Monday, June 17, 2013

A Few Simple Questions

Since I'm asking questions here, Comments on this page are enabled.

However, this is not a page on urinalysis. Specifically, "your analysis" of the issues. You can set up your own blog for that. The only comments that will be accepted are those strictly limited to the specific questions posed.

For Foodies

There are many articles on line describing how the food industry analyzes the way people respond to sugar, salt and fat, and use that information to make their products more attractive. The information is open and nobody is making the slightest effort to conceal it.

So why don't healthy food advocates, instead of criticizing peoples' tastes or the food industry, devote similar efforts to devising healthy foods with the same attractiveness? Instead of telling us that we need to learn to like healthy food or "re-educate" our palates, why not develop stuff that tastes better than, say, potato chips or Big Macs, as determined by people who actually eat potato chips and Big Macs? (You can get beet chips, which are very good, but between the sugar content of beets, the deep frying, and the salt, they're probably not much better for you than potato chips.)

(This is a bit unfair because, however appetizing healthy food is, you can always add fat, salt or sugar to it. But there's also the idea of "good enough." I love fruit but I don't put sugar on pineapple.)

Also, if vegan living is so good, why are so many vegan dishes meat surrogates? If you come up with something that looks and feels as much like meat as possible, why not just eat meat?

For Libertarians

I consider anybody who has the power to curtail my liberty a threat, whether they're government or private. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. Your right to use your money ends at my rights.  You have no right to use your money to gain an advantage over me in any political or legal proceeding.

So, libertarians, tell me what you plan to do to curb abuses of private power. And since this doesn't require any significant restructuring of the government, there is no reason at all not to do it right now. So tell me what you're doing.

For Conspiracy Believers

You believe 9/11 was an inside job, JFK was killed by a conspiracy, the global economy is run by secret organizations, and FDR knew about Pearl Harbor before it happened.

Okay, tell me exactly what first hand knowledge you have to justify those beliefs. Not what you read on line, or someone told you, but things you have seen or experienced first hand. If the facts just "don't fit," you must have had some experience to convince you the world works that way. So what was it?

I've asked this question in numerous forums and so far I have no responses. All the evidence I've been able to collect indicates that nobody who believes in conspiracies actually has a real basis in personal experience to justify it. Most of them have never faced a moment of real danger or discomfort in their whole lives.

For Climate Denialists

You claim that remedial measures to curb carbon emissions will cost vast amounts of money and wreck the economy.

Okay, prove it.

Show me the math. Show me your computer code that models the U.S. economy as well as any climate modeling software, and show me that it has successfully predicted changes in the economy. 

Oh, and if the atmosphere is so vast that humans can't possibly affect it, as some denialists claim, why can't we say the same for the U.S. economy?

And is global warming happening, or not? Some people say it is but it's purely natural, driven by solar cycles, some people deny any change at all, some people say it's actually cooling. So which is it?

For Believers in "Rights"

You believe that gay marriage, Internet access, food, and health care are rights.

Okay, prove it.

"Proof" does not mean using the Caps Lock key and lots of exclamation points, or calling names or using invective. Anyway, "Fascist" proves nothing except your emotional response to an issue.

No, proof means starting from basic axioms and reasoning, step by step, using logic that can be demonstrated to be valid. See an old-time geometry text for how it's done.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?" Well, that's the Declaration of Independence and those rights exist because they are "endowed by their Creator." That, by the way, is the only theory of rights in any of our founding documents. So those sentiments have been nullified by separation of Church and State. Talk about your law of unintended consequences.

For Pro-Lifers

Psalm 139: 13-15 (NKJV):
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
There it is: a favorite quote to show that unborn babies in the womb are human beings. Only.... what comes next?

And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
How come we never hear this part? If "day" in Genesis means a literal 24-hour day, how come Psalm 139 doesn't mean babies form in the ground?

For Democrats

We hear endlessly the question "why do conservative voters vote against their best interests?"

So why do you vote against your best interests? Why do you speak on behalf of criminals and alienate the 90% of the population that avoids crime? Why do you side with atheists' petulant attacks on religious gestures and alienate the 90% of the population that either supports public religious gestures or sees no harm in them? 

If you believe abortion or gay marriage are important enough to promote, despite the blowback, why is it a surprise that opponents feel they're important enough to oppose despite the costs?

On Productivity

"Worker productivity has tripled in he last few decades but wages have remained flat."

The machines we use produce things three times faster. But that's the owner's productivity, and the people who invented and built the machines. Tell us exactly how your productivity has tripled. Can you work three times as fast? Do you speak three times as many languages? Can you use three times as many software packages? Do you have three times as many college credits? Do you have three times as much knowledge as you did twenty years ago? Are you skilled in three times as many occupations?

For Pot Advocates

Can you produce anyone, who is not a user himself, that is willing to testify that using pot makes you a better, more responsible, more creative person?

If pot had the beneficial effects its advocates claim, I'd suspect at least a few employers would have caught on and would be actively recruiting pot smokers. Are they?

For Gun Control Advocates

After the latest mass shooting, an editorial asked "Now will the NRA talk to gun-control advocates?"


Now here's a question for you. Tell me one concession you'd make to gun owners to get them to agree to gun control. An end to court challenges to the death penalty? Limiting appeals strictly to matters of factual guilt or innocence? A ban on criminals suing for harm as a result of their criminal act? Is there anything you're willing to give up to persuade gun owners to give up some of their rights?


Steve D said...

"Anonymous Gil said...
I'll take a stab at the gun control. How about - getting gun owners to indeed see gun ownership as a privilege (well-regulated militias) instead of a right? Why not make it that guns and ammo go through strict channels whereby only those who have shown they are responsible members of the community and have undertaken serious gun training to acquire a licence can access quality guns and ammo? Why not make it such that criminals who want to buy their guns and ammo illegally have take a big risk in terms paying huge sums of money for equipment that may be well faulty? If a crook gets a faulty gun is he really going to go the police to complain?"

Thanks for not answering my question. My question was, name one concession gun control advocates have made or offered to make, and I list a few possible examples. You instead launched into a litany of things you expect gun owners to do with no concessions to them whatsoever. And that, of course, was my entire point: gun control advocates want gun owners to make concessions and get nothing in return.

Gil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve D said...

"I took the question as "what sort of gun control could pro-gun types might actually agree to?"

No, you didn't, because you limited your response to approaches they've already pointedly rejected. And despite posting another lengthy reply, you still haven't answered the central question "name one concession gun control advocates have made or offered to make."

Let me offer a really radical suggestion. Why don't you talk to some gun rights advocates and actually ask them what it would take for them to accept gun control?

Gil said...

* sigh! *

It's clear you're looking for an impossibility. Gun control, by definition, will infringe upon gun ownership in some way. Do you reject gun control based on the view that "I have the right to own what I want that I can personal afford?" Do you reject gun control on the view that "why I should have infringements on my gun rights because others woefully abused their gun rights?" It's clear from pro-gun sites that they don't care for gun control because "it never stopped a criminal obtaining a gun and using it to commit a violent crime but made it harder for the honest person to obtain firearms." It seems at there are no concessions that gun rights would agree because all they are hearing is how can some Lefties can infringe on their personal rights. For them it's the ol' camel nose in the tent - supposed "sensible" gun-control laws today to severe gun-banning and confiscation laws tomorrow.

At this point I have the feeling you're going to say "Bingo! There are no concessions that would be agreeable and those safety nut losers should go out and get a life and stop making life hard for good, honest people."

Steve D said...

Gil said...
" sigh! "
My sentiments exactly, though not for the same reasons perhaps. Is there some part of "Name one concession" that isn't clear, here?
"It's clear you're looking for an impossibility. Gun control, by definition, will infringe upon gun ownership in some way."
That's not what I asked. Repeatedly. I'm asking you to put something on the table that would make gun owners willing to give something up. And I even listed some possible examples, any one of which I think would make headway.
"At this point I have the feeling you're going to say 'Bingo! There are no concessions that would be agreeable and those safety nut losers should go out and get a life and stop making life hard for good, honest people.'"
Well, you don't exactly leave me much choice, do you? If you read the questions I posed to conspiracy believers, thus far I have gotten precisely ZERO cases of people actually having first-hand experience of a conspiracy. And thus far I have precisely ZERO cases of a gun control advocate offering a concession.
Some additional conclusions:
1. You're incapable of, or unwilling to, follow instructions ("one concession")
2. You're so full of yourself that you think long winded pseudo-sociological musings are a substitute for answering the question.

Gil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve D said...

Gil said ....
Same old, same old. When you have a serious answer, say so. Otherwise, 'Bye.

Gil said...

There can be no answer to an invalid question. What would have me write? Enact universal background checks in turn for legalising public duelling? . . . in turn for extreme "stand your ground" laws in which you can gun down anyone on your private property for any reason no questions asked? Those examples came across as absurd to the extreme? Aw shucks, in the real world there are going to no trade-off rather just some form of gun control being discussed. The only issue of gun control is one of tempering the right for the individual to own firearms versus the public danger of having easy access to guns.

Also look at your other question:

* Foodies - we all know that the least healthful foods tend to the be tastiest and most agree that it was times gone that calorie-dense foods were tasty because most of history was food scarcity and only the elite could get fat. The fact that junk has a certain almost addictive quality whereby people never seem to be quite despite overeating means companies have no incentive to change.

* Libertarians - do you like or want any group, public or private, trying to override you with regards to your private home or your private business dealings? Chances are you want everyone else to butt out - your private property = your rules. Some large landowner is impinging on your right to travel? So hop in plane or drive around his large estate. Would you let all-comers walk and drive all over your private premises because they don't want to feel land-locked? Somehow I doubt it.

* Conspiracy theorists (including climate denialists) don't care to be told their erroneous worldviews are wrong. They'll keeping citing their magical sources how they're right all along and everyone else is part of the cover-up. The comment sections of conspiracy sites show theorists aren't going to listen.

* Rights - all "rights" are social constructs. For example, the right to be not be murdered is predicated that society will hopefully intervene if someone's trying to murder you or they'll make the murderer face severe punishment for his crimes. All "rights" comes from others chipping in because individual ability is extremely limited.

* Democrats - why assume they're homogenous bloc? Are Republicans homogenous? Libertarians? Greens? Etc.? Chances are Democrat politicians don't want these fringe groups rather left-fringe groups side themselves with Democrats.

* Productivity/Pot - I not against you on these issues.

Gil said...

P.S. Pro-lifers aren't hinging their movement on Bible verses so I don't see why you think you found a "gotcha" moment.

Steve D said...

You persist in "answering" a question I never asked. I never asked for a solution that didn't impose some restrictions on gun owners, only for concessions that might make those restrictions acceptable to enough gun owners to enact reasonable gun control.

In your previous response you said "Your supposed 'concession examples' are legal/court issues and have nothing to do with gun control. I believe your question of "a concession" means a "give and take" answer. Namely gun owners give up something in hope of something better in return. However, as said before gun control, doesn't work like that. Gun control amounts everyone having to get stuck with restrictions on their right to their guns because of some jackasses who abused their gun rights."

Well that clarifies everything. My proposed concessions are impossible because they're "legal/court issues." By the way, a slash means "there's a connection here but I can't be bothered to figure out what it is." Anyway, they're clearly different from gun control, which will also entail legal and court issues. Does that capture the essence of your logic?

And by the way, my proposed concessions DO have everything to do with gun control, since the essence of the gun control debate is who shoulders the burden for social problems, and gun advocates simply resent the fact that they're being asked to give up rights while the courts have extensive safeguards for criminals. (And by the way, don't hit me with the "they protect everyone" argument. Protecting sociopaths only protects sociopaths. What we have now, by analogy with the "security theater" of the TSA, is "due process theater." It doesn't prevent innocent people from being convicted, but it does make it way easier for affluent defendants to get off. Wait till you see the slap on the wrist Caitlin Jenner will get. It will probably smart for, oh, minutes at least.)

So you ignore my entirely possible concessions and instead come up with the most extreme hypothetical scenarios you can think of. Ditto libertarianism. You seem to enjoy creating straw men and false dichotomies, where the only two alternatives are your stance and the most ridiculous alternative you can imagine. "Would you let all-comers walk and drive all over your private premises because they don't want to feel land-locked?" Well, actually, it works in Sweden and Finland. Check out "Freedom to Roam" on Wikipedia.

In your P.S., are you sure you don't have "pro-life" and "pro-choice" mixed up? Pro-lifers are anti-abortion, and they spew Bible verses all over the place.

Gil said...

Why not take your view and apply it to lawn mowers? Why do you want concessions with mower-control groups so they can stick safety levers on all lawn mowers? From your perspective you're losing some rights to some busybodies. Let them have their way today and heaven forbid what tomorrow will be like?

"This is the guy [Ralph Nader] who helped make it necessary for me to restart my lawn mower every time I let go of the handle because some nitwits put their hands under a running lawn mower." - You, "Lessons Learned: Election 2008"

Gun owners are seeing the same thing. Every time there's another shooting that makes the news the pro-gun lobby use it to loosen gun laws while saying "the best solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." In other words they're making clear they're not interested in the slightest of making concessions but eliminating gun control laws. Heck many clearly state all control laws should nullify by the 2A. Far from being ready to hear about concessions the pro-gun lobby are getting their cake and eating it too because "stand your ground" laws are gaining in popularity

Your "concessions" amount to legal gripes. In other words take it up with a law-advocacy groups but I can't imagine you getting anyone worked up about it in a NRA meeting. Besides when could a burglar sue a homeowner for scratching himself while crawling through a broken window? says otherwise*. The law doesn't protect the "criminal" but those who know how to play the game get the most out of the system.


Consider self-defence - it's about the ending the immediate threat. Translated this means the criminal gets to set the pace of the violence because when he gives up or flees the home/business owner has to legally cease any force he was going to use.

I would say the law "protects sociopaths" but gives everyone the rights but sociopaths are willing to use all avenues and play the victim card to the fullest extent. Heck elsewhere you wrote and I agree that how many innocent people who are found guilty were truly innocent but low-level crooks or people who like to hang with criminals ("Some Issues Where Liberals Are Missing The Boat")?

Steve D said...

Well, you've gone from bad reasoning to self-parody to pasta philosophy, where you take a handful and sling it against the wall and see what sticks. I frankly have no idea what points you're trying to make here. But do keep posting. I'm sure gun control opponents will be glad to use you as a representative of how gun control advocates think.

Gil said...

Oh boo hoo. What gun controls do you think are reasonable and "sensible" gun owners would agree to? I'm not talking about trade-offs but outright gun control measures. After all, every time a new shooting makes the news the gun controls arguments seem to have less sting every time while the NRA types are quick to play up the importance of "good guys with guns" and makes that the argument the viewer will hear. Almost all States of the U.S. now have "stand your grounds" laws hence home owners already have the right to shoot an intruder in their own home with the law erring on their side. As said the N.R.A. and friends are already getting their cake and eating too. Gun controls are loosening while the law is increasing favouring the gun owners so there's little to no reasons for gun owners to listen since they're increasingly getting what they want.

Gil said...

If you were ever serious about gun control - somehow I doubt it and your question was really a brain teaser where the real answer was "I'm not for any form of gun control" then here's my last go. Take this standard pro-gun argument:

Could you imagine talking to this guy about concessions? He uses the standard arguments:

* violent criminals aren't concerned about lesser charges of illegal firearm ownership.
* we need guns to form a humungous militia force at a moment's notice to fight a tyrannical government.

In conclusion I still find your question is invalid

"You want to pass gun control laws but need the support of gun owners to pass it - how can you sweeten the deal?"

This makes as much sense as "you want to rollback the Civil Rights Act and all sort of laws against racial discrimination (such as de-segregation) and basically let black people have the same rights as their ancestors did shortly after the American Civil War (basically none short of being slaves) but you need the support of the African-American community - how you sweeten the deal?" Good luck with that.

Steve D said...

Boy, you really are flailing, aren't you?

You're equating the right to own guns with the right to vote, not be lynched, and not be denied housing or employment? Really? Seriously? Well at least, if you accept that as a remotely valid comparison, you ought to understand why many gun owners are so intransigent.

And the link you cite lists crime and self-defense as one of the major concerns of gun rights advocates. You read (or at least glanced at) the article but didn't comprehend it. Since crime looms so large in the minds of gun owners, that's why I suggested the concessions I did. You can't argue rationally with someone so delusional he thinks he can take on the U.S. military (When that drone crashes through your roof, you'll really be glad you had that thirty round clip instead of a weenie ten rounder.) But some major concessions on crime and punishment might just nudge a substantial number of gun owners toward accepting reasonable controls.

And you still insist on answering questions I never asked. I never asked for an offer that would appeal to all gun owners. And I never asked for something that was guaranteed to work. What I did ask was, what would you put on the table as an offer?

Gil said...

I know I'm a glutton for punishment but . . .

* Depending on how you look at it - no whites really had the legal right to do those things to black folk but they did it knowing their community wouldn't bring in the law to deal with it or, worse yet, those in law wouldn't do their job as they're supposed to. However I find the analogy apt as you're asking gun owners to vote against their interests so I take a similar analogy to highlight this. Then you have the current grouchiness with private businesses and gay people - do people have the right to privately discriminate or not? You know - their private business their rules? (Yes I know about your article of "Why I Not A Libertarian.")

* Self-defence? I take it as a separate right from gun control. It's a safety/legal issue not whether you get to own guns or not. But then "stand your ground" laws in some ways take the rights away from a crook on private premises.

* How paranoid gun owners are isn't relevant. They don't get to break the law because they want feelings to trump others' rights. After all, your paranoia about a crook who sues the homeowner for not providing a safe workplace is nothing but a collection of "what if" urban legends.

* As said what concessions could gun owners possibly want? In many states there's already the right to carry concealed guns in public, open carry in public, stand your ground law, no permits required for gun purchase in some States, etc. Since gun ownership is getting less restricted with time talking of concessions is worth less with time.

* So "reasonable" gun laws? You think there is such a thing? Who gets to define "reasonable" then? The Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence? The N.R.A.? The Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership?

* What could possibly be put on the table? I'm sure the folks at the Brady Center have had far more thoughts on this and have still watched their efforts be all for vain. The only thing I could think that hadn't been used much is if gun owners want free-for-all gun rights then don't complain when those who misuse them and take the media spotlight (as one has just very recently) become the unofficial poster child for how many people view gun owners. Namely don't complain when people see a gun owner as someone who has a wonderful right to own guns to protect him from the criminals and tyrannical government until his life goes to crap real quickly and he decides to shoot those he doesn't like before shooting himself.

Steve D said...

These are good questions, but it's not my intent to have a blog on gun control, so I think I'll sign out.

Peter D said...

On Productivity
"Worker productivity has tripled in he last few decades but wages have remained flat."

The machines we use produce things three times faster. But that's the owner's productivity, and the people who invented and built the machines. Tell us exactly how your productivity has tripled. Can you work three times as fast? Do you speak three times as many languages? Can you use three times as many software packages? Do you have three times as many college credits? Do you have three times as much knowledge as you did twenty years ago? Are you skilled in three times as many occupations?

Well, yes. I'm a software developer, and I am 30 years old. I speak six languages, and hold professional fluency accreditation in three of them. I am also proficient in several programming languages, enabling me to create more and better software than my monolingual predecessors. I have two degrees, one in arts, and one in sciences.

In addition, the level of professionalism that is expected of me (and that I deliver) is much higher. I don't just build the single-threaded commandline applications of yore. I build distributed web services that use hundreds of software packages and interact with dozens of other services. I engineer for robustness and availability, as well as correctness. I also work in the full stack: front-end, server-side, and data access.

My generation is, on average, more professionally qualified than previous ones. We acquire STEM educations at a higher rate and perform more demanding work. Since our contributions are greater, but our wages remain the same, then yes, I believe there is evidence of a wage gap.

Steve D said...

First, congratulations on an awesome resume. This is exactly what I mean by personal productivity. If your wages haven't kept pace, then you are indeed justified in complaining about not having your productivity rewarded. But I think it's also obvious that most of the people who complain about wages not matching productivity can't touch your credentials.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd be happy to take a swing at your "For Libertarians", but I might need a little clarification first -

Which is to say, I am against curtailing liberty regardless of who's doing it, public or private, but I'm not entirely sure precisely how I can use money (alone) to violate your rights. It's been my observation that when it happens, as it often does, it's a consequence of people renting the ability to legally violate people's rights from someone who already has it. And thus it seems to me that the easiest solution to the problem of people renting the ability to, say, legally take your property is to not have anyone with the power to do that in the first place.

But I suspect the indirect use of money to rent force isn't what you mean by the use of money to curtail your liberty, but I shall answer as best I can if you'll give me an example or two.

Steve D said...

Actually, you pretty much nailed it. Money in and of itself can't violate my rights, but then again money by itself can't do anything - it's how people use it. But people don't "rent" the power to violate others' rights, they buy it. If you use your money to influence lawmakers to pass a law that infringes on my rights, that law is on the books permanently. It's no more "rent" than buying a car with cash is "rent." Your recipe seems to be to strip government of the power to grant authority over others. But that won't stop people from buying it on the free market. There are lots of places in the world where people set up their own private armies and police forces independent of any government. The only way to prevent that is to have a more powerful force to oppose them, that is, a government.

It seems to me that a good place to start is by using the 14th amendment. Any use of personal resources to secure an advantage in any political or judicial process is a violation of the 14th amendment. That means nobody can make political contributions above some amount that's feasible for any voter, say $100. If you take someone to court, you're limited to whatever the less affluent party can afford to spend. And apply it when the state is a party. If the defendant can only scrape up $100, the DA gets to spend $100. How much did you want to pay that expert witness?

Also, any contract where one party imposes unfavorable terms on another by virtue of having superior resources or the ability to deny access to something, should be, on its face, an unconscionable contract. That means the courts won't enforce it. So you want to sell your old copy of Photoshop but the licensing terms won't allow it? Guess what. Unenforceable. Ditto forced arbitration, which is considered fair between businesses but is blatantly unfair when it pits a business against an individual.

Anonymous said...

"Your recipe seems to be to strip government of the power to grant authority over others."

Well, to an extent, and I will admit, a large extent. It seems to me that governments have presently asserted a large number of powers which either fall into the category of pretty much existing for one kind of abuse or another, or which are just so spectacularly abusable in practice that the good they do is entirely outweighed by their downside.

(And inasmuch as this is the sort of thing one can agitate for without requiring radical restructuring of the government, this tends to be where I mostly concentrate my personal efforts.)

But that being said, I certainly wouldn't disagree with your point that that won't stop people buying it elsewhere - it's still worth doing, I think, as it's a very large and concentrated source with self-defining legitimacy, but it's not in itself a total solution - and that it's necessary to have a more powerful "rights-enforcement" force to oppose them.

I might question the notion that that has to be a government as presently defined, though. That particular organization - a monopoly in law and fact - seems to me to have all the disadvantages (for other people) of a monopoly in business, in addition to providing a single obvious and extremely valuable target for corruption attempts. The idea of a polycentric system in which multiple competing rights-enforcement and judicial agencies eliminate that single point of failure and are able to watchdog each other has a lot of appeal in that regard. (Certainly enough that most libertarians of my acquaintance spend probably too much time tinkering with models and such historical examples as we have.)

Of course, that is both highly experimental - although, I would say, an experiment worth running - and does require some radical restructuring of the way government and society works, which I acknowledge, and does rather take it out of scope for this question.

And in any case, concentrating solely on that in the unknown future is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. For the immediate future and the system as it stands, I rather like - although I'm sure once I spend some time thinking through details, I'll find some quibbles - the broad strokes of your ideas as stated in the last comment, as well as others I've read here.

For myself, though as mentioned above, I want to nibble away at the edges of, and ultimately strip away, powers (say, but by no means only, eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, no-knock warrants, need-based commercial regulation, everything that essentially reverses the burden of proof, strict liability, etc., etc.) that are the most abused and abusable, and the principles underlying them. I'm also an advocate of various forms of increased transparency and sousveillance, for both government and the private sector, on the grounds that what makes many abuses so ubiquitous is that only people who go looking in dark corners ever manage to notice them. And if I had to pick one particular hobby-horse of mine, it would be insisting that each bill passed address one and only one topic, such that heinous examples of said purchased rights-violations wouldn't be able to hide as the amendment to the amendment to the rider on the revised cabbage export regulations, and suchlike.

Scott Elyard said...

Such great questions. Here's my take on one of them:

Tell us exactly how your productivity has tripled.

Hi! I'm a graphic designer and artist, who traversed the drift from analog to digital design back in the 1990s. My output has more than tripled. My compensation has not followed accordingly, and I'm nowhere near as extraordinary as your other respondent above. In fact, I will claim that I represent the average of my profession (perhaps even below average).

3 times as fast? I'd say so. I can move and realize my ideas honestly a lot faster, and with many more variations, versus nondigital design methods. With a relatively trivial amount of effort I can also repurpose a design from print to other tangibles, like apparel or mugs, which opens up other possibilities for my clients (and myself). I work three times as fast at least.

Productivity really snowballs once you know the tools and have a bit of experience. Things like deploying websites for users happens a lot faster these days.

Does this sound like computers have really supplied this boon in productivity? It does, doesn't it? Read on.

Languages: No, because I didn't specialize in languages, but visual arts. (Unless conlangs count.)

Software: gods yes, at least. The upkeep is frankly awful, both in terms of dollars and the cognitive burden.

College credits: I'm an autodidact who paid off all of his student loans, so no (no slam against college, merely as it applies to this particular profession; it only goes so far).

Three times the knowledge? That's a lot harder to answer. I know more than I did in 1991. But I was 19–20 then. If I didn't learn more something would be amiss. Three times? How am I supposed to measure that? If I say I do, will you accept it, sans evidence? I can't show you how much I've learned since then. I can show you a resume, but the map is not the territory.

Computers certainly facilitated this. But neither computers nor their developers did _any_ of what I do. That's like saying a mechanic or anyone else who charges for their time has to credit their wrenches, which would be ridiculous if it were presented on your bill ("We charged extra because we used the Snap-Ons!").

Wrenches help, and objectively make the work possible in the first place. But since tools do not convey expertise in and of themselves, that's not what we get paid for. "I have a Mac" is not even close to the same thing as saying "I am a designer." ("How can you say I'm not a plumber, when I clearly have this pipe wrench?")

This is why we charge by the event or hour, not because we want you to fund a digital lifestyle. (Which was frankly a lot more fun in the 90s.)

Occupations?: Animation, Illustration, Video Editing, Photography—these are all professions which are also part of what I do.

I can design, teach/tutor, be a student (itself an occupation), and because of the modern nature of design, I'm at least halfway to IT (well, maybe a bit more than the average designer who has not run a lab of UNIX iron, too). Because I freelance I do my own books but boy howdy I'd rather someone else did all of that.

In spite—or because of—this I'm still expected to do more. Expected? Required.

Yet in an era of soaring CEO compensation and corporate profits I am often told by companies they don't have the budget to pay much more than I earned when I started. I'd ask why this is the case, but I understand very clearly why this is the case, and I suspect you do as well. The reality flatters no one.

Gil said...

Hey no fair! You asked for what kind of concessions could be made so gun owners might agree to gun-control legislation only to write a new article that proposes to practically nullify the 2A? I'm pretty sure people who finished serving their sentence/paid the fines don't automatically lose their other Constitutional rights. It could be argue some guns are already restricted to those who are convicted of violent cries but still . . .