MEMBERS COMMENTS

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Big Think | Should conscious AI have rights? 67% Posted Jul 2020

Big Think | Should conscious AI have rights?

Comment: 2 days ago

The problem is that at some point we humans will have no say in the development of AI, because AIs will be developing the new AIs.

Aperture | The real meaning of life 75% Posted Jul 2020

Aperture | The real meaning of life

Comment: 6 days ago

I'm the centre of the universe and when I die it will cease to exist. Same goes for you.

How Toyota plans to outsell Tesla 67% Posted Jun 2020

How Toyota plans to outsell Tesla

Comment: 15 days ago

Toyota is not moving to hydrogen. They are not investing any significant money into that. They are focusing on hybrids. But hybrids are a transition technology, and we're transitioning to BEVs really quick. 

Battery technology is getting really good. Tesla is about to announce the one million mile battery, necessary for robotaxis.

How Toyota plans to outsell Tesla 67% Posted Jun 2020

How Toyota plans to outsell Tesla

Comment: 15 days ago

Correct ... if you wrote this 5 years ago.

How Toyota plans to outsell Tesla 67% Posted Jun 2020

How Toyota plans to outsell Tesla

Comment: 16 days ago

Range anxiety won't be a thing for battery electric cars before long. But it will be for fossil fuelled cars. "Where's the next petrol station?" will haunt people who buy a new fossil fuelled car today. Petrol stations will become rarer and rarer as electric cars, vans and trucks become normal.

And when you're fed up with trying to find a petrol station everytime you want to drive more than 30 miles, you'll want to sell your car. But it will be worth nothing because no one else wants one.

And the cost of petrol will rocket as demand plummets.

IMO, Toyota is making a huge mistake.

RoF | Trump thinks he's "the most perfect person" 50% Posted Jun 2020

RoF | Trump thinks he's "the most perfect person"

Comment: 17 days ago

"A friend of mine said..." He lied. His only friend is a mirror.

The Lincoln Project | Shrinking 64% Posted Jun 2020

The Lincoln Project | Shrinking

Comment: 22 days ago

I think these Lincoln ads are very effective. They are aimed at swing Trump worshippers - those who idolise the man rather than his policies. Nobody wants to idolise a loser. 

The ‘constructive debate’ approach doesn’t work with typical Trump supporters. If it did, they would have ditched him years ago.

FiveThirtryEight | What happens if a presidential nominee dies before the general election? 39% Posted May 2020

FiveThirtryEight | What happens if a presidential nominee dies before the general election?

Comment: 50 days ago

It would be proof of God's existence.

Jacinda Ardern stays calm and carries on as earthquake strikes 69% Posted May 2020

Jacinda Ardern stays calm and carries on as earthquake strikes

Comment: 50 days ago

Never seen anyone so happy in an earthquake.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 100 days ago

"You’re playing semantics when you say MMT “changes the conversation”.  Meaningless." Meaningless to you because you don't get it ... yet. You are looking through the lens of a textbook. Regurgitating a bullet point is one thing, applying it in the real world is a different kettle of fish.

Let's analyse through an MMT lens your 3 reasons for not printing money to pay for vaccines, and see if the conversation changes.

A) "The main barrier to creating the vaccines isn’t a physical supply of money.  It’s the limits on productivity, supplies, resources, labour, clinical trials etc." Great point that is totally consistent with MMT, but it's answering a different question. At the point a vaccine becomes available to the NHS, all of what you talk about is history. The question is: where does the NHS get the money to pay for the millions of shots needed for the population? 

When you answered 'inflation', you are looking at only one immeasurable consequence of printing money as defined by your favourite textbook. Like I said, literally useless.

But through an MMT lens, the money the NHS needs to pay for vaccines is either new money, or money that already exists. So if it's not new money, then it has to "redirected" from somewhere else, either from within or outside of the NHS. And if that new money is "borrowed", that also has to come from something else, but at a later date. Notice the change in conversation?

B) "When new money is introduced and productivity cannot increase to match its value, you get Demand-Pull inflation.  This inflation, beyond productivity, is detrimental." Thanks for educating me. If you don't understand why that is "literally useless", then give me an estimate of how much inflation is likely to increase  from printing money for vaccines -  or at least a methodology for acquiring a meaningful estimate. Then you can justify why you think the inflation rise would be too high, if it is at all. Since current UK inflation is about 1.5%, and textbook says ideal inflation is 2-3%, printing money for vaccines would have to increase inflation by more than 1.5%, otherwise it's beneficial all round. And we wouldn't want that would we? 

C) "Genuine MMT acolytes don’t deny this inflation, but suggest it can be controlled with other measures, including taxation." I agree. I didn't deny printing money causes inflation either. And of course inflation can be controlled by other methods, but that's a different topic.

Don't get me wrong about textbooks. Textbooks are important for all sorts of reasons, but they can't give a good overall picture outsite of their brief. A textbook is a jigsaw piece in the bigger picture. MMT is a cluster of jigsaw pieces (of which inflation is one) that form a picture of how our economic system works. And too me, it simply makes sense.  

If I had to describe one message we can learn from MMT, it's that money is not the constraining factor in an economic system. Real world things are the constraints - resources, supplies, workforce, expertise, geography, time etc. Which is exactly what you alluded to when you went off piste.

Money is the oil in the economic machine that lubricates the cogs so everything runs smoothly. When a new cog is added, new oil is needed. Otherwise it has to come from another cog. Printing money is necessary if the economy is to grow. When I buy something from Sainsbury's, my money leaves my pocket, but stays in the machine and circulates around other cogs as Sainsbury's spends it. But when I pay the government (tax), that money leaves the machine and disappears. Essentially, it returns to the thin air it came from. So a healthy economy would have its cogs (businesses, services etc) properly lubricated so the whole machine can hum along nicely and we all live happily ever after.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 104 days ago

I asked a topical question - why not print money to pay for vaccines? - and you regurgitated a text book answer - inflation. And you're still harping on about it. The problem with your answer is not that it is wrong, but that it is literally useless. It is impossible to measure the inflationary effect of printing money for vaccines on the price of apples, and why would you want to. The answer is worse than useless because it detracts from discussing something useful. Like: if we don't print the money, then where does the NHS get it from? Through an MMT lens, the conversation changes, and that leads to different questions and ultimately different policies. 

So now that the world is printing trillions and productivity is grinding to a snail's pace, what does your text book say is going to happen? Should we expect global hyper-inflation?

Exit polls show Bernie was robbed again 79% Posted Mar 2020

Exit polls show Bernie was robbed again

Comment: 106 days ago

Trump or Biden, competent or incompetent, Democrat or Republican - none of this matters as long as they can be bought. That's how corporate power works. 

Corporatists had kittens in 2016 when Trump said "I make $400 million a year.,I don't need corporate money". But once they got wind that he was the most corruptible of all, they all rolled in behind.

Bernie can't be bought.

Freediving under an iceberg 50% Posted Mar 2020

Freediving under an iceberg

Comment: 107 days ago

A saturated solution of salt (water that has as much disolved salt as possible) will freeze at -21C. https://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=1598&t=freezing-saltwater

Maybe it was a typo and should have been -2.7C?

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 108 days ago

Are you caught up in some GCSE text book loop? Was there no bullet point about the price of oil?

I asked, why don't we print money to pay for vaccines. You said, because inflation. That is a very unsatisfactory answer straight out of a text book, that is without relevance to the question. It's like me asking, should I stick my toe in a shark-infested ocean, and you say sea level rise. If you said "go ahead, there are no sharks in this ocean", then you'd be providing a relevant answer. Sea level rise is technically correct, but it is a distraction.

If you really do believe inflation is THE reason for not printing money for vaccines, then let's talk about how much inflation is acceptable. After all, a small amount of inflation is a good thing, and we both agree hyperinflation is unlikely, so how much is too much?

"I doubt that you have a very rounded understanding of MMT judging by the ways you describe it." I found out about MMT through watching a number of videos of MMT economists talking about it. You found out by looking at Wikipedia. Don't get me wrong, Wikipedia is a great way to begin investigating topics, but it lacks the insight you gain from listening to people who have spent years thinking deeply about it. If you think "it's crucial to understand inflation before trying to understand MMT", then I pray you're not a teacher. You're still stuck deep in your text book. Try thinking more and reciting less.

The thing I got from MMT economists, is that MMT is a theory. The clue is in the name. It is not an "...ism". There aren't MMT policies as such, but there are policies built on an MMT framework. IMO we should design policies rooted in MMT. It's like following the principle behind first principles thinking - build up from a solid base. In economics, MMT is the most solid base we have so far.

Our current policies are rooted in a personal/business account framework - ie. there's no magic money tree. That is factually incorrect, so it is not a solid base. Like it or not, fiat money IS a magic money tree. There is no limit to how much money a central bank can print.

If we print money to pay for vaccines, we create a deficit that has to be paid back at some point. But MMT says that that is not what actually happens. The deficit is an invention to make our personal/business account framework (which is fundamentally incorrect) make sense. 

So with governments all around the world printing trillions to get through this crisis, the question "can we afford it?" is surfacing. From an MMT perspective, that is not a useful question because the answer, whatever the spending is for, is always the same - yes, everything is affordable because we can always print the money. 

Another question surfacing is how we pay off the huge global deficit we are creating in this crisis. From an MMT perspective, the question doesn't make sense. Why remove trillions from an economy to pay back a deficit that was created out of thin air. After all, we can print money to pay the thin air. The question only make sense if your base is a personal/business account framework. And that is not the reality of fiat money.

What an understanding of MMT does, is that it changes the conversation. Rather than "can we afford it?" we should be asking "should we do it?". And when we ask that question, there's a lot more to think about than the definition of inflation you remembered from school.

Entanglement, an explanation? 38% Posted Mar 2020

Entanglement, an explanation?

Comment: 112 days ago

I'm not sure it can be. Isn't it like trying to prove god didn't create everything 10 seconds ago?

Time slows down the faster you go, and at the speed of light, it stops. So surely the distance between entangled particles doesn't exist at the speed of light, because distance is how much time it takes to go between A and B. And time has stopped.

Then my head exploded.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 113 days ago

"The bigger picture is how an increase in money without an increase in productivity leads to inflation." With respect, your bigger picture is tiny. It doesn't even cover inflation. Inflation also happens when there is no change in productivity - like when the price of oil goes up increasing the cost of production, which gets passed on to consumers. Or when we move to WTO rules - and have to pay tariffs.

"Get your head around the basics of inflation before you try MMT" It's the other way around. If you were learning to play guitar, you wouldn't start with diminished chords, you'd get your head around a few basics first, like strumming.

When it comes to economics, MMT is the outer layer. Economic ideas like free-markets or Keynesian economics sit within MMT because MMT is a description of how our fiat economy actually works - in a similar way to how natural selection describes how species change over time.

We are so ingrained into thinking of a fiat economy as we think of our personal finances, when they are fundamentally different. If I borrow £1 from you, I can't invent £1 out of thin air to pay you back. I have to get that £1 from somewhere - ie. it already exists. And you didn't invent that £1 that you lent me, it also existed before you got it. So in our little deal, no money was created or removed in the economy as a whole, money just moved around.

But all money in the economy came into existence out of thin air, including the £1 that you lent me. So if money is printed (created out of thin air) to pay for vaccines, if we taxpayers pay back that money, who are we paying back? The air? That's one of the logical inconsistencies that comes from thinking of the economy as personal or business finances. The economy is fundamentally different because it is driven by fiat money.

I recommend you investigate MMT. It is highly relevant today. Will governments around the world printing trillions to get us through the coronavirus crisis, cause global hyperinflation? Should this money be paid back in the future? Is there a limit to how much we can spend? These are all questions which an accurate understanding of how a fiat economy fundamentally works is crucial.

In a nutshell, MMT accepts that there is no limit to the amount of money that can be created, because that is a fact. So the conversation changes from "how do we pay for it?", to "is it a good idea?".

For example: Should we cancel student debt? Old school thinking is: how do we pay for it? MMT thinking is: Why remove money from the economy? After all, there's infinite money in the thin air where the money came from in the first place. Cancelling student debt would actually boost the economy as students spend the money on goods and services rather than paying back thin air. Once you accept the reality of fiat money, it's easy to see why our methods of controlling the money supply - like QE or interest rates - are so ineffective.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 118 days ago

QE is a way of creating new money out of thin air to pump into a failing economy. It's just the way it's done is complicated and as far as I can see, a terrible way to boost an economy. Basically, the central bank creates new money to buy financial assets from banks. The hope is that the banks will feel flush and lend their newly acquired money to businesses, thereby injecting new money into the economy. The problem is that it's the banks who decide whether or not to lend, and who to - and their decisions are not dictated by society's needs, but by profit potential.

Much better would be to give that money directly to the poorer end of society - because poorer people tend to spend their money directly into the economy. Richer people tend to save or invest their money, which effectively "locks" it up. For example, money locked away in the Cayman Islands is not useful for businesses needing loans to survive or expand.

Yes, generating new vaccines is a long and expensive business, but what I'm asking is - how should the NHS pay for vaccines when they become available?

I'm arguing that creating new money to buy vaccines is a much better way of injecting money into the economy, than buying financial assets and hoping the banks will lend out. And there's the added benefit of saving lives.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 118 days ago

Gordon Bennett? The name's Walter.

You're right, it's not that complicated. I said you're complicating it (verb). You're looking at a detail (inflation) when I'm trying to get you to look at the bigger picture - the picture you seem to think is naive or "a childish view of economics".

Sometimes it's worthwhile going back to basics and checking that our "detailed" ideas are compatible.

Can we agree on these 2 points?
1 - All money in circulation was created out of thin air by a central bank. That's not a controversial statement - that's what fiat money is.

2 - The pound in your pocket has in its lifetime, changed value and hands many times, and will remain in the economic system - until it is taxed out. This is a theoretical model - I'm ignoring real-world realities like counterfeit money or money that is just lost.

If you agree with those 2 points - that money is created by central banks, and removed from the economy by tax - then in today's global economic turmoil, it makes sense to create new money to pay for vaccines, rather than taking the money from something else. 

What I'm really talking about is Modern Monetary Theory. MMT economists say that MMT is a more accurate description of how our economic system actually works. And from what I can understand, I think they are right. Check it out.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 119 days ago

First you over-complicated it, then you doubled down and went off piste tumbling into the dark world of over-stretched medical companies.

Let's take a step back. The coronavirus crisis is going to cost the NHS a lot of money.

So where does that money come from? Why not print it? 

Printing the money - rather than raising taxes, cutting services or borrowing it - is a much more effective and direct way of pumping much needed new money into the economy. Much better than quantitive easing or reducing interest rates.

And the price of bread won't go up. Inflation happens when there is too much money swilling around and nowhere to spend it.

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines? 63% Posted Mar 2020

NowThis | Bernie asked: how would you pay for free COVID-19 vaccines?

Comment: 120 days ago

I think you're over-complicating it. When a company produces a vaccine, it won't come free. So the NHS will have to pay for it. That money can come from cutting services, increasing taxes, or borrowing it.

Or it can be printed. All that means is that new money comes into the economy via the medical company, its staff and suppliers - at a time when the economy sorely needs it.

I see no reason why the price of bread should go up.

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