I think machine guns should be readily legal; this is my sole political concern. What does Ruskin say?

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How is this different from the minimum wage and how does it avoid all of the problems associated with it?

You are fixing the price of every possible labour service at a relatively high level, because if you fix it at a low level, you are back in the Eastern Block where the motto is "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work" (this is an actual saying from my country). However, if the price is fixed at a high quality level you run into several different problems.

First, you effectively price out poor quality labour from the market. If the price is fixed at X for both a good and a bad heart surgeon or a bricklayer, who would ever choose the bad one? How are bad bricklayers or hearth surgeons going to find work? The reason why markets compete by quality and price simultaneously is because they cannot clear if quality cannot be differentiated by price. How is a market with a limited ability to clear functional? You have unemployment baked into the foundation of the whole thing - how do you deal with that?

Second, why are we only focusing on the supply side here? What about the demand side? If the price is fixed at a high quality level you are also pricing poorer consumers out of the market. Someone might say "well, since you have a high price floor for ALL labour, then everyone's income would be high enough to be able to afford the high prices" but that is clearly not so because we run back to the first problem which is that lower quality labour will be getting (close to) 0 income as long as its price is fixed at the same level of higher quality labour.

The only ways I can think of in which these issues can be circumvented are if the state in some way starts subsidizing everything. But then your "two-knob" command economy very quickly becomes Soviet Russia.

Furthermore, not everything makes sense to be a guild, especially in the 21st century. Pretty much all the professions that it still makes sense to be ran as guilds are indeed ran as such nowadays. Doctors, lawyers, etc. Bricklayers, no, sorry.

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Couldn't agree more - the economics in here are just nutty - I have no doubt that the labor market is morphing into something weird and different than what we have today thanks to technology and covid but I don't think guilds and licensing laws are where we will end up. I'm a independent contractor spreadsheet jockey, what would I want with a guild? Increasingly my friends and family are becoming independent contractors across a range of income and types of jobs - most of the like it better - what I want is more freedom (hedonism maybe, call it what you will) with my healthcare and my money. Maybe crypto DAOs will come up with something cool for the labor market that will resemble some kind of informal guild.

What government, oligarchy, monarchy, etc. could stop or would want to take the effort to stop competing platforms - if the substack guildmasters decided Curtis was posting too much poetry and not enough serialization of his book and cut his monthy sub to $5 and dare call him a mere journeyman - should he not be able to move to Medium or Patreon or whereever and set his own wages. If substack doesn't want to give him a juicy advance ala Andrew Sullivan so be it...what guild or licensining would Curtis 'subject' himself to? And what guild would have him :) Guilds and licensing laws are always used to fuck the outsider and the outgroups...no thank you.

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Older MM (as of as far back as 6 months ago) would have known that since Ruskin and Shaw are people who were more influential on the now than Marx himself (as current Yarvin says of Ruskin's - and Shaw's - influence on the Labour Party [note the spelling]) that might mean what we are looking at isn't a solution to our current predicament but instead the origins or at least some of the roots of it. Including the strawmaning (opposite of steelmaning) of, say, Austrian econ and labor wage economics. But I'm glad you're receiving praise for this because it could be your ticket into Breadtube after all!

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Re: Ruskin's Economics:

Ruskin is right and wrong here. He is right in that the political economics and managerial practices of his time would expect the system he described to extract the most value from a laborer. He is right that this is not the best way to do so. He is wrong that (what we would now call) libertarian economics, or vulgar capitalism, would be incapable of recognizing this.

There has since been plenty of academic study and practical experience leading to the conclusion that healthy, well-rested employees who aren't worried about where their next paycheck is coming from perform much better than those pushed to the ends of their moment-to-moment psychological tolerance. You'll get fewer man-hours of labor out of them, but the hours they do spend working are much more productive. Especially in intellectual and creative pursuits.

In particular, I think it was Dan Pink who gave a good presentation (maybe a TED talk, hold your bile) on studies showing that creative people are better motivated by guarantees of autonomy and stable, modest income than by any kind of top-down managerial pressure, and were particularly demoralized and unproductive when put in competition for bonus pay and raises, while being micromanaged, or while being held to strict deadlines and requirements. You get more out of them, in other words, if you let them do their own thing and provide them a comfortable environment to do it in, than if you manage them like assembly line workers.

The big disconnect here is in unskilled and routine labor where there is no evidence that people can be motivated to do tedious and unfulfilling work by guarantees of autonomy and steady income. The more guarantees they get, and the more coddling they get, the more they slack off and the more ruinous demands they make for "benefits". I think this is probably because this kind of work is inherently unfit for humans, and humans are inherently unfit to do it (see also the Gray Mirror piece from a few months ago about dignity in labor). So the foundations of late 19th and early 20th century thinking around "scientific management" are, as Ruskin says, well reasoned fantasies with no connection to reality.

Amazon's practice of using humans at every level of the company as meat puppets piloted by crude logistics AI is the polar opposite, or the maximized version of wrongheaded thinking. You might look at Amazon's success and think, "they must be doing something right", but I don't think so. Amazon's ground-level / unskilled labor logistics are not best in class by a long shot (having done some work with logistics software, I can tell you Amazon doesn't even rank), and their software- and platform-as-a-service products are absolute shit shows, as any programmer or sysadmin with two brain cells to rub together could tell you.

We order from Amazon because it's cheap, and we use AWS because it's cheap. We do neither because of quality, reliability, customer service, or ease of use. I could get a linux server cluster up and running on real hardware, on a rack in a datacenter, much more efficiently and with far less effort than I can on AWS EC2. But AWS costs me pennies on the dollar. Likewise lambdas, which are hilariously inefficient in terms of clock cycles or seconds per unit of work done. But they're so cheap they're almost free.

This is, at least I think, because Amazon benefits from incredible economies of scale and vertical integration papering over the inefficiencies of their beleaguered workforce, not because their managerial practices are efficient. Look at what happens when they try to do anything creative - their game development efforts for example - and note that turning their monstrous victorian labor engine to that task accomplishes very little at great expense.

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Good effortpost Fukitol. I've been reading a little into 'strategy vs logistics' in business recently (annoyingly, I forgot to bookmark it) and woud appreciate links to any kind of resource on how the best businesses run their logistics

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Curtis, I am just writing to commemorate that I have finally worked my way through every post on this substack in the last few months. Incredible stuff. Every piece was a delight to read and not only expanded my worldview, but blew it right open. I can confidently say that by integrating your work with my prior perspectives, I have a far more complete worldview.

Keep up the great work, now to get cracking on UR...

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We see through the glass darkly. These experts all seem to be British, they do not understand the American experiment, just as Americans do not fully understand the British mindset.

As an enlisted in the US Air Force, three stripes on my sleeve, we spent a summer in the UK for war games in 1986. For fun, we went to London to see alternative bands. At the Royal Albert Hall, Greenpeace had a benefit concert with The Waterboys and The Cure. The box office was sold out but they said some VIP balcony owners were willing to allow tickets sold to their unused seats. We two airmen sat in the front two seats of a private balcony, when a local Brit asked to join us (sneak in to the balcony). We got along fine until the Brit mentioned, "I wonder if the Lord or Lady will kick us out of their balcony before the evening is over?" I said we paid for the seats, how can they change their mind and kick us out? This was accidentally highly offensive to the sensibilities of the Brit. The rest of the evening was hostile and awkward as he berated our favorite Waterboys performance, in protest for our lack of respect for the whims of the Lord and Lady.

He believed in the British way, that the Lord and Lady are our superiors so we are subject to their whims. We believed the USA way, that if you sell something, even kindly, you should allow the buyer to fully claim the seats sold for the duration of the event.

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1986, you say?

You'd have a hard time today finding any remaining "Brits" who have the "British" mindset you describe.

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This is an engaging piece but it’s an example of what I have come to think of as a Curtis gym workout. He’s sweating, getting in some good punches, showing some good footwork. Even the old Negro cornerman has to admit the Jewish kid still has it. It’s just that it would be better, would mean more, if there were someone else in the ring. It’s great shadowboxing but Curtis’ fans/subscribers are all pining for the real thing—a fight with the Beast.

A fight with the Beast occurs when Kid Yarvin tangles with the question: Now what? My sense is that back in June- August our guy was inching up on something volatile but then the sensible guy took the stick and he dropped the gloves and retreated to the corner stool. We were advised—wisely no doubt—to watch our tongue, abandon the ramparts, become liquid before the tyrant. His hilarious takes on conservative befuddlement at the prospect of power; his dismissal of the would-be counter-revolutionary grill masters—it put the fork in not just the veal chop but the fantasy of Trumpian duffuses taking back the battered republic. There were the occasional evocations of a new Caesar, but mainly it’s been a flurry of dazzling jabs and heavy bag punching to lend cheer to the odd interregnum and subtle disengagement—Curtis boxing space.

Again, we love the show, the artistry, the charisma—but ultimately we’re here for the blood.

My suggestion to Curtis is Stanley Hoffman’s book “Decline or Renewal? France since the 1930s” and in particular the essay “De Gaulle as Political Artist”. I suspect this could reinspire the fighting animal that lurks within

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See, this is where I am more in Land's camp. Why not focus on improving the value signal?

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See, I think this is rubbish. Because no regime can know how to manage the economy. And even suppose that it gets it right, for now. What about tomorrow? Because tomorrow the market will change, and today's "knobs," even if tuned right, will be wrong tomorrow.

Since the autumn of the feudal era, when landowners started dumping their peasants, because "improvement" and the nationalization of armies, regimes haven't had a clue what to do with the serfs and slaves when the world changes: from machine spinning to machine weaving to steam trains to steamships to illuminating oil to German cars to electricity to computers to cellphones to social media. All we know are the four laws:

1. The regime cannot direct the economy because it cannot compute prices.

2. The regime cannot direct the economy because it does not have the administrative bandwidth.

3. The regime cannot regulate business because "regulatory capture."

4. The regime's programs (i.e., loot and plunder) cannot work because it dare not take away the voters' loot and plunder.

Fact is, whatever the regime says, you are on your own. Just like Dickens' David Copperfield when Mr. Murdstone sent him to school at Mr. Creakle's. Don't think that a convenient aunt Betsey Trotwood would appear to rescue you, or dear Agnes Wickfield would be there to love you.

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I could almost get on board with some of these plans if the "elite" didn't actively select for the worst possible choices every time.

I still struggle to understand why they would want to do so either? The worst art, the worst architecture, and most importantly, the worst and ugliest people are the ones they favour.

Surely no-one can try to reorder a society selecting for these things and expect it to work - but more than this - who would want to live in the world they would make from this?

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“When price is fixed, the market competes only on quality”.

Earlier this year Marianne Faithful released a delicate album, featuring the poetry of Shelley, Keats & Byron.

Drake also released “Certified Lover Boy”.

They both cost the same at my local record store.

Are we sure our fellow countrymen select solely on “quality”?

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Have they been trained to think in terms of quality, and how to spot good quality from a mile away.

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It's not obvious they ever could be. And even if so, the sensibilities of the well-educated Brooklynite soul fan would vastly differ from the sensibilities of the well-educated black metal nerd from the suburbs of Reykjavik. Perhaps this is a problem only of the purely creative pursuit but it nonetheless goes unaddressed.

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Truthers harp on Ruskin a-lot as the inspiration behind the round table groups. "Ruskin's message had a sensational impact. His inaugural lecture was copied out in longhand by one undergraduate, Cecil Rhodes.." pg 130 , Tragedy and Hope

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Perhaps we need to be better managing the economy for stability and peace of mind rather than maximizing the mean. Like most people, I'm less concerned about becoming fabulously wealthy and more concerned about the myriad possibilities for massive upheaval. Moving into a low interest rate world is okay for the very wealthy who can bear the risk of investing in risky assets, but for ordinary savers, it means having to deal with much more complexity and risk than they want to bear. It also makes them more vulnerable to the financial industry's predation. Of course, this is basically a distributional question that could be addressed through dirigiste state involvement in the banking system (ala China, but of course they have historically acted to transfer wealth from savers to SOEs and oligarchs). That would need to come from a competent regime.

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“In the entire history of mankind

there has never been a political elite

sincerely concerned

about the wellbeing

of regular people.

What makes any of us

think that it is different now.

—Christine Anderson

European Parliament

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Lenin thought he could copy Walther Rathenau's planned war time economy of WW1.

Lenin was wrong.

The human soul has infinite worth.

Imago Dei doesn't have much meaning for materialists.

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Sounds like Universal Basic Income with more steps

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