't talking about putting food on the table here.
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Old 9th October 2019, 05:08 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
No one is saying advertising doesn't work-but again, where is personal responsibility here? If you can't afford something, you shouldn't buy it.

Clearly. And you clearly believe that 1.8B dollars invested in advertising that utilises all the tricks that very clever men have discovered to influence the human brain cannot persuade people to act against their own best interests. I disagree.

I think you have some of the cleverest, most well educated people in the country employing more money then you can possibly imagine (yes, that's a serious comment) to ensure that the uneducated and less clever act against their own interests. This makes Apple money.

Do you think Apple would sell as many phones if they didn't advertise as they do?






Quote:
And the reason I brought up the iphone is because it's something people keep replacing before they actually need to. It's the epitome of excess. And in a thread where we are discussing people living paycheck-to-paycheck, this is a very relevant example. So....rich people should give their money away because people just have to put that new phone on a 24 month payment plan? We aren't talking about putting food on the table here.
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Old 9th October 2019, 06:20 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
True few realize Amazon is a backbone of the much of the internet.
Amazon's computing infrastructure is distinct from the Internet backbone infrastructure.
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Old 9th October 2019, 07:55 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
No one is saying advertising doesn't work-but again, where is personal responsibility here? If you can't afford something, you shouldn't buy it.

And the reason I brought up the iphone is because it's something people keep replacing before they actually need to. It's the epitome of excess. And in a thread where we are discussing people living paycheck-to-paycheck, this is a very relevant example. So....rich people should give their money away because people just have to put that new phone on a 24 month payment plan? We aren't talking about putting food on the table here.
One wonders how many of the rich would be that way if everyone acted rationally all the time with regards to their expenditures.

Does being stupid make one fair game for exploitation?
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Old 9th October 2019, 08:26 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
One wonders how many of the rich would be that way if everyone acted rationally all the time with regards to their expenditures.

Does being stupid make one fair game for exploitation?
They sold 52.2 million phones in ONE quarter this year. Just how many people are we calling stupid here?

And again, we're getting away from the original premise: Lots and lots of people, I forget the number posted, but way over half, are living paycheck-to-paycheck. How many of them are stupid? How many just don't care to be frugal? And furthermore, what are we supposed to do? Tell Apple they aren't allowed to advertise?
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Old 9th October 2019, 08:26 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
One wonders how many of the rich would be that way if everyone acted rationally all the time with regards to their expenditures.

Does being stupid make one fair game for exploitation?
Sometimes. For some definitions of "being stupid" and "exploitation".

"Buyer beware" is a well-established principle of free and fair trade. However, it is also a well established principle that caveat emptor is not sufficient to excuse outright fraud, abuse of trust, and other similarly unethical or criminal behavior.

Like most things having to do with humans living in community, seeking a balance between personal freedom (and responsibility!) and the common good, it's a complex question with no simple or easy answer. Sometimes the perpetrator and the victim have to share the blame.

---

I'm reading about the Theranos case right now. It's clear that Walgreens was defrauded. They entered into a partnership with Theranos based on lies they were told. Elizabeth Holmes and her cronies absolutely deserve the blame for that.

But there were also many red flags that the Walgreens team chose to ignore. They hired a consultant to help them with their due diligence. He was cockblocked at every turn by Theranos, and Wallgreens dismissed his concerns. So, even though Theranos cheated them, I'd say the Walgreens team screwed the pooch as well, and have much to answer for. If I were a Walgreens shareholder, I'd want consequences for the team that pursued the Theranos partnership. I'd want resignations for some of the executives involved. And if I were an investor or employer, I'd think long and hard about whether I'd want to work with any of those jackasses, regardless of how hard Theranos worked to fool them.*

---
*Theranos worked as hard as they possibly could to fool Walgreens, but it shouldn't have been enough to successfully pull off the scam. Walgreens worked pretty hard to fool themselves.

The crux of Walgreen's wilful blindness seems to have been concern about their major competitor, CVS. If Walgreens passed on Theranos, and the tech turned out to be real, CVS would eat their lunch with it. I get this concern.

But the smarter play for Walgreens, with the information available at the time, would have been to play dumb on this "sure thing", and let CVS snipe it out from under them. Then sit back and laugh while CVS ate a multimillion dollar jackass-tax.
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:14 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
They sold 52.2 million phones in ONE quarter this year. Just how many people are we calling stupid here?

And again, we're getting away from the original premise: Lots and lots of people, I forget the number posted, but way over half, are living paycheck-to-paycheck. How many of them are stupid? How many just don't care to be frugal? And furthermore, what are we supposed to do? Tell Apple they aren't allowed to advertise?
Or perhaps point out to those whom Apple has contributed wealth to that they have little standing to criticize those who create financial hardship for themselves by buying an Apple product when they would just as likely be suffering financial hardships themselves if those products went unpurchased.

The Waltons would have little of the moral high ground to perch upon should they begin to complain that the Gov. is too generous with food stamps when a substantial portion of their profits come from those same food-stamps. A great deal of them going to actual Walmart employees- thus cheapening their labor costs as well.

Further, from the perspective of the individual living paycheck to paycheck, what great benefit would they see from the elimination of simple pleasures? A lifetime of drudgery in exchange for a reduced possibility of dying under a bridge in their old age? How is it immoral for them to take all they can get and damn the consequences from the very people whose success came from taking all they could get?
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:15 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Sometimes. For some definitions of "being stupid" and "exploitation".

"Buyer beware" is a well-established principle of free and fair trade. However, it is also a well established principle that caveat emptor is not sufficient to excuse outright fraud, abuse of trust, and other similarly unethical or criminal behavior.

Like most things having to do with humans living in community, seeking a balance between personal freedom (and responsibility!) and the common good, it's a complex question with no simple or easy answer. Sometimes the perpetrator and the victim have to share the blame.

---

I'm reading about the Theranos case right now. It's clear that Walgreens was defrauded. They entered into a partnership with Theranos based on lies they were told. Elizabeth Holmes and her cronies absolutely deserve the blame for that.

But there were also many red flags that the Walgreens team chose to ignore. They hired a consultant to help them with their due diligence. He was cockblocked at every turn by Theranos, and Wallgreens dismissed his concerns. So, even though Theranos cheated them, I'd say the Walgreens team screwed the pooch as well, and have much to answer for. If I were a Walgreens shareholder, I'd want consequences for the team that pursued the Theranos partnership. I'd want resignations for some of the executives involved. And if I were an investor or employer, I'd think long and hard about whether I'd want to work with any of those jackasses, regardless of how hard Theranos worked to fool them.*

---
*Theranos worked as hard as they possibly could to fool Walgreens, but it shouldn't have been enough to successfully pull off the scam. Walgreens worked pretty hard to fool themselves.

The crux of Walgreen's wilful blindness seems to have been concern about their major competitor, CVS. If Walgreens passed on Theranos, and the tech turned out to be real, CVS would eat their lunch with it. I get this concern.

But the smarter play for Walgreens, with the information available at the time, would have been to play dumb on this "sure thing", and let CVS snipe it out from under them. Then sit back and laugh while CVS ate a multimillion dollar jackass-tax.
Walgreen's, Theranos, and CVS are not people. That they have no conscience is therefore unsurprising.
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:18 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Let's throw in "staggering" for good measure as well.
Hysteria speak to advance the liberal agenda that spends others money without their consent. Some merit in principle, but Socialism isn't the answer and that is the Liberal direction...
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:20 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Wealth tax would solve this.
Or the wealthy would just emigrate because they can.
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:22 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Nobody says it's a crime. But concentration of wealth is the result of laws and social policies that are not cast in stone, and in fact have changed substantially in recent decades. The question is whether it's good for the society for one person or family to hold vast wealth and all the political power associated with it. Would Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have played more golf if their income and capital gains taxes had been higher? Should the Kochs be able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars opposing environmental protections? Should any one company like Google, Facebook or Amazon be able to dominate their market sectors? None of this is the result of some inevitable process of nature.
If you're penalizing them for it (taxation) you kind of are at least discouraging it. Socialism isnt the answer
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:31 AM   #155
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
If you're penalizing them for it (taxation) you kind of are at least discouraging it. Socialism isnt the answer
Do you feel having billionaires is a good thing?

Do you think social policy should promote the existence of billionaires or not?
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:55 AM   #156
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
They sold 52.2 million phones in ONE quarter this year. Just how many people are we calling stupid here?

And again, we're getting away from the original premise: Lots and lots of people, I forget the number posted, but way over half, are living paycheck-to-paycheck. How many of them are stupid? How many just don't care to be frugal? And furthermore, what are we supposed to do? Tell Apple they aren't allowed to advertise?

This is also ignoring the problems of a changing job market and planned obsolescence. The latter of which Apple indirectly admitted to some time back (they denied it was a tactic, then admitted to practices that were virtually indistinguishable). And there are several misleading factors involved in that statistic.

Having a mobile phone is effectively de rigeur for most workers. Employers want their employees on a tighter leash, and have come to expect a level of responsiveness that is effectively impossible with a land-line-only scenario; especially in the biggest growth fields (IT and Healthcare). Sure, it's possible to persevere without a mobile device which has access to not only the phone network, but SMS and email as well; but that puts one at an increasing disadvantage in highly competitive job markets.

On top of that, more and more services, including services to the unemployed and homeless, are moving from offices to websites, and from websites to mobile phone apps. So without some sort of mobile device, access to services becomes substantially more difficult.

One misleading factor is that almost no one pays full retail price for phones. Typically phones are sold at a discount if one locks one's self into a particular carrier's service plan. Said service plans commonly include discounts on phone upgrades after a particular period of time. Now, one can claim that it's not necessary to upgrade, and a lot of people don't always move to the latest and greatest the moment it's available (I certainly don't). But that also puts one at a disadvantage.

Which brings up the second misleading factor -- planned obsolescence. The developers of the software used by your mobile device plan their development practices around the expectation that phones will be upgraded to more powerful hardware on a regular, roughly 2 year cycle. This means that operating systems and applications become increasingly resource intensive as time goes on, and eventually it becomes difficult or impossible to run the applications, or in some cases even the OS, on newer hardware. On top of that, unlike PCs, it's effectively impossible to opt out of upgrades and maintain using lower-resource-demand older versions. All OSes and nearly all major applications force updates. There are some tricks to opting out of updates, but those doing so will very quickly find that the applications cease functioning due to "version incompatibilty" with the purveyors services, or phone networks will start restricting access due to the lack of "security updates" on the phone. Because of this, it's very difficult to continue using the same phone for more than about 5-6 years.

Another aspect to that is that mobile service providers frequently change plans, and drop support for older phones. Consumers can find themselves being charged more for services once the time limit on their plan runs out (all there in the fine print), and in order to continue service at lower rates, they're required to sign onto new plans, locking themselves in for a period of time. This, naturally, also requires a phone upgrade; because of the provider ending support for older devices (which cannot handle all the branded bloatware applications that the new plan pushes to the device).

Few, if any, major service providers still have plans and phone types available which do not fit into this scheme; and those that do often have them at a higher rate to compensate for the lack of secondary revenue, or with stringent limitations (eg, targeted at children, thus limiting what access is available, or must be part of a "family" plan).

One can argue that there are pre-paid/pay-as-you-go plans and cheap off-brand phones available; but these are also misleading. All pre-paid/pay-as-you-go plans have a much higher rate than subscription plans, so eventually end up costing the user more in the long term. And they typically do not have access to the same applications, and thus the same services.

That's not to say that there isn't some economizing that can be done, but there are very hard limits, and doing so commonly requires an amount of effort and technical skill that few people, especially poor working people, are capable of.
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:57 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Do you feel having billionaires is a good thing?

Do you think social policy should promote the existence of billionaires or not?
I could as easily flip the question on you. The better question is how someone made it that far in wealth.
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Old 9th October 2019, 09:59 AM   #158
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I thought we were going to Make America Great Again by rolling back our tax rates to the good ole days, like the fifties or sixties.

Nope, taxes are the one thing that have gotten better and better for the wealthy since then.
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:00 AM   #159
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
I could as easily flip the question on you. The better question is how someone made it that far in wealth.
By lobbying the government for tax policies that favor them and their companies.
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:01 AM   #160
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
The Waltons would have little of the moral high ground to perch upon should they begin to complain that the Gov. is too generous with food stamps when a substantial portion of their profits come from those same food-stamps. A great deal of them going to actual Walmart employees- thus cheapening their labor costs as well.

And that's the other thing. These megacorps are themselves the recipient of far more "welfare" than any private citizen could ever be. Tax exemptions resulting in the largest corporations not only paying no taxes, but even getting tax rebates. Government subsidizing housing and food costs for their employees, allowing them to keep labour costs minimized. And so on.

There is literally no reason that Walmart employees should be getting food and housing benefits from the government. They, and others like them, can clearly afford to pay their employees a living wage; but choose not to do so in order to inflate their own profit margins and "shareholder value".
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