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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:43 AM   #1
samiwas
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In a perfect world, how would the country run?

I posted this same thing on another forum I frequent, and thought I'd do the same here to see how opinions ranged from one to the other.

So, I've gotten curious reading so many opinions on here which range from extreme to the other extreme when it comes to wages, taxes, wealth, etc.

I'm wondering...in your opinion, what would the perfect setup be for this country to move on most effectively. I'm not looking for hyperbolic "everyone should make a million dollars a year and have houses given to them and the rich will pay 99% of their income in tax" or "only business owners should make anything and everyone else should die and there should be no taxes at all". I'm looking for honest opinions on wages, taxes, benefits, etc. Maybe answering a few questions would help:

What would be an average hourly wage for a WalMart worker?
What would be an average hourly wage for a worker in the John Deere factory?
What would be an average wage for a typical office dweller in a moderate-sized office?
What would be an average wage for a skilled engineer?
What would be an average wage for a doctor?
What would be an average wage for the owner of a 50-person company who fabricates and ships out kitchen appliances?
What would be an average wage of the CEO of a company who employs 500 people and has revenues in the mid tens of millions.
And finally, the average wage of the CEO of a company who employes 5000 people and has revenues around $10 billion.

Taxes...
A flat tax? If so, what percentage? Any exemptions (as in, flat over a certain income)?
A progressive tax? What are the brackets?

Healthcare? Universal coverage, or the same as the current system?

Benefits?
Any sort of welfare for those who don't make enough to support themselves?
Unemployment?

Changes to the current budget?

---------
My answers:
WalMart worker: $12/hour
John Deere worker: $18-$22/hour
Office dweller: $25/hour
Skilled engineer: $75k-$100k
Doctor: $100k-$250k, maybe a little higher for surgeons and major specialties
50-person owner: $250k
500-person CEO: $500k-$750k
5000-person CEO: $2m-$4m

I could get behind a flat tax. Maybe 15% for anything over $31,200 ($600/wk). Would still have social security/medicare, but at 5% of all earnings. No low limits and no high limits.
As for progressive taxing, very few brackets. 10% for $30k-$50k, 15% for $50k-200k, 18% for over $200k. The only deductions would be the number of dependents and marriage (smaller than now).
In all of this, all income would be the same.

Healthcare: Universal standard care for everyone with private support for those who want it. Take this current system and flush it down the toilet.

Benefits: For the poor who just can't make it, enough to survive and be safe. But with enough monitoring to keep waste and fraud in check. Some sort of limit to make sure people don't just live off of welfare endlessly.
Unemployment (there wouldn't be any, right? ): Enough for the individual to maintain their home and bills and basic food based on past earnings, but with an upper limit. For instance, someone making $5m a year wouldn't get 100 times as much as someone who made $50,000 a year. I don't have a timeframe in mind.

Changes to the current budget?
Cut defense quite a bit. Increase education. Increase worker training programs. Reduce corporate welfare. Pay down more debt. Figure out pensions and why they are so much.

So what do you think?
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 12:32 PM   #2
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Those job categories are too broad or vague unless you believe in a very small ratio between high and low paying jobs (which you clearly don't). Owner of a business that employs 50 people? What's the business? A delivery service that pays its employees very low wages? A high-end restaurant? A design firm? A law firm?

Taxes are pretty flat/progressive already. http://www.ctj.org/pdf/taxday2012.pdf

Poorest 20% pay 17.4%
20%-40% pay 21.2%
Middle 40-60% pay 25.2%
60%-80% pay 28.3%
Top 20% pay about 30%

To answer your question though, I'd make the tax system slightly more progressive, but mainly increase taxes on the top 1-2% (who pay currently at a slightly lower rate than the people right below them). Adopt universal health care as you say. Provide strong social benefits, education, housing assistance, unemployment benefits, etc to ensure that as many people, and kids especially, as possible have a good shot at life. Make it easier for businesses to hire and fire people and consider other measures to encourage business dynamism. Have strong environmental regulations. Trim defense.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 12:51 PM   #3
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The thread title is wrong.

In a perfect world, there would be no countries and no need for government, because every person would be a perfect paragon of virtue. There would be a perfect (unbounded) supply of food, resources, etc. so no one would need to work. Everyone could pursue their enlightened heart's desire, whatever that was.

In this imperfect world, we have to guess, estimate, attempt, compromise, and all kinds of other imperfect things.

The only way to even approach definitive answers to most of the questions posed outside the thread title is to try them and see what happens. There are predictions that a flat tax would do X or Y. Unfortunately, I know of no actual examples that exist in this imperfect world. To get an answer, one must run an experiment, make careful observations, and then review the results. Maybe even run more experiments. In other words, one must find out how the world actually works, instead of relying on imperfect models or extrapolations or wishful thinking or dogma.

Some of the other things mentioned, such as healthcare, progressive tax rates, etc. do have some real-world examples, but they aren't uniform. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to separate the repeatable facts of those from confounding factors like culture, government, tax systems, natural resource wealth, etc. Politics and social science would sure be a lot simpler without people.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:08 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by miloblithe View Post
Those job categories are too broad or vague unless you believe in a very small ratio between high and low paying jobs (which you clearly don't). Owner of a business that employs 50 people? What's the business? A delivery service that pays its employees very low wages? A high-end restaurant? A design firm? A law firm?
Yes, they are a bit broad. Was just trying to get a general idea of how people pictured ideal wage distribution. The thread idea was borne from multiple other threads where some chastise a worker's wage or desired wage as "far too much" while saying that the boss, making millions, is "not making enough". This gets repeated enough, so I was just trying to see where those thoughts landed.

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Originally Posted by chown33 View Post
In a perfect world, there would be no countries and no need for government, because every person would be a perfect paragon of virtue. There would be a perfect (unbounded) supply of food, resources, etc. so no one would need to work. Everyone could pursue their enlightened heart's desire, whatever that was.
Of course, and we'd all poo rainbows. Wasn't trying to get too philosophical or come up with an exact working plan...that's near impossible in just a few minutes. Just looking for general ideas.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:09 PM   #5
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In a perfect world, we would all be Christ-like. But we are human so perfection is impossible.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:28 PM   #6
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... I'm wondering...in your opinion, what would the perfect setup be for this country to move on most effectively.
Well, there are those who content that the elimination of money (and wages, etc.) would be necessary to achieve a efficiently designed economy.

While I'm not exactly 100% on-board with this particular concept, I do think some of its ideas have merit and are certainly worth of note in regards to human society becoming more "effective" and/or "efficient".



To quote from The Venus Project's website:

Quote:
The term and meaning of a Resource Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by samiwas View Post
Of course, and we'd all poo rainbows. Wasn't trying to get too philosophical or come up with an exact working plan...that's near impossible in just a few minutes. Just looking for general ideas.
In other words, it's not "in a perfect world", but more like "in a world where one person could unilaterally dictate any and all laws". This doesn't sound like a world I'd care to live in, even if I were the dictator.

My thought on a lot of this is it should be tried before being implemented, as a multiplayer online sim/game. Furthermore, anyone proposing it should automatically be a member of the trial group, and placed in the least-privileged role in the game. All players should be encouraged to "game the system", i.e. actively attempt to subvert it for their own in-game advantage, because that's how you find problems, shortcomings, loopholes, and so on (collectively "bugs").
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:36 PM   #8
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Well, there are those who content that the elimination of money (and wages, etc.) would be necessary to achieve a efficiently designed economy.
I have never considered this idea. Frankly it seems crazy. How about instead of eliminating money, we just reset everything every 5 years. If you have a billion dollars today, tomorrow you are on equal footing as the next guy. Perhaps you are given the right to keep certain assets, but otherwise, equal.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:38 PM   #9
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In a perfect world, how would the country run?

Just how I say it should!
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:50 PM   #10
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I have never considered this idea. Frankly it seems crazy. ...
Well, money is a pretty crazy concept as well. It's an artificial construct, that in and of itself, is worthless.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:55 PM   #11
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Well, money is a pretty crazy concept as well. It's an artificial construct, that in and of itself, is worthless.
There's nothing crazy about money at all. It will always naturally emerge from a barter system. It is worth what it proxies.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 02:58 PM   #12
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Well, money is a pretty crazy concept as well. It's an artificial construct, that in and of itself, is worthless.
It's not at all crazy. It's just advanced combination of bartering and I.O.U.s. If you give me this thing that I want, I promise you'll be repaid with something you want. Even better, you don't have to get the thing you want from me. You can get it from anyone.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:02 PM   #13
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An anarcho-syndicalist commune. Everybody taking turns to act as a sort of executive-officer-for-the-week but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more major affairs.

Or maybe we could have a moistened bint lob a scimitar at the next wielder of supreme executive power.

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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:10 PM   #14
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In a perfect world, we would all be Christ-like. But we are human so perfection is impossible.
What, you mean a socialist?
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:15 PM   #15
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Hopefully the idea of countries would be one of the first to be tossed out.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:37 PM   #16
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The idea that simply just wages & benefits (Healthcare, etc.) could create a perfect world is missing the point....

That being said there is a economic goal post called Pareto efficiency (or Pareto optimality)
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Originally Posted by Wiki
Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is a state of allocation of resources in which it is impossible to make any one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off.
This is the economic definition of "perfect" in that all members are equal in terms of utility.

Now I do object to the term "state allocation". Pareto optimality, in a long run state is technically achievable through perfectly competitive private decisions.

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Originally Posted by elistan View Post
An anarcho-syndicalist commune. Everybody taking turns to act as a sort of executive-officer-for-the-week but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more major affairs.

Or maybe we could have a moistened bint lob a scimitar at the next wielder of supreme executive power.

HELP!!! HELP!!! I'm being repressed!
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:43 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by miloblithe View Post
It's not at all crazy. It's just advanced combination of bartering and I.O.U.s. If you give me this thing that I want, I promise you'll be repaid with something you want. Even better, you don't have to get the thing you want from me. You can get it from anyone.
Even in your example, it's still a social construct, e.g., money exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if it exists.

Sure, money has functioned as a tool that facilitated trade in times gone by, but will it really be necessary (or beneficial) to utilize such a antiquated, abstract system in the not-so-distant future, once bioengineering, nanotechnology, molecular nanotechnology and mechanosynthesis become common-place and autonomous robots can perform say 99% of all blue-collar jobs?
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 07:28 PM   #18
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Now I do object to the term "state allocation". Pareto optimality, in a long run state is technically achievable through perfectly competitive private decisions.
If I understand your point [1], then I think you've misread the quotation:
Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is a state of allocation of resources in which it is impossible to make any one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off.
It's NOT saying that a state (i.e. government) allocates resources. It's saying that the system has a state of resource allocation, in which it is impossible...

Pareto efficiency can be applied to any system comprised of allocatable resources. For example, the memory in a multi-process computer system, the bandwidth needs between contending parties of a communication system, etc. or the balance between memory, disk, and network bandwidth needs across multiple contending processes.

Also from the Wikipedia article:
Pareto efficiency is a minimal notion of efficiency and does not necessarily result in a socially desirable distribution of resources: it makes no statement about equality, or the overall well-being of a society.[1][2]
So it may be that a Pareto-efficient allocation is one that leaves everyone complaining about inequity.


[1] I question my understanding because "Pareto optimality, in a long run state is ..." is confusing. Does it mean "in a long running State"? Or "a long running state is"? Or maybe "in the long run, an efficient state is"? So I have a feeling that a word is missing or added, but I can't tell which one.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:20 PM   #19
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The idea that simply just wages & benefits (Healthcare, etc.) could create a perfect world is missing the point....

That being said there is a economic goal post called Pareto efficiency (or Pareto optimality)

...
Unfortunately, while Pareto efficiency might maximize a given country's technical and productive efficiency it may decrease its social efficiency and economic equality.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 04:10 AM   #20
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In a perfect world ran country, there would be no corruption. You wouldn't have a shadow government doing whatever they can to protect the worthless U.S. dollar. You'd have a currency that's actually backed up by gold instead of a currency backed up by the U.S. military forcing other countries to use dollars to buy crude oil from OPEC. Don't you dare try to buy any crude oil with your Iraqi dinar or we'll come over and trash your country.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 05:39 AM   #21
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Why does gold have inherent value?

Nothing has value until a person or society places value on it.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 07:34 AM   #22
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Even in your example, it's still a social construct, e.g., money exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if it exists.

Sure, money has functioned as a tool that facilitated trade in times gone by, but will it really be necessary (or beneficial) to utilize such a antiquated, abstract system in the not-so-distant future, once bioengineering, nanotechnology, molecular nanotechnology and mechanosynthesis become common-place and autonomous robots can perform say 99% of all blue-collar jobs?
How would you suggest negotiating for/allocating goods, services, and resources in your fantasy future world in the very distant future?

And you think in this world that 99% of blue collar jobs can be replaced by autonomous robots? Even if they can be, do you think they will be? Are you talking about the U.S. only or the entire world?
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 11:32 AM   #23
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I imagine the perfect organization of human beings to be something like the utopian socialist world as emulated by Star Trek Next Generation. We'd have to care for each other a lot more than we do. The most successful of us would not be showered in material wealth allowing us to live like tycoons. Our rewards in a narrower spectrum would be modest material entitlements, but mostly things like positions of responsibility, authority, moral, and leadership roles. The least successful would have a subsistence level of existence guaranteed and given opportunity to better themselves. Characteristics such as integrity, empathy, encouragement, a real attitude of no one left behind required.

It's a fantasy. Human beings won't move up to the next level until it becomes more about "we", not "me".
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 11:39 AM   #24
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Democracy that is not tainted by politics. Perhaps public service is awarded via lottery with other factors determining what lotteries one is eligible for. No career public servants except at operational level.

Socially responsible monetary systems that level the playing field and provide for more equal distribution of not only things, but opportunities.

I'm also not against a Constitutional Monarch that provides continuity to the changing governments and represents the people at a symbolic level. (I think Republics lost something there)

That is what Utopia might look like to me. At least on this earth.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 11:52 AM   #25
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How would you suggest negotiating for/allocating goods, services, and resources in your fantasy future world in the very distant future?
Actually, extraordinary change could take place in the "no-so-distance future", i.e. within the next 50 years or so.

I mentioned "bioengineering, nanotechnology, molecular nanotechnology and mechanosynthesis", but let's just examine just one -- nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology has the potential to allow almost anyone to create almost anything, almost anywhere, at low costs. Once this technology becomes widespread, it could provide a minimum standard of living for every human on the planet.

Today, we build almost everything from the top-down, but nanotechnology would permit the building of almost everything from the bottom-up (building macroscale products atom-by-atom).

Change of this magnitude will very likely force markets and economies to evolve. Therefore, how we negotiate "for/allocating goods, services, and resources" in the future will also evolve.

Suggested reading: "Engines of Creation 2.0: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology - Updated and Expanded" -- (Can be read online at no cost)


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And you think in this world that 99% of blue collar jobs can be replaced by autonomous robots? Even if they can be, do you think they will be? Are you talking about the U.S. only or the entire world?
Keep in mind, autonomous ≠ sentient. There are autonomous robots working in factories and on assembly-lines around the world in the present-day.

Unless some sort of world-wide natural or human-made calamity/disaster occurs, the use of autonomous robots will likely continue to greatly expand in the future, to include many more type of jobs beyond "factory assembly work".
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