The cancellation of the final season of The Apprentice.
The coal industry would be thriving this year.
The only economic theory more useless than socialism is trickle-down economics.
Commence soap-box opinion mode.
On paper, both can seem to have merit.
Socialism advocates governmental leveling of prosperity to ensure a kind of blanket equity for all, from those who are disadvantaged in the system to those who are not. This comes at a direct short-term cost (ie tax hikes) to those who are thriving in the system with the academic assumption that lifting the standard of living for all will fuel economic growth and have eventual long term benefits to everyone. Kumbaya.
Trickle-Down Theory strives to push all prosperity through those who are thriving most, and is done with the academic assumption that providing short-term benefit (ie tax cuts) to those who are in the best position to take risk and make investment will “trickle down” and spur economic growth. This comes at a direct short-term cost to those who are already disadvantaged but is justified by a model that suggests sustainable growth will partner with eventual long-term benefits to all.
Both theories suffer from the same delusion: that all people are inherently good and everyone in the system is working for the same positive mutual win-win state of economics for everyone. Both assume that no one ever lies, cheats, games, or robs from the system –or if they do that there are strong enough punitive consequences in place to limit the effects of these as mere outliers that don’t greatly affect the system.
In other words, socialism without meaningful and legal incentives tends to lead to players breaking the rules to provide personal payoff for any perceived risk, or results in those in a better position to take risks to avoid risk altogether (ie what’s in in for me to work hard syndrome.) Taken together, this often manifests from something as simple as hoarding to more complex forms of political corruption. In its extreme, this in turn leads to supply shortages and economic collapse.
Likewise, trickle-down economics without meaningful and legal boundaries, usually in form of binding regulation, tends to tempt players to ignore what might be defined as an intangible moral imperative to participate positively in society usually for the stated benefit of a more measurable system feedback (ie shareholder value or executive compensation.) In its extreme, this leads to a hoarding of capital in the hands of a small cadre of powerful people who are usually unable to fully divest that wealth in a meaningful or equitable way (as the theory intends) even if they wanted to (which history tells us they don’t always want to) leading to economic collapse.
I tend to think of myself as a centrist, in that moderate taxes support a fair society that provide a balance: the government can invest in projects that make society better but have little tangible short-term market value, investing publicly in things such education, transit, health, defense, or incubator or transitional technologies. On the other hand that same tax obligation is not so much a burden as to disincentivize the risk taken by business to provide goods and services that can be sold for profit (and employment opportunities) to those with the means to buy and also fair payoff to those who took the risk.
It’s a balancing act. Not an easy one either. It’s the economic equivalent of a jumbo jet control board with hundreds of sliders and knobs controlling the inputs and outputs of a multitude of instruments and systems and millions of passengers on the plane, all in an attempt to produce a smooth, safe flight that all can enjoy.
Of course, this has all been commentary on the kamikaze american tax bill of late 2017 where in an act of desperation to appeal to a small subset of donors riding in first class, the lawmakers have slap-grabbed the control board with both palms and dragged a bunch of the knobs and sliders into a cacophony of engine groans that looks a lot like a hasty attempt at course change towards trickle-down economics (and potentially a crash-landing on a small island in the pacific where the strong will hunt the weak for food and sport while the pilots stand atop their volcano lair and laugh at us all squabbling below.)
So… hold on folks, buckle your seat belts, secure your wallets and take a deep breath from that oxygen mask… no matter where you live, we’re all headed for some turbulence.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the wholesale assault on the free internet that is happening in the budding fascist land to my south, it’s worth noting that on Thursday afternoon the cadre of wannabe-criminals who are in charge of protecting consumer rights (at least with regards to communication and media down there) set up camp in the land of corporate protectionism. Well, more than set up camp. It’s more like they revealed that they actually own a two-story house with a picket fence and have been going to PTA meetings for a decade.
The American FCC killed net neutrality in the United States on December 14, 2017, a date that you should remember because it became the day that everything you think of as good and open about the net (and make no mistake, most of the english-speaking net still lives within those borders) and everything that you take for granted about opening any network connection and having equal access to post, share, read, view, download, or upload anything and everything without the people you pay to make those connections asserting their opinion into the mix… this is the day that died.
There are arguments for & against on both sides, but as someone who has struggled to be an independent content creator for most of his internet life, I’ll freely admit that I’ve set up my own tree fort in the side of pro net neutrality. I don’t have a powerful media conglomerate behind me. People like me now have one more massive hurdle to deal with to get from zero to something.
The good thing for me (specifically me) is that I don’t actually live in the Corporate States of America. Thus, I’m moving my business (because that’s how I think of my independent work) out too. I’m taking my ball and coming home. As of reading the news about the hostile corporate takeover of the internet, I’ve bought and paid for a new web hosting package on Canadian soil and over the next month I’ll repatriating my websites, cancelling all web business I do with US companies, and doing something I should have done years ago, but have been far too lazy to start: moving all my websites back to Canada.
This is all speculation, of course. The optimist in me wants to think that corporations could and will make the net better through investment and enhancement. But the realist in me knows that corporations are not charities, and their sociopathic tendencies tend to drive hard against the best interests of what’s good for society, people, children and communities. In it’s prime the net was a place where anyone could make anything, a good idea could be scaled up into a meaningful business or service, a kid could become a millionaire for playing videos games, or a dad could cobble together a small audience of people with whom to share a laugh or two. In the coming years you’ll find that the only people who can see that content are those who are willing to pay a bit more for the independent, fringe stuff. Basic web packages will let you shop at a short-list of retailers, interact on a select collection of social medias, and cap how much music you stream. American WiFi is about to become as restrictive as a cell phone data plan: and the trickle down, no matter where you live, is that a huge audience has just been silenced.
Me moving doesn’t fix anything, but it’s the only vote I have.