The Case for Market Socialism

The Case for Market Socialism
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            Here is the central economic paradox of our times.  There is enough to go around.  But it’s not getting around enough.

            This is not an abstract problem.  Economists know it, and they have a whole set of rules, axioms and theories designed to provide guidelines and mechanisms to move an economy through troubled waters, like we’re in now.

            But what happens when their paradigms break down?  The Fed has been printing money, buying bonds and keeping interest rates near zero, for years now.  We should be drowning in inflation, the way the Fed is gushing dollars.

            But we’re not.  Instead, we have a serious prospect of deflation during this deluge of cash and credit.  No wonder the economists are confused.

            Why is there no inflation?  Because work doesn’t pay.  Inflation happens when too much cash chases too few goods.  But only the one percent has too much cash, and there’s just so much they can buy.  Meanwhile, the purchasing power of the vast majority of working people has been withering for decades.

            How did we get here?  The markets took us here.  When the great postwar coalitions of liberal democracy broke down, we were promised affluence without end, if only the people got out of the way.  We were told that government was the enemy and the market was our friend.  And we bought it.

            We gave unbridled markets a chance; we gave them two generations of chances.  We made the wrong choice.

            The result was a terrible depression that killed the middle class and damn near destroyed capitalism.  And we’re ripe for another fall, because we never fixed the hole we fell into in the first place.

            What went wrong?  People didn’t have enough income, so they went deep in debt.  Eventually they couldn’t keep up.  The credit cards went first, then they stopped buying cars, and finally they defaulted on their mortgages.  When several million people defaulted, Wall Street defaulted.  The credit markets froze up.  Business activity ground to a halt.  Panic spread like swine flu, respecting no national borders.  Capitalism had a seizure.

            The governments of the world snapped into action.  They poured cataracts of money into the bleeding body of capitalism to keep it alive.  They’re doing it still.  But they’re transfusing a corpse.  The money leaks out of our gaping economic wounds as fast as they pour it in.

            Since the Reagan Administration, the GDP goes up and up and not a stinking dime trickles down.  But several trillion dimes trickle up.

            What we are left with is thongs of people laboring in jobs that provide grotesquely inadequate compensation.  Retail employees, office help, home health care givers, cab drivers, the nice lady who works the desk at the cat hospital … I could go on and on.  It would be easier to compile a list of jobs that do pay a living wage.

            But the crimes of the market fundamentalists were only beginning.  Their next victim was welfare.  Welfare is an easy target.  Welfare robs the spirit of vitality; it’s an insidious condition, to be discouraged at all costs.  That is received wisdom in America.  We received it from Ronald Reagan and his fellow-travelers thirty years ago.  Even Democrats swallowed that “wisdom” whole, and by the ‘90s it was a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who declared the end of “welfare as we know it.”

            And what do we have now, twenty years later?  Welfare as we never knew it.  Wal-Mart “associates” who survive on food stamps.  Fast food workers who feed their families at food banks.

            We’ve come full circle.  From welfare to work programs to welfare and work programs.

            Business is going to push down the cost of labor by outsourcing, underpaying and automating as much as it can.  I don’t think that’s in dispute at this point.

            But some force has to push the other way, or a society that is coming apart at the seams will rip irretrievably, into two highly unequal, warring camps.

            That used to be the job of the unions.  But we barely have unions anymore.  The great masses of factory workers are gone forever, a distant memory.  Now we have a dispersed workforce, all on their own, against the unchecked power of globalized markets.  It’s not a fair fight.

            This is an unsustainable state of affairs.  When societies get this top-heavy one of two things eventually happens.  They reform, or they crash.

            We don’t want a crash.  A crash leads to societal war, and wars are horribly destructive and uncontrollable.  You start out with hyperinflation until it takes a billion marks to buy a knockwurst.  There are riots in the streets, fistfights in the Reichstag, and you wind up with Adolph Hitler.  That’s a crash.

            Or, you suffer a terrible depression.  Strikes are violently suppressed.  There are riots in the streets and, at the last possible moment, you wind up with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  That’s reform.  Reform is better.

            But the reform we so desperately need can only come from people, organized into a big, insistent, group behind a powerful new idea.  Here’s one: When the game’s not working anymore, change the rules.

            I have an idea for a new set of rules: I call it Market Socialism.  How does it differ from old, failed socialism?  Market Socialism isn’t a call for redistribution.  It demands a fair original distribution of the wealth created by our capitalist economy.

            The old socialists thought they could abolish the markets and command the economy to do what they wanted.  But you can’t do that, and if you try, you wind up telling people what they can do, down to the smallest details of their lives.  Thus socialism became tyranny.

            But it is totally unnecessary to command an economy on the granular level, in order to produce just results.  You might as well command an acre of ground to produce wheat (they tried and wound up having to import wheat from us.)

            The markets are expert at innovating ways to get more wheat from that acre, where they have failed is in providing enough people with the wherewithal to buy bread.

            What are the particulars of Market Socialism?  I don’t have a manifesto.  What I have is a first principle.  The markets exist to serve the people, not the other way around.

            Market fundamentalists would say that’s an impossible dream.  As if there was only one possible way for the markets to operate.

            Nonsense.  The markets are not some heavenly ordained thing, created perfect and whole from the day of conception.  The markets, capitalism and economics are human constructs.  Contract law, monetary policies, trade agreements, common stock corporations, and a thousand other particulars of market capitalism as we know it have been constructed through the centuries.  We made the markets; we can change them.

            Market socialism seeks to change the rules about work and money.  It lets the markets be the markets.  But it sets some parameters.

            Work cannot equal poverty; every job must pay a living wage.  Market Socialism demands that every law, every tax and every regulation for our economy be written with two goals in mind.  Create all the wealth we can, and spread it around as widely as possible.

            Market Socialism is only an idea.  Its methods and particulars are still to be determined.  But if enough people are inspired by that idea, the programs will follow. We know what the goal is: a decent living for those who live and work, today and tomorrow.

            Market fundamentalism is taking us further and further from that goal.  But we’re not slaves of the markets; we can get there if we have the will.  And Market Socialism is the way.

Comments

Allan Goldstein Added Dec 17, 2013 - 7:03am
If we could get there by taxation, here in America, that might work.  But taxes are nearly as much of a curse word as Socialism.
I think, if we promote a just society, and the programs that create such, maybe we can eventually turn our current winner-take-all culture around.
But my main point isn't that we need REdistribution.  That's the dirtiest word of all in America.  What we need is NEWdistribution.  New rules for the markets, politics, citizenry and work.
Which will be a lot of work indeed, a generation of work, maybe several.
But that's why I posted this without a manifesto.  Manifestos have a bad track record.  They don't grow, they make unchangeable demands, they lead to bad outcomes.
But ideas that stay open, stay flexible, change with the times and, most of all, the recipe for success.
Allan Goldstein Added Dec 17, 2013 - 7:07am
that last sentence was to read.  "But ideas that stay open, stay flexible, change with the times, and, most of all Evolve, are the ones that WIN.  That is the recipe for success.
JF Springer Added Dec 17, 2013 - 8:21pm
@ Allan - "How did we get here?  The marketstook us here."
 
You really need to quit drinking the kool aid and engage in some purposeful thought. Liberals took down America, period.
 
Your take on the depression is so out of sync with reality it isn't even funny. FDR, the darling of liberals (read: Socialists) instituted policies that were exactly opposite of the platform he ran on. 
 
Try checking the unemployment rate for 1930 and 1942 ... there it is in black and white. Liberalism converted the depression into the Great Depression and given the control held by liberals I have to laugh when you name changing socialists pretend you aren't responsible. 
 
Hopefully, you aren't another Becker, a.k.a. deluisional, self-aggrandizing, socialist liar who is as opinionated (foaming at the mouth leftist) as he is uneducated and lacking in worldly experience.
JF Springer Added Dec 17, 2013 - 8:23pm
@ Roy - "Liberals like anything that allow them to feel better about themselves."
 
They are also the most lying bunch of people I've ever encountered and I have lived in 6 different countries. They are not "liberals" ... they are socialists who do the name change thing to hide their repeated failures and real agenda. Now, "liberal" has become associated with failure so they have become "progressives". Basically, they are the enemies of America and should be treated as such.
JF Springer Added Dec 17, 2013 - 8:28pm
@ Becker - "What are you suggesting other than a renewal of the New Deal policies, that did spread the wealth from the late '40's through the late '70's?"
 
Your lack of education is appalling. Did you even graduate from the 8th Grade? The New Deal, which FDR pulled after running on a campaign promising the exact opposite of what he did once in office (just another liar, a.k.a. liberal) converted the depression into the Great Depression. 
 
Since you obviously have no real understanding of history I'll teach you just this one time, Becker. By the 1970s the New Deal was long gone and the dying remains of LBJ's "Great Society" were all that was left of the socialist orchestrated sell out of America. You might to check a time line and make sure you take your medications as prescribed.
Mike Haluska Added Dec 23, 2013 - 1:07pm
"Our formerly progressive tax system has been severely skewed back to the interests of the very wealthy in this country. They do not have the need to spend most of their wealth so it is out of active consumer circulation leaving less wealth for the rest of us."
 
You have no Frakkin' clue how wealth is created (like all liberals) so you think it is "fixed amount" and must be from those who have too much.  What's it like to have the mind of a parasite?  Maybe if you directed 1/10 of 1 percent of the energy you devote to envy and applied it to improving your own situation, you wouldn't feel so miserable.
 
Mike Haluska Added Dec 26, 2013 - 7:47am
Sorry for the animated dialogue.  Here is precisely how wealth is created - I defy anyone to show another way (especially if it involves seizing wealth from one person and calling it "creating wealth")
3 Ways to CREATE Wealth:
1) Manufacture things
2) Grow things
3) Transport things
Mike Haluska Added Dec 27, 2013 - 7:54am
Edib - I forgot!  When Europeans first arrived in North America they found superhighways, airports, dams, railroads.  Everybody has to start someplace!  At least the people in Ghana have the advantage that because of America all this stuff has already been invented and is easily transplanted virtually anywhere.  The ONLY thing stopping free markets and governments is the population being disarmed by "enlightened" liberals.  These unfortunate people have no way to defend themselves from military dictators who take our foreign aid and convert it to weapons and ammunition.     
Allan Goldstein Added Dec 28, 2013 - 3:59am
Edit is right on it.  It's really this simple: A free market economy is not possible without the rule of law.  The question is, what are those laws?
Mike Haluska Added Dec 28, 2013 - 11:06am
Of course you need laws - I never said you didn't!  What we don't need is government "referees" whose job it is to decide "winners and losers", what is a "fair" price, how much unskilled workers "should" make, etc.
Mike Haluska Added Dec 28, 2013 - 7:23pm
Just like a liberal to hide their real intentions behind euphemisms like  "Liberals don't support murdering unborn children in the womb, they're for "reproductive rights". 
 
The whole point of Capitalism is that it is free choice in free markets.  The usual justifications for "regulation" are simply an effort to affect the outcome to make everything "equal".  Equal pay for equal work, minimum wage, limits on profits, etc. .... all based in socialism. 
Robert Wendell Added Dec 28, 2013 - 11:29pm
Quoting Haluska: "These unfortunate people have no way to defend themselves from military dictators who take our foreign aid and convert it to weapons and ammunition."
 
What you seem to be totally ignorant of is the role the U.S. plays in setting up these corrupt governments to bleed these countries dry of their natural resources with U.S. and transnational corporations lobbying our government to help them do just that. You ignore how much wealth we have extracted historically from other countries by forming alliances with despots who allow us to take it for a song, pay them, their families and cronies a fortune, and leave their people in poverty. That poverty you blame on the people is in large part the fault of our REAL foreign policies about which you obviously have absolutely no clue. Rooting for our high school football teams because somehow WE and our egos are tied up with that seems to have trained some of us to think just as uncritically and full of bogus rah-rah-rah spirit for our country and its policies, no matter what it does "on the field". Has it ever occurred to you and others here that all this stuff you dislike about the way our government functions also reflects in our foreign policy. You probably do, but are always on the wrong side of it, blindly supporting our perpetual rip-offs around the world and then blaming the rest of the world for not liking us. Not everyone around the world is as ignorant of what we're doing as most of us are. Most of us don't even know where anything else is if we even know where most our own states are.
Mike Haluska Added Dec 29, 2013 - 9:21am
Bob - I agree with just about everything you wrote.  Our foreign policy since the end of WWII has been a mish-mash of Crony Capitalism bribery, unnecessary military intervention, regime changing, etc.  You are 100% correct about the overall ignorance of most Americans regarding our foreign policy and how many other nations view our unwarranted intervention. 
 
As someone who travels abroad regularly, I have observed the behavior of many Americans in other countries - it borders on absolute ignorance.  For example, I was in Harrod's department store in London a few years ago waiting in line behind an American couple in the mid-50's.  When that couple got to the register the clerk processed their purchase and asked for so-much in Pounds.  The American husband asked "how much is that in REAL MONEY?"
 
Where do we lay the bulk of the blame?  Where do most Americans get their basic "education"?  How can a subject so important to the success of a country based on self-government (Civics) get such a superficial treatment?  Morons graduating from high school can name the last 10 "American Idol" winners but don't have the faintest idea who their Congressman is.
 
What do you suggest?  It would be a disgrace if we as a society let the greatest invention of mankind (America) just go quietly into the night and die.
Robert Wendell Added Dec 29, 2013 - 1:06pm
Allan and Mike,
 
Mike may have already read it, but I think you both might find my article Declaration of Economic Independence/Interdependence very interesting. It's part of what I would suggest in answer to Mike's question. It attempts to address in practical terms what parameters would be necessary to connect the basic morality of the Golden Rule and market dynamics.
 
However, education, if I understand Mike's question ending his last comment, is a big problem. As he points out, we typically don't know anything about anything much beyond local sports scores, American idol winners, etc. We don't even know where most states are beyond the ones that border our own unless we have relatives we visit in more distant states or we vacation somewhere else. Most people have no idea where Ukraine, or east European countries like Rumania are, etc. I don't think they even have much of a clue where anything is on a map of western European, like what countries are south, east, and north of France or the layout of the British Isles by country. We are typically pitifully myopic in our world view and many take a certain silly pride in that like the American who asked how much that was in "real money".
 
Mike, I don't think the U.S. will "go quietly into the night". I do believe there is a good chance we will lose our ability to exercise the unilateral power we've been imposing on the world. I think that will happen both because of internal problems and shifts in our politics and other significant powers in the world blocking our previous behaviors. I know that kind of talk will make some in the U.S. bristle, but  I think it's going to happen. The reasons are too many and diverse to want to go into detail right now.
Mike Haluska Added Dec 30, 2013 - 7:48am
Bob - I hope your assessment about our future holds up.  Let me run a suggestion on foreign policy (especially military intervention) by you. 
 
Rather than randomly sticking our nose where it doesn't belong or playing "World Police", how about if we negotiate separate mutual defense treaties with nations that clearly spell out how and when we can (and won't) intervene?  Essentially, we stay out of the internal affairs of other nations unless we have an express treaty already signed in place.  In addition, if countries want us patrolling their waters, providing defense installations, intervening militarily, etc. they agree to PAY for it.  In order to prevent us from propping up a dictatorship, we need some sort of clause that negates the treaty if the government initiates the use of force against its own people or other nations.
 
Europe has been skating by for decades using NATO as a shield against Soviet aggression, and NATO is largely funded by the USA.  The Cold War is over, Europe needs to pay for its own defense. 
Mike Haluska Added Dec 31, 2013 - 8:15am
I do know that WWII started just after WWI when an irresponsible liberal Germany started printing money so fast that potatoes cost a bazillion Deutchmarks!  That paved the way for a desperate starving populace to embrace a madman who completely outwitted another naïve liberal named Neville Chamberlain. 
Mike Haluska Added Dec 31, 2013 - 11:36am
So, liberal policies had nothing to do with Germany's money printing spree?  Just like they had nothing to do with Chamberlain going along at Munich? 
Johnny Fever Added Jan 1, 2014 - 10:05am
I blame liberalism for a lot of what wrong in this world but I consider it a major stretch to blame Nazi Germany on the perils of liberalism. A better example is Detroit, run by liberals for decades the tale of the tape is abysmal.  A population of 2 million is now down to 700,000.  Crime, schools, bankruptcy…the city is a mess.  The same tale of woe awaits many liberal cities, states and countries.  For growth, one only needs to look at conservative bastions like Oklahoma City, Texas and the United States (when compared to Europe).    
Robert Wendell Added Jan 1, 2014 - 12:08pm
Quoting Mike: "So, liberal policies had nothing to do with Germany's money printing spree?  Just like they had nothing to do with Chamberlain going along at Munich?"
 
Aren't we crossing some wire here? Germany had it's motivations, like the war reparations debt the treaty ending WWI imposed, and Chamberlain was not German but British, and they had their motives for wanting to stay out of the war. These are two different countries and you're treating this situation as if they were one. They were enemies, for Pete's sake.
 
So you want to say all people who want to avoid war are liberals and people who want war are conservatives? I don't really think you mean to say that. Chamberlain wasn't alone in the desire to avoid war and all who wanted to avoid it were not liberals. You expect everyone to have precognition about who Hitler was and what he was planning? Congratulations on your 20/20 hindsight! I'm not defending Chamberlain or his political philosophy, but some of the remarks here seem awfully glib and full of 20/20 hindsight, not to mention way too proud of having such hindsight.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 1, 2014 - 12:31pm
Look, folks, the theme here is right on the mark regarding what I was attempting to address in an article of mine. I'm not indulging here in a shameful act of self-promotion. I would really like feedback on the ideas in my article and how those commenting here view their relationship to the problems Mr. Goldstein's article is addressing. I'm referring to the same article I mentioned in a previous comment here, namely Declaration of Economic Independence/Interdependence. After all, I think precisely the same issues motivated the writing of both articles.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 2, 2014 - 1:36pm
Rahul, thank you for your interesting thoughts. I've also gleaned an interesting angle from the research on this by Peter Turchin. His article at the link below is enlightening:
 
http://socialevolutionforum.com/2013/02/08/the-double-helix-of-inequality-and-well-being/
 
The graph of income inequality and societal well being in the article that shows their negative correlation is key. I think it's reasonable to assume we all know that some amount of income inequality is natural, since we as individuals have varying abilities and motivations to contribute productively to the economy. This begs the question of at what level income inequality is natural and/or (perhaps also) optimal. If we look at income inequality as a causal factor with respect to well being, as Turchin's model assumes, this seems to imply that well being is maximized at some optimum level of income inequality. 
 
Judging from the very few cycles available in our history as displayed in the “double helix” graphic, it looks like well being peaks a few years earlier than the income inequality bottoms. If we assume some time delay between a hypothetical optimal level of income inequality and maximum well being, this appears to imply that some level well before the minimums of income inequality is ideal. In other words, too much distance in either direction from a hypothetical ideal level of income inequality reduces overall well being.
 
This looks to be rather strongly reinforced not only by the earlier peak, but by the substantial decreases in well being preceding the minimum points of income inequality.  I suspect this indicates the existence of a natural ideal that represents an aggregate statistical fairness in rewarding individuals for actual contributions to an economy. If income inequality is artificially reduced below this ideal, as in strongly socialist leaning or outright Marxist economies, overall societal well being decreases. But well being also decreases when crony/predatory capitalism rewards a financial elite for unfairly extracting money from the less financially and politically powerful.

If this is so, both far left socialism and the Ayn Rand fanatics are fighting each other for the power to drag down overall societal well being by opposite means. "All things in moderation", if this analysis is on the right track, would seem to apply to politico-economic issues as much as to anything else. Right now we have extreme polarization mostly on the right, which absurdly views anything slightly to the left of Ayn Rand as Marxist.
 
Any leftist tendency in the U.S. that could even remotely qualify as Marxist has no political clout right now that anyone but hard right paranoia can imagine, so we see the right trying to stretch an extremely high level of income inequality even further, attempting to justify it with Ayn Rand's economic ideology. As Turchin points out in his article, extreme income inequality indicates elite overproduction, which means too many new elites, increasing both financial inequality in the general population and political competition among the elite, polarizing the Republican party in our case between traditional Republicans and Tea Party extremism. The economics evacuate the middle class in both directions, up and down, with general polarization and destabilization of politics and economic well being.
 
In genuinely Marxist economies, income inequality is reduced well below any ideal point, as well as both replaced and masked by inequality in terms of political power. Political power is the de facto wealth in true Marxist economies and results in repressive, dictatorial regimes. This is reversed in extractive economies based on predatory and crony capitalism, so that extreme economic inequality becomes de facto political power for the financial elite. Hard right politics under these conditions only reinforce this ugly situation. Those who defend this state of affairs rightly point out that it is preferable to a Marxist economy in attempting to justify their positions, but that is a bit like proudly announcing that chronic pneumonia is preferable to cancer.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 2, 2014 - 1:59pm
Rahul - your comment:
 
"Think of it this way - a child needs parent to tell it what is right and what is wrong. So child lives in a socialistic environment yet you dont force the child on to something it doesnt want or cannot do. When it grows up though you let it free - a capitalistic environment. "
 
This carries on the misconception that there capitalism is inherently "lawless" and "immoral".  Capitalism/Free Enterprise - like any system - needs laws to protect the participants from EACH OTHER, not from the system. 
 
Capitalism/Free Trade is not designed or intended to produce any results regarding income distribution, wealth or other economic measure nor should it.  It is merely a means of allowing individuals to participate in obtaining the goods and services they desire at prices they are willing to pay for and sell at - period!  That's the underlying beauty of the system - it requires no subjective referees, rules or regulation because billions of transactions send all the information necessary to producers and sellers to make their own individual choices.
 
This freedom from rules and regulations confounds most people obsessed with the well-intentioned desire to make things "more fair and equal" - especially the outcomes.  When you try and regulate a self-regulating mechanism you will inevitably sub-optimize its output by forcing outcomes.  Forced outcomes ALWAYS send conflicting signals to the market and screw things up for the market as a whole.  Don't believe me?  Spend a few hours studying the global effects of sub-optmizing the agricultural market with price supports, crop limits, etc. 
 
MARKET SOCIALISM is a contradiction in terms and logic!
Robert Wendell Added Jan 2, 2014 - 6:47pm
Quoting Mike: Capitalism/Free Enterprise - like any system - needs laws to protect the participants from EACH OTHER, not from the system." 
 
Excellent point! There is one caveat, however, and that is the laws that protect participants from each other are part of the system! The system will not work without such laws. Too many on the far right vigorously peddle the idea that it will. The top sources of this view sucker as many as they can of those they cynically view as their underlings into supporting this idea. The only possible motive for that is their desire to continue practicing extractive economic strategies that impoverish the country as a whole while they pocket their technically legal loot. They can get away with this only because they are able to enlist a lot of grass roots help with their extensive propaganda machine and pass legislation that favors their strategies of unfair wealth extraction from the rest.
 
This is how what I outlined in my last previous post works politically. The Tea Party, despite their professed philosophy, is aiding the financial elite with their nefarious strategies. This is not necessarily a conscious process. Many of those at the top really believe they have the true gospel of financial reality all tied up and packaged neatly. However, there is a sense of entitlement most of them have that is very palpable. The psychology of this is fascinating, and the article at this link describes how it works when the phenomenon manifests even in ordinary people:
 
http://planetsave.com/2013/12/23/a-rigged-game-of-monopoly-reveals-how-feeling-wealthy-changes-our-behavior-ted-video/
Robert Wendell Added Jan 2, 2014 - 8:32pm
Quoting Mike: "That's the underlying beauty of the system - it requires no subjective referees, rules or regulation because billions of transactions send all the information necessary to producers and sellers to make their own individual choices."
 
This is true only if we assume all markets are efficient, a truly absurd assumption. It's a lot like assuming an ideal gas or a resistance-free electric transformer actually exists. It's an important theoretical construct that serves as an essential starting point for analysis. But no serious, competent economist believes that all, or even necessarily most markets are efficient.
 
Yet the assumption that they are is the gospel those financially elite who demand free reign to do as they please perpetually preach so they can continue unfairly extracting wealth from those with less financial and political power. We have to understand the nature of the variations from the ideal in order to structure anything that really works to reward real economic contributions fairly just as an engineer has to take into account the variations in the behavior of real gases from an ideal gas or a practical electrical circuit that has losses due to resistance (electrical equivalent of friction).
Robert Wendell Added Jan 2, 2014 - 8:44pm
Mike, you have agreed with me that our foreign policies are often very extractive; that they unfairly exploit natural resources in other countries benefiting very few in those countries other than the political elite with whom our corporate interests negotiate along with U.S. government support, sometimes including military support. Why would you assume that the same financial and political powers responsible for that completely refrain from domestically exercising their behaviors so clearly manifest in the international arena to those who bother to notice?
Robert Wendell Added Jan 2, 2014 - 10:30pm
Yes, Rahul, equality of outcome fails to reward ability and motivation in ways proportional to their economic merit. This cannot work as history has irrefutably confirmed. On the other hand, equality of opportunity is easily trumped by unbridled competition. Completely unbridled economic competition is metaphorically equivalent to the Chicago Bears competing with the Denver Broncos, but using assault weapons to command the field. We know that's never going to happen because it fragrantly violates the rules of the game and provides a completely unfair advantage to the Bears that eliminates any semblance of equal opportunity to win on the merits of each team's skill in the actual game.
 
Fully socialized regimes like the former Soviet economy put unbridled political and military power in the hands of a few just as highly extractive capitalist economies put unbridled financial and military power in the hands of a few. When you consider our constitutional form of government with checks and balances that were originally intended to actually work, the clear desire of our founders was to prevent too much power concentrated in the hands of a few. So the predatory/crony capitalism we currently have in the U.S. is completely un-American in the fullest and most fundamental sense imaginable. Our founders were already dealing with this kind of potential, actually foresaw its possible realization, and vigorously warned us against it. Sadly, we fell asleep at the wheel and most of us haven't even awakened to the reality that it has already happened. So far too many of us unwittingly support it in the name of patriotism.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 3, 2014 - 5:40am
Like many things, capitalism works best (for everyone) when it is running in a small scale.  The guy who runs his own business and is creating something out of nothing is obviously a great asset to society (read "everyone" if you are a Thatcherite).  He both enriches himself and all around him
 
But the monster that we have created in the form of the multi national corporation feeds only itself.  It will shift its operations around the world to get the cheapest resources and labour.  It knows no national allegiance... it "hovers" above all nations like a fleet of alien spaceships sucking up wealth from below.  If anything, it suppresses the growth of the smaller local businesses which are positive engines for society.
 
Not sure that we can now do anything to control these beasts.  They control us instead.
 
Redistribution?  I think that those who have the wealth need to be encouraged to spend it in order to create the "trickle down" effect.  Right now the "rising tide" is not raising all boats.. this needs to change.  Perhaps an aggressive inheritance tax regime would encourage such spending and ensure that the children of the wealthy were encouraged to make thier own way in the world.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 3, 2014 - 5:44am
The other paradox:
 
The wealth we have today was foreseen in the 60's here in the UK and politicians talked about the coming "Age of Leisure".
 
This never happened.  Instead those in work, work longer and harder than ever before.  At the same time the queues of jobless increase.
 
How did we pass up this opportunity for a truly well balanced and happy lifestyle for all?
Mike Haluska Added Jan 3, 2014 - 7:54am
I find the fixation on "Equality" of anything absurd.  An economic system doesn't have to be "perfect" to function satisfactorily, just as a gasoline engine doesn't need to function 100% efficiently to produce desired results.
 
What I am saying is that left alone to function objectively, Free Enterprise will maximize the possible (not the theoretical limit) amount of opportunity far better than any other system.  Free markets are simple Rule Based Complex Systems that will self optimize to the physical limits that humans and available resources permit.
 
Life is not fair.  The "unfair elements" (talent, physical, intelligence, desire, etc.) of life should be dealt with through basic human compassion, rather than arbitrary forced charity. 
 
Think of you own individual experiences helping others - don't you find that helping someone in need directly more satisfying than some distant bureaucracy doling out checks?  The recipients of the charity are also much more prone to using the donated resources wisely, doing whatever it takes to repay the gesture and being grateful.  When they're back on their feet they are much more compassionate with others in the situation they were once in.  You very seldom see any of those traits in those that receive public assistance - it rapidly becomes an "entitlement" mentality where there is no thought given to the source of the charity or motivation to do whatever it takes to get back on their feet - much less repay the charity.  That frame of mind is destructive to society as a whole.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 3, 2014 - 8:08am
Robin - your comment:
 
"Redistribution?  I think that those who have the wealth need to be encouraged to spend it in order to create the "trickle down" effect."
 
What wealthy people need to do is INVEST their money - not stuff it in a mattress.  Spending (despite government's love of doing so to buy votes) is like taking an injection of heroin - it makes you feel good temporarily but does nothing to improve the environment that got you so depressed you took drugs.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 3, 2014 - 8:49am
On charity:  often makes the donor feel good but makes the acceptor feel degraded.
 
Try reading "Down and Out in Paris and London" by George Orwell to get a feel for what it is like to be obliged to accept charity... especially from a religious group
 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 9:33am
All of the most recent comments are running around the end of the points based on Turchin's work I made about income inequality, which I have clearly stated is natural up to a point. It's not bad. It's necessary. The key phrase here is "up to a point".
 
At extremely high levels it is what has historically caused multiple empires to collapse. At artificially low, Marxist socialism levels, it caused the Soviet empire to collapse. China has recognized this enough to save themselves from the same fate. 
 
Right now in the U.S., it is at extremely high levels. I'm not pretending that any economy can perfectly adhere to some theoretically ideal level of income inequality that is perfectly natural and in the aggregate fairly compensates statistically most people in proportion to the actual economic merit of their contributions to society. However, I do think it is possible to dramatically reduce the historical extremes of highs and lows in income inequality with legal and economic structures that act as a metaphorical suspension system to make the economic road we're all on much less bumpy. How we could do that is something I attempted to at least partially suggest in the lists after the preface to my article  Declaration of Economic Independence/Interdependence. However incomplete those suggestions, or flawed as some of them may be, I feel that the reduction of these wide swings in income inequality needs to be a goal of our ongoing social evolution.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 9:38am
Mike, you keep making very idealistic statements that assume markets are all automatically efficient. I assume you know enough about economics to understand what "efficient market" means. What you describe is basically an operative definition of efficient markets. In economics an efficient market is roughly analogous to an ideal gas or a friction-free mechanical device. It is utterly invalid to assume that anything like all markets are ideally efficient in accord with your assumptions.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 3, 2014 - 9:39am
Robin - your comment:
 
"Try reading "Down and Out in Paris and London" by George Orwell to get a feel for what it is like to be obliged to accept charity... especially from a religious group"
 
So you have no problem with people not feeling some "obligation" for accepting charity but want people with means to feel obligated to donate to charity?  There are lots of charities that don't impose any obligation other than normal acceptable behavior. 
 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 3, 2014 - 11:22am
Hey Bob - sorry about the confusion.  I just mean that even if markets operate below "ideal" conditions, they still provide an acceptable level of opportunity for "most people" since most people do not desire to go through what it would take to be rich.  Personally, I am like that.  Once I have satisfied a pre-determined set of needs, I don't exert a lot of additional effort to gain more.  I'm "happy".
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 3, 2014 - 12:08pm
Mike:  That is not my position.
 
I believe that it is right for all in a society to contribute towards helping those who need help.  Think of it as an insurance scheme if you like but without the risk assessors.
 
When you need help, you take out.
 
All benefit, including the wealthy, from a well ordered society with social justice.
 
I have both put in and taken out.  Although overall I have probably put in far more than I took out.   But that is what it means to be part of a society.. the benefits you get from belonging to a nation.
 
In the UK benefits include:
 
Universal health care free at point of need
The right to roam anywhere you like (apart from people's homes, commercial premises and private gardens)
Media funded centrally and independent of bias.
A safety net for me should things go seriously wrong
 
All of these things contribute to my happiness and to the happiness of everyone else.  Everyone benefits.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 3, 2014 - 3:15pm
Robin - our differences lie in your belief that the use of "contribution" as a euphemism for "forced taxation" fools everyone.  I think it is fundamentally immoral to force our beliefs on anyone else.  That includes who and how much charity we provide.   
Mike Haluska Added Jan 3, 2014 - 3:19pm
Robin - your comment:
 
"Media funded centrally and independent of bias."
 
Do you really believe anyone being paid solely by one entity could possibly be unbiased???  Hell, our mainstream media is corporately owned by individual shareholders and is in the tank for Obama and the Democrats!
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 3, 2014 - 4:02pm
Mike:   The BBC is funded by all of us and is required to present at least two sides to every argument.  Not perfect... but better than media owned by a specific interest group.
 
So yes, I do think it is relatively unbiased.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 3, 2014 - 4:05pm
Mike:  On taxation:
 
All taxes are "forced".   If people don't like it, they can leave.   They could go and live with you.
 
I know that you don't get it, but the NHS is an object of affection in the UK... yes affection!   We are proud of it and the civilised people it makes us.  And no, in general people do not object to contributing to its maintenance.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 7:10pm
Happy New Year to you, Nathan. I appreciate the good will. We can communicate coherently and in a dignified manner whenever that desire is fully mutual. From my side that opportunity is fully open.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 7:21pm
@ Ken - The top 1% holds 40% of the national wealth. I cite that because it has nothing to do with income. Both wealth and income inequality are at the highest level since 1928, the year before the famous stock market crash and the national run on banks that precipitated the Great Depression. We are on the extreme high end of the oscillations between low and high income inequality. If you've read my previous posts here, you know I believe it is not good to be at either extreme of the oscillations between low and high income inequality. There is strong empirical evidence that neither extreme bodes well for society. Fully Marxist economies try to eliminate income inequality, but that always ends up a total farce, since political power in that context includes all kinds of financial perks that don't show up officially as income. Predatory/crony capitalism has put this economy where it is and anyone who doesn't see this is not looking in the right places. This is not just an issue of right or left. This is an issue of long term economic viability.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 7:30pm
@ Ken - My last previous post mentions fully Marxist economies as actually not equal, but they are more equal, far too equal for their own good. That is the central point of all my previous posts here, namely that either extreme is bad because they both represent some distorting influence, in Marxism from purely political manipulation and in predatory/crony capitalism from financial manipulation augmented by laws that favor it and the undue political influence of elite financial interests responsible for it.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 10:50pm
Income inequality that is too low or excessively reduced politically (Marxism) fails to reward the economic merit of individual contributions adequately to motivate overall productivity and resulting societal well being while rewarding too much those who fail to contribute. That's the essence of why fully Marxist economies guarantee failure.
 
Income inequality that is too high rewards the financially elite too much for too little genuine economic merit in their contributions to society while rewarding the less wealthy too little for their valuable work. That is the essence of what threatens to turn highly extractive economies into failed states. It's not as if we had no examples of any of this.
 
This should make it very clear why the financial elite who promote conditions that favor high income inequality use the clear failure of Marxism to support their schemes. It's an easy game to play, since history has already demonstrated the utter failure of Marxism while the evils at the opposite extreme are less obvious, making it a simple matter to misdirect attention by inflating Marxist tendencies and blaming all the wrong things. But either excessively high or low income inequality excessively rewards the wrong people for their contributions. Very high income inequality excessively rewards the wealthy while very low income inequality excessively rewards unproductive slackers and fails to motivate productive enterprise.
 
These factors motivate less productive workers to favor socialist tendencies while motivating those with an aristocratic sense of entitlement to favor laissez-faire (unpoliced) capitalism. I see this as the essence of political conflict in any society. The ideal situation would be willing, productive economic contributors who sincerely desire fair compensation to everyone for the genuine economic merit in their individual contributions.
 
However, selfish desire for unearned advantage is a common human flaw as abundantly illustrated in gambling addictions, a sense of unmerited wealth as one's due by virtue of mere social status (aristocratic entitlement, divine right of kings, etc.), exploitation of others for personal gain justified only by the power to do so, theft, fraud, abuse of government safety nets like welfare and food stamps, etc. Selfish desire for unearned advantage is common to all these social ailments at both ends of the social/financial spectrum.
 
I see this is as the root cause of the excessive oscillations back and forth between the extremes of high and low income inequality around whatever level at which it would naturally settle if these human flaws were absent. I suspect that just as law and law enforcement ideally and fortunately often successfully reduce criminal behavior in decently well-ordered societies and so increase protection for law abiding citizens, intelligent legal and economic structures based on this understanding could also potentially reduce substantially the wild extremes of income inequality generated by the flawed human tendency to selfishly seek unmerited rewards at the expense of society.
 
The failure to recognize the dual nature, the double-edged sword of selfish interest is in my opinion the great gaping hole in Ayn Rand's thinking. She praises it in entrepreneurs, ignoring the ethics or lack of it in the means and pretending that efficient markets abound and automatically self-regulate. Meanwhile, she despises precisely the same selfishness as it manifests in free-loaders at the other end of the spectrum. Ill-gotten gains for the wealthy are just as despicable as free-loading on welfare, food stamps, or disability by someone perfectly capable of earning an adequate living.
 
Worse, there is a vast difference in their proportion of the economy, making the free-loading (exploitative, predatory, crony) component of the self-entitled wealthy by far the biggest potential threat to societal well being as long as we avoid a Marxist ideal that pretends to eliminate the natural inequality of income and wealth. (Precisely because income inequality is natural and so in practice impossible to eliminate, Marxism guarantees frightfully enormous levels of political hypocrisy, as if politics were not already intrinsically hypocritical.) The current paranoia regarding Marxism on the current far right is just the result of the entitled wealthy successfully enlisting grass roots political help in their fight against anything that would reduce their ability to suck up unearned money from the economy at large...in other words, from all the rest of us.
 
Currently I see most if not virtually all conservatives as completely clueless regarding both these issues and which end of the swing we're now experiencing. They keep trying to justify with Ayn Ran
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 10:52pm
Continued:
 
They keep trying to justify with Ayn Rand or whomever else a situation that is economically unsustainable in any practical economic scenario.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 3, 2014 - 10:53pm
Thank you very much, Edib. There is more I just added above.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 4, 2014 - 9:59am
Edib - your comment:
 
"When we all agree to contribute to a fund and to support out of it those who have a need this is solidarity."
 
When did I get the opportunity to AGREE to participate in SS?  When did the next generation of Americans who are getting stuck with a huge National Debt and SS obligations AGREE to participate?
 
And since when is "need" a justification for forcibly taking one person's income?  The problem with Liberals is they make NO distinction between "needy" and "deserving".  Their ideas also NEVER stand on their own merit and must be enforced by government.  Don't think that is true?  Let SS become a VOLUNTARY program and see how many people sign up.  That's why Obamacare is blowing up - young voters who pay no attention are now realizing that the are being FORCED to buy something they neither can afford or want! 
 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 4, 2014 - 10:03am
Bob - your comment:
 
"Worse, there is a vast difference in their proportion of the economy, making the free-loading (exploitative, predatory, crony) component of the self-entitled wealthy by far the biggest potential threat to societal well being"
 
has "Class Envy/Class Warfare" written all through it!  The "self entitled wealthy" is who specifically?  And because a group may have some individuals who simply live off Daddy's Trust Fund (Paris Hilton jumps to mind) we should punish the system that creates more wealth than any yet discovered?
Mike Haluska Added Jan 4, 2014 - 10:11am
Market - Socialism is a contradiction in terms just as Atheist - Theology!  Want to know what you get when you try and mix Free Market Enterprise with Socialism?  You get 15,000 page programs called the "Affordable Care Act" which so far has cancelled six time as many policies as it has enrolled, double or triple the cost of existing premiums!
Robert Wendell Added Jan 4, 2014 - 1:59pm
Mike, why do you take everything I say out of context to generate your irrelevant comments? Do you just read little pieces of my posts and react with no regard for their meaning in context with the overall sense of what I've said? I'm not against free enterprise capitalism. That should be very clear from what I've said. 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 5, 2014 - 1:06pm
Edib - your comment:
 
"You mentioned that your dad had pension and benefits. Probably those benefits were not "agreed" by all, yet they abided and thank God that they did."
 
My Dad and every steelworker had a choice - the could choose to go to work doing something else.  You never addressed my concern about your alleged "Social Contract" between people born in prior generations, current generation and future generations - how is this a valid, moral agreement when we are spending money and obligating future generations to pay?  How would you feel if your deceased Dad owed somebody a million dollars and the court ordered you to pay it?
Robert Wendell Added Jan 5, 2014 - 10:59pm
Mike, no intelligent person wants to indefinitely increase the national debt or even fail to eventually get federal credit honed all the way down to acting as a normal buffer for cash flow purposes as in any business. Let's say your boat has taken on a lot of water and you're in danger of it sinking. You're running short of fuel. If you use too much fuel, you might not have enough to make it to land. There is a chance of rescue in a couple of hours, though. You have more than enough fuel to survive until then. Would you shut the pumps off to save fuel?
 
You can't ever get a sunken boat back to land with its own engines no matter how much fuel is left. A business can't pay a loan back if the bank withholds credit right when it most needs help with cash flow. Banks know that (maybe). Most conservatives these days really don't get that this applies at the national level, too.
 
Our politics is royally screwed up and that has got us where we are. It has been going on for a very long time. Our deficit situation didn't suddenly crop up in the last few years, but Tea Party people and other hard right groups suck that up as the gospel truth as if they were born yesterday. Most of them might as well have been.
 
Nobody but Democrats complained about the deficit when Bush and Cheney were in office. Even the faint little complaints from the Democrats were barely audible. In those days, anyone yelling loudly about that got yelled back at as an unpatriotic part of that hateful blight on our political landscape, liberalism. Cheney used to say repeatedly that the federal deficit didn't matter. The financial crisis hit the fan before Obama was in office. I have plenty of problems with Obama's administration, but the financial crisis sure isn't one of them. The lack of any serious prosecution of financial criminality sure is.
 
So is all this NSA crap. No matter how moral or not anyone thinks Snowden's actions were, what has come out needed to come out. I don't think that in the short run the government will apply much to fix it, though, but little tiny bandaids and lip service.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 5, 2014 - 11:05pm
Where was the hard right when we were hiring military contractors with uncontested bids? Where was all this hard line talk about federal deficits then?
Stephen L. Brayton Added Jan 6, 2014 - 4:26am
I wish you had given some of the particulars of your idea because-and I could be wrong-the basic premise sounds dangerously close to communism. I don't mean the dictator ship communism has been, but true economic communism where you do what you can and get what you need.Because who determines a 'living wage'? Who decides what is proper? Do we all get one car and a two-story house? This is where I think your idea may break down because you have a distribution idea, but who gets to decide where and how much? And what happens if i work harder than the next guy? Shouldn't I deserve more for what I do because I earn  it?
The welfare system plays a role in the problems of today. We need to change the system so that it's not easier to make more money off of welfare/unemployment than it is to find a real job.
The feds play a big role in creating problems. Self-serving bureaucracies and little economic common sense. Over-regulation, higher taxes, forced increases of minimum wage don't do anybody any good.
Let's go back to your 'living wage'? Shall we say all businesses have to pay $10 an hour? That seems fair. Well, then how about $15? That'll give everybody a start at a living wage? How about $20? See where it's starting to get a little silly because at some point, reality steps in and businesses can't sustain it. But every so often, the government inches up that minimum wage, waits a few years for it to settle out, then does it again. Meanwhile, nothing changes because prices go up and jobs get cut.
The major problem, I think is that when government makes any change, businesses react accordingly and that only serves those in power. The good intention folks expect businesses and people to just roll over or bend over and accept the changes with no change in business which doesn't make any sense.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 6, 2014 - 7:47am
Steve - your comment:
 
" The good intention folks expect businesses and people to just roll over or bend over and accept the changes with no change in business which doesn't make any sense. "
 
I am dubious about the "good intention folks" - many are just naïve, but the main drivers are socialists. 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 6, 2014 - 11:19am
Edib - your comment:
 
"If my Dad owed a million dollars my answer is similar to the one if I inherited a million dollars from him: Take a large chunk as inheritance tax, and a little is for me."
 
The problem & difference is that our kids get stuck with the ENTIRE BILL - what if your Dad didn't leave you anything but the creditors could still force you to pay by garnishing 90% of your earnings the rest of your life?  You would be bitching like hell about it!!! 
Matthew Dovell Added Jan 7, 2014 - 4:04pm
"People didn’t have enough income, so they went deep in debt.  Eventually they couldn’t keep up.  The credit cards went first, then they stopped buying cars, and finally they defaulted on their mortgages."
 
Most people in the USA live in cities and as a result have no mortgages, they rent. As for debt that's also why there are credit reports and credit checks. There's a strong difference between being underwater with a mortgage and actually being in debt.
 
"every job must pay a living wage."
 
First what specifically is a "job" and what exactly is a "living wage". There are jobs that are part time for a reason. If a job is only $9 an hour and exists for 10 hours a week then it obviously isn't going to support someone. Personally I used to work for a place where they hired a guy to weld stainless steel. He made $75/hr but they would only need him for four hours a a week! So what would happen? Increase the wage some more? Make up fake hours?
 
"Create all the wealth we can, and spread it around as widely as possible."
But you cannot create wealth or anything by dividing it. If I take a Thanksgiving turkey can cut it up into smaller pieces I'd feed less people not more.
 
Just as with public services there are limits. There's only so many fire, police and ems. At some given point there are individual responsibilities. Having a fire department does not permit someone to have carte blanche and smoke inside their house with papers all over the place. EMS is not going to take someone obese and wave their hands making them healthier and police themselves largely react to crimes as it would be a police state to arrest people before them.
 
Markets serve customers not people there's a difference. How many "apps" does one access on a phone that don't exist otherwise? How many worlds have we created with technologies that leave some out? Should everyone deaf get a coupler earplant to listen to music? Should we have surgery for everyone blind to see? We can do what can come naturally obviously but not all of this works. Deafness has its own culture and you'd be in a pretty large argument to attempt to do that by force.
 
"It’s not a fair fight."
What is fair? How does one create fairness? I own a smartphone and I'm sure many people reading this do. Ok so if you have a smartphone and get news updates of a product you want that is for sale and end up buying it preventing someone else from buying it is that fair? Is it fair that most of us have seen more TV and movies than any person in Amish country has? Is it fair that some people live closer to accessing public transit? Is it fair that some know more than one language?
 
Fairness is a subjective term not an absolute. Certainly organizations can strive for fairness but it does not always work.
 
How should prices work? If something is priced too high then few would buy it, too low and the business is broke. The market works to establish a market price. Why aren't laptops 100,000? Why aren't cars a million? because no one would buy it at that price. Why aren't they $5 or 50 cents? Same reason.
 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 7, 2014 - 4:17pm
Ken - free markets NEVER work against ANYONE when allowed to function!  In a free market, nobody is coerced or forced to do anything.  Every transaction benefits the seller AND the buyer - or it won't take place!  You go to the grocery store to get a gallon of milk.  You hand over $3 for the milk and the Grocer accepts it.  You value the milk more than the $3, and the Grocer values the $3 more than the milk - otherwise no deal!  If the Grocer's price isn't competitive, you take your business elsewhere.  If you offer too low a price to the Grocer, he sells to the next buyer.  Competition brings out the best products at the lowest price - that's good for everyone.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 7, 2014 - 10:55pm
@Ken Mapp
@Edib Korkut
@ Mike Haluska
Ken, I love your three points. Right on the money! Edib, you're right that we're not anywhere very close to having either all free markets or anything like socialism and never have had either.
 
Mike your ideal assessment of free markets is just that, very idealistic. You're talking not only about free markets, but characteristics of them that assume absolutely all of them are also efficient markets. This is not the first time I've said that, but you reliably fail to address it with your replies. Please do for once and for real, and not with some irrelevant and partial truths that miss the whole picture by a mile.
 
You talk as if we could just place a bunch of people together on a new planet, including drug lords, financial tycoons, monks, nuns, prosperity gospel preachers, small business owners, workers, scientists, technicians, engineers, clerical people, administrators, etc. We would give them a jump start with money and infrastructure and let them play together. Then we could just sit back, relax and watch it all automatically end up with 100% of all the markets free and ideally efficient.
 
So, I don't think you really believe that, Mike, but I believe you unwittingly imply it. You seem to have no idea how internally contradictory your concept of economics is. It's as if you have tunnel vision that can only see one thing at a time. That's what your comments indicate. You take single points out of context. That completely misrepresents what they actually mean, of course. Then you reply with something that is naturally irrelevant to what they really do mean.


I don't know how to deal with that. You think you've plugged up a hole in the dike. Then when you plug up the next hole, you don't realize you just unplugged the first. In other words, your tunnel vision can't see the contradictions because you only see isolated points one at a time. Neither I nor anyone else seems to be able to get you to look at at any truly big picture and put it all together in a single package that has any kind of internal consistency. I never see anything from you that has any kind of intellectual integrity at a scale that is more than microscopic.
 
A. If everyone had a genuine desire to see themselves and everyone else compensated at rates that represented reasonably well the true economic merit of each individual contribution to society...
 
AND
 
B. All markets were by their nature automatically efficient...
 
THEN (and only then)
 
C. What you said about markets in your last post would be true.
 
I assume you know that efficient markets are defined by having alternative sources for both goods and services. Such markets imply sufficient buyers and sellers to allow buyers to vote with their money among many alternatives and sellers would have to compete in that market to attract a share among many potential buyers. Employees would need plenty of options so they could vote with their choices regarding for whom to work. These conditions and only these conditions allow supply and demand to find their natural economic equilibrium prices. Only such ideal circumstances provide everyone with genuine negotiating leverage in terms of their power to vote with their money. 
 
Only then would markets operate exactly as you describe, Mike. Do you know any economies in the real world that work that way? Can you even envision any future circumstance that would allow any economy to actually work that way? If not, you're talking about a pipe dream. Too many economic conservatives buy the kind of philosophical crap that pretends markets really operate that way. In doing so they unwittingly justify our politico-economic power brokers' desire to rid themselves of any kind of productive oversight and enforcement that would keep them honest. You admit that we have some nasty corporate behaviors exploiting weaker countries. Yet you seem to assume that this somehow doesn't do anything to upset your idealistic vision of how markets operate in practical, down-to-earth terms within the U.S. or anywhere else. This is just a single example of the many internal contradictions in your world view, Mike.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 8, 2014 - 9:00am
Bob - I stated before that just because a market isn't 100% efficient doesn't mean that it can't operate at sufficient capacity to perform as an economy that satisfies more people's needs than anything yet devise.  Your continual criticism because it is isn't "perfect" is not fair unless you hold EVERY economic system to the same standard and compare them ALL against it to see which does the best job. 
 
The problem with "overseers" is that they always come under the influence of those they are supposed to oversee.  Crony capitalists, Wall Street Hucksters, etc. LOVE to know they are dealing with a bureaucrat completely inexperienced in the field who just happens to be the State Attorney General's son-in-law who couldn't find a real job on his own.  THAT's the reality of your "Regulatory Paradise"!!!  You want to "control" economic Bad Guys?  Make them compete with hungry newcomers.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 9, 2014 - 2:14pm
Mike, your problem is you pretend it's close to perfect. There are tons of situations in which a market is not even close to perfect. Your assumption about how markets behave in the current situation is completely off-base. 
 
Here you describe what is really going on: "The problem with 'overseers' is that they always come under the influence of those they are supposed to oversee.  Crony capitalists, Wall Street Hucksters, etc."
 
That is not free markets, and it's not the government's fault. The problem is the financial elite are allowed to dictate to goverment how to treat the financial elite and everyone else differently. This is not regulation or oversight. It is the fox guarding the hen house and we only get to vote for the folks who perpetuate that situation. Both parties are in this game, but the Republicans shamelessly support it with the same kind of false rhetoric you keep repeating.
 
The fault is not oversight, but the lack of it just as you describe it. The "overseers", as you rightly put in quotations, are not overseers at all, but political cronies, often from the very families, or financially/politically connected to them, that require genuine oversight. Our system is corrupt. We don't have anything like the economy you describe.
 
We need REAL regulations and not the pitiful pretense and entangled mess that passes for them now. We voters LET THIS HAPPEN. Those who vote Republican are voting for this twice as hard as those who vote Democratic. Notice I didn't say I liked the Democratic side. I just said the Republicans are twice as bad at aiding and abetting this kind of crony capitalism.
 
On the other hand, and on a different subject entirely, Obama just presented a new legal situation that requires schools to prove they're not discriminating when they suspend or punish in other ways bad student behaviors that are disproportionately on the part of minorities. I think that's completely nuts! 
 
Why? There is not any doubt whatsoever that minority crime against minorities is much higher than minority crime against those outside their minority or majority against majority. I taught for a while in public schools. There is no way that minority misbehavior is not going to be very substantially greater than other behavior problems in other populations, with Asians often as a notable exception. There are a lot of reasons for that. The majority has created a situation that has produced that, but the fact remains.
 
It is absurd to assume that because a school finds much greater numbers of minority students misbehaving this means they are discriminating. I'm not saying that there is not plenty of discrimination, especially in some places, but the numbers game is no proof of that. To demand that schools with disproportionate numbers of sanctions of some kind against minorities prove they are not discriminating is very problematic in and of itself. A lot of liberals would probably decide I'm a conservative based on this opinion, just as a lot of conservatives assume I'm a liberal because I think there is very little doubt at all that AGW is real. But I get classified both ways, depending on the issue. That's truly dumb!
Robert Wendell Added Jan 9, 2014 - 2:26pm
So Mike, you admit that the "overseers" are cronies and this creates crony capitalism, but you blame regulations for this. It is those who need policing the most, but don't want it, who are responsible for this. That is proof the we need real, genuine regulations that prevent that kind of obvious conflict of interests. It's not hard to get this in principle, but very difficult in practice because our government is utterly corrupted with cronies, so we can never get the votes for that kind of regulation.  Yet you propose it as an argument against regulations, People with your perspective help maintain the corrupt status quo. This is another stark revelation of the many internal contradictions in your world view.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 9, 2014 - 2:47pm
Bob - I think we're arguing across purposes.  What I advocate is not complex regulations written by industry consultants with built-in exemptions and enforced by politicians seeking contributions from the very industries they're supposed to "police" - but flat out removal of the ability to grant special favors!
 
As I said many times and I have seen validated by my own experience in industry, Crony Capitalists don't fear ANY regulatory agency they fear COMPETITION.  99% of all regulations intentionally or unintentionally make it virtually impossible for competitors to enter the market.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 9, 2014 - 2:53pm
Again - our differences could be interpretation of the word "regulations".  When you "regulate" something you make constant variations, diversions, re-routes, etc.  You also need an "all-powerful vizier" who knows what levers to pull at what time.
 
I don't want miles of convoluted piping that is impossible to control, monitor and comprehend.  I want a SINGLE PIPELINE that all participants must pass through.  Now if you want to specify the diameter, lining, wall thickness through what you call "regulation" that's fine - because your "regulations" apply equally to all flowing thru.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 9, 2014 - 7:13pm
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." - Lord Acton
 
The greater the power, the greater the temptation and reward in corrupting it. This is why writing more regulations will never stem cronyism and corruption; de-centralization, economy, transparency, and vigilance are the only real ways to vaccinate against the virus of corruption.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 9, 2014 - 7:18pm
Don't give me that business about pristine and pure gov't officials being polluted by evil men with money, either...it takes a john and a whore to have prostitution.   
Robert Wendell Added Jan 9, 2014 - 7:20pm
OK, Mike. I don't think we're that far away from each other on this. We agree that the whole regulatory process is corrupt. Those in industry who argue for no regulations are in general really just against regulations that don't favor them.
 
My position is that industries have to be policed just as citizens do. I'm not an anarchist. We have to keep business as honest as we can, just as we do citizens. Corruption in either case breeds problems, as we all know only too well. We need to police industry in ways that are intelligent...that actually work the benefit of industry and their suppliers, clients, and customers.
 
So the absence of regulations is not a laudable goal. We're not going to have workable regulations that support truly free market economics until we have enough people in power who sincerely want them. We will not have that until enough grassroots support for it materializes.
 
I believe we still have enough of a democracy left that people becoming aware of the reality and intelligently exercising their rights as citizens to effect change can actually clean things up. Right now, I see too much disinformation and grossly misdirected passion about all the wrong things. Nothing good is going to happen as long as this remains true. Voting for people who are against regulations is no answer that could ever work. We need to start voting for honest people. It takes honest people to do that...people who are honest enough about themselves and their own true motives to know honest candidates or potential candidates when they see them.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 9, 2014 - 9:57pm
Edib, like Robert I am not an anarchist, but public officials are not naïve rubes incapable of resisting the swan song of those evil capitalists bent on spoiling their pristine ethics.  At what point do we have enough laws?
 
There are more words in the Code of Federal Regulations (>50M) than all of the world's major religions combined.  Man cannot live within the Jewish Torah of only 79,000 words; not counting state and local laws, Americans must comply with the 50,000,000 words of Federal laws, rules, and regulations; how many of us are certain that we have never broken the law?
 
As for vigilance, we still have the ballot box...if Americans paid more attention to their government and less attention to singers, athletes, and actors, maybe we will have the government we need and not the one we deserve.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 10, 2014 - 7:40am
Bob - your comment:
 
"So the absence of regulations is not a laudable goal."
 
Is something I agree with 100%!  It's not so much the number of regulations as the "wiggle room" deliberately given to them by BOTH the regulators and those being regulated.  I have a friend in the Income Tax Law business and he tells me that the tax lobbyists and politicians want complex, changing laws because it's job security for both.  
 
When NAFTA was being voted on I opposed it - not because I am against Free Trade but because NAFTA has nothing to do with Free Trade!  Think about it - if we have open trade with other nations why do we need a 3,000 page document?  It shouldn't be more than 5 pages, including the signature and cover page!
Mike Haluska Added Jan 10, 2014 - 7:53am
Bob - I just thought of another maddening example of regulation gone amuck that drives me nuts.  The federal government spends billions through HHS & Surgeon General's Office on advertising and such to get the people to quit (or not start) smoking cigarettes.  Meanwhile, in another committee room the department of Agriculture spends billions subsidizing tobacco farmers.
 
Not only is there too much regulation, but there is too much contradictory/conflicting/overlapping regulation!
Robert Wendell Added Jan 10, 2014 - 10:06am
Yep! Exactly so. So why keep voting for those who pander to this the most blatantly? I don't argue that the Democrats are anywhere close to innocent of this sort of thing, but the Republicans have always jumped into bed with this mess while shouting its praises loudly and publicly. If you look at how the economy has done under Republicans versus Democrats all the way throughout the 20th century, there is absolutely no contest. Now we need to get them all cleaned up by voting for honest people. I don't see many of those, and the few I see are almost never Republicans.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 10, 2014 - 10:39am
Vote Libertarian...he who makes the fewest promises tells the fewest lies.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 10, 2014 - 10:43am
Robert, one party is just as guilty as another.  Nixon was bad, but will you tell me that LBJ was really better?  Reagan and the Bushes had their cronies, but Clinton wasn't taking campaign money from the Chinese?
 
The only honest man I saw in Congress was Ron Paul, and where did that get him? 
 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 10, 2014 - 12:51pm
Bob - I think it is wiser to strip the power away first.  That way we are not relying on anyone to be "honest" or incorruptible.  If we had laws and regulations that everyone had to obey, Congress would meet for a couple of months in the Summer to finalize a balanced budget and then go home to listen to their constituents. 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 10, 2014 - 3:14pm
Mike: " If we had laws and regulations that everyone had to obey..."
 
Agreed!!! But don't hold your breath.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 10, 2014 - 3:57pm
Robert, I wouldn't hold my breath but I'd hold them accountable.
 
That would be a new law I could support...any new laws shall be applicable to all.  Then we can have a rational discussion about the role and scope of government.
Pamalien TW Added Jan 10, 2014 - 4:15pm
I'll admit here, because all economies are interesting... I am involved with a community with it's own bubble economy. Even as outlandish as it is and the fact that outside money had to get involved to make it happen; this bubble utopia could work in the world. It's not perfect. Nothing is perfect. The deeper I get involved in the community, the perfection that is presented to the uninvolved is made clear by the work that goes into making it happen. Burn culture. 

To the outsider; it's a bunch of party tards. To the uninvolved insider; it's a bunch of party tards but, look at what goes into making it happen and, a part of the culture is indoctrinating the new, uneducated individuals into becoming involved members of the community. It's ok if you aren't involved but, we'd really appreciate participants being involved. 

A Burn happens because people want to make it happen. It's organized. It abides by code enforced by the state or municipality in which it takes place. By all accounts, we handle what we can within the bubble before bringing the outside in- if necessary. 

Every aspect of the event is organized by volunteers, from the board of directors to the hourly grunts. The principles are radical self reliance, radical inclusion, civic responsibility, communal effort, gifting, leave no trace, decommodification, radical self expression. OF course not everyone cares to follow the rules but, most don't break more than one and, we accept people or, cast them out depending on the violation. Some things are just not cool, no matter what kind of society you are running!

#1 commandment of God: Be Cool. Don't be a dick.

People thrive on giving. Not just of tangible objects but, of time and emotions. People thrive on creating because it brings enjoyment to others. We need people to take because, without them, there would be nothing to give. 

Capitalism exists on the belief that people who work hard will rise to the top. Socialism is talked down because capitalists believe, if everything was given away; nobody would work. Well, in order for something to be given or taken, it has to be made and; if we left the pride of creation to knowing you are doing something good, people are happier for it. People who do nothing are not happy people. The belief that people, in a socialist economy would do nothing because they will not be paid more if they do more may be true but, only if you are limited on both ends. 

What I love most about the burn community is the biblical saying, "Ask and ye shall receive," is absolutely fulfilled. By the act of asking for something, you begin a chain of people working together. Even in a microcosm of a few thousand people; if you need water, there will be someone with water. If you need food, someone will invite you to a meal. If you need a pair of socks, there's bound to be someone who came prepared with an extra set. If you forgot your tent (some people do) someone will offer you space in theirs. If a position is lacking in volunteers, someone will go about asking and, even if they need 80 people; they will by some freaking miracle, find 80 people willing to drop what they are doing and fill the void. Of course most of these people came with giving in mind. It creates an overall good vibe and happy space. ::pish hippies::

I know a fair number of these people outside of the events since becoming more involved. It's amazing to find that in any community, there are givers, takers, hard workers, lazy farts, engineers, scientists, artists, cooks, bar tenders and unemployed. You name it, you will find it.

If I had a point to any of this ramble; it's that people are people and you will never be able to fix everything no matter the political or economical structure. The yin and yang balance out.  We need everyone to work together.

Right now, there is no balance. As you said, we can solve the problem or we can crash. Crashing just brings us back down to square one where we can begin again. It leaves a gap open for anyone to seize the opportunity. All we can do is hope it's not Hitler. 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 11, 2014 - 8:27am
Mike: " If we had laws and regulations that everyone had to obey..."
 
Agreed!!! But don't hold your breath.
 
At least it is a major step from exempting some and not others from obeying the same laws!  Competitors trying to enter a market today have NO CHANCE under current regulations. 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 11, 2014 - 8:53am
Mike Haluska Added Jan 13, 2014 - 7:33am
Bob - that reminds me of my former lawyer!  He would invite me to lunch, pick up the tab and then bill me $250/hr for his time! 
Pamalien TW Added Jan 13, 2014 - 3:56pm
For some reason, growing up on the free lunch program; I was never under the impression that it was either free or, good for me... Then again I also assumed the school would only feed us healthy foods. From a kids perspective, that makes sense. I was ecstatic to be able to get my own pizza, french fries and cookies every day enter 6th grade... Man, those frensh toast stix were great... mystery meat? That's a McDonald's McRib!

Reminiscing behind... As a child, I had no idea the concept of money until I started getting a $5 weekly allowance for doing chores at 8 years old.

My mom used to tell me no when I asked for things. We were very poor for the first half of my childhood. We didn't go to McDonalds unless it was my birthday.  I did not understand why she was so upset after the divorce and, I did not understand why she kept telling me we could be living on the street any day...

Fast forward 6 years later to my first job. I earned $100 being a camp counselor for 3 months. I made that money last me 6 months. Got my first real job at 16. I told my friends I was broke for the next 5 years and saved up over $4k... 

That thriftyness I grew up with was murdered in my early 20s. I'm 28 and realize I need a down payment for a house and, for some reason, earning $30k more than I was has somehow become harder to save. Oh, the household bills, groceries, car, gas... All that stuff. I'm officially rationed to going out only to pot-lucks and enduring the nights I let my boyfriend cook because I don't feel like it. Hormel Chili nights ahoy...
Mike Haluska Added Jan 14, 2014 - 7:53am
Pamela - lots of people in your situation have managed to get ahead and succeed.  My advice to you is to go see a financial planner, preferably someone you already know and trust.  Then marry a rich old guy with a bad heart (just kidding).  Henry Ford said "Think you can or think you can't, either way you'll be right."
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 14, 2014 - 9:51am
@Pamela:   Pure capitalism is based on the idea that people are purely motivated by money.
 
Happily this is not the case.  It would be a pretty miserable world if it were true.
 
Many people are motivated by money up to a point, but are also motivated by pride in their work, the desire to do good for others, praise and recognition, self actualisation, being "in the flow", sense of community/teamwork etc etc.
 
Good managers know that usually money should be considered a fairly blunt motivational instrument.
 
On making more of money:
 
When we were poor I used to:
 
1.  Go urban scrumping... picking fruit from trees in public spaces... getting berries from hedgerows... mushrooms from meadows etc etc.  Selling pickles and jam from the proceeds...
2.  Exchange skills and effort for other stuff... washing cars in exchange for tomatoes... planting and "bringing on" wallflowers for cash.. running errands for a Christmas tree
3.  Bargain with stall holders at the market... beat them down to get a good price... turn up at the end of the day when they want to clear their barrows
4.  Swap meals.. I'll cook for you one night... you cook for me another...with a common shared budget
5.  Offering a place to sleep in our spare room for cash
6.  Offer my services free as a guide in a stately home... making money from tips
 
We also used to walk, cycle and hitch hike more often
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 14, 2014 - 9:53am
When I was really, really poor as a student... I was a professional house guest.  At the end of term I would persuade someone to take me home to mum and dad...
 
Dreadful behaviour I know!
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 14, 2014 - 11:49am
Robin...if you were telling stories about Jack you'd at least earn your keep.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 14, 2014 - 11:55am
Capitalism is not simply about earning the money.  It is about the value of the money earned, the value of one's time, effort, and knowledge that are traded, exchanged, or given to others.  It is about valuing that portion of a person's life that is spent earning it. 
 
The idea that capitalism is "all about the money" is a common misconception.  I have taken jobs because the money was good, nothing more, and was miserable for it.  Was that a failure of capitalism?  No, it was my own foolish pursuit of money for its own sake.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 14, 2014 - 12:01pm
The reason money is empty is that it is simply a means of storing and trading value, it is not value in itself.  It is not the drive for excellence, or the pride in craftsmanship, or the recognition of a job well done...it is simply a means of storing and trading value.
 
Money can buy beer and liquor, but it cannot buy a good time.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 14, 2014 - 2:39pm
As I understand it Joy, all of those things are highly valuable, but are not part of pure capitalism.
 
Sometimes I think that pure anything is not good for you... pure capitalism, pure socialism, pure alcohol....
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 14, 2014 - 4:01pm
Capital is a tool, nothing more and nothing less.  It is what one does with it that counts. 
 
Pure alcohol, on the other hand, may not be good for you but it is really good with orange juice.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 14, 2014 - 10:08pm
Personally, I think it just ruins perfectly good orange juice.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 14, 2014 - 11:54pm
Robert, how about pure alcohol cut with apple juice and a little cinnamon thrown in, otherwise known as apple pie?
Robert Wendell Added Jan 15, 2014 - 2:52pm
I love apple pie a la mode, sans alcohol. I never by alcohol except to take to parties where I might sip a tablespoon or two of either mine or someone else's wine.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 15, 2014 - 2:52pm
buy
Robert Wendell Added Jan 26, 2014 - 9:12pm
JoF: "Vote Libertarian...he who makes the fewest promises tells the fewest lies."
 
The problem with Libertarians is that they're impractical, fanatical ideologues. I remember back in the 60s reading something ver interesting about the Cosa Nostra, which is the extended version of the Sicilian mafia with lots of money in legitimate businesses (insofar as we can tell, but I think we can guess that they stretch, bend, and bread the law a lot in those, too). The article said that the Cosa Nostra was worth more than the six largest U.S. corporations, which at the time included a major car manufacturer, U.S. Steel Corporation, etc. It also stated something that should be obvious from the information on their financial worth without even saying it. It said that if we could somehow wave a magic wand and make the cancerous Cosa Nostra and its mafia overlords disappear, it would absolutely wreck the entire economy of the United States.
 
You have to realize that sometimes there are operations that look good on paper, but if you do them right away or even too quickly, you will kill the patient. I don't see any indication that libertarian idealism has any handle on that whatsoever. The government shutdown is a case in point.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 27, 2014 - 12:26am
That comment was made by Meyer Lansky, which was repeated in The Godfather II in Roth's statement to Michael Corleone that "We're bigger than U.S. Steel".  That was actually a direct quote from Lansky, who said the same thing to his wife while watching a news story on the Cosa Nostra.
 
Modern libertarianism isn't much different than the way that America operated for its first century.  It took 100 years to get where we are today, and short of revolution I don't see how that could or would be reversed immediately.
 
I think of it much like the system described in The Matrix, in which those in power seek to keep it that way and some are so dependent on the system that they would resist any attempt to free them from it.
 
But that does not mean that returning to liberty is wrong or should not happen.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 27, 2014 - 9:37am
JoF, "that comment " was not my source. Mine was a serious article that said the Cosa Nostra was bigger financially than the six largest U.S. corporations together. The obstructionism of the Tea Party fanatics has nothing to do with anything good in my book. They're trying to make a journey of a thousand miles in two seconds and they journey they want to take is goofy to boot. If the libertarianism you're talking about is good, it has nothing to do with the Tea Party's version of it, at least not the one they practice. I don't really care what they preach, but I don't like what I hear from them either, much less what they actually do.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 27, 2014 - 1:14pm
Robert, I wasn't making an accusation of plagiarism, just noting there was context to your remarks on Cosa Nostra.  Puzo's The Godfather is one of my favorite books/movies and taught me a good deal about power.
 
You call the Tea Party a group of fanatics; please show me a book titled "Great Moderates in History". Thomas Paine or Patrick Henry may have been described the same way had they lived today.  Even the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, is viewed differently today given that the 3/5 Compromise enabled slavery to sully the principles of the new nation.
 
Now, about your comments on libertarianism and the Tea Party, could you be more specific?
Mike Haluska Added Jan 27, 2014 - 2:00pm
Not so fast, Bob - your comment:
 
"I don't see any indication that libertarian idealism has any handle on that whatsoever. The government shutdown is a case in point."
 
What REALLY happened during the so-called "government shutdown"?  Did the military pack their bags and go home?  Did SS stop cutting checks?  Did Welfare checks not go out?  Did unemployment checks stop?  Did the FBI go on leave of absence? 
 
Nothing OF ANY CONSEQUENCE was threatened by the "government shutdown" - although the mainstream media would have you believe that closing White House tours caused famine across the globe.  What establishment politicians (Rep & Dem) were afraid of during the "shutdown" was that it would actually last for several months and that it just might occur to people like you that you're getting along just fine WITHOUT the Commerce Dept, Dept of Education, Labor Dept, EPA, Consumer Protection Bureau, Dept of Agriculture, et al !!!  And when the question comes up "where do we cut spending?" it will be obvious.
 
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 28, 2014 - 12:06pm
Edib, please show me where education is a responsibility of the Federal Government under the Constitution?  Hint: see Article 1 Section 8
Mike Haluska Added Jan 28, 2014 - 12:50pm
Edib -
 
1) Name the Top 3 accomplishments of the Dept of Education
2) The revenue from the Income Tax is redistributed - NONE of it is used to pay for government expenses
3) The military must be downsized ALONG WITH modernized.  It is stupid to fight wars like we did during the Napoleonic Era (land on shore, secure beach, march hundreds of miles across hostile territory, kill innocent civilians, etc.).  The main way to lower military spending is STOP FIGHTING UNDECLARED WARS!!!  If the Congress is too chicken-shit to put their names on a Declaration of War then we shouldn't be sending 18 year olds halfway around the world to get maimed and killed.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 28, 2014 - 12:54pm
Edib - (cont)
4) Funny how you just mentioned Dept of Education.  You unwittingly agreed that we DON'T need all of the 1,600 federal agencies and should STOP FUNDING these unconstitutional agencies!
 
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 28, 2014 - 1:21pm
Mike, good point about undeclared wars.  That reminded me of the first GOP debate in 2008 when the candidates debated pre-emptive war; Ron Paul was the only candidate that included the Constitutional requirement for a declaration of war.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 28, 2014 - 3:08pm
Edib -

 
Defense = 13% of 6.4 Trillion
Everything Else = 62% of 6.4 Trillion = SOCIAL ENGINEERING  SPENDING which is unconstitutional!  Nowhere does it state that the federal government should function as a charity - for Frakkin' obvious reasons that liberals just can't/won't comprehend!!!
 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 30, 2014 - 7:30am
SS is NOT a pension fund!  Pension funds SAVE the withdrawals from paychecks and INVEST them - as opposed to SS PAYING OUT the withdrawals immediately to current retirees and running a deficit to be paid by the next generation of suckers.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 7:31am
In the REAL WORLD (where liberals dare not tread because words have meaning and people actually expect results) you couldn't get away with doing what SS does and still call it a pension fund.  You also can't "lend money to yourself" and obligate people who haven't been born yet to pay off the loan.  You can't take the deposits of private individuals and turn around give them to a complete stranger.  You can't arbitrarily raise deductions, lower retirement age, raise ceiling limits in the REAL WORLD because in the REAL WORLD you can't put a gun to somebody's head and force them to contribute to your "pension fund" like SS can and does!
 
How dare you even casually compare SS to a pension???
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 31, 2014 - 8:25am
I see Allan that many of the delegates in Davos agree with your assessment.
 
It seems that more and more jobs are likely to either be exported to ultra low wage economies or replaced by lower cost automation.
 
This, it seems, even includes some type of lawyers, accountants and medical staff.
 
The result will be an ever increasing gap between rich and poor.  Currently the richest 1% control 50% of the world's wealth and the concentration is increasing.
 
New distribution is indeed necessary.
 
The big question is, for the people who are no longer required because their work can be done more cheaply by labour in emerging economies or by automation:  "How will they live?"
 
Will they:
 
1. Starve
2. Turn to crime
3. Revolt and storm the houses of the rich
4. Receive handouts
5. Be employed by the state to provide necessary social tasks such as care of the elderly
6. Some other solution
 
This is not an academic question.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 9:20am
Robin - your comments:
 
"I see Allan that many of the delegates in Davos agree with your assessment.   It seems that more and more jobs are likely to either be exported to ultra low wage economies or replaced by lower cost automation.  ....   The result will be an ever increasing gap between rich and poor.  Currently the richest 1% control 50% of the world's wealth and the concentration is increasing.   New distribution is indeed necessary."
 
It always amazes me that so-called educated people can look at a problem that has been around as long as human civilization and act "stunned".  Look in history books and you'll read the same crap being said during the Industrial Age.  It further amazes me that the economies that produce this abject poverty are ALWAYS central planned, run by thugs, anti-free market and yet the "intellectuals" blame the economic system used (until recently) by the most prosperous country in human history - capitalism.
 
Let me ask you liberals a simple question: 
 
If the "lower income" bracket has the opportunity to work and improve their life, what difference does the "Income Gap" make?
 
My Dad worked in the steel mill all of his life.  He made a good income and we were housed, fed, healthy and clothed adequately.  We weren't wealthy, but understood the value of work and took responsibility for our own well-being.  Each generation had it rougher than the succeeding generation and our parents saved to provide a better life for their children.  THAT'S how poverty is defeated in a society - economic freedom combined with  strong family-based morals.  You can't legislate prosperity.  Redistribution ALWAYS fails because it doesn't create wealth.
 
The problems the "intellectuals" meeting in Davos are trying to solve are the direct result of the attempts to manage and control the lives of others and their material needs.  No matter how well-minded or altruistic, the actual results always spread the problem - not solve it.
 
Liberals have declared War on traditional family in the form of abortion, welfare state policies, etc. and acted as if they were "enlightened".  We now have a society that abhors the idea of personal responsibility to the extent that it's OK to give responsibility for your children to the state, thinks it's OK to destroy a defenseless human being in the womb of its mother because it will be an "inconvenience", etc.  To the "intellectuals" at Davos I say this - you are reaping what you have sown for the past 60 years.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 31, 2014 - 9:48am
Mike:  I don't think you read my post.
 
The question is:  When human effort is no longer competitive (at a rate commensurate with sustaining life)... then what?
 
As a species we can produce plenty for all... so the means are there.
 
So how do we do it?
 
I am open to all types of ideas... from any political background.   I myself have no political affiliation... although you seem to think so... I just examine a problem... ask questions and, if I can, propose solutions.
 
What do you propose as a solution?
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 10:21am
My solution is simple and I have stated it many times:
 
Let Free Enterprise work!  Not the half-baked, bridling the "unbridled", regulated to make outcomes "fair" version that rewards those with "influence" not those with merit.
 
There will always be those with more than others - quit worrying about it and think about America's growth and prosperity until recently.  Despite there being "poor" people in America, nobody has starved in the street or left to die at a hospital doorstep.  The wealthy "Robber Barons" of the past saw to it that their wealth produced tangible benefits to all (railroads, steel mills, refineries) and the enormous profits they generated made possible huge charitable works in the form of public hospitals, libraries, concert halls, universities, etc.  Being "poor" in this country means MORE financial assistance is available.  In general, people who were afforded the opportunity to improve themselves are very likely to be charitable to others in that situation.  We all saw this in the aftermath of 911 - the Red Cross had to TURN AWAY donations because of the overwhelming volume.
 
What self-made, successful people are less likely to do is "help" someone who won't work to improve himself and thinks he is "entitled" just because he has the same basic needs as everyone else.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 10:23am
By the way, the primary reason my solution is always dismissed is because it leaves the "intellectuals" without control and access to wealth they didn't earn. 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 11:32am
Mike, what is the basis for that statement? I agree that current regulations are a royal mess that often rewards influence rather than merit. I thought, though, from other dialogues with you in comments, that you saw the need for intelligent policing of business practices, since they are not all necessarily any more intrinsically honest than individuals are.
 
Unless you're an anarchist, you understand the need to police individual behaviors. Why should it be different for businesses? There are sexual slavery, drug cartels, Enron-class business scams, Madoff-like Ponzi schemes, etc. that have the same profit motive as any business, but without any sense of morality. In these cases the profit motive, rather than rewarding merit, rewards illegitimate influence of every kind, whether personal (Madoff), political (screwy, unfair regulatory legislation), financial (political contributions, bribes, etc.), or violent (sexual slavery, armed drug cartels, etc.).
 
Speaking of "intellectuals", do you deny that the talking head, highly paid media puppets of corporate interests specialize in using anti-intellectualism to vaccinate their listeners against infection with the truth?
Robin the red breasted songster Added Jan 31, 2014 - 12:03pm
Mike you clearly are not listening.
 
If humans become uncompetitive...but machines can produce enough for everyone.... then what? 
 
If you , for some reason, don't believe that that is going to happen (or is happening)... then think of it as a hypothetical question and tell me what you would do about it.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 1:10pm
Robin, you're right on target! I read a book in the late 70s that was already predicting that the infotech revolution was going to make a lot of labor obsolete. The book noted that nothing was being done in terms of education and training to remedy the inevitable future mismatch between the profile of market demand for labor and the profile of available labor. Our failure to pay any attention to this is definitely a large chunk of the current picture.
 
The lack of political foresight and resulting lack of political will to do anything about it has created a mess. Many in industry knew, but industry collectively didn't care that much because their lack of demand for lower skilled labor was not nearly as large or immediate a liability for them as for labor, since automation was clearly destined to fill the gap.
 
At one point, I was predicting that the clearly waning quality of education was going to create a private industrial response to begin taking over to close the gap. I was right about the increasingly private, commercial education aspect, but wrong about it filling any gap. Most are simply marketing snake oil and profiting handsomely on student loans their useless education disallows their students to pay back. Hmmm, they're functioning on Ayn Rand's self-interest paradigm, too. Ironically, these same people are probably business oriented conservatives who are disdainful of those dependent on the government.
 
The scientists who in the sixties were predicting a twenty-hour work week failed to factor in short-term profit seeking and the lack of political will in the most politically influential sphere, which was and is naturally constituted mainly of those with the most financial clout. The rest were just plain ignorant of the impending realities. It is not too much of a generalization, given the historical evidence, that industry has always needed some massive popular uptick in political will to motivate them to treat labor well enough even for their own long term business interests and those of the economy as a whole.
 
The corporate mindset is intrinsically short-sighted because they are held captive by their need to keep their quarterly reports looking good for pension fund investors, etc. Everyone working in their own interests is natural and inevitable, as Ayn Rand was so fond of pointing out. But contrary to her philosophy, when the economic incentives are intrinsically near-sighted it often fails to actually work in the overall best interests of the society and so in the long term fails to work nearly as well as it could have even for themselves.
 
The lack of any compassion among many of the somewhat better trained or more educated and therefore more fortunate for those who are consequently left out of the current picture now shows up as disdain for these unfortunates and characterization of them as lazy, dependent people who just want a government handout. Well, as even Ayn Rand might have guessed, these unfortunate souls are also motivated by enough self-interest to desire their own survival and industry is not taking care of that.
 
The twenty-hour work scenario predicted in the sixties could never have worked unless the general population was educated/trained to handle the higher skilled jobs a highly technical economy demands. It also would have required an industrial world willing to share the results of essentially having doubled productivity among those who have the skills with a broader labor base working fewer hours and industry making lower profits. As it is, only industry is profiting from the higher productivity while those who have the skills to find work are not paid anything that remotely corresponds historically with their level of productivity while the rest languish in despair and have to depend on the government for their survival.
 
This was all not only predictable, but actually predicted by those with a little knowledge, intelligence, insight, and foresight. It was inevitable when we consider the lack of that in the general population at all social levels. I especially fail to see the current lack of understanding or compassion for these unfortunates in hard right conservatives as demonstrating any of these latter positive characteristics even now that we should know what and why this has happened.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 31, 2014 - 1:25pm
Robin, if the machines are smart enough to produce for everyone, at what point would they become sentient and overthrow their human masters?
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Jan 31, 2014 - 1:46pm
Robert, you're old enough to have been an adult in the 1970's.  Did you buy a domestic car built by Union labor, or a foreign car built by cheaper labor?
 
I don't ask to pick on you, only to point out that industry does not make its decisions in a vacuum.  Consumers in the end chose well-made, cheaper foreign products over American products.   
 
But I completely agree with you that the education establishment missed the boat on adapting to ensure that the labor force continued to offer value in the markets of tomorrow.
 
Rand did not promote short-sightedness, but simply extolled the virtues of exchanging value.  Her characters were not shysters seeking to get unearned gain; rather, they were examples of the nobility of work and the meaning of value, pursuing their goals while recognizing the same in others.
 
Hank Rearden would never have run GM into the ground; he would have closed the company rather than sell the inferior products that GM sold for a generation.  No, it was the Orren Boyles and Fred Kinnans of Detroit that rode it to its demise. 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 2:47pm
JoF: "Her [Ayn Rand's] characters were not shysters seeking to get unearned gain; rather, they were examples of the nobility of work and the meaning of value, pursuing their goals while recognizing the same in others."
 
Precisely my point, that her scenarios and her whole philosophy assumes ideal situations that don't exist in the real world. Ultimately, this is the same flaw in Marxist thinking on the opposite end of the spectrum. It is also the flaw in anarchist thinking. Ayn Rand's view was essentially that of ideal people working in an
environment of economic anarchy and would only work as described under such conditions.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 3:00pm
Cont'd:
That's what my article Declaration of Economic Independence/Interdependence is all about. It attempts to describe the characteristics of a governmental and economic structure that does not depend on any kind of idealism to work in the real, practical world. Our founders tried to do that, but it has been subverted by all kinds of nefarious interests as well as by a lot of naive idealism.
 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 3:11pm
Too many ignore that in a society full of Utopian people, almost any system would work. For all I know, Ayn Rand just represented one more elitist propaganda ploy to sucker naive readers into serving the agenda of a financial elite that views itself as possessing the modern equivalent of the divine right of kings.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 3:14pm
Robin - quit giving Maggie an earful and pay attention!  At EVERY major technological breakthrough some group of workers were rendered "obsolete".  French workers threw their wooden shoes (called "sabot") into the machinery to protest jobs lost to modernization - hence the term "Sabotage".  There are no longer a lot of buggy whip manufacturers, photo film developers, polio leg brace assemblers ... the list is endless.  Did the people of the world run out of work to do?  There will always be work to be done - just less and less inhumane backbreaking work.  Whatever gets invented to replace something obsolete has to be built by someone - and if its robots, then somebody has to design and build the robots.
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 3:25pm
Robin - your comment:
 
"The lack of any compassion among many of the somewhat better trained or more educated and therefore more fortunate for those who are consequently left out of the current picture now shows up as disdain for these unfortunates and characterization of them as lazy, dependent people who just want a government handout."
 
"Unfortunate" people don't need or want compassion from elitists.  What they need is economic opportunity, not mind-numbing coddling and being told they're helpless and can't survive without a paternalistic government.  
 
On one hand the liberal welfare state gives a man a monthly stipend for doing nothing, while taking it away if the poor bloke shows any initiative and earns a few quid.  Explain how that is compassionate?
 
Charity should NEVER be institutionalized into the government because those employed by the welfare state see to it that it becomes a self-serving trap that deliberately breeds poverty, despair and loss of self-respect.  I don't care if you tripled the budget of the welfare department overnight, at the end of the day there would be more bureaucrats, more poverty and fewer resources left to fight the decline of the society. 
Mike Haluska Added Jan 31, 2014 - 3:34pm
Bob - I strongly disagree with your comment:
 
"Precisely my point, that her (Ayn Rand) scenarios and her whole philosophy assumes ideal situations that don't exist in the real world."
 
Don't confuse a Romantic style novel in which the characters are idealized with Ayn Rand's philosophy.  She enjoyed the Romantic style of writing and saw it as the best form (not the ONLY form) of art. 
 
The kinds of "regulations" you talk about prohibit people from cheating or initiating the use of force - they don't regulate the economic system per se, but its constituents!  Those are perfectly legitimate and Ayn Rand recognizes them as a legitimate function of the government.
 
The regulations Objectivists oppose are those that try and fix the outcomes, prohibit competition, provide priviledges to one group over another, etc.
 
Do you see the distinction?  We are not advocating a "perfect society" - a free market isn't perfect, but it's the best alternative available to imperfect human beings.
 
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 7:44pm
Mike: "Do you see the distinction?  We are not advocating a "perfect society" - a free market isn't perfect, but it's the best alternative available to imperfect human beings."
 
Yes, of course I see the distinction. Nothing is ever perfect. However, I still insist that Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness is idealistic. I agree insofar as understanding that we must reject the Marxist idealism that effectively pretends selfishness doesn't exist, or at least is not a crucial motivating factor, and so ignoring it to the point that NOTHING works! Worse, Marxists also assume that people will go along with a dictatorial mandate for what amounts to extreme charity.
 
So we have no difference on those points. However, that doesn't mean we should just trash people who are not well educated, ignorant of all these issues,  and who therefore can't make it because no one saw a need for training them in time to avoid the current huge mismatch between what the market demands in terms of labor profiles and what actually exists in the labor supply profile. We earned our way into this mess with a plethora of extremely stupid oversights. I place a lot of the responsibility for this on supply side economics and the silly idea that great wealth is intrinsically compassionate or even remotely fair. They get the equivalent of enormous welfare benefits from government stemming from their own excessive political influence. It's as if we were saying to them, we're going to give you a chance to get extremely wealthy on the backs of underpaid labor so you can then gratefully let it trickle back down to them in the form of decent jobs.
 
I know that's not at all the way you look at it, but it is effectively what we've collectively let happen and it clearly has never worked. Your idealism that it has or ever will flies in the face of historical reality. All you have to do is read my already mentioned article Declaration of Economic Independence/Interdependence to understand my positions on all of this.
 
On a more practical and immediate level, I think we need to offer people a chance to get into the labor force again with training and educational opportunities. We need to offer the financial possibility for them to survive in the meantime, conditioned on their good faith in terms of taking advantage of these opportunities. We need to offer many of them, the homeless for example, ways to become self-sufficient in micro-economic communities that generate their own wealth by employing their labor with competent guidance on the necessary technologies, such as sustainable gardening that doesn't depend on expensive inputs, etc. See this, for example:
 
http://www.gardentowerproject.com/resources/use
 
There are tons of creative ways we could give the low skilled unemployed a chance to survive with basic decency and a sense of personal dignity. We need to to this. Government has the ability to make it general and not a spotty, local do-gooder project that only helps a few. Government needs to do this in a smart way that doesn't involve an inflated bureaucracy that sucks up tax money with little to show for it. The possibility for this is inherent in the technological means available to help people, including smart low tech solutions like the garden tower. We need something like a domestic version of the Peace Corps.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 31, 2014 - 8:39pm
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 1, 2014 - 2:50am
@ Joy:  The machines don't have to be conscious... just specialised and sophisticated.
 
@ Mike:   There is not one small sub set of humanity affected this time round.  The estimate is that it could be 70-80%.
 
There are no obvious targets... or rather there are too many targets for General Ludd.
 
It is the scale of change that is the problem.. and the absence of any obvious economic role going forward for a huge chunk of our population.
 
Unless the rich decide to be charitable and keep us as pets that is...
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 1, 2014 - 2:57am
I am not in favour of handouts.   Elsewhere I have proposed a Government work programme.
 
There is plenty that needs doing in social work... caring for the elderly for example... provision of basic health care...which is not "economic" in that private capital is unlikley to want to invest in it... because the recipients cannot afford to pay for it.
 
I propose that the Government offer untaxed work for 1-2 days each week leaving anyone that does it free to do work on the other days and, if the Gods smile on them, develop the ability to get by on their own.
 
I am, however, in favour of giving a helping hand to anyone that needs it.   I am in favour of showing compassion to my fellow man.  I am in favour in helping the everyday guy survive against the dead hand of corporate monopoly.   I am in favour of us all escaping the ever encroaching slavery of the big corporates.
 
 
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Feb 1, 2014 - 1:40pm
Robert, may I ask if you have read Ayn Rand yourself?
Robert Wendell Added Feb 1, 2014 - 6:45pm
Very little, JoF. Most of what I know about her is second hand from people who have and who defend her ideas. What I did read from her myself I read ages ago. Both what I read from her directly and what others say in defending her ideas do not compute together with reality for me.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 2, 2014 - 9:49am
Bob - you should have made your lack of familiarity clear when you commented on the work of Ayn Rand.  When I was first introduced to "Atlas Shrugged" I had never heard of Objectivism or Ayn Rand.  
 
From my own experience of many hours of discussion of Rand's work, I found that many people claim to have read "Atlas Shrugged" but either started and never finished (it is a LONG book) or skimmed over it and never got the grasp of the book.  It is certainly not a "light read" and requires te reader to question a whole slew of "Sacred Cows" about society and government.
 
The comment you made about "her ideas do not compute together with  (your perception of) reality" makes sense.  The world Ayn Rand advocates involves getting rid of a lot of what people have gotten accustomed to and take for granted as a legitimate function of government.  It is a HUGE paradigm shift from today's society and would not "compute" with reality today.  Of course, a couple of hundred years ago the idea that a nation of self-governed free men could exist was not reality either.  Change takes courage.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 2, 2014 - 10:07am
Bob - your comment:
 
"Everyone working in their own interests is natural and inevitable, as Ayn Rand was so fond of pointing out. But contrary to her philosophy, when the economic incentives are intrinsically near-sighted it often fails to actually work in the overall best interests of the society and so in the long term fails to work nearly as well as it could have even for themselves."
 
shows your dogged determination to NOT distinguish "pig-headed greed" with Rand's "Rational Self Interest".
 
In a Free Market as Rand advocates, there would be no "government incentives" or any other attempts at artificial manipulation of the market to assure "fairness".  All of the problems of worker training, unemployment, business cycles, etc. are the DIRECT result of people interfering with the Free Market in an attempt to avoid something unpleasant.
 
News Flash!  You can't have progress without disrupting the status quo.  You want a cure for Polio?  Then you're gonna have to close down the polio brace manufacturers.  You want computers?  You have to tell workers at Remington-Rand they are no longer making typwriters and mechanical calculators.
 
What do you propose?  A "Change Czar" who will decide what advances are "best for the overall greater good"???
Mike Haluska Added Feb 2, 2014 - 10:18am
Robin - your comment:
 
" I am in favour in helping the everyday guy survive against the dead hand of corporate monopoly.   I am in favour of us all escaping the ever encroaching slavery of the big corporates."
 
is something I am in 100% agreement with.  Our disagreement results from your willingness to replace "slavery of big corporates" with "slavery of big government"!   You can always refuse to cooperate with big business - big government has GUNS to "persuade" you with!!! 
 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 2, 2014 - 10:31am
Edib - YOU don't get it:
 
"Nobody lends to themselves, the government runs a pension system and that system invests in the government securities."
 
let me give you a simple analogy I hope you can grasp:
 
You give your brother-in-law a percentage of your income every payday to INVEST in a pension that will be there when you retire in 30 years.  When it's time for you to retire, your brother-in-law says he used most of your money as it was coming in to pay other clients their monthly retirement payments and invested "INVESTED" the rest of your money in his own firm - including a new Manhattan Office, a new home in the Hamptons and hiring more people to recruit more clients.  Instead of the ready cash you were expecting to find in your account, you find "Notes" that promise to repay your money in 30 years.
 
The only difference between the "Victor Madoff" example above and Social Security is that SS has the power of government to keep adding suckers like you to keep the House of Cards from collapsing! 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 2, 2014 - 10:37am
Bob - your comment:
 
"Government needs to do this ("do-gooder" projects) in a smart way that doesn't involve an inflated bureaucracy that sucks up tax money with little to show for it.
 
Show me ONE government funded and run "Do-Gooder" Project that maximizes the use of their funding and is well managed.  You talk about Ayn Rand's philosophy not reflecting the "Real World" but advocate a system whose only consistent result is a collosal waste of taxpayer money as something feasible????
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 2, 2014 - 1:57pm
@Mike:  Some form of organised represented response is our only hope of achieving balance versus multi national corporates.
 
Organised represented response = elected Government.
 
You get the Government you deserve.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 2, 2014 - 4:49pm
Is it fun to just spout out things like "multi-national corporations" because they can be villified without a response from them?  What kind of "balance" are you talking about?  Does saying "You get the government you deserve" absolve the government from all corruption and abuse because we had to elect somebody?
Robert Wendell Added Feb 2, 2014 - 10:18pm
Mike, you keep writing as if government and the corporate world have nothing to do with each other, or that government merely gets in the way of the corporate world. They're in bed with each other, darn it! The government mostly works for them except for a few stupid laws here and there that pretend to try to fix things for people.
 
There have been a very few honest people here and there in legislative government. Some of them have managed to inspire popular opinion and political will to effect passage of some law that attempts to fix some bad situation that corporate interests as well as individual ill will have precipitated. The trouble with this is the way it works...piecemeal! This results in a twisted web of contradictory laws and tangled red tape in our regulatory system.
 
But in the big picture, our government doesn't work for us, it works for corporate interests. The bad part of government arises from the internal conflicts this contradictory situation creates. For example, some of the principles you promote would have it that segregation in the south would have ended on its own without government mandates. That is pure cow poop. I grew up in the south and I'm old enough that my first black schoolmate who was close enough for me to even notice was in my sophomore year at university! Years later I was in Chicago when MLK was marching there against rocks and bottles from the neo-Nazis. You don't have anything to tell me about this stuff because I lived it.


Government mandates were crucial in creating the much more favorable environment for minorities that now exists, despite the need for still greater progress on this same issue in the future. I lived in an all-black Chicago neighborhood and later an all-Mexican one, both in the late sixties. I experienced their situations first hand. At one point, when I was unable to quickly locate a decent place to rent, I temporarily rented a basement "apartment", lease-free, of course, under a Mexican home that had a fenced off section with fighting cocks kept there! One day as I left the back door that opened under a staircase with a kind of pen just under it, I was greeted by a large pig! I know these people. I've lived with them. I've witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly both in them and in how some of the honorable ones were treated.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 2, 2014 - 10:26pm
So don't bother to keep selling me on the silly idea that all the bad stuff comes from government. Government is jostled back and forth by competing interests, some good and plenty of them bad. That is not the fault of government per se, but of how we the people have blindly allowed its corruption. Your pretense that the private sector and "free" markets are somehow intrinsically good and government intrinsically bad is a huge chunk of how it got this way. Let me put it boldly and baldly right in your face: the way you think and how you and those who think like you vote makes it that way.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Feb 2, 2014 - 11:21pm
Robert...had you read Rand, you would understand that she decried not only government but the so-called businessmen who were in bed with it.  Government is not a flawless virgin being seduced by the perversions of business, it is a whore looking for a john that will pay her to perform things that no one else can or will do.
 
Rand believed that giving government more power merely increased its coercive power and/or the value of buying it off.  Her heroes were people that did a day's work for a day's pay, who sought to achieve excellence in everything they did, against people who achieved through influence and coercion rather than the exchange of value.
 
Nothing in Rand's writings or her Objectivist philosophy would have condoned the abuses of government power such as slavery or Jim Crow, because both of them would have denied individual freedom under coercion or force. 
 
With all due respect, I suggest reading Rand before commenting on her writings.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 3, 2014 - 7:25am
Bob - you keep running to extremes:
 
"For example, some of the principles you promote would have it that segregation in the south would have ended on its own without government mandates."
 
I have stated many times that the PROPER FUNCTION of government is the protection of individual rights - Jim Crow laws were an affront to those rights.  What does that have to do with Congress passing tariffs to protect the Sugar industry from competition, etc.?  We need a government to protect individual rights - not protect Crony Capitalists!  I'm NOT an anarchist - the Constitution spells out those duties and is in place to LIMIT not endlessly expand the power of government!  The proper function of government is to assure we all play by the same rules, that these rules don't favor one group over another and to provide a means of peacefully resolving legitimate disputes. 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 3, 2014 - 7:30am
Edib - your comment:
 
"If my brother in law continues paying my monthly retirement as agreed there is nothing wrong with that. Where the money comes from does not matter."
 
is typical of a liberal with a looter/moocher mentality.  You might care "where the money comes from" if you had to actually EARN it yourself!  So - you don't care if your brother in law is defrauding innocent people as long as you get yours???  What kind of morality is that???
 
I knew if I kept up a dialogue with you that you would reveal your true character and intentions.  Greece is full of people who think like you, you should go live there.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 3, 2014 - 7:46am
Joy of Liberty - Great post on what Ayn Rand actually believed in and stood for.  Talking about Ayn Rand to liberals is akin to waving a Crucifix in a vampires's face. 
 
I have yet to find anyone LOGICALLY dispute any of her arguments.  When liberals can't debate logically, you get misrepresentation, character assassination, distortion, name calling .... anything but a logical response.
 
99.99% of Ayn Rand detractors have never actually read her work or listened to her speak.  All they know is a bunch of recirculated lies and garbage which they repeat often enough so they actually believe it themselves.  They see a book titled "The Virtue of Selfishness" and immediately conclude that Rand's philosophy is "Screw you, I got mine". 
 
What is really disturbing is the level of hatred/ignorance of her work at the university level (where most adults are influenced politically).  My daughter attended Indiana University and was getting "brainwashed" by a sociology professor.  She had the audacity to bring up "Atlas Shrugged" in regard to the assigned reading list and you would have thought the professor was going to burst into flames!
Mike Haluska Added Feb 3, 2014 - 10:58am
John - your comment:
 
"The most basic premise of Ayn Rand's philosophical mandates (and they are philosophical) is that if everyone acted in their own best self-interests (a.k.a. “selfishness”) then everyone in society would ultimately do well in the long run and nobody would need “assistance” or “governance”."
 
demonstrates that you are included in the 99.99% of those who disagree with Rand without ever actually bothering to read for yourself.  You simply parrot what your liberal buddies who haven't read her books either profess to "know" about Objectivism.
 
NOWHERE does Rand say a "perfect society" would result from adopting her philosophy.  Rand defines "selfishness" as "acting in rational self interest".  Screwing over others or cheating the poor is not a "rational self interest".  Rand is not "anti-government" she is for the government acting in the manner described in the Constitution - which by the way does not authorize the government to function as a charity!
 
let Dr. Milton Friedman educate us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A
 
I DOUBLE-DOG DARE you to watch the 2 minute clip!
 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 3, 2014 - 11:01am
By the way, Rome, USSR, etc all fell due to Socialist Government - the most corrupt governments on Earth!
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 3, 2014 - 11:17am
Mike you are hilarious.  I always get a good laugh reading what you have to say.  You really are a poodle for The Man (tm) aren't you!
 
Of course you get the Government you deserve.  If you don't like it, agitate and campaign for change.  But this is a grown up world, not the school playground, so you have to accept that other people have legitimate rights and desires which may conflict with yours (even if you own an assault rifle and ballistic armour).
 
This means compromise if you are not to throw everything into deadlock and be continually arguing.   It means negotiating a Win-Win result... not the WIN- Lose approach which so many in America seem to believe is the only way.
 
 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 3, 2014 - 11:34am
Likewise Robin, I always enjoy reading your posts when I want an escape from logic and reason. 
 
I am the ultimate advocate for individual rights and make no apologies for it.  I don't believe it is moral or legal for a mob to use the government to take what they want from others.  You and people like you use the government to do for you what you couldn't do yourselves without being arrested for theft.  YOU are the one who doesn't accept the rights of others - and have the audacity to cite "unfairness" as an excuse for looting. 
 
Here is your definition of "compromise":  Person "A" wants/needs something they lack.  Person "B" has the item Person "A" lacks.  They "compromise" NOT by negotiation or trading value for value, but by getting the government to SIEZE the item for them!  Excuse me if I abide by the correct definitions of words and not accept the liberal practice of using euphemisms - like calling theft "compromise". 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 8, 2014 - 3:56pm
John U.: "The reason why Ayn Rand's basic premise is fundamentally flawed is the same reason why the Communist philosophical premise is fundamentally flawed.
They both assume that society is unbiased..."
 
Yes, despite Mike's reply, or in light of it in fact, Ayn Rand's philosophy by Mike's and her own admission won't work unless you have everyone practicing the ideal of "rational self-interest". Don't hold your breath waiting for the world to conform to this ideal. In the meantime, we need a system that assumes we need means to deal with a reality that is far from ideal.
 
John, you are so right that different brands of idealism are the ultimately single disease that infects both Ayn Rand's ideas and Marxist ideas. They both assume ideal situation that simply fail miserably to reflect reality.
 
Mike, you have no business calling anyone else out on poor reasoning ability. I just called you out in your recent comment under my Take Heart! article. You indulged there in a blatant "begging the question" fallacy, for which I provided a link that takes you to a description of your fallacy under the Fallacy Files: Taxonomy of Logical Fallacies. That is just the tip of a very large iceberg of your prolific production of logical fallacies.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 8, 2014 - 6:05pm
No matter how well I try and define "rational self interest" Bob reverts back to his "I got mine - screw you" definition.  No matter how many times I spell out that a "perfect society" isn't an assumption of Objectivists, Bob stands on his "there is no perfect society".  Bob - when you actually READ & FULLY COMPREHEND something by Rand, then spout off all you want.  I promise I won't criticize Motzart & Beethoven because I don't know a thing about them - you should do the same with topics you don't understand.
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 9, 2014 - 2:07am
Thanks Mike.  Once again you talk as if Government was some alien occupying power other than an extension of our own collective will.
 
Why don't you go and live in Africa?  Somewhere like the Congo?  Or the tribal areas of Pakistan.  There is not much "Government" there.  You should like it.
 
Do you also believe in aliens?   Potential zombie invasion?
 
Do tell, I would love to know.
 
Basically you are very happy to benefit from civilisation but you don't want to contribute.  Am I not right?
 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 9, 2014 - 10:59am
Mike, your are the one who says Rand's ideas are based on "rational self-interest". What you fail to understand is that "rational self-interest" is not simply an ideal, but an ideal that is not only uncommon, but downright rare. There are plenty of economic theories still around and taught virtually everywhere that assume rational self-interest, but there are tons of research studies that demonstrate clearly that most people don't function in terms of rational self-interest. Many will even lose money to keep someone else from doing well under certain circumstances.
 
My point is that no system that doesn't realistically take into account actual, evident human behavior in a fully practical, realistic sense will work as it was conceived to work. That includes laissez-faire capitalism, Marxism, fascism, and anarchy. In fact, your belief system is a fine example of a person failing to function with rational self-interest. I certainly think you have your own interests in mind, but you are far from rational. I've demonstrated that clearly countless times, a fact of which you remain blissfully unaware.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 9, 2014 - 11:18am
I believe in an intelligently, fairly, thoroughly, and strongly regulated capitalism. As I conceive it, in company towns in which companies are effectively local monopolies, for example, this would require legal measures to ensure that such inefficient markets (by the economic definition of competitive markets for both labor and employment) still guarantee negotiating power for all parties. It also requires legal measures strongly enforced to countermand conflicts of interest, which would require outlawing any kind of direct monetary influence on state interests from business interests. This and only this would allow government to judge the monetary interests of the state in terms of benefit to its citizens, uninfluenced by any direct benefit to themselves, but only by the indirect benefit derived from their own citizenship along with that of the rest.
 
In my opinion, the big mistake our founders made was to leave this last out of the constitution. They included separation of church and state and checks and balances, but I don't think that was enough. I think our current situation illustrates the point. They should have included separation of direct monetary influence from business on the state as well. Without that, I believe corruption of government by business interests is inevitable.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 9, 2014 - 1:11pm
Edib - your comment:
 
" For you, "investment" by a private pension fund or company in US Treasury bonds seems OK, holding those same bonds in Social Security fund is not."
 
Let me explain again - please READ CAREFULLY!  When a private pension invests its clients' funds, they get assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds) and manage them.  The government takes OUR money and uses it to pay its bills and in return we get IOU's.
  
If a private pension spends its clients money on yachts, private jets, vacations, etc. (see Madoff) they go to jail.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 9, 2014 - 1:19pm
Bob - your comment:
 
"I believe in an intelligently, fairly, thoroughly, and strongly regulated capitalism."
 
As long as the regulations don't impact the outcome, favor one party over another and are in place to simply prevent fraud and use of force, coercion, etc. FINE.  But that's not what 99.9% of the regulations do.  The government constantly uses taxpayer money to "bet" on certain companies or technologies, rather than letting them compete on their merits.  It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL to use taxpayers money as investment funds - the government is not a venture capital group.  When it functions as such, corruption like Obama/Solyndra is the inevitable result.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 9, 2014 - 3:06pm
This is a discussion of what kind of capitalism would work; not a discussion of Obama's policies. I'm not interested in defending Obama here, but to pretend he is unique as a president in doing that is absurd.
 
Also, you just described again what I already said. You just explicitly stated that what I propose is "FINE". There is nothing intrinsically wrong with government unless we allow business to exercise direct monetary influence on its policies. That should be unconstitutional, and in my opinion is a much more important consideration than the government subsidizing private business.
 
It is the fundamental means by which our government has been corrupted. It's exactly why our regulatory system is so screwed up and fails to work successfully for the benefit of society or even businesses who aren't favored by these ad hoc, essentially bribe-supported regulations.
 
The resulting random, well-meaning political attempts to rectify the problems these bribed regulations create often just increase bureaucratic red tape for every business and make the whole thing even less workable. You blame government for everything and pretend that the private sector would fix all that, but the private sector is exactly what has corrupted government. You idealize one and demonize the other. That just doesn't wash, my friend.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 9, 2014 - 3:11pm
By the way, Mike, I love the poetry of Madoff being the last name of a man who made off with everyone else's money! I guess he was just living up to his name, huh?
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Feb 10, 2014 - 8:15am
Many will even lose money to keep someone else from doing well under certain circumstances.
 
Robert, I couldn't have summarized the mindset of collectivism better.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Feb 10, 2014 - 8:31am
They should have included separation of direct monetary influence from business on the state as well.
 
Robert, the Founders would have been amazed and alarmed at the size and power of today's regulatory state.  I doubt they could have foreseen a need for the separation of money as you recommend, and I offer that they would suggest simplifying government in order to reduce the value and power of influence. 
 
As I often say, one needs a whore and a john to solicit prostitution.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 10, 2014 - 11:37am
Joy - I agree 100%!  The only way to assure the corruption is held to an absolute minimum is to take away the power of the government officials (congressmen, bureaucrats, etc) to grant exemptions.  A nice side effect of this would be a 90% cost reduction in campaigns and less congressmen making a "career" of politics.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Feb 10, 2014 - 11:12pm
Debra, a couple of thoughts:
First, there is a natural law argument for government to balance the power of the private sector.  However, we are far beyond that.
 
I suggest that you read the writings of our Founding Fathers.  They spent a considerable amount of effort to design a system that would do as much as possible to prevent abuse of power. 
 
 "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." - Lord Acton
 
That included the presence of a large, standing army.  For most of America's history, she did not have a large peacetime military; combined with posse comitatus it prevented the kind of distrust seen in other countries where civilian populations had direct contact with military forces.
 
Corruption is like prostitution in that two parties are required: a whore willing to sell and a john wishing to buy.  However, no amount of laws will be enough to prevent corruption where the average citizen is too preoccupied with sports and/or popular culture to bother or care.  
Mike Haluska Added Feb 12, 2014 - 9:22am
Oh yeah, you're right!
A Bond is a piece of paper that promises to repay a sum at a future date
 
An IOU is a piece of paper that promises to repay a sum at a future date
 
Huge difference!  Thanks for helping me understand the clear distinction! 
 
I did think of an eentsy-weentsy difference regarding SS:  How would you feel if the guy who sold you the bond repaid you by taking a part of your paycheck every payday and then paid you back 20 years later - if you're still alive??? 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 13, 2014 - 8:00am
Yes - they invest THEIR OWN MONEY and Fidelity pays the dividends from the bond issuers to the Fidelity shareholders. 
 
Your problem is as a moocher you recognize no difference between private money, personal money and government money - it's all GOVERNMENT MONEY. 
 
Subconsciously (maybe even consciously) you KNOW you're gonna get way more when you retire than you put into SS.  The idea of pulling your own weight is repugnant when you can rationalize that "life isn't fair" and use the government to confiscate wealth of others. 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 13, 2014 - 10:28am
JoF quoting me: "Many will even lose money to keep someone else from doing well under certain circumstances."
 
JoF responding to me: "Robert, I couldn't have summarized the mindset of collectivism better."
 
This research had nothing to do with collectivism. It had everything to do with individual human beings interacting in a way that when someone felt taken unfair advantage of they would be willing to lose money to punish the person who did that. There are other examples in which people don't behave in ways that most economic theory predicts,
 
Virtually all current economic theory makes the irrational assumption that "rational self-interest" rules. Anyone who has ever traded the commodity markets knows about how irrational self-interest can get. In fact, anyone who has had a "friend" who suddenly turned into an irrational idiot when money was involved should already know this. That has nothing to do with "collectivism".
Mike Haluska Added Feb 13, 2014 - 10:47am
Bob - I agree with you 100% about the irrational behavior of humans at times.  The Stock Market is a great example of a means of exchanging securities that has turned into gambling.  This is especially true in the most abused sector of Wall Street - futures trading. 
 
Henry Ford once said
 
"The buying and selling of things already produced is pretty much legalized gambling"
 
Henry's distrust of Wall Street is the main reason he resisted taking Ford Motor Company public so long.
 
All that being said ..... I don't consider the Stock Market an integral part of the economy.  It is merely a means of acquisition and raising capital.  What I mean by the Free Market is the trillions of trades made between producers, distributors and consumers continuously throughout the year.  Because of the huge volume, irrational events are rare and always caused by outside influence - i.e. the Federal Reserve. 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 13, 2014 - 11:05am
JoF:  I doubt they [our founders (USA)] could have foreseen a need for the separation of money as you recommend, and I offer that they would suggest simplifying government in order to reduce the value and power of influence."
 
Of course! It goes without saying that they didn't take preventive measures because they didn't foresee the degree to which it would eventually corrupt our government. They did, however, warn strongly of the danger of economic power corrupting it.
 
I'm merely saying that the Constitution should ideally have had the same prohibition against the direct influence of money on government as it does against religion determining government policy. That is quite a different matter from morality having an influence on it. Conflation of these two different ideas generates the straw man argument that so many on the religious right indulge in.
 
They want to insinuate a specific religion, Christianity, into our government and keep repeating that we are a "Christian nation". Does it surprise anyone that this offends anyone not connected with Christianity, whether Jews, Hindus, agnostics/atheists, or whatever else?
 
We also need to take into account that originally only landowners had a right to vote:
 
http://www.kqed.org/assets/pdf/education/digitalmedia/us-voting-rights-timeline.pdf
 
We need to realize that the mindset of our founders was quite different from our current mindset. So despite their warnings concerning the potential for financial power to corrupt government, prohibiting any direct monetary influence on government was likely not compatible with their mindset.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 13, 2014 - 11:15am
Some worship our founders as if they were semi-divine, flawless beings. Back in the 50s our school textbooks taught us to think that way. Those books whitewashed the history of our grossly dishonest dealings with Native Americans, our former slavery, and the vestiges of those legacies that persist to this day despite the absurd denial of this on the hard right. Those books were as full of government propaganda as those of any Marxist dictatorship at the other end of the political spectrum. Most hard right idiots actually believe this kind of talk is not only unpatriotic, but liberal (as they label almost anything that is actually true), leftist, Marxist, or even treasonous.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 13, 2014 - 11:26am
Those on the hard right are indoctrinated by precisely that kind of propaganda and, if they had the political power to do so, would just as quickly put those of us who understand it as propaganda in a gulag as the Soviets did with their dissidents. Their hate speech and use of terms such as "lib-tards", etc. for anyone who disagrees with whatever garbage they want to believe is merely a symptom of their deep frustration at not being able to put us away like the Soviets did.
Joy of Freedom1836 Added Feb 13, 2014 - 12:40pm
Robert, I am coming to reject universal suffrage as well.  Not in favor of a landed gentry, but in favor of those who complete voluntary government service in line with the ideas of Robert Heinlein, who suggested that only those willing to place themselves in temporary service to the state are worthy of making decisions for others.
 
As for the Founders, they were great men but men nonetheless.  Flawed and imperfect as their actions were, I focus on their ideas and ideals.  Just because they failed to live up to them does not mean the ideals were flawed themselves. 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 13, 2014 - 2:57pm
The Title of this discussion is confusing:
 
"Market Socialism" makes as much about as much sense as "Catholic Atheism"
Robert Wendell Added Feb 13, 2014 - 6:05pm
JoF: " Just because they [our founders] failed to live up to them does not mean the ideals were flawed themselves."
 
Don't believe I ever implied they were, unless you take their omission of protection against undue financial influence on government as a flaw. I personally hesitate to call that omission a flaw rather than an oversight. Let's just call it a little hole that turns out to have been an important one.


The reason for the hole was at least partially a consequence of a world view that justified or at least rationalized ownership of slaves, the restriction of voting rights to landowners, etc...in other words, things that reflect what today comes off as a fundamentally flawed world view. So that necessarily includes ideas, but the ones they wrote down for us in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution very fortunately don't include these flaws.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 13, 2014 - 6:11pm
I think their wisdom in having stuck to universally powerful principles while excluding their distortion with less fundamental ideas that were specific to their cultural bias is what makes them stand out and so deserve our considering them to be great.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 14, 2014 - 7:33am
Edib - Your comments:
 
So, the money that is my contribution into Social Security is not "my money"?
 
First of all, a "contribution" is a voluntary act!  If you don't pay the SS tax you go to jail.  NOBODY forces anyone to do business with Fidelity.  If you don't like the job Fidelity is doing with YOUR money, you can withdraw it all and take it somewhere else.  Try going to SS and demanding that they return all the money you think you "invested"!!!
 
 
And why do you think that I will take out more than I put in?
 
Statistically, that's a fact.  Your monthly "benefit" payment is based on your 3 highest earning years.    However, a lot of people never collect because they die before reaching retirement age.  Do the families of these unfortunate individuals get the money they "contributed"?  Not if they're over 18 years old!  If you as an adult had a parent who passed away and had Fidelity mutual funds, they would go to you as a legal heir no matter what your age!
 
And suddenly, when Fidelity handles it, they become bonds and not IOU's.
 
Fidelity pays you a dividend from the earnings (that's money that is generated by hard work and effort - not confiscated by the government) on your investment.  The government took the SS tax you paid, spent it, replaced it with an IOU, and will (supposedly) pay the IOU back by taking more tax money out of your pocket!  Only a moocher can't see the difference between these! 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 14, 2014 - 7:44am
Joy of Freedom - I think there needs to be a mechanism where anyone benefitting (corporation, individual, union, etc) from government handouts of ANY kind forfeit their ability to influence elections.  We don't have this protection and we have people voting in politicians who give them "benefits" - i.e. Obama.  When people can vote themselves shares of the treasury, the country's finances are on the road to bankruptcy - it is inevitable.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 14, 2014 - 7:54am
Bob - your comment is correct, but you have to place things in context:
 
"Some worship our founders as if they were semi-divine, flawless beings. Back in the 50s our school textbooks taught us to think that way. Those books whitewashed the history of our grossly dishonest dealings with Native Americans, our former slavery, and the vestiges of those legacies that persist to this day"
 
By context I mean you have to take into consideration the world they lived in compared to the nation they created.  Nothing like America ever existed in human history.  For the first time an individual's rights were guaranteed, although they had to expand the definition of individual as time went on.  Consider the 2000 year head start the rest of the world had on America and it is remarkable that in such as short period she went from backwoods to BY FAR the most prosperous and free nation in history.
 
There are lots of "polls" out there showing the US is low on the list of nations to live in.  However, the one sure Litmus Test would be to lift all immigration restraints and make anyone who wanted to come to the US a citizen.  There is NO doubt our shores would be flooded by people from every nation on Earth.  How people vote with their feet is much more truthful and significant than any "poll".
Robert Wendell Added Feb 16, 2014 - 12:24pm
Mike:  "We don't have this protection [protection from undue corporate financial influence on politics] and we have people voting in politicians who give them 'benefits' - i.e. Obama." ([...] My insertion to clarify context)
 
Edib, a person who singles out Obama with the Latin abbreviation "i.e." (often translated "that is") instead of "e.g." ("for example") as if Obama were unique in this regard when the Republicans do much worse simply doesn't want to think. It's not that he can't. He just doesn't want to.
 
The heart (emotions) drive the mind (intellect); not the other way around. When the heart is free and unbiased, the intellect can work objectively. If either Mike or Nathan could show me a strong, well-substantiated scientific argument for dismissing AGW as extremely unlikely or, as they believe, no chance at all of being anything more than a hoax, I would change my mind immediately. I actually did that once on the basis of the only remotely defensible argument against AGW, one that ironically neither Mike nor Nathan ever bother to use. Later evidence strongly refuted that argument, so I switched back.
 
On the other hand, when the heart is attached to a particular, predetermined view of the world, the intellect just serves to bend things to justify what you want to think. As I've said before, that is called rationalization, which is fatal to rationality. The ability of Mike and Nathan to think is heavily infected with rationalization, eliminating for the most part much ability at all to participate in genuine reasoning. I started to write an article that would have been a compendium of obvious, crystal clear examples of Mike's absolutely wild violations of logic and reason on AGW, but decided against it, since it would probably just come off to most people as one long ad hominem attack. Most people fail to discriminate between that and merely showing where the attempt to reason goes wildly off track.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 16, 2014 - 2:22pm
Edib - your comments get wackier by the day:
 
"Finally, Social Security is not voluntary but no pension program is. If a company (like your father's) enrolls everybody into the pension fund they all have to participate, no choice. The only difference is that now those participating are all US citizens who earn wages."
 
You don't have to work for a company with a pension fund, you can work for yourself, a smaller company that doesn't offer pensions. You can start a 401k or an IRA.  Where do you get off just making shit up?
 
I work for a company that offers a pension, and I still have to pay for your pension (SS) benefits.  How is that Frakkin' fair?
 
I still can't believe you don't see the difference between what SS does and Fidelity.  I will tell you what - loan me $100,000 and I will give you a Bond to be repaid in 10 years.  I will repay you by deducting money from your paycheck for the 10 years.  Sound good?  Call me and we'll draw up the papers!
 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 16, 2014 - 2:39pm
Bob - your comment:
 
"If either Mike or Nathan could show me a strong, well-substantiated scientific argument for dismissing AGW as extremely unlikely or, as they believe, no chance at all of being anything more than a hoax, I would change my mind immediately."
 
I have been debunking this crap all along.  But ONE MORE TIME:
 
1)  There is NO proof of causality between climate change and human activity.  If you want to claim something I don't have to prove the negative.  That's how logic and reason works.
 
2) All you ever offer up is Correlation and Consensus.  Neither belong in serious science and both have NOTHING to do with Scientific Method.
 
3) After over 40 years of ridiculous predictions, falsifying data, flip-flopping from Global Freezing to Global Warming now to just "Climate Change" how can ANY rational person take these clowns seriously?
 
4) AGW proponents have yet to use legitimate science and have relied exclusively on the gullibility and guilt of people like you who are desperate to punish the human race for all sorts of "crimes" against nature or whatever.
 
5) Nothing in nature has even remotely yielded all the doom and destruction predicted.  All I ever hear is repeated warnings that if CO2 reaches some incremental level greater than the current level blah, blah, blah for 40 years now.
 
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 17, 2014 - 12:40am
Edib:  On global warming and faith.  
 
Many "deny" global warming because to "accept" it would require them to change the way that they live (or appear very selfish to themselves).
 
They don't want to think of themselves as selfish and therefore they don't "accept" global warming.
 
They therefore scour the Internet for arguments to bolster what they want to believe.   There will always be someone pedalling an argument that is suitable for whatever you want to believe.
 
It's not hard to understand Mike and others like him.
 
As for global warming, I spent yesterday with a chainsaw coping with some of the consequences of global warming where I live.  We have a "conveyor belt" of storms bringing strong winds and heavy rain.   The last one was apparently the worst storm for 250 years.  We are getting more and more of these extraordinary events.
 
I am absolutely sure Mike that you will now go and dig up another excuse for you personally not doing anything about it.   Your psychology requires it of you.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 17, 2014 - 7:37am
Robin - your comment:
 
"Many "deny" global warming because to "accept" it would require them to change the way that they live (or appear very selfish to themselves).   They don't want to think of themselves as selfish and therefore they don't "accept" global warming."
 
sounds all self-aggrandizing and makes you feel morally superior but doesn't have a single RATIONAL scientific reason for "believing" in AGW!
 
I have spent (along with millions of others in North America) repeatedly shoveling snow and battling regular sub-zero temperature days.  Of course, weather that doesn't agree with AGW dogma (it's not science) gets discarded - just like those British researchers who discarded data that screwed up their computer models!
Mike Haluska Added Feb 17, 2014 - 7:51am
Edib - your comment:
 
"How much and is it a big threat is still debated but 30 billion tons a year mean something to me."
 
makes my point for me regarding proportion and common sense.  30 billion tons is a lot - compared to the mass of the entire Earth's atmosphere?  The total mass of Earth's atmosphere is about 5.5 quadrillion tons!  A billion is 10 to the 10th power.  A Quadrillion is 10 to the 24th power!!!  Our brains can't even put the relationship in perspective its so vast! 
 
This is why CO2 causality is such bullshit!  The mass of the moisture in the atmosphere is much larger and covers 65% of the Earth's surface and is BY FAR the most dominant factor determining retention of solar energy.  The amount of energy emitted by the Sun is variable and unpredictable - making the Earth's climate a non-linear, non-deterministic complex system!  Fancy way of saying unpredictable no matter how powerful a computer is used. 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 17, 2014 - 10:14am
Edib, Mike's comments ignore every scientific FACT I've replied to him with to debunk these very arguments. He just keeps repeating the same arguments ad nauseum without ever having said a word that directly disputes the hard facts I cite. If anyone doubts they're hard facts, if we're to have a serious discussion about this they need to come up with something more substantial than their opinion that they're not.
 
That includes the opinions of any politicians or talking heads. Stating an opposite opinion even from the few dissenting scientists there are does NOT refute the hard scientific facts I cite. The best those scientists can do is provide an alternative explanation for those facts. Mike has NEVER done that. If you ask him what sources he uses for drawing his conclusions, he comes up with people like the MIT meteorology professor who also testified to congress on behalf of the tobacco industry poo-pooing evidence of the connection of tobacco use with cancer rates. Meteorology is not even climate science. The same man also had direct financial incentives in both cases. He also quoted someone else who refused to reveal his financial sources when asked by the press.
 
When all else fails, they either just repeat their simple-minded positions, dump on my credentials as if being a musician made me a scientific no-nothing, brag about theirs, or they simply ignore the facts and reasoning I provided. They also accuse me of the very things they're doing, but never point out any specific instance of it. They accuse me of having a religious conviction despite my always couching everything in terms of high probability for AGW and the consequently very bad expected payback for betting against it while they practically swear on a stack of bibles that the probability that AGW is real is zero. So how blatantly contradictory can you get, but they never address that either. I've thrown that one at them again and again and their is simply no substantial response to that. So we're just doing number one in the wind to even bother with these logical basket cases. I just do it for those who might be tempted to put any credence in their feckless babble.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 17, 2014 - 11:36am
Bob -
When you produce something factual I will consider it.  Science isn't American Bandstand - 78% said "it had a good beat and I could dance to it".
 
When you find ONE valid prediction made in the last 40 years by AGW proponents I will consider it. 
 
As far as probabilities go, I say based on actual empirical evidence over the past 40+ years it is BEYOND highly unlikely CO2 has any significant impact on the Earth's climate. 
 
Now, run off and show me some fancy equations on energy balance that impress people who don't know what they're looking at so you'll feel better.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 17, 2014 - 12:35pm
For those who might find convincing Mike's enumerated arguments presented in his post of Feb 16, 2014 - 2:39pm, here are my answers:
 
1)  There is NO proof of causality between climate change and human activity.  If you want to claim something I don't have to prove the negative.  That's how logic and reason works.
 
Reply:
It’s true that it doesn’t prove anything. However, it is in principle impossible with our current state of knowledge to offer absolute proof in such a complex system that AGW is real. Therefore the arguments for AGW are necessarily probabilistic in nature. However, you tend to argue that this indicates somehow that AGW is not real. If it is real, the only possible proof that it is real will occur only after it’s too late. Our courts convict people and sentence them to death all the time without absolute proof. We don’t have to risk that kind of mistake with AGW and the circumstantial evidence is very strong despite your feckless arguments to the contrary.
 
Absence of proof is not proof of absence. This is a fundamental logical fallacy. (http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/54-argument-from-ignorance)
 
2) All you ever offer up is Correlation and Consensus.  Neither belong in serious science and both have NOTHING to do with Scientific Method.
 
Reply:
To say that neither belongs in serious science is wrong. Science uses both all the time to generate hypotheses, which are in turn tested using scientific method. Correlation indicates one of three possible relationships: chance or purely coincidental correspondence (which becomes increasingly unlikely with repeated trials showing high correlation), some common underlying causal factor, or a direct causal relationship in that order from zero to full significance. Correlation is therefore not nearly as irrelevant to science as you try to make it. I’ve been involved in scientific experimentation in agriculture that always and inevitably involves extremely complex environmental factors. As a result, a 90% confidence level or better is considered strong evidence of a causal relationship. In practice, it’s all relative. Your absolute statements concerning this are way off sides.
 
3) After over 40 years of ridiculous predictions, falsifying data, flip-flopping from Global Freezing to Global Warming now to just "Climate Change" how can ANY rational person take these clowns seriously?
 
Reply:
Here are some facts that a clear matters of public record. For many years there was no consensus on AGW. Most scientists had no firm opinions either way .Those who did were all over the map regarding what they thought about the future of climate. They all knew it changes cyclically, but those few with strong opinions differed radically on when and which way. Over the years, evolving technology, including very accurate and sophisticated measurements from space, over land, over oceans, high altitude radiosondes (instrumented atmospheric balloons), etc. has accumulated much more hard data on what has been happening to climate and how climate works, although this understanding is still evolving.
 
The above facts are a matter of public record. If this is to be a serious discussion, Mike, and you wish to dispute them, you need to come up with something much more substantial than your opinion or someone else’s you happen to trust for whatever reason. There are two ways to interpret these facts:
 
A.      The accumulation of sophisticated means of gathering accurate data on climate from a large variety of sources and the resulting increased understanding of how climate works has produced a strong consensus of firm opinion that AGW is highly probable that did not previously exist. The previous lack of opinion and the diversity of strong opinions among the minority who held them was simply that. This indicates nothing less natural than strong and diverse opinions in a minority of scientists based on much more limited and less accurate data than currently exists.
 
B.      The previous variation in strong opinions among  a minority of scientists regarding the future of climate indicates their general and perpetual incompetence to draw strong probabilistic conclusions in favor of AGW.
 
It should be clear that A has been my argument and B has been Mike’s. Now, Mike, please justify clearly exactly why you think B is a superior interpretation of the facts than A. If you wish to dispute the facts themselves, then once again, you need to justify with strong evidence exactly what about them is incorrect and why.
 
4) AGW proponents have yet to use legitimate science and have reli
Robert Wendell Added Feb 17, 2014 - 12:36pm
Continued - 
 
4) AGW proponents have yet to use legitimate science and have relied exclusively on the gullibility and guilt of people like you who are desperate to punish the human race for all sorts of "crimes" against nature or whatever.
 
What are your sources for this opinion? Please justify with strong evidence and valid logic why you think this is true. I have provided, apparently in vain, much scientific evidence with clear explanations, all drawn from a wide variety of highly respected sources and most of which involves indisputable scientific principles, all of which your statement above completely ignores. Please explain your insistence on making such statements without having even bothered to address these arguments by directly attempting to point out their flaws.
 
5) Nothing in nature has even remotely yielded all the doom and destruction predicted.  All I ever hear is repeated warnings that if CO2 reaches some incremental level greater than the current level blah, blah, blah for 40 years now.
 
The dinosaurs disappeared around 65 million years ago after having been weakened in terms of survival rates by previous climatic changes. The final coup de grace was a giant asteroid that struck near the present day location of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The evidence is clear that the earth was cooled drastically for the next several years by the atmospheric blockage of sunlight due to the remaining atmospheric debris. You don’t seem to keep up with enough science to even be aware of such things.
 
Contrary to your baseless declaration above, earth has had multiple changes in the past that would absolutely destroy our current civilization completely had it existed then. We have found species as recent as woolly mammoths perfectly preserved with frozen wild flowers in their mouths, since they were essentially quick frozen. It was a great surprise to scientists that such a drastic change could happen so quickly. So in light of these facts, specifically how do you justify your declaration above? With regard to your hearing the same thing about CO(2) reaching certain levels for 40 years now, how do you reconcile that with your previous statement number 3?
 
I call on all readers to hold Mike to directly addressing these replies to his arguments without skating around them by merely stating contrary opinions. He needs to do exactly what I've asked in terms of solid arguments that directly point out flaws in mine, or he is not seriously interested in dialectic inquiry, but only dialectic disputation full of sophistry and obfuscation.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 17, 2014 - 1:07pm
Bob - You're exasperating and long-winded for no good reason.
 
"We have found species as recent as woolly mammoths perfectly preserved with frozen wild flowers in their mouths, since they were essentially quick frozen. It was a great surprise to scientists that such a drastic change could happen so quickly."
 
This is NOT Science - but sheer conjecture, and very bad conjecture at that. Go ahead and Google "Mammoths wild flowers" and see what comes up.  This is worse than your "Ocean has mountain of garbage" claim you made a few months ago.
 
As long as you are the one asking others to believe the climate is in danger of changing by the time we finish our Marigolds, you're gonna have to better than conjecture. 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 19, 2014 - 7:37am
You are mathematically and scientifically inept, have no sense of proportion, no logical capability and really shouldn't comment on anything related to science, math or technology.  Even the difference between a BRITISH billion and quadrillion is so vast it is obvious you don't appreciate the significance of exponents.  Please - don't comment on my comments any further. 
Robin the red breasted songster Added Feb 20, 2014 - 11:41am
Hi Mike:  So glad your reply proved me right again.
 
I find your attitude of "I will do what I like and to hell with the rest of you" highly obnoxious.  You seem extremely selfish and I cannot imagine you ever giving anything or inconveniencing yourself for the good of your fellow man.   All of your arguments display this... it is always an argument to justify what you want to do... burn up and destroy the planet...
 
You are probably beyond redemption.
 
I am now bored of discourse with you...
Robert Wendell Added Feb 20, 2014 - 12:30pm
First, Mike's fondness for bringing up that water vapor is a more powerful greenhouse gas (about twice as powerful as CO(2)) and hugely more abundant, of course, ignores a few essential facts. This kind of isolated, out-of-context thinking typifies his and other conservative arguments about AGW and seems to convince only to those who don't know anything about the real science:
 
1) The amount of water on the earth is essentially constant, so that cannot be the reason for any long term climate shifts. CO(2), on the other hand, is clearly and measurably increasing.
 
2) Water vapor is confined to the troposphere, which is the lowest atmospheric layer and stops at about 10 kilometers (6.25 mi.) altitude. Above that, CO(2) remains at about 400 ppm for the next 60 km. (37.5 miles). (Mike disputed this, but ignored my citation showing it is an established empirical fact and not merely a theory or hypothesis.) That's a thick enough layer to be virtually opaque to infrared at a point just above the troposphere at wavelengths included in its spectrum, much of which overlaps that of water, but it radiates upward as well as downward from any given point. 
 
3) The overlapping spectra of water vapor and CO(2) confuse the issue in the troposphere below the stratosphere, but above it in the stratosphere where there is no water vapor this overlap actually enables CO(2) to absorb the radiation of water vapor at their common wavelengths and radiate it out into space as well as back to earth.
 
4) In the aggregate, a thick layer of a greenhouse gas has an effective altitude of infrared radiation or complete absorption, that is, opacity (it is opaque), a point or band from which we can consider the radiation from greenhouse gases to be equal in both directions. Since only part of the radiant energy entering the atmosphere is infrared, the lower this point is, the more difficult it is for energy to radiate from there back out into space.
 
5) Since the CO(2) above the troposphere is opaque to both to its own spectrum and infrared wavelengths common to it and water, it is the CO(2) radiating in both directions (up and down) that allows this part of the infrared spectrum water radiates to get back into space. Space is a very complete vacuum, so absolutely no heat leaves earth via conduction. It is all radiated back into space via greenhouse gases.
 
6) All energy that is not reflected, but is absorbed by either the atmosphere or the earth, leaves the earth at infrared wavelengths. Greenhouse gases are the only gases that absorb and re-radiate infrared energy at any atmospheric temperatures, so they are the exclusive means for heat energy to leave the earth or become absorbed into the atmosphere. All thermal energy (active heat transferred via conduction and convection and measurable as temperature) must be absorbed and re-radiated in order to leave the earth.
 
7) Greenhouse gases also return energy to the earth, since they radiate equally up and down from any given point. However, the thicker and denser the layer, the less can leave and the more is radiated back to earth. The effective altitude of CO(2) radiation is just above the troposphere in the lowest level of the stratosphere just above their common border. This is near the bottom of the 60 km. thick layer of CO(2) at 400 ppm above the troposphere. Water vapor plays NO role here.
 
8) How much greenhouse is in the atmosphere uniquely determines the long term equilibrium temperature of the earth, since this uniquely determines the rate at which energy can leave the earth.
 
9) As increased CO(2) raises the long term equilibrium temperature of the earth, more water vapor enters the troposphere. Because there is so much water vapor and is twice as powerful as CO(2) as a greenhouse gas, it AMPLIFIES the effect of CO(2), quite the opposite of swamping it to make it insignificant as Mike likes to very erroneously argue. Solar forcing is empirically measurable and clearly shown to be cyclical, not increasing in the long term, and barely significant even in its short term cyclical effects.
 
So, although we do not fully understand every factor that contributes to climate, we do know the above are empirical facts and not merely hypotheses and theories. We use satellites to measure exactly at what wavelengths infrared radiates back into space. We KNOW that CO(2) is a MAJOR factor in this radiation despite it's status as a trace gas at 400 ppm. Any argument that it is insignificant based on this small amount in the atmosphere is false right out of the gate. No matter how many times or how much science refutes this naive argument, the appeal to "common sense" that d
Mike Haluska Added Feb 20, 2014 - 12:31pm
Robin - I never said anything of the kind!
 
My view:  I reject demands imposed on me by others without my permission, and I will do nothing to inhibit others from pursuing their own interests.
 
Your view:  I believe in imposing my view on others through government force, and believe their individual lives are to be subrogated to the collective will.
 
 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 20, 2014 - 12:36pm
Continued -


No matter how many times or how much science refutes this naive argument, the appeal to "common sense" that declaring the insignificance of 400 ppm has seems to motivate Mike to repeat that argument anyway again and again. There seems to be no empirical fact or evidence of any kind that will ever be sufficient to convince him otherwise.
 
By the way, we can simplify the discussion of British versus American numerical language by simply stating without zeros or powers of ten that an American billion is a thousand million and a British billion is a million million. Since a million is a thousand times greater than a thousand, the British billion is a thousand times bigger than the American billion. That's all. Simple! 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 20, 2014 - 12:52pm
Bob - please show me where a trace gas has more influence on the Earth's temperature than water vapor or solar activity. 
 
Think of a rectangular grid 1000 ft x 1,000,000 ft (1 billion ft2).  Now place 400 blue 1 ft squares (CO2) evenly spaced around the grid.  Now place 650,000,000 1 ft red squares evenly around the grid.  Which set of squares will reflect more heat?  Now remove 4 of the blue squares (amount contributed by human activity).  How much will the reflected heat be reduced? 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 20, 2014 - 12:56pm
"There seems to be no empirical fact or evidence of any kind that will ever be sufficient to convince him otherwise."
 
Go back and read what your AGW "scientists" have been forecasting for the past 40 years and match up reality to their forecasts!  That's EMPIRICAL evidence of the AGW gang being WRONG!
 
Somehow, never being correct is "empirical evidence" of being correct in your view! 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 20, 2014 - 4:36pm
Mike: "Go back and read what your AGW "scientists" have been forecasting for the past 40 years and match up reality to their forecasts!  That's EMPIRICAL evidence of the AGW gang being WRONG!"
 
Read my reply to the umpteenth time you've made that silly argument, repeated here for your convenience as if that will make any difference at all:
Mike's third point:
3) After over 40 years of ridiculous predictions, falsifying data, flip-flopping from Global Freezing to Global Warming now to just "Climate Change" how can ANY rational person take these clowns seriously?
 
My reply:
Here are some facts that a clear matters of public record. For many years there was no consensus on AGW. Most scientists had no firm opinions either way .Those who did were all over the map regarding what they thought about the future of climate. They all knew it changes cyclically, but those few with strong opinions differed radically on when and which way. Over the years, evolving technology, including very accurate and sophisticated measurements from space, over land, over oceans, high altitude radiosondes (instrumented atmospheric balloons), etc. has accumulated much more hard data on what has been happening to climate and how climate works, although this understanding is still evolving.
 
The above facts are a matter of public record. If this is to be a serious discussion, Mike, and you wish to dispute them, you need to come up with something much more substantial than your opinion or someone else’s you happen to trust for whatever reason. There are two ways to interpret these facts:
 
A.      The accumulation of sophisticated means of gathering accurate data on climate from a large variety of sources and the resulting increased understanding of how climate works has produced a strong consensus of firm opinion that AGW is highly probable that did not previously exist. The previous lack of opinion and the diversity of strong opinions among the minority who held them was simply that. This indicates nothing less natural than strong and diverse opinions in a minority of scientists based on much more limited and less accurate data than currently exists.
 
B.      The previous variation in strong opinions among  a minority of scientists regarding the future of climate indicates their general and perpetual incompetence to draw strong probabilistic conclusions in favor of AGW.
 
It should be clear that A has been my argument and B has been Mike’s. Now, Mike, please justify clearly exactly why you think B is a superior interpretation of the facts than A. If you wish to dispute the facts themselves, then once again, you need to justify with strong evidence exactly what about them is incorrect and why.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 20, 2014 - 5:25pm
Take a look at this:
 
http://www.math.umn.edu/~mcgehee/Seminars/ClimateChange/presentations/2013-1Spring/20130212ThermalIRandCarbonDioxideintheAtmosphere.pdf
 
Mike: "That's EMPIRICAL evidence of the AGW gang being WRONG!"
 
So you think the public mind getting batted back and forth by the media randomly reporting, often badly, on the opinions of those few scientists who even had strong ones either way is empirical evidence???!!! Now THAT'S a new definition of empirical evidence if I ever heard one!


Mike, are you so completely self-blinded that you really don't even notice how absurdly off base, full of logical fallacies, and unscientific your arguments are while you ironically project that on opposing arguments?
Robert Wendell Added Feb 20, 2014 - 6:52pm
Mike: "Bob - please show me where a trace gas has more influence on the Earth's temperature than water vapor or solar activity."
 
I just did in a previous, detailed, and scientifically verifiable reply to you, which you predictably ignore and run all around Cock Robin's barn without addressing any empirically measured fact or established scientific principle I mentioned. Then you obfuscate even further with an implied, brand new, absurd definition of empirical. Your lack of ability to respond intelligently to any cogent scientific data or argument is showing. It's mooning the whole party here with its foolish, self-absorbed lack of any vestige of intellectual integrity or anything remotely resembling genuine critical thought.
Robert Wendell Added Feb 20, 2014 - 7:24pm
JoF, you keep reinforcing what I understand about Rand with your comments. I get enough from what little I have read from Rand (doesn't take much to get the gist) and what you and others say to understand pretty much what her positions were despite your objections to the contrary. 
 
You say, "Rand believed that giving government more power merely increased its coercive power and/or the value of buying it off." That's not the problem at all. It's who CONTROLS the government, who it actually, truly serves, and not how big or powerful it is. Yes, if you corrupt it, the more powerful the worse it is for society.
 
However, you have agreed we should insulate government from powerful financial influences that countermand the desire of our founders to eliminate the ability of the few to control the many, the excesses of power in too few hands. So what is your beef? I agree with that, too. That has nothing to do with how powerful or big government is unless it is trying to do the wrong things. 
 
Do you want to reduce the ability to control money, limit it? I don't. That has no place in a free market economy. But the ability of that power to subvert the control of citizens over their own government and to be represented and served by it should be outlawed. If you reduce the power of GOOD government, you effectively just let the bad guys win. When a big strong guy is bullying someone, you don't solve the problem by weakening the one being bullied.
 
If our government is bullying us, it is only because it doesn't represent us. That leaves only the question of who it really does represent. We need to reduce THEIR power over government and make our government strong enough to fight back. Reducing the power of corrupt government to fix it is a very simple-minded proposal. If your steering wheel has too much play in it so your car hard to steer properly, you don't fix that by putting in a smaller engine.
 
We need to fix our government. We remain the victims if we don't. We don't fix this by continuing to vote the same con artists and bribe takers back into office. This has nothing to do with weakening the government. It has everything to do with strengthening it after injecting integrity into the way it functions. I believe we as a people get the government we deserve, either by default from sitting on our ignorant little asses and pretending it's  all fine or by simply doing nothing about it if we know better, or by our participation in its corruption as long as it favors our personal interests.
Mike Haluska Added Feb 21, 2014 - 8:14am
Bob - your comment:
 
"It has everything to do with strengthening it after injecting integrity into the way it functions."
 
shows a fundamental misunderstanding of organizations and human behavior.  You can't "inject" any morals or ethics into an organization.  Organizations are simply groups of people - people don't acquire any morals or virtues by becoming part of an organization (like government). 
 
The purpose of the Constitution is to limit and specify what powers government has been granted to it by the people - consent of the governed.  The MORE power the government has, the greater the likelihood it will eventually be abused. 
 
The ONLY way to minimize government corruption is to strictly limit its power and eliminate the power to grant VARIANCES in the law - "special favors".  Look at the joke Obamacare has become - hundreds of exemptions to political allies like unions, big donors, etc.  
 
Corrupt people pour billions into campaign coffers for one reason - to get the government to favor their interests and make life difficult for their competitors.  Take away the ability to grant favors and there is no reason to donate huge sums or become a lifelong politician.  Any "reform legislation" will be written by lobbyists, so as the Borg say "resistance if futile"!
Robert Wendell Added Feb 21, 2014 - 12:16pm
Mike: "You can't 'inject' any morals or ethics into an organization.  Organizations are simply groups of people - people don't acquire any morals or virtues by becoming part of an organization (like government)."
 
You are so freaking literal-minded and so habituated to context-free interpretations of everything it's ridiculous! This is a great case in point. I clearly stated that government has who it has in it because we the people vote these con artists into office. You just ignore that and take the single word inject as if I really thought I could literally fix everything in government with the same people still in it with some kind of giant hypodermic syringe.
 
You waste all your words on that kind of nutty stuff and ignore my core arguments and/or completely misinterpret them like you just did here. You argue AGW the same damn way. You have completely avoided for the second time answering my comment added Feb 20, 2014 - 4:36pm. You will probably repeat the same idiotic argument it answers again for umpteenth+1 time without ever having addressed the huge hole in it I point out in that comment.  All I can say is "Good grief!"
Mike Haluska Added Feb 21, 2014 - 12:44pm
Bob - you're gonna give yourself a stroke.  My point is that no matter who is "injected", the system itself has the seeds of its own destruction in it.  Besides, I as an individual can't monitor the daily activity of every politician, so sooner or later a corrupt or corruptible guy is gonna get in office.  That's why I keep advocating LESS power for them to corrupt - not more!
 
And here's my reply to you 2/20/14/16:36 comment:
 
For the last time .... SCIENCE IS NOT CONSENSUS, CAUSALITY IS NOT A PERCENTAGE!  To put it layman's terms, you can't be a "little bit pregnant".
 
Now run off and find me another article saying "a percentage of scientists bla bla bla"
Robert Wendell Added Feb 21, 2014 - 1:58pm
Mike: "For the last time .... SCIENCE IS NOT CONSENSUS, CAUSALITY IS NOT A PERCENTAGE!  To put it layman's terms, you can't be a 'little bit pregnant'."
 
This has nothing to with what I asked of you at the end of that comment NOTHING! Do you get that? NOTHING!!! I asked, "Mike, please justify clearly exactly why you think B is a superior interpretation of the facts than A."
Robert Wendell Added Feb 21, 2014 - 2:04pm
The reason you ALWAYS completely duck out on genuinely responding to requests like this is simple. YOU CAN'T!!!


You also keep implying that because it is in principle impossible to prove that something as complex as AGW is true, we should assume it's false. I have another request. Could you please explain why that "logic" is different from saying that because our science couldn't prove that Katrina would hit New Orleans and breach the levees the mayor et al should not have issued evacuation orders?
Mike Haluska Added Feb 21, 2014 - 2:52pm
Bob - don't put words in my mouth!  "B" is not my position! 
 
You keep running back and hiding behind how many scientists support AGW (CONSENSUS) and shouldn't we act like a hurricane is coming (PROBABILITY) and pretending that's a legitimate substitute for Science - it ISN'T. 
Mike Haluska Added Feb 21, 2014 - 3:05pm
Bob - and what you consider facts I consider second hand extrapolation.  There were no data measuring instruments for much of the period analyzed.  Even today, location and how readings are taken and interpreted are questionable.  The time frame of reliable data is so small that even if its accurate, it is too small a sample in geological terms. 
 
All somebody has to do to win your support is show fancy graphs and formulas (which you don't understand) and you buy it.  Suppose I did some research and found another trace gas with the similar tracking data as CO2.  What does that do to your "causality" claim?  How do you "know" that the Earth's temperature isn't causing CO2 concentration to rise?  Since the CO2 data is a lagging variable that makes more intuitive sense to me.
 
   
Mike Haluska Added Feb 21, 2014 - 3:10pm
Bob - you said you were impressed by the "sophisticated" data collection methods.  The word sophisticated has two meanings:
1) altered by education, experience, etc., so as to be worldly-wise; not naïve
2) deceptive; misleading
 
Since 40 years of actual experience has shown NONE of the ridiculous claims of AGW proponents have proven true, I am convinced that definition 2 is fitting.  
Mike Haluska Added Feb 21, 2014 - 3:20pm
Bob - you are NOT the arbiter of truth. 
 
"We KNOW that CO(2) is a MAJOR factor in this radiation despite it's status as a trace gas at 400 ppm."
 
Is only axiomatic to AGW proponents - lots of scientists completely disagree. 
 
   
 
Robert Wendell Added Feb 22, 2014 - 9:56pm
Mike: "Is only axiomatic to AGW proponents - lots of scientists completely disagree."
 
1) Untrue! Mike, "this radiation" in your quote from my comment clearly referred to concrete, accurate, empirical measurements made by multiple space satellites. All heat energy ever absorbed by either the atmosphere, the earth, or both leaves the earth as infrared radiation. This includes energy that arrives at the stratosphere by conduction or rises to it by convection, that is, thermal energy that is detectable as temperature. It can only leave the earth ultimately via excitation of greenhouse gases that then radiate it into space as infrared. This is an unarguable scientific fact that has no relationship to opinions of any scientists or probabilistic predictions for or against AGW!


Space is a vacuum and therefore conducts zero energy away from earth. Only radiant energy can leave the earth. You seem to have had trouble understanding the difference from the very beginning of our AGW discussions.
 
2) We can accurately measure exactly which greenhouses gases are doing that with satellites in orbit above our atmosphere. That is SOLID SCIENCE! There is no doubt or any scientific question about any of what I've just said in THIS or the paragraph 1 above. They are simple, solid facts of science and NOT theories or hypetheses. If you don't like these data because they weaken your arguments, tough! That doesn't make them any less true. They don't prove AGW, but they sure point strongly to its validity. Whatever else about climate change we don't know doesn't change the unarguable scientific validity of these purely scientific facts... facts that are completely independent of both consensus and probability. The only part of AGW that is subject to consensus and probability are the conclusions drawn from that data, so you quit prevaricating by pretending that the data and scientific principles themselves are matters of opinion. 
 
2) Do you really pretend that because we can't predict with total accuracy where a hurricane will make landfall and exactly how strong it will be and how high its storm surge will be and are therefore limited to stating predictions in terms of probabilities that there is no science involved in our estimates?
 
3) Do you really pretend that because any conclusions for or against AGW based on these data are necessarily probabilistic invalidates the data themselves and the long established science and engineering principles involved?
 
Your comments clearly imply that you do. If you deny that, you contradict yourself. In fact, your replies so far have been evasive and full of deceptive sophistry and fallacious reasoning. Your apparent ability to deceive even yourself is pitiful to witness. So unless you face up to facts that arise in whatever aspects of discussion relating to AGW that are solid data and well established, long validated scientific principles, please go play your grossly foolish word games with somebody else.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2014 - 1:28am
George: "1.  "There is enough to go around."
This is absurd.  A good is defined as something that is scarce.  If there was no scarcity, people would not need to expend labor to produce or trade with each other."
 
What you have said, George, in no way implies that there is not enough to go around. I'm not defending socialism. I'm not in favor of it. However, I don't call Medicare socialism as some of you radical right freaks do. But working to extract food from the earth doesn't mean there won't be enough food. This is not good economics and that statement is anything but absurd.
 
The "ignorance" epithet should bounce off a mirror to its source. There are degrees of scarcity that determine the value of a good and this in no way implies that there must be a shortage so severe that there will not be enough to go around. There are native peoples living in tribal micro-economies that have enough to go around. Do you really believe that they have no goods among them? Some people have to starve in order for food to have value? Taking a principle and grossly misinterpreting it this way is sheer sophistry. Using it as a basis for calling someone ignorant, especially in view of the utter lack of depth in understanding this false label implies for its source, is much worse than sophistry.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2014 - 5:05pm
George: " If there was no scarcity, people would not need to expend labor to produce or trade with each other."
 
Also George, later: "The fact that there is any degree of scarcity means there is not enough "to go around" since all human demand for said good exceeds the supply of it by definition of scarcity."
 
Robert (me) in a previous comment: "Some people have to starve in order for food to have value?"
 
George's reply: "Nothing I said implied this.  Nor am I advocating this.  I was simply stating economic fact."
 
George says: "The goals humans may have is infinite and since resources are not infinite, there is no way to assert, "There is enough to go around".
 
George also says: "If you want to introduce subjective ideas of what "enough" is, then you may suggest anything you want,..."
 
I think you just did that, George. So you equate labor and scarcity with insufficient supply in economic theory? That's a new one, huh?
The scarcity only has to be sufficient to demand the labor required to get the good. We get oxygen into our bodies for the price of breathing...a fairly low labor cost, but still a cost even for something in such quasi-infinite supply.
 
If labor and scarcity were were fully equivalent, we wouldn't have to breathe. However, there is scarcity in our bodies, but only if we fail to pay the labor cost of breathing. This has nothing to do with lack of supply unless we remove the labor. We also have no choice but to breathe, since the cost of not doing so is death...a really high cost for not breathing. We value life quite a bit more than the cost of breathing. Life is not that scarce, but it would be if we didn't breathe. Neither oxygen nor life has anything to do with lack of supply unless we stop paying the cost of breathing. The point is simple. The relationship between value and scarcity is not nearly as simple you pretend it is and they are certainly not synonymous.
 
So which is it that gives a good its value, the labor cost or scarcity? Value is determined by scarcity alone or by the relative costs of acquisition or failure to acquire? Labor can buy food through human cultivation and/or harvesting from the wild. Lack of fungiblity for either oxygen or food has nothing to do with it except that it actually favors your scarcity argument to some degree, but that's far from disqualifying it. A principle is not valid if it fails tests under extremes of the relevant parameters.
 
The requirement of work is not equivalent to scarcity, but it affects it. There are degrees of scarcity. There is a cost to acquire it and the relative scarcity of already acquired food can give it value beyond the cost of labor if it is scarce enough and other labor is not competing with it, such as using one's own labor instead of acquiring the food from someone else.
 
In any case, usually the demand can be met with a simple increase in labor. Ultimately, the value is reduced to the value of the labor, which is the natural situation already for someone alone harvesting food on a tropical isle. Scarcity is not absence of a good and not even necessarily insufficient supply. There is no precise, rigorous equivalence of scarcity and labor in economic theory. They are separate, often co-variant, but far from synonymous variables.
 
Oh, and by the way, economic theory is not gospel in the first place. It's anything but a hard science and it's even a pretty crude, rough model that quite often fails to reflect reality. Current mainstream theory tends to assume rational self-interest, which is pretty far removed from the way humans often behave. For a short time I traded the markets professionally as a registered commodity representative. Anyone who's ever done that understands this very well.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2014 - 5:38pm
Correction to my preceding post: 
 
"Ultimately, the value is reduced to the value of the labor, which is the natural situation already for someone alone harvesting food on a tropical isle."
 
What I meant to say:
 
Ultimately, if supply is sufficiently increased by increasing the labor, the value is reduced to the value of the labor, which is the natural situation already for someone alone harvesting food on a tropical isle. Labor in more complex situations involving commercial intermediaries includes all labor in the chain and includes profit as compensation for labor as well. This is not conventional, but it is also compensating labor.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2014 - 7:31pm
George: "There is not 'enough to go around' or no one would have any impetus to labor to produce at all."
 
But as long as there is sufficient labor, this does not in any way imply there is "not enough to go around". Scarcity as you have defined it yourself does not imply any ultimate lack of availability given the required labor. So to use such an argument to "prove" that it does is way wide of the mark.
 
George: "I am glad to see you say something economically sound.  This is correct!  
However, this is not germane to the point I was refuting,..."
 
Only because you apparently have a lot of trouble making the connections necessary for integrating information and seeing the forest instead just a tree here and there. If you read all of what I wrote with any real understanding and its inevitable implications, it is absolutely germane.
 
I went beyond mere definitions and illustrated in concrete detail the distinction between scarcity and utter lack for some individuals. There is nothing about scarcity per se that implies complete lack for any individual. To pretend that refusing to work and so making most goods scarce or even unavailable to us implies there can't possibly be enough to go around is absurd on its face.
 
Yet that is your whole original argument in a nutshell. It's pure sophistry. It may be convincing for some, though, because of the detailed knowledge of economic pieces of the picture adorned with complex, circuitous, but invalid reasoning. This is a very common propaganda ploy: bury the truth under sophisticated but fallacious detail. I'm not accusing you of conscious propagandizing, but it might as well be in the end. I think you genuinely fall for your own propaganda. This is distinct from conscious propagandizing by only the single additional deceived person in the audience.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2014 - 7:45pm
George, you asked, "What 'subjective' definition of what 'enough' is do you think I introduced?"
 
To wit, George had said:
"The goals humans may (my bolding added) have is infinite and since resources are not infinite, there is no way to assert, "There is enough to go around".
 
Well, you can't stack the deck much better than that, can you, if you take that as an objective definition of scarcity? I don't think anyone missed that one but you, George.  "Goals humans MAY have" sounds pretty damn subjective to me unless you have a definition for subjective as offbeat as your definition of scarcity as inevitably implying complete lack for at least someone.
 
Later, you underscore this fallacious mess with this:
 
"The first moment everyone is fed, which you and I agree would be a good thing, most people would want food in better quality, better variety, simply different or in superior form, or with better freshness or service."
 
I guess you think that's an objective definition of scarcity with no subjective component whatsoever? Hmmm... Well, if that's the case, congratulations! You have your case all sewed up solid with blatantly obvious (apparently except to you) circular logic.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2014 - 7:51pm
Folks, it may be a little sadistic in a way, but although I sometimes get sick of dealing with grown people who are absolutely clueless when it comes to genuine critical thinking, I also get a kick out of it occasionally. It's sort of like shooting magic fish in a barrel, which then explode with lots more fish, creating just that many more to shoot.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2014 - 1:26am
George, my whole issue with your concept of scarcity is your conjecture that scarcity absolutely must imply complete lack of that good or service for one or more people and that the need for labor to acquire a good or service implies a lack of availability. According to that kind of thinking I can go to the library and conclude books are scarce there because I have to find them, take them off the shelf, and check them out.
 
This only implies a need to work to take advantage of availability, but in no way implies scarcity. My illustration with breathing intended to point this out. The work of breathing, although minimal, is required to avail yourself of oxygen despite the quasi-infinite supply, but that implies no lack unless something unusual is depriving you of its availability.
 
Conflating with scarcity the need to work to avail yourself of any good is absurd. I have to pick up a cup of tea to drink it, but that implies no lack of availability. I already stated that if you propose a principle that cannot survive testing under extremes of the relevant conditions, it is not a valid principle.
 
Some people irrationally object to my analogies, claiming that I've unfairly applied extremes to their conjectures that they did not intend. But testing principles under extreme conditions is a very practical and valid way to uncover their lack of validity. It exposes sloppy, foggy, fuzzy thinking based on not having fully considered its implications. You have set up absurd definitions that create a circular argument that is bound to make you right. I already pointed that out and you completely fail to understand this simple fact.
Cliff M. Added Feb 22, 2015 - 8:59pm
Allan Goldstein, I have just recently discovered writerbeat and read your article on market socialism today. I believe that the issues and points you have brought up well over a year ago are even more relevent today as the mistakes that have been made purposely or not become more in focus. The rules of the economic game must be readjusted not to redistribute wealth but to insure fair distribution of wealth. If we continue down the path of letting "Money"dictate all of the rules and politics eventually all of the money and political power will end up in the hands of a select few.Historically this type of a society has been a ticket to extinction. Thank you for this insightful article which is a very realistic description of the economic problem this country faces and must be truthfully addressed.
Cliff M. Added Feb 22, 2015 - 9:19pm
In the year 2015 the politics has reached the point of disgust for most Americans.Who's right and who's wrong doesn't matter any more. The time for catering to political constituents has passed. Both parties have good and bad ideas as to what can be effective.In the past in the U.S. after every other thing has been exhausted the right thing has been done. It is time to abandon the ship of fools that has been steering the economy and do what is best for the ordinary citizen. If not the consequences will be tragic.Change will come from common sense or another disaster. The choice is ours.This country is much better than the pitiful ,painful circumstances that have created the beginning of a downfall of the greatest country in modern history.