Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leadership Engineering vs. Umlaut Comments

Doing it wrong.

Comments here, via, spurred by this.

"If you're going to advocate/borrow elements from some version/mix of an ideology/ideologies that led to the death of lots of people in the past"
There were some sincere, well-intentioned communists. They formed actual communes with a hundred or so of their buddies. Communism failed on this scale, so they abandoned the communes. Usually before anyone died.

Then there were some insincere, power-lustful communists. They imposed these known failure modes on countries of millions of people. When people started dying, they did not change their minds about what should be done.

The disputants in the Umlaut comment section seem to be arguing about who gets to legitimately seize the coercive apparatus. They have concluded it's the group with the most rhetorically-effective arguments, and are now all attempting to seize that power proxy.

If you actually want to create good government, then it's time to apply engineering discipline. Preliminary studies. Prototype. Scale - slowly. One tribe. Then one town. Then one city. Then two cities. Solve problems as they arise, before scaling further. Not revolution. Not entire countries at once.

The only reason I'm not already out there recruiting for an experiment in alternative government structures is because my proposed alternatives are illegal. There is also the Rhodesia problem, should my designs happen to work.

Why Mechanization Doesn't Cause Job Loss

Or: Luddites still wrongheaded.

Toy economy microcosm: iPods and mining, nothing else.

Let's say an iPod costs $1000 to make, $500 for labour, the rest for ore from the mine. Let's say we mechanize so cleverly the iPod no longer takes any human labour at all.

Normally, the lowered input costs will make iPods cost much less, indeed around half as much. This will cause more iPods to sell, requiring more ore. Demand curves being what they are, they won't sell twice as much, but four or five or ten times as much. (Ctrl-f "Holiday.")

For every $500 of ore Apple was buying, they're now buying $2100 of ore. If the mining company spends more than $160 of labour to mine that $500 of ore, the economy will now be spending more overall on labour than it did before the jobs were 'lost.' (Real companies would kill to have such low labour costs.)

The cotton gin added net jobs, because like every other mechanization so far, it did not eliminate labour entirely, and the higher demand for the remaining labour more than compensated for the 'lost' jobs.

Certainly there's some short-term pain, which I think should be treated compassionately. The iPod workers will be out of a job while the economy adjusts, and I for one don't want to rip them away from their roots, their friends and family and geographical familiarity, so they can go work at a mine halfway across the country.

However, the idea that mechanization costs jobs is still wrong.

The government costs jobs.