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07:36 pm: Some political/economical thoughts. I've been having a lot of these lately:

The private sector gets touted as if it had some kind of universal efficiency-increasing pixie dust that makes everything more efficient. It's true that there are some notable successes. Aren't a lot of these mostly due to the political ability of the private sector to adapt new technology quicker (and lay off or deskill large portions its workforce) - because it doesn't have to answer to an electorate, rather than being actually a result of it being private sector per se. There are no productivity-enhancing devices that the nurses and teachers unions are stopping us from adopting. There's no mass overemployment of unproductive workers in the NHS or at schools! Best practice in healthcare and teaching can be observed by looking at staffing at the facilities the elite use. Teacher:student ratio at Eton is 8. EIGHT!
I see lots of talk about how they need to be able to sack bad teachers, and very little about how to attract good teachers who have left teaching. This will involve making the job more attractive, either through more money or other means, or both.
There are 8 million people in the UK between the ages of 5 and 16. If we take the teacher:student ratio at Eton as the target, we would need a million teachers. There are apparently 438,000. That's probably unachievable without starving some other socially necessary area of resources. I can buy healthcare becoming more automated - due to expert systems - a few decades down the line, but there are several factors blocking it (the insistence of the state in keeping a human in the loop for controlled substances is a big one). But teaching is going to remain a labour-intensive job for pretty much forever, isn't it? Unless we by some miracle get full AI.

Second thought:

What would a capitalist economy look like if you banned public advertising (billboards, and television)? I target these two things as they are already regulated by the state - you need planning permission to put up a billboard, and the content of broadcasting is controlled pretty closely.
Banning advertising in these realms, for things considered harmful (i.e. cigarettes) is already considered to be a legitimate use of state power. It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to expand this to stuff like unhealthy food.
In a protectionist economy you could then make the argument that advertising stuff that needs to be imported is bad for the balance of payments. Due to the single market you couldn't discriminate by producer, but you could certainly target specific industry sectors.
So.
What effects does this actually has? (ignoring the effects on people who own billboard space and television channels!)
Presumably people will buy less stuff? They'll buy stuff they need still. Greater emphasis on word of mouth for finding out about new products? Word of mouth is fantastic, especially today.
If we assume that consumption goes down, that leads to job losses in the private sector making stuff that people didn't need. Isn't making things that people only buy because of adverts unproductive labour anyway? So, there's an efficiency saving! Those are good, right?
And if consumption doesn't go down, well, we've just stopped consumer products subsidising commercial television. I don't think that's a bad idea in itself.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:purplecthulhu
Date:June 21st, 2012 07:29 am (UTC)
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'There's no mass overemployment of unproductive workers in the NHS'

Actually I think there is - there are too many managers. Unfortunately, one of the effects of privatisation in most industries is an increase in management...
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:June 21st, 2012 07:39 am (UTC)
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Ah, but I said workers. :-)
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:June 21st, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
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"that leads to job losses in the private sector making stuff that people didn't need"
Er that would include you as big budget special effects movies aren't needed.
Also manufacturers of unnnecessary board games, comic books and alcoholic beverages.
Odds are that if you stripped back to only necessities then you'd have mass unemployment.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:June 21st, 2012 08:03 am (UTC)
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i.e. we would finally get the "leisure time" we have been promised as a result of automation.

people will still make art and do crafts and socialise and drink beer as much as they please. there might not be such a large market for swill, though.
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:June 21st, 2012 12:22 pm (UTC)
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1. "leisure time" is being decreased not increased due to a combination of an increased retirement age and over emphasis on working long hours despite the maximum working time regulations.
2. Increased automation equals decreased requirement for workers equals scrounging dole scum in the current culture. They do not have a sense of group responsibility so live under the mistaken belief that as individual companies they have no responsibility for those replaced by machines (which runs against the belief of the conservatives of a collective group called "Business" that will solve all our problems as Business is actually a mob rather than an organised group). We still labour under a system that permits the accumulation of a large percentage of the wealth by a small number of people and encourages the attitude that it's their money which shouldn't be given to the "undeserving. This system is supported by those it least benefits due to a warped "American dream" belief that leads them to think that they too can share in the wealth and plays on selfish attitudes.
[User Picture]
From:psych0naut
Date:June 29th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC)
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There are 8 million people in the UK between the ages of 5 and 16. If we take the teacher:student ratio at Eton as the target, we would need a million teachers. There are apparently 438,000. That's probably unachievable without starving some other socially necessary area of resources.

I don't see why you couldn't just starve some socially useless area of resources, such as the advertising industry you mentioned later in your post. Eliminate the tens or hundreds of thousands of jobs there and there's a good chance that at least some of the people will gravitate to more socially useful occupations. Lather, rinse, and repeat for every other socially unnecessary economic sector.

[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:June 29th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
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Maybe. I suppose what I'm thinking of is - are there enough people who have the right character to be teachers? I know I couldn't.
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