Monday, October 20, 2014

Principles of democratic communism - Outline

This is essentially the outline of a constitution for a democratic communist "state" (in the Weberian sense). I'm not going to write the individual elements in legalese; I will leave that task (should it become necessary) to those with legal training and experience that exceed my paltry two semesters of undergraduate constitutional law. I will more-or-less assume existing the existing United States Supreme Court's interpretation of the present Constitution as a background for the interpretation of basic terms; please comment if you think existing SCOTUS interpretations might conflict with the fundamental principles of democratic communism.

  1. Preamble
  2. Individualism and collectivism
    1. Individual rights
    2. Collective rights
    3. Collective duties
  3. Political organization
    1. Fundamental Principles
      1. Democracy
        1. Residential and Industrial/Commercial
        2. Hierarchical
        3. At large
      2. Transparency
      3. Corruption
      4. Federalism
      5. Separation of powers
        1. Policy (democratic)
        2. Implementation (bureaucratic)
        3. Compliance (judicial)
  4. Economic organization
    1. Absentee ownership
      1. No private absentee ownership
      2. Complex ownership
    2. Taxation and fiscal policy
    3. Money, banking, insurance, and real estate
    4. Job guarantee and universal basic income
  5. Amendments

(This post will change without warning as I add to and refine the outline and link to specific chapters)


6 Insane Details of Corrupt Politics That Movies Get Wrong (Original title (which I think is better): "6 Ways Government Corruption Is Way Weirder Than You Think")

    #6. Politics Turns Politicians Into Helpless Children
    #5. It's All About Fashion and Sucking Up
    #4. Legal Bribery Happens All the Time
    #3. Lobbyists Are Everywhere, Operating Without Rules
    #2. Even Nations Need Lobbyists
    #1. Lobbyists Can Destroy Politicians Who Oppose Them

Friday, October 03, 2014

The purpose of beauty

[P]art of the purpose of beauty is always to make both the poor and any revolution they attempt appear to be crude and in bad taste, to be a breach of manners. There is simply no way, when power has acquired the trappings of beauty, to avoid the spiritual wonder and humility such beauty provides. Any opposition somehow acquires a stridency, leaves itself open to charges that the world it seeks to destroy will always be more uplifting, more miraculous, than whatever replaces it, whatever you propose. The better choice, the wiser choice is to remain allied with the beauty, support what it upholds, since they cannot be separated.

— David Mura, Turning Japanese, p. 300

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Onrushing penis

"Never, in the history of humanity, has a man been at risk of a woman leaping out of the bushes and accidentally impaling herself on his onrushing erect penis." -- PZ Myers

Friday, September 05, 2014

The upward market sloping supply curve (part 1)

I've been sitting in on the principles of micro- and macro-economics classes, which has been a lot of fun.

But one thing has been bothering me: the justification seems weak for the assertion that market (and aggregate) supply functions are upward sloping. It makes intuitive sense to just say that if the price of a good (or service) rises, the producers of that good will produce more. But four years of economics has trained me not to trust my naive intuition. Instead, I want to set up a model and see what happens in that model. Then I want to carefully consider the relationship of reality to the model's assumptions.

So, let's start with a simple economy where all producers are in perfect competition, are operating at the maximum efficient scale, and no one is making economic profit. Hence, the supply and demand schedule for every individual firm looks like this:

P=Price, Q=Quantity
MC=Marginal Cost, ATC=Average Total Cost
D=Demand, M=Marginal Revenue

Next, we lower (raise) permanent tax rates so that in general, demand increases (decreases) due to income effects. Not all firms will experience the same effects. Some firms (those making normal goods, which have positive income elasticity) will see demand rise (fall); some firms (those making inferior goods) will see demand fall (rise), and some (those making goods with highly income-inelastic demand) will see little change in demand. Since most goods are normal, with income-elastic demand, we'll focus on the first category. In the short run, these firms experience the following, with D' being the new demand curve with lower tax rates, and D" the new curve with higher rates.

So, yes: quantity supplied increases (decreases) when the price increases (decreases). When prices increase, the firms make a short-run economic profit (labeled EP on the graph); when prices fall, firms experience a short-run economic loss.

Let me take a moment to check my assumptions.
  • Perfect Competition: The same behavior holds for monopoly and monopolistic competition with rising marginal costs (and all but the most rigidly doctrinaire Libertarian economist will admit that monopolies with falling marginal costs should be regulated by the government), so this is a useful simplifying assumption.
  • Maximum Efficient Scale: Not relevant in the short run.
  • No Starting Economic Profit: Usually realistic per se.
  • Mostly Normal Goods: Usually realistic per se.

The only dodgy assumption is the upward-sloping marginal cost curve. Because I'm investigating why market supply curves are upward sloping, assuming that marginal costs curves are upward sloping is to implicitly assume the consequent. I want an independent justification. Given that I'm analyzing the short run, we can increase only one factor of production, and labor is the easiest factor to change. So, firms need to pay their existing workers overtime to produce more (obviously increasing marginal costs), or they need to hire more temporary workers (in the short run, firms do not want to commit to a long-run increase in their permanent workforce). Temporary workers are more expensive and less productive, so marginal costs will increase. So I think this assumption is supportable.

However, economists assert that the upward sloping market supply curve is a long run curve, so we need to figure out what happens not just in the short run, but in the long run. That will be the topic of the next post.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Links August 31, 2014

Political Economy

Reading Hamilton From the Left (Bob Avakian makes a similar case in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy)
Why Conservatives Should Read Marx
This Economy Is Ruined For Everyone: The "obvious" reading of this piece is that if working class people are screwed, so what, but when middle-class people are getting screwed, there's a real problem. That's probably the intention of the article. However, a deeper point can be made: if working-class people are getting screwed, sooner or later middle-class people will feel the fist of capitalist injustice deep in their colons.

Ferguson, MO

White privilege: An insidious virus that’s eating America from within
4 Weird Decisions That Have Made Modern Cops Terrifying
A Question with a 400 Year-Old Answer
What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings
7 Important Details Nobody Mentions About Ferguson
Ferguson and the Modern Debtor’s Prison
In Ferguson, Black Town, White Power (why a republic is not democratic)
St. Louis Police Killed Kajieme Powell Because They Were Following Insane Rules


Against Empathy