Monthly Archives: September 2010

Minimal Wage, Govermnent Dependency and Education

There are minimum wage laws in most developed countries. Is it a good thing ? Austrian school of Economics argues it is not as this means there are some jobs which are not created which otherwise would. This would  drive unemployment level down, though of course lowest paid jobs would pay a lot less than is needed for  comfortable lifestyle.

Why do people would not allow the free capitalism work allowing people to sell their labor freely for any  amount they wish ?  This is because there is an assumption of imbalanced relationship.  There is a feeling if you’re low skilled and looking for job competing with many people of the same skill you will accept job with any pay and if there is no minimum wage people will be forsed to accept jobs for virtually no pay.

Do you see the problem with this logic ? As long as slavery is gone nobody can force anyone to accept any job he does not want to.  The critical assumption made here is accepting the job is the only choice  individual has if he is to make a living.  This is not really the case. You do not have to work for anyone you can be self employed!   It is not minimal wage but your income generating abilities as self employed person should define wages for lowest paying jobs.  If everyone can make at least $10 an hour as a self employed individual when there would not be jobs paying less than this amount.

One may think you need capital to make money… I do not agree, especially on the low end you can start work with little capital, little skill, you just need energy and may be a bit of creativity.   There is a free internet access in the library and you can make some money selling things on ebay,  you can do some art and  crafts (though you may be competing with people in third world for labor cost), you can provide some service for people such as washing windows or doing haircuts for their dogs.

I’m not saying everyone has to be self employed,  on the contrary I believe for most people working for  someone else would be the best choice, however I think everyone should be ready to work for yourself if
you do not find a good job.  The feeling you do not really need a job can be very empowering.

If you think about world in this way the unemployment insurance becomes not the issue too.  If you’re  let go and you can’t find job quickly enough to avoid burning all your saving away you can get to the  self employed track.  This would look horrible for people who has made a choice early in their life to specialize, so their worth as employees is so much more than they could make as self employed. This was their choice however to do so – if your carreer is risky in this sense you may consider having excessive savings to allow you to spend more time looking for job or re-train for different industry if your job no more exists.

All of this comes from my basic belief what government does not own you anything, well, at least you should not relay on it providing anything. This goes back to my upbringing in at the times Soviet Union was transitioning to somewhat capitalist Russia and many people who were counting on Government keeping their promises and taking a good care of them were burned badly.

So how about helping people who can’t help themselves ?  There are abandoned children or people who are so sick they can’t take care of themselves.  This is called Charity and it existed well before government started to engage in it.  I belive people become less charitable and more rigid if they feel this is  government job to be a charity. “I had paid my taxes, what else do you want from me” Yet government may  not be the most efficient in this allowing for abuse with resources wasted on people most familiar with the system rather than those who needs help the most.   Moreover counting on government deemphassises  a lot of family and social functions. Parents are not counting on children to take care of them in their old age and investing in their good upbringing, it decreases children responsibility for their aging parents, it does not motivates us to invest into building relationships with network of friends and  local community to be able to count on in times of hardship.

So what Education has to do with it ? Well I belive education is defines how we view life at significant extent.  I think it teaches us to grow up and become employees but not really highlights this is only one of the choices.

Picking a NetBook, 2010 Edition

My Samsung NC10 Netbook was a good choice at the time, though as time went its Intel Atom 270 showed itself being more and more limited as web sites grew more complicated and video moving to use of more CPU intensive codecs.  Netflix started to look very choppy so some of YouTube videos.  Finally after I managed to drop it on the concrete its hard drive started to develop bad blocks and I once had to spend couple of hours recovering unbootable Windows due to bad blocks in the system area.  So it was time for a change.

That Netbook also tought me the great lesson – I know knew exactly what I wanted.   I wanted the new Netbook to be as light as previous one. I looked to get a bit larger screen with a bit better resolution.  I wanted to get faster CPU and good bettery life.    I also need it to be quality built so I can relay on it during my business travels.   One choice was to get on the Business Class 12″ laptops which were close to what I was looking for but which were too pricy for my taste, another was looking at higher end consumer class Netbook.

I ended up picking Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T-3721.  This is 11.6″ Laptop with 1.2Ghz Intel Core i5 CPU which is powerful enough basically for anything, it also includes Virtualization extension allowing me to run Linux in Virtualbox  which can be handy.    4GB of Memory and 500GB hard drive makes it quite fitted for basically any application tasks I need.  There is no more painful waiting I had to suffer with Atom CPU every so often.

The full size keys on keyboard compared to 92% on my old Samsung make typing convinient, though I should say I do not notice much difference.    The Screen resolution of 1366×768  is a big difference from 1024×600 Now I do not have horisontal scrolling on most sites I  care and using GMail etc is a lot more convenient.

This laptop is thinner than Samsung NC10 and it weights just a bit more – 3.1 lb instead of 2.8, which is hard to notice. The Battery life is quite good.  I can get 5-6 hours depending on what I’m doing which is not the perfect “full working day” but good enough for most of my travel needs.

One downside I found is a glossy screen, though this could be easily fixed getting anti reflective screen protector.

Taxes

Here is a nice article on taxes which  touches on two things I always considered important.  First  – when you have certain level of skill and income you can pick almost any place in the world to live.  Moving to different country is not really different than moving to different neighborhood or different state.   Move of course affects your proximity to family, friends, your current work place or principal place of business, things you got use so it is far from simple arithmetic choice.  Still this is just a magnitude difference.

The next data point which I like is “particularly the nearly 50% of eligible voters who pay no federal income tax”.   I’m not sure if numbers are correct but it does not make much difference if it is 50% or 30% – this is a very large group of voters.    This makes benefits paid to no people paying no taxes and a positive externality while it is negative externality for the small group of payers of majority of the taxes.  What we know about externalities is what they do not help with wise and fair decisions.

Fairness is an interesting thing to begin with. When dealing with the crowd  you can convince and rally people around basically any cause.  Lynching would be the good example of  such a “fair” treatment.

Small Airports and Direct Flights is what you want for Travel

Being a frequent business traveler I found I value small airports and direct flights the most, especially for shorter flights.   Going through Oakland Airport instead of San Francisco not only saves me extra 20 miles driving, but also time walking from the parking to the airport, passing through security etc.  Flights are also faster because there is usually no time waiting in the line for take off and the taxing time is shorter.  Flying  to John Wayne airport instead of LAX means  I’m in the cab 10 minutes after landing and it takes another 20 minutes to get to the customer’s office.    LAX would probably take at least 40 minutes to go the same distance at the time of day as there is usually traffic around larger airports.

So for my customer day visit to the Irvine today I got out of home at 5:30 to get my 7:15 Southwest flight from OAK.  I could even leave at 6:00 but I’m always leaving some time for unexpected traffic or other issues. I’m in Orange County by 8:40 and as I have some spare time I can flush emails I replied on the plane and take care of few more urgent ones.  I’m not due onsite until 9:30 anyway.   I take a cab about 9:00 and come to the office some 10 minutes before the time I’m expected.   After work I leave at 5:30  and I’m in the Airport all passed through security by 6.   My flight back is not until 8:10.  This is the downside of smaller airports – flights may not be as frequent as from the larger ones. But at least there is a free wireless internet so I use the spare time to have a dinner and do some more work.   Even as a plane is about 10 minutes late I’m back in Oakland at 9:40 and home about 10:15.