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High Speed Trading

Your article on atomic time for high-speed trading (19 April, p 12) is the latest of many such pieces about mathematical and technical innovations in financial activities presented as if they were improvements. Making money out of stock market fluctuations is a purely parasitic activity, sucking money from and destabilising the real economy. The so-called improvements just enable one parasite to rob us more quickly than its competitor. A real improvement would be a legal end to the fiction that a finance house "owns" something for a millisecond or less, and a return to actual investment and proper trade.

Fooling The Machines

"A plastic coffee stir stick can fool any push in coin acceptor that loads the coins on edge. Just insert stir stick, push the mechanism forward until you feel the stick hit a bump, push the bump down with the stick and push the mech all the way in.

"I did my laundry for free all throughout school, and great for free pool at the bar."

$75,000 a year is all you need

(Fark responses to study that said earning any more makes you no happier)

Thank you, brave CEOs, for willingly accepting tens of millions of dollars in salary and putting yourselves through such misery for us!

I don't know about you, but I'm not happy unless I can afford a dozen yachts to waterski behind.

$75K is the point where you can live in a reasonably nice place and pay for doctors and dentists and save money for retirement and you can afford to stay home when you're sick instead of having to go to work, and you can afford to take vacations and live a middle class lifestyle. Any more than than tends to mean that you have more luxuries, which is nice but doesn't actually make people happy.

Money can buy you a whole lot of shiny things that can make you temporarily and superficially happy. And I don't mind spending all my money on someone I love if she says that's what she wants. I guess, at the end of the day, I don't care too much about money. You can't buy love with money.

John? Paul? Ringo?

I think a couple is issues would be having enough to be happy but not enough that estranged relatives come looking to kill or kidnap you for your cash.

I've proposed in many threads that anyone avaricious enough to become 1%-rich has an antisocial psychological disorder of some kind. Understanding the concept of "having enough" is the key to happiness.

I said to my wife in 1997 "honey if I get to 60k you won't have to work". Not a humblebrag: I make 5 times that and she's still working, albeit part time. Standard of living trends up with pay unless you explicitly avoid it, even that is tough because of the circles you'll find yourself in, you will feel odd driving a Saturn when all your peers at work have a bmw or Audi, and vacation in the Bahamas while you tell them about the best western at the resort town by where you live. I know this sounds pretentious but it doesn't make it any less true. We have an innate desire to belong to the group and its hard to suppress.

I know six weird tricks, so money will never be a problem for me.

If you have 100 Million or more, you aren't working for the money. You're doing it for the power, the status, the addiction. Like the Wall Street dude that got TWO separate billion dollar paychecks. Why are you paying him? He can't spend that much money. Never understood it.

I don't know why people think the stock market is unstable, if you are actually putting money away in a "never touch this" hidey-hole the stock market is great. Too many of the owners of this country are too deeply invested in it to NOT have it always come back. If you lost money, it's either because the company you invested in folded completely (GM, which is really all I can think of) or you sold it at a loss. And sure, plenty of sucky things can happen that force you to sell at a loss, but that's not a sign of instability of the system, it's a sign you didn't have enough money to be playing the game.

And yeah, the game is rigged, and maybe that's unfair, and maybe we shouldn't be spending so much government money and effort worrying about farking stock prices when that's not the best indicator of economic health, but that's a different conversation entirely. And it's socialist to even think it, you dirty socialist.

Universal Basic Income

Not to be a killjoy but before you can ever get a UBI in these United States you will have to get the Religious Right and the Bloomberg-like Nanny Staters out of politics. One wants a theocracy with strings attached to every public dollar and the other wants a PC fantasyland with strings attached to every public dollar.

These days not a single cent of public money can be appropriated without 75 strings being attached to it- the Affordable Care Act kerfuffle over contraception is a prime example. Every special interest, every ambitious politician seeking to advance some cause, every lobby group and every do-gooder wants to put an earmark, stipulation, restriction, requirement, overseer or whatever on any and everything done with public money.

Until we get those determined to use public money as an instrument to compel personal behavior out of politics you can kiss UBI off as a pipe dream in America. I can see it now- the Right Wing Christian Theocrats will want to deny unmarried mothers the financial support while the Bloomberg "Soda Tax" crowd will want to require they pledge not to eat fat burgers, not drink soda and never smoke a cigarette.

Well, at least this gives the anti-minimum wage crowd an argument that hasn't been utterly debunked yet.

"OK, fine, raising the minimum wage doesn't kill jobs. You gotta admit it, though, that was a pretty good argument, right? I mean, we made water on that sucker for years. Hell, decades. Sorta sad to see it go, you know? *wistful sigh* Ah, well. Such is life. Anyway, the real reason we can't raise the minimum wage is that it opens the door to other, even more radical and borderline communist ideas, like Universal Basic Income. UBI, that's the acronym. Sounds pretty bad, huh? UBI, it sort of sounds like Uzi, don't you think? Just one letter off. Do you want a vast social program that's almost named after a gun? I mean, you hate guns, right? Yeah, I thought so. Really, I love the *idea* of raising the minimum wage. It sounds good, you know? But there's a slippery slope out there, it's real slippery, lots of people have slipped down it in the past. We just can't let it happen here. But hey, how about instead of raising wages, we make the work week 50 hours instead of 40? That'll give everybody a lot more money in their pocket, regardless of how much they earn. A rising tide that *truly* lifts all boats." (Pocket Ninja)

If you think government should simply fill an actuarial function and stay out of all your personal business, a universal income is the way you go.

If you like a nanny-state, handing out benefits and making sure you can only spend it on certain things, you have that today.

If you only want to give hand outs to lazy people an penalize them for working, you have that today.

You want to give the same benefit to everyone and encourage people to get off their butts and earn more, you want universal income or something similar.

There is a simple solution to making it revenue neutral. You take all the benefits paid today (social insurance, unemployment, food stamps...) and substitute them with a universal income. Eliminate all the agency previously associated with this and use those savings to extend the benefits to people those who do not already receive any benefits. For those who have a fairly good income, simply increase the marginal tax rate to offset the cost of the benefit (for them).

Take automation to its logical conclusion. You make everything without employees. Who buys stuff? No one except the few company owners have money. You can't sell a hundred million playstation 4s when there are only 10 million people with money. So what happens at that point?

The robots are coming for your jobs. They put most factory workers out of business and now they're a step away from putting taxi/uber drivers out of business. It's inevitable for anything laborious or process based. We're doing this because it's cheaper and that's what "the market demands." Moore's law is holding and after you perfect an algorithm, you have it forever, no need to teach, it replicates perfectly. According to the aggregate demand of the market, we humans, are an inefficiency. The whole thing is trying to run better without having to pay a stupid meat person to stand around.

The upside is I can see a world where utility is through the roof: food and housing and technology is plentiful and due to our ever increasing productivity. The downside is, under the current system, nearly every person in the world could be bankrupt, unable to purchase anything. We're going to have to figure out a different way of allocating money to people. We can't all be brilliant computer programmers, and even those that are can't all invent better algorithms.

For people that are living mostly or entirely off of the government as it is would just be getting the same benefits with less overhead.

The main rationale for the UBI is that because of technology we are moving closer and closer to a post-labor economy. More and more jobs will require fewer and fewer human workers. And if you keep paying those workers higher wages it will push this trend even faster. A $15/hour minimum wage might have worked 10 years ago, but now all it means is that McDonalds will end up as not much more than an automated kiosk. We don't really need humans to take the orders or even make the food.

With automation, we're going to be dealing with a new world where there simply isn't enough jobs to go around for everyone and plan accordingly.with automation, we're going to be dealing with a new world where there simply isn't enough jobs to go around for everyone and plan accordingly.

We figure out how to do it, or we deal with a revolution. Americans are quite happy with the current situation, but if you take away enough jobs that not everyone can have one who 'can' work and you end up with lots of men with hungry crying kids and THAT will result in things being burned to the ground and looted. Basic Income is the solution, we just need to figure out how to make it work. Also, fark the rich and their input. They can afford whatever solution we come up with.

This idea has been repeated, reinterpreted, and restated for the last several centuries. And it's never once been anywhere near accurate. The inventions that automated farming and textiles added jobs. The inventions of refrigeration and railed transport added jobs. Cars added jobs. Computers added jobs. The moving assembly line added jobs.

At no point has automation or algorithmic processing (human or computer) subtracted from the economy or work volume. It transfers and transforms it. It increases efficiency and productivity. It creates a higher standard of living in the economies it affects. But it creates more opportunity and work, not less.

All those jobs were created because we automated "muscle" activities, and replaced them with "mind" activities. Well now we are on the verge of automating "mind" activities, and we have nothing left to fall back on.

We're in a stage of constant tech improvement to the point where whole factories are now being run by robots with a handful of overseers and repairmen. Service industry is experimenting with computer-based self-service. Look at Wal-mart's self-checkouts. One service worker can now cover 8+ checkout stations, only intervening when there's a problem with one of the computers. and it's only going to spread as tech improves. It's inevitable. Our population is increasing constantly and fewer and fewer low-end and even high-end jobs are being produced. We NEED to figure out what to do with these millions of people who can work, who want to work, but can't work because there's simply no jobs for them out there any more.

Presuming that there's going to be some new industries popping up to take advantage of the unskilled labor pool is supremely optimistic. Especially with how far and fast tech is improving and spreading throughout the labor market. Amazon is tinkering with using drones for their delivery systems. That's the thing with the tech we have today, it's so prevalent and wide-spread that we're not going to end up with any labor market that is immune to its effects. But, maybe I'm wrong. What sort of markets do you anticipate popping up to absorb that unskilled labor pool that won't make use of prevalent tech improvements to cut down on labor costs?

It doesn't matter what the real numbers are because you determine the amount of the UBI based on what you use to pay out divided by how many people are receiving it. Except for the middle class and rich because you make it revenue neutral for them.

If an income that makes you sleep under a bridge in NYC or Silicon Valley gives you a nice house in rural Iowa, maybe people wouldn't move to Palo Alto or NYC and it would solve some problems all on its own.

You hold too high an opinion on humanity. Until we're post scarcity and everyone has a robot butler, if given the chance the lazy will outweigh the productive by too much for it to work IMHO.

Except we have proof...evidence...from places where we've been experimenting with Basic Income that shows that this is simply not the case. At all.

That evidence shows that nearly everyone 'wants' to work. Doing something for a living is hardwired into most of us. We just want to do something that we enjoy doing. Those studies show that the only areas where work participation drops are in new mothers...where they spend more time at home with the newborn than is currently seen now...and in student populations where more kids go to school for the things that they love to do. Everyone else? We actually see an INCREASE in hours worked because they're now doing what they love to do, not what they need to do in order to survive.

The myth of the 'lazy majority' is just that. A myth created from cynicism and nothing more.