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Vangel
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Thanks for bringing attention to the ideas of individual liberty and peace that Dr. Hoppe is trying to spread. I am sure that many libertarians are grateful for your unintended assistance.
Of course they looked. There was a lot of money in oil and the companies have drilled almost everywhere that oil can be extracted economically. Shale has been the 'next big thing' since the 1930s as new technology was going to make development possible. But no matter how much prices rose, shale oil was always slightly uneconomic. In the past few years the hype was about shale gas. But if you look at activity and listen to the conference calls you will find that the shale players have found natural gas to be unprofitable so they are now claiming that they will make shale oil work. The smart money is on conventional heavy oil, which is far more economic with current production processes and current technology.
"Where is the peak in the oil that can be found?" For light sweet crude, which sells for more than $100 the peak was in 2005. For unconventional oil it is still a few years away. I think that it is time that you stopped wishing and hoping and that you paid attention to reality. There really was a peak whale oil moment but that does not mean that mankind had to do without. The same is true now. There is peak oil but it will not end humanity. We will simply have to adjust and find some other source. Right now we still have lots of conventional natural gas that can be developed to take us through a transition. We also may be able to develop methane hydrate production or to adapt a coal-to-liquids process that will give us liquid fuels. Add 10 mbpd of sustainable production from tar sands and we may have a bit of time, particularly when we have economic contractions to squeeze demand out of the system every time the spare capacity falls. In 2008 we saw oil collapse in price not because there was a supply response but because the economy could not handle the high prices. The result was a sharp contraction that is still a problem today.
Lucky for you there is the internet. You can easily obtain a shower from another country and get it delivered to you.
In Flemming v. Nestor the Supreme Court ruled that nobody has a right to social security payments even if s/he had made contributions into the fund. It does not care if the paper in the 'trust fund' is marketable or just a claim on future taxation because it does not matter. And we already know that the securities are not marketable. The only way to pay the full amount to recipients after 2017 will be to increase worker and employer contributions. But that will not work because the higher taxes will mean fewer jobs and lower SS contributions to be paid out to a bigger number of retirees. The SS system is broke. If you are about to retire you better have some gold and silver to make up the inevitable shortfall in purchasing power.
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"The government is required to pay back the Treasuries in the fund." How does that happen? The money has already been spent and replaced with non-marketable securities. There is no cash available to pay out after the shortfall so that means that the government will have to increase taxes or cut benefits after 2017. "It also continues to draw interest on those treasuries. And it continues to receive tax payments from the working population. It is perfectly solvent, in that it can continue to pay expected benefits into the foreseeable future." As I wrote above, all the excess contributions are spent and replaced with non-marketable IOUs. Without money or assets that can be sold on the market to raise funds the system is technically insolvent. "However, your SS payments themselves are on shakier ground: they depend on the social contract. Congress could decide to cut back payments (or raise the retirement age, or tax retirement payouts more heavily, or...) any time." Congress may not have to. All it has to do is to allow inflation to take off and all those unfunded liabilities will become much more manageable. You could get the full amount promised to you but that amount may not buy very much when you get it. Worrying about an SS default may be very foolish because the USD may not last until 2017 and Congress can still meet its obligation by printing useless pieces of paper that are distributed to recipients. If our seniors get denied what they expected from Social Security it will be because the social contract is broken, not because the fund is broke. There is no money to meet the obligations. That makes the fund broke no matter how we may like to spin the narrative.
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It may have been prepaid but the money has already been spent. Contrary to the claims by the trustees, there are no marketable securities in the SS trust fund. That means that future shortfalls after 2017 will be made up by increased taxation or more borrowing. That will only work if workers and voters allow it. The bottom line is that if the US Social Security system were a private pension plan the people who ran it would be in jail.
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That is not hard. Regulators are always fighting the last war and are usually not as smart as those that they try to control. The big problem is that regulators provide the illusion of safety that fools investors into thinking that their interests are being looked after. Better to have no regulations and simply stick with the rules against fraud and theft. That way investors would insist on evidence of good business practices and would mostly buy shares in businesses that are capable of paying adequate dividends consistently. Crap like pets.com would not get funding and few people would think that subprime mortgage paper could have a high rating because of the way that mortgages were packaged.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2010 on Roubini: Gordon Gekko Reborn at Economist's View
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Athletes are not overpaid. After they put in their time and win their freedom they negotiate for their salary in a relatively free market and usually get paid on the basis of how hard they are to replace. That is not the case for professors who make bad economic arguments because they do not get paid what they are worth in a free marketplace.
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2010 on Roubini: Gordon Gekko Reborn at Economist's View
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A thoughtful posting requires a thoughtful response. Here we go. "Drugs are cheaper in other countries because their governments negotiate prices, something the US government chose (ridiculously) to forbid itself from doing." I suggest that you look at the most recent study from Fraser America. It shows that Canadians and Americans spend a similar amount of their personal disposable incomes on drugs. While the Canadian government caps the costs for patented drugs the lack of free market conditions in the generic drug market means that Canadians overpay. On net there are no advantages for Canadians. http://www.fraseramerica.org/Commerce.Web/product_files/prescription-drug-spending-in-US-and-Canada_US.pdf And I also question the use of the word 'negotiate.' That implies that the drug companies have equal power to the governments and can withdraw their products from specific national markets. But that is not the case because governments threaten to invalidate the patent protection and to allow other companies to produce the drug and to pay a small license fee to the patent holder. "Anyway, tort laws are state laws; any state that wants to reform them can do so without asking Congress for permission." It is not the states but the federal government that run Medicare and Medicaid. The federal government can pass laws that ensure that doctors are protected if they do not engage in unnecessary defensive medicine. Medicare should not be paying billions for unnecessary tests just because doctors fear being sued. As long as doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies can get sued for vast amounts of money even when they comply with professional and industry standards and have not made an error in judgment you will never have a viable healthcare system. "US health care is simply NOT better than anywhere else." The US does not ration care in the same way as we do here in Canada and many other places that run national healthcare systems. It is an undisputed fact that if you need access to a specialist or specialized equipment you can get it quite quickly of you choose to pay for the services. That does not happen in Canada where waiting lines are very long and you need to have connections in order to get to the front of the line. While I agree that some procedures are overused, it is essential that they are available when there is a critical need for them. In Canada you can die on a waiting list for critical care that is needed sooner rather than later. That is why so many of us go to the US or elsewhere to get essential treatments when we need them. And let me note that we have foreign politicians avoiding their own health care system and come to the US for specialized treatments. "But let's pretend that care is a bit better in the US. Here's the problem-with cars I can buy a perfectly acceptable car for a modest sum. I can choose to pay more for a Mercedes, but I don't have to. Same with houses and food. with medical care I can't. It's the Mercedes or hoof it. If we did that with cars, 95% of the population ouldn't drive." You are making my point for me. What we need is free choice not a bureaucratic system that prevents competition. It would be nice if consumers can choose to buy healthcare insurance by out of state companies that are better at controlling costs, if they can purchase plans with the coverage that they want, and if providers of healthcare are not sued when they follow standard procedures and do nothing wrong. You do not have that in the US. The federal and state governments allow the AMA to restrict the number of practitioners, allow juries to award millions even when doctors do nothing wrong, cause drug development costs to be significantly higher than they need to be, restrict interstate competition in the insurance sector, force insurance plans to cover procedures that the consumers do not want to pay for, etc., etc., etc. We see what happens when there is a free market by looking at the LAZIK procedure, which is not covered by insurance. Because consumers pay out of pocket they discriminate on the basis of price. So as health care has been exploding in price over the past decade and a half the cost of the LASIK procedure has been reported to have fallen by about a third at a time when the improvement of quality has been spectacular. While early procedures were little more than basic vision correction done via uncomfortable surface ablations, improvements in the procedure have increased the treatment spectrum as correction for hyperopia and astigmatism became possible and we now have customized wavefront analysis and correction. Of course, if we wanted to reduce overall costs it would be helpful if we were able to reduce the conditions that are causing costs to rise substantially. Given that about 10% of the total cost of healthcare is associated with obesity it would help if obesity rates would go down. But how can I possibly blame government for obesity rates? Aren't Americans responsible for what they eat and governments have little to do with those choices? Well, yes and no. Many have argued that the American tariffs on cane sugar and subsidies for corn play a large role in obesity. We know that Americans consume more than 70 pounds of corn based sweeteners. Corn is that stuff we feed cows to fatten them up before we ship them to the abattoir for slaughter. Even when we feed animals the same number of calories those that consume high-fructose corn syrup gain much more weight than those that are fed table sugar. I don't know about you but I did not see the elimination of corn subsidies in the Obamacare bill. And if you follow the very simple logic you should be able to understand why obesity is such a big problem. When companies in a competitive market are forced to pay much more for a particular sweetener they will look to subsidies. So what we have is beet or cane sugar being eliminated and an introduction of corn-based sweeteners to take its place. Americans will gain a substantial amount of weight even if they consume the same number of calories. In a free market system food companies would be able to purchase the sweeteners that they want and do not have to use lower grade substitutes that are only on the market in such large quantities because of subsidies. Americans would be thinner and the costs of treating obesity would decline substantially. Of course, as a libertarian I believe that people should pay their own way and regardless of the reason should cover the extra costs created by their weight gain on their own or by paying higher premiums to the insurance policies that cover them. But that is a discussion for another time. I have to go and take the kids swimming now. "PS-Perhaps if you think Canada is free of drugs and violence you should visit Downtown East in Vancouver. It would put many US cities to shame." We have stupid drug laws that cause violence too. That means that we have our share of violence as well. That said, our crime rates are still far lower than those in the US. And the most violent areas with the highest crime rates are not places like Vancouver but cities where the aboriginal population is quite high. If you want to see the most violence in Canada you would be better served to forget Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver and head to Regina or Saskatoon. Or better yet, head out to the remote northern communities where people depend on handouts from the government.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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"Are you saying that the conservatives who called for tax cuts, because the Clinton budget surpluses were going to deprive the world of safe US Treasury bonds to buy, were wrong?" I am. There is no such thing as safe bonds that are issued by a bankrupt nation. While Clinton and the Gingrich Congress were better at controlling costs and spending, they still spent far too much, pushed Fannie and Freddie to assist in the development of a housing bubble, and allowed unfunded liabilities to explode. The US government has been dysfunctional for the better part of a century. "I guess that makes you a tax and spend liberal who thinks that bridges that fall down killing people should be replaced. Should taxes be hiked and bridges replaced before or after they fall down killing people? Should sewer and water systems be replaced before or after they break and swallow up cars and people in giant holes in the streets, or swallow up homes?" It is a false choice. There is plenty of tax revenue to fix bridges that are failing. Government needs to stop wasting most of what it takes in so that it can fix bridges. (For the record, I am with Walter Block on the infrastructure issue but will not take that route in this discussion.) "Rather than a ponzi scheme, I see the past three decades as a vast experiment in decapitalism, a period when capital is depreciated and pillaged and plunder, based on the idea that investing in capital in expectations of small returns over many decades requires too much sacrifice of current consumption." I see it as what you get when government grows too much and politicians make decisions about spending. When you worry about the next election in two years you tend not to spend on items such as maintenance, which are not sexy enough to buy votes. It is better to let a few bridges collapse and then become a hero by asking that taxpayers sacrifice to make things good again and to give support for your government needs to get bigger agenda.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2010 on More Reinhart and Rogoff at Economist's View
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"What we need to do is to make automatic stabilizers on the upside, as well as the downside." The free market needs no imposition of stabilizers because the players are forced to adjust to changing conditions. That does not happen when central banks and governments meddle and distort the economic reality by injecting liquidity, creating tax breaks to favour uneconomic activities, and use subsidies and bailouts to prevent malinvestments from being liquidated. "We need taxes that increase more than proportionally or kick in during good times." High taxes ensure that the good times will not last or never happen in the first place. And as Bonner points out, all Congress will do is spend more as it uses those taxes to bribe voters because Congress can't look beyond the next two year election cycle. Your high tax prescriptions have never worked well for countries with large diverse populations and diverse economies. They can never work because human nature is what it is. When profits are taxed away they will not materialize and tax revenues will be reduced. When people find out that hard work and risk taking is not rewarded they will either work less and take fewer risks or look to move to places where those qualities are rewarded. With personal taxes rising and corporate taxes among the highest in the world there is little incentive for investors to accumulate capital and create jobs. On a personal note, as an investor I find that I have put more money into companies that produce in Haiti, China, Armenia, Tanzania, Argentica, Chile, Australia, Turkey, etc., than I have into companies that produce in the United States. Thirty years ago most of my investments would have been in the US. For your economy to recover it will need to convince people like me to invest in capital accumulation within the continental United States because the risks I take are more likely to be rewarded than they would be elsewhere. That will never happen if the government continues to do what you propose.
Toggle Commented Aug 14, 2010 on More Reinhart and Rogoff at Economist's View
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"The question is whether we need to take action today while the economy is still struggling, or whether it would be best to wait until the economy is on more solid ground before beginning to cut back on government spending and/or raise taxes." To get the economy on solid ground you have to cut federal spending by 50% or more, repeal most regulations that impose massive compliance costs on individuals and corporations, and let the markets liquidate lousy investments that never should have been made in the first place. "As I've said before, I've been hesitant to address the long-run debt problem because it is too easily misinterpreted as a call for austerity today rather than during better times or times of excess." The only way to solve the problem is to starve the government of funds. As Bill Bonner stated so well, asking politicians to save the surpluses during the 'good times' is a lot like asking a Saint Bernard to save sausages; good in theory but will never work in the real world.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2010 on More Reinhart and Rogoff at Economist's View
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"A couple questions? Were there tariffs during this period? I believe so. And they were very stiff." Actually, during the crisis the rates were low because of the Underwood-Simmons Tariff, passed by the Wilson administration. While the Emergency Tariff Bill was supposed to protect domestic farmers it was vetoed by Wilson. By the time Harding actually signed the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act of 1922 the recovery had already taken place. Many libertarians argue that the depression would have been much deeper had the protectionist legislation been passed sooner. Lucky for Americans, the Democrats under Wilson opposed high tariffs. Keep in mind that one of the major triggers of the Great Depression was the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. The markets were recovering as investors believed that Hoover would listen to the more than 1000 prominent economists who signed a petition asking him to veto the legislation. When he didn't the Dow turned down sharply and the election of FDR was assured. Interestingly enough FDR campaigned against Hoover's excessive spending and high tariff policies. (Let me note here that it is too easy to get lost in the details and miss the big picture. The American tariffs were not higher than those in most countries. The damage was mainly done by the change in direction and the relative differences, not the absolute numbers.) "Second question. What was the state of manufacturing technology going into the late teens and early twenties? I believe it was undergoing massive capital investment and productivity improvement far beyond anything that had happened before, or since." Much of the investment was diverted to the war industries. When the war ended that investment had to be liquidated. Harding's greatness comes from allowing that liquidation. (As you pointed out above, he was a protectionist who favoured agricultural tariffs, which does not make him the free market advocate that some people have portrayed him to be. As I said above, he was the beneficiary of the Wilson veto of the Emergency Tariff Bill.) "As for government, it pretty much didn't do anything anyway during those times. Have a hurricane and flood? Call the Red Cross." Government is not very good at doing anything. Just see the Bush response to Katrina or Obama's response to the BP spill for evidence. FEMA kep Wal-Mart and other companies from delivering need water and ice and kept other volunteers from helping even as people were in big trouble and needed assistance. Obama kept foreign vessels from being used to clean up the spill. "Lose your job? Hit the streets Jack. Put out the tin cup Betty." Get another job in an industry that is thriving. When the buggy whip company sales start going down it makes no sense to keep expecting unemployment benefits to keep you afloat until business picks up again. And why not save? I have always kept four years worth of savings around just in case I could not earn a living because of hard times. That is very liberating and goes a long way towards reducing stress levels and frustration. "And then, not coincidentally, income disparity grew dramatically and when the capital investment splurge petered out, the money went into stock market gambling. And we know how well that turned out." The gambling was driven by the Fed's injection of liquidity. If you look at bubbles you will always see a major expansion of credit as the driver. The 1920s were no exception. That is why I favour getting rid of central banks. "Stop simplifying everything into nice, tidy narratives. Including the one that mis-characterizes Keynes." Keynes is mischaracterized by Keynesians, who keep pretending that they understood what he meant. If you read the General Theory you will find that even Keynes was confused about the points that he was trying to make. The book is an incoherent mess of muddled thinking and contradictions. And the narrative that works best to describe the real economy is a simple one. Bubbles are caused when governments, central banks, and the banking system increase the supply of the money and credit. In the real economy individual players make wrong decisions regularly and are punished by an unforgiving market. While malivestments are possible they cannot create very large bubbles that last for long periods of time. Contractions liquidate those malinvestments rapidly and the liquidation process redistributes assets to those best able to use them effectively. They are short, deep, and painful, but also the basis of sustainable recovery. Whenever governments meddle to prevent that liquidation the economy stagnates and underperforms for years.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2010 on A Little Panic Would be Good at Economist's View
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"You're making a convenient assumption about the counterfactual. The real question is whether unemployment would have been even worse without the fiscal stimulus." Obama's economic team predicted an unemployment rate of 8.5% without the stimulus so let us not go there. My point is very logical. We live in a world of scarce resources and real recovery demands a proper deployment of those resources. We cannot have a sustainable recovery spending more money to hire teachers who can't teach well, firemen who get 100% more in pay and benefits than what the private sector would charge, city managers who make hundreds of thousands of dollars, and prison guards who can earn more than $100K in pay with a bit of overtime. "And nothing about what's happened has shown them wrong. As many (e.g. Krugman) said, the stimulus should have been larger than it was. It wasn't due to political considerations, not economic ones. Worse, much of the "stimulus" was tax cuts, which except at the low end of the earner scale, are known to be a highly ineffective." That is a neat argument. No matter how massive the spending you can always claim that it isn't enough. But what is not stated is where the spending comes from. The real problem is the real economy, not a shortage of money or government spending because both money and government spending are at record highs. Why anyone would take Krugman, who cheered on the housing bubble, seriously is something that I can't figure out. This problem was created by the housing bubble that many people, who understand how the real economy works, were warning about even as the idiot Keynesians were cheering on the Fed, congress, monoline insurers, rating agencies, and the GSEs. When those people predicted the bankruptcy of Fannie and Freddie, the collapse of the housing market, and a contraction in the real economy the Keynesians were too busy partying and complaining that the spending was not quite large enough. Well, they were right and the Keynesians were wrong yet you still choose to buy into the failed and muddled illogical theology of Keynes. "Talk about cherry picking. I love the libertarian argument that since there was a rapid recovery (albeit with great short term pain) from the Depression of 1920–21 without intervention, and the since there was slow recovery from the Great Depression despite the minimal intervention of the Hoover years, one need look no further. Have faith brother, our cause is vindicated!" You are missing the point. History shows us that the Hoover/FDR or Japanese type stimulus is not necessary to have a recovery. In fact, it shows us that you can't have a recovery without washing away the bad investments during the bubble years. That is logical because scarce resources wasted by zombie companies who need subsidies and accounting trick to survive cannot be used for productive purposes. It is simple economics. "So yes, we should make banks abandon their mark-to-fantasy "accounting" and deal with their insolvency." But that is not what your Keynesian priests are saying. Bush and Obama bailed out the banks and allowed them to hide their insolvency. Their only hope of surviving is to play arbitrage games with the yield curves and hope to sell their bad debt to the Fed, which will print money to make the purchases. But that only means that savers will be hurt and that private companies will be starved of capital even as bankrupt governments are supported by bank purchases of debt. "As for all the other people and businesses that are in trouble despite being productive, and have been hit by the Great FIRE Scam the way they could be hit by a hurricane or an earthquake, that's another story." No it isn't. If you can't make money because people will not buy what you have to make you need to shut down operations that make no economic sense. Why should you be supported when your competitor figured out the FIRE scam and made better decisions than you did? What you are proposing is that people who had good judgment need to support those that did not. That does not help the real economy because wasting resources on people who don't have what it takes to be truly productive makes us poorer, not better off.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2010 on A Little Panic Would be Good at Economist's View
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The data is good enough to show a major problem as unemployment exploded and the economy collapsed after the war ended. That was to be expected given the huge amount of investment diverted towards war activities and the aftermath of the influenza and demobilization efforts. The point is that Harding inherited a worse situation than Obama did. Instead of trying to prop up prices he allowed the market to permit the necessary liquidation of assets and inventories so that the economy can begin a sustainable recovery. That was something that Hoover/FDR and Bush/Obama refused to do. They wanted to lessen the pain by allowing the malinvestments to continue. That means that prices will continue to stagnate (in real terms) because there will be a supply overhang to dampen a price recovery any time things look to pick up. At best, we are looking at a nominal price rise driven by all of the money printing being done by the Fed and by the decline of the USD or a Japan style depression that lasts more than a decade. No sustainable recovery is possible unless the Fed is willing to accept a short term growth scenario that is driven by yet another bubble. But I can't see how that happens without the destruction of the market in government bonds. The average person is doomed and the major profits will accrue to those that have invested in the production of energy, food, precious metals, and specific commodities. The futures market is unlikely to offer shelter because most people who are right about the long term will wind up losing all they have to the massive volatility that is expected or to the outright fraud that is evident in the COT reports. Bottom line is that we need to let the markets liquidate the bad investments before we can have a real recovery that lasts. Manipulating expectations by fiddling with data, intervening in the markets, monetizing the debt, and adding a few words here and there in Fed statements will not do the trick. History will show that Obama was just as clueless and incompetent as Bush and events will discredit both the left and the right.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2010 on A Little Panic Would be Good at Economist's View
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There is no way to spin this. The US corporate tax rate is much higher than the OECD average and investors looking to set up factories will not want to look at how to use losses to reduce their effective rate. What the US needs is to get in line with the OECD and cut its corporate tax rate to a reasonable rate that would permit capital formation to take place.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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"...isn't to say a mixed economy will always be best." It never is. In reality there is no such thing as a 'mixed society.' That phrase is just a cover for the policies that take the country down the road to serfdom. "But right now you can't usa Ayn's arguments from the 1940's against the Soviets (who have been discredited by all including mixed economy proponents), as the excuse to make rich people ever richer and deny a safety net. You know how she died, right?" I am far from a Rand expert but it seems that your knowledge of her is even worse than mine. Her books were not so much against the obvious evil of Soviet Socialism but against the socialism that was threatening the United States. You might try reading her books some time. "Without a safety net (healthcare), libertopia is going to to have a 30% university graduation rate, then 20%, then just millionaire families. Your free market model died when you gave your wealth to the top 1% without educating them basic humanity." You have no clue what it is that you are talking about. All non-primitive human societies show a power law distribution when it comes to the control or ownership of property. Whether you are in Britain, Sweden, the United States or the USSR you still have more than 80% of all the assets in the hands of the top 20% of the population. If you look at the top 20% and examined the distribution you will see the same power law as more than 80% of the resources will be held by the top 20% of the top group. And so on, and so on. This Utopian ideal of a flat distribution of wealth cannot take place in a healthy human society because that is not how human societies progress. Such societies would die out very rapidly because without the incentive provided by the power law distribution the desire to take huge risks and advance disappears. Why would anyone work very hard in such a society when the guy who takes out the garbage (I wonder how it is determined who does in such a system) gets the same rewards as the guy who discovered how to cure a particular type of cancer? That is the problem with many of you on the Left (and the Right). You believe in an ideology that does not work very well in a society that is made up of real human beings. That is exactly why Marxists and National Socialists kept talking about the 'New Man' but were never quite able of finding Him and killed off so many people trying to keep order. For the record, the US has not had anything resembling a free market for many decades. While it went through periods were markets were relatively free even those periods were ones in which many economic activities were highly regulated, subsidized, or protected by tariffs. Our most recent failure had nothing to do with free markets but with the unraveling of a highly regulated financial market where the Fed, GSEs, the protected rating agencies, HUD, and Treasury encouraged home ownership, even if was obtained by outright fraud. If there were a free market the agencies and banks would have been permitted to fail just as the Libertarians, who saw the bubble developing and warned against it, advised. Instead the Left and Right robbed the taxpayers to save the large financial players who should have been liquidated. If your side was responsible for the bailout and the fraud then do not complain about it please because you lack credibility. Let us move on to the university graduation rates, which you believe should be higher than 30% as if you knew what the rate should be. For the record, only about 25% of Germans are university graduates but the German economy is not exactly short of skilled people because Germany has vocational institutions that provide excellent training and create good and reliable workers. The United States, which ha a much greater percentage of university graduates has a problem with creating reliable workers. Employers find that students who graduate with Communications, Minority Studies, Criminal Justice, Social Work, Political Science, Gender Studies, Social Justice, Archeology, etc., have very few marketable skills that would make some of them productive without further training. This is why the recent downturn has wiped out many soft skills jobs at a time when the number of people with specialized skills has gone up substantially and employers are having a hard time finding qualified applicants. The US education system is not a market system and the amount of subsidies, grants, loan guarantees, distort the picture and get naive students to make serious errors when choosing what to do. The US did fine when the government was not all that involved in education and people chose which universities to go to and which programs to choose on the basis of market forces.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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A mixed slave society still reduces the standard of living of its citizens. The fact that those citizens may have a better life than some other people under entirely different circumstances does not justify the slavery that many of the people on this thread seem to support.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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"If someone working in healthcare doesn't "wish" to provide health care to those who need it, they are in the wrong profession." Some people may refuse to sell certain services to others because the desired service offends their morals. Abortion or birth control are perfect examples. But that is not what I meant. What I mean is that it is not moral or ethical to force people to pay for the healthcare of others if they do not wish to do so. If you donate money to a charity hospital than there is no objection when that hospital treats people who can't afford to pay for their own care because you chose to pay for the care of others that you may not have known. But when your earnings are taxed and money is transferred to fund abortions, sex change operations, treatments of addictions to food, sex or whatever else feels good, even though you oppose them than there is a problem. Effectively you are told that what you earn with your efforts is not really yours but belongs to the government and that the government can use those earnings to fund activities that you may oppose passionately. That makes you little more than a slave to the state and not a citizen of a truly free society. That is why positive rights are incompatible with individual freedom.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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You have it wrong. What matters is liberty and you will not get that from either the Republican or Democratic parties. They are both full of statists who rob workers, savers, and investors and transfer wealth to their patrons in the corporations, unions and other special interests. Personally, I make money because sentiments like you cause the government to make errors that I take advantage of. I have no trouble with that because I have spoken out very clearly against those errors. If the statists destroy what is left of the purchasing power of the USD or destroy the US economy it will hurt most Americans but will make those of us who saw the consequences much better off even though we warned of the consequences.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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If you have a positive right to healthcare that means that others have to provide it for you even if they do not wish to. That would make them little more than slaves because they have to serve your needs and you are no longer living in a free society. What you really have in a free society is a negative right. That means that you have the right to purchase health care if you wish without worry that others will intervene and prevent you from doing so. Your right does not impose any constraints on others because they are free to buy their own healthcare just as you are. Please note that when it comes to understanding individual rights the Right is just as confused as you are on the Left. The Left supports social liberty it opposes economic liberty while the Right supports economic liberty and opposes social liberty. They are the opposite sides of the same totalitarian coin and usually support fully some of the freedom restricting policies of totalitarian regimes. The only people who stand for total liberty are libertarians but they are too few and considered 'extremists' by the media, academia, corporatists, and socialists who dominate American politics. It is because their influence is too small that the US is in the trouble that it is in and that the real economy is on its way towards crashing. The statism of Obama, Bush, and their predecessors has destroyed the entrepreneurial spirit that once made the United States so great.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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The facts are not in question and available for all to see if they wish to see. The American CORPORATE tax rate is one of the highest in the OECD. It stands second only to Japan and is 50% higher than supposedly socialist Sweden. (Sweden has a corporate tax rate of 26% compared to the American rate of 39%.) http://tinyurl.com/2cqtk6r
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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The fact that the mortgage holder has the right to repossess when the mortgage is being serviced is not in question. Clearly forcing mortgage holders to use the sheriff's office can be argued to be unjust and no reason can be given to grant the sheriff's office monopoly privileges on foreclosures. http://tinyurl.com/47w8hx
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2010 on A Little Panic Would be Good at Economist's View
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"People should, indeed, pay for Health Care by means of taxation -- just as they do Unemployment Insurance." Why not for food? Or housing? "And some would argue that those who smoke or eat too much should pay more than others, both to dissuade and to provision for the HC that will be required inevitably in their lifetime." The health care insurers are pretty good at assessing risk. They will charge more for obese people and those who smoke just as they do when the life insurance companies do. I think that you are missing the point. A free society depends on negative rights. If you claim that you have a right to life you mean that nobody is free to kill you. That is a negative right and does not impose any obligations on other people. On the other hand if you claim that you have a right to health care that means that other people have to provide you with health care even if they can't afford it or have no interest in helping you because they have better uses for their resources. A free society cannot be based on positive rights because it imposes conditions on its citizens that they do not agree to.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2010 on "Is Health Care Special?" at Economist's View
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