Gig economy workers benefit from the flexibility of their work

Thursday, 6 April, 2017

According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, in the US.

While the Uber relationship may have other drawbacks, Uber drivers benefit significantly from real-time flexibility, earning more than twice the surplus they would in less flexible arrangements. If required to supply labor inflexibly at prevailing wages, they would also reduce the hours they supply by more than two-thirds.

I may be wrong, but I’m taking surplus to mean the amount of money drivers make. Uber operates on a surge pricing model for their fares, meaning the busier it is, the more a ride will cost. So drivers who have the flexibility to be available during peak periods stand to earn more.

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Doctor’s fees, a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the doctor

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

Seventy dollars may be a lot to fork out for a relatively short consultation with a doctor, but even as someone who balks at the thought of such a cost, I wouldn’t consider my doctor to be making easy money. If fortunate, a doctor might end up with a little over a third of that money, as Sydney doctor Elizabeth Oliver explains:

If I had billed the building contractor the private fee of $70.00, $37.05 would be refunded directly into his bank account by Medicare. Of that $70.00, thirty-five per cent goes to the practice for rent, insurance, the receptionist and nurse, software, electricity and equipment. Of my $45.50 I would pay around 37% tax plus the Medicare levy (total $17.75), and 7% for my HECS-HELP debt ($3.19). So for eighteen minutes of my time I would take home $24.56. I bulk billed him, and therefore made $13.01 after tax. That dizzying sum has to cover sick leave, holiday and maternity leave, superannuation, and around $8,000 per year in registration fees, indemnity insurance and continuing professional development.

The entire article is well worth reading though. Many of us probably do not realise just how demanding the work of a doctor, especially one in a general practice, or a medical centre, is.

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Is winning a big prize in the lottery a ticket to happiness?

Monday, 13 February, 2017

This was a point touched on by the protagonists in Richard Linklater’s 2004 film, Before Sunset. Ethan Hawke’s character, Jesse, is discussing with Celine, portrayed by Julie Delpy, the findings of a study that had followed people who had either won the lottery, or become paraplegics.

Two different situations that are very definitely good or bad. In short, after about six months, once used to their new circumstances, study participants felt the same as they had originally. If someone was of a positive disposition, they remained upbeat, even if confined to a wheelchair.

Here, Nashville based art director and animator, Allen Laseter, looks at the question in regards to lottery winners, in this TED-Ed video clip. While individual character is part of the equation, it seems people who spent their winnings on others, rather than themselves, were happier.

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For Australia Day, a new, new, five dollar note, by Aaron Tyler

Thursday, 26 January, 2017

Australian $5 note. Design by Aaron Tyler

Since it’s a holiday here, for some of us at least, I’ll make this fast. Last September, the Reserve Bank of Australia unveiled a new look five dollar note. Long story short, reactions were mixed.

Australian $10 note. Design by Aaron Tyler

Accordingly, Melbourne based creative Aaron Tyler decided to try his hand at banknote design, and what you see at the top was the result.

Australian $20 note. Design by Aaron Tyler

Interestingly though, this is an update to concepts he created for all five Australian banknotes currently in circulation, in 2015, that he titled “Straya Cash”.

Australian $50 note. Design by Aaron Tyler

Given many Australians don’t recognise the historical figures on today’s notes, Tyler’s designs include slightly more contemporary cultural icons, and personalities, such as lamingtons, utes, red-back spiders, Lara Bingle, and Shane Warne.

What do you think? Oh, and Happy Australia Day.

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The coin as a canvas, the engraving work of Shaun Hughes

Tuesday, 8 November, 2016

Artwork by Shaun Hughes

I’m not sure what coin collectors and numismatists would make of the work of Shaun Hughes, who engraves patterns and designs on the faces of coins, but I don’t think that those who appreciate engraving as an artform would mind though.

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A shocking form of retail… therapy surely?

Thursday, 26 May, 2016

A smart wristband, that is linked to a wearer’s bank accounts, can be programmed to dispense an electric shock if they spend too much money at a time.

When the user goes on a shopping rampage, as they near the threshold, they’ll receive a notification on their phone. If they pass this threshold, Interact IoT will send a ping to their wristband, and the account owner will receive an electric shock.

My question, does it zap someone before they are about to spend over their limit, or after they already have?

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Will we still be paid once robots take our jobs?

Tuesday, 29 March, 2016

A pet subject of mine this is, what will happen once technology displaces most of us from our jobs? It’s possible we might end up receiving some sort of living allowance… the powers that be may have no choice in the matter:

In response, many are now calling for a “universal basic income” (UBI) – where the state gives everyone enough to live on. This would put a floor under the class of people we’re calling the “precariat,” people for whom work doesn’t lead to increased financial security. It would free us from the bullshit, allowing everyone to benefit from automation, not just the lucky few. And it would leave us more time for creative, fulfilling things, enjoying the “abundance” that new technology affords (think how useful and cheap computers are today and imagine what they might let everyone do in the future). There are several UBI trials planned in Finland, Switzerland, and Canada (and, indeed, several reasons why the idea is attractive).

The real question though will be, what to do with the time that is no longer required for work? We’ll need something to do, after all watching TV all day would surely lose its appeal quickly.

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What I learned from losing two hundred million dollars

Tuesday, 12 January, 2016

If you lost two hundred million dollars in the course of your job, as US derivatives trader Bob Henderson did in 2008, you too would probably learn a thing or two. At least I hope so, that is.

Which is why Rebonato told me that professed ignorance of probabilities is “a form of tyranny that’s an excuse for inaction.” And why his favored approach to stress testing (a technique called Bayesian nets) doesn’t involve trying to derive probabilities at all, but rather asks the user to just “produce your best-informed guess.”

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Living on, or below, the poverty line, more expensive than you think

Thursday, 22 October, 2015

Owning assets with a nett worth of US$68,800 places you amongst the wealthiest ten percent of the global population. Depending where you live though, that amount of money may not in fact leave you all that well off, especially when compared to your peers.

And while not having much means having to be extra thrifty, cut corners, and tighten belts, getting by on a very low income can be quite expensive:

When you’re poor, you can’t buy your food in bulk, buy high quality stuff that will last, or own your own tech instead of renting. It costs money up front to save money over the long run. Worse yet, being poor often comes with hidden, intangible costs that make digging yourself out of poverty even harder.

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Own property in Sydney or Melbourne? You may be a one-percenter

Wednesday, 21 October, 2015

If you are possessed of about A$95,000, or US$68,800, in assets, you are richer than ninety percent of the world’s population. A little over one million dollars, Australian, puts you among the one percent, the world’s wealthiest people. Do you own property in the likes of Sydney, or Melbourne? If so, you might be a one-percenter.

So much of the world remains relatively poor that it has taken a net worth of just $US3210 ($4400) this year to be among the wealthiest half of all world citizens, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2015. And it doesn’t take obscene amounts of money to rank among the richest of the world’s 7 billion citizens. A net worth of more than $US68,800 puts you in the top 10 per cent of all global wealth holders. Once debts are subtracted, you need $US759,900 to be in the top 1 per cent, the report found.

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