Greedy Goblin

Monday, June 13, 2016

My utopia: free market, no tax, full employment, low Gini

Permanent page here, you can comment on this post. I try to answer every (non-retarded) question.

19 comments:

Cathfaern said...

How would you divide the country (countries) geographically? If there is a famous holiday place (like lake Balaton in Hungary) it would make sense to make that tier 1 place. But this would make lower tiered people angry because they could not go there (despite right now there are free camps there so even the most poor can go there). On the other place if you make Balaton tier 1 then you can't make eg. Budapest tier 1 because then the whole tier would take too much area. Or tiers not necessarily continous?
So how would you decide which tier locates in which geopgraphy location?

Gevlon said...

They should be continuous, but the problem you described is absolutely non-existing. The Hungarian average wage is $7000, so none of Hungary should be level 5. I'd say the Northwestern third (including Balaton and Budapest) would be L4, the middle part L3 and the South-eastern stripe L2. (higher level is better)

As I've said, tourists can visit higher level lands by saving money for a week's tax.

Dektar said...

It wouldn't solve the problem of unequal starting conditions for children. If I'm born in top-tier land, I will get top education, enabling me to find a job in top-tier land. On the other hand, if I'm born in L1, how can I get the same chances to prove my worth in L5? (Or is reproducing limited just like the right to own luxury cars etc., such that it would be forbidden in L1?)

Lucius said...

Interesting idea which somehow reminds me of the hunger games districts.

Let's start with your first 3 points. I think your first point wouldn't do a lot if those rules were scrapped and might even be more expensive depending on the healthcare system in place. Take your airbag example. The cost of 1 person ending up paralyzed will off-set the cost of a lot of airbags that never get deployed. You could make the same example for hygiene laws and most everything else.
Of course there are laws that could probably go but overall I don't think the legal system is something you'd want to mess with when it comes to saving money.

As for point 2. I'm not sure there's really a reason to have 2 levels of technology competing at the same territory level. Tech would naturally flow from the top tier to the lowest tier as new tech arrives at the top. Sort of like our old cars get shipped to Africa.

Point 3 has always been weird to me. As someone who doesn't give a shit about fashion and mostly judges clothes based on their quality I have to admit I'd look at someone in a suit differently than someone in a tracksuit even if it would be the same person. However I do my best to judge people on their actions and words as opposed to how they look and wish we would all run around in our pyjamas all day.

To get into the meat of the article I think what you're suggesting is already in place in a way. The only thing we're not doing is forcing people to move to lesser territories if they can't keep up and people aren't moving on their own because why would they? In a way you're sort of making being poor illegal. Poor being below whatever the tax requirement is for the level you (want) to live in.

Overall I think it's a flawed idea. Each level will always be feeding on the level(s) below and I don't think the standard of living would go up faster than it does now. The only difference would be that it would punish the lazy or unlucky by not having a safety net until you reach the bottom.
Another huge problem, one we'll have to tackle for real in the next 50 years or so, is exponential technological advancements. As the top tier automates more they'll get increasingly more disconnected from the lower tier(s) to a point where a janitor or factory worker is a foreign concept.
A common answer to that problem right now is that the people who lose their job to a robot will do other jobs. Jobs which might now even exist yet.

My idea of a utopia isn't all that different though. I too would like to incentivize working more as opposed to sitting on your ass and collecting welfare. However I'd look at it more as a one group effort instead of 5 different groups realizing not everyone has the same capabilities. Work would be appreciated equally believing that smarter people would seek out higher skilled jobs naturally and not for economic gain or status.
The government would play a big role in a system like this which is also the reason it is flawed since people can't be trusted to always make logical and objective decisions.

Gevlon said...

@Dektar: nothing solves the problem of unequal starting condition of children except banning families and keeping all children in institutions. Which is a bad idea.

@Lucius: nope. The cost of 1 person paralyzed is the cost of the loss of his life income. Which is a lot if he is a top tier earner. Not much if he is a menial worker. The system just acknowledges this fact. If an airbag saves your life/health with 1:100000 chance than it's value is your life income/100000. If this is bigger than its cost than its a worthy buy, otherwise its not.

Even if Eastern Europe (which is far from Africa) the average car age is over 10 years. So there is flow-down, (most of the cars were young in Western Europe) but with a delay and quality loss (a 10 years old car isn't just outdated, it's decayed too).

YOU do your best to look at the persons actions. Most people look at their clothes and other social clues.

The purpose of the system isn't to force poor out, that's just a byproduct. The purpose is to remove work and business taxes. Currently if you work, you must pay a fine. Actually if I'd speed all day and get a ticket, I'd pay less than I do for the crime of working. Companies pay more "fine" for making products than they would for killing a worker every day. Working and producing aren't crimes to be fined! So the logic is:
- taxation of production and working is bad
- the only tax I can think of that doesn't do that is a flat fee
- flat fee forces out people who can't pay it
- let's make different lands with different taxes

Some works - typically personal services - cannot be automated. The "waiter" job was technically automated hundred years ago (self-serving restaurants) and yet there are waiters. People pay for the privilege of being with nice people. So there will always be jobs.

The "Work would be appreciated equally believing that smarter people would seek out higher skilled jobs naturally and not for economic gain or status" was tested and failed in the communist block.

Rodolphe Ortalo said...

This is not an utopia from my point of view. It is most probably hell and segregrationism based on birthplace.

You totally avoid all the important foundations of nations: defense, health, education, government - so I suspect the plan is totally non-functional. It probably would not even make a working middle-aged kingdom (because of no taxes so no revenue for the Goblin king ;-)... Fortunately!
Your posts are usually much more clever, I am disappointed. Or do you play video games too much to realize they are an oversimplification of reality? (That's why caricature based on them is powerful while any modeling is very probably erroneous.)

Gevlon said...

@Rodolphe:
There is no question that my utopia would be a "hell and segregrationism based on birthplace". The question is "is it more or less a hell than the current World"?

Do you have any evidence that a low level territory would be worse than a current country with similar government income? I mean Somalia probably don't make much money, therefore its "important foundations of nations: defense, health, education, government" are pretty bad.

More importantly, if you are born in Somalia, there is no official system that would help you to leave. Here there will be a clear one: gather enough money to be able to "level up" to a country in the current level of Malaysia. There you can get Malaysian level of government services and with their help, you can gather enough money by hard work to level up to Bulgaria. There you can get Bulgarian level of government services and with their help, you can gather enough money by hard work to level up to Hungary. There you can get Hungarian level of government services and with their help, you can gather enough money by hard work to level up to the USA. Easy? No. Possible? Yes. Is it a possible way for a Somalian to ever become a US citizen?

Anonymous said...

where does my family live?

my mother had a masters in paleobotony. my father was "just" a farmer who left school at 14 to work the farm but should have been a mechanical engineer. three of my sisters are nurses, one a teacher. of my six brothers there is a policeman, university lecturer, mechanic, carpenter, buisness owner and i'm a software developer.

the next generation includes one dependant on the state for income due to mental disability does he get shipped of to L5?

Gevlon said...

@Anon: I assume your adult sisters and brothers are already living in different places and you only meet on family reunions, so it doesn't matter if some of them would be living in different level lands.

No one would get shipped anywhere. Anyone can choose to pay for other people to stay together (just like currently housewives are supported by their husbands). Disabled people - like children - pay no tax. Granted, they wouldn't get welfare either outside of L1 (that's the lowest, L5 is the highest), but if your family can afford his care, no one cares if he's around.

Anonymous said...

Moving between tiers seems less rewarding than the first glance. It's just an example, but if someone wants 50% of their income to be tax, tier 4 needs to make 30k while tier 5 needs to make 100k. Even if they want to scrape by at 60k, the increased cost of the higher-quality goods makes it that much tougher. If they're stuck buying tier 4 goods, why move to tier 5? The tax would have to be spent on welfare or employing low-tier citizens to make a lot of services "free."

Buboe said...

So what about crime?
If the punishment for a murder is to pay the lifetime earning ability of the victim, what' sto p a sociopath (like, say affluenza teen boy) from going to L1 with a machine gun, and droppping his wallet on the way out?
But if someone shoots him while doing it, they go into a lifetime of penury and debt.
Oh, and how are the courts and police paid in L1.
There are none?

Gevlon said...

@Anon: because jobs with high earning ability would be in short supply in lower level lands, just like it's hard to be investment banker in some rural town.

@Buboe: the criminal would go to prison as main punishment, paying damages - like now - would be secondary.

Police and courts would be like they are in a poor country today: not the best of course.

Anonymous said...

> regulations on safety would also be more and more loose in lower tiers

Let's say that I build a factory in L1 which generates a lot of harmful waste products. You might argue that my *customers* are accepting the risk of poisoning when they buy stuff from me, but my *neighbors* are going to be breathing poisoned air even if they boycott me. They can try to sue me, of course, but the L1 bureaucracy is going to be terribly overburdened and understaffed. If an inspector comes snooping around, then I can just bribe him to go away.

In order to save a few thousand dollars in L1, I might dump enough poison into the river to destroy a million-dollar fishing trade downstream in L3. Or a luxury marina in L5. I've created a few jobs for low-skilled workers in L1, but the overall effect on GDP was terrible. It would have been preferable for the rich guys to setup a welfare program which pays me (and my workers) to remain idle.

Environmental regulations don't seem very amenable to this territory-tiering system.

Gevlon said...

If your factory pollutes other territories, their governments will be more than able to tell the L1 government to stop you. I the pollution is local: they will gladly accept a low compensation to simply move away from the factory.

So on the one hand, yes, things would happen as you said. However things now are much worse: in poor countries there are absolutely no regulations as the (local) rich completely corrupt the factory and the locals are not even informed about the dangers of the pollution. Any journalist would try to tell them would be killed. Or, simply there is no country at all, just a failed state like Somalia where all is fair. Compare my L1 lands to them!

I'm not saying that my L1 lands would be happy places. I'm saying that they would be happier places than current lowest income countries and would have a huge plus: an institutional way to escape them. Work hard, save your income and off you go to L2!

Anonymous said...

Utopia is nice game of fantasy. So even if it wont work, its good to play.

Here are some weakspots.

What about religion, culture, nationality and language barriers? Any of them could be the reason not to move anywhere, they would riot and arm themself if you force it.

Next thing is taxation. If there are other countries with income, profit, sales or wealth tax, they can and will abuse the utopia system. Example being L1 citizen and living in country with high taxes makes tax evasion very good alternative to use.

Wealth gives power, what means richer people are, more corrupt they will be. Danger to loose valuable job makes people easy target for blackmailing. And people who can afford to get caught, they wont loose much if they spend some vacation years on L1 part of the world. That means wealth based penalties are effective only for average and poor persons.

Anonymous said...

> Example being L1 citizen and living in country with high taxes

Citizenship isn't emphasized in Gevlon's plan. If you *reside* somewhere, then you pay its taxes. If you visit somewhere (e.g. as a tourist), then you pay its taxes on a pro rata basis for the length of your stay.

The one exception is the migrant worker policy. If you're rich enough then maybe you could remain a citizen of L1 (no taxes!) and bribe someone at the government to declare you an indispensible worker (so that you can still work in L5). But if you're rich enough to arrange this setup, then the 50k/yr tax bill is probably negligible to you. You might as well just pay it.


> they wont loose much if they spend some vacation years on L1 part of the world.

You seem to be assuming that this would work like Nazi officials fleeing to Argentina and living comfortable middle-class lives under false identities.

Under Gevlon's plan, L1 *isn't* a nice place to live. It's a third-world hellhole where the drinking water is full of lead, the electricity works only a few hours per day, and you're surrounded by criminals who've been permanently exiled from their higher-tier birthplaces.

The only virtue of L1 is the "Arbeit macht Frei" angle: if you're willing to work then you can probably find a job (albeit a dangerous, stressful, or demeaning one) through which you can save some money and eventually GTFO.

Anonymous said...

Utopia is nice game of fantasy.

If this utopia will become reality of some sort, it will competite existing systems and regulations. Thing work well, if whole world is on utopia, but fail on if it is not. Tax evasion is major point on this fantasy system and hurts the govnerment ability to function.

It might be even cheaper to be a L1 citizen, and import all the good you need from other places while paying nothing back. If some bigger group of people figures it out and abuses it on max, it could end up as a another country within a utopia with healthcare, tax and education. And thats all because of taxfree environment on utopia.

Anonymous said...

> It might be even cheaper to be a L1 citizen, and import all the good you need from other places while paying nothing back.

Rich guy moves to L1.

He'll need to be very careful whenever he does business with local merchants, because safety regulations (which he takes for granted) are relaxed or non-existent in L1. If he hires someone to paint his mansion, he'll need to check every can of paint for "does not contain Lead." If he hires some day-laborers to mow his giant lawn, then he'll need to ensure that their fertilizers and pesticides don't contain any carcinogens or neurotoxins. DDT is probably legal in L1.

He'll also need to pay a bunch of money to hire private security guards, because the local police force is inadequate to protect his stuff from the envious hordes of L1 citizens. He'll need to purchase an independent power and water system, because the utilities operated by the L1 state are poorly maintained and suffer frequent outages. He'll need to build highways, unless he wants to destroy his Ferrari by driving it across gravel roads and giant potholes. He'll need to setup high-bandwidth low-latency telecommunications if he wants to be able to effectively manage his L5 business empire from his L1 residence. He'll need to hire private tutors for his children, because the L1 education system is shit.

He'll need to frequently travel to L5 anyways (and pay pro rata taxes) in order to visit specialists doctors, shop for high-end consumer goods, and attend important events (trade shows, weddings, quarterly meetings, etc).

Or ... he could just pay the 50k/yr pittance, live in a civilized country, and not have to deal with *any* of that bullshit.

Serj said...

The system is clearly intended to copy 1st/3rd world dynamic from the real world. Here are it's failures:
The "Utopia" assumes there's some sort of central government or that all 5 governments cooperate. That has never been and will never be the case in reality. Every government has an agenda.
2. By it's very nature, the most rich government will want to stay rich or get even richer. That is most easily achieved by screwing over the other governments. And you just roll back into the good old class war. I can already hear the pitchforks being sharpened in the poor sector.

Your so-called utopia is the same old idea of class segregation, whether by birth or by wealth or some other way. Taken to it's logical end it forces lower classes into absolute poverty to the point where there's absolute majority of poor people. And then revolution happens. Robespierre, Cromwell, Lenin... There are many more.