Joined to infamy
Posted by aogFriday, 09 October 2009 at 10:51
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I thought awarding President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize was a nasty and studied insult, but apparently the general consensus is that it was intended to be laudatory. I do think it makes a nice pairing with the de-funding of monitoring brutal oppression in Iran — as I have noted “peace crimes” don’t count because it’s “peace”.
P.S. I don’t understand the widespread how bizarre! reactions — the awarding does not seem the least bit bizarre to me, but far more of a piece with continual unhinged adulation of Obama. He’s never deserved any of the massive rewards he has received, so why should a Nobel Peace Prize be any different? I think Ace of Spaces has good read on it.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 00:24|
I just read ‘A Path to Downward Mobility’ by Robert J. Samuelson, published Monday, October 12, 2009 in The Washington Post, wherein he writes:
Every generation of Americans should live better than its predecessor. That’s Americans’ core definition of economic “progress.”
But for today’s young, it may be a mirage. […] Are we condemning our children to downward mobility?
Good question. […] An oft-stated view is that the growth of the U.S. economy will make the young so much richer than their parents that they can afford a bigger health-care sector and still enjoy large increases in their living standards. Complaining about providing more generous health care is selfish. This is a powerful argument; unfortunately, it isn’t true.
Look at the table below. It portrays the U.S. economy from 1980, with a projection for 2030 from Moody’s Economy.com. The projection assumes that the recession ends and growth revives. Superficially, the table suggests that economic growth can easily pay for more health care. In 2007 the economy’s total output — gross domestic product, our national income — was $13.3 trillion. In 2030 it projects to $22.6 trillion, up 70 percent, [while per capita GDP is projected to increase ~40%, from $43,900 in 2007 to $60,600 in 2030]. (All amounts are in 2005 “constant” dollars to eliminate inflation.) […]
Surely that’s ample. Not really. […]
Unless controlled, rising health spending would absorb much of that gain. The increase in per capita GDP from 2007 to 2030 is $16,700. If health spending continued to grow at past rates, [Emph. added] it would go from $7,100 per person in 2007 to $15,300 in 2030. This rise of $8,200 is half the overall gain ($16,700) in per capita income. (For policy wonks: This assumes health spending grows 2 percentage points faster than GDP per capita, the 1975-2005 trend.)
Downward mobility is possible. […]
The young’s future has been heavily mortgaged…
The young’s future most assuredly has been heavily mortgaged, but perhaps not inappropriately.
First, if health care costs do rise to become 25% of income, that’s a big jump in resource consumption, but possibly an even greater rise in value received, i.e., a bargain. What will today’s youth get for their health care outlays in the future? Bespoke pharmacology tailored to the patient’s DNA, a vastly better quality of life in advanced age, and longer life - possibly a significantly longer expected lifespan.
That’s worth paying for.
Second, the advanced nations are on the cusp of explosive growth in productivity, especially in manufacturing and warfare, but in the service industries as well. Given the enormous riches waiting for today’s youth a couple of decades hence, it’s not necessarily a bad decision to borrow heavily against the future. (Which is fortunate, ‘cause whether it’s a good or bad decision, it’s going to happen.)
Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 15:24|
If we define “youth” as under thirty, and “old age” as beginning at sixty-seven (which is the current SS “Full (normal) Retirement Age” for those born in 1960 and later1), then there are at least 37 years of medical discoveries ahead of today’s youth.
Because it’s likely that in those 37 years we’ll make as much progress in the medical arts & sciences as we did during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries combined2,3, today’s young will benefit mightily long before they’re officially allowed to cost-shift some of their medical expenses to the yet-unborn.
1 Care to bet on how long that is gonna stick? By the time that those born in 1960 start to retire, I expect to see a F(n)RA of at least 72 for those born in 1980 and later.
2 Understanding the Accelerating Rate of Change by Ray Kurzweil & Chris Meyer [Emphasis added]:
Kurzweil: The Law of Accelerating Returns is the acceleration of technology, and the evolutionary growth of the products of an evolutionary process. And this really goes back to the roots of biological evolution.
Evolution works through indirection. You create something and then work through that to create the next stage. And for that reason, the next stage is more powerful, and happens more quickly. And that has been accelerating ever since the dawn of evolution on this planet.
The first stage of evolution took billions of years. DNA was being created and that was very significant because it was like a little computer, and an information processing method to store the results of experiments, and to build up a knowledge base from which it could then launch experiments and codify the results.
The subsequent stages of evolution happened much more quickly. The Cambrian Explosion only took a few tens of millions of years to establish the body plan to evolve animals. […] Humanoids evolved over many millions of years, and Homo sapiens over only hundreds of thousands of years. And there again, evolution used the products of its evolutionary processes, which was Homo sapiens, to create the next stage, which was human-directed technology, which really is a continuation of the cutting-edge of the evolutionary process on earth, for creating more intelligent systems.
In the first stage of human-directed technology, it took tens of thousands of years, which is what you would expect for the next stage via the wheel, or stone tools, and that kept accelerating, because when we had stone tools, we could use them to build the next stage. So a thousand years ago a paradigm shift only took a century, like the printing press. And now a paradigm shift, like the World Wide Web, is measured in only a few years’ time. The first computers were built with screwdrivers and were designed with pencil and paper, and today we use computers to create computers. […] The most significant acceleration is in the paradigm shift rate itself, which I think of as the rate of technical progress. And all of these are actually not exponential, but double exponentials because not only does the process accelerate because of our evolution’s ability to use each stage of evolution to build the next stage, but also, as the process, as an area gets higher price performance, more resources get drawn into that capability.
Meyer: As you’ve pointed out, technology’s rate of change continues to get faster and faster. If change is exponential, what will that mean for our future?
Kurzweil: The whole 20th century, because we’ve been speeding up to this point, is equivalent to 20 years of progress at today’s rate of progress…
3 Insightful criticism of the proposed accelerating curve of technological change: September 2004 WIRED magazine The Evolution Will Be Mechanized: Inside the unfathomable superhuman future after the “singularity.” by Bruce Sterling