quadibloc on April 26, 2009, 02:45:23 pm
Throughout human history, a higher standard of living has resulted in fewer children.

This is true enough. Societies where nearly everyone is living in poverty do have high birthrates for a number of reasons.

Some people, though, view the demographic transition as a cure-all for the population problem. That is mistaken on their part (not yours). In the short run, an economic downturn in an otherwise prosperous society decreases the birthrate rather than increasing it. Thus, current below-replacement fertility levels in the developed world aren't the normal result of its prosperity, but the result of the chronic economic malaise of the Western world since 1968.

Because improved public health and improved economic opportunities result in population increases in the short run, while cultural change in response to better circumstances takes time, those who hope to acheve a steady-state world by raising everyone to our level of prosperity first, without attempting to directly address the problem through promoting family planning, had better plan on finding a way of supporting a world of prosperous people at many times the world's current population size. Since, in general, this is a political stance taken by people who oppose things like nuclear power generation, they have no plan.

cyberbard on April 27, 2009, 02:49:08 pm
This leaves me with the impression that the UW is facing a financial crunch. New people to steal from who are outside your core consituency, and, thus, are easier to repress are the obvious solution to that. Thus, while we've seen portions of Earth that are developed and prosperous, despite being heavily taxed and regulated by the UW, presumably there are also poor areas that are dangerously close to the point of a desperate rebellion. Enslave Ceres, and that might be staved off for a decade or so.

My money (pardon the pun) is on this.  Recall that after Guy was dismissed in disgrace, the division chief (the high muckety-muck; his name wasn't mentioned) told Guy's department head (the black woman, q.v.) that the UW was going to essentially go bankrupt if it didn't get an influx of three trillion ducats within the next thirteen months.  Or something like that.  Guy and Fia were sent to Ceres in the hope of extracting a portion of that required amount, if not all of it, by implementing the existing tax regulations.  We all know how that turned out.

So, since the UW couldn't use their department of taxation arm to get the necessary money, they brought in the military to take it (the money and/or capital) by force.  We have yet to see how that will turn out, though current events suggest that this isn't going to work either.

This war is all about the Benjamin's.  Or whoever the UW prints on their paper money.

As an aside, I got the impression that Guy's department head (the aforementioned black woman) wasn't comfortable being around the big cheese.   She didn't hear him call Harris, but I'm betting she suspected something nasty was in the works.  Perhaps she too will eventually change sides?  Just a thought. 

cyberbard on April 28, 2009, 10:40:13 am
Does anyone find it interesting, perhaps even poetic, that the man who relieved Harris - a descendant of a British war hero/criminal - appears to be German? (Or of German extraction.)

Let's hope Vizeadmiral (?) Kruger is more level headed than his CO.  Though even Kruger is in a difficult position.  UW isn't going to react well if he just turns the fleet around and goes home.  The Cererians and the UW navy need to sit down and calmly discuss things, or this will just escalate.

And while we're at it, perhaps Fia should back off.  She looks pretty trigger-happy at the moment, and while she may be entitled to some gloating, it's in everyone's best interest if she just holds her position until negotiations have started.  I mean, she can easily punch a hole in the Galactic Conqueror and there isn't much the UW can do about it; she's made her point.  Now lets let some experienced talkers handle the next step.

I think now would be a good time for Reggie to de-activate that dead man switch.  He no longer "needs" to kill himself, and with his negotiation skills, he's definitely more use to Ceres - and the UW fleet - alive than dead.

Rocketman on April 28, 2009, 11:10:50 am
The smart thing to do I would think would be to intern the crew of the GC and the other Beta ships on Ceres for a short time and allow them to get to know the inhabitants as real people.  Allow them to see with their own eyes how much they've accomplished technology wise.  That way when they eventually do go back to earth they will be a lot less prone to fall for the propaganda that the UW will try to feed them that they need to go back there and finish the job that Harris started.  Not to mention that word of what they saw will get back to the general military population of the UW and discourage them from wanting to try it again.  ;D

Sean Roach on April 28, 2009, 07:46:10 pm
Nah.  Just subvert them.  The belt could use some new rockhammer operators.  Who cares if they go back.  It might even be better if they don't.  Imagine if 90% of every expedition sent defects.

The only trouble would be trusting the defectors to not be under UW influence when the NEXT expedition comes.  Wave two or three could very well be filled with idealistic ringers, placed there for the express purpose of "defecting" and waiting for a chance to strike.

Rocketman on April 29, 2009, 07:51:32 pm
Sean:  Don't you think that it might be better if they go back to Earth and tell their fellow soldiers what they saw and how they were treated?   That would cause some real headaches for the UW and could even spark a mutiny if the UW ordered another attack.

  Totally unrelated question.  If the UW is nearly all powerful back on Earth, I would assume that means that they can print all of the money that they need.  Sort of like the situation of the United States dollar being the world's reserve currency.  Only with a united world, except for places like Panama and Uruguay they wouldn't have to worry about what the U.S. now has to, namely because of the incredible U.S. defict spending having the reserve currency status taken away from it.  If so then why can't they just print more money to make up the shortfall?  Which is what has always bothered me about the U.S. tax system.  Why can't they simply get rid of the IRS and just print up the money that they need to keep the government operating.  The only answer to that that I can think of is that it's not done for money but for power.  The IRS is the perfect vehicle to cower the American people into submission.   :'(

terry_freeman on April 29, 2009, 11:22:48 pm
If the UW just prints up all the money they want, they'll be in the same situation as Zimbabwe - hyperinflation. Germany also had a hyperinflationary bout; there are legends about needing wheelbarrows full of Deutchmarks to purchase a loaf of bread. People burned currency because it was cheaper than fuel for the fire.


Rocketman on April 30, 2009, 10:30:26 am
But Terry remember.  The Continental is the only game in town (or planet) as the case may be.  Yes, eventually they will reach a point where they become another Zimbabwe ( just like the American dollar eventually will with the knuckleheads that they have in charge running things) but knowing them what they will do is take the Continental and change over to a new currency.  Let's call it the Neo-dollar for example.  Then they tell the people that One million Continentals will equal one Neo-dollar and if you hold any Continentals past a certain date they will automatically be worthless.  Doing that they can keep it up for a long time before the total collapse.

Sean Roach on April 30, 2009, 10:49:22 am
I believe I read that Zimbabwe did that too.

Edit to add.
My understanding is money is a unit of exchange.  If my work is worth x dollars, shells, beads, gold nuggets, whatever, it doesn't matter, so long as I can turn around and exchange those dollars/shells/beads/nuggets for something I need at equivalent, or near equivalent value later.  If I think the dollar will lose its value between when I earn it and when I spend it, two things will be true.  I'll be unwilling to take dollars in exchange for my labor or goods, (or I'll demand even more on the expectation it'll be worth less BY THE TIME I get to spend it,) and I'll be indisposed toward saving it.  I don't have numbers in front of me, and wouldn't be qualified to read them if I did, but I suspect inflation is part of the reason so few people have savings accounts these days.  As I understand it, so many people put their money in real estate this last time around, (and got burned,) because land has had a reputation for holding its value and getting truly more valuable over time.
End edit.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2009, 11:11:41 am by Sean Roach »

Rocketman on May 01, 2009, 12:45:02 pm
Sean: I didn't say that they could do it forever.  Eventually, it will totally collapse, just as the American dollar will.  One of the biggest problems is that it's purely "fiat" money meaning it has no real backing, thanks in no small part to LBJ and Nixon.  LBJ in 1964 ordered all silver removed from coins because in his words "Silver is too valuable to put into coins"  Well duh!!!!!  I guess that all minerals and vitamins should be removed from food using that so called "logic".  Nixon closed the gold window in 1971 because France under DeGaulle was taking American dollars that they had and converting them to gold and draining the American gold reserve.  Interesting side note.  China admitted last week that it has for some time been buying gold for several years and now owns over a thousand tons of it.  Some people suspect (me included) that if they admitted to that much that the truth is they have a lot more than just that and that they plan on buying a whole lot more.  The world's largest gold mine is in China and they're keeping what they have.

deadasdisco on May 01, 2009, 04:15:45 pm
Something I've always been a little fuzzy on, and this seems to be a pretty well-read bunch on the subject, so I'm going to ask... why are precious metals precious?  Is it just rarity? 
And how is everyone agreeing that rare, shiny metals have a value different then agreeing that funny little pieces of paper with bad woodcuts on them have a value?

Thing is, I work in comics, now, comics have set values (agreed upon in the Overstreet Guide), generally set by grade and rarity, but, like everything else, they're actually only worth what you can get people to pay for them.  I've seen guys try to sell huge collections of moderately valuable comics which, when added together, are objectively worth thousands, but who can't move them 'cause there's no demand, or because the retailer (us), already has more stock and less cash then we need.  I've seen 2-5 dollar comics in the .50 bin b/c we needed them to move... the point being, since value is agreed upon, what makes one non-necessary non-perishable medium of exchange different from another?


SandySandfort on May 01, 2009, 06:57:46 pm
Something I've always been a little fuzzy on, and this seems to be a pretty well-read bunch on the subject, so I'm going to ask... why are precious metals precious?  Is it just rarity? 
And how is everyone agreeing that rare, shiny metals have a value different then agreeing that funny little pieces of paper with bad woodcuts on them have a value?

Thing is, I work in comics, now, comics have set values (agreed upon in the Overstreet Guide), generally set by grade and rarity, but, like everything else, they're actually only worth what you can get people to pay for them.  I've seen guys try to sell huge collections of moderately valuable comics which, when added together, are objectively worth thousands, but who can't move them 'cause there's no demand, or because the retailer (us), already has more stock and less cash then we need.  I've seen 2-5 dollar comics in the .50 bin b/c we needed them to move... the point being, since value is agreed upon, what makes one non-necessary non-perishable medium of exchange different from another?

The concept of "value" underlies all of economic theories. How you define it determines whether or not your economic theory is viable or not in the real world. Communism is based on the "labor theory of value," which is pretty asinine and leads to some people thinking that the bosses have "stolen" some of the value of their labor. That error lead to the deaths of 100 million innocent people in the last century. (Other government depredations lead to the deaths of another 70 million innocent people.)

The Chicago school of economics is based on the "utility theory of value." It works better than communism in that it doesn't kill anyone directly, but still results in the mis-allocation of resources, which does create problems.

The Austrian school of economics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_economics) is the only one that makes any sense as far as I can see. It is based on the "subjective theory of value." You actually illustrated this idea when you said, "comics have set values (agreed upon in the Overstreet Guide) then contradicted yourself by saying that some comics cannot be sold for their "objective" value. (BTW, your original statement is an illustration of what is called the "intrinsic theory of value.")

Obviously, everyone does not agree on the value,  but instead each person has a subjective valuation of what the comic is worth. This, BTW, is what makes trade possible. The seller places a higher subjective value on, for example, $1, than he does on the comic. They buyer puts a higher subjective value on the comic than on the dollar. So both parties are better off after the sale then they were before. Otherwise, there would have been no reason to make the sale at all. If the comic is worth a dollar, I am just as well off with the comic or the dollar. A mutually beneficial exchange can only take place when both parties "win."

So what about gold? It has, and always has had, I high subjective value. Why? Who cares? Reality is. Now the nice thing about gold is it is very hard to get more of in the world. So it cannot be easily inflated. Paper, on the other hand, is infinitely inflatable. The more there is of it, the less people value it. And this allows governments to completely undermine any monetary consistency or predictability.

Besides gold has properties that make it useful as money. It is fungible, divisible and--for all practical purposes--eternal and incorruptible. A hundred years ago, a $20 gold piece (~1 troy ounce) would buy a good man's suit. Today, it still will. Prices have not gone up; the fiat value of the dollar has gone down. The government robbed you in your sleep.

deadasdisco on May 01, 2009, 08:14:48 pm
Quote
comics have set values (agreed upon in the Overstreet Guide)

Yeah, should have put " " around "values " in that sentence, but it let you get your game on, so I figure its all good... a little misunderstanding apparently went a long ways towards getting the answer.  So, win-win...

terry_freeman on May 02, 2009, 01:15:26 am
AFAIK, there's nothing special about gold or silver in Austrian economic theory, which is founded on "subjective value" - things are worth whatever each of us believes them to be worth - the fact that you and I have different values is actually what makes voluntary trade worthwhile. You produce   thousands of copies of The Great Comic; to you, it's a stack of paper, ink, and your sweat and tears. To me, it's a grand story, worth more than the paper and ink itself; so I give you a dozen eggs, you give me one comic book, and we're both happy. Barter can get tiresome - what would you do with a gross of eggs? Or 500 lbs of potatoes? We choose to exchange something that is durable, fungible, light in weight, relatively scarce, and pleasing to the eye, as an intermediate good. Historically, gold and silver have served well for that purpose. The trouble with paper money is that it's too easy for banks and/or governments to make more at will; that causes too many bits of paper to chase too few goods, and the value of the paper drops - google Zimbabwe hyperinflation ( or Germany ) to see how that ends.  There have been periods of inflationary precious-metal currency; Spain had a period where a lot of gold came in from South America and wrecked their economy; had they been smarter, they would have traded something of equal value for it, instead of taking it via slave labor; this would have stimulated their economy to be more productive. But precious metals have a better historical record than paper currency.

More consistent with Austrian economics would be a free choice of currency, which seems to be the practice on Ceres. When people are free to choose, good money chases out bad. Legal Tender laws ( which mandate that paper is as good as gold) reverse this effect, causing the better currency to be hoarded. ( Gresham's Law)  California around the Civil War era used gold coinage, and discounted Greenbacks. The Union government didn't like that, but federal power in California was quite small in those days.

Some economists point out problems with bimetallism - use of both gold and silver - but those problems were due to a fixed "legal tender" exchange rate. When the gold-to-silver rate is freely set by willing traders, there is little problem. Confusion results from creating a unit called "dollars" and trying to fix the "dollar" price of different coins. Better to trade ounces or grams, and let prices fall where they may. In such an environment, you decide what currency to use; it could be mallo wrappers or tobacco leaves, if the other party accepts your offer. Again, it's the legal tender law which causes the problem; such laws set non-market prices for different kinds of paper and gold and silver; these market restrictions cause unintended effects, as Gresham observed.

Lately, we've been having a "credit crunch". A large part of this is due to uncertainty about the future value of the dollar. Historically, lenders have been much more comfortable with contracts written in terms of gold, but all such gold clauses have been invalidated by the Federal government. I have to wonder, what about a contract which specifies gold by weight, not by "dollars"? Odds are that you could get a hundred year lease for a fixed price in gold; it would be insanely risky to write such a contract for a fixed price in paper "dollars."




Rocketman on May 02, 2009, 02:49:13 am

. I have to wonder, what about a contract which specifies gold by weight, not by "dollars"? Odds are that you could get a hundred year lease for a fixed price in gold; it would be insanely risky to write such a contract for a fixed price in paper "dollars."

Ah, but you see Terry that loophole is closed by the government as well.  Let's say that you sign a contract with me.  You let me have use of your auto for two years and at the end I pay you two ounces of gold.  Two years go by, during that time paper money has declined in value by half and the price of gold has doubled.  However, I only give you the equivalent of gold at the time the contract was signed IN PAPER MONEY.  You go and take me to court for violating the contract.  The judge will more than likely say that you were fairly compensated.  Why?  Look at the front of American currency "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private."  Sandy being a lawyer can confirm this.