Friday, July 21, 2017

Concerning the Universal Basic Income (and Change in scheduling)

Hi All,
    I'm sorry this is starting to be a habit, but perhaps I should make it official. Instead of trying to get one post every two weeks, I'm going to do one every three or possibly four weeks. If I can make the bi-weekly schedule then I'll do that, but family duties, work, and so on make that difficult even when I have a topic. For instance, last week I intended to share more thoughts about economy, but I couldn't get my thoughts organized in a presentable manner. I have a few points, but the flow was not there yet so I cannot share it. However, here is a piece I wrote today on a related topic utilizing some of those points. I hope you find this enlightening.

N.D. Moharo


Concerning the Universal Basic Income

Dear Society.
I read a Vox article recently encouraging the Universal Basic Income (UBI) where everyone receives a basic sum of money to help with their lives. I found it interesting as I had not given much though to the topic, but I also thought it was ignoring a few realities. The article's focus was on two arguments against the UBI: Work Critique and Cost Critique. Here is how they described the two in the article:
  1. (Work critique) Giving people cash will cause them to work less, hurt the economy, and deprive them of the meaning that work provides in life.
  2. (Cost critique) Providing an income floor set at a reasonable level for everyone is unaffordable.
For the work critique, it claimed that it wouldn't really make people work less. Depending on the amount of money given, I would agree. Even if it did reduce the "labor force", it would potentially be for the better. For example, if you give enough to help make it so someone doesn't have to work 4 part time jobs in order to survive, but instead only need 2 jobs, that gift of time can provide the golden opportunity to find a better job. At the same time, since 1 person isn't taking 4 jobs anymore, that opens up jobs for more people, actually increasing the labor force by allowing more people to work. These are the people that would be helped, at least temporarily.

For the Cost Critique, it shared a point that that giving 300 million people $10,000 a year would cost the country $3 trillion a year. For some reason, the article believes we can afford that and believe that it will wipe out poverty entirely. That is incredibly idealistic but also unreasonable because it doesn't actually address why poverty exists in the first place and how people would respond. For the few cases where it would seemingly help at first, it would be a complete waste and very destructive for everyone else.

What happens when you give a homeless man $100K? People actually tried this and you can get the short form from Today I Found Out. The very short form is that the guy ended up back on the streets despite the benefactors being generous, providing means of turning his life around, and family trying to help him get a job but he refused all of their efforts. The points made are that there are people who do not want to work or people with poor money skills and therefore they would be in poverty despite how much money you give them.
Also consider how to keep track of who gets the money and if they actually did. People die every year, but a family might not report it to the government so they can get a few extra $10K a year. And what about the illegal immigrants? Will they get money too? If they do, then we'll get more illegal immigrants and they'll try to get the money too. If they don't, well then there will still be some people on the streets and poverty has not been eliminated. 

Then there is the often forgotten consequence of everyone having more money; inflation. That's what happens every time there is a surge in wealth for a country. Gold loses it's value when there is so much of it. The only reason why diamonds are still "expensive" is because they are artificially limiting supply. Have you ever wondered why making a product overseas and then shipping it to the US and paying the tariffs is cheaper than making the product domestically? Why does such a low amount of money make it so a person can have an education for a week/month when it costs more than that just for a sandwich down the street?  I've heard stories about how foreigners are told not to shop when visiting family in third world countries because the prices skyrocket when they do so, but even those prices foreigners will find as a "good deal."

The market tends to regulate itself, but when money suddenly appears, greed acts even harder to get it all. If people suddenly have more money, then they think they can afford higher prices and end up doing so. Since there is no regulation on prices, as evidenced by how high the markups can get especially for medicine, and that's one reason why the U.S. is not ready for universal healthcare. Even college education has similarly increased dramatically with data from collegeboard.org showing that college costs 3X as much in 2016 than it did in 1976 even after adjusting for inflation. Also, more money you have, the more taxes you have to pay. The result is that the initial $10K will work for an instant, but then there will be greater debt and it'll take years for the economy to stabilize even to the point we are at today and be probably worse off.

How will you fund such an expensive program?  Increasing taxes as suggested by the Vox author is not an answer because that lowers the value of the money given. And if you exempt the amount given, then you don't collect as much in taxes to pay for it. Sure, it could possibly substitute for medicare and other social security programs, but those people would likely end up getting less money than before when it's already not enough. As a result, we would be harming more people than helping. Accumulating debt would not work either as that also causes inflation and there is no guarantee that future generations can pay it off. Considering that more families have both spouses working in order to provide for less people than a just father did a few decades ago and I think we can agree we are not wealthier than before.

Lastly, what affect would such a stipend have on our paychecks? Would employers claim they no longer need to give us raises or bonuses? Would they instead try to make paycuts using the stipend as an excuse? This is a dangerous possibility that needs to be considered and regulated before a UBI is put into place.

While I partially agreed about the vox article's opinion on the work critique argument, the cost and realities around the Universal Basic Income show that we have more to lose and very few have anything to gain. Instead of trying to figure out how to give everyone more money, we should instead examine what are the causes of poverty and try to control that. If we do, then we can finally make true progress.

With love,
N. D. Moharo

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Minimum Wage Conundrum

To Society,

Apparently Seattle is starting to feel the effects of the minimum wage increase and it is not optimistic. While some companies beforehand actually paid well more than the minimum wage, forcing all companies to do so have many problems, resulting in no way everyone could win and the one to lose the most was the minimum wage worker.

When you increase the wages of a large workforce, where does the extra money come from? There are three options.
1) from the company 
2) from the consumer
3) from the worker


When trying to run a business, you need to try to make a profit. With the minimum wage increase, a business model I had became no longer viable because not enough money would come in to support both the costs of operation and the workforce.  In today's economy, startups have enough trouble as it is. Increasing the cost when profit is not yet guaranteed makes it even harder to start a business. As a result, less jobs are created. 

Now I will admit that if a company is performing very well, then the employees should reap some of the benefits, but by forcing to raise the minimum wage for even struggling companies, there is more to be lost than gained.

As for the consumer paying for the increase in wages, the common method is to raise prices. This does not help anyone, especially in the long run. One, when prices go up, consumers will turn to other products or companies. I did this especially when it came to Subway long before I stopped going there altogether. I would often go regularly and order the $5 footlong because that's what Subway's marketing convinced me the sandwich was worth. So when the prices went up, I no longer went there. Similarly, when I visited Japan and found the 6-inch subs to be more than $5, I refused to order anything. Companies know they can lose customers by raising prices and in a competitive industry, raising prices is not an easy option.

Also consider that if the prices for basic items go up in order to handle the increased wages, that means the increased wages don't mean so much anymore and those who previously made a decent wage no longer do. No one wins here.

Lastly, the money can come from the workforce and we've seen this happen before not too long ago. Employees get laid off, benefits are removed, or hours are cut. The result is that everyone suffers due to overworking, having to pay for benefits, or not working enough to make any money. Unfortunately, when it comes to running a business, this is the easiest option to pull off because it can have the least negative impact.

Are there other problems caused by the increase in minimum wages? Yes. The increase in prices means businesses have less customers, reducing the need for workers or closing the business altogether. Less jobs for unskilled workers makes it difficult to gain work experience. More competition for jobs makes it harder to save money for college. The increase in wages mean that even if you made more, then you have to pay more in taxes. Also, with higher prices, then we get inflation, meaning everyone is effectively making less money.

So what can we do? Not raise the minimum wages so dramatically but instead look at the real economic problems. Since raising the minimum wage actually creates more problems without solving any, we need to shift our attention. However, I do not have time today to address them for you, but I do intend to write again on the subject. Until then,

With love,
N. D. Moharo

Friday, June 16, 2017

The small but major source of joy

My Dear child,
     While the world may make you think you cannot be happy without finding that "one special person" in your life to have romance with, that is certainly not the case. While I do agree that love is certainly the key to happiness, romance is not the case. Yes, romance can be great, but certain moments of suffering trump it; those moments were when I cherished you in my arms.
     The joy of holding you, hugging you, lifting you to see the world and that smile on your face brought me far more joy than when I dated your mother, and I enjoyed that very much. Yet even when you cried, hugging you to try and help you feel better would still give my heart joy. My heart would certainly be broken if you were no longer around.
     I mentioned before that you are why I admire your mother so much more than before. Seeing the love she gives to you inspires me to be more loving, and as a result, feel more joy, despite when you could do nothing for me in return. Whether you were laughing or crying, holding you was precious. I would be at work and try to leave as soon as possible so that I may see your excitement and embrace you once more.
     To have this joy, you do not need romance or even children. Helping others is something we can do all of the time, especially the handicapped such as your uncle. Despite being older than your father, your uncle's situation makes him like a baby both mentality and functionally, yet we love him so dearly. Love, even in small bursts, brings about great joy. I hope that you will remember that.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

Friday, May 26, 2017

Being Respectful of Religions

To society,
    One of the most obvious proofs that political correctness does not care about respect is the lack of respect shown towards group of peoples, especially concerning religion. While religion has a bad reputation to many people, there is proper logic. The proper definition of religion involves a person rendering what is due to his god(s). If you believe there is a god who is the master of the universe, shouldn't that god be the most important thing to you? Should that god be what you respect the most? Therefore it is proper behavior for people to do what they think is the best way to serve their god. That is the basis for freedom of religion.
    We know this is the proper understanding of religion because it is common to refer to extreme devotion towards things such as money, alcohol, or sex as "someone's religion." How do we know? It's because when those things are threatened, they become very angry and sometimes violent. The fact that the prospect of money has caused many wars and injustices to humanity is amazing.
     Now I doubt one letter would convince you to stop society's hatred of religion. However, I would at least ask you to be respectful of the things religion values, one of those being certain names. For Muslims, the word "Allah" is sacred and should not be disrespected with casual and purposeless use. The same goes for "God" or "Jesus" for Christians and "YHWH" (which you're apparently not even supposed to pronounce) for Jews. If you are willing to forego some common words in order to not "offend" someone, then you can certainly refrain from being disrespectful of names for something large groups of people consider most important and inspiring. Let us be respectful of everyone.

N. D. Moharo

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quick Conversion for Weather

Yesterday, I threw out my back. So in order to rest, this time I'll be sharing a simple thing rather than a full essay.

Growing up in the U.S. my sense of temperature was naturally in Fahrenheit, which doesn't help when travelling to other countries. There is the mathematical way to pretty accurately convert between the two, but I've found it isn't quick for simple math. However, I've figured out how to switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit quickly when discussing weather. Start from 32 and add 18 degrees Fahrenheit for each 10 degrees Celsius. This allow you to quickly estimate the temperature by just using addition rather than division and multiplication. Since good baseline temperatures for Celsius are 0 (32), 10 (50), 20 (68), 30 (86), and 35 (95), it makes it simple to quickly figure it out.

To quickly estimate the reverse, I'd say subtract 32 and then divide by 2 (though this gets less accurate pretty quickly so don't use it for even boiling water or you'll be off by 10 degrees Celsius, which is a big deal)

Since the weather is actually a common topic to talk about, when you chat with a non-American, I hope these tactics help you out.

N. D. Moharo

Friday, April 28, 2017

Overwatch

My dear child,
     I can remember holding you as a baby and watching you squirm around in my arms, trying to see the world. However, I would hold you even tighter. At first, you may have thought that I should let you do whatever, but for your safety, to prevent you from falling 4 feet head-first to the ground, I held you firmly. I did this because of my love for you.
     Seeing that made me consider how we might try to break free of our moral constraints, thinking that it impedes our "freedom". However, that is not the case, but rather the opposite. If we even start to go down the wrong path, our freedom can be lost. Consider any addiction is that once you taste it, just once, you will always suffer from it. Just like if I allowed you to fall, you could have died or at permanently injure yourself.
     I do admit that at some point, I must allow you to take up your own responsibility. You can say that is when you are "Free." Freedom doesn't mean doing whatever you want, but being responsible for whatever you do. If someone is forced to do something, he isn't responsible for the action.
    Now responsibility is not an evil thing, but rather an aspect of justice. It identifies that if something goes wrong, who is the person who must answer for it and try to set it back in order. If people are not responsible, then our ability to grow will be hindered as our lives become overwhelmed with fear. Likewise, if we allow evil to thrive, then our freedom to become perfect is threatened. The point of freedom is to allow you to become perfect; to become the hero whose core is love for goodness and others. All evil actions, however, act against that goal, both for yourself and those around you by increasing selfishness. Therefore, if you wish to protect freedom, you must work to prevent people from being legally able to do wicked deeds. You could argue that this is an obligation, but I rather you look at this as an act of love for others, just as I look at my responsibility of protecting you as an act of love for you.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

Friday, April 14, 2017

Update and leadership

Dear Readers,
     I was hoping last week that I would have my latest piece about the nature of anger ready, but I still need more time to address some questions I have. However, since I failed to meet my normal bi-weekly schedule. I figured I should at least update the blog with some message and insights.

Another piece I have drafted takes a look on the methods of leadership. However, I got tangled up by whether some things should be regarded as leadership and which are general categories. As a result, I haven't made much progress but I don't know when I will either. I will definitely have to revisit the topic, but here is a draft of the ideas and organization I currently have.

If you want to be a good leader, you need to know how to inspire people. Here are general traits or methods that can encourage action.
  • Authority/Expertise: Authority is often a synonym for leadership, but in this case, I speaking about the expertise that no one doubts you. It is the level of knowledge where people can say you "wrote the book on it"
  • Respect: Respect encourages us to do something for others. When leaders have our respect, they can also have our loyalty. This is one of the ways our heroes naturally inspire us. Another aspect of respect is what is called Filial Fear. This is the fear children have when they don't want to offend their parents. In TV shows, it generally takes the form of "I didn't want to make you sad." 
  • Admiration:  The second and more prominent attribute of heroes. When we admire someone, we want to act just like them. Therefore we naturally will want to follow them in what they do.
  • Reward: Common advice when training pets or raising children is to reward them for good actions. This is a valid method but it has it's limitations and consequences. It should be noted that this method can encourage entitlement which always will lead to resentment. You need to make sure to establish that actions may not receive a reward. Likewise, compromise can be a legitimate course of action when dealing with a difficult situation, but there are some times when compromise should not be an option.
  • Charisma: ideas are common, but the ones from people with energy survive the race. I often hear at work that good ideas come up, but they need someone to make it their project. The abundance of energy can inspire people to act, but it can also wear people out and they give up resistance. I certainly recommend the former over the latter, but even then you need to be careful. This is the method used when riling up a mob, which is perhaps one of the scariest aspects of society.
  • Obligation/Logic: Obligation is the most varied method in terms of tactics and effect. It tries to use logic to convince someone to do something. The tactics are as follows: Position, Pity, Promise, Guilt, and Fear of Punishment.
    • Position tries to use logic that you are a leader. However, unless the person can back the claim with another method or actual power, this is a very weak tactic. If the subjects don't believe you should be in power, they may possibly rebel.
    • Pity tries to utilize people's capacity for love saying that they are not human if they don't act.
    • Promise is similar to reward except that the reward is not provided by you but instead is the natural result of the action.
    • Guilt is similar to pity but instead approaches that someone will live in constant regret if they don't do as you say. 
    • Fear of Punishment is the opposite of reward and controversial, but can be a powerful motivator. There are certainly times when it is necessary, such as when someone does not understand the gravity of the situation despite how you explain it. My wife's shoulder had been bothering her for weeks so I kept telling her to make an appointment to get it checked but she kept forgetting. So I told her that I wouldn't buy her anymore avocados if she didn't make the appointment. Such a trivial threat of punishment, but it got her to do it. She finally made the appointment and found that if she continued to do nothing, she wouldn't be able to raise her arms.
That is all I have for now. Hopefully I can come up with something more within the next two weeks.

N. D. Moharo