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Old 9th October 2019, 10:02 AM   #161
3point14
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
I could as easily flip the question on you.
You didn't answer. Why not? If you feel it's impossible to answer then the why of that would be interesting too.

I think, like Bernie, that they're a policy failure.

They are not the result of the natural order of things, they are the results of policy.

Therefore, do you support policy that encourages billionaires or one that doesn't?




Quote:
The better question is how someone made it that far in wealth.
No, that isn't a better question, it's a totally different question. I'm interested in your answer to the one I posed above.
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:11 AM   #162
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
True few realize Amazon is a backbone of the much of the internet.
Even fewer realize that Amazon is the third largest in online advertising revenue, behind google and facebook, and it appears that google is losing market share to Amazon over the last few years.

Most purchases on Amazon are tied to advertising paid to Amazon by the vendor. Trying to sell on Amazon without paying Amazon for advertising is nearly impossible.
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:31 AM   #163
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I find these kinds of questions interesting.
Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Do you feel having billionaires is a good thing?
Mostly I think it's a neutral side effect of a particular system. On the other hand, I think it's on balance a good system, so I tend to see its side effects as more good than bad. In that sense, sure, I think having billionaires is a good thing. Trying to get rid of them would probably get rid of the things that make the underlying system a good system.

Quote:
Do you think social policy should promote the existence of billionaires or not?
I think social policy should promote good systems, and remain agnostic about whether such a system allows for the emergence of billionaires.
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:31 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
You didn't answer. Why not? If you feel it's impossible to answer then the why of that would be interesting too.

I think, like Bernie, that they're a policy failure.

They are not the result of the natural order of things, they are the results of policy.

Therefore, do you support policy that encourages billionaires or one that doesn't?






No, that isn't a better question, it's a totally different question. I'm interested in your answer to the one I posed above.

Philosophically I see it as a Socialistic attempt to "cap" what's possible. And no, it isn't different, the how one gets to be that wealthy is as important as the fact they are.

Until one can create some Utopia with no need for a wealth based Economy then your concept is fruitless. Folks tend not to want to be poor. Capping wealth potential or penalizing folks for it one it's "too much" is counterproductive.
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:31 AM   #165
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Speaking of Amazon...

"If you worked every single day, making $5000/day, from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you are reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire, and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week."
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Old 9th October 2019, 10:58 AM   #166
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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?
52.2 million? Apple is willing to spend on things like displays that people see, but overall have a long history of sketchy underlying hardware. “Shining up turds and selling them for high prices because they are trendy” is very much their core business model.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:09 AM   #167
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
Philosophically I see it as a Socialistic attempt to "cap" what's possible.


What makes you think Socialism has anything to do with it?
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:13 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Speaking of Amazon...

"If you worked every single day, making $5000/day, from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you are reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire, and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week."
So? By a lot of measures, almost everyone in America - including those on welfare - is wealthier than the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, who commissioned the Great Pyramid. Obviously not wealthy in terms of number of construction workers you can hire to stack vast blocks of stone. But you can probably buy more treasures with a day's wages at 7-11 than Khufu could ever afford with all the riches that followed him into his tomb.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:15 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
So? By a lot of measures, almost everyone in America - including those on welfare - is wealthier than the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, who commissioned the Great Pyramid. Obviously not wealthy in terms of number of construction workers you can hire to stack vast blocks of stone. But you can probably buy more treasures with a day's wages at 7-11 than Khufu could ever afford.
It's an aide to conceptualise the difference. Nobody can actually conceive of a billion, so we all need a little reminder of just how much more it is than the average and how much, much more it is than the poorest.


Khufu doesn't pay taxes to the same authority that those on their uppers in the US do. It's a poor argument.


So, do you think that US tax and social policy should encourage billionaires, as it does now? Or inhibit them, as it did when America was great?
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:22 AM   #170
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
What makes you think Socialism has anything to do with it?
because they want to redistribute the wealth some have made to those who haven't.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:24 AM   #171
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As I've pointed out before, most of Jeff Bezos's wealth is tied to Amazon stock. If the price per stock dropped from $1726 per share to say, $10.00 per share, his net worth would drop by over 100 billion dollars. Something like 95% of his "wealth" is tied to stocks. It's not liquid cash. And furthermore, he couldn't sell all 60 million shares at once to liquidate, either. By even starting to sell a large chunk of his shares, he'd be dropping the value of the stocks. So even though he's "worth" 108 billion or so, he doesn't have access to nearly that amount of dough. Sure, he's filthy rich, don't get me wrong. I'm guesstimating that even without the stock he must be worth about 6 billion.

These are fruitful discussions that need to be had. Corporate welfare IS a problem, as someone above me pointed out. I'm enjoying this discussion and learning a good deal.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:27 AM   #172
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
So? By a lot of measures, almost everyone in America - including those on welfare - is wealthier than the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, who commissioned the Great Pyramid. Obviously not wealthy in terms of number of construction workers you can hire to stack vast blocks of stone. But you can probably buy more treasures with a day's wages at 7-11 than Khufu could ever afford with all the riches that followed him into his tomb.
So? By a lot of measures the average slave pulling the stones and piling them up was wealthier than an early clan chieftain. And was wearing more treasures than that chieftain could ever imagine.
Does that indicate a reasonable distribution of wealth during the Pyramid building period of the Egyptian empire?
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:31 AM   #173
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
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
Yes, this is a factor as well, but the reference to the Balumal Effect is that compensation is growing despite stagnated productivity. Luxury features in dorms is a way to rationalize it by shifting the product purchased from stagnating educational value to adding additional 'value added' elements to the educational 'experience'.



Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
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.
Just to clarify: the Balumal Effect would also apply to all a healthcare company's employees' compensation, not just the physicians. ie: CEOs, managers, directors, lawyers and other specialists. It's an attempt to explain why wages are compensated at a higher rate than expected when comparing against productivity.


Basically, I brought these up to show the charts that show growth in costs for these sectors which are arguably 'necessities' and hard for Americans to 'opt out of' ("I don't need a dwelling" is not really an option, which is why I put housing in the necessities bucket) have not only grown faster than mode/medium or minimum wage, but also have grown so large that they are now dominant wallet share of the citizen such that all the abstract "but you get so much more TV for $300" counterarguments come across as missing the forest for the trees.

My dad paid 15% of his 1966 single household income on housing for the 2500 square foot house in a quarter acre suburban lot with a swimming pool. My 30 year old coworker spends 50% of her and her husband's combined dual income on a 550 square foot condo that doesn't even have ensuite laundry. Who cares that a $200 TV is 25% less expensive than 50 years ago.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:32 AM   #174
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
So? By a lot of measures the average slave pulling the stones and piling them up was wealthier than an early clan chieftain. And was wearing more treasures than that chieftain could ever imagine.
Does that indicate a reasonable distribution of wealth during the Pyramid building period of the Egyptian empire?

I've never found 'you're better off than a caveman' to be a convincing argument. Some put it on the table like it's the ace of trumps. It reeks of desperation.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:33 AM   #175
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
So, do you think that US tax and social policy should encourage billionaires, as it does now? Or inhibit them, as it did when America was great?
Adjusted for inflation, none of today's billionaires even make the top ten of richest people of all-time. So I'm not sure what you're referring to here?
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt - $185 billion
9. Henry Ford - $199 billion
3. Andrew Carnegie - $310 billion
2. John Rockefeller - $340 billion

I've only included US businessmen as your message was regarding America "inhibiting" billionaires. I'm not seeing that at all with this list.

https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-car...all-time.html/
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:34 AM   #176
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Originally Posted by Distracted1 View Post
So? By a lot of measures the average slave pulling the stones and piling them up was wealthier than an early clan chieftain. And was wearing more treasures than that chieftain could ever imagine.
Does that indicate a reasonable distribution of wealth during the Pyramid building period of the Egyptian empire?
Of course the serfs and Egyptian laborers typically had more free/vacation time than their modern equivalents.

Of course buying your sex slaves is harder now so does that mean that people in the past were richer because they could buy more slaves?

Remember Agatha Christie, she at one point could never imagine being rich enough to own a car, or being too poor to have servants. The lack of servants in the modern so called "middle class" is a real change, I mean how can you really be middle class with out at least 2-3 live in servants? So am I richer than her because I have a car, or poorer because I can not afford even one live in maid?

Or it could be at its base a stupid argument.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:39 AM   #177
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Adjusted for inflation, none of today's billionaires even make the top ten of richest people of all-time. So I'm not sure what you're referring to here?
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt - $185 billion
9. Henry Ford - $199 billion
3. Andrew Carnegie - $310 billion
2. John Rockefeller - $340 billion

I've only included US businessmen as your message was regarding America "inhibiting" billionaires. I'm not seeing that at all with this list.

https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-car...all-time.html/

Is that a 'yes', a 'no' or an 'I disagree with the notion that billionaires can be encouraged or discouraged by the policies of the state'?

Because I can't see an answer there.

Want me to ask the question again?
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:39 AM   #178
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
As I've pointed out before, most of Jeff Bezos's wealth is tied to Amazon stock. If the price per stock dropped from $1726 per share to say, $10.00 per share, his net worth would drop by over 100 billion dollars. Something like 95% of his "wealth" is tied to stocks. It's not liquid cash. And furthermore, he couldn't sell all 60 million shares at once to liquidate, either. By even starting to sell a large chunk of his shares, he'd be dropping the value of the stocks. So even though he's "worth" 108 billion or so, he doesn't have access to nearly that amount of dough. Sure, he's filthy rich, don't get me wrong. I'm guesstimating that even without the stock he must be worth about 6 billion.

These are fruitful discussions that need to be had. Corporate welfare IS a problem, as someone above me pointed out. I'm enjoying this discussion and learning a good deal.
The complication with that is that everything we own is not actually money, and so its worth just a proxy for what hypothetically it could sell for. Bezos' 6 billion you're estimating might be in, say, yachts and housing. Well, unless the bottom falls out of the yacht market and unless real estate crashes, in which case he's worth less. I got a great deal on my house because I bought it in March 2009 at less than half what the previous owner paid for it. Everything's current value is a bit fru fru.

Net worth is something that's often misleading for everybody. I work with peers in the FIRE movement, and there's a big difference between having a $3Million dollar home through just sitting on it for 50 years, which costs a fortune to maintain and is practically a liability - versus having a $3Million dollar market cap business pulling in $300k/yr in income to the shareowner. These two people are in very different 'wealth' positions.

This is a reason that I have some interest in exploring options for a wealth tax... some asset classes do seem to lend themselves to dangerous expansions of political power, whereas others seem more passive and socially beneficial. I don't think it's a bad idea to see if there's a way to discourage the former while encouraging the latter, through well considered taxation policy.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:43 AM   #179
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
As I've pointed out before, most of Jeff Bezos's wealth is tied to Amazon stock. If the price per stock dropped from $1726 per share to say, $10.00 per share, his net worth would drop by over 100 billion dollars. Something like 95% of his "wealth" is tied to stocks. It's not liquid cash. And furthermore, he couldn't sell all 60 million shares at once to liquidate, either. By even starting to sell a large chunk of his shares, he'd be dropping the value of the stocks. So even though he's "worth" 108 billion or so, he doesn't have access to nearly that amount of dough. Sure, he's filthy rich, don't get me wrong. I'm guesstimating that even without the stock he must be worth about 6 billion.

These are fruitful discussions that need to be had. Corporate welfare IS a problem, as someone above me pointed out. I'm enjoying this discussion and learning a good deal.
That his wealth is not cash is actually a feature, not a bug. Cash does not hold its value. Stock can increase in value. If he had sold all his stock five years ago and converted it to ladder CDs at his local credit union he would be much less wealthy today. I'll leave the math for someone else.

Because of that potential for further upside, stock is easier to leverage than cash. He can borrow against that stock if he wants to buy a trinket, like Ford Motor Company (Mkt Cap ~$35B), and he doesn't even have to cash in the stock. Or say he had to pay a tax on that wealth, he could get financing on that as well, without ever selling a single share.

Stock gives him power that cash alone could never give him. Do you really think he would be CEO if he didn't own so much of the company?
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:51 AM   #180
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Stock gives him power that cash alone could never give him. Do you really think he would be CEO if he didn't own so much of the company?
Essentially yeah. Any asset that passes a minimum threshold of surplus sufficient to hire an army of lobbyists can find enormous leverage through rent seeking. There's an estimate that lobbying returns are in the fifth order of magnitude percentagewiese (eg one paper estimates 76,000% return in the USA, considering all levels of government).

And there's public engagement as well, such as his investment in the Washington Post. I'm confident that an equal dollar value invested in Renoirs would not have the same political returns as this newspaper purchase does.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:54 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
because they want to redistribute the wealth some have made to those who haven't.
That isn’t clear either, but redistribution isn’t the same thing as socialism. Now my question is 2-fold:

How is it socialism
How is it redistribution.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:04 PM   #182
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
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.
....
That's not really how it works. Stocks included in the S&P change are changed over time, as some companies and industries shrink and others grow, but it doesn't happen often, and it's always intended to reflect a large percentage of the whole economy. Nobody claims anybody's manipulating it to achieve a result.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26P_500_Index
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sp500.asp
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:06 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
That's not really how it works. Stocks included in the S&P change are changed over time, as some companies and industries shrink and others grow, but it doesn't happen often, and it's always intended to reflect a large percentage of the whole economy. Nobody claims anybody's manipulating it to achieve a result.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26P_500_Index
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sp500.asp
(Except arguably, to 'achieve the result' of representing the US economy as best as possible.)
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:08 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post

Just to clarify: the Balumal Effect would also apply to all a healthcare company's employees' compensation, not just the physicians. ie: CEOs, managers, directors, lawyers and other specialists. It's an attempt to explain why wages are compensated at a higher rate than expected when comparing against productivity.
Maybe the Balumal Effect could be used to explain salary increases of Canadian doctors because Canada needs to compete with US salaries, but I’m hard pressed to see how US doctors could make more money by moving to some other profession.

I’d suggest that wage gains with no productivity gains in this case would be better explained by reduced competition, or reduced market efficiency by some other mechanism like an increase in information asymmetry.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:10 PM   #185
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Is that a 'yes', a 'no' or an 'I disagree with the notion that billionaires can be encouraged or discouraged by the policies of the state'?

Because I can't see an answer there.

Want me to ask the question again?
The people you name achieved their fortunes at a time when there was almost no regulation or anti-trust enforcement and no income tax. Modern megafortunes have been achieved in an era where income tax rates and other taxes -- particularly including inheritance taxes -- have been reduced, and anti-trust enforcement has declined. These are facts. Tax and social policy have a direct impact on the accumulation and concentration of wealth. What are you questioning?
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:11 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
(Except arguably, to 'achieve the result' of representing the US economy as best as possible.)
Of course. I meant to achieve a fraudulent result, which seemed to be the implication of the question.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:12 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
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.
Sort of... a company is dropped when it becomes irrelevant, which yes is usually when it underperforms spectacularly to the point of either dissolving or becoming a shell of its former self. GE, Bethlehem Steel, Sears...


Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
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.
Not so much 'best' but 'high market cap'. If a trillion dollar company shrinks so small they're operating out of a rolled up newspaper, it gets punted because it's no longer providing a good sampling of what's happening to the economy.


Other indexes have similar or slightly different objectives, such as Down Jones Industrial, NASDAQ, Wiltshire 5000...

People who invest in 'index funds' need to be aware of this, as some indexes are designed to only track a particular sector of the economy.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:13 PM   #188
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Of course. I meant to achieve a fraudulent result, which seemed to be the implication of the question.
Understood. The indexes are managed transparently and are exactly what they advertise.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:15 PM   #189
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The people you name achieved their fortunes at a time when there was almost no regulation or anti-trust enforcement and no income tax. Modern megafortunes have been achieved in an era where income tax rates and other taxes -- particularly including inheritance taxes -- have been reduced, and anti-trust enforcement has declined. These are facts. Tax and social policy have a direct impact on the accumulation and concentration of wealth. What are you questioning?


I'm not sure the above is aimed at me.

My point is that those whose considered opinion is 'we have no right to an opinion on if there should be billioonaires, there just are, why are you so envious?' do not have a tenable position given that the research shows that billionnaires are the result of policy.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:17 PM   #190
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Maybe the Balumal Effect could be used to explain salary increases of Canadian doctors because Canada needs to compete with US salaries, but I’m hard pressed to see how US doctors could make more money by moving to some other profession.
The model is that they would have chosen a different profession with equivalent education. Hedge fund manager, maybe.



Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
I’d suggest that wage gains with no productivity gains in this case would be better explained by reduced competition, or reduced market efficiency by some other mechanism like an increase in information asymmetry.
I'm sure those factors contribute as well, but the papers do address attempts to control for those properties.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:20 PM   #191
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
Essentially yeah. Any asset that passes a minimum threshold of surplus sufficient to hire an army of lobbyists can find enormous leverage through rent seeking. There's an estimate that lobbying returns are in the fifth order of magnitude percentagewiese (eg one paper estimates 76,000% return in the USA, considering all levels of government).

And there's public engagement as well, such as his investment in the Washington Post. I'm confident that an equal dollar value invested in Renoirs would not have the same political returns as this newspaper purchase does.
Not to digress too far, but by all accounts Bezo's purchase of the Washington Post was a near-heroic act of public service. The Post was losing around $100 million a year when he stepped up, and the Graham family couldn't support it forever. They could have put it up for auction, and Rupert Murdoch or the Gannett chain might have been the new owners. By all accounts Bezos has hired tough, aggressive editors and journalists and stayed out of their way, allowing them to pursue multiple investigations of Trump, and in response Trump has disparaged Amazon and Bezos, and threatened Amazon's government contracts. If Bezos just wanted to make money, he could have done a lot better with fewer headaches than saving a failing newspaper.

The question still remains whether tax and social policy should allow any one person to hold a personal fortune of around $160 Billion bucks.

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Old 9th October 2019, 12:44 PM   #192
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Is that a 'yes', a 'no' or an 'I disagree with the notion that billionaires can be encouraged or discouraged by the policies of the state'?

Because I can't see an answer there.

Want me to ask the question again?
Are you looking for some kind of internet "gotcha" moment here? My post that you just quoted both quoted and responded to something you said, including a hilight.

But yes, to answer your question, of course. Policy effects everything. I doubt Mansa Musa was the most brilliant mind in human history, but he lead at a time and enacted the correct policies to make himself the wealthiest person in the history of the world.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:50 PM   #193
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The people you name achieved their fortunes at a time when there was almost no regulation or anti-trust enforcement and no income tax. Modern megafortunes have been achieved in an era where income tax rates and other taxes -- particularly including inheritance taxes -- have been reduced, and anti-trust enforcement has declined. These are facts.
I don’t disagree, but this doesn’t support the idea that billionaires are the problem, but rather the public is more accepting of people distorting free markets for their own personal profit.

While billionaires have certainly jumped on board, I attribute it to populist devaluation of legitimate expertise. This makes people more susceptible to (among other things) the false information on how free markets work by right wing media, politicians and preachers.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:55 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
The model is that they would have chosen a different profession with equivalent education. Hedge fund manager, maybe.


There are way more doctors than hedge fund managers, so I can’t imagine there are enough opportunities in the field to distort physician pay scales. While there is some spill over effect, physician salaries is mostly a US problem, which once again suggests it being a result of market distortion or market inefficiency.
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Old 9th October 2019, 01:03 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
It's an aide to conceptualise the difference. Nobody can actually conceive of a billion, so we all need a little reminder of just how much more it is than the average and how much, much more it is than the poorest.


Khufu doesn't pay taxes to the same authority that those on their uppers in the US do. It's a poor argument.


So, do you think that US tax and social policy should encourage billionaires, as it does now? Or inhibit them, as it did when America was great?
Oh hey look! Oversimplification in the service of gotcha games. Boop to that.
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Old 9th October 2019, 01:45 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
There are way more doctors than hedge fund managers, so I can’t imagine there are enough opportunities in the field to distort physician pay scales. While there is some spill over effect, physician salaries is mostly a US problem, which once again suggests it being a result of market distortion or market inefficiency.
I threw out fund managers as a random example for illustration purposes. The point is that it's one of many professions that can benefit from the same level of education that a person with the academic aptitude might pursue.

I think the specific examples that are being randomly addressed distract from the big picture - healtcare is more than just doctors' salaries. In fact, physicians are probably <1% of the cost of healthcare in these calculations. The largest single labour category is nursing, administrative staff, middle managers, lawyers, and executives, and some cost is sunk into the real estate values (the land could be used for other purposes, so new facilities' costing reflects the competition for the land by other industries), &c.
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Old 9th October 2019, 02:58 PM   #197
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Are you looking for some kind of internet "gotcha" moment here? My post that you just quoted both quoted and responded to something you said, including a hilight.

But yes, to answer your question, of course. Policy effects everything. I doubt Mansa Musa was the most brilliant mind in human history, but he lead at a time and enacted the correct policies to make himself the wealthiest person in the history of the world.
You made me look it up. Yes, it's easy to build wealth if you are born a royal prince, command the biggest army and make all the rules. That kinda illustrates the point.
https://www.ancient.eu/Mansa_Musa_I/

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Old 9th October 2019, 03:28 PM   #198
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Not to digress too far, but by all accounts Bezo's purchase of the Washington Post was a near-heroic act of public service. The Post was losing around $100 million a year when he stepped up, and the Graham family couldn't support it forever. They could have put it up for auction, and Rupert Murdoch or the Gannett chain might have been the new owners. By all accounts Bezos has hired tough, aggressive editors and journalists and stayed out of their way, allowing them to pursue multiple investigations of Trump, and in response Trump has disparaged Amazon and Bezos, and threatened Amazon's government contracts. If Bezos just wanted to make money, he could have done a lot better with fewer headaches than saving a failing newspaper.
I don't think either of us know exactly what Bezos wants with the WaPo, but I'm confident its purchase was intended to be a business venture rather than a charitable act. How this chesspiece fits into a larger plan is something that he might have not been clear about at purchase date, but it's nice to have a bishop in the mix, if that makes any sense.



Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The question still remains whether tax and social policy should allow any one person to hold a personal fortune of around $160 Billion bucks.
This is where history is useful, IMO. My interpretation of Rome's political crises is that the republic failed to address the ambitions of a new category of very rapidly appearing superwealthy. The opportunity was missed, and they basically bought up portions of the empire and then fought each other to get each other's portion.

I mentioned the power of lobbying above. Power begets more power until its so concentrated that national management becomes a few individuals' will. There's going to be an inflection point beyond which there's a point of no return. While I can't put a metric to that, my feeling is that by the time we discover it it will be too late, and I advocate a precautionary approach.

The downside for being overly cautious is that a few billionaires have a few less millions. The downside for being asleep at the switch is the loss of democracy.
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Old 9th October 2019, 03:44 PM   #199
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
I don't think either of us know exactly what Bezos wants with the WaPo, but I'm confident its purchase was intended to be a business venture rather than a charitable act. How this chesspiece fits into a larger plan is something that he might have not been clear about at purchase date, but it's nice to have a bishop in the mix, if that makes any sense.
....

His plan wasn't clear even to himself. From an interview in 2013 when he bought it:
Quote:
We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” he said. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader’, that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/p...t-8797023.html

What's really notable is that the interview six years ago notes his wealth as $24 billion. Today it's over $150 billion. At that rate, he could be literally a trillionaire in ten years.
https://playback.fm/jeff-bezos-net-worth
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Old 9th October 2019, 03:52 PM   #200
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
His plan wasn't clear even to himself. From an interview in 2013 when he bought it:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/p...t-8797023.html

What's really notable is that the interview six years ago notes his wealth as $24 billion. Today it's over $150 billion. At that rate, he could be literally a trillionaire in ten years.
https://playback.fm/jeff-bezos-net-worth
As somebody who owns Amazon shares, I'm doubtful we're going to see that growth rate continue. Almost all those gains were a spurt for four years 2015-2018. I just don't see that pace of growth resuming for various reasons.

However, this relates to my above comment about Rome... the rise of the superwealthy there was very rapid, and the Republic didn't have a lot of time to recognize and respond to the danger to defend itself.
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