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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ginkgo View Post
    Excuse me but we prefer the term "Argonian".
    Pond-scum.

  2. #82
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    First of all, there is a fair amount of evidence that inequality in inherently corrosive (see Spirit Level for some statistics).
    I've heard of the Spirit Level, haven't read it, but don't know if it is a credible source. The left uncritically regard it as gospel truth and the right denounce it as mere propaganda.

    I tend to be skeptical of the idea that anything is "inherently corrosive", what does that even mean? I can imagine that politico-economic conditions and inequality among them can be problematic under particular circumstances, but that does not mean that they're always undesirable. I don't see why inequality would be a problem in a country where everyone lives with dignity. Sweden, Germany and many other nations that are considered welfare states have vast inequalities of their own, yet that's rarely considered grounds for moral outrage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    Secondly, it's not clear that all of the rewards at the top are earned or contribute to the common good (even in the most indirect sense possible).
    It's easy to argue that all policies should serve the public good in theory, but difficult to enact policies that do so in practice. I question that the best way to serve the public good is to create policies with the purpose of doing so. It may be more advisable to prioritize the individualistic objectives over the collectivist. In a free society that safeguards the rights of the individual first and foremost, the elites generally have fewer opportunities to present their self-serving machinations as services to the public good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    For example, rent seeking seems to be an endemic problem in the modern US economy (see effective monopolies of ISPs, or skimming of high frequency trading for obvious examples).
    These monopolies emerged mostly due to crony affiliations with the government, not through a free and fair contest in the market.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    Thirdly, in the US it's clear that college education has become prohibitively expensive.
    One reason this happened is that the government is handing out grant/loan money to students left and right. Had the students not had the opportunity to borrow nearly as much money, the universities would not have been in the position to keep on raising tuition every semester. That's true for one simple reason: the majority of students would not have been able to afford to pay such absurdly high prices. Again, this is an example of government cronyism fomenting monopolies/oligopolies that overcharge the consumer. In effect, policies that were designed to serve the public good end up doing the opposite. On the other hand, if the government was more concerned with merely protecting the rights of the individual as opposed to doing good for society, this scheme would have been more difficult to pull off.


    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    That means that those who are less well off must incur a mortgage-worth of debt (before becoming a homeowner), or do without a college education. .
    Had the government not colluded with the big media, the big university racket or the transnational corporations in general, the underprivileged would not have been stopped from realizing that college education is not necessary for economic prosperity. For one, there would have been more small businesses in the market who are interested in hiring people who are competent rather than people who have degrees: the two are often very different things. Instead, the universities have colluded with the government and the transnational corporations to churn out hordes of naive college kids who have virtually no marketable skills. In the end, they have no place to go besides the government and corporate bureaucracies that are scarcely productive. This carries problematic economic implications because the trend of progressive credentialism compels individuals to focus more on obtaining academic titles rather than pursuing skills that empower them to contribute to the growth of the economy.

    Secondly, the cronyism I am telling you about empowers the mainstream media to denigrate the trade schools that truly enable young people to become productive citizens with highly practical skills. In the absence of the mainstream media, many average individuals could have found their true calling as craftspeople instead of pursuing worthless college degrees that leave them buried beneath the mountain of debt.


    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    Still, the amount of inequality that currently exists in the US seems to far exceed that..
    The problem is not with the inequality that has been engendered in free and fair market competition, but with the kind of cronyism between the government and large enterprises that deprives ordinary people of opportunities to achieve socio-economic upward mobility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    Either one must believe that previous CEOs were far under compensated, or today's CEOs (and folks in the financial industry) are many times more productive than those of previous generations and thereby deserve all the rewards of increased general productivity (at the expense of the vast majority of workers).
    Questions of desert are moral in character and policies enacted on that basis can easily be manipulated to serve the interests of the elites. The lion's share of responsibility for these cronyism outcomes falls squarely on the shoulders of policy-makers who intended to serve the public good in the manner you've described.

    It is far more prudent to simply eliminate the resources that the elites could use to set up a self-serving regime by depriving them of government programs that are easily manipulated to that end.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  3. #83
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    Lefties are authoritarian types. If given enough power, lefties become fascists. We saw that with FDR and his micro-managing of the economy and the internment of Japanese Americans.
    Roosevelt should have prevented the internment of Japanese Americans. It was not his invention. The idea originated among the extreme right of the state bureaucracy.

  4. #84
    reflecting pool Typh0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    Roosevelt should have prevented the internment of Japanese Americans. It was not his invention. The idea originated among the extreme right of the state bureaucracy.
    "Extreme right" is a confused term simply meaning a mix of populist slogans, nationalism, and racism/xenoiphibia, especially in Europe. It makes no reference to any poltical side, or the actual right in terms of economics.

  5. #85
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat
    Roosevelt should have prevented the internment of Japanese Americans. It was not his invention. The idea originated among the extreme right of the state bureaucracy.
    The extreme right wasn't in power during FDR's administration. The Dems controlled both houses of Congress by an almost supermajority. It was FDR's executive order that put the Japanese in the camps and it was FDR's justice department that fought the lawsuit against it.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  6. #86
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I've heard of the Spirit Level, haven't read it, but don't know if it is a credible source. The left uncritically regard it as gospel truth and the right denounce it as mere propaganda.
    I think it's worth at least considering. One of the authors claims he stumbled onto the correlations as an epidemiologist... and the level of correlation is pretty striking. I admit I'm not qualified to review the original sources and see if the way sources were aggregated is warranted and fair.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I tend to be skeptical of the idea that anything is "inherently corrosive", what does that even mean? I can imagine that politico-economic conditions and inequality among them can be problematic under particular circumstances, but that does not mean that they're always undesirable. I don't see why inequality would be a problem in a country where everyone lives with dignity. Sweden, Germany and many other nations that are considered welfare states have vast inequalities of their own, yet that's rarely considered grounds for moral outrage.
    If you look at income inequality alone, perhaps. I think it's important to look at other transfers, as well. As Wilkinson and Pickett point out, it doesn't seem to matter particularly whether you limit the range of income (as in Japan), or counter-balance it with heavy taxation and benefits (as in a number of European countries).

    I think it's pretty easy to speculate on how extreme inequality is corrosive, but I don't have good answers about exactly why it is so. I can speculate with reasonable sounding mechanisms, of course, but I don't think they are proven at this point. Some of the causes may be quite direct (limited access to health care and education for the poor in a vastly unequal system) and others might be more indirect (sociological and psychological effects of perceived inequality, including lack of compassion and empathy among the advantaged, and negative self-evaluations among the poor and disadvantaged).

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    It's easy to argue that all policies should serve the public good in theory, but difficult to enact policies that do so in practice. I question that the best way to serve the public good is to create policies with the purpose of doing so. It may be more advisable to prioritize the individualistic objectives over the collectivist. In a free society that safeguards the rights of the individual first and foremost, the elites generally have fewer opportunities to present their self-serving machinations as services to the public good.


    These monopolies emerged mostly due to crony affiliations with the government, not through a free and fair contest in the market.
    It's equally easy to argument that the government should do nothing, because the market is always better. To do so is to ignore the way the free market acts without restraint.

    I agree that legislative capture is a real problem, but you seem to believe it arises only from governmental programs. I think that wealth tends to concentrate, and then the wealthy have an outsized influence on the government, and, in turn, push for legislation that pushes for monied interests (both corporations and individuals). This tends to result is legislation that enhances the fortunes of the already well-off, and diminishes the fortunes of competitors and the poor.

    I think the government has a real role to play in working against the concentration of wealth, both for individuals (especially across generations), and for corporations (via monopolies, opaque business practices, and various forms of rent seeking). The government should also act as a means of representing externalities in the economic system, otherwise they are ignored, and we all pray the price (in the form of pollution, for example, including carbon emissions). I think even libertarians admit that externalities are a problem in economic systems (unless they invoke the perfectly rational human with a long term perspective... who, if they exist at all, are a rarity).

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post

    One reason this happened is that the government is handing out grant/loan money to students left and right. Had the students not had the opportunity to borrow nearly as much money, the universities would not have been in the position to keep on raising tuition every semester. That's true for one simple reason: the majority of students would not have been able to afford to pay such absurdly high prices. Again, this is an example of government cronyism fomenting monopolies/oligopolies that overcharge the consumer. In effect, policies that were designed to serve the public good end up doing the opposite. On the other hand, if the government was more concerned with merely protecting the rights of the individual as opposed to doing good for society, this scheme would have been more difficult to pull off.


    Had the government not colluded with the big media, the big university racket or the transnational corporations in general, the underprivileged would not have been stopped from realizing that college education is not necessary for economic prosperity. For one, there would have been more small businesses in the market who are interested in hiring people who are competent rather than people who have degrees: the two are often very different things. Instead, the universities have colluded with the government and the transnational corporations to churn out hordes of naive college kids who have virtually no marketable skills. In the end, they have no place to go besides the government and corporate bureaucracies that are scarcely productive. This carries problematic economic implications because the trend of progressive credentialism compels individuals to focus more on obtaining academic titles rather than pursuing skills that empower them to contribute to the growth of the economy.

    Secondly, the cronyism I am telling you about empowers the mainstream media to denigrate the trade schools that truly enable young people to become productive citizens with highly practical skills. In the absence of the mainstream media, many average individuals could have found their true calling as craftspeople instead of pursuing worthless college degrees that leave them buried beneath the mountain of debt.

    The problem is not with the inequality that has been engendered in free and fair market competition, but with the kind of cronyism between the government and large enterprises that deprives ordinary people of opportunities to achieve socio-economic upward mobility.

    Questions of desert are moral in character and policies enacted on that basis can easily be manipulated to serve the interests of the elites. The lion's share of responsibility for these cronyism outcomes falls squarely on the shoulders of policy-makers who intended to serve the public good in the manner you've described.

    It is far more prudent to simply eliminate the resources that the elites could use to set up a self-serving regime by depriving them of government programs that are easily manipulated to that end.
    So, I'm not against trade schools, and think they are a valid option for many. Still, I don't feel comfortable from denying access to college to those who aren't well off. I would support putting a cap on college loans (as long as there was a requirement for state schools to fall below the cap—especially in the early years of such a cap), to prevent the run-up in college costs that seem to result from college loans currently. I'd agree that the college loan system, as it exists now, is a great example of how the government and private enterprise can collude to create a societal problem of enormous scope.

    Still, you seem to think that the government is always uniquely responsible for creating the imbalance in power, where I see government part of a cycle that can create imbalance over time. There must be anti-monopolistic forces, or monopolies arise. There must be taxation that prevents passing wealth between generations without cost (at least in periods without high growth) or wealthy dynasties arise. As long the the rich get better returns on investment than the poor (with what little they have to invest), the rich get richer. When wealth leads to outsize influence, corruption and distortion seem inevitable.

    I'm not sure how to prevent the elites from unduly influencing government without laws to the contrary. Would you have a constitution limiting the role of government, or have laws that limit the influence of money in politics? It seems like we've had some in the US, but they've been effectively neutered over the last 20 years. I think that only exacerbates the problem of outsized influence of monied interests. I'd advocate for laws that limit lobbying, campaign contributions, super-PACS, etc. What would you advocate for?

  7. #87
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    The extreme right wasn't in power during FDR's administration. The Dems controlled both houses of Congress by an almost supermajority. It was FDR's executive order that put the Japanese in the camps and it was FDR's justice department that fought the lawsuit against it.
    I am not talking about a balance of power between the parties. Nor am I claiming individual Dems could not have been part of the extreme right.

    Truth is a scarce commodity. The only job of political columnists who work for the Intelligence community is to spread disinformation. Read of the infamous John J. McCloy and his activities during the war. The idea to place the Japanese to an internment camp was not an idea that originated in the head of Roosevelt or among the left. The refusal to bomb the railroads that lead to concentration camps was not a leftist idea either. McCloy and his kind of racists can hardly be titled leftists. Nor does left and right necessarily translate as Dems and Reps, resp., .. even today.

  8. #88
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat
    The idea to place the Japanese to an internment camp was not an idea that originated in the head of Roosevelt or among the left.
    He's the commander in chief and it was through his authority that the act took place. I'm not sure why people are defending FDR. He was one of the most vindictive, stupid, and incompetent presidents ever and yes, he was a tyrant.

    Also, the Los Angeles Times editorial board fully supported this action and they're all lefties, even back then.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  9. #89
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typh0n View Post
    "Extreme right" is a confused term simply meaning a mix of populist slogans, nationalism, and racism/xenoiphibia, especially in Europe. It makes no reference to any poltical side, or the actual right in terms of economics.
    Yes. But there is nothing "confused" about it.
    People have always known exactly what extreme right is. The phenomenon exists and existed on both sides of the Atlantic.

  10. #90
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    He's the commander in chief and it was through his authority that the act took place. I'm not sure why people are defending FDR. He was one of the most vindictive, stupid, and incompetent presidents ever and yes, he was a tyrant.

    Also, the Los Angeles Times editorial board fully supported this action and they're all lefties, even back then.
    CIA had influence among lots of editorial boards- also in so-called "leftist" papers.
    I already said Roosevelt should have prevented the measure.
    My father said the common people should not be allowed to learn to read!
    He hated Roosevelt, too.

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