Miserly_Bastard t1_jaa7yg1 wrote

I'll go there. My ex-wife worked without a license for a long time and bribed a school to forge hours. That way she could go straight to the test and wouldn't have to do the six months and thousands of dollars.

She worked for various businesses in various states. They all tolerated this as well as other stuff like working without a green card and keeping multiple sets of books in order to cheat taxes. Business owners themselves would routinely cut corners with regard to hygiene. They occasionally got caught but the fines were a slap on the wrist that did not prevent the behavior. Businesses being closed for health or occupational violations were very rare.

In short, it was all a farce.

What I'd have preferred to see is less onerous schooling for law-abiding people and better and stricter enforcement all around. Registration fees could be higher in order for better enforcement to exist, and in such a way they would be able to chase bad actors out of the market as well as protect consumers.

As someone who has a very different occupational license, I would also complain that the people who write licensing tests are themselves unlicensed. If they are going to turn my licensing process into a guessing game about whether I should answer the words on paper or the thoughts that are inferred to be going on in their heads, then the process is broken. Let me assure you: it's very broken.


Miserly_Bastard t1_jaa5pkl wrote

It's not just that. We also mechanize and process the shit out of everything in large part because labor is expensive. Where labor is cheap, miraculously vegetables are typically less expensive than processed food.

We are also very used to eating comparatively giant portion sizes of meat and not very much offal. The developing world knows how to take tough meat, use it sparingly to maximal effect, and cook it well.


Miserly_Bastard t1_ja7m366 wrote

Yeah...so get them to demonstrate their basic skills in a test and/or Zoom meeting. Anything that requires expensive equipment can be done at a testing center and could be one level up from the basic license.

But at the end of the day, if you're only clipping hair or only doing nails or only braiding, you just don't need an expensive time-consuming license to start working. You don't need more than a deep-cycle battery and inverter for your equipment.


Miserly_Bastard t1_ja7kyr5 wrote

I was thinking of developing non-western countries for the most part. Having lived in SE Asia, that's where my head is, but yes you could apply the same lessons very broadly (e.g. if you live in Angola by choice then don't live in the same modern apartments where all the oil and gas expats live).


Miserly_Bastard t1_ja6ameb wrote

This idea about retiring "comfortably" needs some work. It's very subjective.

If you live as the locals live, it's possible to spend very very little. That may entail eating a lot of local food or locally-crafted spirits each of which can be unbelievably cheap, living in regular local housing maybe without HVAC (or where you bring your own HVAC) instead of a modern apartment, and driving a scooter.

If you can't adapt to that and you also aren't rich enough to live like this and also be a member of a golf club then, honestly, you are probably going to have a worse time than if you'd just stayed put in a place where you're already adapted/acculturated.


Miserly_Bastard t1_ja5wwi9 wrote

There's nothing wrong with having occupational licensing for things like hair dressing. Hair dressers should know what lice are. They should know how chemical products can and can't be used. They could just read a book or watch a video and then take a test instead of spending thousands of dollars and many months of their lives to obtain a credential.

But let's say that a nail technician doesn't know about the importance of humidity control in their work environment in order for the paint to adhere. Them sucking at their job is not going to hurt anybody. A goodly number of licensed nail techs know this and...simply don't care. Humidity isn't regulated.

Another set of regulations that could be dialed back have to do with building codes for these types of service providers. They ought to be able to operate out of a van or even on a sidewalk if customers are down for that. You shouldn't have to be able to pony up for a commercial buildout with huge overhead costs in order to have your own business.


Miserly_Bastard t1_ja0o40h wrote

Could you have read a book and taken a test to demonstrate your understanding of those hazards instead of paying for however many months of in-person instruction where you live?

The issue isn't necessarily that license=bad but that the process of becoming licensed entails is often excessive and wasteful.

The flip side of that is that my ex-wife paid a school to forge her hours so that she could go straight to a testing center after a long while where she'd been working in a job for which she was unlicensed. That was so that she could be a standalone business owner. When a license only really serves to hinder thoughtful, caring, and law-abiding people from doing business and it puts them at a disadvantage to lawbreakers then...well, that just isn't a very good look for occupational licensing.


Miserly_Bastard t1_j8brvrs wrote

You didn't say that some dogs shit on your lawn. You blamed capitalism and economists without qualification.

But capitalism also isn't to an economist what shit is to dogs. Dogs are to biologists what the American variety of capitalism is to economists, one species of many. Parasites found in dog shit that use that shit as a medium to facilitate further spread are to dogs what rent seekers are to American capitalism. Those parasites are worthy of study and are studied by economists. Sometimes passionately and more often dispassionately.

As to it being on your lawn, well that's where the analogy sort of breaks down. The alternative to dogs may be cats or bears or nothing. An economist would probably inquire as to the utility of your yard itself and contrast it with zero lot line housing. Maybe the lawn itself is the dog shit?


Miserly_Bastard t1_j89o2l7 wrote

Economists are people who study the economy in whatever form it manifests and are generally neutral in their professional capacity, and ordinary human beings otherwise, meaning that some are very opinionated one way or another.

Politicians and special interests only listen to economists when it furthers the politicians' agendas. Those agendas seldom intersect with a free and competitive market and are much much more likely to have something to do with rent-seeking behaviors. This phenomenon seems to occur in many human populations, regardless of whatever labels are used to describe their politico-economic system.

If economists seem (to you) to be arguing for population growth, there are a few possibilities. One is that you are confounding legitimate prognostications that seem negative for an economist's opinion or recommendation. It is entirely possible to hold a pessimistic view of future economic measures of human or institutional well-being with population declines and also hold even more pessimistic views of coerced population growth. Also, if it seems that they aren't placing enough value on various environmental factors, read their actual academic work, get in the weeds, and there's a good chance that they've provided some limiting assumptions that acknowledge the inherent challenge of doing so; and understand that they lack the omnipotency and powers of communication to do and explain literally everything, including the value of moral sentiments. Finally, ask yourself whether you are reading a representative sample of the work of academic economists or are reading the most sensational or cherry-picked or selectively-abstracted economic articles written by non-economists, or worse, politically-motivated third parties that don't actually care about truth as long as it fits their narrative.

Most economists of a certain age, even when they've had professional success, still feel basically powerless. These are the people that are best equipped to come up with new systems. But that's not what is in demand...at all.

TLDR; economists are people like any other social scientists. Blaming an entire academic discipline is anti-science. Don't be that guy. It's not cool. Look at who's actually getting rich if you want to trace the source of our society's problems. Not scientists.


Miserly_Bastard t1_j24cnm6 wrote

Historically, wealth and technology cause people to consume more square footage even as household size is reduced.

I am concerned that this same trend will play out and also that wealth concentration and lower rates of population growth (or decline) will lead to much less new construction and that where there is new construction will either be in a boomtown setting or relegated to wealthy people building large homes.

The rest of us will probably just have to make use of and manage the decline of the existing housing stock as it is and where it is.

The average age of housing in the United States will likely always be in the 20th century.


Miserly_Bastard t1_iwopy2q wrote

Not exactly. Reducing the cost of trade means that international buyers can afford to bid higher to more cheaply buy our oil instead of from somewhere else, like Saudi Arabia.

If that results in higher prices locally then that will induce more production, which results in a larger market share and a diminished influence of OPEC on global oil prices.

The equilibrium is a small bit of a price effect and a large effect on the quantity supplied through exports.

You'd think that the climate effect would be adverse, but if this takes pricing power away from OPEC and Russia...it could possibly net a gain. I guarantee you that Russia doesn't care if the planet gets warmer and that in both instances there are few qualms regarding greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel production. Claiming more market share from them could be an effective strategy.

Also, human rights, blah blah blah, and all that jazz.


Miserly_Bastard t1_ivs3flt wrote

Standard metrics of inflation abysmally fail to capture the increase in the cost of repair and replacement of buildings and infrastructure over the span of decades. Moreover, rent is included in CPI but asset values relative to rents have ballooned into the stratosphere and are not included in CPI. When a tornado blows away a house, it destroys an asset.

It actually gets worse. The CPI is full of convolutions (just Google "hedonic adjustments") rendering it meaningless beyond the span of a few years.