16 January 2018

The Biggest Problem With Capitalism Is That It Usually Works As Designed

A free market economy is designed to reward people for two things. Their productivity and the economic value of their wealth. While the realization of a free market economy that exists in the United States isn't a perfect replication of the platonic ideal of a free market economy, by and large, it does just what it is designed to do, and this is the problem.

In a human society, we care about more than a person's productivity and the economic value of their wealth. A person who has no significant wealth and is not economically productive enough to earn enough to meet their needs on that basis, still needs to be provided for, as a consequence of their human dignity and as a consequence of non-economic contributions that this person makes to our society.

It would be unreasonable to expect that children, mother's staying at home while caring for young children, people staying home to care for disabled and elderly family members, the disabled, the elderly, or people who aren't disabled but are simply at the bottom of the pile of ordinary adults when it comes to their economic productivity for whatever reason, should be able to support themselves through their own participation in the market economy.

Only about 49% of the population of the United States is in the workforce (either employed or unemployed and looking for work). On average, everyone who works needs to be productive enough to support economic needs of two people for the economy to work properly.

Sometimes, people who aren't in the work force are supported by family. But, this isn't always possible, because there are plenty of working age adults who struggle to earn enough in a capitalist economy to support themselves and those of their family members who would traditionally be economically dependent upon them.

Nothing we can do to make the free market economy more meritocratic and free of discrimination will every solve this problem. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by families, by civil society, and by government. Moreover, we already know from experience, as a society, what happens when addressing this problem is left to families and civil society alone in a modern economy, and it isn't good. Experience has shown that government intervention is necessary to meet the economic needs of a significant share of the people who are simply incapable of meeting their own economic needs in a free market economy.

Thinking of the adults who lack the education, skills, health and temperament to be self-sufficient economically by virtue of their own economically productive activity in a free market economy as "lazy freeloaders" misapprehends the nature of the problem. 

No modern economy in the world has stronger incentives to be economically productive enough to be self-sufficient than the United States. Other countries don't leave people who can't do this homeless, food insecure, malnourished, and without access to adequate health care to meet their reasonable health care needs to nearly the extent of the United States. The penalties for failing to earn your own keep in the United States are incredibly severe. And, yet, people persist in failing to earn enough to meet their needs and fall into poverty.

Why? 

It isn't because the United States has insufficient incentives for them, it is because they simply lack the ability to earn that much. Nobody expects a four year old, or a person in a coma to work, because they can't. But, there are lots of seemingly non-disabled adults who nonetheless are incapable of earning enough to support themselves, or to justify paying them a minimum wage in terms of the productivity they contribute to their employers, even if they are arguably "able bodied" and are able and willing to do some economically valuable work.

There really are people whose are only capable of doing work with an economic value of $3 per hour in their highest and best form of employment, when maximally motivated by the strongest possible incentives. Fundamentally, this is no more surprising than that there are people who are only capable of doing work with an economic value of $30 per hour, or $300 per hour in their highest and best form of employment. Pretty much everyone has a peak earning capacity that a meritocratic society will support. Some people get paid more than the economic value they add to an enterprise for a variety of reasons and are "negative productivity workers" net of their compensation. But, those people are out there. They aren't rare. And, they aren't going away.

Until we come to terms with this fundamental truth, we can never come to an adequate solution.


Some Civil Procedure Reforms That Make Sense

Some Civil Procedure Reforms That Make Sense Regarding Formalities

* The efiling system should never reject a filing. Instead, it should accept all filings and alter the clerks to potentially problematic filings that may require correction. Filings should not be deemed untimely because they are rejected by a clerk after being timely filed.

* The attachment of an exhibit to a pleading should constitute an implied declaration under penalty of perjury that the document is authentic in all circumstances where historically an affidavit of someone was required to be attached to a pleading to establish its authenticity. The requirement that an affidavit be attached is an inappropriate trap for the unwary.

* The concept of a non-appearance hearing used in the Colorado Rules of Probate Procedure and in Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 120 hearings (foreclosures), in a highly non-intuitive concept that is unnecessary and should be abolished. Just set a deadline for filing an answer or response and have the court set a hearing when there is a timely response..

* There should be a different rule for default judgments than there is for other claims for relief for judgment pursuant to C.R.C.P. 60.

* Judgments entered by default (including defaults on motions) should be set aside as a matter of course within three days from entry in county court, and within fourteen days from entry in district court, without any showing of cause to do so.

* The deadline for setting aside default money judgments should be six months from an action to enforce the judgment by garnishment or writ of execution or debtor's interrogatories, rather than six months from entry of judgment.

* The non-claim statute should be one year from the appointment of a personal representative, rather than one year from date of death, in cases where notice is not given.

* Affidavits should be replaced for all purposes under the rules of Civil procedure by declarations under penalty of perjury (something that is already true in the federal courts and in states including Utah). This dispenses for the need for a notary public in connection with court filings.

* The requirement of a certificate of service on a pleading should be dispensed with in all cases in which service is conducted entirely via the e-filing system.

* The obligation to confer regarding motions should be dispensed with entirely in the case of motions that do not concern discovery. Conferral and designation of motions as unopposed should be encouraged but not required.

* Pro se parties in District Court, Denver Probate Court, Denver Juvenile Court, Water Court, the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court should be issued efiling accounts as a matter of course that automatically serve parties entitled to notice of filings.

* A portal should exist to allow pro se parties to file county court efilings with an automatically generated caption.

* The deadline for filing a motion to except a debt from discharge in bankruptcy should be relaxed.

Some Civil Procedure Reforms That Make Sense Regarding Attorney Fee Awards

* There should be a presumptive fee award schedule set by judicial department regulation for cases of various types resolved by default judgment where there is a fee shifting provision by statute or in a contract. So, for example, there might be a presumptive fee award of $500 for a default judgment on a promissory note or account receivable with a fee shifting provision, $750 for a default possession judgment in an FED in county court, and $1000 for a default possession judgment in an FED in district court or an uncontested foreclosure.

* There should be a presumptive proportionality limit on attorney fee awards in cases seeking money damages in which no counterclaims are asserted, perhaps 50% of the amount awarded or the amount that would be awarded in the event of a default judgment, whichever is greater.

* The reasonable hourly rate of an attorney or paralegal with regard to attorneys' fee awards should be set by a judicial department regulation on an annual or biannual basis based upon a survey of actual rates. So, in lodestar cases, the only dispute would be over the reasonableness of the number of hours billed.

* The reasonableness of attorneys' fees should be a matter upon which expert testimony is prohibited because every attorney is considered an expert with respect to attorneys' fees including the judge and counsel for the parties.

* In any case in which attorneys' fees are sought, every party to the action who is not seeking an award of fees should be required to disclose their fees (at the rates set by judicial department regulation) for the matter for which a fee award is sought.

15 January 2018

Good Thing My Drives Are Solid State

A new acoustic hack renders hard drives, CDs, and DVDs inoperable when an acoustic wave of the right frequency (roughly 2-20 Hz) is played that interferes with the transfer of data from the physical medium by making it wobble in just the wrong way.

The B1-B Bomber Is A Poor Close Air Support Aircraft

The Air Force, which continues to hate the A-10 fighter, officially wants to replace it with the F-35A, which is too expensive and also ill suited to the task, and now wants to divert some of its work to the B-1B bomber

The last time that this was attempted, it was one of the biggest fails of the Afghan war when it led to a friendly fire incident, for the very reason that the A-10 was preferred (the A-10 has better target identification at close range than the B-1B can secure at long range) and the A-10 was put back on the job.

In addition to operational performance issues, the B-1B is also too expensive to make it a cost effective way to support ground troops. It is an attempt to swat flies with a steel press originally designed to make car parts.

The B-1B has its place (it is a good system for attacking enemy surface warships, for example), but close air support for ground troops in the midst of battles is not that place.

The U.S. Air Force still needs a purpose built, inexpensive, close air support aircraft that is designed for circumstances when U.S. forces don't face air-to-air combat threats or sophisticated ground to air missile capabilities, to serve as a successor to the A-10.

Quote of the Day

The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.
— Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Three Evils of Society,” 1967.