Archive for March 2019

Open Book Blog Hop -25th March   1 comment

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:

What are the best sites you use for publicity?

This week the topic is:

What are the best sites you use for publicity?

I find my WordPress blog very useful in publicising any new books, as it now has over 1500 followers and has between 300 – 700 views every week.  All blogs I write are automatically shared to Goodreads, Twitter and my Facebook author page as well, and so all in all I think WordPress is the best one for me.  My WordPress site is free by the way.

Following in close second come Ingram Spark’s ‘Advance’ catalogue.  Okay, you have to  pay, but in fact I now sell more books via Ingram than I do on Amazon.   Since my books have been with Ingram, I have received an email from the British Library asking me to send them a copy of all…

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Posted March 26, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Whatever Happened to the Telephone Operators?   Leave a comment

I am seriously tired of the 2020 election and it’s still 18 months away. It’s going to be hard to stay focused on principles when drowning in politics.

But some of these candidates are — well, worthy of a laugh or two. Take Andrew Yang, a former lawyer and entrepreneur, who is advocating for a Universal Basic Income to be implemented for all 18-64 year-olds. It’s pretty much his entire platform. His argument for this, per his website, is “a third of all working Americans will lose their job to automation in the next 12 years. Our current policies are not equipped to handle this crisis.”

There is a growing list of vocal people insisting technology advancements will result in massive unemployment, and so they advocate for the UBI as necessary to keep society afloat. The idea that technology destroys jobs and will cause massive unemployment prevails despite being a disproven myth.

Take a look at history before you argue.

If technology had been destroying jobs for the hundreds of years people have been arguing about automation and machines, there would be hardly any jobs left. Bulldozers took the place of men with shovels. Cars put railroad workers out of business. Elevator operators, typists, blacksmiths, and manual telephone operators jobs all vanished over the 20th century.

Official unemployment in September of 2018 was the lowest in nearly 50 years. The labor force participation rate has actually increased due to women entering the workforce. We have more jobs now than ever.

In other words, predictions of technology harming the workforce have constantly failed since the dawn of technology. Despite this, Yang says automation will create a crisis within the next 12 years and that a UBI will handle that crisis.

Sigh ….

Technology helps to make the economy stronger as machines and tools make humans more productive. The entire goal of economic progress is to make us more productive, more efficient, have more consumer goods available, more leisure time, and higher standards of living. This is achieved by higher productivity and efficiency. We are better off not needing twelve people with shovels to do the same thing as a bulldozer.

Yang worries about what the 3.5 million truck drivers in the US will do if their jobs are automated away in 12 years. THis is assuming that all companies can afford and will buy self-driving 18-wheelers in that time frame.

Well, what happened to all the video store workers who lost their jobs when streaming overwhelmed Blockbuster? What happened to the 1.5 million railroad workers who lost their jobs as people moved to their own cars? They didn’t all starve to death. They found new work and that’s already occurring in many industries. Job hopping has already increased as people learn new skills and get new jobs. They do it constantly. Society creates and destroys different kinds of jobs through technology. Markets adjust and people find new work. It’s been going on since the Industrial Revolution.

Job displacement does occur because of technological advancement and people must adjust. Some people may need help when finding new jobs and new careers and that’s a worthy discussion to have. However, technology should not be avoided and feared because it replaces currently existing jobs. It makes our lives better and leads to the liberation of labor for newer, better jobs.

The next generation of technological development and automation won’t result in a joblessness crisis. It will simply result in a change in occupations that might feel chaotic for a while, but will not be the end of the world.

Whatever happened to the weavers displaced by the Jacquard looms, for example? If you don’t know, you should study some history.

Posted March 26, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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Watch This Space   3 comments

March 25, 2019

What are the best sites you use for publicity?


Rules:
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5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Like most writers, I didn’t decide to publish books because I wanted to market them. Marketing books cuts into writing time and I’m not sure how effective it really is. That said, if nobody knows your books are out there, they can’t read them.

So …. most effective sites …?

That I’ve used?

I am an unashamed capitalist, which means I believe my books need to support themselves in the marketplace. Yes, of course, I will give some money to my books to get them started, but I won’t pour good money after bad in hopes that if I keep doing the same thing over and over something will eventually stick to the wall.

What worked last year doesn’t necessarily work this year. My daughter tells me I need to be over on Instagram. Too bad you have to work off your phone or tablet for that, because I really hate working on tiny screens using my thumbs instead of full-sized screens using all 10 fingers.

Thunderclap gave me most exposure and the best sales bumps I’ve had from any “free” campaign I tried, but that went away last year. Pity, but that means I needed to move on.

I do belong to a few sites that for a small fee allow me to post my blurbs for long periods of time and I do see an occasional bump from these sites, but they aren’t all that useful. I also get some bump from my website occasionally. The discussions I post on Facebook sometimes gain interest for my books.

Posting in Facebook groups – not so much, although occasionally I can see a visit from that post over to my website where I hope they go onto Amazon. Twitter – doubtful. I’ve never tried Twitter ads because I really think Twitter is too ADHD for people to buy books from. I still have a presence there but I don’t waste a lot of time with it.

I do occasionally toss $20 at Facebook for an ad because I have seen verifiable sales from advertising there. And, of the sites that still exist, Facebook ads has been the most marketable. That said, Facebook has gotten far too bossy lately, so I’m not probably going to advertise through them any longer. I don’t want to give them my driver’s license. That’s a violation of my privacy and an invitation to identity theft. So unless nothing else works to sell books, I’m done with Facebook ads for the time being. I will still host discussions there until they ban me (or until MeWe or some other platform presents viable competition to the behemoth would-be monopoly that is Facebook. All is not lost, however.

Craig Martell, a fellow Alaska author who is selling about 100,000 books a year (he’s a retired attorney who is writing about 20 books a year compared to my one, so …), has convinced me to give Amazon ads a try. I’m not going to buy in as big as he does – at least not unless my small ad campaigns make a substantive dent in my sales. Again, I’m a capitalist and so I only spend money when it will net me a return. But I’m willing to experiment a little over the next year and see what happens. After all, it makes sense that people who want to buy books are on Amazon, so you’re best marketing dollars are spent on that platform. Amazon is just that much more expensive to buy-in to that I’ve hesitated, but now Facebook has given me a reason to try another platform.

Ultimately, folks, I suspect the best marketing technique is to write the next book. When I published my fourth book in the Transformation Project last fall, I set off a really good quarter of sales for all of the rest of my books and the only marketing I did was to announce (through a $20 Facebook ad) a giveaway of the first book in the series and a sale on the others. I sold more books in that one quarter than I’ve sold in the previous four years. Now, let’s see if I can manage to repeat that using Amazon ads.

I’m curious to see what my fellow bloghoppers have found works for them because they might know things I don’t know.

Posted March 25, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Medical Insurance Is NOT Medical Care   1 comment

I know that flies right past the ears of many people, but take a pause and consider the implications of that statement.

Medical care is when you interact with medical providers and receive a diagnosis, surgery, therapy, a prescription and so on.

Medical insurance is how you pay for medical care.

Politicians use the terms interchangeably, but they are NOT the same thing. Whenever I hear someone use terms that mean different things as if they are the same thing, I become suspicious of their motives for conflating the two.

Of course, there are other types of insurance that we don’t do this with. Nobody confuses car insurance with vehicle maintenance, for example. I keep my own car clean and I pay out of pocket for repairs. If my car is damaged in an accident, my insurance covers the repairs, less the deductible, but I don’t call my insurance agent if I need an oil change or to replace my starter.

Homeowners insurance is similar. I don’t call my insurance company to finance painting the house. I call them when a tree falls on the roof.

Medical insurance ought to work the same way that car and home insurance do, but right now it doesn’t. Routine procedures, drug prescriptions for chronic disease, and a variety of other predictable and non-urgent procedures are all handled through insurance companies.

Now, take a pause and realize that one of the key differences between medical insurance and car or homeowners insurance is that medical insurance is a state-run and -regulated program with limited competition while care insurance has plenty of competition.

March is the month we renegotiate our car and home insurance and I received dozens of circulars in the mail offering me insurance plans that will meet my needs at a price I’m willing to pay. None of them offer to reimburse me for minor damage because they wouldn’t stay in business for long doing that.

Continuing this theme, repair shops, tire manufacturers, and other car-care providers all compete on price to get the largest possible share of the millions of car owners in the market for their products and services.

Meanwhile, the medical care market we currently know is provided by a mixture of public and private payers, and it funds a significant share of the vast majority of procedures. Providers don’t compete on price even for services that millions need on a regular basis.

When it comes to medical insurance, most people expect their coverage to give them more than they pay in. That makes no economic sense. If one person’s treatment costs $120,000 a year and they pay a monthly premium of $1,000, the company needs nine people to pay $1,000 a month, but those eight other people cannot consume any medical care services in order for the company to even break even.

The primary role of insurance should not be to pay bills. Insurance is customer peace of mind—a guarantee that a catastrophic event will not bankrupt us.

If medical insurance worked as it should, we would only use it for catastrophic medical needs. For more minor medical care services, we would be looking for the best-value care in the market because those costs would be coming out of our pockets. Yet the high levels of medical debt show that our current insurance system has strayed far from this model as the prices for minor procedures and treatments have gone through the roof.

Increased coverage sounds nice, but as our recent experiment in increased coverage shows, we’d still struggle with unaffordable copays and deductibles and staggering levels of medical debt. The first step toward obtaining an affordable medical insurance system that works for the maximum number of people is to let insurance be what it was meant to be: peace of mind against catastrophe.

Mountain Musing 3.18.19   Leave a comment

https://pjmaclayne.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-smells-of-childhood-openbook-blog.html?showComment=1552943105403#c4751698164642058762

Posted March 18, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Open Book Blog Hop – March 18th   1 comment

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:

‘If your childhood had a smell, what would it be?’

There’s more than one smell that takes me straight back to my childhood.  Two aromas are still with me today in the shape of my father’s binocular case and his leather wallet.  I kept hold of both of them; the binoculars are at the van and the wallet is in my desk.  I sometimes open the binocular case and wallet and just inhale the scent of Dad, which is still there even though he died 42 years’ ago.  His wallet still bears the old ten shilling note symbol, and there’s a little note inside in his handwriting, which says he’s just gone to the library and won’t be long.

wallet.JPG

Another scent is the smell of cigar smoke.  Dad would always smoke cigars at Christmas.  Every time I smell a cigar I can still see my…

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Posted March 18, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Scent of Childhood   9 comments

March 18, 2019

If your childhood had a smell, what would it be?


Rules:
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3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Cyrill Connelly famously stated that “The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.”

I have to start out by saying that I am not a person who lives through my nose. My sense of smell is the weakest of my senses, so this article took some thought.

I grew up in Alaska, where homes are closed up against the winter for 6-8 months out of a year. You can’t even open the doors to air things out once a week. When I think of the smell of my childhood, I think of coming home from school and smelling the closed-up house – diesel heating fuel mixed with cigarette smoke mixed with damp-dog smell mixed with good food on the stove and coffee on the perk. Yeah, not all that appetizing and certainly not how my kids remember our house.

Our daughter, who does live through her sense of smell, says she always thinks of Pine Sol, Murphy’s Oil Soap, and lavender potpourri
mixed with the Asian spices of the stirfries that are my go-to weekday meal when she thinks of home.

But there’s another smell that came to my mind immediately when I read this topic. The smell of cold icy ground and new green growing things. There’s a bite to the Alaskan air just before the melt starts. Our trees, the great lungs of the atmosphere, take an ice nap from October through April, so there’s a natural build-up of nitrogen and CO2 in our winter air. You can feel it if you’re active outside in the spring, even when you’re a long way from human habitation. You get the slightest headache because your body knows it’s not quite right. And, when the snow starts to melt, there’s this delicious cold flavor to everything. It’s like ice cubes with just the barest hint of salicin (you know that as aspirin) from the willow trees that are the first to wake up. I love to stand at the head of a hiking trail, just far enough from my car that I can’t smell the heat from the engine and pause … take in a deep breath … launch into the Alaskan wilderness. In a couple of weeks, the snow will be gone and the plants will suck in all that extra CO2 and burst into a spring that is so fast you’d think it was part of a Nature channel documentary.

Yeah, I’m feeling nostalgic because that incredible state of being is about 2-4 weeks away. We’ve survived another winter and our house windows will be open all summer because I prefer the smell of rain, sun, growing things, and freshly mowed grass over what I grew up smelling. Not every childhood memory is worthy of nostalgia.

Now let’s check out what my fellow bloggers have to say about their childhood scent memories.

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Blog Hoppers

Mountain Musings

Stevie Turner

Blue Honor Blog

Lydell Williams

Posted March 18, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Andrew Yang’s Math Doesn’t Add Up on Universal Basic Income | Jacob Dowell   Leave a comment

The UBI rests on the assumption that consumption spending grows the economy and drives production. Transferring money from savers to consumers, as Yang’s UBI hopes to do, does not grow the economy in the long run—it has the opposite effect.

Source: Andrew Yang’s Math Doesn’t Add Up on Universal Basic Income | Jacob Dowell

Andrew Yang, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has revived the debate on Universal Basic Income (UBI) with his proposed “Freedom Dividend.” His plan is to offer an alternative to the modern means-tested welfare state with one simple program to pay $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to every American adult over the age of 18.

Yang has already received a thorough response from Gonzalo Schwarz. Though Schwarz’s response contributes important insights—such as the insignificance of technology replacing jobs, the self-worth that work brings, and the likelihood of a UBI supplementing rather than replacing welfare—I would like to contribute some further insights that more directly address the economic errors of Yang’s arguments.

First, let’s look at the funding. Yang says his 10 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) would raise $800 billion per year, save $600 billion per year from the costs of other welfare programs, save $200 billion per year from reducing the demand on health care services and incarceration, and eventually raise $600 billion extra per year from economic growth.

There is an even deeper flaw in the argument that the UBI would expand the economy.

Before the economic growth (which would not actually happen as I explain below), he has only $1.6 trillion of funds. Even after his expected economic growth, he will have only $2.2 trillion of funds per year, still far from the $2.8 trillionrequired excluding bureaucracy (234 million people 18+ at $12,000 per year). Yang never mentions debt as a means for payment, but his own math doesn’t add up.

Yang is also deceiving in his argument about the program’s impact on the economy. He cites a paper by the Roosevelt Institute that finds, at $12,000 per year, UBI would expand the economy by 12.56 percent over eight years. However, the 12.56 percent growth is under a scenario of a completely debt-financed program. The study admits that a completely tax-funded program would result in a 6.5 percent growth over eight years. Since Yang’s program is mostly tax-funded, it is highly deceiving to claim economic growth of 12.56 percent.

However, there is an even deeper flaw in the argument that the UBI would expand the economy. It rests on the assumption that consumption spending grows the economy and drives production.

The argument goes like this: By transferring money from those who save money to those who have a higher propensity to consume, there will be more spending on consumption goods such as food and clothing. This, in turn, will give an income to the shop owners who will spend their new profits on other consumption goods. And the circulating money creates more economic activity for the macroeconomy.

Transferring money from savers to consumers, as Yang’s UBI hopes to do, does not grow the economy in the long run—it has the opposite effect.

The “propensity to consume” as the cause of economic growth is a common Keynesian notion. But it’s dreadfully wrong. First, it is important to recognize that economic growth is not when everyone gets more money. Economic growth occurs when an economy produces more valuable goods. And what causes this? Capital goods.

Capital goods are the previously-produced goods that are used in the production process and that improve the productivity of workers and the general economy. The use of hammers and nails, for example, greatly improves a construction worker’s ability to build a house. Capital goods are created through savings and investment—the opposite of consumption. Without investment funded by savings, the production of capital goods will slow, causing economic growth to slow.

It may be argued that no one argues for 100 percent consumption spending and that since an individual business will be getting more money, they will be better able to afford more capital goods. But this argument still ignores how the capital goods were produced in the first place.

To create capital goods, someone in the past must have put aside resources to use for a line of production that would not create immediate value. To create a hammer, someone has to save and invest resources into mining iron ore, which then requires resources to smelt into steel. Someone must also have invested resources into tree-cutting for the wood to create the handle. Each of these projects, in turn, required resources for its production process.

In order to have economic growth, there must be a sacrifice of current consumption in order to fund the creation of capital goods.

All of these steps required the production of goods that did not serve any immediate consumption value. The steel and the wood are only a means of creating a hammer, which is itself a means of creating houses and other consumer goods.

The final consumption good, however, would not be possible without someone in the past saving resources to be used for a line of production that was not immediately serviceable but used for the production of capital goods.

In order to have economic growth—to expand production—there must be a sacrifice of current consumption in order to fund the creation of capital goods. Transferring money from savers to consumers, as Yang’s UBI hopes to do, does not grow the economy in the long run—it has the opposite effect.

A common argument against UBI is that it will incentivize people not to look for work. Yang answers this criticism, saying that $12,000 per year will still not be a good enough living for most people, so people will still be incentivized to get jobs and contribute to production.

However, there are still marginal effects at play that can add up to huge changes: 1) It decreases the incentive for workers to quickly find new employment once they’re out of a job, and 2) it decreases their sensitivity to income differences between jobs.

A UBI would skew choices towards enjoyable work rather than efficient or productive work.

The increased time between jobs means there will be lower employment at any given time and, therefore, less production. And the decreased sensitivity to higher incomes means people will be more likely to do less productive work for the sake of enjoyment. While it may be desirable for workers to balance their income needs and their work preferences, a UBI would skew choices towards enjoyable work rather than efficient or productive work. Yang even admits this: “UBI increases art production, nonprofit work and caring for loved ones.”

While these may be admirable activities, Yang is forgetting to consider the opportunity costs associated with them. While people will be more inclined to make art, write novels, and work less, the amount of needed goods in society will decline. This may be a worthwhile tradeoff to some, but when the main stated goal is to help those in poverty, producing less clothing and food is not going to achieve the desired ends.

Andrew Yang does bring up some admirable points about a UBI avoiding the welfare cliff and reducing bureaucracy. However, the overall greater expansion of the government, the even more massive resource transfer from savers to consumers, and the productivity-reducing effects on labor all toll to a huge loss for the economy in the long run.

Posted March 16, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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#Writephoto – Tranquility (a poem)   Leave a comment

Tranquility

a state of calm

or peacefulness

that can be achieved,

I understand,

by reaching a state

of quietness

and serenity.

It has become

a pleasant thought

unbeknownst to me

for many a year.

I spend my life

yoyoing between

chaotic panic and

lessor anxiety

but I never reach

placidity or restfulness.

Is it my fault?

you are right to ask

Maybe,

I chose my career

quite ignorant of how

it would all unfold.

Can I change it?

Possibly,

I could perhaps go back

and restart

but twenty years down the line

it’s quite a challenge.

Would it work anyway?

I don’t believe so

extreme anxiety is now

so completely embedded

in my work ethos

it has become

a way of life

living on the edge

and diving off

just like a lemming,

destined,

to drown in adrenaline.

To much time has passed

it’s too ingrained

to be easily changed.

I…

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Posted March 15, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Oscar Wilde on Why Wanting to Be Left Alone Is Not Selfish | Jon Miltimore   5 comments

Individualism involves allowing people to flourish and think as they see fit, mainly by leaving them alone.

Source: Oscar Wilde on Why Wanting to Be Left Alone Is Not Selfish | Jon Miltimore

 

Confession: Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite writers. Though he was what Dostoevsky would have described as “a dedicated sensualist,” Wilde possessed a true creative genius perhaps unmatched among his literary contemporaries.

His essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism” is not, in my opinion, his best work. Written in 1891, it’s largely a stream of consciousness detailing what Wilde thought about art, capitalism, socialism, and—most importantly—Individualism.

Individualism is Wilde’s primary concern. What is it? Here’s what he had to say:

Art is Individualism, and Individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. Therein lies its immense value. For what it seeks to disturb is monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.

Wilde’s ideas on government in the essay are a strange hodgepodge. He basically rejects both capitalism (too vulgar) and socialism (too authoritarian).

Still, the endgame of his philosophy soon becomes clear. Individualism involves allowing people to flourish and think as they see fit, mainly by leaving them alone.

Is wanting to be left alone selfish? Not at all, Wilde argues:

[U]nselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself.

The tyrants, Wilde says, are those who demand of others to think as they do:

It is grossly selfish to require of ones neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.

One could easily apply Wilde’s metaphor to the desires of many Americans today. Unfortunately, there seem to be legions of red roses demanding all flowers become red roses.

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