Big Head Press Forum

Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: sams on February 21, 2011, 05:05:26 pm

Title: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 21, 2011, 05:05:26 pm
Looks like the soldiers are now able to spend their continentals, but I think it won't matter much if the gold bets are at the exchange rate ''One Gazillion Zimbabwean dollars for one ounce of gold''.

But hey I think there might be some comercial relation between Ceres and Earth and some how there might be some currency dealers willing to buy those piece of paper.

In the same genre I express my great disappointment towards Sandy and Scott Bieser ... you guys are so biassed and hateful towards State soldiers that you left them weeks on Ceres only with Paper Continentals ? How are those guys supposed to pay hookers during all this time ?  ;D

I'm for anarchy but without at least a guaranty of sex for Soldiers I will switch to supporter of state ... Soldiers must have a stake on sex workers, using the ''tax claims'' that fiat money are ;D

In serious though isn't fiat nothing more than a ''tax share'' the state has ? isn't the whole point of national currency that the government can extract good and service in kind with piece of paper ?

How do you think the situation will play out
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on February 21, 2011, 06:08:23 pm
The soldiers who are successfull gamblers will be assessed a hefty tax.

Which will get laughed at when they next converse with the Cerians, "What are you getting for those payments?"
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on February 21, 2011, 08:50:27 pm
Hookers, Spudit like.

Just a thought but what are Carlos and the rest liable to lose in the games, a day's pay, maybe a week's. Cheap to avoid a gunfight. Besides, half of them will probably come out ahead, on and in paper that is.

Face is a value as is reputation and so is gratitude. I expect people will be buying Carlos drinks and maybe hookers too.  ;D
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: wdg3rd on February 22, 2011, 03:05:42 pm

In the same genre I express my great disappointment towards Sandy and Scott Bieser ... you guys are so biassed and hateful towards State soldiers that you left them weeks on Ceres only with Paper Continentals ? How are those guys supposed to pay hookers during all this time ?  ;D


Hey, it's their government that dumped them there with toilet paper currency, Sandy and Scott are just reporting the situation.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on February 23, 2011, 11:40:47 am

In the same genre I express my great disappointment towards Sandy and Scott Bieser ... you guys are so biassed and hateful towards State soldiers that you left them weeks on Ceres only with Paper Continentals ? How are those guys supposed to pay hookers during all this time ?  ;D


Hey, it's their government that dumped them there with toilet paper currency, Sandy and Scott are just reporting the situation.


Well, at least they have toilet paper, that's important!
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on February 23, 2011, 04:09:15 pm
Well, at least they have toilet paper, that's important!
Which, of course, reminds me of a famous opening scene from a Robin Williams movie which highlighted one of the failings of a certain socialist system...
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 10:46:14 am
To be fair those continentals are equally worthless in comparison to the gold.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 11:02:18 am
To be fair those continentals are equally worthless in comparison to the gold.

You can't mass print gold like continentals
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 11:12:03 am
To be fair those continentals are equally worthless in comparison to the gold.

You can't mass print gold like continentals

True but gold has little actual value. If anything the continentals have a higher value as they can be repulped and used to make more paper.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 11:38:26 am
To be fair those continentals are equally worthless in comparison to the gold.

You can't mass print gold like continentals

True but gold has little actual value. If anything the continentals have a higher value as they can be repulped and used to make more paper.

The value of gold reside in the fact that it is a very good means of exchange, which have a lot of qualities. The continentals have no value, they are nothing more than title of tax, go the government and have them raid people to back it up.

It will have higher value because you can spend more labour to put in a form less valuable ?

A thousand Dollars in Gold would be 1 Bullions, equal value in paper would be almost a ton ... sure paper is more valuable  ::)
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 11:41:50 am
True but gold has little actual value. If anything the continentals have a higher value as they can be repulped and used to make more paper.

The value of gold reside in the fact that it is a very good means of exchange, which have a lot of qualities. The continentals have no value, they are nothing more than title of tax, go the government and have them raid people to back it up.

It will have higher value because you can spend more labour to put in a form less valuable ?

A thousand Dollars in Gold would be 1 Bullions, equal value in paper would be almost a ton ... sure paper is more valuable  ::)

Right I see the problem here. You are giving gold value because it is by your definition "a good currency". The entire basis on which you are saying gold is valuable is because you regard it as a currency.

On the other hand I am thinking in terms of "what can I do with it?", "What is the use value of gold?". When you start thinking in those terms instead of thinking of it as a currency you realise that the gold is actually mostly worthless.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 11:47:24 am
Right I see the problem here. You are giving gold value because it is by your definition "a good currency". The entire basis on which you are saying gold is valuable is because you regard it as a currency.

On the other hand I am thinking in terms of "what can I do with it?", "What is the use value of gold?". When you start thinking in those terms instead of thinking of it as a currency you realise that the gold is actually mostly worthless.

"what can I do with it?"

Use it has a good currency.

You don't realize how important a good currency is necessary for a well functioning economy and thus human life. Without a good currency offer and demand breaks down, people have difficulties to acquire what they want.

You are the one leaving out a very important part, because you only take into account ''stuff'' and not services, which might be immaterial but equally valuable.

You cannot eat gold, but with gold you are assured to be able to have a fully functioning market. Fiat currency in that regard have the same function, minus that they enable the issuers to extract resources from the users.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on February 26, 2011, 11:48:00 am
Very very good point Holt. Most currency is made from damned fine paper, though that stuff in the Monopoly box don't spend worth a damn.

Odd science fact, some isotope of mercury will transmutate -- is that a word -- into into some isotope of gold when exposed to seriously high levels of radiation. Though mercury is pricey too and nuclear power plant operators get so damned bitchy about people playing with their reactors.

hey, I should send that one to Matt Groening, see Homer finds a bunch of old thermometers and sneaks them into work...

Another one. Gold can be used like cobalt to salt a nuke and destroy us all as in Dr Strangelove. Nothing but the best for wiping out all life this capitalist's planet
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 12:07:22 pm
"what can I do with it?"

Use it has a good currency.

You don't realize how important a good currency is necessary for a well functioning economy and thus human life. Without a good currency offer and demand breaks down, people have difficulties to acquire what they want.

You are the one leaving out a very important part, because you only take into account ''stuff'' and not services, which might be immaterial but equally valuable.

You cannot eat gold, but with gold you are assured to be able to have a fully functioning market. Fiat currency in that regard have the same function, minus that they enable the issuers to extract resources from the users.

Can just as easily use anything else for currency. Could use copper or aluminium. Or a barter economy. People managed quite well before some clever sod thought "Hey I know. I'll make these little things called coins using gold and force everyone to use them".

Like a lot of people you give gold an almost religious level of reverence. You find people stockpiling gold in the event society collapses when in reality that gold would be worthless in comparison to ingots of iron, copper, aluminium, tin or even some forms of steel.

Very very good point Holt. Most currency is made from damned fine paper, though that stuff in the Monopoly box don't spend worth a damn.

Another one. Gold can be used like cobalt to salt a nuke and destroy us all as in Dr Strangelove. Nothing but the best for wiping out all life this capitalist's planet

Well the US Dollar isn't. The paper used for the US Dollar is actually inferior to some forged Dollars. Quite a hilarious little tidbit there. To be honest in regards to repulping the monopoly money is probably the more valuable as it's made from fairly mundane and normal paper with a minimum of extra crap to contaminate the pulp.

And yes woo nuclear weapons. Glorious idea really.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on February 26, 2011, 12:26:20 pm
On the other hand I am thinking in terms of "what can I do with it?"...

Use it has a good currency.

You don't realize how important a good currency is necessary for a well functioning economy and thus human life. Without a good currency offer and demand breaks down, people have difficulties to acquire what they want.

Here's a fun game. Let's hear what the Dolts, who are pooh-poohing gold and silver, would use instead. The world has valued gold and silver from time immemorial. Many Dolts, inside and outside government, have come up with all sorts of fun and creative ideas they think are better than gold and silver. What do the Dolts favor? I doubt we will get any response at all, but if we do, it should prove amusing.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 12:28:13 pm
Little anarchist went to ad hominem rather quickly once the value of his precious gold stockpile was questioned.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 12:39:38 pm
Little anarchist went to ad hominem rather quickly once the value of his precious gold stockpile was questioned.

Nope a good question was asked from, you.

Do you realize how is important currency is for modern society ? Barter is impractical, curbensome and prevents the division of labour.

Heck here in Africa people go about Olympic lengths to convert their savings in US Dollars, because compared to the local fiat currency it is more reliable. Currency is in itself a service, one of the most important in human history, maybe an institution can provide this service and make a profit out of it through mild inflation.

Government fiat in the other end is used a hidden tax and destroy wealth.

But in the mean time gold is the best thing we found to use as a currency, it simplify everything
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 12:41:42 pm
It does simplify it. However it is not the only option. A currency does not need to be gold or silver.
It can be anything that enough people have said "yes that is valuable"
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on February 26, 2011, 12:54:39 pm
I blathered on about gasoline as a commodity on another thread. Anything of value will do. Once again, remember Cokens from one of the first strips? 

A friend looked at my dog, then at a bag of dog food and said, that's his bank, you know where he keeps his valuables. So it is.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 12:54:45 pm
It does simplify it. However it is not the only option. A currency does not need to be gold or silver.
It can be anything that enough people have said "yes that is valuable"

{FACEPALM}

Read the comic for an introduction to free market in currency : http://www.bigheadpress.com/eft?page=25

See the big difference between Free marketers and you is that :

1- We want people to have choice, if some want gold other want to use fiat, token or Bullshit good for them.

2- You want to have a majoritarian vote and force all to abide by it.

Gold being the widely accepted currency is much more valuable than Continentals, which are nothing more than claims on the UW capacity of milking the tax slaves.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 01:24:03 pm
Ohhh you think I'm arguing it from the inside perspective of the comic? No I'm talking about reality. You know where anarchy has yet to work.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on February 26, 2011, 03:02:05 pm
Gold is valuable because we say it is. 

We say it is because it is relatively rare, it is pretty, it resists corrosion, it is soft and ductile and can be minted, it is also fungible.

Gold is conductive but I don’t think that has anything to do with its attractiveness as a means of exchange.

I have also found that when dealing with ladies gold is an excellent means for smoothing negotiations.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 03:28:50 pm
This chap understands it.

He's not quite there but he is halfway there at least. More than can be said for most.
He has understood the basic reality of it and some of the reasons behind it. He still misses on some points but he's getting there.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on February 26, 2011, 05:41:18 pm
Maybe if you explained using smaller words.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on February 26, 2011, 05:57:34 pm
Quote
No I'm talking about reality. You know where anarchy has yet to work.

Since you don't yet know what "anarchy" actually means, you're free to babble.

You refuse to know what "anarchy" means, because learning would run you too close to the risk of being wrong.

You choose ignorance.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 06:01:25 pm
Well I know you're not an anarchist either.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 06:06:33 pm
This chap understands it.

He's not quite there but he is halfway there at least. More than can be said for most.
He has understood the basic reality of it and some of the reasons behind it. He still misses on some points but he's getting there.

You could also see another part of the equation, that US Dollars bills are generally widely used in African countries not only has trade currency, but has a more reliable currency.

In that case we do have some sort of free market in currency, because I doubt this state of affairs come about because of government policies. In fact in my country wages are many times determined in Dollars terms and anything beyond 500$ in value is generally paid in US Dollars bills.

The reason is that it enable you to bypass the local currency inflation rate. Sure both are fiat currency, but the comparative difference between the inflation of both lead a spontaneous anarchistic Dollars acceptance to emerge.

Extend the logic to gold, which has very little inflation, and it is safe to assume that people will likely use it has currency because of these qualities.

Sure something else can be used like a currency, but in like the US acceptance in African countries, it will depend on a spontaneous order.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on February 26, 2011, 06:22:27 pm
In the name of all the gods of man and beast.

What we say is valuable is, to us. It need not be to everybody just the people who also say it is valuable, to them.

What's a ciggarette worth to a strung out smoker, a lot. what's it worth to me a nonsmoker, zilch.

What is valuable to me is valuable, hell the dog even knows that..
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 26, 2011, 06:52:20 pm
In the name of all the gods of man and beast.

What we say is valuable is, to us. It need not be to everybody just the people who also say it is valuable, to them.

What's a ciggarette worth to a strung out smoker, a lot. what's it worth to me a nonsmoker, zilch.

What is valuable to me is valuable, hell the dog even knows that..

Ring a ding ding I think we have a winner. He figured it out.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on February 26, 2011, 10:14:55 pm
You can use anything as a currency - and in a truly free market, such as the hypothetical Ceres market, people can and do use many things.

People tend to prefer certain characteristics of money. It should be durable. It should have intrinsic value. It should be portable. It should be divisible. It should be easily recognizable.

Gold is durable; you can dig up a coin from thousands of years ago, and it will not be corroded.

Now, you can't eat gold, as certain parrots like to repeat incessantly. Perhaps nothing else is of interest to those minute parrot brains, but gold does have value in electronics, as an excellent conductor; it is also used in jewelry because it is good to look at, easily worked, and durable. It is used in dental fillings.

Gold can be divided easily into smaller parts.

Gold is portable; a small amount has more value than, for example, an ounce of iron or tobacco or cowrie shells - although all of those have served as money at some time or another.

In any case, EFT is a free market. People choose to use gold for their own reasons. If you don't like it, offer something else. If you wish to offer paper, you need a better reason than "you can't eat gold", at least until you demonstrate your willingness to eat your own paper. I'll even donate some salt and pepper seasoning, just to see you try.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: orthzar on February 27, 2011, 12:50:07 am
I think this would be a good opportunity to further talk about currency in a free market, in EFT itself.   Certainly gold is popular among the main characters, but what do the other residents of Ceres use?  What about the currencies of the other rocks in space?

I am not all that well versed in the peculiarities of currency, other than a basic understanding of fiat currency.   I would like to see/read how AnCap businessmen would deal with multiple competing currencies.   For instance, retail outlets might have the top three currencies listed on the items, while having the price in the top ten currencies listed in a database.   Grams of gold is appearently the most common on Ceres, but what about silver, platinum, titanium, and the numerous yet rare radioactive elements.   A mix of barter and currency might be necessary when businessmen are moving large amounts of fuel, ships, and other bulk items.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on February 27, 2011, 08:58:55 am
I think this would be a good opportunity to further talk about currency in a free market, in EFT itself.   Certainly gold is popular among the main characters, but what do the other residents of Ceres use?  What about the currencies of the other rocks in space?

I am not all that well versed in the peculiarities of currency, other than a basic understanding of fiat currency.   I would like to see/read how AnCap businessmen would deal with multiple competing currencies.   For instance, retail outlets might have the top three currencies listed on the items, while having the price in the top ten currencies listed in a database.   Grams of gold is appearently the most common on Ceres, but what about silver, platinum, titanium, and the numerous yet rare radioactive elements.   A mix of barter and currency might be necessary when businessmen are moving large amounts of fuel, ships, and other bulk items.

Former Secretary of the Treasury, William Simon expressed a brilliant insight in his career. When he was asked by a reporter, "What is money?" he replied. "If the dog eats it, it's dog food."

Check out this early strip from EFT:

http://bigheadpress.com/eft?page=25

Understand that the forms of money listed in panel four are just examples. The Water Bros. would always retain the right to take or refuse any type of money. In panel two, Babbette's offer to take Guy's digital assistant in exchange for rooms was both humorous and real. You are quite correct that barter could be used, just as it is use today under every currency regime. This is also true of multiple currencies and currency substitutes. Even though the US government has tried to stop the practice, casino chips are often used for purchases in Nevada and elsewhere. Costa Rican businesses accept both US dollars and CR Colones. I once purchased a watch in Fiji in a 3-currency deal (Fijian, US and Australian). For the record, I think gold would be the accounting unit in which other currencies would be computed, but it wouldn't have to be. Welcome to monetary freedom!

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 10:38:59 am
Personally I would use the price of iron as a baseline. It's one of those resources that we use heavily and for a reason.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on February 27, 2011, 11:05:53 am
Iron rusts.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 11:09:51 am
True but Iron isn't something you store for long as if it's been mined it will be used.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on February 27, 2011, 11:17:36 am
You would store it if it held monetary value.  There might be giant gold safes filled with iron.

Probably not.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 11:26:39 am
Iron holds value rather well if stored correctly. Plus no matter the markets conditions there is always a demand for iron. Even if there was no market and you were in some post-apocalyptic hell, there would still be demand for iron.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on February 27, 2011, 12:16:37 pm
Iron has been used as currency; I happen to own a few iron coins from China, as a matter of fact. In a free market, you'd be free to use it, and more power to you.

Paper currency, on the other hand, tends toward the intrinsic value of paper, which is zero. I have a few paper notes from Zimbabwe, denominated in trillions. The largest, a $100 trillion note, is worth about the same as one egg, perhaps less.

In Zimbabwe, people resorted to trading grains of gold for food.

In the US of A, gold used to be widely used as currency, until gold ownership was banned by FDR. It was re-legalized around 1975, but one pays a tax for the so-called "profit" whenever faith-based paper dollars depreciate; this and the "legal tender" laws tend to discourage the use of precious metals for money.

If paper fetishists really believe in the value of paper, why don't they agree to a fair competition? End legal tender laws - let buyers and sellers negotiate freely whether to accept paper, or gold, or silver, or bales of tobacco, or ingots of iron, or whatever they choose. Legalize private minting of coinage. End taxes on precious metals.

If your faith-based paper is really worth what you say it is, then you should have no objections to a level playing field.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on February 27, 2011, 12:23:42 pm
If paper fetishists really believe in the value of paper, why don't they agree to a fair competition? End legal tender laws - let buyers and sellers negotiate freely whether to accept paper, or gold, or silver, or bales of tobacco, or ingots of iron, or whatever they choose. Legalize private minting of coinage. End taxes on precious metals.
You won't get an argument from me on this, even if there might be some practical difficulties, as long as there's an income tax, in completely ending the legal tender laws.

As long as it's legal to include what would be, effectively, a gold futures clause in what is an ordinary contract for goods and services - without such trading being confined to a securities market - being required to accept the amount of paper money that can actually buy the amount of gold specified in an agreement would be little enough hardship.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 12:36:54 pm
He's not getting an argument from me on it either.

We do have a system that is effectively a scam.
However the proposed alternatives are often themselves just as much a scam.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 27, 2011, 01:27:25 pm
He's not getting an argument from me on it either.

We do have a system that is effectively a scam.
However the proposed alternatives are often themselves just as much a scam.

You don't understand what money is, so you will not get it.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on February 27, 2011, 01:33:22 pm
Holt is right about iron and no it does not rust unless stored wrong, stable forever in a vacuum. The Spartans used iron for money too, seems like.

The thing that's nice about iron is it's very commonness.

Imagine an island ecconomy based on 1600 ounces of gold, 100 pounds. Life goes on and all is stable. Then someone finds a pirate treasure hoard containing 1000 pounds of gold. Bang, everything goes to hell, mass confusion, serious bummer dude. Something like it happened in Spain after they looted the New World.

Same fantasy island but the ecconomy is based on 1600 TONS of iron. A shipwreck is washed up, the ship is wood but the engine block is cast iron. Proceed from there as to the impact on that ecconomy.

In this case the gold ecconomy is easily diverted, low ineritia, the common stuff ecconomy has higher inertia and so more stable. Most stable is a mixed commodity ecconomy based on precious metals, grain, steel, water and maybe kilowatts, lots of stuff all at once.

In some big cities they buy and sell steam, delivered in pipes under the street. In a way stretch, one could call steam money, since that's what they get for it..

Does that make sense.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 02:14:18 pm
You don't understand what money is, so you will not get it.

No you mean I don't agree with you that money is this magical thing that exists outside the realm of the material.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 27, 2011, 02:39:02 pm
You don't understand what money is, so you will not get it.

No you mean I don't agree with you that money is this magical thing that exists outside the realm of the material.

Nope, you are the refusing to see anything beyond ''material goods'', services are immaterial goods that still have values. The same money is a kind of service, central banks now provide this service by providing largely consistent tokens largely accepted and enabling people to trade more easily.

In this sense the ''usefulness'' of the token doesn't matter, what matter is how useful it is for people has a means of exchange.

Next time you heard a Lady Gaga song ask yourself why the ramblings of a nude mad girl was useful in material sense for you.

Gold makes for good currency, not because gold is uber useful in your material sense, but because it is a good means of Exchange. Silver is also is used in this sense for small change.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 03:20:42 pm
Oh I understand the value of services. However you seem convinced that money is necessary for the existence of services. Then your fetishism of gold.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on February 27, 2011, 03:47:40 pm
Oh I understand the value of services. However you seem convinced that money is necessary for the existence of services. Then your fetishism of gold.

Let me have a good laugh at you :

My father father raise cows, he want to buy a car and send me in town with 50 cows :

Scenario A : I go to the market, sell the cows for 50 gold coins, Coca Cola tokens, fiat paper, 1000 Dollar Bills or 100 Silver coins. I then get these currency that I have and head to the car dealer.

Scenario B : I got the dealer and ask him to change his car for my cows, but he his only willing take ONE Cow and you have 50 cows .... what do you do then ? He would like some 50 diverse consumer goods, but are the people who have them willing to accept entire cows ? Welcome to the confusing world of barter.

I have scholarship in Europe valued in 50 000 USD, how the heck would have had travelled with the value of goods for barter over seas and who guaranty me that people will accept my Cows in Europe ?


Without currency modern economy is not possible.

ETA :

Gold is just one the best things to be used for currency, but the ideal thing is to have free market in currencies
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Holt on February 27, 2011, 05:05:02 pm
Well I'm happy. You're thinking now, you weren't doing that before. You've actually sat down and thought about the why instead of going "it just is"
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on February 27, 2011, 06:26:20 pm
The problem with a gold based monetary system is that there is not enough to lubricate the system, even throwing in silver, there is still not enough, for an economy the size the the USA.

We need a more fluid flexible system with fiat paper money that is cheap to produce and hard to counterfeit.

What we have now works pretty well unless the government intervenes and causes inflation or deflation, which it looks like they are about to do.

 
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on February 27, 2011, 07:07:50 pm
The problem with a gold based monetary system is that there is not enough to lubricate the system, even throwing in silver, there is still not enough, for an economy the size the the USA.

This is a tempting idea, but at heart it is based on an erroneous belief. To wit, that there must be enough gold (or whatever) to spread around. At one time, I was paid a Krugerrand a week. I made the same sort of statement to my boss, about there not being "enough" gold for world commerce. He said he would be quite happy if there were only one kilo of gold in all of the earth, on which to base a currency. Instead of a gold ounce representing the price of a quality man's suit, maybe some fraction of a nano-gram of gold would be the price. It is just a medium of exchange, after all. It can map to any amount of wealth in the worlds.

For the naysayers, of course, this suggests two "problem." (1) Monetary inflation. As the net amount of gold increases due to mining, each gram of gold has microscopically less buying power. Which leads to price inflation. (2) Monetary deflation. As the amount of wealth in the world increases, due to innovation and progress, each gram of gold is worth more. Which leads to price deflation.

In the first case, though, the marginal effect would be deminimus; a drop in the ocean. In the second case, well, who's against having their money increase in value? Only the Keynesians worry about this for reasons that are faith-based, not reality based.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on February 27, 2011, 07:52:07 pm
I don't want to be a knee jerk contrarian here but I think there must be a limit as to how far a society would accept the division of its favorite medium of exchange before it lost its ability to satisfy everyone. 

"How much for the hot dog?  That will be two atoms of gold sir." 

I don't think so.  But I could be wrong. 

If half the gold in the word just vanished we might logically all just agree that whats it left is now worth twice as much but I don't think it would work out that way.  Money is about confidence.  Even gold money.  And especially with gold money people want to be able to see and feel it.

Of course right now most money is not even physical.  I read that it mostly ones and zeroes in cyberspace so my argument is weak. 

But I do remember reading in graduate school that there was not enough gold to create the liquidity a modern America needs and so we had to move off the gold standard.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Apollo-Soyuz on February 27, 2011, 08:01:28 pm

For the naysayers, of course, this suggests two "problem." ... (2) Monetary deflation. As the amount of wealth in the world increases, due to innovation and progress, each gram of gold is worth more. Which leads to price deflation.

... In the second case, well, who's against having their money increase in value? Only the Keynesians worry about this for reasons that are faith-based, not reality based.

I'm not against my money increasing in value, but if I manufacture cars or sell smoked bacon, or do handyman work or produce any other product, I don't want to do that in a deflationary economy.  Because if the consumer knows that if they can manage to put off purchasing an item for another month,their money will go farther. I have to buy materials or pay expenses with the value of today's money, then let the item sit until it's sold, but I have to charge less the longer it sits due to the fact that the customer's currency is now worth more and goes further.

I've kinda assumed that as the Belter economy grew, since mining is such a large part of the economy, I guessed that roughly as much wealth was refined out of the rocks to keep pace with a the rest of the Belt's growth. 

OTOH, I could also see the argument that without a government mandated fiat currency, if the economy tended to grow faster than the gold supply could expand, we might see other items drafted for use as currency. We could see platinum or palladium coins minted. We could see "cokens" (a private fiat currency that might be good for inexpensive purchases but not something anyone would keep their life savings in unless they could afford to constantly keep an eye on the books over at the Ceres Coca-cola bottling plant). We could see negotiable futures contracts  for commodity items (metric ton of copper, 100 kilos of golden rice)  used for trade too.

BTW, I'm far from being a Keynesian.  I've lived through a number of  recessions. I can't believe there's still people with "piled higher and deeper" after their names still supporting that theory.  I always try to ask them, "When in your lifetime during the "good times" has the government scrimped and saved and significantly payed down the debt incurred during "bad times" when the government was falling all over itself to spend-spend-spend to "stimulate the economy"?"
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on February 27, 2011, 08:09:25 pm
But I do remember reading in graduate school that there was not enough gold to create the liquidity a modern America needs and so we had to move off the gold standard.
If you didn't scramble the wording slightly, they lied to you.

It is true that there is "not enough gold to create the liquidity" countries need. That's why they started printing paper money. But long after they started printing paper money - and doing other things to generate more liquidity, like allowing banks to create money themselves - they still remained on the gold standard. Because the gold standard itself doesn't prevent money from being issued in excess of the gold in Fort Knox.

What the gold standard does do, though, is require painful steps to be taken if, say, an economic slowdown means that real estate and the like used for collateral on bank loans is no longer worth the amount of gold it once was. It... keeps the paper money honest. That eventually got to be too much to ask.

Sometimes, countries just devalued their currencies, while remaining on the gold standard, but at a lower level. This worked reasonably well. And in 1933, F.D.R. did not take the U.S. off the gold standard completely. He just devalued the U.S. dollar in terms of gold - from $20.67 per troy ounce to $35 per troy ounce - but he also got more gold for Fort Knox by requiring much of the gold in the hands of Americans to be turned in for paper money.

It wasn't until 1968 that the $35 dollar an ounce gold standard was abandoned - and, in fact, that was still a devaluation; the U.S. dollar wasn't set floating until a few years after that.

Was the U.S. a "modern country" during the 1960s? I thought so.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on February 27, 2011, 08:31:44 pm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/02/15/131934618/the-island-of-stone-money

Quote
There's a tiny island called Yap out in the Pacific Ocean. Economists love it because it helps answer this really basic question: What is money?


(http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2010/12/09/yap2.jpg?t=1291931679&s=3)


  There is money with intrinsic value like the 1900 dollar backed by gold or the 2000 dollar backed by oil , there is also intangable money with no intrinsic value at all , money that represents credit purely because all partys involved have agreed  that the symbol chosen represents certain value.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on February 27, 2011, 08:58:09 pm
I had thought that this was settled the last time, but here are the same people saying the same things, plus some new ones.

Everybody wants a medium of exchange. They don't want too many mediums of exchange because with too many different kinds of money it's as confusing as barter.

For money that you accept and that you will then spend immediately, all that matters is that other people accept it. If the money loses 0.01% of its value between the time you get it and the time you spend it, you may have gained or lost that much just when you negotiated price when you got that money. It isn't a big deal.

So the immediate thing is that you don't want to accept money that other people don't accept. For small sums that you spend the same day or so, that's pretty much all that matters. You have a pretty good idea what that money is worth today, so you quote your price on that basis and then you buy stuff the same way.

Say you are real active in your buying and selling. You sell something for a dollar. Then you buy something with that dollar. You sell something else for a dollar. You buy something you want with that dollar. After awhile you notice that when you want to buy they want to charge you $1.01. OK, next time you charge $1.01 too. And later still they charge you $1.02. Next time you charge $1.02. By the time the currency inflates 10%, that inflation has cost you 10 cents.

But the longer you keep currency instead of spend it, the more you care that the value is stable.

If the value of a currency drops too fast, you lose significant money holding it. So when you start to see that happen, you won't want to accept too much of it. You want to get just enough of the inflating currency to spend immediately, and get the rest of your money in something that's more stable.

Similarly, if the value of a currency rises too fast, you lose if you spend it. Better to save as much of that currency as you can and spend currencies which are stable or inflationary.

With money that decreases in value too fast, nobody wants to accept it as payment. With money that increases in value too fast, nobody wants to spend it.

So people prefer to do much of their trading using whatever currencies seem stable in value.

It's a disadvantage if a currency has no stable value in itself. Suppose for example that people agree to use Babe Ruth signatures as money. There is a limited number of them because Babe Ruth is dead and each of the ones that is accepted as genuine is registered. Everybody will accept them as money because everybody else does. But what if people just stop? They get a history video from Terra that makes Babe Ruth look ruthless, and they don't like him anymore. Whatever reason. Vagaries of social consensus can make your money worthless.

Valued currency can have problems too. If somebody rich has a big project that will require a lot of gold for some industrial purpose, he will start taking gold out of circulation and the value of the remaining gold will rise. People will notice the rising value and take more out of circulation because they'd rather keep it than spend it. A big increase in industrial demand can disrupt the currency.

Similarly, if the mining of gold happens faster than gold is used up by the economy, then gold as a currency will inflate. This can particularly happen if gold is a by-product of some other operation. No matter how cheap the gold gets, people will go on mining it while they make a profit on the other metals that come from the ore.

Well, gold could be widely used as a major currency until one of those things happens. While the value is stable people will use it. When the value gets less stable they will use it less. The currencies that are widest used will be fairly stable because their use is voluntary, and if a currency inflates too much people will not want to accept it, and if a currency deflates too much people will not want to offer it.

People mentioned that gold doesn't rust. If you use milk as a currency then somebody had better actually drink it or something before it goes sour. Similarly with fresh eggs. Things that go bad aren't as good for currency unless it's easy to tell how bad they are, because otherwise people will try to pass bad eggs for good ones and old eggs for fresh ones. and they will have a limited number of exchanges before they either get used or go bad, so the volume of trade with that currency can't be gigantic.

Of course there's some expense to proving that gold is not counterfeit also. There's no free lunch. But the easier it is to show that a particular batch of some commodity is good, the easier it is to use that commodity as money.

And the harder it is to inspect the commodity itself, the more you depend on documents from trusted sources, the more likely somebody will cheat on that and back their documents with bad product, or even put out multiple documents on the same batch of product. The documents which assert that the product is there and is good, might as well be paper money that's partially backed by the product.

What did I leave out?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on February 28, 2011, 12:35:10 pm
If paper fetishists really believe in the value of paper, why don't they agree to a fair competition? End legal tender laws - let buyers and sellers negotiate freely whether to accept paper, or gold, or silver, or bales of tobacco, or ingots of iron, or whatever they choose. Legalize private minting of coinage. End taxes on precious metals.
You won't get an argument from me on this, even if there might be some practical difficulties, as long as there's an income tax, in completely ending the legal tender laws.

As long as it's legal to include what would be, effectively, a gold futures clause in what is an ordinary contract for goods and services - without such trading being confined to a securities market - being required to accept the amount of paper money that can actually buy the amount of gold specified in an agreement would be little enough hardship.

Why make it so complicated? It could be ( and was ) much simpler: "Party A agrees to pay X ounces of gold to party B at such-and-such time, in exchange for Y."

No need for futures contracts and conversion to faith-based paper.

Such gold clauses were common, and were enforceable for many years, until the government unilaterally overturned them.

During the War to End Southern Independence, California enforced such clauses. Gold and greenbacks traded in the same markets. Greenbacks traded at a discount of about 50%. Some vendors refused to take greenbacks entirely. Everyone preferred to pay taxes in greenbacks, of course. If the government thinks that faith-based money is worth so much, let them keep it.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: macsnafu on February 28, 2011, 01:39:33 pm
The problem with a gold based monetary system is that there is not enough to lubricate the system, even throwing in silver, there is still not enough, for an economy the size the the USA.

We need a more fluid flexible system with fiat paper money that is cheap to produce and hard to counterfeit.

What we have now works pretty well unless the government intervenes and causes inflation or deflation, which it looks like they are about to do.
Any amount of money can represent any amount of wealth, so 'liquidity" is not really an issue. Just be sure to use a commodity that is divisible.

What we have now works pretty well, except for the fact that the Fed has been consistently inflating money *every* year since their creation in 1913, which is why the dollar has gone through so much devaluation in the last century.  You don't really notice it because other countries also have a central bank that devalues their currency, as well.

While the mining of gold may indeed increase the money supply if we were using gold as money, they can't mine gold nearly as fast as our current government can print paper.  And that would be a good thing, as our money couldn't possibly lose value as quickly as it historically has.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on February 28, 2011, 09:25:41 pm
Does anyone know yet how much gold is in Asteroids?

I think the recent impactor experiment would have given a clue , but not proof since it represents such a small sample.

Is it safe to assume that gold will be scarce?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on February 28, 2011, 10:22:41 pm
Does anyone know yet how much gold is in Asteroids?

I think the recent impactor experiment would have given a clue , but not proof since it represents such a small sample.

Is it safe to assume that gold will be scarce?

This does not actually matter. In an AnCap society, if huge amounts of gold were discovered, then gold would lose its attractiveness as money; something else, such as silver, platinum, or whatever would become the preferred medium of exchange.

It's a free market, after all.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 01, 2011, 01:47:48 am
Is it safe to assume that gold will be scarce?
My understanding is that silver will remain scarce; gold will be so-so, and platinum and iridium will be... almost common.

However, the proportions of platinum and iridium in nickel-iron meteorites, while higher than in Earthly iron ore, aren't really all that high. Otherwise, meteorite specimens wouldn't be affordable to collectors. Platinum might be a by-product of iron production in space - as gold might be a by-product or iron production on Mars - but it doesn't have to be true that there are technologies for cheaply beneficiating ores at the parts-per-million level, even in the time of EFT. Even if such technologies would seem trivial compared to much else they have.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 01, 2011, 11:11:16 am
I CARE

I have been looking for an alternative to PayPal in Latin America. I have found a handful of companies, but I have to check them out. Tomorrow, I will go to Panama City and visit the offices of such a payment service provider. Yes, the government has licensed them, but I am much more interested in performing my own "sniff" test.

Anyway, whenever there seems to be an unserved or under-served market, my entrepreneurial muse always whispers in my ear, "Business opportunity." And just today, I realized that the gold deniers on the Forum have inadvertently brought a seriously under-served market niche to light. The total absence of a iron-based alternative currency!

Being one of life's losers is toxic to the soul. Being a winner, on the other hand, can break the vicious cycle of self-loathing and anger that causes one to be a troll.

Well, I care. I would love to help sad folks like Holt, Contrary Guy and others (you know who you are), to break the cycle by becoming successful entrepreneurs. So I pledge to write promotional text and provide marketing assistance to these folks for free. The only requirement is that they write a good business plan and either contribute or solicit start-up capital.

What is the business I envision? The First Iron Monger Bank of America. It's perfect. Though you cannot eat iron either, at least you can build cool stuff with it. Iron is the most recycled material on earth. As pointed out on this forum, it does not rust, if stored right, is easily recognized (by its magnetism), is divisible and fungible. Usable coins would be bit unwieldy (see previously posted photo of Yak stone money), but the bank could simply print and distribute certificates denominated in pounds of iron. (I think scrap iron is currently trading in the 80¢ per pound range.)

Gold deniers, what could possibly go wrong?

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 01, 2011, 11:50:26 am
i am mostly lurking this week in hopes some signal may emerge from the noise. It could happen.

This did happen at least according to the author of The Reluctant Admiral, a biography of Isoroku Yamamoto. After the war a major Japanese steel company gave his widow several tons of good grade steel because she was hurting and the Navy was having trouble caring for all the widows and orphans. Call it a gesture of respect and safely under the radar and table.

Naturally, the author said, they didn't deliver it, drop it in the front yard. She was given ownership of it in the warehouse, they sold it for her and passed on the cash. Damned decent and all that.

The book is in storage so I can't double check it but perhaps Sandy, to whom Google is his bitch, can find a reference? Considering Japanese culture, its respect for the Admiral and conditions at the time, it easily could have happened.

If so, iron was used as money in a modern ecconomy not so long ago.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: macsnafu on March 01, 2011, 11:54:39 am
What is the business I envision? The First Iron Monger Bank of America. It's perfect. Though you cannot eat iron either, at least you can build cool stuff with it. Iron is the most recycled material on earth. As pointed out on this forum, it does not rust, if stored right, is easily recognized (by its magnetism), is divisible and fungible. Usable coins would be bit unwieldy (see previously posted photo of Yak stone money), but the bank could simply print and distribute certificates denominated in pounds of iron. (I think scrap iron is currently trading in the 80¢ per pound range.)

And with plenty of iron, there should be no problem with "liquidity".  Hoo-ha!   :P
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 01, 2011, 11:56:45 am
several tons of good grade steel ... they sold it for her and passed on the cash.
...
If so, iron was used as money in a modern ecconomy not so long ago.

Obviously not, by your own words.  The steel was exchanged for money.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 01, 2011, 12:21:15 pm
More noise than signal again.

Was it Plato who said all conversations are based on definitions?

Some of the voices on my radio blather on about buying gold as a hedge against the unknown. Too often it is not shiny coins they sell but pieces of paper worth one (1) ounce in a bank back East somewhere. People buy them, why escapes me when a million dollars worth of shiny coins would easily fit in a shoe box, but they do. Me, i like shiny things and have been known to bring them home to my nest.

It's all through TPB and EFT, if it walks and quacks like a duck it is a duck.

A twenty dollar bill is the same as some gram scale piece of gold, today anyway. It is a sheet of plywood, lunch for 2, a bottle of bourbon, an unspeakable act between consenting adults in a scuzzy back alley.

Money, poor innocent greenbacks, is all those things because it can be converted back and forth unless used up in the process.

In the anecdote, respect became steel, steel became Yen, Yen became food for the family.

And not directly in my own words, I attributed it to a book not on hand, author unremembered but the book is real and in any large library.

Message ends
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 01, 2011, 12:53:22 pm
The trouble with those "twenty dollar notes" is that, with the passage of time, they lose value. My parents recall a time when twenty dollars was serious money; they could see a movie for a nickel, two for a dime.

Today, typical prices for movies are $7 to $20, depending on the venue.

Other prices have risen accordingly.

Within my own memory, my folks bought a home for $17,000 in 1964 or thereabouts. It sold for over six times that price in 1990 or thereabouts. This was in Pittsburgh, where the real estate market is a lot more tame than in, for example, parts of California.

Cars in the 60s could be had for about $2000. Now, $25k (and up) would be more typical.

Inflation does not merely cause prices to rise; it distorts economic decisions in numerous ways. Two examples of such distortion include the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Another effect is that people save less. If inflation is going to steal the value of your dollars, it seems to make sense to spend now, rather than saving for the future.

Prudent people save in a mix of ways - including paper and shiny, durable stuff. Those who bought shiny silver and gold coins have seen marked nominal gains in the value of their savings. Meanwhile, that stack of paper is declining in value; it buys fewer loaves of bread or gallons of gasoline than before.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Apollo-Soyuz on March 01, 2011, 03:48:27 pm

What is the business I envision? The First Iron Monger Bank of America. It's perfect. Though you cannot eat iron either, at least you can build cool stuff with it. Iron is the most recycled material on earth. As pointed out on this forum, it does not rust, if stored right, is easily recognized (by its magnetism), is divisible and fungible. Usable coins would be bit unwieldy (see previously posted photo of Yak stone money), but the bank could simply print and distribute certificates denominated in pounds of iron. (I think scrap iron is currently trading in the 80¢ per pound range.)


A few months ago I was getting 6 cents USD per pound of heavy cast iron at the scrapyard. This is an outstanding price for scrap.

My favorite scrap is brake drums and brake rotors.  They're easy to stack in the pick-up truck and easy to carry and toss into the scrap pile. All we need to do is stamp the weight onto the ready-made coin, add a assayer's stamp and embed a RFID tag for easy inventory (just like many casino poker chips!)
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on March 01, 2011, 05:46:30 pm
http://www.coinnews.net/2008/05/09/house-passes-bill-for-steel-cent-and-nickel-4085/


Almost happened .

There was a Steel Nickel issued during WWII , every coin colector has one.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 01, 2011, 07:03:24 pm
One thought on metallic money. Ideally it should be something not commonly alloyed. Even simple standard cast iron is 3% carbon plus a few other ingredients. Some of the more sophisticated or corrosion resistant steels have over a dozen ingredients. It's complicated stuff, for instance marine and foodservice stainless is nonmagnetic.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 01, 2011, 07:05:12 pm
http://www.coinnews.net/2008/05/09/house-passes-bill-for-steel-cent-and-nickel-4085/


Almost happened .

There was a Steel Nickel issued during WWII , every coin colector has one.

And African natives used iron spearheads as money. So really, these guy should be able to make--pardon the pun--a mint with an iron bank. Yet somehow, in spite of all the deniers' protestations about how iron would make a great monetary metal, I really doubt it could win the hearts and minds (and pocketbooks) of the people.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 02, 2011, 06:20:55 am

Inflation does not merely cause prices to rise; it distorts economic decisions in numerous ways. Two examples of such distortion include the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Another effect is that people save less. If inflation is going to steal the value of your dollars, it seems to make sense to spend now, rather than saving for the future.

This will be a little long, sorry about that.

Beginning economics books used to have a concept called the "multiplier". It went like this: Suppose the government spends an extra dollar. The person who performed some sale or service to the government then spends the dollar for something he wants, and the person who gets the dollar spends it, and so on. They estimated that the single dollar would be spent about 4 times during the year.

They had a theory that sometimes the people with money don't spend it fast enough to get jobs for everybody. If people are out of work and broke because the people who have money simply don't want to buy enough, those people could be put to work. They can mine more iron ore, and make more steel, and make more cars, and buy the cars, and nobody loses. If they make five extra cars and buy four of them for themselves and the government gets one, and then the government collects 25% taxes on their extra income, nobody is worse off.

The government spends an extra dollar, the dollar circulates, the government gets the dollar back in taxes, everybody involved gets the chance to work and spend, it's all good.

Of course that doesn't always work. It can't work unless consumers don't want to spend enough to keep everybody employed. When there is some limiting resource that keeps people from producing more, then more money only drives up prices. It is sometimes argued that the "nobody is worse off" claim is never ever true.

But the idea illustrates the point that money has a "velocity", there's a rate that it gets exchanged. If the speed that money changes hands increases when nothing else changes, the money will be worth less.

When there are poor people who spend their money as fast as they get it, the money can move fast. If you get your monthly paycheck and spend it all within a month, that's a velocity of 12 times a year. If you get paid every 2 weeks that's 24 times a year. If you put it in the bank and the bank lends it to somebody who spends it this month, that's 12 times a year too. But the bank usually can't find that many good debtors.... If you invest the money this month, it still passes through your hands quickly.

It's kind of like a game of hot potato -- the faster you get the money out of your hands, the less you get burned. But the faster people spend money on average, the hotter the potato gets....

The faster you move your money into something that isn't money, the less you personally are affected by inflation. In the worst case, the money inflates so fast that people buy anything they can hoping to barter it, because a cuckoo clock today that you don't want and nobody much wants will be worth more tomorrow than the money you spent on it. And of course if everybody is franticly spending their money, the multiplier goes up and up.

When the multipllier goes up, the poor government spends one extra dollar and it causes more than a dollar's worth of inflation. Ouch.

And think of the poor bankers! In good times they can take your dollar and lend out four dollars to excellent credit risks. In bad times they can't find a secure sucker to borrow their own dollar, and their stock in trade becomes steadily more worthless. Can you spare a tear for them?

Quote
Prudent people save in a mix of ways - including paper and shiny, durable stuff. Those who bought shiny silver and gold coins have seen marked nominal gains in the value of their savings. Meanwhile, that stack of paper is declining in value; it buys fewer loaves of bread or gallons of gasoline than before.

Paper money is not an investment and not something to save, unless you are a collector. It is a hot potato. Its function is to be spent.

Keeping paper money is like riding around on the subway all day, trying to get your business done there. Or worse, that simile is not pungent enough. The subway is designed to get you from place to place, not to be camped out in, but you don't actively lose by spending your time there. Maybe if they charged you by the minute, then it would be more like holding onto money.

Gold is more of an investment than a currency. If you are selling something and you get a choice between being paid in paper and paid in gold, which do you prefer? Gold, probably. If you're sure it isn't false. But if you are buying something and you get a choice between paying with paper and paying with gold, which do you choose? Definitely paper.

The more you want to hold onto your currency, the less it's money and the more it's an investment.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 02, 2011, 11:06:29 am
Damned nice post on money, we forget sometimes it's more than mattress stuffing.

I have set myself to living a compact lifestyle which makes some very desirable forms of saving difiicult, that is saving wealth in the form of nonmonetary assets, consumable or not.  

Let me clarify, say the store has a huge markdown sale on bulky stuff I need and use and would buy anyway. I could use a pickup truck load, can afford it, but have no place to store it. Many people could fill a basement, garage, pantry. I have to pick and choose what I can stash away, dense in value and size stuff, batteries and ammo maybe, sure. Toilet paper not so much.

The one thing cash has going for it is density of value, 200 C notes in a one inch stack, $20,000 fragile inflation prone hot potato bucks to an inch. It's hard to beat though far from perfect.

just some thoughts from a different perspective.

Back to lurking.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 02, 2011, 03:00:26 pm
Yet somehow, in spite of all the deniers' protestations about how iron would make a great monetary metal, I really doubt it could win the hearts and minds (and pocketbooks) of the people.
Ancient Sparta made their money from iron - because it was so bulky and heavy for its value, this was intended to prevent people from trying to make a lot of money, and keep them focused on being prepared for war rather than on soft luxuries.

So that's at least one example of using iron for money that shows it was intentionally chosen because it was bad for that purpose.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 02, 2011, 03:02:45 pm

Inflation does not merely cause prices to rise; it distorts economic decisions in numerous ways. Two examples of such distortion include the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Another effect is that people save less. If inflation is going to steal the value of your dollars, it seems to make sense to spend now, rather than saving for the future.

This will be a little long, sorry about that.

Beginning economics books used to have a concept called the "multiplier".

Beginning economics books often have a lot of fallacies, and the "economic multiplier" is one of the most egregious.

People who do rigorous studies of this "government multiplier" have found that the value approximates unity, and is often on the low side of that value.

I leave for you to work out the consequences of a multiplier less than unity, with your typical excruciatingly tedious verbiage.

Or we can just borrow from Ross Perot: Hear that sucking sound? That's the government sucking the productivity out of the economy.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sams on March 02, 2011, 03:17:32 pm

Inflation does not merely cause prices to rise; it distorts economic decisions in numerous ways. Two examples of such distortion include the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Another effect is that people save less. If inflation is going to steal the value of your dollars, it seems to make sense to spend now, rather than saving for the future.

This will be a little long, sorry about that.

Beginning economics books used to have a concept called the "multiplier".

Beginning economics books often have a lot of fallacies, and the "economic multiplier" is one of the most egregious.

People who do rigorous studies of this "government multiplier" have found that the value approximates unity, and is often on the low side of that value.

I leave for you to work out the consequences of a multiplier less than unity, with your typical excruciatingly tedious verbiage.

Or we can just borrow from Ross Perot: Hear that sucking sound? That's the government sucking the productivity out of the economy.


Let me help you => Second of Thermodinamics : There ain't such a thing has a 100% efficient thermal engine, there WILL ALWAYS BE LOSSES.

Government creates losses on extracting the money from the economy, thus the ''multiplier'' will always be inferior to 1.

Then you can say ''but bussines invest and get returns'' and I would agree, especially since why should we assume that the government goons have ''investment spirits'' and the rest are a bunch of inactive vegetables ?

The best ''edge'' against inflation is income producing investment, in a true free market buying houses to lend would be a simple one.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 02, 2011, 03:26:31 pm

Inflation does not merely cause prices to rise; it distorts economic decisions in numerous ways. Two examples of such distortion include the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Another effect is that people save less. If inflation is going to steal the value of your dollars, it seems to make sense to spend now, rather than saving for the future.

This will be a little long, sorry about that.

Beginning economics books used to have a concept called the "multiplier".

Beginning economics books often have a lot of fallacies, and the "economic multiplier" is one of the most egregious.

People who do rigorous studies of this "government multiplier" have found that the value approximates unity, and is often on the low side of that value.

Well, there's a lot of reason to believe that those people tend to be wrong, within the meaning of the term.

However, if we take it farther there's a sense that you're right. There was an implication that sometimes -- sometimes -- people with money don't spend enough to hire people who need money, so that production will go up from government spending. It would be very hard to argue that this is always true, and much more plausible that it's always false.

So when it's false (and surely almost everybody will agree that it can be false some of the time), government spends money, productivity does not go up, and the multiplier takes effect anyway. If each dollar in government spending is then spent 4 more times that year, each dollar in government spending results in 5 dollars that would otherwise not be spent, chasing the same amount of goods and services that would otherwise be produced.

So while the multiplier definitely exists. some people should argue that sometimes it can be a good thing (more stuff produced that would otherwise not exist, people having the chance to work when their labor would otherwise be lost forever, etc) and other times a bad thing. And other people can argue that it is always a bad thing.

Different from saying that the multiplier does not exist or has a value around 1.

HTH
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: macsnafu on March 02, 2011, 04:33:59 pm

Inflation does not merely cause prices to rise; it distorts economic decisions in numerous ways. Two examples of such distortion include the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. Another effect is that people save less. If inflation is going to steal the value of your dollars, it seems to make sense to spend now, rather than saving for the future.

This will be a little long, sorry about that.

Beginning economics books used to have a concept called the "multiplier".

Beginning economics books often have a lot of fallacies, and the "economic multiplier" is one of the most egregious.

People who do rigorous studies of this "government multiplier" have found that the value approximates unity, and is often on the low side of that value.

Well, there's a lot of reason to believe that those people tend to be wrong, within the meaning of the term.

However, if we take it farther there's a sense that you're right. There was an implication that sometimes -- sometimes -- people with money don't spend enough to hire people who need money, so that production will go up from government spending. It would be very hard to argue that this is always true, and much more plausible that it's always false.

So when it's false (and surely almost everybody will agree that it can be false some of the time), government spends money, productivity does not go up, and the multiplier takes effect anyway. If each dollar in government spending is then spent 4 more times that year, each dollar in government spending results in 5 dollars that would otherwise not be spent, chasing the same amount of goods and services that would otherwise be produced.

So while the multiplier definitely exists. some people should argue that sometimes it can be a good thing (more stuff produced that would otherwise not exist, people having the chance to work when their labor would otherwise be lost forever, etc) and other times a bad thing. And other people can argue that it is always a bad thing.

Different from saying that the multiplier does not exist or has a value around 1.

HTH

The ultimate fallacy here is that productivity somehow goes up when more money is spent (or, when talking about "velocity", is spent more quickly). That's the Keynesian flaw in a nutshell.  Productivity can only go up when there is an increase in actual savings of wealth, used to increase production instead of for end consumer goods.  That is, when more present consumption is deferred for more later consumption. 
Neither the amount of money spent nor the velocity of money is going to make any real changes to actual wealth, i.e. goods and services.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 02, 2011, 04:48:22 pm
The ultimate fallacy here is that productivity somehow goes up when more money is spent (or, when talking about "velocity", is spent more quickly). That's the Keynesian flaw in a nutshell.  Productivity can only go up when there is an increase in actual savings of wealth, used to increase production instead of for end consumer goods.  That is, when more present consumption is deferred for more later consumption. 
Neither the amount of money spent nor the velocity of money is going to make any real changes to actual wealth, i.e. goods and services.
Using the usual meaning of the word "Productivity" to refer to the efficiency with which labor is translated into wealth, you are absolutely correct. This kind of productivity increases due to advances in technology, higher access to natural resources - and, the one thing most easily controllable, due to capital investment.

However, the Keynesians aren't claiming that a higher velocity of money increases productivity in that sense. Instead, they correctly claims that it increases production.

People can be working and producing wealth, or they can be idle because they are unemployed. Labor may create goods and services of value, but unless that value can be realized in money - unless they're goods and services somebody else wants to buy and can pay for - then, unless among the goods and services I create is food to feed myself, because I am a farmer of some sort, I am quickly going to have a problem.

If I make shoes for a living, but no one can afford new shoes, I will not be able to buy food to feed myself, or - though that is a small thing by comparison - leather to make more shoes. So I would need to put down my last, and wander the streets scrounging deposit bottles to get enough money to buy food - this being a much less efficient use of my time than making shoes would be if people were buying them.

To my mind, the correct strategy is obvious. Print two kinds of money.

One kind of money is equivalent to gold, and can be freely converted to gold and used to buy imported goods. As it can be converted to gold, it may not be issued in such quantities as would cause inflation. Such paper money would be... a convenience. Perhaps best issued privately by banks. Or stick to gold coins.

The other kind of money would be government wooden nickels, as it were, for the army of unemployed left behind by the shortage of gold. They could use it to buy things from each other - but it wouldn't be convertible. And so all of that money would stay in the domestic economy, it being worthless for buying imports.

People in the gold economy would be taxed to pay for imports of fruit purchasable with ration coupons, and landlords would probably be the ones hardest hit, being forced to accept the funny money at some sort of "par". So it wouldn't be a ZAP-style situation, but it would be a step towards having honest money.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Apollo-Soyuz on March 02, 2011, 05:29:07 pm
One thought on metallic money. Ideally it should be something not commonly alloyed. Even simple standard cast iron is 3% carbon plus a few other ingredients. Some of the more sophisticated or corrosion resistant steels have over a dozen ingredients. It's complicated stuff, for instance marine and foodservice stainless is nonmagnetic.

In India they have a coin made out of high quality stainless steel. Good enough, apparently to smuggle the coins out of the country as raw materials for razor blades. No really.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6766563.stm        circa 2007

This is a direct result of the inflation created when governments create money out of legislative fiat.

The question no one is asking is do you really own those one rupee coins in your pocket, or does the government?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 12:16:22 am

The ultimate fallacy here is that productivity somehow goes up when more money is spent (or, when talking about "velocity", is spent more quickly). That's the Keynesian flaw in a nutshell.  Productivity can only go up when there is an increase in actual savings of wealth, used to increase production instead of for end consumer goods.  That is, when more present consumption is deferred for more later consumption. 
Neither the amount of money spent nor the velocity of money is going to make any real changes to actual wealth, i.e. goods and services.

Using the usual meaning of the word "Productivity" to refer to the efficiency with which labor is translated into wealth, you are absolutely correct. This kind of productivity increases due to advances in technology, higher access to natural resources - and, the one thing most easily controllable, due to capital investment.

However, the Keynesians aren't claiming that a higher velocity of money increases productivity in that sense. Instead, they correctly claims that it increases production.

People can be working and producing wealth, or they can be idle because they are unemployed. Labor may create goods and services of value, but unless that value can be realized in money - unless they're goods and services somebody else wants to buy and can pay for - then, unless among the goods and services I create is food to feed myself, because I am a farmer of some sort, I am quickly going to have a problem.

If I make shoes for a living, but no one can afford new shoes, I will not be able to buy food to feed myself, or - though that is a small thing by comparison - leather to make more shoes. So I would need to put down my last, and wander the streets scrounging deposit bottles to get enough money to buy food - this being a much less efficient use of my time than making shoes would be if people were buying them.

Your explanation was very clear. However, I must point out that there are people who disagree with it. I will try to describe an opposing view, and see whether I do understand it.

If you are a cobbler but no one will buy your shoes, then perhaps you are not a very good cobbler. Somebody is making superb shoes for rich people and he is getting paid very well. If nobody wants your services as a cobbler perhaps you should do something more rewarding.

There is an argument that a free market must always have full employment. When entrepreneurs are allowed to operate freely they will figure out how to optimise the use of resources. Labor is a resource they will optimise. Well, they might not get everything perfect at the beginning, they might not keep absolute full employment all the time since they must adapt to a dynamic changing environment and their responses must lag some. But free markets will be almost completely full-employment. Government prevents full employment by having minimum wage laws. If the government had a minimum-wage law that said you had to pay wages of at least 2 cents a day, there would not be full employment. But if government lets employers offer jobs at whatever wages they want, there will always be full employment.

Well, but you might ask what about the Great Depression. The Great Depression happened entirely because of government interfering with free markets. There could not have been a Great Depression without government. Roosevelt said he was doing things to end the depression and every one of them just made it worse. If the government had done nothing, the depression would have been over quickly.

Well, but you might ask, what about business cycles? Business cycles are caused entirely by governments. And fractional-reserve banks, but without government enforcement there would be no fractional-reserve banks. The evils of fractional-reserve banking are caused entirely by government. Without government and banks there could not be business cycles.

It is not possible for GDP to be less than its maximum with free markets. There cannot be any such thing as government "stimulus" to increase production, because in a free market there is always maximum production and maximum consumption -- everybody gets as much as he deserves, and there is no possible way to make things better.

You might say that since there has never been a complex economy without government and banks, there is no data to test the idea that things would be better without those. But this is a theory which does not need data. If you look at it from common sense and think about human nature, every part of it is inevitable. Who needs data when the logic is so clear that it cannot happen any other way? And anyway, we will get the data when we create a worldwide free market with no government and no banks.

That's the argument. While it might look ridiculous from the way I presented it, still there could be a fundamental correctness about big pieces of it, even though some parts of it contradict other parts.

Quote
To my mind, the correct strategy is obvious. Print two kinds of money.

One kind of money is equivalent to gold, and can be freely converted to gold and used to buy imported goods. As it can be converted to gold, it may not be issued in such quantities as would cause inflation. Such paper money would be... a convenience. Perhaps best issued privately by banks. Or stick to gold coins.

The other kind of money would be government wooden nickels, as it were, for the army of unemployed left behind by the shortage of gold. They could use it to buy things from each other - but it wouldn't be convertible. And so all of that money would stay in the domestic economy, it being worthless for buying imports.

People in the gold economy would be taxed to pay for imports of fruit purchasable with ration coupons, and landlords would probably be the ones hardest hit, being forced to accept the funny money at some sort of "par". So it wouldn't be a ZAP-style situation, but it would be a step towards having honest money.

I am surprised. By a peculiar coincidence this is precisely the system that the USSR had. They had some additional wrinkles that I haven't studied beyond the barest surface, like they had some money which could only be used for investment and not for consumption.

I would imagine that a system like that might work very well, if it was designed well. Biological cells use many different signals, not just one. ATP is broken into ADP and AMP to get energy, so when there isn't enough ATP and ADP that's a signal to make more adenosine. When the ratio of ADP to ATP is high then make more of whatever produces the most energy at the moment. Cyclic AMP is a signal that gets a variety of coordinated responses, and there are lots of other signals to fine-tune the cell's metabolism. But cells have developed their control systems by trial and error over billions of years.

The USSR economy did not work very well. That does not prove that your idea is bad, but it is suggestive.

But then, maybe your idea is different. In the USSR the real money was shared with friends of the Party. "If you are loyal to the Party, the Party will take care of you." If in your system the real money went to people who somehow actually deserved it, maybe that would make all the difference.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 03, 2011, 02:51:34 am
The USSR economy did not work very well. That does not prove that your idea is bad, but it is suggestive.

But then, maybe your idea is different. In the USSR the real money was shared with friends of the Party. "If you are loyal to the Party, the Party will take care of you." If in your system the real money went to people who somehow actually deserved it, maybe that would make all the difference.
I am indeed thinking of a system in which the real money economy worked by free enterprise. Then the funny money economy is run socialistically to take care of the losers left behind.

And it is true that the Communist countries had a dual-currency economy of sorts. But the system I'm describing was more closely matched by an even more loathsome regime (or, at least, one with a worse reputation for loathsomeness among those who haven't counted Mao's victims...).

We use tape recorders. We studied the design of the V-2 in building our space rockets and guided missiles. But we seem afraid to study how Baldur von Schirach somehow, in the middle of the Great Depression, found the money to re-arm Germany so that it could make trouble.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 03, 2011, 06:24:29 am
If "productivity" is when more stuff is made by fewer people, does perfect productivity = 100% unemployment?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 07:19:04 am
If "productivity" is when more stuff is made by fewer people, does perfect productivity = 100% unemployment?

Yes.

Different from "production", when more stuff is made.

Imagine that we had that. A big army of robots that produce whatever we need, cheaper than humans can produce it. For any job that you can foresee 18 years ahead, existing robots can build a robot to do that job cheaper than you can grow a human trained to do that job.

Imagine robots that can paint in oils and play musical instruments, and when people don't know which art is done by robots and which by humans they can't tell which is better.

Imagine robot business managers that run millions of simulations to predict what might go wrong and plan accordingly. Will they perform better than human managers? I guarantee it.

In a world like that you will be far better off than you are now. You will have wealth that is simply unavailable now with messy accident-prone inefficient unthinking humans doing the work. Provided you own enough.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Xavin on March 03, 2011, 07:48:31 am
If "productivity" is when more stuff is made by fewer people, does perfect productivity = 100% unemployment?

Yes.

Different from "production", when more stuff is made.

Imagine that we had that. A big army of robots that produce whatever we need, cheaper than humans can produce it. For any job that you can foresee 18 years ahead, existing robots can build a robot to do that job cheaper than you can grow a human trained to do that job.

Imagine robots that can paint in oils and play musical instruments, and when people don't know which art is done by robots and which by humans they can't tell which is better.

Imagine robot business managers that run millions of simulations to predict what might go wrong and plan accordingly. Will they perform better than human managers? I guarantee it.

In a world like that you will be far better off than you are now. You will have wealth that is simply unavailable now with messy accident-prone inefficient unthinking humans doing the work. Provided you own enough.


Sounds a whole lot like Iain M. Banks' Culture. It's not an AnCap society per se, but I (and I suspect not a few AnCaps) wouldn't mind living in it.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 08:31:20 am

Imagine that we had that. A big army of robots that produce whatever we need, cheaper than humans can produce it. ....

In a world like that you will be far better off than you are now. You will have wealth that is simply unavailable now with messy accident-prone inefficient unthinking humans doing the work. Provided you own enough.


Sounds a whole lot like Iain M. Banks' Culture. It's not an AnCap society per se, but I (and I suspect not a few AnCaps) wouldn't mind living in it.

Yes, as Owners. Not nearly so much fun to live as a Sycophant, someone who does not own enough to live on and can't find gainful employment, who depends day-to-day on his ability to amuse, flatter, brown-nose etc some Owner who might get tired of him at any time.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Xavin on March 03, 2011, 10:04:04 am

Imagine that we had that. A big army of robots that produce whatever we need, cheaper than humans can produce it. ....

In a world like that you will be far better off than you are now. You will have wealth that is simply unavailable now with messy accident-prone inefficient unthinking humans doing the work. Provided you own enough.


Sounds a whole lot like Iain M. Banks' Culture. It's not an AnCap society per se, but I (and I suspect not a few AnCaps) wouldn't mind living in it.
Yes, as Owners. Not nearly so much fun to live as a Sycophant, someone who does not own enough to live on and can't find gainful employment, who depends day-to-day on his ability to amuse, flatter, brown-nose etc some Owner who might get tired of him at any time.

OK, I don't think we are talking about the same thing then
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: ShireSilver on March 03, 2011, 12:21:48 pm
Quote
Prudent people save in a mix of ways - including paper and shiny, durable stuff. Those who bought shiny silver and gold coins have seen marked nominal gains in the value of their savings. Meanwhile, that stack of paper is declining in value; it buys fewer loaves of bread or gallons of gasoline than before.

Paper money is not an investment and not something to save, unless you are a collector. It is a hot potato. Its function is to be spent.

Keeping paper money is like riding around on the subway all day, trying to get your business done there. Or worse, that simile is not pungent enough. The subway is designed to get you from place to place, not to be camped out in, but you don't actively lose by spending your time there. Maybe if they charged you by the minute, then it would be more like holding onto money.

Gold is more of an investment than a currency. If you are selling something and you get a choice between being paid in paper and paid in gold, which do you prefer? Gold, probably. If you're sure it isn't false. But if you are buying something and you get a choice between paying with paper and paying with gold, which do you choose? Definitely paper.

The more you want to hold onto your currency, the less it's money and the more it's an investment.

I really like this description, especially as it gives me another way to describe the advantages of my Shire Silver products. My gold and silver cards aren't as good an investment vehicle as one ounce coins of gold and silver, but are better than pieces of paper. My cards are better currencies than one ounce coins, but wouldn't have as much velocity as paper. My products fit in the middle.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 03, 2011, 12:40:46 pm
There is an argument that a free market must always have full employment. When entrepreneurs are allowed to operate freely they will figure out how to optimise the use of resources. Labor is a resource they will optimise. Well, they might not get everything perfect at the beginning, they might not keep absolute full employment all the time since they must adapt to a dynamic changing environment and their responses must lag some. But free markets will be almost completely full-employment. Government prevents full employment by having minimum wage laws. If the government had a minimum-wage law that said you had to pay wages of at least 2 cents a day, there would not be full employment. But if government lets employers offer jobs at whatever wages they want, there will always be full employment.

Well, but you might ask what about the Great Depression. The Great Depression happened entirely because of government interfering with free markets. There could not have been a Great Depression without government. Roosevelt said he was doing things to end the depression and every one of them just made it worse. If the government had done nothing, the depression would have been over quickly.

Well, but you might ask, what about business cycles? Business cycles are caused entirely by governments. And fractional-reserve banks, but without government enforcement there would be no fractional-reserve banks. The evils of fractional-reserve banking are caused entirely by government. Without government and banks there could not be business cycles.

It is not possible for GDP to be less than its maximum with free markets. There cannot be any such thing as government "stimulus" to increase production, because in a free market there is always maximum production and maximum consumption -- everybody gets as much as he deserves, and there is no possible way to make things better.

You might say that since there has never been a complex economy without government and banks, there is no data to test the idea that things would be better without those. But this is a theory which does not need data. If you look at it from common sense and think about human nature, every part of it is inevitable. Who needs data when the logic is so clear that it cannot happen any other way? And anyway, we will get the data when we create a worldwide free market with no government and no banks.

That's the argument. While it might look ridiculous from the way I presented it, still there could be a fundamental correctness about big pieces of it, even though some parts of it contradict other parts.
There are a few statements in your "argument" that appear to be true (using common definitions and assumptions) or that could be considered true (using other but not unreasonable definitions and assumptions), but those few statements don't show a "fundamental correctness".  Sure, someone could extract a few bits of your "argument", use less ambiguous terms, make the assumptions explicit, and add enough logic to produce a valid argument, but so what?  That could be done with most drivel.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 03, 2011, 12:52:41 pm
In a world like that you will be far better off than you are now. You will have wealth that is simply unavailable now with messy accident-prone inefficient unthinking humans doing the work. Provided you own enough.
Well, yes; there's the rub. This was why the Industrial Revolution is described in such negative terms, rather than having been an unmixed blessing for humanity.

If there's useful work for people to do, then someone can start by working, and have enough money left to become an owner as well. If machines do everything, then one is out of luck if one doesn't already own stuff - absent the government cutting itself in to some of the production in order to share it around.

People are going to insist on being able to survive, and at a comfort level not too vastly inferior to that which is typical of the people around them - even if they have to steal to do it. On the one hand, I say "Deal with it", but I also think it needs to be kept in check. If people can randomly rob any business they dislike, it will make commerce and productivity difficult. On the other hand, business runs along quite smoothly in places with governments, even when they tax the businesses.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 03, 2011, 01:08:39 pm
"Investment" is not the only reason to save. One also saves in order to be able to smooth over life's little problems.

For example, your car breaks down and requires major repairs; perhaps the transmission needs to be overhauled. To people without savings, this is a disaster; they don't have $1000 or $1500 to spend for repairs. Perhaps it goes on the credit card, which takes years to repay - during which time other small disasters come along, each one requiring still more interest payments.

Similarly, people decide they "must have" a stereo, a new fridge, or other expensive appliances. Out comes the credit card again.

To those with savings, these problems are much less serious. Their cars are kept in repair, their appliances are replaced as needed, and they save money. They do, however, absorb the risk of inflation; their savings, if in paper, will decline over time.

Those who save in precious metals mitigate the risk of inflation. Under today's laws (in the US), they pay in several ways for that risk mitigation. First, they actually pay taxes on the imaginary "profits" which are due to inflation. Second, they pay "sales taxes" when they purchase precious metals. This is  disincentive for savings.

If one can count on the value of one's savings, one can establish a long-term safety net - which is what people did prior to the inception of the Federal Reserve System.

 
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 03, 2011, 01:18:03 pm
Quote
If people can randomly rob any business they dislike, it will make commerce and productivity difficult. On the other hand, business runs along quite smoothly in places with governments, even when they tax the businesses.

Random robberies can't happen in places with governments?

Also, English being what it is, I'm not sure if your first clause uses "can" directly in the sense of "possible/impossible", or if it carries any of the value of "may", which implies permission -- as in, maybe you wanted to say that, without a government to object to the practice, people "may" randomly rob as they please.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 02:44:22 pm

Quote
That's the argument. While it might look ridiculous from the way I presented it, still there could be a fundamental correctness about big pieces of it, even though some parts of it contradict other parts.

There are a few statements in your "argument" that appear to be true (using common definitions and assumptions) or that could be considered true (using other but not unreasonable definitions and assumptions), but those few statements don't show a "fundamental correctness".  Sure, someone could extract a few bits of your "argument", use less ambiguous terms, make the assumptions explicit, and add enough logic to produce a valid argument, but so what?  That could be done with most drivel.

Y:es, agreed. There are people who make statements very similar to these and insist that they are true, and that if you learn economics you will see that they are true, and that if you are too ignorant to see that they are true you have no business discussing the matter.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 03, 2011, 04:56:56 pm
Random robberies can't happen in places with governments?
No, that wasn't my point. My point was that taxes are a better corrective than additional robberies to a severely unequal distribution of wealth: being less capricious, they can be planned around.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 03, 2011, 05:10:39 pm

Quote
That's the argument. While it might look ridiculous from the way I presented it, still there could be a fundamental correctness about big pieces of it, even though some parts of it contradict other parts.

There are a few statements in your "argument" that appear to be true (using common definitions and assumptions) or that could be considered true (using other but not unreasonable definitions and assumptions), but those few statements don't show a "fundamental correctness".  Sure, someone could extract a few bits of your "argument", use less ambiguous terms, make the assumptions explicit, and add enough logic to produce a valid argument, but so what?  That could be done with most drivel.

Y:es, agreed. There are people who make statements very similar to these and insist that they are true, and that if you learn economics you will see that they are true, and that if you are too ignorant to see that they are true you have no business discussing the matter.

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  However, it wouldn't be so easy to tell whether a superficially similar argument (without the obvious falsehoods and inconsistencies) is valid.  A knowledge of basic economics would help.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 03, 2011, 05:12:34 pm
Quote
My point was that taxes are a better corrective than additional robberies to a severely unequal distribution of wealth: being less capricious, they can be planned around.

Thank you; my confusion was genuine.

I guess it will be the machine owners who will be taxed?  'Cos nobody else has any money.  Hmm.  Why are the machine owners keeping the useless people around?  Decoration?

As to robberies and the (re)distribution of wealth, are you familiar with Terry Pratchett's Discworld? What became of Ankh-Morpork's Thieves' Guild under the despot Vetinari is sheer genius.  If I can't live in a decentralized society and have to have an overlord, I won't settle for anyone less than Vetinari.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 06:20:34 pm
"Investment" is not the only reason to save. One also saves in order to be able to smooth over life's little problems.

For example, your car breaks down and requires major repairs; perhaps the transmission needs to be overhauled. To people without savings, this is a disaster; they don't have $1000 or $1500 to spend for repairs.

You're talking about depreciation. If you have a new car, it gets less valuable and sooner or later you will need another new car. Etc. If you haven't been saving, chances are you will instead have a cheap used car, and when it gets something seriously wrong with it, you junk it and buy another cheap used car. Traditionally this was cheap because it meant dealing with a lot of aggravation that other people didn't want to bother with. Now it gets more expensive because the sort of people who buy new cars hold onto them longer, and Obama paid car dealers to junk a whole lot of old cars.

Quote
Similarly, people decide they "must have" a stereo, a new fridge, or other expensive appliances. Out comes the credit card again.

That's just sad.

Quote
To those with savings, these problems are much less serious. Their cars are kept in repair, their appliances are replaced as needed, and they save money. They do, however, absorb the risk of inflation; their savings, if in paper, will decline over time.

And they have to live within their means, another minus in the short run. So much more pleasant to think you can afford lots of fancy stuff. It's pleasant until you find out otherwise.

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If one can count on the value of one's savings, one can establish a long-term safety net - which is what people did prior to the inception of the Federal Reserve System.

Yes. In principle you can't do that, but in practice often you can.

Everybody ought to save, so that at a later time they can collect the obligations they don't want to collect now. It works for the minority who do that. But what if everybody did it? Everybody reduces their consumption so they can save for later. There is less consumption. People don't get to work as much and their income is smaller, so they need to spend less and save more....

It could be possible to have a steady state anyway. The spending of old people who are cashing in their savings makes up for the savings by young people, and it balances out. A dynamic equilibrium which is easily upset, but still possible.

And if there's considerably more production later, they can pay off the old obligations and not notice any lack.

But there's no necessary relationship between production at one time and production at another time. Traditionally the population size went up, and production went up faster, averaged across the business cycle. Sometimes there might be a war going on when you want to spend. During WWII there wasn't a whole lot of consumer production because we were busy with the war effort. During Vietnam the economy sputtered because the government tried to pay for the war without admitting what they were doing. Also we had an oil shock then. Now we face a decreasing population except for immigration, and more oil shocks, and more off-budget wars.

Jacob interpreted Pharoah's dream; it's better to save real products for bad times. The USA used to do that, we stockpiled years worth of grain etc in case we needed it, and then sometimes we had trouble giving it away before it went bad. We've mostly stopped doing that. If you find you need to spend gold during a famine you'll be glad you had the gold even though you don't get much for it -- beyond your life. But it would be better if somebody saved food in the good years, and then the bad years wouldn't be as bad.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 06:26:59 pm
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My point was that taxes are a better corrective than additional robberies to a severely unequal distribution of wealth: being less capricious, they can be planned around.

Thank you; my confusion was genuine.

I guess it will be the machine owners who will be taxed?  'Cos nobody else has any money.  Hmm.  Why are the machine owners keeping the useless people around?  Decoration?

In that circumstance, it's an open question whether they would keep them around. The owners would after all own all the military robotics. They wouldn't need those people for anything.

An obvious approach would be to crowd them into a small area so they don't damage the ecology, and feed them and do other obvious charity, and then when some of them get mad and try to do some sort of sabotage, you shake your head sadly and how ungrateful they are and kill a lot of them. At some point the survivors agree to passively accept whatever you give them, and then you can forget about them.

Perhaps it would seem like a good thing to sterilize the most useless 90% of them, for their own good. Or maybe all of them.

Far better to be an Owner than otherwise.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 03, 2011, 06:35:16 pm

There are a few statements in your "argument" that appear to be true (using common definitions and assumptions) or that could be considered true (using other but not unreasonable definitions and assumptions), but those few statements don't show a "fundamental correctness".  Sure, someone could extract a few bits of your "argument", use less ambiguous terms, make the assumptions explicit, and add enough logic to produce a valid argument, but so what?  That could be done with most drivel.

Y:es, agreed. There are people who make statements very similar to these and insist that they are true, and that if you learn economics you will see that they are true, and that if you are too ignorant to see that they are true you have no business discussing the matter.

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  However, it wouldn't be so easy to tell whether a superficially similar argument (without the obvious falsehoods and inconsistencies) is valid.  A knowledge of basic economics would help.

Yes, agreed. It would be possible to make very similar arguments with the contradictions hidden, that would be exceptionally hard to test. Pretty nearly unfalsifiable in the short run. A knowledge of modern economics would be useful to specify what sort of tests might help, though not to create the tests.

But intro economics is often taught as a sort of religion, and getting taught the tenets would be a big help toward getting you to believe the claims without evidence.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 04, 2011, 06:52:30 am
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They wouldn't need those people for anything.

Not even as slaves; I mean, a human slave?  That you have to feed and which can have passive-aggressive sulks?  I suppose there could be a fashion for them, since there's no accounting for fashion, but I can't see it lasting.

If the owner class then defines "human" as "machine owner", then the nonowners are not human and can be freely eliminated.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 04, 2011, 08:03:27 am
If the owner class then defines "human" as "machine owner", then the nonowners are not human and can be freely eliminated.
Well, that's kind of the point. How can a situation like this be dealt with in full consistency with the ZAP, with results that most people today would find acceptable?

It would seem as though, as we proceed towards full automation, some degree, however limited, of "socialism" would be an unavoidable necessity in ensuring a peaceful future with hope for everyone.

Of course, this assumes that there would be non-owners in the industrialized world.

Still, in the most extreme version of the scenario, where no labor is worth anything, and being a Sycophant doesn't really pay enough to let one become an owner (it would probably be an option largely restricted to women, in any case)... children would have no way to become owners when they grew up, except through gifts or inheritance from their parents.

That, by itself, would create a society unlivable for many.

If the non-owners lived in foreign lands, of course, well, those lands could resort to socialism internally. If they tried to grab from us, defining them as non-human would not be necessary.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 04, 2011, 09:07:07 am
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They wouldn't need those people for anything.

Not even as slaves; I mean, a human slave?  That you have to feed and which can have passive-aggressive sulks?  I suppose there could be a fashion for them, since there's no accounting for fashion, but I can't see it lasting.

If the owner class then defines "human" as "machine owner", then the nonowners are not human and can be freely eliminated.

I think it would take a long time to reach a consensus that outsiders were not human. They are harmless and pathetic, but human.

So the natural alternative is to give them charity. They could for example be moved onto reservations and provided with hand tools to do their own farming -- they could be given the very best farmland that Colorado has to offer. That way they have the dignity to produce for themselves rather than exist entirely on handouts.

And here's a liberal argument -- our ancestors created robotics while theirs lazed around, but they should have the opportunity to create robotics too. they could be given libraries and workshops and then whoever among them create robotics for themselves can become full citizens.

And then they get less and less attention until some incident makes them look ungrateful, and that persuades Owners to give them less charity, and then they are ignored until the next time. Eventually it turns into a few hundred thousand of them living however they want in Colorado, and then maybe a few tens of thousands living however they want in a smaller part of Colorado, etc.

It's all kind of unfortunate, but nobody has actually hurt them. And they are smelly dangerous ungrateful people, and what can you do with people who refuse to invent robotics?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 04, 2011, 09:24:47 am
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How can a situation like this be dealt with in full consistency with the ZAP, with results that most people today would find acceptable?

Maybe when there are machines to make everything, including the power to run themselves and acquire the necessary materials for production, "ownership" will become meaningless.  Owners could just let the machines run; all anyone would need to do would be to specify a product and, at no cost (to humans) of time or energy or materials, the thing can be.  Some owners might hold their machines hostage pending some kind of payment, but all it would take would be one owner willing to set his machines to making more machines so everyone could have one, to break that siege. 

I'd do that.  I'd rather you had your own fishing pole than have anyone steal my fish to feed you.  Much rather.  I'll cut the pole, spin the line, carve the hook and give you the thing, complete with full instructions, freely.  If you demand it, either directly or by committee, then I'd just as soon you starved.  Note that that isn't my first choice.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 04, 2011, 10:04:17 am
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How can a situation like this be dealt with in full consistency with the ZAP, with results that most people today would find acceptable?

Maybe when there are machines to make everything, including the power to run themselves and acquire the necessary materials for production, "ownership" will become meaningless.  Owners could just let the machines run; all anyone would need to do would be to specify a product and, at no cost (to humans) of time or energy or materials, the thing can be. 

Economists generally believe this cannot happen. There is a finite amount of energy and materials available, and even if we could make an exponentially-increasing number of machines, there would still be limits of some sort. Use too much energy and you release too much heat. Given great resources, humans will create great demands. Somebody will likely want to build a skyhook (which could bring in much more stuff once it works, but may be disruptive in the short run) or start a war, or something.

And whatever resource becomes scarce, will need some way to decide who gets it. The obvious ways so far are to either have a market, where whoever owns the scarce resource can sell it in exchange for something he wants more. Or have a government which uses politics etc to decide how the scarce resource will be allocated. Or have a lottery (generally supported by a religion since otherwise why would losers abide by the lottery result?). Or without some more organized approach, people can fight it out for control of whatever is in short supply.

If human labor is worthless, that will not mean that everything else will be plentiful. Leibig's Barrel will still leak.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 04, 2011, 10:42:12 am
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Economists generally believe this cannot happen. [....] Use too much energy and you release too much heat. (emphasis added)

I don't disagree: I was only speculating in my previous, and it's so not my field.  I'm just kind of boggled by the juxtaposition above -- I mean, it would make sense for an economist to have a grasp of entropy; I just never heard that any of their breed ever went there.  Huh.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 04, 2011, 11:31:32 am
Again with money.
What is, should it be?

Precious metals are a poor fit to day to day life, hard to exchange for goods and gold is too dense unless you are buying something on the scale of a car.
Paper money is fluid but fragile, inflation, devaluation and worth the whim of the printer, but I can buy groceries with it.
Groceries themselves store value well but for a shorter term and are bulky.

So three kinds of wealth so far.

Dense long term stable but hard to spend, precious metals, land, stocks.
Extremely fluid and easy to spend paper money, can be dense, but its value is fickle.
Real goods, some stable like toilet paper, ammo, canned food, some short lived, fresh food.

Three categories to which I'll add one, potential money, plastic, loans and such.

Everything falls into one of the 3 plus one somewhere. Traveler's checks, store and gift cards are cash. Engine parts, lets use oil filters end up in the third. Engines themselves in the first and third.

The best, so far, is still fluid paper backed by gold etc. Any other options?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 04, 2011, 11:39:33 am
Borrowing does not create real prosperity. That which you borrow, you must pay back. Borrowing simply permits you to do things a bit sooner - at first. Later, burdened by interest costs, you are less prosperous than you otherwise would be.

The "savers' paradox" is nonsense. Having a bit of savings - or even a lot of savings - does not depress the economy; savings enables people to use resources more wisely.

Maintenance costs are not the same as depreciation. If you are that fundamentally confused, it is no wonder that you don't appreciate the virtue of savings.

For the past six years, I have not borrowed one single dime. I have bought cameras, furniture, computers, and other large-ticket items purely with cash. Many other people have done the same. The Amish, so far as I know, do not borrow at all, yet buy very expensive items ( such as land, housing, and horses ) with cash - I have heard stories of Amish using suitcases filled with physical cash. Theirs is a simple life, but by no means poor; their houses are well-built and comfortable. Saving does not require one to live without technology; as mentioned, I save and I enjoy all the technology I want, as do many other people.

In countries where mortgages are not as cheap and easy to obtain, housing prices are lower. Back when people were treating their homes as gigantic ATMs, the money spent on luxuries wasn't without cost; people were accumulating debt and interest, which eventually had to be repaid. When people failed to do so, banks lost money, and a massive crisis occurred. The "fix" to that crisis caused asset prices to rise, and is now causing food and fuel costs to rise markedly. The banks, financial institutions, and government have done well with all of this "free" money; the rest of us, not so well.
 
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 04, 2011, 11:52:58 am
Terry was that a response to mine or an earlier one?

No debt, hell yes, I will be there soon myself and stay there with a paid for low cost home and well controlled living costs. One (1) active plastic paid in full monthly to rebuild my crunched credit just in case.

The question remains, in what form to keep savings. Note here, gold skyrocketed over the last few years. It feels overpriced and this seems a lousy time to buy it. Perhaps I'll invest at the next gun show. I hear the no big magazine sheep bleating again.

Have you guys seen the privacy crap being threatened in Illinois lately? Some state senators want to post the licensed gun owners list to show the have and unarmed have nots. The state cops, good cops, give them some donuts, refuse.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 04, 2011, 02:05:21 pm

There are a few statements in your "argument" that appear to be true (using common definitions and assumptions) or that could be considered true (using other but not unreasonable definitions and assumptions), but those few statements don't show a "fundamental correctness".  Sure, someone could extract a few bits of your "argument", use less ambiguous terms, make the assumptions explicit, and add enough logic to produce a valid argument, but so what?  That could be done with most drivel.

Y:es, agreed. There are people who make statements very similar to these and insist that they are true, and that if you learn economics you will see that they are true, and that if you are too ignorant to see that they are true you have no business discussing the matter.

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  However, it wouldn't be so easy to tell whether a superficially similar argument (without the obvious falsehoods and inconsistencies) is valid.  A knowledge of basic economics would help.

Yes, agreed. It would be possible to make very similar arguments with the contradictions hidden, that would be exceptionally hard to test. Pretty nearly unfalsifiable in the short run. A knowledge of modern economics would be useful to specify what sort of tests might help, though not to create the tests.

With a little knowledge of economics, you'd realize how silly that sounds.  Economic questions are generally not tested in the same sense that, say, questions of chemical equilibrium constants can be tested.  A knowledge of economics is useful for detecting hidden contradictions by analyzing the argument.

"Experimental economics" generally does not test real-world economic arguments.  Much of it applies only to artificial laboratory environments.  Sometimes the results are interesting in terms of psychology.

Some real-world experiments answer questions that might, in an extremely specialized way, be considered economic.  For example, "which helps improve student test scores more: spending a certain amount of money on anti-worm medicine, spending it on new schools, or spending it on used textbooks?"  This sort of experiment is very useful in the specific field, but does not answer important economic questions.

Real-world experience can help answer important economic questions but not with the certainty that is possible in the physical sciences.  For example: a few years ago, most Austrian economists said that there was a housing bubble that would eventually pop and destabilize the heavily government-controlled financial system and the economy as a whole, while mainstream economists mostly said that there wasn't a housing bubble and if it popped then it wouldn't affect the economy as a whole or the financial system which would be stabilized by the government controls.  It certainly looks as if the Austrian economists were right and the mainstream economists were wrong, but the experience is not proof.  Mainstream economists claim that it is only coincidence that Austrian economists were more accurate (once again!).

But intro economics is often taught as a sort of religion, and getting taught the tenets would be a big help toward getting you to believe the claims without evidence.
Not entirely true.  Some people will accept almost anything from an "authority", happy to get a good grade on a test (or just a compliment), and not caring about the truth.  Government schools are very successful at turning these people into "good citizens".  For these people, learning a subject such as mainstream economics can be dangerous, but I'm not sure that total ignorance is any less dangerous.  After all, most of us here once uncritically accepted government propaganda but eventually started questioning it.

Some other people are not as gullible.  For those people, the early (as it is usually taught) part of introductory mainstream economics, "microeconomics" or "price theory", is valuable.  Just a few basic tenets (such as "people act to improve their perceived welfare" and "incentives matter") can help a person recognize the foolishness of many government programs.  The crucial point is when mainstream economics shifts into "macroeconomics", but (I'm pretty sure) the change is abrupt and obvious.  Anyone interested in the truth should become skeptical, which should be enough to prevent the claims from being believed.

Of course, learning Austrian economics would be much better.  Austrian economics makes fewer simplifying assumptions than mainstream economics, and (more importantly) the assumptions are made explicitly.  When a conclusion is drawn, it is considered valid only to the extent that the assumptions going into it are valid.

So, when I suggest that you learn a little economics, I hope that you choose Austrian economics.  If instead you choose mainstream economics, I hope that you accept the parts based on logic and reject the parts based on faith.  If you accept all of mainstream economics, I don't think it would be much worse than your current ignorance (and there's always the hope that you will someday look at it critically).

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How can a situation like this be dealt with in full consistency with the ZAP, with results that most people today would find acceptable?

Maybe when there are machines to make everything, including the power to run themselves and acquire the necessary materials for production, "ownership" will become meaningless.  Owners could just let the machines run; all anyone would need to do would be to specify a product and, at no cost (to humans) of time or energy or materials, the thing can be. 

Economists generally believe this cannot happen.
True.  A tenet of basic economics is "desires are infinite; resources are finite".  You already know that, keep going!
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 04, 2011, 06:10:22 pm
Economists generally believe this cannot happen. There is a finite amount of energy and materials available, and even if we could make an exponentially-increasing number of machines, there would still be limits of some sort. Use too much energy and you release too much heat. Given great resources, humans will create great demands. Somebody will likely want to build a skyhook (which could bring in much more stuff once it works, but may be disruptive in the short run) or start a war, or something.

And whatever resource becomes scarce, will need some way to decide who gets it.
One can hope - and it's not unreasonable to hope, that enlightened charity of some sort will enable non-owners to become owners in some small way.

Can a society be stable when there are large disparities in wealth - not of the kind where there are a few admired very wealthy people, but everyone else is in the middle class, but of the kind where a significant fraction of the people are significantly below the average income level?

Under some circumstances, yes. If it's a strongly religious and socially conservative society, where women don't have sex outside marriage, and almost every woman believes it's very important to have and raise children - some women will marry the "poor" men at the cost of being "poor" themselves. (Since this is the future, "poor" might be a standard of living well above what middle-class people have today.)

On the other hand, it could be a more modern and secular society. Where women have careers of their own, and motherhood is simply an option. Where nobody is particularly surprised if a rich and successful man dumps his live-in girlfriend after a few years for someone younger and prettier.

In such a world, some female Owners will marry male Owners. Other male Owners will marry pretty female non-Owners, thus elevating them.

The leftover female Owners will not, normally, even consider involvement with a male non-Owner.

Thus, a big chunk of the male non-Owners see their lives as empty and meaningless, and they will be ripe pickings for any demagogue.

People aren't wired to simply choose to be happy if they don't have enough to eat. Those people who tried that starved to death, and left no descendants. You can play the mental trick of diverting your mind from your troubles - or you can make things worse by choosing to wallow in them - but if you have an issue that threatens your survival, you had better pay attention to it. And this is how Nature has made us - efficient machines for survival.

The utopian dreamers of the past who wanted to totally abolish all inequality made mistakes about human nature, but so do those who believe that inequality is not a problem, and is perfectly consistent with social stability.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 04, 2011, 07:28:18 pm
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Can a society be stable when there are large disparities in wealth

I have to note that, as we grow & develop & create, the wealth disparity must increase.  There is an absolute bottom to poverty:  starving to death.  But as we add more technology and more products to existence, the upper bounds of wealth just keep rising. 

I don't think we really want to lower the ceiling.  And I think there is no way to raise the floor:  there are those who will have to be taken care of, even when they are physically and mentally (if not emotionallyl) capable of taking care of themselves, and then there are those, slightly more ambitious, who will at least search out the better dumpsters to dive in for food.  If these people are mentally or emotionally "ill", do we have the right to heal them against their will?  Do they have the right to stay ill?  I don't think these issues matter since even though physical health can be imposed, mental health probably can't be, so if they don't want to be fixed, they won't be.

So I think wealth disparity must increase.  Can society be stable anyway?  Hmm -- what does "stable" mean?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on March 04, 2011, 08:03:37 pm
There is a lot of Iron in the world , even more iron in the Asteroids.

Once a robot can reproduce itself they could become as cheap as sardines.

But would they still be interested in obedience to human beings?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 04, 2011, 08:20:31 pm
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Economists generally believe this cannot happen. [....] Use too much energy and you release too much heat. (emphasis added)

I don't disagree: I was only speculating in my previous, and it's so not my field.  I'm just kind of boggled by the juxtaposition above -- I mean, it would make sense for an economist to have a grasp of entropy; I just never heard that any of their breed ever went there.  Huh.

I don't know that they do. Sorry, I got that example from science fiction....

But it's economic doctrine that something is always in short supply, more for some than for others, and so markets will develop.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 04, 2011, 09:41:21 pm
Borrowing does not create real prosperity. That which you borrow, you must pay back. Borrowing simply permits you to do things a bit sooner - at first. Later, burdened by interest costs, you are less prosperous than you otherwise would be.

Agreed. There are times when it might make sense to borrow, particularly when your business has a chance to expand faster than it can by reinvesting profits, and you will have an insignificant part of market share if you don't expand, and you have strong reason to expect sales to stay high for a long time. It's a gamble. But if you definitely lose unless you gamble, then it's very likely the right thing to do, and it might be right even if your business can survive without it.

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The "savers' paradox" is nonsense. Having a bit of savings - or even a lot of savings - does not depress the economy; savings enables people to use resources more wisely.

You say that with such certainty! In my models, sometimes that can depress an economy and sometimes it can't. But those are models that don't include lots of government intervention. I expect that in the real world, when you save the government will spend your money anyway and so the things that would otherwise result in excess saving depressing the economy do not happen.

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Maintenance costs are not the same as depreciation. If you are that fundamentally confused, it is no wonder that you don't appreciate the virtue of savings.

Maintenance costs are not depreciation. However, as your car ages it becomes more susceptible to expensive unplanned repairs. And when the time comes that those repairs plus the inconvenience of having your car often unavaiable make it predictable that buying another car will be cheaper than continuing to repair this one, the car is fully depreciated.

Some repairs that tend to be unplanned could be planned. Sometimes the manuals explain about this. "You can expect to replace univeral joints at about 60,000 miles." Then it's maintenance. But the rising maintenance costs for an aging car contribute to its depreciation, right?

It makes sense if you think of it in context.

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For the past six years, I have not borrowed one single dime. I have bought cameras, furniture, computers, and other large-ticket items purely with cash. Many other people have done the same. .... Saving does not require one to live without technology; as mentioned, I save and I enjoy all the technology I want, as do many other people.

I have not borrowed since the college loans, not counting small sums from friends that were paid back within a week or so. One thing that I can recommend to encourage not borrowing is to never establish a credit record. If you don't borrow then there is no data to establish that you are a good credit risk and so you can't borrow.  Getting a bad credit record works too but carries more social stigma.

I prefer to live frugally, because it's hard to be sure I have enough savings for unexpected crises. I often buy trailing-edge technology. Computer parts tend to go on sale when they're about to stop selling them. And the most resource-intensive apps tend to be games I don't play. Fifteen years ago I easily got by with a 20 megabyte disk because I didn't download a lot of music or porn. Now a 20 gigabyte disk is not at all cramped, and I even have a modest music collection.

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In countries where mortgages are not as cheap and easy to obtain, housing prices are lower.

Yes. The US government has traditionally tried to make it easy for people to buy homes. They established tax incentives etc. I read a claim that the US government likes to have voters who own homes because they tend to be more conservative and stable and generally good citizens, while renters tend to be more radical and generally less predictable.

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Back when people were treating their homes as gigantic ATMs, the money spent on luxuries wasn't without cost; people were accumulating debt and interest, which eventually had to be repaid. When people failed to do so, banks lost money, and a massive crisis occurred.

Sure. But notice that it was only a small percentage of people who defaulted. The bigger problem was that TBTF institutions had insured the loans at tiny rates (because it was supposed to be pretty much a sure thing). And the income from the housing loans had been traded around like money so that nobody knew who had it. It's like they built a giant house of cards and then one card at the bottom fell.

So now most of those people are still paying their mortgages, but they can't afford to sell at a loss. And they couldn't afford to move elsewhere to get a better job even if they weren't afraid of lacking seniority when the next big firing comes along. They try to pay down their debts rather than spend, and so the consumer economy is not doing well at all. Which by rights should have happened more like 10 years ago, but they put it off and made it worse with the borrowing.

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The "fix" to that crisis caused asset prices to rise, and is now causing food and fuel costs to rise markedly. The banks, financial institutions, and government have done well with all of this "free" money; the rest of us, not so well.

I don't see that the government has done at all well either. Unless it's that giant government spending has given them the opportunity to win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which they could not have done otherwise. But I don't see they can do it now either.

But some financial institutions have found themselves with much larger slices of a rather smaller pie. They've done well so far.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 04, 2011, 10:55:45 pm
So I think wealth disparity must increase.  Can society be stable anyway?  Hmm -- what does "stable" mean?
The distance between the bottom and the top isn't the problem.

If the bottom 5% or so of people are a long way below the average, that might not be enough to make too much trouble. If the top 20% are far above the average, there will still be enough left for the rest of the people.

But if there's a huge gap between, say, the 30th percentile and the 60th percentile, there could be problems. Of course, what's huge? A tenfold disparity in income might seem big. But just having fancier toys is not a big deal.

It depends on what is in short supply. If a nation is crowded - because most of the jobs are in big cities occupying a fraction of the land, it can be crowded even if it doesn't have to be - so that the price of homes where your children can play and in places where they can go to safe schools is very high, that will make having enough money to get those scarce things very important to happiness.

Maybe governments promoting low mortgages have made housing expensive. Crime in the streets is promoted by a lack of honest citizens with guns who aren't afraid to use them. So it could be government's fault. Which, I guess is not even surprising - since socialism means big government, making more people feel "poor" and support it is job security. So I'm not trying, here, to say that you're necessarily wrong about which way is the better way - but to point out why a lot of people won't see it.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 04, 2011, 11:11:52 pm

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  However, it wouldn't be so easy to tell whether a superficially similar argument (without the obvious falsehoods and inconsistencies) is valid.  A knowledge of basic economics would help.

Yes, agreed. It would be possible to make very similar arguments with the contradictions hidden, that would be exceptionally hard to test. Pretty nearly unfalsifiable in the short run. A knowledge of modern economics would be useful to specify what sort of tests might help, though not to create the tests.

With a little knowledge of economics, you'd realize how silly that sounds.  Economic questions are generally not tested in the same sense that, say, questions of chemical equilibrium constants can be tested.

But there are some tests that can show that some claims are nonnsense, even though other claims may be temporarily true by coincidence etc. I know enough about economics to see that it's people with a little economic knowledge who'd say that sounds silly.

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A knowledge of economics is useful for detecting hidden contradictions by analyzing the argument.

Yes, that can work sometimes.

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"Experimental economics" generally does not test real-world economic arguments.  Much of it applies only to artificial laboratory environments.  Sometimes the results are interesting in terms of psychology.

Yes. Then you can look at things like time series which can provide partial and debatable evidence for or against some things.

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Real-world experience can help answer important economic questions but not with the certainty that is possible in the physical sciences.  For example: a few years ago, most Austrian economists said that there was a housing bubble that would eventually pop and destabilize the heavily government-controlled financial system and the economy as a whole, while mainstream economists mostly said that there wasn't a housing bubble and if it popped then it wouldn't affect the economy as a whole or the financial system which would be stabilized by the government controls.

I said there was a housing bubble. I didn't notice there was a consensus among "mainstream economists". There usually isn't a consensus, unless you restrict it to economists who work for the government. Of course the Bush administration wanted to say there was no housing bubble so the economy would look better to voters, and of course government-funded economists knew they would be punished if they disagreed.

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But intro economics is often taught as a sort of religion, and getting taught the tenets would be a big help toward getting you to believe the claims without evidence.

Not entirely true.  Some people will accept almost anything from an "authority", happy to get a good grade on a test (or just a compliment), and not caring about the truth.  Government schools are very successful at turning these people into "good citizens".  For these people, learning a subject such as mainstream economics can be dangerous, but I'm not sure that total ignorance is any less dangerous.  After all, most of us here once uncritically accepted government propaganda but eventually started questioning it.

Some other people are not as gullible.  For those people, the early (as it is usually taught) part of introductory mainstream economics, "microeconomics" or "price theory", is valuable.

Yes, but it typically takes months and it could be done in 2 weeks in a cybernetic framework. And it tends to be definitional. Not so much "Here's how it happens" as "Here's what you call it when it happens this way, and here's what you call it when it happens this other way, and here's what you call it when this happens instead".

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Just a few basic tenets (such as "people act to improve their perceived welfare" and "incentives matter") can help a person recognize the foolishness of many government programs.

Sure. The last I saw they did not discuss the OODA loop, which should be a central concept for this sort of thing. Small businesses are slower to orient but quicker to react, large businesses consistently have a quicker OODA loop than government. So any government action must be carefully designed in terms of the ESS's because that's what it will face. Businesses will reactto government according to their self-interest, faster than government can respond to their reactions.

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The crucial point is when mainstream economics shifts into "macroeconomics", but (I'm pretty sure) the change is abrupt and obvious.  Anyone interested in the truth should become skeptical, which should be enough to prevent the claims from being believed.

Well, there's a point to it. If you try to do any sort of business planning beyond one quarter or so then you are depending on some sort of macroeconomic model. If you even just assume that the next two quarters will be pretty much like the last two, that's a crude macroeconomic model in itself.

Complex systems can do various unexpected things. We can make theories that predict such things but it's hard to validate them. Whatever macroeconomic theory you use for your own purposes is your own responsibility, and the things that get taught give some hints about how you might do that.

Since any macroeconomic theories are uncertain, it makes sense to game out possible futures and think about how you'd deal with them. What leading indicators would you expect that might warn you early about critical changes? At what point to you have to commit yourself to one path over another? How much can you afford to hedge your bets? But you can't afford to consider all possibilities equally likely, and when you imagine some more likely than others, it is because of some sort of macroeconomic theory.

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Of course, learning Austrian economics would be much better.  Austrian economics makes fewer simplifying assumptions than mainstream economics, and (more importantly) the assumptions are made explicitly.  When a conclusion is drawn, it is considered valid only to the extent that the assumptions going into it are valid.

That sounds like a good thing. I've mostly read things by Austrian disciples who usually do not mention any of the caveats or state any of the assumptions. They do not represent it well.

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So, when I suggest that you learn a little economics, I hope that you choose Austrian economics.

So far I've read what a couple of Austrian economists said about banking. Some of what they said seemed quite reasonable, but they kept expanding from the reasonable stuff into claims for which they did not at all state the assumptions. I could follow the reasoning up to a point. I could imagine assumptions that would lead to their further conclusions but I didn't see why I should make those assumptions. It may have been that they were quoting great Austrian authorities that they assumed people would already agree with.

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If instead you choose mainstream economics, I hope that you accept the parts based on logic and reject the parts based on faith.  If you accept all of mainstream economics, I don't think it would be much worse than your current ignorance (and there's always the hope that you will someday look at it critically).

A long time ago I read a book by Krugman in which he seemed to claim that there was such a thing as mainstream economics. He argued for example that the supply-side guys who wanted to talk about the Laffer Curve were entirely using arguments from mainstream economics and that there was no fundamental economic mistake there -- the only concern was whether their claims applied to the US economy the way they claimed. (The results have shown that the situation was not as they claimed, and their assumptions were not a good fit. But they could fit some other economy some other time.)

There's a story that somebody asked a prominent economist for an example of something in economics that's both surprising, and true. The idea was that pretty much everything in economics that's surprising is in fact wrong, and pretty much everything that's true is simple obvious common sense. The economist thought for awhile and came up with the theory of comparative advantage. But when I looked at comparative advantage, it turned out that the actual theory with all its limiting assumptions is not surprising at all. What's surprising is the claims that free trade enthusiasts have added to it without stating their additional assumptions, that in fact appear to be entirely wrong.

I originally looked at economics hoping to find things that would apply to ecology. But it appears that theoretical ecology is far more advanced than theoretical economics, and so far all the lessons go the other direction.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 05, 2011, 12:08:38 am
So I think wealth disparity must increase.  Can society be stable anyway?  Hmm -- what does "stable" mean?
The distance between the bottom and the top isn't the problem.

If the bottom 5% or so of people are a long way below the average, that might not be enough to make too much trouble. If the top 20% are far above the average, there will still be enough left for the rest of the people.

But if there's a huge gap between, say, the 30th percentile and the 60th percentile, there could be problems. Of course, what's huge? A tenfold disparity in income might seem big. But just having fancier toys is not a big deal.

It depends on what is in short supply.

Now you're talking! Disparity isn't the issue in itself. Even when there are big gaps that doesn't have to be a problem. Say it's 1% of the population with an individual income of $5,000,000 a year or more, 20% of the population with an income between $50,000 and $200,000, and 79% of the population with an income below $5,000. That can be OK. They can develop a caste system that nobody is particularly upset about. No class mobility. Zero. None. Americans think that's a horrible worthless system. But maybe nobody living in the system minds it being that way.

I say the central problem is people feeling threatened.

If there isn't enough food and one group is about to starve while another has far more than it needs.

If one group controls essential resources and is about to deny them *more* to another, so that the second group becomes less able to maintain themselves and also will be in a worse negotiating position.

People who feel like they don't have enough control over their own lives, and who are getting less chance to achieve their goals, and who have somebody to blame it on, and who increasingly have less to lose.

That's the issue.

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Maybe governments promoting low mortgages have made housing expensive.

For a long time they made housing less expensive, and incidentally made other things more expensive. The extra resources we put into housing were less available to put into anything else. That was perhaps a legitimate choice. Voters liked it. Voters liked for veterans to get houses they might not have afforded otherwise. Etc. They didn't know what they were giving up for it, but they seemed to like it.

We made housing expensive by building a rickety financial system. Here's one possible explanation about that (which inevitably leaves out a lot of other true ideas):

------------------
We had a lot of money going overseas, because the USA didn't export as much stuff as we imported. There are supposed to be financial mechanisms that are supposed to keep that from getting out of hand. Like, the currency gets devalued and so you import less and export more. But instead, we had the dot.com boom, where we invited foreigners to invest in our stock market. For awhile things went along -- we imported more than we exported, they invested in our companies, and everybody was happy. But then the dot.com companies crashed and the investments were gone.

We needed another way to get foreigners to give us money so we could keep importing more than we exported. We worked out a way for foreigners to invest in US mortgages. There were lots of them and we paid them off consistently and foreigners were happy to invest provided they didn't have to worry about particular houses they couldn't keep track of. So we came up with special financial investments that foreigners could invest in where they didn't have to know the details. The details would average out enough that they mostly didn't matter, so foreigners felt safe. We imported more than we exported. Foreigners took the money in invested in special financial instruments that were indirectly backed by US real estate. And if they were afraid, they could get very cheap insurance to guarantee their results.

But after awhile we had sold as much of that stuff as we could. We'd already sold all that wasn't too risky. And we were still importing more than we exported, and the foreigners wanted something to buy with their dollars, and we didn't have anything. We gave them risky real estate and they stopped buying.

Why did we even try that? The obvious alternative was to have a deep recession, and Bush didn't want to. Did the US government not see the problem looming? Probably they did. My guess is that Bush thought it would last long enough that it would crash after a Democrat got elected President and the country would blame it on the new guy. He almost made it. Just a few more months.

Now we're still importing more than we export but as our recession gets worse the imports fall faster than the exports. Obama is negotiating with our various creditors. China. Saudi Arabia. Germany. Etc. He gives the impression he doesn't really have any ideas.

He tried to "fix" the health care system. As it was, the cost of US exports included health care for employees and their families. If we could make US taxpayers pay for that then the exports would be cheaper and we could export more. But he couldn't get that through Congress and instead he got something else he could sort of save face with.

He's talked about things like alternate energy and new technology. But when we got some solar cell advances the Chinese said to give them the technology and they'd sell us the solar cells, and Obama was in too bad a negotiating position to tell them no. How much good does new technology do us when it increases our imports instead of our exports?

It's a hard problem. We went through around 16 years of scams on foreigners (Clinton/Bush) because we didn't have a solution. Now we're running out of scams and we still don't have a solution.

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So it could be government's fault. Which, I guess is not even surprising - since socialism means big government, making more people feel "poor" and support it is job security. So I'm not trying, here, to say that you're necessarily wrong about which way is the better way - but to point out why a lot of people won't see it.

After WWIi we had the only advanced economy that hadn't been bombed. We had a great big trade advantage. After awhile US blue-collar workers lived well, white-collar workers lived as well or better, US professionals lived so well that foreign professionals wanted to come here and share in it -- and when they did it slowed down the other economies. We kind of pitied the third world so we tried to help them develop. We gave them foreign aid which didn't work, and we gave them big loans which didn't work and left them deeply in debt.

Those days are over. Some nations have a whole lot of people who can work just as hard and just as productively as we can, but a lot cheaper. The most obvious way for us to compete is for our standard of living to fall until it matches theirs. But we don't want that. So we have winners who live well (often by making scams to play on foreigners or even on other Americans). And we have people who live pretty well but who're scared, if they lose their jobs they can't pay their debts etc. And we have a bunch of people who aren't doing well at all, who are upset about it. But what can they do? And whose fault is it? If they deserved their jobs then they wouldn't have gotten laid off, right?   >:(
------------

This is certainly not the whole story and it might not all be true, but I think there's a strong element of truth to it.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 05, 2011, 08:11:10 am
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Maybe governments promoting low mortgages have made housing expensive.[....]So it could be government's fault.

While I was reading the paragraph from which the above is excerpted, it occurred to me that maybe government's greatest crime is in making people feel dependent, and in shutting down our native creativity. 

The expensive-housing/unsafe-neighborhoods image gave me a picture of people making unconventional arrangements, such as agreeing to use homes at the perimeter of the neighborhood as quasi-communal sleeping areas, and ones at the center as community kitchens & socializing & play areas -- not that I'm offering this as a model for all, just as a possibility, one I'd like, anyway.  Other people may invent other arrangements I'd like even better.

But when we've been taught that "they" are supposed to "do something", we not only dont exercise our own imaginations, we resist the inventions of our neighbors who aren't "them".

Good damned point about gov't's "job security".  We do have a lot of ingrained dependency to out-grain.

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I say the central problem is people feeling threatened.[....]

People who feel like they don't have enough control over their own lives, [...] and who increasingly have less to lose.

That's the issue.

I think so too.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 05, 2011, 02:36:49 pm

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  However, it wouldn't be so easy to tell whether a superficially similar argument (without the obvious falsehoods and inconsistencies) is valid.  A knowledge of basic economics would help.

Yes, agreed. It would be possible to make very similar arguments with the contradictions hidden, that would be exceptionally hard to test. Pretty nearly unfalsifiable in the short run. A knowledge of modern economics would be useful to specify what sort of tests might help, though not to create the tests.

With a little knowledge of economics, you'd realize how silly that sounds.  Economic questions are generally not tested in the same sense that, say, questions of chemical equilibrium constants can be tested.

But there are some tests that can show that some claims are nonnsense, even though other claims may be temporarily true by coincidence etc. I know enough about economics to see that it's people with a little economic knowledge who'd say that sounds silly.

Please reread what I wrote.  I didn't say that such tests could never be used.  It is obviously possible to create a claim that could be disproved (to a desired confidence) using econometric data.  What I said is that such tests are generally not used to answer economic questions (and by that I meant general economic questions, not narrow questions that might be important to a person in a specific business).

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"Experimental economics" generally does not test real-world economic arguments.  Much of it applies only to artificial laboratory environments.  Sometimes the results are interesting in terms of psychology.

Yes. Then you can look at things like time series which can provide partial and debatable evidence for or against some things.
It is possible to provide some evidence for very specific questions, if the questions are posed properly, the data is available, and the work is done extremely well.

The danger comes when econometric data is used as supporting evidence for more general economic questions.  This is what much of modern macroeconomics does, and it has been a disaster.

Consider the "Phillips curve".  The theoretical justification for it was little more than Keynesian hand-waving, so the main justification was "look at the data--it works".  Unfortunately, what the data showed was that it had, to some extent, worked over a limited period in the past.  Modern economists' trust in the data created justification for US government policies that produced the horrible stagflation of the 1970s.

Consider the crash of collateralized mortgage obligations that helped cause the current depression.  Why did the government-approved rating agencies fail so badly?  For several reasons, one of which was trusting the econometric data that showed that housing prices in different parts of the country had been fairly uncorrelated.  As mainstream economists, they assumed that that relation would continue to hold.

Of course, mainstream macroeconomists will say that they have learned their lessons and the problems have now been fixed.  This time it'll be different!  Right.

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Real-world experience can help answer important economic questions but not with the certainty that is possible in the physical sciences.  For example: a few years ago, most Austrian economists said that there was a housing bubble that would eventually pop and destabilize the heavily government-controlled financial system and the economy as a whole, while mainstream economists mostly said that there wasn't a housing bubble and if it popped then it wouldn't affect the economy as a whole or the financial system which would be stabilized by the government controls.

I said there was a housing bubble. I didn't notice there was a consensus among "mainstream economists". There usually isn't a consensus, unless you restrict it to economists who work for the government. Of course the Bush administration wanted to say there was no housing bubble so the economy would look better to voters, and of course government-funded economists knew they would be punished if they disagreed.
You may be right.  I don't pay a whole lot of attention to mainstream economists.  From what I remember, back when most Austrian economists were warning about a housing bubble (say, 5 years ago), most mainstream economists did not consider it a problem and many were still encouraging government to direct more money into housing.

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But intro economics is often taught as a sort of religion, and getting taught the tenets would be a big help toward getting you to believe the claims without evidence.

Not entirely true.  Some people will accept almost anything from an "authority", happy to get a good grade on a test (or just a compliment), and not caring about the truth.  Government schools are very successful at turning these people into "good citizens".  For these people, learning a subject such as mainstream economics can be dangerous, but I'm not sure that total ignorance is any less dangerous.  After all, most of us here once uncritically accepted government propaganda but eventually started questioning it.

Some other people are not as gullible.  For those people, the early (as it is usually taught) part of introductory mainstream economics, "microeconomics" or "price theory", is valuable.

Yes, but it typically takes months and it could be done in 2 weeks in a cybernetic framework. And it tends to be definitional. Not so much "Here's how it happens" as "Here's what you call it when it happens this way, and here's what you call it when it happens this other way, and here's what you call it when this happens instead".
If that's the best pseudo-economic education you can find, then I take back my recommendation.  Instead, read a good economics book.  For economics in general, there's nothing better than Human Action by Ludwig von Mises (available online), but it's fairly long.  I have only read some of the shorter books that people have recommended as substitutes--I liked Man, Economy, and State and Power and Market (originally intended to be one book, recently available as one book) by Murray Rothbard, but there may be others that would suit you better.

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Just a few basic tenets (such as "people act to improve their perceived welfare" and "incentives matter") can help a person recognize the foolishness of many government programs.

Sure. The last I saw they did not discuss the OODA loop, which should be a central concept for this sort of thing. Small businesses are slower to orient but quicker to react, large businesses consistently have a quicker OODA loop than government. So any government action must be carefully designed in terms of the ESS's because that's what it will face. Businesses will reactto government according to their self-interest, faster than government can respond to their reactions.
You're getting caught up in details.  It's more important to understand the basics.

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The crucial point is when mainstream economics shifts into "macroeconomics", but (I'm pretty sure) the change is abrupt and obvious.  Anyone interested in the truth should become skeptical, which should be enough to prevent the claims from being believed.

Well, there's a point to it. If you try to do any sort of business planning beyond one quarter or so then you are depending on some sort of macroeconomic model. If you even just assume that the next two quarters will be pretty much like the last two, that's a crude macroeconomic model in itself.
I'm discussing economics, not business.  While knowledge of either can help the other, they are very different.

Complex systems can do various unexpected things. We can make theories that predict such things but it's hard to validate them. Whatever macroeconomic theory you use for your own purposes is your own responsibility, and the things that get taught give some hints about how you might do that.

Since any macroeconomic theories are uncertain, it makes sense to game out possible futures and think about how you'd deal with them. What leading indicators would you expect that might warn you early about critical changes? At what point to you have to commit yourself to one path over another? How much can you afford to hedge your bets? But you can't afford to consider all possibilities equally likely, and when you imagine some more likely than others, it is because of some sort of macroeconomic theory.
Using bad macroeconomic theory may be worse than none at all.  As you said, the future is uncertain.  Econometric data doesn't help much, and then only if informed by good theory.

So far I've read what a couple of Austrian economists said about banking. Some of what they said seemed quite reasonable, but they kept expanding from the reasonable stuff into claims for which they did not at all state the assumptions. I could follow the reasoning up to a point. I could imagine assumptions that would lead to their further conclusions but I didn't see why I should make those assumptions. It may have been that they were quoting great Austrian authorities that they assumed people would already agree with.
Without reading the specific arguments, I can't comment.

But make sure that you avoid unwarranted assumptions.  For example, Austrian economists consider the current depression with the preceding boom a good example of Austrian Business Cycle Theory--central bank monetary inflation causing widespread malinvestments, becoming worse the longer they are sustained through cheap credit, and failing eventually.  Someone reading an Austrian economist discussing ABCT in the context of the current depression might assume that the economist considers it the only cause of the depression, but that would probably be wrong, since (as far as I know) all Austrian economists consider quite a few policies to be partial causes.

By the way, there are great Austrians economists, but they aren't considered "authorities" (in the sense of being authoritative).  Rothbard disagreed with Mises on some issues, and modern Austrian economists disagree with both Mises and Rothbard on others (and with each other on others).  Whether an economist is "Austrian" is mainly a question of methodology.

A long time ago I read a book by Krugman in which he seemed to claim that there was such a thing as mainstream economics. He argued for example that the supply-side guys who wanted to talk about the Laffer Curve were entirely using arguments from mainstream economics and that there was no fundamental economic mistake there -- the only concern was whether their claims applied to the US economy the way they claimed. (The results have shown that the situation was not as they claimed, and their assumptions were not a good fit. But they could fit some other economy some other time.)
Supply-side economists are not Austrians.

Of course the Laffer Curve is essentially correct.  All it states is that a government would collect the maximum tax revenue using a tax rate greater than 0% and less than 100%.  All economists would agree with that.  I'm not surprised that some economists would disagree with Krugman's opinion as to what rate for a specific tax would generate the maximum tax revenue, and I'm not surprised that Krugman would defend his opinion.  Is there a reason that you bring this up?

By the way, Paul Krugman was once a good economist, but (based on his New York Times columns) is no longer one.

There's a story that somebody asked a prominent economist for an example of something in economics that's both surprising, and true. The idea was that pretty much everything in economics that's surprising is in fact wrong, and pretty much everything that's true is simple obvious common sense. The economist thought for awhile and came up with the theory of comparative advantage. But when I looked at comparative advantage, it turned out that the actual theory with all its limiting assumptions is not surprising at all. What's surprising is the claims that free trade enthusiasts have added to it without stating their additional assumptions, that in fact appear to be entirely wrong.
In my studies of economics, I have been surprised at times.  Perhaps you would not have found those things surprising.  I wouldn't necessarily expect an economist to know enough psychology to identify economic ideas that most people would find surprising.

As far as I know (I haven't studied it), comparative advantage is true under a very broad set of conditions.  Would you give a realistic example of it failing?

I originally looked at economics hoping to find things that would apply to ecology. But it appears that theoretical ecology is far more advanced than theoretical economics, and so far all the lessons go the other direction.
I would tend to agree, in the sense that (as far as I can tell) ecologists recognize their limitations better than mainstream economists.

I don't know much about ecological models, but my guess is that their methodology resembles that of Austrian economics more than mainstream economics.

A couple of months ago, Russ Roberts (an economist who has some understanding of Austrian ideas) made a blog post that (among other things) compared economics to ecology:
http://cafehayek.com/2011/01/what-is-economics-good-for.html
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 06, 2011, 08:45:31 am
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Can a society be stable when there are large disparities in wealth

I have to note that, as we grow & develop & create, the wealth disparity must increase.  There is an absolute bottom to poverty:  starving to death.  But as we add more technology and more products to existence, the upper bounds of wealth just keep rising. 

I don't think we really want to lower the ceiling.  And I think there is no way to raise the floor:  there are those who will have to be taken care of, even when they are physically and mentally (if not emotionallyl) capable of taking care of themselves, and then there are those, slightly more ambitious, who will at least search out the better dumpsters to dive in for food.  If these people are mentally or emotionally "ill", do we have the right to heal them against their will?  Do they have the right to stay ill?  I don't think these issues matter since even though physical health can be imposed, mental health probably can't be, so if they don't want to be fixed, they won't be.

So I think wealth disparity must increase.  Can society be stable anyway?  Hmm -- what does "stable" mean?

I'm going to disagree about at least one of those assumptions. There is no reason to believe that a wealthy society must include people in conditions of absolute poverty. India, for instance, still has many people who live in very dire poverty, but the United States does not - and did not in the 60s, before the "Great Society" welfare programs.

Flourishing free-market economies tend to lift all boats.

Much of what we observe in the last three decades or so in America is at least partly attributable to the Cantillon Effect: newly-created money is not evenly distributed; it goes first to banks, financial institutions, the government, and agencies with large contracts with the government. These first recipients enjoy the benefits of the newly-created money. The rest of us get to suffer from higher prices.

Free economies tend to be quite dynamic. Fortunes rise and fall.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 06, 2011, 10:47:56 am

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  ....  A knowledge of basic economics would help.

With a little knowledge of economics, you'd realize how silly that sounds. 

Consider the "Phillips curve".  The theoretical justification for it was little more than Keynesian hand-waving, so the main justification was "look at the data--it works".  Unfortunately, what the data showed was that it had, to some extent, worked over a limited period in the past.  Modern economists' trust in the data created justification for US government policies that produced the horrible stagflation of the 1970s.

?? It's quite reasonable to suppose that when a booming economy has a labor shortage, there might likely be inflation. Businesses bid up the price of the scarce resource -- labor. When lots of people have money they tend to spend it and drive up prices, unless of course they produce so much of what they want that prices can't rise. The problem is the other direction, that inflation ought to reduce unemployment. That was stupid.

But I don't much see that this stupid idea caused the stagflation. More that the stagflation proved the idea was wrong. Things that contributed far more included:

1. Johnson wanted his Great Society and the Vietnam War both. He knew Congress would not pay for both. So he cooked the books to get both without Congress's permission. And Vietnam kept costing more than predicted, month after month and year after year. We failed so we escalated and it cost. The government tried to suck more from the economy than the economy could handle, and they didn't admit they were doing it which made it harder to plan.

2. Nixon tried economic controls that his own experience and philosophy told him would not work, because he had no idea what to do and the public expected him to do something.

3. There were a couple of big oil shocks.

4. Carter also had no idea how to give voters a great economy, starting from what Nixon handed him. Carter came up with a long-range concept that was mostly necessary -- do R&D etc to get the USA to be mostly energy-independent. But the voters disagreed. They wanted their good times back right now.

5. So we had a collection of material problems that resulted in less stuff to go around. Government made lots of promises for the stuff it pulled out of the economy for the wars in Vietnam and Israel. And oil producers managed to raise prices and buy stuff with the money, which pulled more stuff out of the reach of US consumers. Then the Fed had the choice whether to suck a lot of money out of the economy so prices would stay stable but people wouldn't have much money to buy, versus let the money circulate and watch inflation rise. As usual, they waffled.

 Did the Fed use the Phillips Curve as an excuse? But they would use any handy excuse. They decided what to do first and came up with excuses later. This time around they're saying that inflation isn't so bad, and what's their excuse now?

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Consider the crash of collateralized mortgage obligations that helped cause the current depression.  Why did the government-approved rating agencies fail so badly?

Why did the EPA fail so badly at controlling pollution? Why did the FDA approve so many new poorly-tested drugs? Why did the Forestry Service agree to cut down so many of the nation's forests so fast? The Bush Administration told them to.

Would regulation have worked better if Bush hadn't tried to systematically dismantle it? Who knows?

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For several reasons, one of which was trusting the econometric data that showed that housing prices in different parts of the country had been fairly uncorrelated.  As mainstream economists, they assumed that that relation would continue to hold.

Government-paid economists had to toe the line or else. So of course they came up with whatever excuses they could to justify what they had to do.

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Of course, mainstream macroeconomists will say that they have learned their lessons and the problems have now been fixed.  This time it'll be different!  Right.

It depends. The ones who are required to go along with whatever voodoo economics the politicans tell them to, will come up with new fallacies so they can pretend they aren't just being craven.

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For example: a few years ago, most Austrian economists said that there was a housing bubble that would eventually pop and destabilize the heavily government-controlled financial system and the economy as a whole, while mainstream economists mostly said that there wasn't a housing bubble and if it popped then it wouldn't affect the economy as a whole or the financial system which would be stabilized by the government controls.

I said there was a housing bubble. I didn't notice there was a consensus among "mainstream economists". There usually isn't a consensus, unless you restrict it to economists who work for the government. Of course the Bush administration wanted to say there was no housing bubble so the economy would look better to voters, and of course government-funded economists knew they would be punished if they disagreed.

You may be right.  I don't pay a whole lot of attention to mainstream economists.

If your ignore everybody except your own particular koolaid vendor, you might miss something. Of course, part of what you'll miss is a whole lot of nonsense. But if you can sift through that and see some of the nonsense you've swallowed, that might be worth it.

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From what I remember, back when most Austrian economists were warning about a housing bubble (say, 5 years ago), most mainstream economists did not consider it a problem and many were still encouraging government to direct more money into housing.

Let's consider the problem of economists who write for the media. There are a lot of people who have trouble sleeping at night because they have something to lose and they're afraid they'll lose it. They want to hear that everything will turn out great. There are fewer people who have little to lose, who are paying attention and want to hear that there will be a big crash. Given the market, of course the media chooses a lot more of the former to present to the public.

Could we look at recent publications in mainstream economic journals, and commentary among professional economists etc? Maybe so. I haven't done it. But if we let the media choose which economists are mainstream the results are fairly predictable.

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Some other people are not as gullible.  For those people, the early (as it is usually taught) part of introductory mainstream economics, "microeconomics" or "price theory", is valuable.

Yes, but it typically takes months and it could be done in 2 weeks in a cybernetic framework. And it tends to be definitional. Not so much "Here's how it happens" as "Here's what you call it when it happens this way, and here's what you call it when it happens this other way, and here's what you call it when this happens instead".

If that's the best pseudo-economic education you can find, then I take back my recommendation.  Instead, read a good economics book.  For economics in general, there's nothing better than Human Action by Ludwig von Mises (available online), but it's fairly long.  I have only read some of the shorter books that people have recommended as substitutes--I liked Man, Economy, and State and Power and Market (originally intended to be one book, recently available as one book) by Murray Rothbard, but there may be others that would suit you better.

?? Mainstream price theory. Demand curve. Supply curve. They intersect. What happens when the demand curve is convex. What happens when it is concave. What happens when it is rising (like momentum investors, who want to buy when the price goes up). Etc.

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Just a few basic tenets (such as "people act to improve their perceived welfare" and "incentives matter") can help a person recognize the foolishness of many government programs.

Sure. The last I saw they did not discuss the OODA loop, which should be a central concept for this sort of thing. Small businesses are slower to orient but quicker to react, large businesses consistently have a quicker OODA loop than government. So any government action must be carefully designed in terms of the ESS's because that's what it will face. Businesses will reactto government according to their self-interest, faster than government can respond to their reactions.

You're getting caught up in details.  It's more important to understand the basics.

OODA loops are basic. Things like "incentives matter" are axiomatic. See for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVp8UGjECt4&feature=related

Note particularly Principle #4.

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If you try to do any sort of business planning beyond one quarter or so then you are depending on some sort of macroeconomic model. If you even just assume that the next two quarters will be pretty much like the last two, that's a crude macroeconomic model in itself.

I'm discussing economics, not business.  While knowledge of either can help the other, they are very different.

Well, if you are in business your macroeconomic model is vitally important. If you are only an amateur economist then you can afford to ignore macroeconomics entirely, if you want to. It doesn't really matter if all you want to do is argue about how what you know trumps whatever somebody else knows.

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Using bad macroeconomic theory may be worse than none at all.  As you said, the future is uncertain.

Yes, but using a macroeconomic theory that's so unconscious that you believe you're using none at all, is using a bad macroeconomic theory.

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Austrian economists consider the current depression with the preceding boom a good example of Austrian Business Cycle Theory--central bank monetary inflation causing widespread malinvestments, becoming worse the longer they are sustained through cheap credit, and failing eventually.  Someone reading an Austrian economist discussing ABCT in the context of the current depression might assume that the economist considers it the only cause of the depression, but that would probably be wrong, since (as far as I know) all Austrian economists consider quite a few policies to be partial causes.

Good! I tend to agree with everything you have said here, and the recognition that there's more going on that we haven't noticed, which may be vitally important, is itself the most important insight.

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A long time ago I read a book by Krugman in which he seemed to claim that there was such a thing as mainstream economics. He argued for example that the supply-side guys who wanted to talk about the Laffer Curve were entirely using arguments from mainstream economics and that there was no fundamental economic mistake there -- the only concern was whether their claims applied to the US economy the way they claimed. (The results have shown that the situation was not as they claimed, and their assumptions were not a good fit. But they could fit some other economy some other time.)

Supply-side economists are not Austrians.

I didn't claim they were. My point was that people generally thought that SS economists were not "mainstream", and Krugman argued that they were not so very different. AND Krugman thought there was a mainstream.

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Is there a reason that you bring this up?

To a very large extent, it looks like what's mainstream and what isn't might get determined by the political prescriptions. Propose a government action that the government doesn't want to take, and you aren't mainstream. Propose one that the government wants and that most economists agree with, and they will argue that you aren't mainstream even if your theories are not very different -- but the government will support you until your policies inevitably fail.

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By the way, Paul Krugman was once a good economist, but (based on his New York Times columns) is no longer one.

Unfortunately we can't judge economists by what they say to the media. It's like judging scientists who provide scientific advice to a science fiction movie,  by the movie.

Krugman has a contract to provide opinions to the NYT, similar to Dowd, Friedman, and Kristof. He doesn't have the space to describe many reasons for his opinions and if he mentions his uncertainties he only weakens his influence relative to Friedman etc.

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As far as I know (I haven't studied it), comparative advantage is true under a very broad set of conditions.  Would you give a realistic example of it failing?

Comparative advantage works under the assumptions it's proven for. People extend it way beyond those, with the same sort of empirical claim that they used for the Phillips Curve but typically less evidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage

I remember the Wikipedia link as explaining better than it does now, but you can still pick up various arguments about where the limits come. My own argument isn't with the assumptions that prove comparative advantage, but with the extreme conclusions that many people draw from it. For example, there is often a claim that even if you are not the best at anything, comparative advantage still will provide you with work that you can survive on. When I think the correct conclusion is may.

Some people claim that comparative advantage, if unimpeded by government, will maximize production, when I believe the word is may.

Some people claim that comparative advantage will maximise benefits for one nation when that nation allows free trade, even when all other nations try to regulate trade. I think that to make this conclusion you need a very special definition of "benefit" and even then probably you will need may.

Some people argue that comparative advantage will result in an equitable balance of trade without government interference. I say that sometimes this will only happen after foreigners own all your forests and fields and mines and businesses, and by the time you get that balance of trade you will have some other important concerns.

Comparative advantage definitely works under the narrow circumstances where it's proved, but economic amateurs and politicians often use it as a sort of magic wand to justify things they want to believe.

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I don't know much about ecological models, but my guess is that their methodology resembles that of Austrian economics more than mainstream economics.

They tend to look at flows of energy and materials. Populations find ecological niches where they can maintain themselves, and they cannot expand indefinitely. Communities tend toward mutualism, and individual species tend toward niches that reduce shocks that their mutualists have trouble handling. This sort of thing gets disrupted often over geological time, though. There have been repeated extinction events in which many species disappeared in a relatively short time, and later surviving species expanded into lots of open niches. We are in such an extinction event now, certainly due to human actions.

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A couple of months ago, Russ Roberts (an economist who has some understanding of Austrian ideas) made a blog post that (among other things) compared economics to ecology:
http://cafehayek.com/2011/01/what-is-economics-good-for.html

Nice! Economic trends etc depend partly on the sum of lots and lots of choices, and partly on choices by a few powerful individuals or small groups of powerful individuals. Given the sort of informtion Google collects it might be possible to follow the large-group behaviors well enough to predict their effects. But the important choices by powerful individuals, small groups, and committees will be forever uncertain until after they happen.

So yes, people want economists to predict things that they can't, that people would not expect from ecologists. And since there is a demand for such predictions, there is a supply of economists to provide predictions that tend not to come true. There will probably be a market for that sort of economics while there's a market for astrology.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 06, 2011, 10:48:24 am
My guess is that Bush thought it would last long enough that it would crash after a Democrat got elected President and the country would blame it on the new guy. He almost made it. Just a few more months.
Just one thing wrong with that scenario.

If he had made it, people would have blamed it on the new guy, John McCain. Because then John McCain wouldn't have had the opportunity to delay the bailout - and thus make it cost the taxpayer more; the bailout that was the only thing standing between us and another Great Depression, so the media said - until his state got some extra gravy. Then John McCain wouldn't have had the opportunity to do his Herbert Hoover imitation, and tell us that the economy was fundamentally sound (we knew that, but we also knew that this doesn't matter when the stock market crashes; that fact won't save our jobs).

Because, of course, those things did happen, and yet even after John McCain basically threw the Presidential election, his opponent, President Barack H. Obama, just barely squeaked through to victory.

So if Americans weren't scared about their jobs, they would not have voted to pull out of Iraq after all, despite what the media was telling us.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 06, 2011, 10:58:03 am
My guess is that Bush thought it would last long enough that it would crash after a Democrat got elected President and the country would blame it on the new guy. He almost made it. Just a few more months.
Just one thing wrong with that scenario.

If he had made it, people would have blamed it on the new guy, John McCain.

We're being all speculative here, with no real evidence for either of our claims. I tend to think that Bush wouldn't have cared if it was McCain who got the blame. But there were lots of other ways to keep McCain from winning the election, if that was desirable.

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Because then John McCain wouldn't have had the opportunity to delay the bailout - and thus make it cost the taxpayer more; the bailout that was the only thing standing between us and another Great Depression, so the media said - until his state got some extra gravy.

I'm not sure how many people got the word about all that. I personally didn't hear about McCain getting pork for his state for letting the bailout go through. I didn't have time to pay a lot of attention to that sort of thing just then.

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Then John McCain wouldn't have had the opportunity to do his Herbert Hoover imitation, and tell us that the economy was fundamentally sound (we knew that, but we also knew that this doesn't matter when the stock market crashes; that fact won't save our jobs).

When a whole lot of people are losing their jobs, the economy is not fundamentally sound. Unless you have a special meaning there.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 06, 2011, 01:26:54 pm
When a whole lot of people are losing their jobs, the economy is not fundamentally sound. Unless you have a special meaning there.
Yes, this is technical language.

And both Herbert Hoover and John McCain were employing it correctly. The "fundamentals" didn't break down in order to cause the Great Depression. The "Dust Bowl" came later.

So the rain was still falling, America wasn't running out of oil, iron, or copper, there were enough trained and educated Americans to do the work that needed doing.

But while the "fundamentals" being sound is one condition for an economy that functions well, it is not the only condition. If capital isn't available because the stock market is doing badly, then one of the other conditions is not met. If one, as Herbert Hoover did, rejects government intervention in the market (at least, certain kinds of government intervention, those that would attempt to fix the problem, as opposed to those that may have caused or exacerbated it) then one has no way to claim that the economy will quickly bounce back to doing what the fundamentals permit.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 07, 2011, 09:32:34 am
I have seldom seen so many errors in one freaking long post in my life.

Quadibloc, would you please shut up long enough to read and understand the wikipedia article on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory?

Instead of handwaving, go back to the basics. When the Fed creates lots of money, it doesn't (usually) sit in the vaults gathering dust. It goes to banks, financial institutions, and the government, and encourages certain kinds of economic activity. In any given case, other factors tend to nudge one sector or another. In the recent housing boom, housing prices soared. The average cost of a very modest home in California with a postage-stamp garden was $675,000, while the average income was about $55k or so - a much larger cost-to-income ratio than historical norms. This was inherently unsustainable; Austrian-School economists sounded the alarms years before the crash.

Malinvestment occurred; more resources went into certain fields of endeavor than could be sustained. More homes were built; more furnishings were produced; more high-end cars ( by way of home equity loans ) were produced than the economy could sustain. In short, a bubble economy.

All bubbles pop, as this one did. Austrian-School economists predicted this. Keynesians such as Greenspan, Bernanke, Geithner, and Krugman did not. In fact, Krugman is on record as actually encouraging the Fed to pour more money into the housing sector.

Bush and Obama did not "save the economy" with their bailout - they set us up for even worse problems in the future. The fix is not to pump more money into the already over-built banking, financial, and construction industries. The fix is to let the over-leveraged institutions fail, to reallocate resources, to sort things out so that the economy can pick up steam in a more honest, productive, sustainable fashion.

Neither Bush nor Obama have a solitary clue how to direct resources profitably and sustainably. No central planner can. Google up the Economic Calculation Problem to find out why. The Central Planners are interfering with the plans made up by billions of individual planners. The Central Planners are distorting economic signals which would otherwise enable those billions of individual planners to make better decisions about how to allocate economic resources.

 
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: macsnafu on March 07, 2011, 10:52:28 am
When a whole lot of people are losing their jobs, the economy is not fundamentally sound. Unless you have a special meaning there.
Yes, this is technical language.

And both Herbert Hoover and John McCain were employing it correctly. The "fundamentals" didn't break down in order to cause the Great Depression. The "Dust Bowl" came later.

So the rain was still falling, America wasn't running out of oil, iron, or copper, there were enough trained and educated Americans to do the work that needed doing.

But while the "fundamentals" being sound is one condition for an economy that functions well, it is not the only condition. If capital isn't available because the stock market is doing badly, then one of the other conditions is not met. If one, as Herbert Hoover did, rejects government intervention in the market (at least, certain kinds of government intervention, those that would attempt to fix the problem, as opposed to those that may have caused or exacerbated it) then one has no way to claim that the economy will quickly bounce back to doing what the fundamentals permit.

Hoover was certainly no fan of laissez-faire, and did quite a bit of government intervention during his time in office, but it's hard to imagine what kinds of intervention would have fixed problem, other than reducing the previous interventions that created the problem.   You want to talk about boom/bust cycles?  What was the Roaring 20's if not one freaking, giant boom, artificially stimulated by the Fed's early policies?

As Terry points out, the essential feature of government spending is redirecting private spending towards public spending, i.e. spending on stuff that consumers don't need or want.  Malinvestment.  If government could direct spending towards goods and services consumers have the most demand for, it could effectively replace the market.  Since it can't, due to the calculation problem, as well as a lack of intent in that regard, it can only create more malinvestment.

Comments about how fundamentally sound an economy is seem irrelevant as long as there is no real understanding of basic economics and political intervention.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 07, 2011, 12:19:25 pm

Instead of handwaving, go back to the basics. When the Fed creates lots of money, it doesn't (usually) sit in the vaults gathering dust. It goes to banks, financial institutions, and the government, and encourages certain kinds of economic activity. In any given case, other factors tend to nudge one sector or another.

Yes.

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In the recent housing boom, housing prices soared. The average cost of a very modest home in California with a postage-stamp garden was $675,000, while the average income was about $55k or so - a much larger cost-to-income ratio than historical norms.

Yes. And more, a lot of people depended on house prices to rise. They could start out with a "starter home" that needed a lot of fixing up, and maybe put some "sweat equity" into it to improve it and sell it for considerably more than they bought it for. And what did they do with the money? They put it into a better house that they could improve more, and then trade that in for one that was better still. On paper they were getting rich. It was even an OK thing for a few people to do. There was a sustainable market niche there.

But when a lot of people did it, the process turned into a "greater fool" trade. Who was going to buy all those expensive houses at high prices for a place to live? Everybody was buying them as an investment, expecting the price to rise so they could sell and -- buy in bigger.

And I found that arguments that it was unsustainable made no difference to them. When people have a choice between doing something that makes money in the short run even though you know it's basicly a Ponzi scheme, versus complain that they have no workable plan at all, they will consistently buy into the Ponzi scheme.

There were people buying into all sorts of ridiculous schemes. I met some people who were involved in a MLM involving Melaleuca. The company had their own patented version of turpentine that they said was milder and far less unpleasant than other forms of turpentine. So they were selling it in toothpaste, on bandaids, in dandruff shampoo and stylish shampoo, In hand soap and mouthwash, etc etc etc. Each salesman got a 20% commission, the salesman who recruited him got 5%, the salesman who recruited that one got 2%, and it was 1% up from there. It was much easier to recruit melaleuca salesmen than to actually sell the product, so the people who were most enthusiastic were busy recruiting rather than selling. I asked a senior recruiter how he felt about recruiting people who just sold instead of recruiting new salesmen and he said he had no interest in anybody like that. And these friends-of-friends were betting their future that it would work out. "Melaleuca! Melaleuca!" They chanted and tried to keep their hopes up, because it was the only hope they saw. i felt kind of sickened to be with them. I could imagine myself doing something like that. And in fact each startup is a lot like that, except that there is a real hope that it will turn out a viable product....

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This was inherently unsustainable; Austrian-School economists sounded the alarms years before the crash.

I can't imagine anybody who looked at it honestly who would not. Which leaves the various economists who were on the outside looking in, who had nothing to lose by saying the emperor had no clothes.

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Malinvestment occurred; more resources went into certain fields of endeavor than could be sustained. More homes were built; more furnishings were produced; more high-end cars ( by way of home equity loans ) were produced than the economy could sustain. In short, a bubble economy.

Yes. Suppose we had put the same money into energy efficiency (and whatever alternate energy looked workable) instead. That would have come out like a bubble too. At some point we would have decided that we couldn't afford it, and that it didn't pay off sufficiently. But instead of having a bunch of homes that nobody can afford (except very rich people who don't want them) and a bunch of high-end autos etc, when the recession came our demand for oil would be far more elastic.

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All bubbles pop, as this one did. Austrian-School economists predicted this. Keynesians such as Greenspan, Bernanke, Geithner, and Krugman did not. In fact, Krugman is on record as actually encouraging the Fed to pour more money into the housing sector.

Ouch. It's perfectly understandable that Greenspan, Bernanke and Geithner would not predict it.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
        Upton Sinclair
        US novelist & socialist politician (1878 - 1968)

Krugman is a more difficult case.

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Bush and Obama did not "save the economy" with their bailout - they set us up for even worse problems in the future.

It looks that way to me. I don't understand the details enough to claim I really know. Maybe the entities they "saved" could have done so much damage they had to pay them a ransom not to. Maybe some of the bankers owned the politicians. Maybe the money actually did serve as loans that could and did get mostly paid back, and they prevented a giant disruption that was worth preventing. I don't know for sure. But it looks to me like it set us up for worse problems in the future.

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The fix is not to pump more money into the already over-built banking, financial, and construction industries. The fix is to let the over-leveraged institutions fail, to reallocate resources, to sort things out so that the economy can pick up steam in a more honest, productive, sustainable fashion.

That looks completely sensible to me. I can imagine that it might be better to avoid a big sudden crunch, and then dismantle the failing institutions carefully. But we have a government where the legislature can interfere at random as prompted by special interests, and the administration often cares more about appearance to the public than any sort of actual accomplishment. It's easy to see that they propped up some financial institutions in the short run, and it's hard to see in detail what they're actually doing. But very likely what they're doing that's hidden would not look better than what they put on parade.

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Neither Bush nor Obama have a solitary clue how to direct resources profitably and sustainably. No central planner can. Google up the Economic Calculation Problem to find out why. The Central Planners are interfering with the plans made up by billions of individual planners. The Central Planners are distorting economic signals which would otherwise enable those billions of individual planners to make better decisions about how to allocate economic resources.

That's right, but it might be irrelevant. You could make a similar biological argument. Your body has trillions of cells that each make their own decisions about what to do, and the sum total of their interactions is your physiology. Your brain distorts your physiology in lots of ways that are not ideal. Like, if you see a mugger and you run away, your heart will beat too fast and your chest will work your lungs like bellows, you will route blood into your legs and away from your stomach, it will be a giant distortion. But if you did nothing and let your digestion proceed optimally then all your cells would operate more serenely.

If you were a sponge you would not need any sort of brain. All your cells would do the right thing automatically. They would self-organize in an ideal way to optimally pump seawater through you and strain out the little organisms. It's easy to set up sponges in ways that take a supercomputer to confirm that they are close to optimal. A sponge does better without any planning.

And if you were a hydra, you wouldn't need much central planning. The tentacles wave around, they automatically wrap around anything they attach to and pull it toward the mouth, the stomach digests, it just doesn't take much of a nerve net to manage all that. The cells mostly know what to do already.

But if you're an octopus, you need a brain. You don't use your brain to micromanage how each chromatophore changes color. You don't micromanage how each suction cup operates etc. But you coordinate in ways that tend to keep you from getting eaten and that help you find food etc. When you digest the food you don't try to think about precisely where your blood should pump the nutrition so the right parts will be healthy and grow. You only think about the things that take thinking, that don't happen automatically.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygh1-ul6E94
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on March 07, 2011, 12:50:23 pm


If you were a sponge you would not need any sort of brain. All your cells would do the right thing automatically. They would self-organize in an ideal way to optimally pump seawater through you and strain out the little organisms. It's easy to set up sponges in ways that take a supercomputer to confirm that they are close to optimal. A sponge does better without any planning.

And if you were a hydra, you wouldn't need much central planning. The tentacles wave around, they automatically wrap around anything they attach to and pull it toward the mouth, the stomach digests, it just doesn't take much of a nerve net to manage all that. The cells mostly know what to do already.

But if you're an octopus, you need a brain. You don't use your brain to micromanage how each chromatophore changes color. You don't micromanage how each suction cup operates etc. But you coordinate in ways that tend to keep you from getting eaten and that help you find food etc. When you digest the food you don't try to think about precisely where your blood should pump the nutrition so the right parts will be healthy and grow. You only think about the things that take thinking, that don't happen automatically.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygh1-ul6E94



I really like your analagys!
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 07, 2011, 09:01:33 pm

Even someone ignorant of economics could recognize that your "argument" is drivel.  ....  A knowledge of basic economics would help.

With a little knowledge of economics, you'd realize how silly that sounds. 

Consider the "Phillips curve".  The theoretical justification for it was little more than Keynesian hand-waving, so the main justification was "look at the data--it works".  Unfortunately, what the data showed was that it had, to some extent, worked over a limited period in the past.  Modern economists' trust in the data created justification for US government policies that produced the horrible stagflation of the 1970s.

?? It's quite reasonable to suppose that when a booming economy has a labor shortage, there might likely be inflation. Businesses bid up the price of the scarce resource -- labor. When lots of people have money they tend to spend it and drive up prices, unless of course they produce so much of what they want that prices can't rise. The problem is the other direction, that inflation ought to reduce unemployment. That was stupid.

But I don't much see that this stupid idea caused the stagflation. More that the stagflation proved the idea was wrong.

Once again, I ask you to reread what I wrote.  I didn't say that the idea of the Phillips curve caused stagflation.  I said that modern economists' trust in the econometric data which was used to support the Phillips curve provided justification for the Keynesian policies that produced the stagflation.  Without that justification, those policies would have faced more opposition.  It was known that those policies would likely lead to more inflation, but a large fraction of economists thought that there would be at least some compensation through lower unemployment.  (It's hard to believe that mainstream economists back then could have been so clueless, but in several decades I expect people will think the same about mainstream economists of today.)

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Consider the crash of collateralized mortgage obligations that helped cause the current depression.  Why did the government-approved rating agencies fail so badly?
...
The Bush Administration told them to.
Are you seriously suggesting that an agent of the Bush administration told economists at the rating agencies to run stress tests on collateralized mortgage obligations using the assumption that historical patterns of housing price correlation would hold in the future?  That's crazier than some of CG's fantasies.  Do you have the slightest bit of evidence for that, or did you just dream it up?

Would regulation have worked better if Bush hadn't tried to systematically dismantle it? Who knows?
With the regulations of a free market, there certainly wouldn't have been the large-scale financial collapse that occurred under the Bush II administration.  But the financial system is not even close to a free market, and hasn't been for a long time.  (The financial system may be the most government-controlled major portion of the economy, but it could be argued that education or health care is worse.)

It's true that the Bush II administration, like earlier and later administrations, did increase government control of the financial system for the benefit of politically powerful bankers.  If you want to argue that that dismantled some tiny bit of free market regulation that remained I won't argue, but I don't think it mattered much.

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Just a few basic tenets (such as "people act to improve their perceived welfare" and "incentives matter") can help a person recognize the foolishness of many government programs.

Sure. The last I saw they did not discuss the OODA loop, which should be a central concept for this sort of thing. Small businesses are slower to orient but quicker to react, large businesses consistently have a quicker OODA loop than government. So any government action must be carefully designed in terms of the ESS's because that's what it will face. Businesses will reactto government according to their self-interest, faster than government can respond to their reactions.

You're getting caught up in details.  It's more important to understand the basics.

OODA loops are basic. Things like "incentives matter" are axiomatic. See for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVp8UGjECt4&feature=related

Note particularly Principle #4.

Whether you consider "incentive matter" to be a principle or an axiom doesn't matter--it is vitally important anyway.  The failure to recognize incentives dooms many government programs from achieving their nominal objectives.

I consider that short video to be quite unusual, in that it is humorous (at different levels) to both people who know basic economics and to those who don't.  I've recommended it to many different people over the past few years, and most enjoyed it.

If by "OODA loops" you simply mean that people learn from experience and modify their behavior, then yes, it is very important.  (It's one of many reasons why economic modeling is generally useless in the long term.)  If you mean the specific emphasis that OODA puts on parts of the cycle, then no, it isn't important.

By the way, a few weeks back, Eric Raymond's blog has an interesting discussion of OODA loops in the development of smartphones:
http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2975

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By the way, Paul Krugman was once a good economist, but (based on his New York Times columns) is no longer one.

Unfortunately we can't judge economists by what they say to the media. It's like judging scientists who provide scientific advice to a science fiction movie,  by the movie.
This is complete bullshit.  If Krugman provides specific advice to the NYT editors, I wouldn't judge him by a NYT staff editorial.  I judge him by what he writes in his own column.

Krugman has a contract to provide opinions to the NYT, similar to Dowd, Friedman, and Kristof. He doesn't have the space to describe many reasons for his opinions and if he mentions his uncertainties he only weakens his influence relative to Friedman etc.
The problem is not that he doesn't provide reasons.  The problem is that he has abandoned economics for political hackery.

Note: I certainly recognize that instead of abandoning economics, it is possible that he is simply lying to the public.  (I'd expect that the rewards for such prostitution would be considerable for such a famous person.)  However, I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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As far as I know (I haven't studied it), comparative advantage is true under a very broad set of conditions.  Would you give a realistic example of it failing?

Comparative advantage works under the assumptions it's proven for. People extend it way beyond those, with the same sort of empirical claim that they used for the Phillips Curve but typically less evidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage

I remember the Wikipedia link as explaining better than it does now, but you can still pick up various arguments about where the limits come.
It's true that Wikipedia can change over time.  The article that I read was fairly poor.  I can see how it might deceive you into thinking that a number of unusual conditions might be required for comparative advantage to work.

The article only mentions one thing that causes comparative advantage to fail: if trade costs are too high.  So what?  In that case, trade would not occur whether or not comparative advantage was true.

The second example in the Wikipedia article (that I read) does list several conditions (in addition to the required one that trade costs be sufficiently low), but those are only conditions that make the example simple.  Most of the extra conditions can be collected into one: that changes in production caused by trade does not affect the relative costs of the goods in each place.  That assumption makes calculating the end state easy, but is not required for comparative advantage to work.  If relative costs change as trade occurs, then only a limited amount of trade would occur, but the trade that does occur would be that predicted by comparative advantage, and would (as predicted) be to the advantage of the participants.

The term "perfect competition" should have clued you in.  "Perfect competition" is a fantasy that has little in common with a real economy.  Government apologists say that there is a "market failure" because a real free market is not the same as their "perfect competition" fantasy, then also say (with no basis whatsoever) that government controls could make the market work better.  Such bullshit is common.  Beware.

My own argument isn't with the assumptions that prove comparative advantage, but with the extreme conclusions that many people draw from it. For example, there is often a claim that even if you are not the best at anything, comparative advantage still will provide you with work that you can survive on. When I think the correct conclusion is may.
I have never heard any economist, mainstream or Austrian or some other heterodox, that has said anything remotely like "comparative advantage still will provide you with work that you can survive on".  That sounds extremely silly to me, so silly that even CG or Holt would be ashamed to say it.  Do you have any evidence for that, or did it come from your dreams?

Some people claim that comparative advantage, if unimpeded by government, will maximize production, when I believe the word is may.
I have no idea what you mean by "production" in that statement.  By any definition of "production" that I can think of, it is wrong and wouldn't be stated by any economist, but you may have a meaning for "production" that I haven't considered.

Some people argue that comparative advantage will result in an equitable balance of trade without government interference.
Not that tired old balance-of-trade bullshit!  You have adopted mercantilism??????

I didn't read your entire post before starting to answer you.  If mercantilism sounds good to you, then I give up.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 08, 2011, 12:26:32 am
I didn't read your entire post before starting to answer you.  If mercantilism sounds good to you, then I give up.
I don't know about him, but I guess you have to give up on me.

But then, mercantilism did involve a lot of stupid thinking as well, at least as it was practiced in the time of George III.

However, it still contains a core of truth - which is why the countries of the world today practice it while they give lip service to Adam Smith who said it was all wrong.

Lets say you gave your children plastic tokens as rewards for doing chores, which they could redeem in a number of ways, such as for time watching TV. But also they could redeem them for cash.

And this worked because only a fraction of them were redeemed in the latter way. But suddenly, one week, your hours at work are down, and there's not much good on TV.

This is analogous to the situation in our economy where mercantilism makes sense. There's more money circulating than there are available gold reserves or foreign exchange reserves or SDRs to cover it. If its spent in the domestic economy, no problem. If the fraction that's spent on stuff imported from China, or oil imported from the Middle East, suddenly increases beyond the amount of foreign exchange that comes in from exports...

then the country is spending more money than it earns.

Which is as real a problem for the country as spending more money than you earn is a problem for a household.

Painful corrective actions have to take place. The idea would seem to be to have tariffs and exchange controls in place, so that the overspending that creates problems does not happen in the first place - debts aren't racked up, foreign exchange reserves are kept constant, income from exports matches outgo for imports.

Plain common sense derived from everyday experience is not voodoo economics. That's just what they want to tell you so they - the owners of big businesses - can make piles of money exporting things that are mostly made in China while ordinary Americans are out of work.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 08, 2011, 05:55:56 am
I didn't read your entire post before starting to answer you.  If mercantilism sounds good to you, then I give up.

I don't know about him, but I guess you have to give up on me.

But then, mercantilism did involve a lot of stupid thinking as well, at least as it was practiced in the time of George III.

However, it still contains a core of truth - which is why the countries of the world today practice it while they give lip service to Adam Smith who said it was all wrong.

Lets say you gave your children plastic tokens as rewards for doing chores, which they could redeem in a number of ways, such as for time watching TV. But also they could redeem them for cash.

And this worked because only a fraction of them were redeemed in the latter way. But suddenly, one week, your hours at work are down, and there's not much good on TV.

This is analogous to the situation in our economy where mercantilism makes sense. There's more money circulating than there are available gold reserves or foreign exchange reserves or SDRs to cover it. If its spent in the domestic economy, no problem. If the fraction that's spent on stuff imported from China, or oil imported from the Middle East, suddenly increases beyond the amount of foreign exchange that comes in from exports...

then the country is spending more money than it earns.

Which is as real a problem for the country as spending more money than you earn is a problem for a household.

Painful corrective actions have to take place. The idea would seem to be to have tariffs and exchange controls in place, so that the overspending that creates problems does not happen in the first place - debts aren't racked up, foreign exchange reserves are kept constant, income from exports matches outgo for imports.

You have an important point, but I want to show why it would make no sense to AnCaps.

You start out assuming money that is not backed by assets. In your analogy, plastic tokens. But if there is no government to make false money, if all the money is gold or equivalent, then the problem you point out cannot happen. China sells us more stuff than we sell them, so they take the difference in gold. They want gold more than we do, we want their products more than they do, there's nothing wrong with trade.

Suppose that chinese workers are willing to work hard for low pay and we are not. No problem. There's nothing wrong with people spending down their savings, if they choose to. When we get tired of doing that or we run out of savings, we either buy less or we work harder for whatever pay we can get, so we can keep buying from them.

Suppose that chinese entrepreneurs buy US companies and shut them down. No problem! They value those companies more than the previous owners did, and they do what they think best with them. They must think the market isn't all that large or they would run the companies and produce stuff. They must think it's worth something to buy the US companies rather than just undercut them until the US companies go broke, or they wouldn't buy them. Anybody -- US entrepreneurs or chinese -- can start new companies to replace them and if the chinese want to buy the new companies and shut them down that's fine provided the price is right.

Suppose that chinese entrepreneurs buy US forests and farms and mines and run them, and get all the profit. No problem! Somebody will own those things and get the profit. Who really cares which entrepreneurs do that?

Suppose there just aren't enough jobs in the USA for the people who want jobs. Suppose that somehow chinese entrepreneurs are better than US entrepreneurs in some unknown way so theirs win and ours lose, and they choose not to invest in the USA even though they would make more money if they did. No problem! Without governments, Americans who wanted jobs could just move to China and get jobs.

Suppose that the US military finds that many industries it depends on have moved to China, and it costs far more money to develop local industries to do the same things than to buy from China. No problem! AnCaps don't need the US military for anything.

If there are no governments and no militaries then who cares about mercantilism? If we don't care about American people over Chinese people, then everything works out. The people who work hardest and smartest for lowest pay get the jobs. The people who are most productive at running businesses get to run the businesses. The people who intelligently invest the most own the forests and farms and factories etc. They will hire Americans whenever they want to, at whatever wages supply-and-demand set. Americans will buy what they can afford.

If some Americans are imprudent and spend down their savings because they wrongly expect something will turn up and keep them rich, that's their own stupid choice. If somebody -- American or Chinese -- offers Americans loans that Americans can't pay back, and the Americans spend the money and then are in debt and must give up whatever assets they have and from then on must live hand-to-mouth on what they can earn, that's their own stupid choice -- and also the choice of whoever chose to lend them the money.

Once we assume that there are no groups of people who compete as groups, but only individual people who all make economic choices for themselves with no big effects on their neighbors, then the whole mercantilist argument falls apart.

It makes no sense to talk about what governments ought to do to take care of their people at the expense of foreigners, or to protect their people from foreigners who try to impoverish them. Once you decide that governments impoverish their own people more than foreign governments possibly could, and that governments are completely unneeded as protection from foreign governments, then everything works out. Capital will automatically be concentrated wherever it does the most good. Resources will be transported to wherever they do the most good. And people will travel to where the jobs are. Every individual does the best he can for himself and the world economy will work as well as it possibly can.

No other system could possibly work as well, given the assumptions.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 08, 2011, 08:49:21 am
Once we assume that there are no groups of people who compete as groups, but only individual people who all make economic choices for themselves with no big effects on their neighbors, then the whole mercantilist argument falls apart.
Absolutely, and I don't deny this. I just deny the truth of the assumption, since I'm thinking in terms of "how long is it before China or Russia conquers the world after the U.S. goes AnCap, but nothing else changes".

Mercantilism is an attempt to make money convey less inaccurate information about the economy - to convey the information that domestic labor and resources are more plentiful than the supply of gold or foreign exchange would indicate - and so you print the fiat money, and then restore the true information about the limited supply of foreign exchange through tariffs or exchange controls.

Of course, exchange controls are particularly evil and socialistic - this is why I've proposed a dual-currency system, so that those who earn foreign exchange get to keep it, restoring some semblance of a free market to the mess.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 08, 2011, 02:02:46 pm
Once we assume that there are no groups of people who compete as groups, but only individual people who all make economic choices for themselves with no big effects on their neighbors, then the whole mercantilist argument falls apart.
Absolutely, and I don't deny this. I just deny the truth of the assumption, since I'm thinking in terms of "how long is it before China or Russia conquers the world after the U.S. goes AnCap, but nothing else changes".

The mercantilist argument is as invalid as the conventional war argument, and for the same reasons - empirical observation

Let us look at countries that have practiced free trade:  The only places that have truly been free traders are Singapore and Hong Kong, which lead the world in wealth.

And now let us look at the conventional war argument:  the Soviet Union was not defeated in conventional state to state war.

Further the big threat is not Russian conquest, but Islamic conquest, which over the past thousand years or so has mostly not been by conventional state to state war.  The propensity of states to disarm their subjects and then not protect them make states a distinct liability in the war with Islam, as illustrated by Indian ocean piracy and rape Jihad.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 08, 2011, 03:42:26 pm
Quote
I'm thinking in terms of "how long is it before China or Russia conquers the world after the U.S. goes AnCap, but nothing else changes".

How long before China simply forecloses on the US if nothing changes?

As for either of them conquering "the world" -- doesn't the US have the most heavily armed populace on the planet?  Look at the difficulties armies had in Vietnam, and how bogged down the army still is in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and then factor in the armed American.  This part of "the world" is likely to be a quagmire stickier than central Asia.

Quote
Further the big threat is not Russian conquest, but Islamic conquest

Booga booga.  Any external body or agency like that is just being waved at you by arms merchants to frighten you into accepting protection and buying their products -- while they market just as heavily to your "enemy".  You can point to all the "evidence" you like; just know that there was just as much "proving" that the Commies were out to murder us all in our beds, to justify all that Cold War spending.

The big threat is not recognizing when you're being played in a global game of "Let's you and him fight".
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 08, 2011, 04:59:01 pm
Quote
I'm thinking in terms of "how long is it before China or Russia conquers the world after the U.S. goes AnCap, but nothing else changes".

How long before China simply forecloses on the US if nothing changes?

As for either of them conquering "the world" -- doesn't the US have the most heavily armed populace on the planet?  Look at the difficulties armies had in Vietnam, and how bogged down the army still is in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and then factor in the armed American.  This part of "the world" is likely to be a quagmire stickier than central Asia.

If the time comes that some other navy can stop oil supertankers from coming to the USA, we'd have a lot of trouble. We'd have a lot of trouble if we can't pay for the oil with currency somebody wants, even if we still have the best navy.

Say the USA went maybe 10 years using just the oil we can pump for ourselves, with some of that getting exported for hard currency. And every now and then foreigners donate lots of bullets to whichever side looks like it's coming in second.

After that they might not feel like the survivors are any threat at all. If they decide they actually need some coastal resource just move in and push the locals out, and set up a perimeter to keep them out. Or if there's enough organization in that particular place, pay the locals to produce whatever you want.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 08, 2011, 05:08:48 pm
Jumping in here.
Keep in mind most of our imported oil comes from Mexico and Canada via pipeline, tankers are not a huge deal for us, Europe and Japan, for sure, not so much the US.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 08, 2011, 05:51:57 pm
Booga booga.  Any external body or agency like that is just being waved at you by arms merchants to frighten you into accepting protection and buying their products -- while they market just as heavily to your "enemy".  You can point to all the "evidence" you like; just know that there was just as much "proving" that the Commies were out to murder us all in our beds, to justify all that Cold War spending.

The commies were out to murder us in our beds, though it is unclear that all the government spending had much to do with restraining them.

Islamic Jihad is a real threat - the problem is that the Iraq war, the Afghan war, and groping grandmothers boarding planes are ineffectual responses to that threat - security theater.

External threats as an argument for the state, makes a perfectly sound argument if the state's responses are effectual.  The Islamic threat was a perfectly good argument for the feudalism of Charles the Hammer.   Not a good argument when instead of Charles the Hammer, we get the TSA.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 08, 2011, 06:22:14 pm
Jumping in here.
Keep in mind most of our imported oil comes from Mexico and Canada via pipeline, tankers are not a huge deal for us, Europe and Japan, for sure, not so much the US.

That's true but it doesn't affect my point. Unless we have the strongest navy, we can't prevent Mexico or Canada from shipping their oil in tankers to the highest bidders.

If we can't afford to be the highest bidders ourselves, and if we can't intimidate them into giving us oil for what we're willing to pay, then we are in serious trouble.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 09, 2011, 05:07:56 am
Jumping in here.
Keep in mind most of our imported oil comes from Mexico and Canada via pipeline, tankers are not a huge deal for us, Europe and Japan, for sure, not so much the US.

That's true but it doesn't affect my point. Unless we have the strongest navy, we can't prevent Mexico or Canada from shipping their oil in tankers to the highest bidders.

If we can't afford to be the highest bidders ourselves, and if we can't intimidate them into giving us oil for what we're willing to pay, then we are in serious trouble.


Would "not being able to afford the highest bids" give us the moral right to use force to demand oil? That, in a nutshell, is the theory behind mercantilism - your wants somehow trump the right of others to live in peace.

It is the theory of scoundrels and rapists and thugs, not a theory worthy of decent human beings.
 
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 09, 2011, 05:19:21 am
Jumping in here.
Keep in mind most of our imported oil comes from Mexico and Canada via pipeline, tankers are not a huge deal for us, Europe and Japan, for sure, not so much the US.

That's true but it doesn't affect my point. Unless we have the strongest navy, we can't prevent Mexico or Canada from shipping their oil in tankers to the highest bidders.

If we can't afford to be the highest bidders ourselves, and if we can't intimidate them into giving us oil for what we're willing to pay, then we are in serious trouble.


Would "not being able to afford the highest bids" give us the moral right to use force to demand oil?

No, it absolutely would not.

But when you have the force available then you can choose whether to do the moral thing or not. When you are weak that choice is not available to you.

Quote
That, in a nutshell, is the theory behind mercantilism - your wants somehow trump the right of others to live in peace.

It is the theory of scoundrels and rapists and thugs, not a theory worthy of decent human beings.

As you have explained in a different context, it's good to be able to defend yourself against bullies. If a collection of governments attempt mercantilism against your people, is it better to accept that they choose to waste resources to distort your economy in ways they think benefit them? Or is it better to have some response that might persuade them to back off?

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 09, 2011, 11:51:01 am
How to get oil, Ref. European history.

Park the US Army in Denver.
Turn south, beat up the Mexican Army, take the oil.
or
turn north, beat up the Canadian Army, take the oil.

I'd prefer the first, sentimental olde foole that I am, I care more about what Homer Simpson once called America Junior than Mexico but that's just me.

The government contains people who would do it. I bet there is a contingency plan buried in the Pentagon archives to do both.

Hell, how long would it take to make Hugo Chavez disappear and park someone "reasonable" in there.

If stealing can be justified, it can be done.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on March 10, 2011, 12:32:15 am
I had a conversation with a Canadian once .

He said that if Canada was assimilated whether by force or volentarily , the Ex-Canadian American citizens would vote for strongly liberal canadates.

This struck me as a strong defense against American invasion , at that time, Bush was president and I didn't see him accepting such a poision pill in a hostile takover.

I don't know what is defending them against President Obama right now tho....
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 10, 2011, 02:40:21 am
I don't know what is defending them against President Obama right now tho....
We're happy to sell them our oil at the competitive going rate. NAFTA even contains clauses by means of which we promise not to restrict export of oil or natural gas to the U.S..

I mean, if they really needed to have the oil for free, then they would need to steal it, but if the U.S. had such needs, they could just tax their own oil companies more.

Oh, and by some sort of technicality in the non-proliferation treaty, Canada's signature is on the side of the treaty with the other countries that have their own nuclear arsenals, even though we don't actually have one. At least I remember reading that in a magazine article somewhere; it probably isn't really true. Technicalities aside, we could raid our civilian nuclear program - even though that would definitely be against the NPT, as opposed to starting from ores specifically mined for military development - and convert at almost a moment's notice. (Admittedly, not quickly enough to respond to missiles in flight.)

Making Canada harmless would at least be a messy business.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 10, 2011, 06:15:26 am
I don't know what is defending them against President Obama right now tho....

We're happy to sell them our oil at the competitive going rate. NAFTA even contains clauses by means of which we promise not to restrict export of oil or natural gas to the U.S..

I mean, if they really needed to have the oil for free, then they would need to steal it, but if the U.S. had such needs, they could just tax their own oil companies more.

All such things are entirely hypothetical of course. But if the time came that the USA could not pay for oil imports with a reasonably hard currency, taxing US oil companies would not generate hard currency unless they were exporting US oil, which would sort of defeat the purpose. International oil companies that had their headquarters in the USA would probably move their headquarters rather than put up with conditions in the USA....

Seriously, if the USA got into serious trouble I'm sure that Canada would do what they could to bail us out, including giving us a certain amount of free oil -- perhaps with some sort of future repayment implication. It would be bad for Canada if the USA turned into a giant Mexico on their border.

Others would also help, the EU, China, etc. The nations providing assistance would surely require the USA to make some reforms, and which reforms they demanded would depend on their own ideologies. Surely they would agree we need nuclear disarmament -- pretty much everybody but Americans thinks the USA has too many nukes although our long-time allies are mostly too polite to say so. Would they want us to cut way back on military spending? Probably. We could generate some sort of foreign exchange by selling our aircraft carriers and other warships.

Would they want the US government to stop interfering in markets so the economy could quickly develop by itself? Maybe. Would they want a whole lot of socialism to ensure that their aid actually gets to needy families? I don't know. It would depend entirely on what they wanted. 

Quote
Technicalities aside, we could raid our civilian nuclear program - even though that would definitely be against the NPT, as opposed to starting from ores specifically mined for military development - and convert at almost a moment's notice. (Admittedly, not quickly enough to respond to missiles in flight.)

Making Canada harmless would at least be a messy business.

Canada has quite sensibly avoided getting nukes. I have the idea Canadians think they are better off without them. It takes a whole lot of expertise to build plutonium bombs starting with civilian reactor fuel, and I doubt that Canada has that expertise ready to use at a moment's notice -- they seem too sensible to bother with that. But they could probably assemble the needed experts within a few months of the time they chose to.

But again, Canada has sensibly avoided making the sort of enemies they would need nukes against.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 10, 2011, 07:16:07 am
Quote
But again, Canada has sensibly avoided making the sort of enemies they would need nukes against.

Sadly, that's just a bit too long to make a good bumper sticker.  I want to blow it up in bold and all caps and plaster it everywhere.  It makes a nice companion piece to "The best way to fight terrorism is to stop monkeying around with other people's countries!"


Quote
I don't know what is defending them against President Obama right now tho....

In our 2004 prez "election" gala, the most liberal action figure was Kucinich, who was paraded mostly for decoration; Dean was the most liberal figure whom anyone thought might actually be put in office.  Someone did a fascinating opinion piece in which they compared Dean's politics to those of Richard Nixon, the right-winger of three decades earlier -- and Dean's "liberal" views were just to the right of Nixon's.

Today, most conservatives I know are appalled at the politicians styling themselves as "conservative" and my liberal friends ain't any too fond of Obama, either.  As far as I can tell, in the USSA "liberal" and "conservative", or "left" and "right", are just fig leaves to conceal the fact that no American apparatchik answers to the actual citizens any more.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 10, 2011, 11:01:11 am
But when you have the force available then you can choose whether to do the moral thing or not. When you are weak that choice is not available to you.
The main problem with being weak is not that it deprives you of the opportunity to bully and steal from others, if you feel the need to do so. The main problem with being weak is that it lets others bully and steal from you, if they choose.

This is not to say that I think it's reasonable to expect people to behave morally while they slowly starve to death.

The best solution, of course, is a rising tide - nuclear power plants for energy, innovations like those of Norman Borlaug for food. But the Universe doesn't guarantee that it's always available.

But again, Canada has sensibly avoided making the sort of enemies they would need nukes against.
I had no idea we Canadians were so powerful.

I thought that, while we lived in liberty, we did so in the same world as the one in which you Americans lived - rather than having been able to create for ourselves a world in which Hitler and Stalin were never born.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 10, 2011, 11:17:05 am
Nukes?
quadibloc with The Bomb, I dunno about that ;D

Nukes?
Selfish me had another reason for attacking Mexico, it's 10 time farther away.

There is a class of nuke powers that are pretty much proxies. During the bad old days the US earmarked certain weapons for use by allies, so Canadian planes could have carried Canadian nukes from the US inventory.

Whatever big and dramatic happens to Seattle and Detroit will happen to Vancouver and Windsor about an hour later, one big happy ecconomic family. (A subsidiary of Gensaxwal)

I really, really like the logic of the CANDU reactors, no enrichment needed, they are safer, can burn most anything including PWR wastes and bomb bits. I want one! But they are not especially close to bomb factories. Had there been a reactor tech without the bomb tech, and so the means of uranium enrichment tech, it'd be like CANDU, or Chernobyl. Pick one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU_reactor#Fuel_cycles

I betcha Reggie keeps the grey cause olde guys rule!


Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 10, 2011, 11:55:45 am
In our 2004 prez "election" gala, the most liberal action figure was Kucinich, who was paraded mostly for decoration; Dean was the most liberal figure whom anyone thought might actually be put in office.  Someone did a fascinating opinion piece in which they compared Dean's politics to those of Richard Nixon, the right-winger of three decades earlier -- and Dean's "liberal" views were just to the right of Nixon's.

Today, most conservatives I know are appalled at the politicians styling themselves as "conservative" and my liberal friends ain't any too fond of Obama, either.  As far as I can tell, in the USSA "liberal" and "conservative", or "left" and "right", are just fig leaves to conceal the fact that no American apparatchik answers to the actual citizens any more.

Leftism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.  Government has been getting steadily and rapidly bigger, regulation broader and more intrusive, political correctness more politically correct.  The most extreme of the Tea Party candidates propose return to the 2006 status quo.  So every single candidate present day candidate is to the left of every single 2004 candidate.

Just take anything capable of being objectively measured:  Pages of legislation, money expended.  They are all growing at an explosive and extraordinary rate, a hyperexponential rate,  grown faster in the last decade than the last several decades, faster in the last two years than in the last decade.  Glass–Steagall was seventeen pages.  Gramm-Leach-Bliley was three hundred and eighty five pages.  The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was twenty three hundred pages.

Checking the science literature, what is permissible to research, what is permitted to say, has shrank dramatically.  More and more areas of knowledge have become political, and in areas that have long been political, the range of permissible research results has diminished dramatically.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 10, 2011, 12:10:33 pm
Bummer

And it's raining here too.

Seriously, the TPs are just libertarianisim lite, a more palatable diluted thinned down product with more crowd appeal. It is only a bad thing in so far as it steals market share from the more intense real deal. But they are being heard by the herd, people are learning and that I thank them for.

OK, some brave souls sip Everclear straight, some 151 rum, some 100 proof vodka, some 80 proof Jack Daniels, some beer, yet all drunks are created equal.

Silly analogy but not all of us are all that into it, some just a bit but it helps.

How many groups have a huge outer group and a smaller intense one recruited from the bigger.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 10, 2011, 01:54:47 pm

Glass–Steagall was seventeen pages.  Gramm-Leach-Bliley was three hundred and eighty five pages.  The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was twenty three hundred pages.

This is because of computers. If they had to type the thing on oldfashioned typewriters and correct the typos by hand, it would be shorter.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 10, 2011, 04:30:21 pm
Leftism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.
Using a reasonable definition of "leftism", the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "leftists", then that is true.  Defining "rightism" as the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "rightists", this is also true:
Rightism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.

Sure, there are some people who self-identify as "leftists" or "rightists" that are exceptions, but not many.

the TPs are just libertarianisim lite
That's so cute. :P

Anyone who takes a stand against some state aggression deserves praise for that stand.  But don't mistake that for having anti-aggression principles.  Partial agreement with the libertarian position on a few issues does not make "libertarianism lite".
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 10:15:46 am
Leftism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.
Using a reasonable definition of "leftism", the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "leftists", then that is true.  Defining "rightism" as the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "rightists", this is also true:
Rightism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.

Of the two parties, the left wants even bigger government than the right, more regulation than the right, more political correctness than the right, and more state sponsored indoctrination that the right.

So movement in the direction of bigger government, more regulation, more political correctness, and more state sponsored indoctrination is movement leftwards.

If you compare the politics of any election, with the previous election, anyone who proposed the status quo of the previous election, is considered so far right that they are viewed as insane, and they probably are insane, because if you want a career in politics, you have to go along with the program.

Leftism is government astroturf.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: macsnafu on March 11, 2011, 10:38:18 am
Leftism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.
Using a reasonable definition of "leftism", the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "leftists", then that is true.  Defining "rightism" as the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "rightists", this is also true:
Rightism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.

Of the two parties, the left wants even bigger government than the right, more regulation than the right, more political correctness than the right, and more state sponsored indoctrination that the right.

Not true.  The conservatives figured out a long time ago that the only way to wield government power is to increase it.  It's just that they want more government in different areas than the leftists.   And actually they do want government in the same areas, but with different kinds of regulation and indoctrination than the leftists prefer.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 11, 2011, 10:41:23 am
Sam, you have seen and taken this particular old classic ain't ya? Some call it flawed or skewed but I believe it came first.

World's Smallest Political Quiz -- the diamond one
http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 11, 2011, 10:46:07 am
Government has been getting steadily and rapidly bigger, regulation broader and more intrusive, political correctness more politically correct.  The most extreme of the Tea Party candidates propose return to the 2006 status quo.  So every single candidate present day candidate is to the left of every single 2004 candidate.

If you compare the politics of any election, with the previous election, anyone who proposed the status quo of the previous election, is considered so far right that they are viewed as insane, and they probably are insane, because if you want a career in politics, you have to go along with the program.
Now, this comes as news to me.

The only way I can see this as being true is if you define return to the 2004 status quo as dismantling every single government expenditure, every single new regulation, that happened between 2004 and 2008.

Of course, it also helps if one is looking at things in terms of the "less government" versus "more government" axis, instead of the usual "left-right" axis, that considers more taxes to pay for a bigger army, or more laws to enforce sexual morality, as also moving to more government instead of moving to the right and away from the left.

Although I am willing to admit this seldom happens in practice, I would have thought that at least the election rhetoric of both parties speaks of getting rid of all the badly-advised government programs and expenditures (that is, the ones brought in by the other party) going back to 1972 or thereabouts.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 11, 2011, 11:20:55 am
Leftism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.
Using a reasonable definition of "leftism", the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "leftists", then that is true.  Defining "rightism" as the political positions held by the bulk of those who consider themselves to be "rightists", this is also true:
Rightism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.

Of the two parties, the left wants even bigger government than the right, more regulation than the right, more political correctness than the right, and more state sponsored indoctrination that the right.

They look about the same to me, just with different emphasis. Like, Homeland Security was a "right" thing, though the leftists did nothing much to oppose it.The Drug War and increased police funding and increased sentences to fill our ever-increasing prisons are "right" issues.

Quote
So movement in the direction of bigger government, more regulation, more political correctness, and more state sponsored indoctrination is movement leftwards.

Movement toward the left or right either one is movement in the direction of bigger government, more regulation, etc. If you don't like those things you won't oppose them by trending left or right. To actually fix our problems we need to go in the correct direction -- forward. Not left or right but front. So I hope you will join me in the Radical Front. Or maybe we should call it the Radical Center.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 12:06:21 pm
Rightism is big government, regulation, political correctness, and state sponsored indoctrination.

In Wisconsin a couple of days ago, there was riot by recipients of taxpayer largess against Fox News and “cuts” in government spending.  Do you call those rioters right wingers or left wingers?

There was a tea party counter protest in favor of cuts in government spending. Do you call those protesters right wingers or left wingers?

Remember the “One Nation Working Together Rally”?  That was the left assembled to show they care, the left at prayer.  Everyone came in buses sponsored by government unions or nominally private entities dependent on government largess, mostly government unions.    They all got a free lunch and professionally printed protest placard, revealing the left to be government astroturf, government organized as a special interest group.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 11, 2011, 12:29:51 pm
Sam,
Astroturf is plastic fake grass. I am no fan of lefties but what's the connection?

I don't have a TV so maybe I'm missing something but biased or not Fox News reports what happens, it doesn't make it happen. What dos't thou mean?

Spudit, confused
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 12:34:21 pm
Sam, you have seen and taken this particular old classic ain't ya? Some call it flawed or skewed but I believe it came first.

World's Smallest Political Quiz -- the diamond one
http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.

The quiz does not correspond to observed left and right.

The right is a loose coalition of everyone getting hammered by the rulers.  Roissy is right because he deviates fom leftist doctrine in one direction, Auster is right because he deviates from leftist doctrine in the opposite direction.

Roissy's Chateau (http://roissy.wordpress.com/) deviates from leftism in that leftism is based on the Protestant Christianity which he rejects,  Auster's "view from the right (http://www.amnation.com/vfr/)" deviates from leftism in that leftism has departed from Protestant Christianity, to which Auster still adheres.

Leftist doctrine covers a thousand matters, and the slightest deviation on any of these matters makes you a "rightist".  Deviating on one issue in that thousand in one direction will make you a rightist, deviating on that one issue in the opposite direction will also make you a rightist, and deviating on another issue completely will also make you a rightist.  So there are two thousand completely different ways one can be a rightist, but only one way one can be a leftist.

Left versus right in the twentieth and early twenty first century is like Roman Catholic versus protestant in sixteenth and early seventeenth century:  There was only one way to be Roman Catholic, but a thousand different and mutually opposed ways to be protestant.

The left is adherence to a very specific and detailed program and line.  The right is whatever is not left, as demonstrated by the fact that Rossy and Auster criticise the left from opposite directions, yet are allied.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 11, 2011, 12:55:50 pm
A bit inflexible are we?

The diamond quiz differentiates between most of the dichotomies found in complex people. At the risk of going all Cartesian in public, by adding a Y axis to the left/right X, it expresses reality better. Best would be a Z axis as well to make it 3D but it's a bitch to print on paper.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 01:08:19 pm
Government has been getting steadily and rapidly bigger, regulation broader and more intrusive, political correctness more politically correct.  The most extreme of the Tea Party candidates propose return to the 2006 status quo.  So every single candidate present day candidate is to the left of every single 2004 candidate.
If you compare the politics of any election, with the previous election, anyone who proposed the status quo of the previous election, is considered so far right that they are viewed as insane, and they probably are insane, because if you want a career in politics, you have to go along with the program.

The only way I can see this as being true is if you define return to the 2004 status quo as dismantling every single government expenditure, every single new regulation, that happened between 2004 and 2008.

Or reducing total expenditures to what they were in 2004 as a proportion of GDP, and total regulations to roughly the same number of pages that they were in 2004.  Any political candidate that proposed that would be monstered by the mainstream media as a far right racist extremist.

Of course, it also helps if one is looking at things in terms of the "less government" versus "more government" axis, instead of the usual "left-right" axis, that considers more taxes to pay for a bigger army, or more laws to enforce sexual morality, as also moving to more government instead of moving to the right and away from the left.

If you want to ask why the age of consent has risen so remarkably from twelve in places to eighteen in places, look left.  What has the right done to regulate sexual morality?

Any elected politician that supports drug legalization is a republican, and usually a republican that the mainstream media deems an extreme right winger.

The Democratic party has increased spending on defense, though not as much as it has increased spending on everything else.

The left is primary source of laws to enforce sexual morality - date rape blah blah blah, rape in marriage, intergenerational sex,  The republicans passed a law requiring sonograms for people having abortions, but the Democrats passed a thousand laws regulating medical care, and a thousand laws intruding the state into the family to prevent husbands from mistreating wives and parents from mistreating children, for we all know that no bureaucrat would ever mistreat a child, since they care, unlike natural parents.  The left prevents pornography that "degrades women", cracking down on bondage videos featuring women being abused, but not gay videos that have suspiciously youthful looking actors.

The right is anti sex, and the left is pro sex, but the left puts government in your bedroom to make sure you are doing it right, doing it in a properly non sexist, non patriarchal, non phallocentric fashion.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 01:23:27 pm
The diamond quiz differenciates between most of the dichotomies found in complex people. At the risk of going all cartesian in public, by adding a Y axis to the left/right X, it expresses reality better. Best would be a Z axis as well to make it 3D but it's a bitch to print on paper.

No, does not express it at all.  Would need a thousand dimensions, one dimension for every detail of the left line, since deviating on any one of a thousand points of the official line makes you right wing.  Pre school has catechisms.  Resist one line of the catechism, any line, you are a right wing kindergartner, doubtless as a result of child abuse by right wing parents.  The school authorities will ask one of your parents to show up at school, and give the wicked parent a star chamber trial before half a dozen teachers.

Roissy is right wing, Auster is right wing, and Mencius Moldbug is right wing yet they are all right wing in completely different ways, while all leftists have positions that are fully predictable on every issue, differing only in how fast they want them implemented.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 01:32:23 pm
They look about the same to me, just with different emphasis. Like, Homeland Security was a "right" thing, though the leftists did nothing much to oppose it.

Who introduced scope and grope?  The left.

What makes homeland security oppressive, unlike Israeli airport security, is refusal to profile, which is a left wing principle.  Got to treat everyone as a terrorist, since focusing on likely terrorists would be discrimination.

The Drug War

Every elected politician who opposes the drug war is Republican, and usually a Republican the mainstream media calls a right wing extremist, and sometimes a racist.

T and increased police funding and increased sentences to fill our ever-increasing prisons are "right" issues.

Actual crime and actual defense is the only legitimate function of government.  The left is pretty keen increased funding for police officers and prison officers, as we see in the recent Wisconsin riots, less keen on increased funding for policing and imprisonment.

In Wisconsin, cutting funding for police, as distinct from funding for what police are supposed to be doing, is quite definitely a right wing issue.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 11, 2011, 03:07:54 pm
Sam if you stay this rigid you're gonna hear about it.
I know this bunch.
Fair warning
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 11, 2011, 05:36:08 pm
Roissy is right wing, Auster is right wing, and Mencius Moldbug is right wing yet they are all right wing in completely different ways, while all leftists have positions that are fully predictable on every issue, differing only in how fast they want them implemented.
It is true that libertarians are often called right-wing by people who self-identify as leftists, because of some specific libertarian position.  It is also true that libertarians are often called left-wing by people who self-identify as rightists, because of some specific libertarian position.

Note: We recognize that you consider the aggression favored by your "team" to be less harmful than the aggression favored by the other "team".  You don't have to keep repeating it--we hear exactly the same thing from people on the other "team".  On the record, both "teams" have been unmitigated disasters (from a libertarian standpoint) when they held power.  You maintain that this time it's different, that this time your team will not sell out the American people.  Fat chance.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 06:06:42 pm
Astroturf is plastic fake grass. I am no fan of lefties but what's the connection?

In a political context "astroturf" is fake grassroots, as for example when a communist regime brings out a million demonstrators in the streets of the capital to support whatever and oppose whatever else, or Aristide is elected president by 75% of the vote.

The left is astroturf, in the sense that it is a sock puppet for government as an organized political interest group.

As I said above, this was illustrated by the “One Nation Working Together Rally”?  All professionally printed mass produced placards.  Not a home made placard in sight.  They all got a free lunch.  They all came in buses arranged by government unions and quasi government organizations.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 06:32:49 pm
Roissy is right wing, Auster is right wing, and Mencius Moldbug is right wing yet they are all right wing in completely different ways, while all leftists have positions that are fully predictable on every issue, differing only in how fast they want them implemented.
It is true that libertarians are often called right-wing by people who self-identify as leftists, because of some specific libertarian position.  It is also true that libertarians are often called left-wing by people who self-identify as rightists, because of some specific libertarian position.

Leftwingers call everyone right wing that disagree with them on any topic whatsoever.  Rightwingers do not.  The most notable and influential right wingers on the internet are Roissy, Auster, Mencius, Steve Sailer, and Ann Coulter, each of whom disagrees with each of the others about just about everything, none of whom call libertarians leftists, and none of whom call each other leftists.

Their leftist equivalents however, agree with each other on everything, and agree that libertarians are rightists.

So the right thinks libertarians are right wing, and the left thinks libertarians are right wing.  And when we look at all the wildly diverse ideologies of the right, what do they have in common?  The only thing they have in common is that they are not left, and are therefore permanently out of power, while the left is permanently in power, regardless of which party has the job of doing public relations for the permanent bureaucracy, which permanent and fireproof bureaucracy has an ideology indistinguishable from that of a Harvard English studies professor.

The right is simply the not-left.  They have nothing else in common.  Libertarians are not left, therefore they are part of the not-left, therefore they are right.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 11, 2011, 07:41:38 pm
So the right thinks libertarians are right wing,
Not true.

Some people who self-identify as rightists wish that libertarians would think of themselves as allies, but most libertarians don't.  (A few do consider themselves rightists, and a few consider themselves as leftists, but most reject both left and right.)

A large number of people who self-identify as rightists consider libertarians to be leftists, because of specific libertarian positions.

And when we look at all the wildly diverse ideologies of the right,
You (as a rightist) see a wide variety in people considered to be rightists and see conformity in people considered to be leftists.
A leftist sees a wide variety in people considered to be leftists and sees conformity in people considered to be rightists.
You insist that you are correct and that the leftist is wrong.  A leftist sees the opposite.
A libertarian sees that both rightists and leftists support increased government aggression.  Libertarians are neither right nor left.

Coincidentally, a few minutes ago I happened to read this quote, which is apparently from Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley:
Quote
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy. … Either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.
Obviously, US politics today works exactly like Quigley proposed.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 11, 2011, 08:12:26 pm
Don't confuse "people who identify as left|right" with "politicians who identify as left|right".

The twain are different as night and day.

Consider that, regardless of which party is in power, the size of federal government has increased monotonically since just after WW II. It often increases faster when a politician of the "right" is in power. The slowest growth in recent years was when Bill Clinton was in office; most Americans would take him over Bush or Obama any day of the week.

I'd rather have a President diddling interns than hatching schemes to grow the government budget by 10-20% annually.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 11, 2011, 08:49:39 pm
more laws to enforce sexual morality

The left is pro sex provided you get explicit consent for sex in actual words capable of being notarized by a Justice of the Peace.  Who brought you the ever rising age of consent?  Who invented “marital rape”?

 
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 12, 2011, 12:08:30 am
So the right thinks libertarians are right wing,
Some people who self-identify as rightists wish that libertarians would think of themselves as allies,

The most prominent rightist bloggers - Steve Sailer, Roissy, Mencius Moldbug, Ann Coulter, and Auster think that libertarians are all objectively allies, whatever libertarians may choose to think, since we are all permanently out of power, and the left is permanently in power – for regardless of which party is elected, the permanent fireproof bureaucracy has views similar to those of Harvard English Studies professor, and mere elected politicians are to it an idle wind which it does not regard.

Now there are quite a lot of libertarians who try to suck up the left and grovel to it, for example Tyler Cowan and "the Agitator", and wiggle their bums in the air hoping some random leftist will deign to poke them, but this does them absolutely no good.  Because the left is in power, and we are not, it is entirely unimpressed by suck ups.  Only total ideological conformity on every minute detail will suffice - suffice to begin a long journey of ass kissing which might eventually get you let in to the outer circle of power, but only total conformity from earliest childhood, and the right connections, will let you into the inner circle.

And when we look at all the wildly diverse ideologies of the right,

You (as a rightist) see a wide variety in people considered to be rightists and see conformity in people considered to be leftists.

Little Bobby goes to kindergarten, and is catechized in the politically correct attitudes trees without any problems, but when catechized in the politically correct attitudes to homosexuality, to the shock, horror, and outrage of the teachers, he says that romance is yucky, that guys kissing get cooties, that guys kissing guys is twice as yucky and will give you cooties that can kill you.

Little Bobby is disrupting class, and is obviously emotionally disturbed, so say the teachers, and they call little Bobbies father in for a parent teacher consultation, in which his dad is seated facing a panel of a dozen authority figures, who cross examine him for poor parenting practices and possible child abuse, with an implied threat to hold his kid hostage against him.

Little Johnny goes to kindergarten, and is catechized in the politically correct attitudes trees, but he says he wants to drive a bulldozer like his dad, and cut trees down with a chainsaw.  When sent out to hug the trees, he pretends to chain saw them.  Vroom, Vroom.

Little Johnny is disrupting class, and is obviously emotionally disturbed, so say the teachers, and they call Little Johnny father in for a parent teacher consultation, in which his dad is seated facing a panel of a dozen authority figures, who cross examine him for poor parenting practices and possible child abuse, with an implied threat to hold his kid hostage against him.

Now let us suppose that little Johnny's father is a flaming homosexual, and the protective gear he wears when cutting down trees is pink leather reinforced with chains.

You will notice that the political deviation of evil right wing Johnny's father has absolutely nothing in common with the political deviation of evil right wing Bobby's father.  Their deviations from orthodoxy are completely different and entirely unrelated, yet the star chamber of teachers that investigates them for political deviation and possible child abuse agree on absolutely everything.


A leftist sees a wide variety in people considered to be leftists

So what do leftists disagree on apart from how hard and fast we should proceed to to a totalitarian terror state, and to how rapidly we should capitulate to Islam, whether Obama should bow down before all Muslims or only "moderate" Muslims?

You insist that you are correct and that the leftist is wrong.

If the leftist is right, produce some evidence.  I produced a list of prominent right wing bloggers that disagree on just about every fundamental and major point.  Left wing disagreements are utterly trivial, mainly consisting of each leftist claiming to be even lefter than the other leftist.


Coincidentally, a few minutes ago I happened to read this quote, which is apparently from Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley:
Quote
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical

Obviously the elected politicians are very similar  to each other, but to make your argument, you need to show not that elected politicians lack diversity, but that both parties are equally lacking in diversity.  Obviously the republicans are far more diverse politically than the democrats.

The intellectuals and ideologues of the right differ from each other quite radically.  The intellectuals and ideologues of the left are every bit as homogeneous, indeed more homogeneous, than the elected politicians of the left, for the elected politicians have to suck up to the diverse electors of their home states every few years, while the intellectuals of the left are free to be in ever more perfect harmony and agreement.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 12, 2011, 12:24:33 am
Just tossing this one out there but am I alone in thinking Ann Coulter is a dude?

Think about it.

Kinda gawky, big hands, touch of an adam's apple, beligerant as hell, not so good looking but she tries. Irrational too, gotta tweak the hormones a bit. No wonder she has issues, after all, he has issues.

But, hell, I don't judge, have no right to. Really folks, I'm just an observer here.
 ;D
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 12, 2011, 12:58:04 am
Just tossing this one out there but am I alone in thinking Ann Coulter is a dude?

No.  Every other leftist agrees with you, since they are all metrosexuals, they all believe Ann coulter is a dude, while being entirely confident that Helen Thomas is rather attractive human rather than a giant man eating space alien slug.from Alpha Centauri

All normal males, however, (being regular heterosexuals with ninety percent of their brains between their legs) think that Ann Coulter is a hot chick, or was when she was a bit younger, while Helen Thomas is a giant man eating slug from a planet of arsenic based life forms.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 07:32:50 am
Just tossing this one out there but am I alone in thinking Ann Coulter is a dude?


You would be if you really thought it, but even you don't.  Its a funny joke though and so original of you.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 07:37:24 am
[quote}
In a political context "astroturf" is fake grassroots...
[/quote]

That is very clever.  I have never seen it explained like that before.  I like it.  I am going to use it in government class.  Did you make it up?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 12, 2011, 10:13:40 am
Glenn, yes, I suppose not, but she is a bit butch for my taste. Pooch comes to mind. Despite her parts and possible surgical alterations there of, I don't like her thinking. Good if she's anatomically correct we can breed her with Cavuto, what fun.

Sam, who, besides yourself, is not a leftist?

Layoff the personal attacks.
It is rude and uncalled for.
Teasing is fine, know the limits.
If you can't play nicely with the other children you should stay home and play with yourself.

Oh yeah, and reread your posts and maybe check, your freudian slip might be showing.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 12, 2011, 10:35:08 am
Just tossing this one out there but am I alone in thinking Ann Coulter is a dude?

Think about it.

Kinda gawky, big hands, touch of an adam's apple, beligerant as hell, not so good looking but she tries. Irrational too, gotta tweak the hormones a bit. No wonder she has issues, after all, he has issues.

Are you delusional?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Ann_Coulter_1.jpg

Both men and women have a laryngeal prominence (Adam's apple). On average, men have a more prominent one than women.

Actually, a much better "give-away" is neck length. On average, women's necks are substantially longer than men's. See the photo referenced above, for a very womanly neck length.

Another good sex indicator is the angle at the elbow when the arm is fully extended. However, none of the pictures I could find showed Coulter's arm in that position.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 12, 2011, 10:39:10 am
Delusional?
Comes and goes.
No, not so much today.

Neck length. Spudit likes, a young Audrey Hepburn, yum.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 12, 2011, 10:41:54 am
That is very clever.  I have never seen it explained like that before.  I like it.  I am going to use it in government class.  Did you make it up? [Emphasis added.]

Ah, there you go.  ::)

BTW, you "teach" government and you never heard the explanation of astroturf? Wow. Do you read anything except science fiction (for which you don't pay, of course)? Once again, Wow.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Brugle on March 12, 2011, 11:20:17 am
The most prominent rightist bloggers - Steve Sailer, Roissy, Mencius Moldbug, Ann Coulter, and Auster think that libertarians are all objectively allies, whatever libertarians may choose to think, since we are all permanently out of power,
The fever dreams of people that you consider to be prominent rightist bloggers are of no more interest to libertarians than the fever dreams of JT or CG.  A typical libertarian might ally with a rightist or a leftist on a specific issue in the rare situation when the rightist or leftist opposes aggression on that issue.  However, a typical libertarian will not ally with rightists or leftists in general, because rightists and leftists support aggression.

If the leftist is right, produce some evidence.
Why?  I never suggested that the leftist was correct, just that leftist attitudes are, from a libertarian point of view, almost identical to rightist attitudes.

Libertarians oppose the aggression that both leftists and rightists tend to support.  Libertarians also oppose the aggression that rightists tend to support and leftists tend to oppose.  Libertarians also oppose the aggression that leftists tend to support and rightists tend to oppose.

I produced a list of prominent right wing bloggers that disagree on just about every fundamental and major point.
The fundamental political issue for libertarians is government aggression.  Rightists support it.  Leftists support it.  Libertarians oppose it.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 12, 2011, 11:36:48 am
The fundamental political issue for libertarians is government aggression.  Rightists support it.  Leftists support it.  Libertarians oppose it.
This is true.

Rightists may think that Libertarians are objectively allies simply because by being out of power, they can't interfere effectively with the types of government aggression the rightists support, while their activities are more effective in highlighting what's wrong with the types of government aggression the leftists support.

Also, the Republican Party has more than one internal faction. Some are viewed as quasi-Libertarian because they want lower taxes and fewer bureaucratic regulations on businesses, and are not overly fond of the social-conservative agenda of other parts of the party. They're not really libertarians, as they can work with the other half of the party, and they do favor some sorts of government aggression, but they're certainly effective at causing confusion in the public mind.

One shouldn't be surprised that working-class people will support the left instead of them; if the government is going to keep growing and committing aggression, at least it could be committing aggression to my benefit, they'll say.

But the important issue is that a need is created for real Libertarians to explain how, and why, their intended vision of the future will differ from the future that these people would create. "It would have less government" may be true, but it doesn't really address the primary concerns of this element of the electorate.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 12, 2011, 11:58:57 am
Damn straight.

Dislike of gun control is good example of some Libertarian Republican overlap and agreement but there are plenty of others where they don't. What's that term, ven diagram, the overlapping circles thing, except in politics it's more like interpenetrating spheres. These are complicated subjects.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 12, 2011, 03:15:10 pm
A typical libertarian might ally with a rightist or a leftist on a specific issue...

An example in point was the Cypherpunks whose raison d'etre was the use of technology to protect privacy and defeat censorship. Most of us were some flavor of libertarian, but we also had people from the left, the right and the just plain weird (e.g., Cap'n Crunch). Occasionally, political arguments would come up and be put down just as quickly. We tolerated ideologues only to the extent they contributed to our quest for privacy.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 12, 2011, 04:05:00 pm
Just tossing this one out there but am I alone in thinking Ann Coulter is a dude?

Think about it.

Kinda gawky, big hands, touch of an adam's apple, beligerant as hell, not so good looking but she tries. Irrational too, gotta tweak the hormones a bit. No wonder she has issues, after all, he has issues.

Are you delusional?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Ann_Coulter_1.jpg

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,232859,00.html

She's often photographed with an enormous adam's apple. It isn't exactly delusional. But I don't see how it matters unless you'd consider dating her. Arguing about Ann Coulter's gender is at least as silly as arguing about Obama's birth certificate.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 05:20:34 pm
BTW, you "teach" government and you never heard the explanation of astroturf? Wow. Do you read anything except science fiction (for which you don't pay, of course)? Once again, Wow.>>>>

You amaze easily.  In any case no, I never heard astroturf used in that way.  I was not attacking the person who used it I was complementing him. Finally no matter how often you ask I am not giving you any of my money.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 05:23:59 pm
Quote
Both men and women have a laryngeal prominence (Adam's apple). On average, men have a more prominent one than women. Actually, a much better "give-away" is neck length. On average, women's necks are substantially longer than men's. Another good sex indicator is the angle at the elbow when the arm is fully extended.

Is that the way you tell the differance?  Wow.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 12, 2011, 06:52:10 pm
[She's often photographed with an enormous adam's apple.

"Often"? Oh yeah, one of those intermittent Adam's apples, right?  ::)

Look, your statement assumes facts not in evidence. You assume that the photographs (a) are not tampered with (there are plenty of photos on the web that are clearly photoshopped; fangs? really?), (b) that what you think is an Adam's apple is not a lighting artifact or some other structure in her neck and (c) that even if it is her laryngeal prominence, it isn't just large for a woman. I mean both men and women have them. On average, men's are larger, but their are true XXs with large ones.

Personally, I don't care about her sex. It just offends me when intellectually lazy or malicious people try to trash others whose ideas they do not seem to be able to refute. Coulter says enough dumb things, that one should be able to refute her without resorting to invidious gossip.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 12, 2011, 07:00:07 pm
Actually, I was just being silly. It was late and my sister in law in Denver had woken me up awful early so I could get away from the tsunami. 

I suppose Ann Coulter is female or I'd have heard otherwise. I was just sick of hearing about her and the rest of those goons from Sam. But she is abrasive and unattractive, in a word, yuck.

Though she does have quite a neck, unlike Audrey, on her it looks bad.

Curious Glenn, no offense intended but may I ask what you do teach. From your email address I'd guess it in an Alabama K-12 public school. Just asking. A good answer would increase your cred here

While I'm at it, why an obscure three wheeled example of Buckytech, Sandy?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 12, 2011, 07:04:55 pm
Rightists may think that Libertarians are objectively allies simply because by being out of power, they can't interfere effectively with the types of government aggression the rightists support, while their activities are more effective in highlighting what's wrong with the types of government aggression the leftists support.

Rightists don't support any particular government aggression, because there are one thousand different kinds of rightists, and the rightism of one has nothing in common with the rightism of another.  “Right” merely means “not left”, much as in the sixteenth century, “protestant” meant “not Roman Catholic”.  Disagreement with any part of official doctrine made you protestant back then, and makes you right wing today, and since there are a thousand points of official holy doctrine, there are thousand completely different and unrelated ways of being “right”  The only thing rightists have in common is that they are the out of power group.  Therefore no rightist is a threat to any other rightist.    The prospect of right wing government aggression, such as compulsory Christianity, or whatever, is about equal to the prospect of invasion from Mars.  We have not had theocratic right wing Christianity for a centuries.  If rightists get to restore the monarchy, then after that you might start worrying that we were on the slippery slope towards Christian theocracy or some such.

There simply is no right wing government aggression, because there simply is no right wing government.  The permanent fireproof bureaucracy is permanently staffed with people with the same politics as a Harvard professor, and the politicians are just their public relations department.  Look what happened with “faith based programs”.

“War on terror” is part of program to convert Muslims to progressivism at gunpoint.  If it was a right wing program, it would be “war with Islam”.

Also, the Republican Party has more than one internal faction. Some are viewed as quasi-Libertarian because they want lower taxes and fewer bureaucratic regulations on businesses, and are not overly fond of the social-conservative agenda of other parts of the party.

So what is this horrid socially conservative agenda that threatens us with government aggression?  Are we going to be converted to Christianity by fire and sword?   Did social conservatives create the aids virus to kill off gay people?

There is today not one Christian rightist who has a preaching or church job who openly supports marriage as it existed in the sixties or seventies, in part because that is horribly unfashionable these days and any preacher who tries it is apt to be demonized in a horrific fashion, and it part because it would put his church at risk of getting the treatment applied to the Branch Davidians, the FCLDS, and the CSA.  Today's Christian right is socally radical compared to the mainstream in the sixties.

Further, it is far from clear that this social radicalism (radical by the standards of history) is in fact very popular, since it runs contrary to biology and human nature.  Observe that western fertile age women converting to Islam outnumber western Islamic immigrant women converting to Christianity by approximately one hundred to one.  So if the most extreme portion of the Christian right (Davidians, FCLDS, and so forth) staged a coup and re-instituted patriarchal and unequal marriage, re-instituted the laws of the 1950s and 1960s, I suspect most people would be quietly relieved - and since western marriage has always been consensual, even in the early Roman republic when the husband had authority to execute the wife for any reason or no reason, the bride and groom had to publicly consent four times, I cannot see that restoring 1950s marriage would constitute government aggression.  It would constitute contract enforcement.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: sam on March 12, 2011, 07:14:21 pm
To figure out whether Ann Coulter is male of female, let your penis do the thinking.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 12, 2011, 07:25:08 pm
[She's often photographed with an enormous adam's apple.

"Often"? Oh yeah, one of those intermittent Adam's apples, right?  ::)

Look, your statement assumes facts not in evidence. You assume that the photographs (a) are not tampered with (there are plenty of photos on the web that are clearly photoshopped; fangs? really?),

The example I gave was from Fox News. Would they photoshop her that way?

Quote
(b) that what you think is an Adam's apple is not a lighting artifact or some other structure in her neck and (c) that even if it is her laryngeal prominence, it isn't just large for a woman. I mean both men and women have them. On average, men's are larger, but their are true XXs with large ones.

She could easily be a true XX with an exceptionally large adam's apple. I just can't see arguing that it isn't there.

Quote
Personally, I don't care about her sex. It just offends me when intellectually lazy or malicious people try to trash others whose ideas they do not seem to be able to refute. Coulter says enough dumb things, that one should be able to refute her without resorting to invidious gossip.

Yes. I figure that if you're arguing with people who take Coulter seriously then you're wasting your time. Better to argue with Racter. And the adam's apple doesn't prove anything important, as you point out.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 07:32:23 pm
Curious Glenn, no offense intended but may I ask what you do teach. From your email address I'd guess it in an Alabama K-12 public school. Just asking. A good answer would increase your cred here>>>>


I am a 17 year HS teacher of history.  In the last five I have picked up government and economics.  The math of economics is giving me trouble so I focus on Micro and read a lot.  Regular Gov and Econ is easy enough but the AP is kicking my butt.  What do you do?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on March 12, 2011, 07:33:00 pm
Is that the way you tell the differance?  Wow.
Usually, the differences between the male and the female of H. sapiens are obvious and visible, at least in adult specimens, even when they are fully clothed.

Occasionally, however, it will be useful for field personnel to be familiar with some of the more subtle distinctions between the two sexes of this species, such as the more delicate hands of the female, or the effects of the considerably more delicate hip bone of the female. (This is also the primary way in which the skeletons of male and female humans may be distinguished.)
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 07:33:12 pm
To figure out whether Ann Coulter is male of female, let your penis do the thinking.

Or her's
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 12, 2011, 07:36:21 pm
Quote
Occasionally, however, it will be useful for field personnel to be familiar with some of the more subtle distinctions between the two sexes of this species, such as the more delicate hands of the female, or the effects of the considerably more delicate hip bone of the female. (This is also the primary way in which the skeletons of male and female humans may be distinguished.) 

You guys don't get out much do you?  I could suggest a better way.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 12, 2011, 08:25:00 pm
Curious Glenn, no offense intended but may I ask what you do teach. From your email address I'd guess it in an Alabama K-12 public school. Just asking. A good answer would increase your cred here>>>>


I am a 17 year HS teacher of history.  In the last five I have picked up government and economics.  The math of economics is giving me trouble so I focus on Micro and read a lot.  Regular Gov and Econ is easy enough but the AP is kicking my butt.  What do you do?

Glenn, an honest answer to an honest question and I thank you for it.

I respect teachers and history was one of my subjects back in the day.

Me, I am 52 and have worked in a lot of different fields. Retail work, restaurant work, factory work, office work, I have gotten around. Education, an associates and a couple certificates in machinist stuff and Auto cad drafting. I was issued a patent maybe 12 years ago and that looks good on the resume.

Since June I have been coasting on savings and building a 28 foot old fashioned powerboat from plans in an old book, simple, sturdy, crude and robust, on a friend's property west of Olympia, Washington. I developed cash flow issues and the weather has been wet since I started, even by Seattle standards, and both slow me down. Before that I lived in a 20 foot sailboat in a marina for a year and a half. Now the dog and I live on the boat up on blocks in the woods. I've spent the last couple days making a cargo mast and boom out of a fir tree, it is what I do these days. Another day something else.

Soon we launch and I will wander the Sound learning enough to tackle Alaska. Ain't much spectacular but that's what I got.

Honesty deserves honesty.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on March 13, 2011, 12:04:49 am
While I'm at it, why an obscure three wheeled example of Buckytech, Sandy?

Well, the story has a running sub-theme of "everything old is new again." I always thought the Dymaxion car was cool, so....
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 13, 2011, 07:51:31 am
Quote
Since June I have been coasting on savings and building a 28 foot old fashioned powerboat from plans in an old book,


That sounds like a real adventure.  I have always dreamed of building my own home-built plane.  The idea of quitting work and taking a chance like you are doing is exciting but against my nature.  I am more about safety and security than taking chances.  Good luck.

I listened to a podcats on the Dirtbag Diaries about a guy who did something similar to what you are doing.  He ended up in a dangerous and very real adventure, maybe more than he wanted, but it was exciting.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: mellyrn on March 13, 2011, 08:36:01 am
Quote
Usually, the differences between the male and the female of H. sapiens are obvious and visible, at least in adult specimens, even when they are fully clothed.

Back in pizza-shop days, when I greeted customers with "ma'am" or "sir", an obvious man clutching a purse and wearing a ghastly morning dress and ghastly large plastic earrings, five-o'clock shadow together with lipstick and eyeshadow, appeared at my register.  I was quite thrown out of my patter:  do I say "sir" which he so obviously was, or "ma'am" which he was attempting to appear? 

Then a few weeks later a young adult came up to my register, shaggily-styled hair, a nondescript white shirt, rather a "baby" face and I thought, Please please please order beer so I can card you and see if you are a Jane or a John . . . but I suppose your driver license will say "Jan" or something else as epicene as you.  I never did figure it out.

And this young person made me think of the earlier guy who, if he were really trying to pass for female, would have sold his soul to look like.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 13, 2011, 01:12:37 pm
Thanks Glenn, adventure is one word for it, damned fool stunt is another. I have painted myself into a lovely corner. This is not the venue for this discussion but I am open for one.

I gambled would the weather hold, would my friends help as promised, would the money hold out, could it be done at all. Done yes, just about, paint and bottom paint and the steering gear mostly, leaky windows to be screwed with and canvas on the wheelhouse roof. Done but everything, every damned thing the hard way since they dropped off the initial ton of wood in the wrong spot.

It was a rainy summer and construction is outside, no shed; I gambled. My friends, the one I counted on most of all went on a 3 month bender, most others some but not all that much. Money had it's own troubles but I doubt I have more than 3 grand into the project. All lumberyard, thrift store, salvaged or Habitat for Humanity stuff. I need an engine yet a 15 to 25 horse outboard would be plenty, my 6 horse will do if need be.

I have kind of a feel for the frontier life in the strip. I do believe, I'd make it there.

No other hand has touched the boat, just me, some standard hand and power tools and one Quality Control Beagle generally underfoot.

The best days have been very very good indeed.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: Plane on March 13, 2011, 08:00:56 pm
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?94622-Building-a-Beach-Pea


Ever read Wooden Boat Magazine?

Back issues are great, lots of tips and shortcuts.

A forum of the likeminded might help you find that engine.

I had a cousin who was an insurance adjustor for a while, after a hurricane he had a lot of hulls and engines fished out and declaired total losses , the insurance company usually sells these to hobbyists at auction , or for scrap if that doesn't work.

The Navy and Coast guard sell a lot of obsolete boats , mostly bigger than you want , and mostly worn out badly. How much time can you spend on engine work?
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: GlennWatson on March 13, 2011, 08:07:28 pm
Quote
Ever read Wooden Boat Magazine?

My wife bought me an issue.  I think she might be trying to tempt me away from the airplane I want.  Anyway it is a great little magazine, filled with nice ideas about cool boats you can build.  Some of them seem really simple, some not so much.

Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: terry_freeman on March 14, 2011, 09:38:02 am
The first time I recall hearing "astroturf" in a political context was with reference to the Tea Party - it was alleged that it wasn't a "real" grassroots movement, but astroturf.

This would have been in 2009 or 2010. I can't place it more precisely than that.

The practice of astroturfing, however, is much older. When plans for the Federal Reserve were hatched in 1910, the banks and financial institutions behind it created what would today be called "astroturf" organizations to give the appearance of a bottom-up grassroots movement. You can find details in "The Creature From Jekyll Island" and other sources.

The wikipedia article for astroturfing attributes the term to Lloyd Bentson in 1985. I can't dispute that; I knew immediately what the term meant the first time I heard it, but I do not recall hearing it that far back, for what it's worth.

As to the antiquity of the practice, it goes at least as far back as Benjamin Franklin; in his autobiography, he spoke of forming a discussion group, each member of which formed a similar group, and deliberately seeding ideas through these groups before approaching politicians with a proposal. This way, the politician would already be thinking "You know, I heard that just the other day from my butcher. Maybe there's something to it."



Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 14, 2011, 10:15:16 am
The first time I recall hearing "astroturf" in a political context was with reference to the Tea Party - it was alleged that it wasn't a "real" grassroots movement, but astroturf.

This would have been in 2009 or 2010. I can't place it more precisely than that.

I heard it in the early 1980's in connection with fake ecology groups. The claim was that big  businesses would create organizations with names that sounded sort of ecological, and would advertise them heavily. They would even invite people to join and charge them dues, and ask for donations. Then they would announce to Congress that they supported legislation for forest destruction and pollution etc, pretending to actually represent somebody. But their actual membership was very small, it was only the funding which was big.

The wording fit the prejudices among people who actually preferred grass to astroturf.

Quote
The practice of astroturfing, however, is much older. When plans for the Federal Reserve were hatched in 1910, the banks and financial institutions behind it created what would today be called "astroturf" organizations to give the appearance of a bottom-up grassroots movement. You can find details in "The Creature From Jekyll Island" and other sources.

Of course the practice is ancient. Some greek military commander had his soldiers march around in a circle across a hilltop so the enemy would think they were getting lots and lots of reinforcements....

I'm surprised the word is not more common. It's been around a long time. I guess maybe the country is divided into opposing groups that just don't read each other's stuff? Democrats have been using the term for decades, and I noticed them do it.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 14, 2011, 11:39:42 am
I suppose what we know today as the Federalst Papers might be called astroturf as in a bunch of letters to the editors all in the same theme.

What J Thomas said about eco groups puts me to mind of the antigun groups. I can't be specific right now off the top of my head but, you know, those people who claim to want to encourage firearms safety, very nice goal, by the means listed in the small print of tossing them all in a blast furnace. A bit harsh, that method but it would work as promised.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 14, 2011, 02:40:53 pm
Thanks for the boat input guys. Don't know if this is the place for it but I appreciate the interest. Fact is, I am a bit burned out.

The big options I had were buying an old one to rebuild or build from scratch. I choose the later because every design is a compromise and finding the one I wanted would be tough.

For example, pleasure boats have way too many bunks at the cost of other stuff like counter space. Working boats draw too much water and have huge engines to feed and maintain. Low power loadcarrying displacement boats are rare. A planing boat like most today needs to plane, run it slow and fuel ecconomy is awful.

I am a lousy welder at best so wood or fiberglass for me. Old boats were made from fantastic wood but they are old and if an old house has issues, an old boat, OMG. I know of a very nice old classic free one kept afloat by 2 basement sump pumps running full time, but it's free. Yeah, free.

This is really not the venue but if anyone is curious about building cheaply from scratch it is possible. Choose a working design intended to carry weight so you can over build, easier and often cheaper. I chose natural wood, pine and fir, for the hull because it is abrasion resistant. Scratch even good plywood and it's sponge city, so you need glass and epoxy to protect it and costs go straight up. not so much real wood. The old ways stll work, heavy galvanized fasteners and many many gallons of roof tar still work fine. Oil based everything.

Most of all know the difference between a boat and a yacht, it is huge. 

My Harold, named for my dad, is a Chesapeake Bay power skipjack, think of a 1900 tugboat. A 24 foot design from a library book stretched to 28, a bit over 7 feet wide since I built outside the lines, shallow vee bottom made out of 2 x 6s, A straight backwards leaning bow, 15 inches of fir stem protected by a 3 inch concrete filled steel pipe, logs will fear us and a barrel like fantail stern. A wheelhouse way forward, a cabin and open working deck behind it with an engine lifting cargo mast made from a tree.

I don't feel right about going on about it here, not an EFT subject, but feel free to send a private message if curious. Hell, I got pictures, even a facebook page.

Until another time on this in another place, thanks.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: J Thomas on March 14, 2011, 02:51:43 pm

I don't feel right about going on about it here, not an EFT subject, but feel free to send a private message if curious. Hell, I got pictures, even a facebook page.

Until another time on this in another place, thanks.

I've noticed that messages about various topics that were completely unreliated to EFT have been moved to "Talk Among Y'selves". Maybe a gracious host would let us discuss it there.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on March 14, 2011, 02:54:41 pm
Groovy, or not.
I know it don't belong here so somewhere else if at all.
Title: Re: секс знакомс
Post by: SandySandfort on April 18, 2011, 11:52:37 pm
спасибо...

Добро пожаловать на форум. Пожалуйста, используйте английский язык.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: spudit on April 18, 2011, 11:56:40 pm
Impressive language skills Mister S.

I'd love to hear the Russian view of all this but my own are most unimpressive.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: quadibloc on April 19, 2011, 12:33:01 am
I recognized "Thank you" immediately. I could make out a little of the longer reply... "...in forum. Please... English language". But, of course, there are resources available, and so between Google Translate and a Russian-English dictionary, it was possible to easily determine that the reply was "A pleasant welcome to the forum. Please employ the English language." if I edge towards a literal rather than an idiomatic translation.
Title: Re: The soldiers Continentals and fiat money
Post by: SandySandfort on April 19, 2011, 09:20:18 am
Impressive language skills Mister S.

Thanks, but not really. Quad caught me out; I used Google Translate. It was done to encourage our new friend to use his English and to see how the rest of you would react. Thanks for playing.  :)