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    • Here's your Sunday longread (its ok, you can alos read it on Saturday):

      Author is Ray Dalio, one of the most successful hedge fund managers ever, so basically a guy who benefits from the current system the most. But, he's able to look at the facts and draw conclusions whatever they may be.

      Even if you don't like or disagree with his solutions, his diagnosis of the problem is undeniable: capitalism isn't working for the majority of Americans any more.

    • You know, I have very mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I absolutely love it because I admire him and have read everything he's written. And it's great to see at least some very rich people grow concerned about the problem and try to do something about it. I've always wondered why the 1% doesn't see it in their interest to have the 60% of Americans have more buying power to help the economy.

      Before I say what bothered me, thank you for posting it. Great read, very important.

      If I were someone who grew up in a very poor neighborhood (I am) with bad schools and high crime, I'd recoil at his tone deafness (I did). Everything he wrote in part one had the tone of coming from 50 years of analysis and big data and world economic analysis. But teachers and social workers in our inner cities talk about it every day in much more compassionate and human terms.

      It reminds me of the tone deafness of Silicon Valley, where I live and work. We celebrate disruption, the term that terrifies truck drivers in the midwest as we joyfully talk about what our autonomous driving technology will do to them.

      The 1% may need lots of analysis and charts to kindof get a cold and distant feeling for the problem, but it's raw and emotional to the masses. I think what makes them maddest is politicians don't care because the rich get them re-elected.

    • This topic is so huge, extremely subjective and controversial, to my mind it's like flipping a coin but arguing that after it lands, the heads or tails are already doomed to need changes.

      I will tell you that while I was born and raised behind the "iron curtain" where abuse of power was the name of the game, now after having lived the other half of my life in the "civilized"world, I notice very disturbing and more depressing similarities, deep down, right at the core of society.

      I do not believe humans are globally truly capable to think clear, unbiased, and really vet out their intrinsic weaknesses and viciousness in such ways as to prevent these from getting at the top of the society. We are not bees nor ants, from which there is so much to learn! Sadly, qualities that I can see every day to prevail aren't the ones meant to do with general well being. Even worse, the "geniuses" at the top aren't that smart either, but they enjoy even more that aspect of "je m'en fous", exactly because they can.

      Unfortunately politicians and manipulators cling to terminology of the wording as if that really mattered, but one could say red is bad blue is good because I say so, or vice versa, in reality they don't care - to them it's just a means to an end, conquer naive voter's emotions.

      Having a good fiscal system and a correct way to measure and pay work and products is indeed great, but that's not what capitalism is about, it's about speculation and control. Fears about communism in Western society are exactly about the misunderstood parts, and that "oh my god why should my taxes pay his health". In fact the biggest crimes against humanity were done in the name of it, and that's what the biggest fear of communism should be.

      Yet there are aspects of each "system" that have great value overall. Sadly, as a whole they're both stupid idealistic failures, and because of that societies who persist in clinging to one or another are doomed to waste the lives of these generations, until they'll finally wake up, if ever.

    • Scanning through, he doesn't seem to see guaranteed basic income as part of the solution. With the juggernaut of automation I'm not sure I see a way through without it. And I suspect there's too much mistrust in the US to hope for some kind of benevolent partnership to run things from the top. I suspect that rather capitalism isn't something that will be 'fixed' by benevolent leadership, but something that will be disrupted by a viral internet phenomenon and ultimately replaced.

      Have you read any Paul Mason or Wolfgang Streeck on this subject? If so, wondering about your thoughts...

    • Yesterday I listened to an incredible podcast from Preet Bharara that I can't stop thinking about. It felt incredibly relevant (transcript):

      What got me are underlying cultural views in America that seemed to also affect how we do capitalism.

      For example, we have the highest rate of incarceration per capita by far of any country, but the socialism aspect of it makes us crazy. Is it fair to offer education to prisoners? People who didn't commit crimes don't get free education. We pay for their housing, health care, food, is that fair to the prison guards who have to pay for their own?

      In America, we view it as a success when we get a conviction and lock someone up. In countries with low incarceration rates, they view it as a failure, a last resort. Maybe it was a failure of public education, or maybe policing, parenting, culture... Here we celebrate it. We got him and justice is served.

      Then it's hard for our culture and our prison guards to treat prisoners with respect. Don't they deserve what they are getting?

      The parallel to me in our capitalism is the thinking that if you are poor, you don't deserve health care or a house. "Look at me, my family is rich because we worked hard so we earned it. You're just a teacher but I put in my time on Wall Street."

    • Here the psychology is twisted differently, I still need more time to think before I can put my finger on it. It may be related to the materialism as a dogma embraced or rather imposed, by the rich over the poor. There certainly isn't (nor do I think there can be one soon unless something changes) a hierarchy based primarily on intelligence, let alone good intentions, it's based on haves and have nots, because that's the easiest way to segregate people, assigning them "value" or lack thereof. I just look at the penible kitsch that tries to pass for art anymore, it's all appreciated by number of clicks and likes and dollars monetized. And the masses embrace it. They want simple, easy to digest realities, the hell with actual values. Meanwhile the communists also did everything they could to silence dissidents with an iron fist, condemning them to die working at grandiose projects: opposed to how capitalists do it. by starving them and pushing them to become marginalized, and alienated from society, and ultimately imprison them. And even then are they recovering and integrating back or become wasted as humans? But if I understand right - prisons are run like profitable business.

      One thing for sure, communism promoted lack of competence, because on average only those who sucked up to the doctrine could advance in career. Sounds familiar sometimes with corporate?

    • I personally think that some of the forms of punishment which the American Judicial system has decided are "cruel and unusual" are a whole lot more humane than depriving someone of over 20 years of their life, especially is an age when technology changes over 20 years are so drastic that after release any previous employment skills are obsolete.

      If I had the choice between intense pain for a few hours (provided that medical attention to prevent infection and incapacitation were provided) and years of incarceration, I think I would take the pain, especially if I was young and reasonably healthy.

      I personally think that the judiciary's attitude on this subject has influence the legislative tendency for longer imprisonments and imprisonment for more and more kinds of crimes.

      But this is "topic drift" because it is not a result of capitalism but of subjectivity and idealism.

    • No problem. I will say though that my attitude on this and many other similar subjects resembles the attitude which underlies the book of Koheleth (also known as Ecclesiastes which I think is a misnomer.) In other words, trying to resolve these kinds of issues is a centuries old game of Whack A Mole.

    • As usual, Chris, you spark a number of thoughts.

      By way of a brief reply, I would say that the Teacher/Wall Streeter analogy leads me to suggest that every qualifying member of society should be able to access a collection of free state services - for example, (1) healthcare, (2) education, (3) housing, and so forth.

      These services would be delivered to an acceptable (however this is defined) standard, rather than an opulent one.

      Thereafter, anyone wishing to "work harder" is free to do so in order to access better levels of services.

      Of course, this IS what is supposed to happen in theory. In practice it does not deliver for so many, mostly vested, reasons. The definition of "acceptable" levels being one aspect that is controversial.

      Maybe an independent review board should set the standards? This would require an increase in the overall tax rate to pay for the huge additional investment needed to achieve these standards, but in the age of automation larger tax takes are going to have to feature in some way.

      As for the question of who works harder, Teachers or Wall Streeters, it has always been surprising to me just how much more investment banker earn than other trades. The latter earn a phenomenal multiple of the latter - and not always from being good at the job. If capitalism has any questions to answer, this would be one of them.