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  1. #11
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.J.Woolf View Post
    Eileen, I think economics is doomed to be hard to understand. An economy is a complex system like the weather, where everything affects everything else. Furthermore, I think we can never understand an economy in isolation from politics. People don't agree on a basic question like: What is an economy for? Your answer depends on your political views.
    Bad question to ask. An economy isn't "for" anything. It exists, and trying to "use" it for political or social benefits is a fool's errand.


    I agree. The free market is a good basis for an economy, but it is not a panacea and it must be regulated to be fair -- and to be most effective. Conservatives make the free market into a dogma. (Even the slightest tampering with the free market is BAD!!!)
    False. You will hear very few conservatives arguing consistently for free markets. In fact, outside of Ron Paul and one or two other members of Congress, there aren't any consistent proponents of a free market economy in Washington at the present.


    Actually, it's greater bullshit than the previous. Paul Krugman wrote that Arthur Laffer's theory utterly failed peer review. Trickle-down economic policy was the result of a successful propaganda campaign in the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. George H.W. Bush called it "voodoo economics " until he lost the 1980 primaries and he drank the conservative kool-aid. Trickle-down theory was an excellent excuse for cutting taxes on the very rich, that's all.
    Paul Krugman is not a particularly good person to mention as an authority, but the Laffer curve is pretty silly, although there are points at which raising marginal tax rates would actually lower the tax receipts. Of course, lowering taxes in order to try to raise the amount of money the government takes in is stupid, anyway. If you are a true fiscal conservative, you should be cutting taxes, cutting spending, and balancing the budget.


    The thing with trickle-down is that the very rich do not dispose of extra money the way the rest of us do. They might buy another house or a jet or give it to Harvard, but they save or invest the rest. Lower-income people tend to spend extra money, which in turn is spent. All that circulation is better for the economy overall.
    Spending money is better than saving or investing it? Since when? Investing your money is one of the best things you can do, for both yourself and the rest of society. That's how we get long-term economic growth: through new businesses and expansion and technological innovation. It's also why our corporate income tax rates are outrageous in the United States (the second-highest in the industrialized world, in fact; we tax corporations at the same rate we tax individual millionaires, which no one else really does).


    Conservatives will say, "What about investment?" Sure, it's a good thing, but the fact remains that giving the many a little more has a greater impact than giving the few a lot more. And the money tends to trickle back up anyway.
    This doesn't even make sense. What are you trying to say here?


    I agree, and I think it is at least as much a political issue as an economic issue. Kurt Vonnegut once responded to criticisms that social programs were just pissing money away, saying "What is money for, if not to piss away?" Heh.
    Nice attitude. :steam: What if someone turned it around and said, "What are civil rights for, except to make minorities stop complaining?" Economic freedom and social freedom are interrelated parts, and you can't smoke-and-mirror your way to a good economy by taking half (or more) of the country's GDP through taxes and then throwing it around.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  2. #12
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Paul Krugman is not a particularly good person to mention as an authority\, but the Laffer curve is pretty silly, although there are points at which raising marginal tax rates would actually lower the tax receipts...
    Nice pun! Mind if I borrow that sometime?

  3. #13
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Nice pun! Mind if I borrow that sometime?
    Go right ahead. It's tough even to say "Laffer Curve" and take it seriously.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  4. #14
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    Re: Eileen "Thank you, Senator Obama. Senator McCain, you have the floor."

  5. #15
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Bad question to ask. An economy isn't "for" anything. It exists, and trying to "use" it for political or social benefits is a fool's errand.
    I essentially believe that the opposite is true. The economy barely really exists. Its existence it really more the product of arbitrary concept and definition. And when we develop "things" out of arbitrary concepts or definitions, why do we do it? To meet out some kind of purpose. The economy, when defined as one thing (the way the phrase "the economy" does) only exists to be used. The economy is just the product of our usage. No society, no economy. It is puddy in the hands of human beings, it only exists because we make it exist.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I essentially believe that the opposite is true. The economy barely really exists. Its existence it really more the product of arbitrary concept and definition. And when we develop "things" out of arbitrary concepts or definitions, why do we do it? To meet out some kind of purpose. The economy, when defined as one thing (the way the phrase "the economy" does) only exists to be used. The economy is just the product of our usage. No society, no economy. It is puddy in the hands of human beings, it only exists because we make it exist.
    In a way this is true. Because there are billions of people in the world trying to meet their own objectives. I don't really think we are going to get all 6.8+ billion people to ever agree on what the economy "is for."

    I go to my local grocery store to get food, and sometimes I go to fast-food, or sit-down restaurants instead. These are all part of this abstract thing called the economy.

    When I go to the gas station to get gas, this is part of "the economy."

    When I go to work to get a pay-check this is also part of "the economy."

    Unfortunately, when a beggar on the street goes around asking for change, this also part of "the economy." When impoverished children go without food, this is part of "the economy." Or when a newly graduated college student fails to find a job, this is part of "the economy." These (and many others) are things I certainly wish we could do without.

    Economics is not rare in the phenomenon that it seems to be studying nearly everything. Consider physics:when anything happens in the world something physical is happening, and you can study the physics of that something. Consider biology:when anything related to life is happening there is biology to be studied there as well. Consider psychology:it studies anything related to people's thoughts, behavior, or feelings.

    These are simply pursuits to elicit principles from careful study of some incredibly pervasive phenomena.

    What Is Economics?
    Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources.
    Note the position as an observer in the aspect of study. However, this is strange because when one goes to use the principles of economics it is mainly to choose how to use resources (and therefore quickly affects itself on scale more fundamental than any other). You guys remember the "psychohistorian," Hari Seldon, from The Foundation?-an economist has a similar problem.

    The "market" is an abstraction used by economists to describe how many people are willing to supply or demand goods at particular prices (and a host of other factors and conditions).

    Real "markets" are simply places/ways to buy and sell stuff, and they take on different flavors. There is your local flee-market, your supermarkets, your Mall, and strip malls. There is E-bay, and you can think of all the online stores or all the places to get food as "markets" in conglomeration. Even if you hold a garage sale, you have a "market" for a short time.

    The "stock-market" (often shortened "market") is nothing but a bunch of exchanges where people can buy and sell equities and derivatives. They have similar things for commodities, currencies and (it seems) almost everything.

    "Utilitarian" supply and demand are the seed for these markets, but the liquidity and availability is largely paid for by "speculators" (keep in mind many speculators loose money also, and that is a big part of the equation).

    The main reason we allow speculation (and buying Apple stock 20 years ago because you believed it would go up is a prime example) is to allow people to do things on a much larger scale than they could have otherwise. Really, would a company issue a bunch of common-stock, and would you buy any company stock right now if it meant real partial ownership of a company, and that you could not sell to other people unless they wanted to take over partial ownership?

    In essence, the speculators are the "supply-chain" that allows people to buy and sell in large quantities from almost anywhere. Otherwise, we would have to scrounge around to find people willing to sell "right now" when we want to buy something, or we would have to go door-to-door, or only to your local town, to find people willing to buy "right now" the things we produced. We cannot really afford to be that inefficient when its comes to commodities or currencies. We rely too much on speculation. There are still kinks in the system, but going back purely utilitarian supply and demand (called spot markets) is bad idea in my opinion.

    My dad once said that psychology and economics are two things that everybody needs to study to be a well-functioning human being. He said it but only once, but that phrase has stuck with me my entire life.

    The only advice I can offer people trying to form their beliefs about economics is to find out how things actually work on the level of buying and selling (or more fundamentally trading). Think about how you would react when put in a situation of trading a particular thing for another. Think about how people you know would behave, and how people in general will behave. How would the behavior change if it was your day-to-day job to make this form of exchange, and if you relied on it to put food on your families table or pay of your mortgage (remember there are a lot of people losing money out there too, its not all profits).

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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  7. #17
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Macroeconomics, for the level of evolution the human brain has reached, is quite useless in the sense that the extreme number of equations that need to be simultaneously solved to reach a trusteable macroeconomics result is simply impossible to handle for us, right now. It would be akin to trying to predict how dropping a ball from a window affects all the rest of the universe.

    Microeconomics is different. Given that it deals with simplified problems that generally have a day-to-day application, I would say that microeconomics can be compared to a form of engineering (while macroeconomics could be akin to string theory). So we can safely affirm that some results of microeconomics hold true for everybody.

    My advice then is to distrust everybody that claims certainty in macro issues. At best, people may have opinions. The argument for the "free market" is not so much a modus ponens but rather a modus tollens: given that we do not understand how the market at large works, then it's very likely that many types of intervention will cause more harm than good.

    Spending money is better than saving or investing it? Since when? Investing your money is one of the best things you can do, for both yourself and the rest of society.
    Spending money can be better than saving or investing, when the demand for savings is very low due 'cause the firms aren't selling enough (because citizens aren't spending enough). Is this Keynesian? Yes.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  8. #18
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    To go further down the rabbit hole, Ygolo, we must consider the fact that even the concept of "purchasing" is itself built on abstractions like monetary wealth.

    It is obviously true the human beings will never come to one solid agreement on what the economy is or what it is for (at least, it is extremely unlikely that this will happen), and while that makes it more difficult to use as a tool, it certainly does not legitimize its existence as a force outside of our usage. If it is hard to use, then it is unfortunately hard to use, but it is still for our use. If it is not for our usage, then it is simply nothing at all.

    Economics exists in the same way that politics or religion exists.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  9. #19
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    To go further down the rabbit hole, Ygolo, we must consider the fact that even the concept of "purchasing" is itself built on abstractions like monetary wealth.
    Is it? Barter and voluntary exchange predate the monetary economy, and one could argue that they even predate fixed property rights. If I help you build a bigger hut in exchange for shelter and food, I have "purchased" (or rented, at least) those amenities.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  10. #20
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    this is all quite interesting. carry on, carry on.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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