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Have it your way, forget Japan. I just looked it up and their tax rates aren't that much more progressive than ours anyhow.
 
Ugly Redneck
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Originally posted by Michael Morris:
That sounds more like opinion than fact.
Quite true Michael. It was indeed an observation of mine.
My observation, at least as regards to the US Fed, is that the powers that be couldn't care less about leveling the playing field. They are more interested in maintaining a constituency, ie job security. How is any taxation system going to create a middle class? A middle class will only emerge as a result of oppurtunity, not by some artificial social engineering technique employed by a government. Oppurtunity is created by risk takers not Robin Hood's, taking from the evil rich and giving to the lowly poor.


Michael, please tell that GW Bush, republicans and other people who believe in blind tax cuts. They claim that the wealthy 2% of this country deserve a tax cut to create oppurtunities for employment. If one were to assume such logic is correct then isnt what I stated correct? But you and I know that it isnt. While the wealthy 2% get a tax break, 1000 government workers are thrown out of their jobs in Connecticut. Do you really believe that a millionare will take the paltry sum he gets as tax break and invest it in creating jobs for others??? While that may indeed be the case for 1% of the wealthy 2%, tell me what kind of an employment oppurtunity is an actor/actress in hollywood going to create for the population. People parade under the assumption that the wealthy 2% is comprised entirely of industrialists and entrepreuners. I dont think so. I dont have the facts yet, but I will dig them out soon.
 
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Originally posted by Sriraj Rajaram:

Michael, please tell that GW Bush, republicans and other people who believe in blind tax cuts. They claim that the wealthy 2% of this country deserve a tax cut to create oppurtunities for employment. If one were to assume such logic is correct then isnt what I stated correct? But you and I know that it isnt. While the wealthy 2% get a tax break, 1000 government workers are thrown out of their jobs in Connecticut. Do you really believe that a millionare will take the paltry sum he gets as tax break and invest it in creating jobs for others??? While that may indeed be the case for 1% of the wealthy 2%, tell me what kind of an employment oppurtunity is an actor/actress in hollywood going to create for the population. People parade under the assumption that the wealthy 2% is comprised entirely of industrialists and entrepreuners. I dont think so. I dont have the facts yet, but I will dig them out soon.


Government workers seldom get thrown out of jobs in large numbers; in any event they can now join the real economy providing needed goods and services, rather than enforcing arcane and often inane regulations that distort the free market and hold down everyone's standard of living. In the US we have thousands of govt departments that do little more then enforce the special interests of various businesses.
In the US, the top 5%, pay over 50% of all federal income taxes, thats insanely discriminatory.
The Hollywood actors of which you speak have large expensive homes built for them - sending money to builders and several layers of contractors, several layers of suppliers, etc, etc, a true multiplier effect that ripples throughtout the economy.
In most cases the wealthy got wealthy because they or their parents created something that most people wanted. I have no problem with inherited wealth, the parent worked fairly for it and should be able to spend it as he sees fit since its his money. If he wants to "spend" it on his son through a legacy/will that's his right, not yours.
 
Chris Treglio
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The Hollywood actors of which you speak have large expensive homes built for them - sending money to builders and several layers of contractors, several layers of suppliers, etc, etc, a true multiplier effect that ripples throughtout the economy.


This is misleading: The "multiplier effect" you see when a rich person earns and spends money is not fundamentally different from what happens when anyone earns and spends money. It's important to remember that this money would have existed whether or not the rich person ever earned and spent it. Just like Enegue is not solely responsible for providing those 5000 jobs, Ms. Paltrow is not solely responsible for all the economic stimulation seen in her home building.
The only difference between the world before and the world after she earns and spends the money is the result of whatever work she did to earn it. To be sure, this work is probably best valued by how much somebody was apparently willing to pay for it, but the result is not primarily economic stimulation -- it's the other kind.
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Chris Treglio ]
 
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It's important to remember that this money would have existed whether or not the rich person ever earned and spent it.


Then please explain to me where this money comes from?
 
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
So if Thomas Edison had never been born the electric light buld would still have been invented on the same date because of market forces? Or would it have been 50 years later? (more likely)

Certainly within a year or two of that date. Edison wasn't the only one working on the problem. Other inventors were trying to do what he did. In fact, Edison was not the first to invent the light bulb. The first light bulb was invented by Sir Joseph Wilson Swan but he had trouble maintaining a vacuum in his bulb and it burned out too quickly. (Oxygen causes the filamanet to burn instead of glow.) Edison was the first to create a bulb with a secure vacuum and to develop a carbon filament that was reasonably long lasting. And Edison didn't act alone. Lewis Latimer patented the process for manufacturing the carbon filaments.
 
Chris Treglio
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Most immediately? From the bank account of the production studio . . . Where did they get it? From the proceeds of their previous movie. Where did the moviegoers who paid to get in get it? From their various jobs wrestling alligators, typing java code, legislating, and other godforsaken livelihoods. The money passes through lots of people's hands; no one of us is responsible for all the endeavors that money has taken part in.
In the most general sense, money represents all the accumulated work that has ever been done.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
In the US, the top 5%, pay over 50% of all federal income taxes, thats insanely discriminatory.

Why? Imagine that we figured out exactly how much money each person was required to pay and sent them a bill regardless of their ability to pay. So let's say Mr. LivesInABox gets a bill for $7,000. How does he pay it? What do we do to him if he doesn't pay it? What do we do to the middle class family who has a health crisis or loses their job and can't pay their bill? Why shouldn't those who can afford to pay more, pay more?
As you said, the top 5% pay 50%. What would happen if that 50% was distributed across the other 95%? How would they pay that bill? What would you do to them when they failed to pay it?
 
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Sriraj Rajaram: They claim that the wealthy 2% of this country deserve a tax cut to create oppurtunities for employment.
What do you mean, "the wealthy 2% of this country deserve a tax cut"? It was their money in the first place, stolen by the government. Yes, most tax breaks should go to the wealthy, because they already pay a lion share of it, as Herb pointed out.
 
Thomas Paul
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Since everyone knows that the wealthy control the government and you tell us that the government steals the money of the wealthy, aren't the wealthy therefore stealing their own money? And isn't that more like masturbation than theft?
 
John Smith
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TP: Since everyone knows that the wealthy control the government and you tell us that the government steals the money of the wealthy, aren't the wealthy therefore stealing their own money?
If that's true, what do you think is the motivation of the wealthy in stealing from themselves?
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
If that's true, what do you think is the motivation of the wealthy in stealing from themselves?

Power, of course. The only purpose of money is to gain power. Money is a tool used to keep the poor happy and in their place. Haven't you ever heard of "bread and circuses"?
 
Michael Morris
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In the most general sense, money represents all the accumulated work that has ever been done.


Well that's exactly what I thought. But it occurs to me that would draw into question the validity of your previous statement that the money would exist anyway.
 
John Smith
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TP: Power, of course. The only purpose of money is to gain power. Money is a tool used to keep the poor happy and in their place. Haven't you ever heard of "bread and circuses"?
So, to keep the the poor content, the rich instituted a big government that expropriates the money from them and redistributes it to the poor. Yet since the rich control the government, it's their money anyway, and the government acts just as a money laundering mechanism to give the impression to the poor that the money is stolen from the wealthy and given to them. The poor are happy because they have the bread, the circus, and the revenge; and the wealthy are happy because the poor do not uprise. Something like this? Yeah, I guess I can buy into this conspiracy. Have you got a good reference on the subject? What's the function of the middle class in this elaborate schema?
Eugene.
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
 
Chris Treglio
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. . . that would draw into question the validity of your previous statement . . .


I'm glad you called me on this . . . How do we figure out exactly how much economic stimulus Gwyneth's new house is worth? It can't be the total cost of the house, because every one of those dollars has been spent thousands of times, and if we buy into the preposterous "schmultiplier effect," then we'd never be able to figure out which one of those transactions should be credited with all the stimulus the dollar created through its life. In fact, if we were each responsible for the stimulus our buying causes (to the nth degree like the "multiplier effect" proposes) we'd each soon be laying claim to sums which totalled vastly more than the worth of the world!
And yet, the money she spends is the result of work she did, and that work has to be valued at the price the guy who hired her to do the job paid. Right?
<false>
In the real world, if the money wasn't spent on Gwyneth it would have been spent on something. It might even have been spent on another actress the play her role. Let's assume that, whoever this second choice lady was, she wasn't as good as Gwyneth -- if she was going to be as good, then she would have been the FIRST choice. I think that perhaps Gwyneth's contribution to the economy is the difference in value between the job she did and the job that Heather Graham would have done in her place. And this value is the amount of stimulus (ECONOMIC stimulus...) she's created.
</false>
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Chris Treglio ]
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Chris Treglio ]
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Chris Treglio ]
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Chris Treglio:

This is misleading: The "multiplier effect" you see when a rich person earns and spends money is not fundamentally different from what happens when anyone earns and spends money.


I certainly didn't claim that it was fundamentally different, although the magnitude of the spending by one rich individual investing could possibly have a different magnitude of effect than tiny purchases by many poor ones. My point was just to counter the statement that spending by Hollywood stars would create NO jobs. This was what I was responding to : "tell me what kind of an employment oppurtunity is an actor/actress in hollywood going to create for the population".
But while we're here let's try to erase this dubious notion that all spending has the same effect on the economy. I thought it would be obvious that capital investment spending by businesses can increase productivity which correlates with increased individual earnings which correlates with a higher standard of living. Many economists have credited some the increased productivity of the last 2 decades to capital investments in computer systems as one example.
Take money away from businesses and they have less to spend on capital investments. True, government spending will have a multiplier effect as well, but not as long term and therefore as large as that stimulated with capital investments.
Governments just aren't as efficient at captial allocation as free markets. The failure of centralized planning relative to free market economies for the past 50 years is proof of this. Letting the government suck excessive money out of the private sector reduces the overall productivity of the entire society.


It's important to remember that this money would have existed whether or not the rich person ever earned and spent it.


I'm not sure whether we're confusing money with real wealth so i won't go there...
But I hope it is clear now however, that HOW the money is spent or not spent DOES make a difference. But as another example, the Japanese had a very high savings rate, this helped reduce the cost of capital since banks had more money to loan out to businesses who could then expand, purchase productivity enchancing equipment, etc, etc, all of which could have a relatively more postive effect on the economy in the long term.



Just like Enegue is not solely responsible for providing those 5000 jobs, Ms. Paltrow is not solely responsible for all the economic stimulation seen in her home building.


If 5000 people were unemployed before Enegue comes to town and Enegue comes along and opens a factory and employs them, why can't Enegue claim responsibility for providing those jobs???
[ April 15, 2003: Message edited by: Chris Treglio ][/QB]
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
If corporations don't want to pay taxes then they shouldn't receive any government services. If the factory catches fire let them put it out themselves. If the factory gets robbed let them track down the criminals.


Coporations have no need to be taxed since their owners are already taxed. A corporation is the property of its owners and I would expect the fire dept to help out in that situation just as they would help owners of other types of property which were on fire.
 
Michael Morris
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... every one of those dollars has been spent thousands of times


That statement assumes a static economy. An economy with a constant money supply or a supply that is directly proportional to the number of consumers in that economy. That just ain't the case. The economy grows and more money is provided as goods and services increase. The economy shrinks and money is taken out. It has little to do with the number of consumers and much to do with the businesses that create those goods and services.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Imagine that we figured out exactly how much money each person was required to pay and sent them a bill regardless of their ability to pay.


What if we worked in a more responsible way? That is instead of crazy government deficit spending and then having to worry about how to pay for it, why not figure a modest amount that nearly everyone could pay and then base government spending on that amount.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
...Certainly within a year or two of that date. Edison wasn't the only one working on the problem. Other inventors were trying to do what he did. In fact, Edison was not the first to invent the light bulb. And Edison didn't act alone.


Edison (and those who worked for Edison) put a phenomonal amount effort (for that time) into developing a long lasting practical light bulb. It is by no means certain when anyone would have perfected a practical light bulb had not Edison and his company been working at it. Your guess of a year or two is wild conjecture. No one can predict such discoveries with even a modicum of accuracy. Many less determined individuals would have abandoned the project long before completion.
Still, the economic effects of even of few years of electric light vs not having electric light are staggering when multiplied by all the uses to which electric light is put in all the societies of the world. Delay of even one year would have been a staggering, mind boggling number in terms of opportunity costs, especially when considering that electric light (like many of Edison's inventions) was a profound enabler of other technologies and had a multiplier effect in the the discovery of other technologies and in productivity.
My real point was to counter the argument that somehow the "market" will always come up with ways to fill needs, and if one individual doesn't do it another will do it in an insignificant amount of time. Many needs are not even recognized as needs until the invention is made. Also consider the fact today that devices are often combinations of hundreds of inventions and a delay of a few years in discovering a few of those component inventions could delay other
inventions depending on them by a half a century or more.
As a side note consider the fact that the wheel is the most energy efficient way to travel on a road yet the relatively advanced civilization of the Incas never discovered it (or more accuratley, never discovered a practical use for it).

Let's give some credit to Enegue for his unique business plan that created 5000 jobs that most likely would not have been created in the same general time period.
 
Chris Treglio
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Ok ok, I looked over my post and I realize that some of those things I said were (demonstrably) false. I'll delimit the false parts for your reading pleasure ....
But herb, you're going to have a hard time proving this:


But while we're here let's try to erase this dubious notion that all spending has the same effect on the economy. I thought it would be obvious that capital investment spending by businesses can increase productivity which correlates with increased individual earnings which correlates with a higher standard of living. . . .


Why doesn't all spending have the same stimulative effect on the economy? It's certainly a lot easier to see the lasting value of capital investments, but the folks who make that dollar store merchandise need jobs too. And maybe those thousands of spatulas are, in aggregate, providing as much value as the one car somebody bought. In fact, I'm certain that 17,000 spatulas are worth one Ford Focus, because that's what the market tells me!
This is why "stimulation" is a bad reason for tax cuts. And it's a terrible reason to argue a tax cut should go to the rich and not the poor. Taxes should be cut when the whatever the gov't was planning on doing with the cash is of less value than what the private sector might do with it.
 
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
So he will realize that he can still pay $0 in taxes while moving his jobs offshore. Thereby producing unemployment in the local community and also enjoying the benefits of the regressive taxation system
Thereby lowering dramatically the cost of goods and services so that you can enjoy the higher purchasing power of your dollar.


The cost of an electronic calculator may be $1.00 because the manufacturing has been moved to China but the 5000 people who made it earlier in the US now have $0.00 in their wallets. How does this make economic sense? I dont understand this argument that offshore development lowers costs and ultimately leads to a cheaper end product price. The people who are supposed to purchase it dont have any money to purchase anything. One may argue that the 5000 displaced workers may find jobs elsewhere and hence afford the $1.00 calculator but in such an economic system all business would be motivated by the wealth accumulation process and hence everyone would be moving overseas.


Having illustrated both.. here is the punch. The first system illustrates extreme capitalism the latter communism. What you need is a mix of both.
How about adding a little bit of nazism to the mix? To unite the society around the common goal, you know?

Eugene.


Eugene, I would say a little bit of Socialism would be required to rally the community around a common goal. Not Nazism. You might argue all that you want about evils of socialism but when you lose your job and when you are unable to feed you children due to capitalism the first thing you will cry about is it unfairness to the weak in society.
 
Michael Morris
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You might argue all that you want about evils of socialism but when you lose your job and when you are unable to feed you children due to capitalism the first thing you will cry about is it unfairness to the weak in society.


I think the unfairness would be to blame capitalism for your own lack of incentive. In my life, I've never seen anyone unable to feed their family. Granted that this nation has been blessed with unprecedented prosperity, but when faced with the prospect of your children going without food most find a way to accomplish it. Before the US gorvenment began rewarding the unmotivated with monthly entitlements, my grandfather was faced with that dilema. Instead of blaming the capitalist pigs for his eight hungry children, he and his family worked hard to raise what food the small amount of land they had would yield. What little bit of money he made was due to his own talents and self motivation during that time. He harvested the tall cypress trees and trapped mink, the wiliest creature in East Texas. I absolutely agree with you that the truly weak of society must be protected, but I don't consider lack of motivation or downright laziness as proper criteria for being truly weak.
 
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Again, the fundamental question no one will address is what divine right sanctions your (and others like you - society) disposal of my life and income at your whim? Why shouldn't my vote on what to do with my life override yours; after all it is MY Life is it not? ...
... The whole concept of duty is no more than a political trick designed to garner support for whatever fancy and whim those mouthing it have at the moment.


I agree that duty is a social construct but in the same way so is the "right to do as one pleases". Neither concepts are inalienable cosmic truths handed to you purely as a consequence of being born. They exist because we have collectively evolved a society that believes in such things and collectively we aspire to them as much as possible. And I'm glad, really; its definitely the way forward.
For our society to continue to exist and develop we must accept sacrifices to these rights, and not at the whim of individuals but at the 'whim' of the majority. And why not? Our individual actions potentially affect each other positively and negatively. So many of us live in close proximity and the stability of our society depends on us working together, doing what we do.
And we're using the word whim, but is that really how you see it? These decisions to intrude on our private lives are not taken lightly. They're debated and implemented by people that represent us (yeah right!) and most importantly within a framework that attempts to protect our individual rights as much as possible.
That's the rose-tinted/sugar-coated version of how things are done but you get the idea. I believe excessive individualism would do more harm to us all in the long term and only a powerful minority would enjoy such a society.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Chris Treglio:

Why doesn't all spending have the same stimulative effect on the economy?


Because capital improvement spending; for example new improved machinery, new computer systems, inventory systems, etc, raises productivity in ways that other types of spending typically do not. Increased productivity correlates with higher wages since workers produce more, and businesses can afford to pay them more since their labor is more valuable. The whole history of improved standards of living relies to a large extent on technological improvements leading to increased productivity (all in the context of a capitalistic system of course).


It's certainly a lot easier to see the lasting value of capital investments, but the folks who make that dollar store merchandise need jobs too.


I thought my statement was about captial improvements vs other types of spending; yet aren't you agreeing with me when you recognize its "lasting value"?
Who says the people who make dollar store merchandise won't benfit from capital spending also? All of that stuff isn't hand made from rocks, and even if it were, capital improvements in shipping that lower shipping costs can lower total costs resulting in more profits and more incentive to open more dollar stores leading to more jobs. In fact the only way domestic blue collar workers can have a prayer to compete with foreign markets with much lower wage scales is through increased productivity from technology. For a long time there were a few (maybe still a few) steel companies in the US that competed with highly subsidized extremely low wage steel firms in third world countries (China for example) because the productivity of each American steel worker was so much higher due to advanced machinery used in making steel. Help the American worker by helping big business - lower taxes, increase deprecistion rates on equipment, etc, so that it is more economical to replace machinery/computer systems/etc more quickly.


This is why "stimulation" is a bad reason for tax cuts. And it's a terrible reason to argue a tax cut should go to the rich and not the poor.


I didn't quite catch why stimulating an economy in the middle of a recession is "bad". But anyway, taxes should cut be for moral reasons foremost, since taxes are an involuntary, forceable taking of property (hmmm, sounds like theft...).
The rich are being preyed upon the most so they need the most relief from all the vultures and hyenas feassting on their works.


Taxes should be cut when the whatever the gov't was planning on doing with the cash is of less value than what the private sector might do with it.


You're joking right? Taxes would be cut 90% overnight under your plan.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Sriraj Rajaram:

You might argue all that you want about evils of socialism but when you lose your job and when you are unable to feed you children due to capitalism the first thing you will cry about is it unfairness to the weak in society.


Most of the European socialist countries have higher unemployment rates than the US.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:

... They (rights) exist because we have collectively evolved a society that believes in such things and collectively we aspire to them as much as possible. And I'm glad, really; its definitely the way forward.


Do you realize you almost just quoted Mussolini almost verbatim in his speech in 1934? That's the hallmark of fascism; an emphasis on the duty to the collective and the wisdom of the collective.


For our society to continue to exist and develop we must accept sacrifices to these rights, and not at the whim of individuals but at the 'whim' of the majority.


I swear you are reading from a Mussolini speech, but then again he borrowed some ideas from Hitler.


And why not? Our individual actions potentially affect each other positively and negatively. So many of us live in close proximity and the stability of our society depends on us working together, doing what we do.
[QB]


We can work together and respect each others rights without resorting to fascism.
[QB]


And we're using the word whim, but is that really how you see it? These decisions to intrude on our private lives are not taken lightly. They're debated and implemented by people that represent us (yeah right!) and most importantly within a framework that attempts to protect our individual rights as much as possible.


Plenty of examples in the daily newspaper of special interst groups, and corrupted or vote whoring politicians, who do not hesitate to screw the common good AND individual rights to benefit themselves.
.


That's the rose-tinted/sugar-coated version of how things are done but you get the idea. I believe excessive individualism would do more harm to us all in the long term and only a powerful minority would enjoy such a society.


The US has had the most individualistic society in the history of the world, especially prior to 1930, yet it developed from an agrarian society to an industrial superpower with a rising standard of living for all.

 
Richard Hawkes
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Instead of taxing the oh-so-hard-done-by-rich to continue handing out free money and free food to the stinking, lazy unemployed, we could try this approach:
http://www.longparish.org.uk/history/windowtax.htm
 
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

Most of the European socialist countries have higher unemployment rates than the US.


But those societies also dont have people living in trailers and ghettos. Those societies dont have people worrying how they will pay their medical bills. I would go further and state that such a society is more conducive to innovation because the common man doesnt have to worry about peripheral components of his life. This is true because historically Europe has produced the best scientists in the world. Only recently after world war 2 (and yes, after FDR's New Deal) has America taken the lead.
 
Chris Treglio
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Let's get down to brass tacks here: what do you specifically mean when you say "capital spending?" I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that when a company or person buys something, it often makes it or him more productive. But I get the sense that while you wouldn't blink at calling the purchase of a tractor a "capital" investment, you'd shrink at saying a pair of work boots was.
Capital investment doesn't have to be big stuff, and therefore stimulus that is designed to spark capital investment does not have to be targeted at the institutions that tend to invest in the big stuff. This is why "trickle-down" theories are deceptive -- they try to convice you that the only people who are in a position to make valuable investments are the ones who make BIG investments.
So if size doesn't delimit the "capital" investment from the ordinary kind, would you care to take a stab at what does? Remember, I'm arguing that, all other things being equal, all spending by consumers or business is equally "stimulative."
 
Richard Hawkes
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
...


Fascism - good one! I like the way you jump from one extreme to another to make a point.
I was saying that in order to protect the individual rights we have struggled for centuries to acquire we have to trust the judgements of those we elect and sometimes put up with the inconvenience of intrusions into our private lives (taxation, motorways next door, forced to go to school, etc).
I've already said it wasn't a perfect system but the mechanisms exist to change it (legitimately) and are at work all the time. The main point is that people are represented and the concept of individual rights are aspired to in all decisions.
And these things are important because they protect the cohesion of society, whilst also protecting the rights of the many individuals with a multitude of different cultural and philosophical backgrounds and beliefs (religious and secular), individuals that make up most modern, western societies. Certainly not something a fascist regime would support.
America maybe the most individualistic society to exist but it is not completely so. And the US may have the largest economy in the world, but there are MANY things that make a successful society not just a high GDP. There is such a thing as quality of life and there are huge extremes between the richest and poorest in the States and it is a problem. Some of these 'horrendous' intrusions by the US state into your precious private life are merely attempts to alleviate these problems.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
Yeah, I guess I can buy into this conspiracy. Have you got a good reference on the subject? What's the function of the middle class in this elaborate schema?

A reference? I sort of make it up as I go along. The middle class serves to give the poor something to strive for. And of course the middle class is the group that is actually paying all the taxes since the rich take their taxes back in the form of corporate welfare and the poor don't pay taxes because they don't have the money.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Still, the economic effects of even of few years of electric light vs not having electric light are staggering when multiplied by all the uses to which electric light is put in all the societies of the world. Delay of even one year would have been a staggering, mind boggling number in terms of opportunity costs, especially when considering that electric light (like many of Edison's inventions) was a profound enabler of other technologies and had a multiplier effect in the the discovery of other technologies and in productivity.

Actually not. You see the light bulb wasn't rapidly adopted because the world wasn't ready for electric lights. Other technologies had to be developed first that made the use of lighting in the home practical. There is an old saying, neccessity is the mother of invention. When something is needed it tends to get invented. A lot of Edison's inventions were ahead of their time and had to wait for society to catch up to them before they became widely used.
Electric street lighting had been in use for years before Edison, by the way. Arc lighting was too bright for home use but it was used in streets and in theaters.
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
As a side note consider the fact that the wheel is the most energy efficient way to travel on a road yet the relatively advanced civilization of the Incas never discovered it (or more accuratley, never discovered a practical use for it).

Do you think this may have been due to the terrain they lived in?
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Michael Morris:
I think the unfairness would be to blame capitalism for your own lack of incentive. In my life, I've never seen anyone unable to feed their family.

You are indeed a very lucky person. I would suggest that you get out more, however, and see more of the USA.
 
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Eugene, while I am the first to agree that studying the asymptotic behaviour of a system is a useful first step towards understanding it, the two extremes that you are contrasting are both dysfunctional and thereby meaningless -- mathematically, you cannot extrapolate past a singularity.
Herb, "name-calling" is an activity quite distinct from "discussing". Clearly we live on different planets. But let me say this:

That's like finding a solution to a math problem by averaging two answers; one answer known to be correct with another answer known to be false.

Actually, this comparison is in a sense quite apt, although we do of course disagree that either one of the answers is "correct". 90% of mathematical physics, for example, consists of finding the right approximations for your problems, because the full system is almost always more complicated than you can handle. Similarly, we have here two or more extremes which are all one-dimensional oversimplifications, yet a truly fair system is simply inachievable. The rational thing to do is to try and find the best approximation with whatever tools are available and practical.
- Peter
[ April 16, 2003: Message edited by: Peter den Haan ]
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Sriraj Rajaram:

But those societies also dont have people living in trailers and ghettos.


I'll have to take your word on that since I don't live in Europe and I'll forget a movie I saw recently that took place in a Belgium trailer park. I'll also forget the ghetto photos I saw where some immigrant communities were concentrated in Europe. If I remember correctly, the neignbors were even building a wall around this one immigrant neighborhood (no , I don't remember the country, but it was last year and made the press).


Those societies dont have people worrying how they will pay their medical bills.


But unemployment has its own stresses/worries never-the-less, and unemployment is higher in Europe.


I would go further and state that such a society is more conducive to innovation because the common man doesnt have to worry about peripheral components of his life. This is true because historically Europe has produced the best scientists in the world.
Only recently after world war 2 (and yes, after FDR's New Deal) has America taken the lead.


Historically, the US has produced more usefull, practical, patentable inventions per capita than Europe. The light bulb,
television, telephone, telegraph, etc, as well as meta-technologies or processes that increase productivity such as mass production coupled with the assembly line. This was done prior to 1930. Then of course we have the PC, nuclear power plants, etc, more recently.
Socialism, through its higher tax rates, reduces potential capital spending and research spending by businesses. It also reduces the incentive of investors since the potential payoff of riskier projects is reduced by the higher marginal tax rates reducing the cost-benefit analysis statisically and intuitively.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Chris Treglio:
Let's get down to brass tacks here: what do you specifically mean when you say "capital spending?" I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that when a company or person buys something, it often makes it or him more productive. But I get the sense that while you wouldn't blink at calling the purchase of a tractor a "capital" investment, you'd shrink at saying a pair of work boots was.
Capital investment doesn't have to be big stuff, and therefore stimulus that is designed to spark capital investment does not have to be targeted at the institutions that tend to invest in the big stuff. This is why "trickle-down" theories are deceptive -- they try to convice you that the only people who are in a position to make valuable investments are the ones who make BIG investments.
So if size doesn't delimit the "capital" investment from the ordinary kind, would you care to take a stab at what does? Remember, I'm arguing that, all other things being equal, all spending by consumers or business is equally "stimulative."


So you would argue that a new shovel for each coal miner would improve productivity per worker as much as one new 200 ton coal moving crane?
One crane can do the work of 500 men, the productivity per worker has increased tremenedously. The worker is not only more productive , he has to be more skilled, and he will therefore be paid more. Repeat that type scenario every day over time in every single industry and that is what leads to rising standards of living.
Sorry, "new boots" as you mention, will not lead to significantly rising standards of living over time .
 
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Here is an article by Walter Williams. Worth the read as many of his economic articles are.
 
Chris Treglio
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So you would argue that a new shovel for each coal miner would improve productivity per worker as much as one new 200 ton coal moving crane?


Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. I'm not coal mining efficiency expert (neither are you...) so it's not my job to make this call. If the market tells us that a shovel is 10 bucks, and a 200 ton coal moving crane is 10 million, then a million shovels are indeed worth one crane.
Remember, these prices have been reached because buyers (who are coal mining efficiency experts) are willing to pay them. Who are we to tell these people that they don't know the value of the things they buy?
[ April 16, 2003: Message edited by: Chris Treglio ]
 
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