Friday, October 5, 2012

The Channel of Free Lunches

Click to enlarge.

Source Data:
St. Louis Fed: Custom Chart


Troy said...

my only hope is that history comes at us a bit slower than I expect.

maybe we can put another stairstep in the leverage graph.

I don't particularly mind "welfare states", but I do think we have to pay for them on a current basis..

This is where Japan really really screwed up. If they were serious about saving, they would have no national debt now, giving them plenty of borrowing capacity to meet their needs the remainder of the century.

Then again I can't really pretend to understand Japan's game. Man there's a lot of moving parts with that.

Stagflationary Mark said...


I don't particularly mind "welfare states", but I do think we have to pay for them on a current basis..

Given the choices, I'd rather have a welfare state than a non-welfare state.

I asked a neighbor (who is a Republican) what we should do if someone was hurt, at the doorstep of a hospital, but could not afford to pay. I was not particularly pleased with the answer. To put it mildly, the injured person apparently didn't make good life choices. Sigh.

I guess I'm just not willing to let people die at the doorsteps of hospitals. That said, I'm not suggesting that we perform heroic efforts to keep everyone alive. There has to be some sort of cost/benefit analysis combined with the country's ability to pay.

Common sense is dead. Sigh.

Troy said...

"that which is necessary to become and remain a productive member of society without regard to ability to pay" is my definition of the welfare state.

With my somewhat new-found Georgism, I don't even think this should be "free" -- I think it should come right out of middle-class payroll taxes, since it's the middle class that bids ups rents and land values, so taxing that away theoretically serves to limit real estate rent extraction from working people . . .

I think that's the big secret of Germany's success at least. but I would need to more fully analyze what has been happening in the scandinavian circle, rent-wise.

One thing I'm relatively sure of is that we need fewer people here, not more.

Per-capita income is $100,000 (2005 dollars) now.

We are a very productive people, but the left and the right differ on who the parasites are, LOL.

Stagflationary Mark said...


I think we do become more prosperous with more people, but only to a point, only if we are able to feed everyone, only if we don't exhaust the planet's natural resources (as locusts would), and only if we don't rely on future generations to pay our bills.

For example, imagine what the video game industry would look like if there were far fewer people on the planet (to both create games and play them). As a gaming addict, I don't think I'd like that world much.

Just a thought.

Troy said...

yeah, the beauty of the virtual economy is that it's bully for content creators.

But a virtual economy requires redistribution back into the physical layer of the Maslow pyramid

People need to pay for their necessities -- food, healthcare, shelter -- first.

Food is in oversupply thanks to agribusiness and our colossal amount of (presently) arable land so there's not much rents there -- though McD's is operating a 20% rent-take on the payroll economy -- every $5 people spend there, $1 goes off to (after-tax) Capital heaven.

XOM is operating a 15% net siphon on a flow ~15X greater.

Shelter is the primary imbalance I suspect. The lower half of this nation has to rent, and the more expensive a place is to live, the greater the percentage of rental housing.

The solution there is to just tax the hell out of rents, but that's a political non-starter -- too easy for the LLs to threaten to raise rents to "pass on" this additional "cost of business" -- and, no doubt there are enough people enjoying below-market rents to gin up enough sob-stories in the press to kill the concept before enactment.

The older I get the more I just want to buy a boat and GTFO. Though a nice off-grid doomstead is probably more wealth-preserving over the long run.

What is needed is a Galt's Gulch II. I sense a game idea forming, though apparently someone's trying to do something like that.

(My idea of paradise would be the scandinavian circle located about 20 more degrees away from the pole, LOL -- Stockholm is 59 deg N!)

EconomicDisconnect said...

Great post Mark!

Stagflationary Mark said...


I am a devourer of content since Borderlands 2 came out. I'm down to about 50 cents per hour I'd say.

I also managed to reread a Sci-Fi book this past week. I bought the book used in 1999 if memory serves. That's easily under 50 cents per hour too.

Simple things for simple minds. My lifestyle sure doesn't create many jobs. Sigh.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Hey! Good to see you. Glad to see the new job is treating you well!

Troy said...

gah, I just discovered Buckminster Fuller's Legal Piggily chapter of his last work, Critical Path. . .

Looks to be 90% the pot talking but damn if I don't find some interesting (i.e. line up with my own thinking) assertions .

Fuller also made an anti- War Game he called "The World Game".

Troy said...

horribly OT again, but I just busted something seeing this on reddit:

Stagflationary Mark said...


...I just busted something seeing this...

Looks like we'll be eating more fish in the future, lol. Sigh.

Troy said...

. . . and plankton, and sea greens, and protein from the sea

there's another movie that could use a reboot I guess.

1970s had all the good stuff, man. Soylent Green, Network, Logan's Run, Space 1999

Though I guess Jericho and this new Revolution show are tapping into that same zeitgeist . . .