-- via my feedly newsfeed
According to the Crafts-Harley estimates of British GDP, output per worker rose by 46% between 1780 and 1840. Over the same period, Feinstein's real wage index rose by only 12%. It was only a slight exaggeration to say that the average real wage was constant, and it certainly rose much less than output per worker. This was the period, and the circumstances, described by Engels in The Condition of the Working Class. In the next 60 years, however, the situation changed. Between 1840 and 1900, output per worker increased by 90% and the real wage by 123%. This was the 'modern' pattern in which labour productivity and wages advance at roughly the same rate, and it emerged in
Britain around the time Engels wrote his famous book.
The key question is: why did the British economy go through this two phase trajectory of development? ... Between 1760 and 1800, the real wage grew slowly (0.39% per annum) but so did output per worker (0.26%), capital per worker, and total factor productivity (0.19%). Between 1800 and 1830, the famous inventions of the industrial revolution came on stream and raised aggregate TFP growth to 0.69% per year. This technology shock pushed up growth in output per worker to 0.63% pa but had little impact on capital accumulation or the real wage, which remained constant. This was the heart of Engels' Pause ... In the next 30 years 1830–1860, TFP growth increased to almost one percent per annum, capital per worker began to grow, and the growth in output per workerIn short, technological growth first led to a period where wages did not keep up with economic growth, and then to a period where wages rose faster than economic growth.
rose to 1.12% pa. The real wage finally began to grow (0.86% pa) but still lagged behind output per worker with most of the shortfall in the beginning of the period. From 1860 to 1900, productivity, capital per worker, and output per worker continued to grow as they had in 1830–1860. In this period, the real wage grew slightly faster than output per worker (1.61% pa versus 1.03%). The 'modern' pattern was established.
A universal payment of $12,000 per year to each adult U.S. resident over age 18 would cost roughly $3 trillion per year. This is about 75 percent of current total federal expenditures, including all on- and off-budget items, in 2017. (If those over 65 were excluded, the cost would fall by about one-fifth.) Thus, implementing this UBI without cuts to other programs would require nearly doubling federal tax revenue; even eliminating all existing transfer programs – about half of federal expenditures – would make only a dent in the cost. ...
A truly universal UBI would be enormously expensive. The kinds of UBIs often discussed would cost nearly double current total spending on the "big three" programs (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid). Moreover, each of these programs would likely be necessary even if a UBI were in place, as each addresses needs that would not be well served by a uniform cash transfer. Expenditures on other existing programs sum up to only a small fraction of the cost of a meaningful UBI. This suggests that a full-scale UBI would require substantial increases in government revenue. The impacts of whatever taxes are imposed to generate this revenue are likely of first-order importance in evaluating the impact of a UBI.This insight helps to explain why no high-income country has actually adopted a "universal" basic income, and why most proposals for a "universal" basic income aren't really a simple universal payment. Instead, such proposals often include various phaseouts of the payments as other income rises, or rules that some of the money must be spent on purchasing health insurance, and so on and so forth.
Interesting article by Dean Baker 's CEPR on lawsuits targeting the tech giants (or not, depending on political savvy).
Clearly, the emergence of the social media and search giants, and Amazon, raise serious challenges about the meaning of privacy, and of property itself, especially as regards "information" and ideas. Currently there is no way to guarantee the security of either on the Internet. And yet, information infrastructures have penetrated vast domains of human and social activity. Going online means your info is now in the possession, ff not yet technically 'owned', by owners of any network nodes or pipes through which the information was transported, including connected origin and destination. Recall the old law school maxim: Possession in 9/10 of the law.
The problems are obvious, and by no means new (although the scale keeps getting vaster). But the fix is not obvious. One difficulty is economic and the fundamental theory of what constitutes a commodity. Marx spent most of a volume of capital on this. Paul Samuelson (a century later) reduced it to a couple rules defining what was NOT a commodity, but instead a "public good". Knowledge is a perfect example of a (inherently) public good. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good).
For information to be traded as a commodity in a marketplace requires tremendous and complex public (legal) protection, which is only marginally enforceable. Plus, information is a crappy, leaky store of value. Imagine you are a loan officer at a bank and Bill Gates approaches you for a loan, a big one. You ask, what collateral do you have. He puts a compact terabyte hard drive containing a 100 million lines of computer code for Microsoft Windows on your desk. Do you risk the banks money (belonging to other depositors) with that backing? Who else has the same kind of loaded device? or can create new ones at nearly zero cost? If the collateral is accepted, at what premium interest rate do you charge given the discounted value of the collateral? Compare that to land, real estate, a gold mine, etc.
Despite its inherent weakness as a commodity corporations have dived into it as if driven by necessity more than desire only to discover that their business models based on selling copyrighted software were not sustainable. They began transforming themselves into service companies, leaving the property rights associated with the information itself in limbo and clear as mud.
Then comes AI whose value raises accuracy and scope in prediction and automation by orders of magnitude, but which is powered by HUGE data stores. Those stores are being filled at massive rates as the Internet of Things added to the Internets of people and businesses and governments both profit and non profit expand and yield unimaginable concentrations of data. I doubt that breaking up these enterprises under antitrust law will work. I tend to favor changes in governance at the director level and the inclusion of both employee and public voices and access to private decision-making on issues that can result in immense and unsupportable public risks.