Quotations are selected from this pool (and other quotation pools) in a pseudorandom way every hour and inserted at the top and bottom of some of the major pages on this website. Feel free to copy any of these quotes and paste them for whatever purpose you please, including on your own website, blog, social media page or forum debate posts.
The $1 a day people
Roughly 1/6 of the people on earth live on less than a dollar a day. Roughly 1/3 live on less than two dollars a day. This was not always so. This would not happen if we in the west did not take unfair advantage of those in the third world. We exploit the third world primarily by propping up (aka bribing) dictators who are friendly to western businesses, but do nothing for their own people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In the Canadian North a head of cabbage is . A chicken is . This set me wondering about cost of my own groceries. I know about supermarket prices, but I have only the vaguest idea of the cost of a piece of fruit, a cup of coffee, a bowl of cornflakes, a glass of frozen juice, a bowl of soup, an egg…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
100% Tax Bracket
If the poor earn any money, 100% of those earnings are subtracted from their monthly welfare/disability cheque. This amounts to a 100% income tax. Further, if they start a small home business, the gross income, not the net income is deducted. This amount to more than 100% income tax. The wealthy claim even a 20% income tax stifles their initiative. Surely the poor need even more incentive than the wealthy to stay off welfare. This is obscenely unfair, especially when so many corporations and wealthy people pay no tax and all and consume billions in government services.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
25% Gambling Tax
In Nevada, slot machines are required by law to pay back at least 75 cents of every dollar they take in. That is like a 25% gambling tax. It is odd that people volunteer to pay such a tax when they could gamble with each other for free.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In the USA, the insurance companies take $2 for themselves for every $1 they pass on to the doctors. Republicans and Democrats on the take from the insurance companies have convinced the American public this is a Good Thing™. Americans think they have a health care cost crisis. No they don’t. They have a greedy insurance company problem. Why don’t teams of a 100 doctors let you sign up for $300 a month and the cover everything. No bookkeeping needed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you subscribe to the view that corporations are better suited to make decisions than elected representatives, if you believe that corporations should be permitted to spend unlimited amounts of money influencing/bribing elected representatives, if you believe there should be no laws constraining corporations, then be honest, you have lost faith in one man one vote and subscribe to one dollar one vote. If you lived in the middle ages, you would have been advocating government of, for and by the landed nobility.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Absconding With the New Abundance
Scientists have created all manner of inventions to increase productivity and reduce the need for labour. You would think everyone would share in this abundance, but it has not worked that way. Only the very rich have benefited. The rest have suffered from unemployment and cutthroat competition for the remaining jobs. The wealthy did not create this wealth; they absconded with it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imagine if you were a king in the middle ages. What privileges would you enjoy? You could eat until you were full every night. You could sleep on sheets and have them washed every week if you wanted. You could stay warm with a fire in your room and furs on your bed. You could sleep with pretty anyone you wanted. You could have peasants grow strawberries for you while they starved. Today, it is as if all the kings moved to North America and ruled their Asian and African peasants from afar. On the other hand, a king of yore had to face a toothache, swollen appendix, infestation of parasites, sexually transmitted disease or gout all on his own.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Abused Middle Class
The American middle class remind me of an abused wife who blames herself for the exploitive behaviour of her abusive husband. The middle class imagine that if they give ever bigger tax breaks to the super wealthy to transfer an ever greater slice of the wealth pie to the top 2%, then the wealthy will finally take pity and create more jobs. Fat chance!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Accent and Class
I find it incredibly frustrating that our species believes the only large projects we can conceive of doing must cause money to flow in vast sums to a privileged few.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Accent and Class
Nothing locks you into your socio-economic class more than your accent.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Accent and Social Power
If someone wants to rise in the social order, the very first thing they should do is clean up their accent. No more dropped gs. No more ts turned into ds. No more grammatical errors. No more slurring. No more stretched vowels. No more gonna, wanna and aint. You will never be treated as intelligent until you do.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the more disgusting things about corporations is the way they whine when asked to put truthful labels on their products. They argue lying does little harm. Just let the buyer beware. I respond, but no benefit derives from lying. Why bother with labels at all if they are untruthful? When there are allergies, accurate labels can be a matter of life and death.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Quite often TV ads dissemble rather than outright lie. It can be a fun game to look carefully at the words to determine both what they legally mean (usually nothing) and what the advertiser is trying to trick you into thinking they mean.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Addiction to Wealth
How long will it be before we recognise that addiction to wealth can be just as destructive to relationships as addiction to alcohol?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The problem with money is it is addictive. The area concern shrinks to only things associated with money, e.g. power, conspicuous consumption, status… The wealthy person loses interest in relationships, family, community, the poor, the environment, nature… These people are highly dangerous because they are powerful and wilfully ignorant. Excessive wealth is a mental illness, yet no one would dream of treating it because they imagine they would enjoy having it too.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The trick to getting rich is to persuade large numbers of people to give you money in return for something that takes you almost no time to produce. One way of doing that is to persuade other people produce goods for you for considerably less than you sell them. It is odd that rich people are not more ashamed of how they exploited their fellows to get rich. It is also odd the way these cheaters are universally admired. In a pre-technological society, they would be considered deadbeats, cheats and pigs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Little boys admire pirates because they don’t have to wash, they can stay up as late as they please and get to fight with swords. They ignore the fact that pirates earn their living by pillaging, raping and murdering. Grown-ups admire billionaires in much the same superficial way.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advantages and Disadvantages of Privatising
The upsides of privatising are:
- If there are enough providers, you get competition.
- You get leaner bureaucracies.
The downsides include:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Extra cost of providing profit to the business owners.
- Arms length exploitation of workers.
- One time benefits of selling infrastructure make privatising look more financially appealing than it really is.
- Shaving costs by shaving service and quality.
- Less control over how the work is done, e.g. worker training.
- As competition collapses, the remaining monopoly can really screw you over.
- The provider has no interest in serving the public, just making money.
- You get corruption in the process by which the government hands out contracts.
We imagine that we have a free Internet, but really we have an advertiser-sponsored Internet. If we want quality, we will have to pay, not much, just more than the advertisers were willing to pay to annoy us.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If a company advertises it is behaving altruistically, either they are lying outright or whatever they are doing is just a token for PR (Public Relations) purposes. Corporations are never altruistic. They do what they think will make them the biggest profit, which includes lying.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When you hear the words up to in an advertisement, e.g. lose up to 40 pounds in the first week or your money back you know you are dealing with a crook who is trying to put one over on you, trying to make it sound like he is making a promise, but is actually promising nothing. Chances are the rest of the ad is made of more subtle lawyerly deceptions. Just put them on your do-not-buy list.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advertisers are telling ever more preposterous lies. For example, Quaker claims they hand pick their oats. They seem to think, so long as the lie is sufficiently outlandish, it is does not count as a lie.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advertising Swamps The Truth With Lies
The essential problem with advertising is it lets corporations use lies and deception to convince the populate of things are blatantly untrue and swamp any voices expressing the truth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Aiming For a Third World Economy
The elites in the USA have decided they want their country to join the third world. The basic notion is, by making others poorer, removing all government services to others, dismantling environmental protection… they will be more prosperous and then in their strange value system, they imagine they will be better off living surrounded by poverty, pestilence and a toxic waste dump like Mexico. You’d think it would be simpler and quicker just to move to a third world country. Further, you’d think they would at least try out this life before committing to it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco put ten times the burden that illegal drugs do on the health care system. This suggests we should move funding from illegal drugs toward alcohol and tobacco.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Allocating the Pie
Let’s say you went out to lunch with a group of coworkers. When desert was served, the servers gave 95% of the pie to the two fattest people at the banquet. Somebody might get up and say, The pie was huge. How come my slice is so tiny? Then a guy named Newt, the second fattest guy, got up and said, You seem to be saying that we should give some of our pie to the rest of you deadbeats. By what right do you have to take our pie from us, pie that we fully deserve. We earned it by superior effort. How dare you try to punish us for being better than you! You don’t deserve pie. The reason you don’t have pie is because you are a losers. What Newt refuses to acknowledge is he got more pie because the servers gave it to him, not because of any effort on his part. Similarly, a capitalist economy gives a bigger and bigger share of the pie over time for no reason other than you previously got a big share. That is the magic of compound interest. Or as the song Ain’t We Got Fun put it The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Almost Every Triviality
Have you noticed how the capitalist system overlooked providing kits so that you can emboss the faces of the American presidents on your toenails.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
America = Imperial Rome
The relationship of America to the rest of the world is similar to the relationship of ancient Rome to its provinces. From Rome’s point of view, the purpose of the provinces was to provide goods and services to the people of Rome. Rome was prepared to use any means necessary to transfer wealth/capital from the provinces to Rome. Like ancient Rome, the USA is a parasite. With only 1/20th of the planet’s population, America consumes the lion’s share of the global production. It vainly imagines itself to be magnanimous, yet it is actually the stingiest of all the developed nations. It’s wealth comes from deliberately grinding other countries into poverty.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
American = Imperial Rome
Percentage of the word’s population comprised of Americans: 5%.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Percentage of the world’s resources consumed by Americans: 30%.
America has military bases in 38 foreign countries.
That pattern sounds familiar. Ancient Rome persuaded its conquered territories to send it tribute to allow it to bask in fabled luxury. Americans, like Romans, imagine this tribute comes purely as homage to their unique wonderfulness.
What is American cheese? a radio-active-orange-coloured product designed primarily to be manufactured cheaply. It has the texture and taste of Silly Putty. It is reputedly non-toxic, at least acutely non-toxic. Americans feed it to their children but not to their livestock or upper classes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans keep tripping over their own egos. For example, the Russians launched Sputnik when American believed Russians could not even build a working fridge. Later the American sang little jingles about how anything the Japanese manufactured was junk. Of course, the Japanese skunked the American with much higher quality cars, cameras, TVs, stereos, computers than the Americans made. Today, the Americans jeer at the Chinese who have taken away nearly all their manufacturing, most of their money and the lead in electric cars, solar and wind power. Americans jeer at the Europeans who have learned to build livable cities and social systems that give people leisure and pleasing, safe surroundings. Americans lead in nothing but military bullying. Yet they foolishly pretend that makes them better than everyone else at everything. They have behaved so arrogantly, the world will applaud their ultimate collapse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
American Health Care Disgrace
It is a national disgrace that 46 million citizens of the richest country is the world receive the same health care as those in a Darfur refugee camp — namely none.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When times got tough for the Aztecs, everyone would pony up offerings to the priests, who lived high on the hog, who then selected the scapegoats for human sacrifice. When economic times get tough for Americans, they pony up a trillion bucks or so for the bankers, who live spectacularly high on the hog, who then select scapegoats to be turned out of their homes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
American State Religion
The American state religion is economic efficiency at all costs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ancient Cure For Recession
The recession is caused by rich people hogging nearly all the wealth and refusing to invest it. If our prehistoric ancestors has suffered under an analogous problem they would have exiled or killed the pigs if they refused to share. Today we meekly suffer.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ancient Money Cons
The basic Christian con goes like this, If you want to be wealthy, give your money to me, a man of god. God will reward you. The basic Republican con goes like this, If you want to be wealthy, give your money to me, a billionaire. The unseen hand of the market will reward you.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Every time I see a commercial for a product or candidate I don’t like, I find myself detesting them all the more. Advertisers have to be careful they don’t energise a group of people keen on their product/candidate’s destruction. For example, if a candidate puts out a political ad designed to appeal to bigots, it may anger tolerant people, who deepen their distaste every time they view another ad, even if the follow on ad is not bigoted.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I am puzzled by advertisers. The majority of TV ads put me off the products. They do this with actresses who screech, announcers who mispronounce words, blatant lies/dissembling/deception, ridiculing/bullying/belittling, encouraging anti-social/anti-environment activity, valley girl announcers, people stuffing their faces on unhealthful food, airhead spokespeople, whining voices… Many ads are even unclear on the product or brand being advertised. I get the impression that they are composed by smart Alec teenagers whose only aim is to get a rise.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Another Bank Lie
One of the more absurd lies the banks are pushing lately is that it is wise to borrow money then put it in a savings account. Obviously, the bank has to pay less interest on savings accounts than it charges for loans, otherwise it would go out of business.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The goal of capitalism is to give as little as possible to others and take as much as possible, always pressing your full advantage to squeeze others dry. Oddly, Christians claim this is compatible with the teachings of Jesus.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you remember your high school history, both the USA and Canada suffered extreme cyclical boom and bust in the 1800s. Then economists came up with the counter intuitive remedy — the government should spend more in bad times and less in good. Oddly, Republicans counsel doing the reverse or nothing at all, both of which are proven ineffective strategies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There has been a global propaganda blitz against unions. It has successfully convinced poorly paid workers that union workers are their enemy. The argument plays on envy. How dare the union workers get paid more than you! They must be pulled down to your level by destroying their union. This completely ignores that fact that even some union workers in an economy raises wages generally. This argument appeals to chimp psychology. Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If we don’t get off our collective butts, within 32 years all antibiotics will stop working because bacteria will have evolved immunity to all the existing antibiotics. About 11 million people a year will die of bacterial infections. From a medical point of view, we should:
- use each antibiotic rarely, but when we do, use a whacking huge dose to make sure we wipe out any bacteria with newly evolved partial resistance.
- devise a huge arsenal of possible antibiotics. We don’t want bacteria to get used to any particular one.
- always use the correct antibiotic for the correct organism.
- never use antibiotics to try to treat viruses no matter how strongly ignorant patients demand them.
- never give antibiotics to people or animals who are not sick.
- do a test to determine the cause of an infection before prescribing.
- Make sure everyone understands the Darwinian evolutionary process by which bacteria develop resistance to drugs, and the importance of the counter measures.
Unfortunately, capitalism pushes us to do all the wrong things to contain the problem:
- There is almost no research on new antibiotics. They are expensive to develop.
- You want to sell as much of your new antibiotic as possible, not restrict its use.
- You want people to buy it over the counter and use it inappropriately to increase sales.
- You want the drug to become useless when its patent expires so you can sell your patented replacement drug.
- 80% of antibiotics are given to healthy animals (cows, pigs, chickens, fish) in low doses to promote growth. These are ideal conditions for antibiotic resistant bacteria to evolve. Farmers do this because antibiotics are cheaper than hygiene. (In Europe they use hygiene and treat only sick animals with antibiotics.)
- Drug companies advertise directly to patients to get them to demand antibiotics without testing which bacteria are responsible for the given infection. When the doctor guesses, that means frequently wrong treatments.
- In Africa, pirates sell counterfeit/watered down drugs. These are ideal for helping bacteria develop immunity.
You can see why it is foolish to imagine capitalism will automatically solve this problem on its own. This is going to take some major government action. The pharmaceutical industry will do the work, but governments will have to provide the necessary incentives and disincentives and do the heavy lifting industry refuses to do.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Are the Rich Different?
Consider the richest men in America. What do they have in common? Do they work harder than others? Surely no harder than my friend Leo who has three jobs at minimum wage to provide for his children. The main thing they have in common is an utter lack of conscience. They are the most ruthless of men. They are willing to cheat, enslave, extort, kill, rape the planet, poison its waters… Given that, I find it odd that so many people admire the wealthy and aspire to be like them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
We humans invented an artificial life form that has taken over the planet. They have a very primitive motivation system — short term profit. Everything else is irrelevant, even their own survival. Even though they are primitive, they are extremely powerful. They buy politicians and force them to do things that are suicidal to the species. They feel no pain. They cannot be jailed. They have no concept of morality. There is very little that can be done to influence them. They are like Dr. Frankenstein’s monsters. I speak of corporations, which enjoy the status of humans in the USA. And oddly, in the USA, this immoral behaviour is required by law.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Donald Rumsfeld and Ronald Reagan overrode the advice of researchers and approved aspartame which was causing tumors in lab animals. Donald Rumsfeld and Arthur Hayes Hull, Jr., the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) director worked for G.D. Searle, its manufacturer, both before and after the approval. Rumsfeld has no conscience. He later started the Iraq war by claiming to know precisely where Saddam had nukes hidden.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Assassinations: 5 Cents
Back in 1947, Remington discovered its 700 series rifles could sometimes be fired simply by clicking off the safety. A fix would have cost Remington 5.5¢ per gun. They decided it cost too much and has been selling the defective design to this day. This is the insanity that the corporate single-minded pursuit of profit leads to. The US constitution has been interpreted to mean the government may not order product recalls or even mandate gun safety standards. The good news is, as a result of all this lunacy, gun nuts are killing themselves off.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Assigning Poop Costs
The cattle industry is permitted to dump their raw feces into the waterways for free. Here in BC, downstream people have to spend over a billion dollars each year to clean it up for drinking. This distorts the market. The cost of disposal of feces should be borne by the beef eater, not the downstream taxpayer. The nutrients in these feces should be recycled as fertiliser rather than deliberately wasted eutrifying waterways.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Athletes vs Homeless
Why are people so eager to build housing for foreign athletes to be used for just a few weeks and so resistant to building housing for the homeless?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
ATM (Automated Teller Machine) Fees Add Up
Banks charge Americans $18 billion a year in ATM fees. Not that long ago you could withdraw money free, using a teller which costs the bank many times more than an ATM.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Attitudes To Work
If a woman works at a job making lasagna, or makes it at home for a catering business, this is considered fulfilling work. But if she makes it with the same recipe at home for her family, it is considered borderline slavery.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Auto-Computed Income Tax
It is bad enough having to pay income tax, but forcing people to compute the tax or pay somebody to compute it is the real pain. It is time to give taxpayers the option of allowing government computers access to your computerised financial records and have it come up with number that you can pay without doing any computation yourself, if you think it is fair, with the option to dispute.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It takes most people at least two irritating days a year to accumulate the paper and organise it to compute income tax. This amounts to roughly an additional 1% tax. Surely there is a simpler way of collecting the tax that happens as a side effect of purchasing and banking.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
As automation increases and takes jobs away from people, manufacturing will move closer to markets. We will no longer do manufacturing in the low-cost labour markets of Asia.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When a new invention enters the workplace it let’s the workers complete their work in less time. Another way of looking at it is the workers can produce more in the same time. The financial benefit of this should be spread over the workers, management and shareholders. However, the company fires half the workers and keeps all the saved wages. Half the employees have no jobs and the other half are working faster at no increase in pay. All the benefit go to the stockholders. They should be forced to share.
The problem is not automation, but how corporations use automation to screw their employees.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The key to capitalism is competition. Americans worship at the state church of capitalism, yet they refuse to lift a finger to stop corporations from eliminating competition with mergers, acquisitions and lobbying congress for sweetheart laws and no-bid-contracts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Most of the top multinational corporations in Canada paid zero taxes for the last five years. They legally transfer money to tax havens. This is legal. These corporations successfully lobby the Harper Government to provide them the loopholes. This gives them an unfair competitive advantage over corporations that do pay taxes. Because of their evasion, taxes for everyone else, including individuals, must be higher than they would have been. To make matter worse, Harper fired most of the investigators who go after tax cheating. Lobbying (bribery) is so efficient.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Awesome Power of Advertising
Behold the awesome power of advertising to persuade people to pay money for Coca Cola Zero, even though it is considerably less appetising than plain tap water.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Babies Want Others To Have Less
When given a choice, babies consider it more important that their companions get less than that they get more. They have Darwinian desire to eliminate the competition. Many adults function with the same programming. This primitive attitude gets in the way of trying to solve homelessness or world hunger. We have too many people trying to put others down.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Baby corporations are like baby lions. They don’t telegraph how rapacious they will become when they grow up.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Back to Work Legislation
When unions and management have a dispute sometimes the government wants the dispute ended and legislates the workers back to work. This quite unfair. Basically it takes away all the power of the unions, allowing management to have its own way unopposed. A better way to handle is binding arbitration with a short time limit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bad Press Environmentalists
If you donate to an environmental charity, you would expect industry to place full page ads denouncing it as the spawn of Satan. Anything less and the charity is probably not accomplishing much.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If governments are to bail out banks with billions of dollars, they need a guarantee the money will not be just passed on to CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) and shareholders. Anything else is fraud.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There are three problems with bailing out failed banks and financial institutions.
- It is fundamentally unfair. When thing go well, investors keep the profits. When things go badly, ordinary people are stuck with the bills.
- It encourages bankers to take excessive risk.
- It interferes with competition. In a capitalist system, incompetent banks are supposed to fail.
If banks are too big to fail, then they are too dangerous to allow to exist.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Banks Now Print the Money
For all practical purposes, governments have handed over their money printing plates to the banks and say Have at it. It is a kickback to the banks who lavish donations on the politicians who write the laws to let them do that. It amounts to legalised counterfeiting. Just like ordinary counterfeiting, the counterfeiters benefit and everyone else pays for the theft in the form of inflation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
At the end of WWII (World War II), Europeans reverted to using cartons of cigarettes and stockings as currency. When Communism collapsed in Russia, the Russians reverted to using bottles of vodka. People would not take money as payment. It should then be obvious that a currency with inherent value, such as gold coins, will remain stable even during economic collapse. At the very least, it must be backed by something of value such as real estate, commodities or labour.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bechtel, the Vampire Corporation
Bechtel coerced the government of Bolivia to sign a contract forcing all citizens to buy all their water from Bechtel, even the poorest at exorbitant prices. Further, they insisted on payment for water collected in rain barrels even though the had nothing to do with providing it. If were in charge of the universe, the executives and shareholders of Bechtel would be all be locked in a room to thirst to death. They would be killing each other and drinking the blood.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Being Filthy Rich
Imagine being filthy rich. It would be similar to a world where you could afford everything because it was so cheap. The fanciest imaginable steak dinner would be only a penny. A yacht would be $5. What would constrain your consumption? — just the health damage of too many calories and nuisance value of too many possessions. Like an obsessive-compulsive lunatic, you would fret over very penny, as a way of keeping score of your worth, even though none of the wealth had any effect at all on what you could buy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Beliefs About Wealth
Think about your beliefs around the wealth pie:
- Whatever you can make, steal or con is yours. There should be no taxes. The government should run only by voluntary contributions.
- We should ensure everyone has some minimum income necessary to stay alive.
- Since the economic system tends to concentrate wealth, there should be a mechanism to keep the wealth gap stable.
- The goal should be to maximise happiness for everyone. Since $1 means less to a very rich person to a very poor person, there should me some flow from the rich to the poor.
- People who are not productive should be allowed to starve to death.
- The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is a good thing since I am going to be rich any day now.
- Rich people should pay more taxes because they get more benefit from government services.
- Rich people should pay more taxes since paying them is much easier to bear than for others.
- Rich people should pay more taxes since money is not really important to them, just the relative income compared with their fellows.
Where did your ideas come from? Who do you know who shares them? What experience do you have living with the very poor, middle class and ultra-rich that might help you formulate ideas fair to everyone?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A Better Way To Trim the Deficit
If Romney were serious about cutting the deficit, instead of killing Big Bird, he could cut military waste and spending and drop agricultural and fossil fuel subsidies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Big Health Care Lie
Republicans wring their hands at the cost of public health care. What matters is how much cheaper it is than private health care. It replaces private health care. It is not an additional expense.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Big Pharma and HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus)
The most cheerful thought to someone with HIV is that Big Pharma has a vested financial interest in keeping them alive. The most depressing is if someone ever marketed a cure for HIV, it would destroy the immensely profitable HIV drug industry. Big Pharma would fight it tooth and nail.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Big Winners Imply Many Losers
Like poker, for there be big winners in the stock market, most players have to lose.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Biggest Crime in US History
The village idiot, George W. Bush, masterminded the greatest crime in US history. He appointed John Roberts head Supreme Court Justice. Roberts then gave corporations the right to bribe politicians with unlimited amounts of money — the final death blow to democracy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Billionaires keep grasping for money as if they were about to starve. They are quite happy to create extreme misery for others in this pursuit. I suggest, with tongue only partly in cheek, that we banish electronic banking and return to using gold coinage. Perhaps seeing roomfuls of coins, or the need for carting about wheelbarrows of coins would help slake this mad greed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Before we had money, we used to distribute the food based on hunger and who had done the work. The idea of an income distribution inequity ratio of a billion would have seemed utterly preposterous. Who has need a billion times greater than another? Who does work a billion times greater than another?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bitcoins are a form of gambling. They are reminiscent of the Dutch tulip mania. At the peak of tulip mania, in 1637-03, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble. The value of Bitcoins is based on hoping others will think they will go up. They have no value of their own. This is the ultimate bubble machine. Bitcoins are a vicious zero-sum game where the sharks eat the minnows.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans are funny. When their wages drop, they blame everyone but the those that dropped them — namely the corporate employers and their lackies the Republicans who enact the laws they request. Instead they blame:
- the government
- the communists
- the gays
- the UN (United Nations)
- The federal reserve
- the Democrats
- the atheists
none of whom had anything to do with the amounts on paycheques.
Sometimes they blame unions, but unions increase wages, even for non-union workers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Blaming the Kids
If a child does not have a home, what professions are open to them but begging, the sex trade, theft and drug dealing? How can they possibly go to school? How can they ever get their lives together? Why do so many people think these children deserved their fate when they often had no part in creating it? For example, between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Their Christian parents threw them out on the street for being gay, something they could no more change than their height or gender. Some of these kids were born of indigent parents who could not support them. Some of these kids had drug-using parents who abandoned them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Blaming the Unions
The whipping boys of the Republicans and other right wingers are the government unions. Republicans blame unions 100% for their lack of wealth. Oddly, they never acknowledge that government workers are expected to service a bigger population, with fewer workers, for lower wages. The Republicans also fail to notice who is really gobbling their wealth, e.g. the fat cats who crank up the grocery store prices each week or the price of gas.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Blind Faith in Capitalism
A blind faith in capitalism makes people do some quite silly things:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Banks evict people and leave houses vacant for years. Without heating, the houses rapidly deteriorate with mould, while thousands of people go without housing.
- Consumer products are deliberately designed to fail after a year so they will have to be replaced.
- Mining companies destroy mountains and poison lakes and streams to extract gold which they bury again in vaults, making no use of it whatsoever.
- Oil companies do everything they can including lies, bribery and murder to delay the day we use green power. They would sooner destroy the planet with global warming just to delay changing their business model a few years.
Blind to Self Interest
How long until the voters are sufficiently educated about their self interest that politicians will brag about their plans to wrestle economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions to the ground?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money is like blood. It does little good pooling in a few organs; it has to circulate throughout the entire body.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The obvious metaphor for an economic system is the blood supply that brings nourishment to all the body. Imagine if something went wrong and 1/3 of your blood congested in your big toe. You went to the doctor. He approached your toe with a lance and gremlin screamed out from within the boil, Get away you damn socialist! This blood is mine. I don’t have to share it with anyone.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is standard practice for corporations to offer some premium or rebate to entice you to buy, then make the process of obtaining the goody too onerous to bother. Companies such as Symantec and Post Honeycomb Cereal go even further, simply refusing to honour the deal. This practice might marginally increase the odds of the sale, but guarantees no sales ever after. Why are companies deliberately shooting themselves in the foot?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One future occupation will be a bookreader. You will read thousands of books and watch thousands of documentaries on some topic. This is not a formal education. Your main job is to stay current. People come to you and you tell them a custom summary of what you have learned that would be most germane to their lives. The problem we face is an explosion of information that overwhelms. Even research scientists may come to you.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Boom and Bust
The problem in the bust cycle of a boom and bust economy is businesses sit on trillions of dollars in cash, reluctant to invest. To prime the pump, the government needs to modify the tax structure during a depression to encourage businesses to use it or lose it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Boring Slot Machines
I was astonished to discover that people playing slot machines in casinos show no signs of excitement. They are clearly bored out of their minds. To them, inserting the tokens and pulling the arms is onerous but entirely necessary work. They look utterly exhausted. I also discovered that if you go near one of their machines, they will snarl at you like a pit bull. They are deluded that all the money they have put into the machines still belongs to them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Borrowing Too Much
What will happen when the US borrows so much money it can no longer pay the interest on the debt? It happened to Mexico in 1982 and Argentina in 1989. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) took over Mexico and slashed government services, even ones needed to sustain life. In Argentina, inflation reached 100% per month. Shop owners could not afford to buy new stock and closed their doors. There was widespread rioting.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I avoid buying American goods and services for the same reason my father avoided buying Nazi goods. Neither of us wanted to encourage them in rogue behaviours.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I would never eat a Kraft product. Their parent company Altria neé Philip Morris Tobacco tried to kill off its customers by lying to them about the health hazards of smoking. Kraft presumably would happily kill off its customers too if they thought it would be profitable. The problem is this conglomerate has bought up so many brands often there is no non-Altria product for sale. I have to go without. I am really annoyed that crooked companies like Altria have been permitted to monopolise like this. They have destroyed so many familiar brands of my boyhood.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bragging About Greed
Very few people brag that they managed to scarf 75% of the food when they go out with the gang for Chinese food, yet they will happily brag they managed to grab a disproportionate share of natural resources and manufactured goods.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Brain Dead Corporations
If you write to a company to complain about a consumer product such as soap with an obnoxious perfume, they will send you a coupon to buy more of the product you found of unacceptable quality.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Brands are Good
Brand labeling is key to properly functioning capitalism. If consumers can’t avoid companies with a poor reputation in favour of those with a good one, the incentive to produce good quality goods and services is lost. Similarly, consumers should have the right to know if a product was organically grown, contains genetically modified material or was irradiated. To avoid allergies and for good nutrition, they need to know food ingredients. They need to know the degree of cruelty to animals in producing the product. They need to know the degree of exploitation of people in the third world etc. Customers should have the right to discriminate in any way they choose in their purchases.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Breach of Contract
The medicare debate in the USA is quite simple. The Democrats want to make sure seniors get health care, even if it means topping up the fund from general revenue. The Republicans want to get rid of medicare altogether. They want to abscond with the funds seniors have contributed over the years for their care. If the seniors don’t have money to provide their own private medical care, they should go without, even if it means dying. That is the same as an insurance company accepting premiums over the years then refusing to pay out. It is a breach of contract.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What Brexit amounts to is dissolving all trade deals with Europe, and trusting equally good ones will eventually be renegotiated. That is Polyanna.
Why would you do such a thing? Because you want borders so you can keep out Muslims and other people who eat strange-smelling food. If you want the benefits of 100% free trade, you can’t have borders. You have to choose. Brits imagine they can have both.
Since most of Britain’s trade is with Europe, they will get an incredible economic kick in the pants if they leave. I suspect it will be so painful they will instantly want to get back in. There is no reason to believe they will be welcome back.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bribery: the Optimal Investment
Bribing politicians is a highly leveraged investment. Even billionaires and foreign states hand out only a million at a time to influence a multi-trillion economy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bribing Business To Locate
When local governments have to bribe companies to locate there, that should be a red flag that those companies don’t really want to be there. They will leave at the first opportunity. It would be much better to invest in true local businesses that won’t leave.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
British Columbia Generosity
The taxpayers of British Columbia, Canada are very generous. If someone is HIV +, they provide about $1,800 a month of HIV medications free of charge. However, if that person is unemployed, they provide $500 a month in welfare benefits. Rents start at $800. So with shared accommodation, that leaves $100 for everything else including food. This means a meagre diet of Ramen noodles and the occasional wiener. Even a healthy person cannot thrive on such a diet. For someone with HIV, it is a slow death sentence.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
BS of 100-year Warranty
When a company offers you a 100-year warranty, what are the odds they will be in business in 100 years? If they are feeding you BS like that, chances are most of whatever else they tell you is also BS.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Futurists like Buckminster Fuller imagined automation and computers would enable us all to live like millionaires. He did not count on the unmitigated greed of the business owners. Automation and computerisation increase productivity. The business owners grab all the benefits and foist all the pain on the workers. Instead of having it easier, workers became worse and worse off while the business owners accumulated far more wealth than it was possible to spend. To add insult to injury the business owners used that wealth and power to bribe politicians to enact loopholes to reduce their taxes and to increase the taxes of the workers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Budget Cuts = Firing People
The pejorative term for budget cuts is firing people. Cutting has its benefits, but creating jobs is obviously not one of them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Building to Last
The ancient Romans built roads and aqueducts that are still working to this day, 2000 years later. Very little we moderns build lasts even 100 years. Why? We have access to all the technology the Romans used. We choose instead to ensure little we build will be of any use to posterity. Why? I can think of two reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- We believe the future will be so different from now, that any sewer or subway tube we might build will be of any use.
- We are selfish and spiteful. We don’t care about anyone but ourselves. We don’t want anyone but us to benefit from our labours, not even our grandchildren. I think this is the more likely explanation given the way we are determinedly leaving a wasted planet to our grandchildren by refusing any constraint at all to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming or accepting any inconvenience as all to avoid poisoning the oceans.
When American and Canadians bargain, for some reason Canadians always get the dirty end of the stick. Americans can override Canadian environmental law. Americans are guaranteed energy security, but Canadians are not. Canadians are required to sell their oil and water but Americans are not. Canadians are not allowed to subsidise their industries, but Americans are. Americans can kidnap people in Canada and drag them off to the USA without judicial process, but Canadians cannot do the reverse. It sounds like bargaining with the Mafia.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Watch a troop of ring-tailed lemurs. The alpha animals bully the others into letting them have the choicest food and into restricting the calories of the non-alpha animals. Humans have devised a way to do the same thing much more efficiently. The alpha humans give the others a pay cheque once a month. This gives them total control of the underling’s consumption and it keeps the underlings in subjection because without the pay cheque they have no access to food or shelter.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Burn Your Credit Cards
The purpose of a credit card is to make automatic, gradually-increasing monthly contributions to your local bank.
Burn your credit cards and get a debit card. Then you can’t inadvertently spend money you don’t have. Credit card interest rates are so high that once you get in too deep, you can never pay them off. To make matters worse, they will increase the interest rates.
Contrary to bank ads, you will have way more money to spend on stuff with a debit card.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There are people who see their purpose in life as ensuring that people who need gold fillings and crowns do not get them. They buy up all the gold and bury it in the ground.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imagine a species of pig than spent huge amounts of energy finding and rooting up truffles, then buried them in a hole and forgot them. That is similar to what humans do with gold.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Business Cannot Fix Recessions On Their Own
The Republican plan to deal with a recession is just to wait for private enterprise to fix it. This approach has been well tested, both back in the depression of the 1930’s and the recessions of the Bush and Obama eras. It has been thoroughly tested and proven, as you would expect, to have no effect. Businesses pull in their horns and lay off people during recessions. They don’t have enough business to do otherwise. Republicans see boom and bust as inevitable, like the tides. They counsel despair.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You see an advertisement on TV for a shiny gold coin. They tell you gold is selling at $1500 per ounce so this coin will soon become immensely valuable. Buying this coin will be a good way to hedge against inflation. What’s the catch? The coin is clad/plated in only 6 mg of gold worth about $0.29. Other catches include shipping and handling that roughly doubles the cost and never telling you the actual size of the coin. It could well be the size of a shirt button.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Buying What is Not Needed
Humans are the only animal that will buy something they don’t need just because it is on sale.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Canada-China Investment Treaty
Obviously the 31-year FIPA (Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act) trade treaty with China is not to the advantage of the citizens of Canada, otherwise Prime Minister Stephen Harper would not be trying to lock us in long after he leaves office. He would not be keeping us from debating it now or even knowing what we are committing to. Presumably citizens of China will be worse off too. The treaty is part of Harper’s plan to plunder the environment based on his bizarre fundamentalist religious beliefs about end times and a god who has nothing better to do than clean up after him. Who benefits? Corporations in China get to sue if a Canadian federal, provincial or municipal government passes environmental or other laws that reduce their profits. Effectively, Harper is handing control of Canada’s laws to Chinese crown corporations. We are surrendering to China without a shot, without even a vote in parliament. Granted, Canadian corporations get a similar privilege to derail China’s attempts to move to clean energy and clean up their environmental disaster of a country. In the short term, this irresponsible behaviour is profitable to anti-environmental corporations, mainly big oil. In the long run it is suicidal. Harper is orchestrating a slow-motion coup to gradually dismantle democracy and install a corporatocracy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source
Canadian Plastic Money
On 2012-11-07 Canada released a polymer-based $20 bill featuring the Vimy Ridge memorial for a WWI (World War I) battle victory. The monument, reminiscent of the twin towers under attack, is just two stone obelisks like something you might find in Mordor.
Why such an ugly, irrelevant monument to a spat with our ally Germany back in 1917? Everyone involved is long dead. It was an pointless war. The new bill celebrates a era of planetary insanity.
Why? It is part of Stephen Harper’s relentless propaganda blitz to glorify war so he can justify unnecessary, increased military spending to pay off his backers in the defence industry.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Canadians Are Richer Than Americans
It’s official. Canadians on average are now richer than Americans. One of the big reasons is Canada’s health care system that gives better outcomes and costs only 1/3 as much. Big pharma and the HMOs (Health Management Organisations) have hypnotised nearly all Americans into thinking that paying 66% less for much better care would be worse than a Nazi invasion.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism is the economic philosophy that greed trumps everything, even public good, even survival. Put that way, capitalism is clearly suicidal. Consider how it is taking the planet down in flames with climate change, and consuming earth’s natural resources as fast as possible, leaving the ecology a wasteland.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism has been very successful at:
- Stimulating innovation.
- Ensuring there are adequate quantities of goods and services that the rich and the majority want.
Unfortunately it has many drawbacks.
- It creates an absurd wealth gap. 80 people own ½ of the world’s wealth. These people tend to be insanely greedy, dedicated to blocking others from having wealth as accumulating their own. They tend to be ruthless with a callous regard for ethics and law.
- The wealthy tend to take control of government with contributions and bribes. They direct it to outrageously favour them, and promote war (which encourges purches of weapons).
- It produces pollution and ravages the landscape.
- It takes no concern for the effect of its actions on the health and longevity of the population.
- It uses it power to push wages below subsistence, particularly in the third world.
- They have driven more plants and animals to extinction, even more than the KT event.
- It pollutes the morality of the people by promoting greed, discouraging caring and sharing.
If we persist with capitalism, via global warming alone, capitalism will make the planet uninhabitable. If we don’t come up with something better soon, we will all go extinct.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism has four main problems:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It concentrates the wealth in the 1% and effectively enslaves billions.
- It makes all its decisions purely on profit. It ignores social welfare, the environment and sustainability.
- It is unstable. It generates booms and busts.
- It has become a religion. People are terrified to try to improve it.
Capitalism = Democracy
Americans are very keen on unrestricted capitalism which they consider to be synonymous with democracy. Anyone who is not 100% gung ho is termed a commie. Yet a corporation is anything but democratic. It is a dictatorship. Read a biography of Steve Jobs and Apple to see just how out of control they can get. It seems very odd to me that a democratic people would choose slavery for their economic system.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism Aims to Please the Consumer
Motorcycles are designed to be far noisier than they need to be to appeal to the buyers. Because of the way the capitalist system works, the desires of those who have to listen to the motorcycles are immaterial.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism at Its Best and Worst
Restaurants in a big city are an example of free market capitalism at its best. Restaurants compete on price, service, variety, uniqueness — creating an abundance of excellent and varied choices. Monsanto is capitalism at its worst. Three documentaries~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Future Of Food, The World According to Monsanto and Food Inc. just scratch the surface of their evil deeds. They do things like patent other people’s seeds then stop them from using them. They stole Iraq’s entire seed bank of heat tolerant crops. They have taken extreme risks with genetically modified foods cavalierly introducing weird genes into the wild, then claiming ownership of any organism they infect. They even sue people whose seed stocks Monsanto has contaminated. They use their immense size and wealth to take what they want from whomever they please. Why the huge difference in the fruits of capitalism? Monsanto was able to eliminate the competition with mergers, acquisitions, infiltrating the government and buying off politicians.
The problem with capitalism is the Coca-Cola company does not care if it products kill its customers, only that they consume increasing quantities of them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism is a Form of Satanism
Capitalism, as an ethical system, belongs in the same category as Satanism because it teaches that the ultimate virtue is to take as much as possible from others while giving as little as possible in return. Compassion for others is considered a weakness.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism Generates Insane Behaviour
A blind application of capitalistic ideology causes companies to do some very strange things, like try to kill off their customers.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Scotts-Miracle Grow pleaded guilty on 2012-07-13 to wilfully poisoning the wild bird seed it sold over a period of two years. They deliberately added illegal pesticides to the mix to prevent insects from eating the seeds during storage. I guess it never occurred to Scotts that a few insects in the mix would do the birds no harm at all. Some species of birds would consider them an extra treat. The irony is Scott charged twice what other seed companies charged. The fine amounts to about $1 a $10 bag of seed.
- Meat packing companies such as Maple Leaf, Con Agra and XL warehouse the cattle in cramped feedlots which covers the cattle in feces, contaminates their feed and increases the fat content of the meat. They then slaughter the cattle and give them a quick whisk of a hose to remove the feces. This process often contaminates the meat with various bacteria such as E. coli. If they are caught selling highly contaminated meat, the recall can destroy a company’s reputation and cost millions for the recall and lost sales.
Capitalism is Incompatible with Reality
Capitalism presumes there are no limits to production growth. It believes, so long as you can find a market for the goods, they can always be produced. Biology points out this is only true for the short term. The earth has a quite finite ability to produce goods. Capitalism must evolve to handle sustained zero growth or it will fail. Every civilisation of the past eventually collapsed because they wore out their welcome with nature. They exhausted the soils, destroyed the water-conserving forests, or poisoned the water.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism Only For The Poor
It is odd that people who consider bailing someone out with medical care when they fall on hard financial times is communism, worse than death, but when an investment house falls on hard times they are willing to hard over billions of public money to nurse it back to financial health. Why this compassion for inanimate corporations and such disdain for living beings? Self-interest? They want to be sure their investments are protected. If investments go badly, other people, via the government, should take the loss. If they go well, I should get to keep all the proceeds. Capitalism is supposed to be about reward for risk. That is not capitalism. You would think the blatant unfairness of their position would embarrass them. Similarly unions are disparaged for lack of competition, while mergers and acquisitions are fodder for the wealthy whose job is to defeat capitalism by reducing competition.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the strange quirks of capitalism is that jelly powder without sugar cost 1.6 times as much as with.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism vs Humanity
Capitalism craves scarcity, since it causes prices to rise. Humanity craves sustained abundance. The two will always be at loggerheads.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism ≠ Christianity
One of the most improbable cons of all time was the Republican party convincing Americans that capitalism and Christianity were one in the same. Capitalism requires you to be selfish. It teaches you are not your brother’s keeper. It teaches any action is acceptable so long as it is profitable. It requires you to destroy your competition. About the only place capitalism and Christianity coincide is in their disdain for long term consequences. Take no thought for the morrow~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism, Not the Only Option
Capitalism, like all economic systems, has its limitations. What is peculiar is that so many people imagine that if capitalism is incapable of delivering something, e.g. a new antibiotic, a low cost AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) treatment, universal health care, alternative energy or cruelty-free fur, meats and eggs… then they have no alternative but to go without it. It is as though they see seeking something though auxiliary means would be a sort of monetary adultery, breaking vows of holy matrimony and monogamous fidelity to capitalism. The true believers can’t imagine augmenting or modifying capitalism, only abandoning it entirely.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism, the Religion
Awed by the bounty of the unseen hand, Americans have turned capitalism into a fundamentalist religion. Anyone who questions the utter perfection of American capitalism as it stands is labeled a commie and driven to the edges of society for his unforgivable heresy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The goal of modern capitalism is deception — to sell goods that look durable, but which soon break and never work properly. This way the consumer is forced to soon buy another defective replacement. The system penalises makers of quality goods with fewer sales. To fight back we need to sue the pants off manufacturers, for example, whose kettles are designed to scald and to tirelessly hassle vendors with warranty returns.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalists are neo-Darwinists who imagine humans prevail over other species by ruthlessly culling the weak and poor. They fail to notice that individual humans are puny animals. The secret of their success is intelligent co-operation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
General Motors discovered a flaw in its ignition switches. They decided to keep quiet and do nothing about it rather than spend $.57 per vehicle to correct it. Over a dozen people died in accidents as a result. Capitalism forces people to behave to maximise profit even when it demands immoral behaviour most people would consider insane. The basic tenet of capitalism is the tiniest advantage for me is infinitely more important than a gigantic disadvantage for you.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the most bizarre features of capitalism, is it considers increasing the next quarter profit by even 1% to be infinitely more important than whether your grandchildren have a planet they can live on. Whether your grandchildren survive is ignored in the calculus as an externality because it does not directly affect short-term profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalist World View
The capitalists wear blinders. They see all opposition to the damage they wish to do to be simply a matter of not offering a high enough bribe. They can’t understand that the well being of one’s children is the prime concern, far higher than the comforts possible from large amounts of money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In the 1800s rich people like Carnegie felt obligated to fund public works. His libraries serve many American and Canadian cities to this day. You could think of this as a voluntary form of taxation. Rich people today waste money on giant ugly houses, gas-guzzling cars and illegal drugs. We need to find a way for them to gain status by paying extra taxes voluntarily and get public recognition for it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cash vs Inventory
In a boom economy, cash is king. In a collapsed economy, inventory is emperor.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why do people go to casinos where they are guaranteed to lose when they could gamble with other individuals in games with equal odds of winning and losing? You might think it is the entertainment value, but visit a casino. You have never seen more exhausted, frustrated, bored people. They seem to look on gambling as onerous, necessary labour.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Caterpillar, the maker of heavy machinery, locked out its workers and said they could go back to work only if they agreed to their wages being cut in half. Imagine what would happen if your income were cut in half without notice. You would lose your house. You would have to immediately move to accommodation costing half what you pay now. But then you say, times are tough, what else could poor Caterpillar do? Wait a minute! The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Caterpillar takes home $20 million a year. Business is booming at Caterpillar. They are making $1 billion a quarter. They have no excuse. If Caterpillar is not forced to back down, or alternatively, put completely out of business, many other corporations will pull the same stunt. I am not ever likely to buy a bulldozer, so a personal boycott would not make much sense, but I can do my small part in smacking this arrogant bully senseless.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cause of Famine
Now, famines are not caused by lack of food. They occur because of such extreme economic inequality that millions of people can no longer afford food. Now plagues such as AIDS sweep the planet, not because we do not know how to stop them, but because individuals insist on making obscene profits to allow their drugs to be used. They would sooner make no sales than make merely huge profits. It is a dog in a manger attitude.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cause of Homelessness
The fundamental cause of homelessness is having more people than housing. It is like a game of musical chairs. No matter how fierce the competition, someone necessarily has to go without. Private enterprise refuses to help because building luxury housing is far more profitable than building affordable housing. To solve the problem, government must either build affordable housing or offer sufficient incentives to persuade private enterprise to do it. In Canada, Conservative, Liberal and NDP (New Democratic Party) governments have all refused to do this when they had power. Why?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- To maintain a shortage of housing to keep prices and rents high.
- To punish the homeless for being poor.
- Preferring to make small savings in the short term to big savings in the long run.
Cause of Homelessness
Homelessness is like a game of musical chairs. If there are more people than there are chairs, some people are going to go without. So the solution is to build more low cost housing which is much cheaper than shelter beds.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cause of Recessions
Recessions don’t require an objective cause. They happen without a war, natural disaster, crop failure, or shortage of crucial materials. This suggests they are a primarily psychological problem and the remedy will be found in the psychology of large groups. I suspect the only way to tame them will be to give up the legal freedom to behave irrationally with money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Causes of Financial Chaos
Consider these two lists of countries:
- Greece, Italy, Russia, the USA.
- Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark.
What’s the difference? The first are in financial chaos. The second are financially stable and prosperous. What are they doing differently? One thing is the first group for the most part, excuse billionaires from paying taxes and encourage them to control the government for their personal benefit. The second group make billionaires pay their fair share.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Causes of Unemployment
People who have never been unemployed are not qualified to pontificate on the causes of unemployment.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People who live near the Canada-US border are often stuck with bogus cellphone roaming charges. Cellphones mindlessly connect to the tower with the strongest signal, which may or may not be just over the border. Rogers, a Canadian cellphone company, says the solution is to put more and stronger towers on the Canadian side of the border, but that will just make the problem worse for Americans. The proper solution is to change the billing computer systems, to compute the bill based on the location of the caller and callee, independent of which towers are used to relay the call. If this results in many Canadians using American towers, the Canadian carrier should compensate the American carrier with a monthly cheque. Such technical details as the towers used should not concern customers in the least. If the precise location of the parties cannot be determined, give them the benefit of the doubt to minimise the bill. Further, any charging for roaming is bogus. You use no more resources making a local call in another country than you do at home. It is a hold over from the pre-digital age, more an excuse to soak the customer than anything else.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source
There is a remarkable failure of greed in America’s capitalists. Corporations are supposed to be run for the sole benefit of the investors. Yet nowadays senior partners and CEO s typically suck up over half the profits. Oddly this theft and the extravagant, wasteful lifestyles of the robbers is applauded! American are behaving like Nigerians cheering for the most audacious embezzlers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
CEOs Are In It For Themselves
Classical economic theory, such as Alan Greenspan subscribes to, presumes that corporations are run to maximise the long term profit for their shareholders, selfishly without regard to any other consideration. This is only a rough approximation. CEOs and top executives run the companies to maximise their personal income. Since they won’t necessarily be with the company that long, they optimise for the short term, to the point of driving the company into bankruptcy so long as they can parachute out with millions. A classic example would be John Thain who ruined Merrill Lynch for his personal gain.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
CEOs out for Themselves
Alan Greenspan confessed that he made a major error in trusting banks and investment houses did not need regulation because he assumed greed would ensure they looked after their own long-term self interest. What he did not understand was that the CEOs were not looking out for the shareholders, but themselves. Long term sustainability did not matter. They could well leave their posts in a year or two. Plundering a company of its assets and leaving it bankrupt became the goal.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There was a time when people were primarily motivated by survival, sex and prestige. Today people do most things because ads told them they should. In other words, they are primarily motivated by the bottom lines of corporations in which they hold no financial interest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cheating Gives A Competitive Edge
One problem with commerce is businesses that cheat, lie and steal have a competitive edge and thus drive out the honest businesses.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cheating on Taxes
In ancient times, the wealthy avoided taxes by bribing the tax collector. Today they bribe the politicians to lower their taxes and provide loopholes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cheating on Taxes
It is real problem getting an multi-national corporation like Apple to pay its taxes. They can fairly easily cook the books to make it look like they made no money in high-tax countries like Britain and Sweden, but rather made it all in low tax ones like Ireland or the Cayman Islands. One simple trick that can use is sell goods to each other at artificially high prices. E.g. if Apple were to manufacture all its metal logos in Ireland and sell them to Apple in all the other countries for $75 each, they can effectively transfer the profits to Ireland.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cheating on Treaties
The theory of free trade and globalisation is that everyone agrees to remove tariffs and subsidies and allow markets to decide where the product is most cheaply created. The catch is the USA cheats and subsidises corn, unlimited amounts of corn and massively. The subsidies are more important to the Iowa corn farmers that the money they get from selling the crop. The varieties of corn they grow cannot be eaten my humans. It is used for animal feed and for making high-fructose corn syrup to make soft drinks. This has four drawbacks:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Subsidies stimulates unlimited production which burns out and erodes the soils.
- The taxpayers are on the hook for massive subsidy money, which is effectively a meat subsidy, even if they don’t eat meat.
- Cheap, subsidised American corn destroys local grain producers throughout the world.
- Corn is a terrible food for cattle that are evolved to eat grass and hay. They would die of acidosis from the diet if they were not slaughtered just prior to death.
Chevron in Ecuador
If you knew even 1% of the unconscionable things Chevron is doing in Ecuador, you would never again buy their gasoline.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Global corporations use child labour all over the world. The only reason they don’t do it here too is we won’t let them get away with it. Corporations have no morals. They are motivated solely by profit. We are hopelessly naïve to trust them to behave as if they truly were people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Four out of five purchasing decisions in American families are made by children.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
America and China have formed such a tight financial partnership that Niall Ferguson, the author of The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, refers to them as Chimerica. China does all the lending, America all the borrowing. China produces the goods and America consumes them. China does the saving and America the shopping. It is only a matter of time until China pulls the plug on America.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Circa 2002 most Americans who debated with me insisted that America would be the #1 economy forever. Yet in 2014 they talk of China becoming #1 with the inevitability they were describing the ocean tides.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
China Eclipsing the USA
By 2016, China’s economy will be larger that the USA’s. It could come even sooner if the Tea Party gets its way and they drag out the recession, keep employment low and do all manner of other things to screw the economy and blame Obama.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I think they have already surpassed the USA is production of pollutants.
China is Like Walmart
When American politicians say that China is improperly devaluing its currency, what they mean is America wants China to raise its prices. They are undercutting American sales. It is the same complaint small businesses have with Walmart.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Christians and the Economy
Americans are having a terrible time with their economy. The problem is, oddly, Christianity. Christians are hopelessly optimistic, gullible people who will believe what any charlatan tells them so long as it sounds pleasant. They have almost no interest in whether it is actually true. They have been trained in this sheep-like submission to crooks since birth. So they are vulnerable to politicians who lie to them that they can have their cake and eat it too — massive tax cuts, especially to the billionaires, no cuts in spending and pay down the debt. Honest politicians tell them they must pay higher taxes and accept across the board spending cuts to avoid the public debt dragging the whole country into bankruptcy. Christians turf these depressing but honest politicians out office. They prefer fairy tales.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Investors in stocks are chumps. There are hundreds of people with better information than they about whether the stock will go up or down. In the mind of a Republican, it is OK that the stock market is rigged.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Church Tax Exemption
There is a problem with the churches getting a tax exemption. The government has to decide who qualifies as a religion. By the first amendment, the government has no business making such a decision. The decision should be based on something other than religiosity, e.g. the same way a charity gets its tax exemption. The reason to give a church an exemption is because traditionally a church provided services to the community such as housing the homeless, providing a soup kitchen, raising money for the third world etc. Today a church often offers no services at all, but still gets the exemption. Logically, they should not get an exemption.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth has become so unevenly distributed in the USA that there is a stronger class system than in old Europe.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Because the west has been ascendant for 500 years, many in the west have come to see their privilege as either divine favour or evidence of inherent superiority. They believe nothing needs to be done to perpetuate their position. Americans have stopped manufacturing, have stopped investing in education, have let the infrastructure that supports business decay, have rebuilt their economy on non-productive bank-gambling in futures and derivatives and handed over the bulk of their wealth to the super rich to fritter on luxuries. Yet they still expect to remain automatically on top. In the 1970s Americans earned 20 times as much as the Chinese. Today is the gap has narrowed to 5 times. At that rate, China should reach parity by 2019.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Coddling the Aristocracy
You can count the number of privileged elite who went to bat for the common man on one hand. There is no need to coddle the aristocracy for the common good.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Coddling the Rich
If you have ever tried to help someone to immigrate to Canada, you how it takes years and how the applicant will probably be rejected in the end without any reason. However, there is one man who applied to get into Canada while he was still in jail. He was unrepentant, yet his application was approved in days. Why the kid gloves treatment? The man, Conrad Black, was very rich and had the money to grease the wheels with the Harper government.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Coddling the Rich
One of the most baffling thing about the Americans in the way even the poorest people seem more concerned with coddling the ultra rich than they are looking out for their own interests. One possible explanation is they have bought into a lie sold them by the ultra rich, that they too will be fabulously wealthy any day now, so they had better get busy feathering their nest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Coddling the Rich
Republicans are obsessive about coddling the wealthiest 2% of people. They are concerned the need careful handling or they will stop trying to make even more money by investing. This makes no sense to me for the following reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Surely the very richest people are incredibly, perhaps even excessively motivated, or how else could have found themselves in the top 2%.
- Giving rich people even more money is like giving obese people even more whipped cream. It will satiate desire not stimulate hunger.
- The wealthy are so rich that extra money would have no detectable effect on their lifestyle. Even a tiny bit extra for the middle or lower class can make the difference of life and death. There is no point is directing such a most of the total wealth to the wealthy. They can’t even tell the difference.
Coddling the Wealthy
One of the oddest extravagances governments indulge in is building stadiums and arenas for professional sports teams that pay players hundreds of millions of dollars. Surely these teams can afford to build their own. Why spend on luxuries when so many necessities go begging? Why should people who cannot afford to, or who have no interest in, attending live sports events subsidise those who can afford to spend hundreds of dollars per game for tickets?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Collapse Is Invariably Environmental Collapse
Societies always collapse for environmental reasons. It may look superficially that the cause was an economic problem, but if you look closely, you will see an environmental problem precipitated the economic one. For details, read Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A Common Scam
If someone informs you that you have won a prize in a contest you did not enter, it is a scam.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Compensation for Historic Wrongs
If A’s ancestors did some terrible thing to B’s ancestors, should A compensate B? In general I would say No. A did nothing wicked deserving punishment. B sustained no injury deserving compensation. The wrongdoers are dead. Compensation is as irrelevant as seeking justice for the crimes of the Roman Empire. However, if A’s ancestors did something improperly that hurts modern day B and benefits modern day A, then there is a case for A compensating B.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Competing in Dishonesty
When Americans support competition, they mean allowing corporations to compete unfettered for the greatest dishonesty, forcing the honest corporations that give fair value out of business.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Competing Value Systems
There are two competing value systems: in one you evaluate your worth by how much you contributed to your planet. In the other, you judge by how much you were able to take from it, giving the least possible back, e.g. how much money you accumulated.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The magic that makes capitalism work is competition. According to Axelrod, in The Evolution of Competition with less than 26 competitors, you get co-operation and de facto price fixing. Corporations naturally seek to increase profit by reducing competition through mergers and acquisitions. Left to itself, capitalism collapses into an oligarchy or monopoly, which then tries to convince everyone not to interfere with the impaired free market forces. If you value free market capitalism, you must necessarily support regulation to preserve competition.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When a corporation misbehaves, write them a letter of the form: You did a bad thing. That is unforgivable. I will never again buy your products. Granted this is just an ant bite, but if enough people do it, corporations will heel. They are rational. They presume for every such letter they get there are 20 people who think similarly but did not bother to write. Consider how much money they spend trying to make you like them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Compound interest is like your Mom giving you 5% more turkey each year of your life at Thanksgiving no matter what. Capitalists refer to this as earning turkey.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Accumulating money is a pastime/game that only humans play. They play it so compulsively, it often completely distracts them from matters of survival.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Computing Your Own Tax
90% of why people hate income tax is that the government forces you to compute it yourself. To make it even worse, they put you in jail if you make a mistake. Who voted for cruel and unusual punishment? Revenue Canada should compute it for you, or refund the cost of hiring an accountant to do it. Surely, in this electronic world, there should be no paper receipts needed. They could make a deal, you can take their estimated offer or do the paperwork to prove it should be lower. At the very least they should offer free access to a program like QuickTax on the Internet online or to download. And while we are at it, how about the computer automatically exploiting the same loopholes Harper and friends do.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Con man Kevin Trudeau does an infomercial for YourWishIsYourCommand, where he preposterously promises all your dreams will come true if you send him ten easy payments of . To cap off his sales pitch he claims everyone who does not send him the money is a loser because they blame others for their troubles. That is not true. They simply have the common sense to spot a scam when they see one.
Trudeau is now in jail for his cons.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Most of the evil in the world is a side effect the mad pursuit of money by a small group of selfish, ruthless, short-sighted elite psychopaths. The public don’t seem to appreciate how concentrated the source of evil is. They protest as if the evils were an abstract ether, rather than the concrete behaviour of a few identifiable bastards like the Koch brothers and Dick Cheney.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Concentration of Wealth
There has not been such a concentration of wealth in so few hands in the USA since just before the great depression.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Conditions of Corporate Socialism
If banks and large corporations want taxpayer socialism to rescue them when they get in trouble, they must be more willing to share the profits when times are good.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Condos vs Countries
In a condo owner association, the richer owners generally vote for improvements and repairs and the poorer owners vote against them. In a country, the richer people generally vote against improvements and repairs and the poor vote for them. Why the difference? In a condo, everyone is taxed equally. In a country, they are taxed based on income. If a condo as a whole is run down, it reflects badly on any of its owners. If an entire country is run down, it enhances the prestige of rich by contrast.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism is a value system, the precise opposite of the one Jesus taught. Oddly, millions of Americans claim to subscribe to both systems. Capitalism requires the staff of a company to maximise profit to matter how badly that hurts customers, employees or third parties. It is a blanket excuse for selfishness.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Republican religion says you must voluntarily starve to death if you don’t work. Yet people who own the factories and businesses less and less have need of labour. Computers, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots are chewing away at job after job. Another few decades of this and all we will have are jobs like waitress, salesman and counselor that are handled by people not because humans are more skilled at them, but because customers are more comfortable with humans. Our labour won’t be required any more. We won’t be able to sell it. Yet we will have a computer-supplied super-abundance that almost none of us can afford. The Republican plan is for nearly all of us to mindlessly starve to death like the ending of a protracted game of monopoly. I wrote a computer program back in the 70s that put 50 engineers with advanced degrees out of work. It is not just blue collar workers at risk.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Conned Out of Money On the Stock Market
If you lost money speculating on the stock market, that money did not evaporate. A clever speculator you will never meet skunked you out of it. If you made money, you did it my outsmarting some less sophisticated investor, perhaps a grandmother foolishly putting her life savings into the stock market. Speculation is just a slightly more respectable form of gambling. It is a con game where the experienced players fleece the novices. Why would you even want to make money that way? You are conning others out of their savings in the same way a pool shark or card shark cons marks. Any technique for making money without effort is a way of conning others to give you money and giving them no value in return. It is a form of theft even if it is legal.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Consequences of Corporate Food
Fast food chains are owned by mega-corporations who have but a single goal — short term profit. Taken to its logical conclusion, they keep upping the fat and salt and lowering the quality of the food. That it makes the customers grossly obese, clogs their arteries, gives them diabetes makes them sexually unappealing does not matter because the customers will not be lost in the current quarter.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Consequences of Corporations
Everyone knows and applauds that corporations have only one concern — profitability. Why then are people so surprised when corporations lie and take serious risks with the customers’ health? Surely people know that lying is usually more profitable than telling the truth. Surely they know that risking customers’ lives costs less taking precautions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Consequences Of Craving for Money
We are all familiar how addiction to illegal drugs causes people to have a desperate craving for money. They then commit robberies and even murders to get money to pay for drugs. Republicans tell us that a strong craving for money is a good thing. Yet it leads people like Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, to destroy the entire ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. It causes the CEO of Nestlé to kill thousands of babies through malnutrition and deceptive advertising. It leads the CEO of Goldman Sachs to cause thousands of people to lose their homes and/or go into bankruptcy. I Timothy 1:6 got it right: the love of money is the root of all evil.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Consequences of Rampant Borrowing
Ever since governments invented borrowing by selling bonds during the Renaissance, they have gone bankrupt by either consecutive deficits or by printing too much money. We do these things today pretending we do not know the inevitable consequences.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Consequences of Walmart
When you go to a Walmart and look at the aisles and aisles of cheap goods and colourful clothes, or your local food market, full of produce from the other side of the planet, even in mid winter, does it occur to you that a necessary consequence of this low-priced abundance includes things like child labour, 16 hour work days, polluting all the rivers in China, people burning out and dying at 30, workers burned alive locked in factories, no labour laws, no safety laws, 6 cent an hour wages… We depend on this exploitation just the way our ancestors depended on black slave labour to grow the cotton. The difference is, our exploitation is better swept under the rug. These workers don’t volunteer for such abuse any more than the African slaves did. Our corporations squeeze them to the point of death to milk every penny out of them. In a similar way, the abundance of low cost meat and poultry in the stores requires severely mistreating animals. Again, people pretend not to notice.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
America is so addicted to conspicuous consumption that its has borrowed to the hilt, outsourced its manufacturing and sold off its corporations and real estate to foreigners. Images that come to mind:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Someone who has lost his fortune, trying to fool everyone including himself by keeping up appearances with reckless borrowing.
- A drug addict selling her blood for heroin.
- The spent husk of a bee after a spider [the military contractors] has sucked it dry.
- Tent caterpillars stripping bare the tree that sustains them.
Even the first nations people of British Columbia have a long tradition of conspicuous consumption. They hold potlatch ceremonies where you gain merit by giving the guests eulachon oil (or grease as they call it ), but they also deliberately waste large quantities of the oil by pouring it on the fire. The guests all cheer an the great blaze.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Constant Never-Ending Growth
Economists and politicians aim for constant economic growth. They ignore the fact the planet cannot even sustain the current level of economic activity, much less infinite growth. Further, they mindlessly champion harmful and frivolous activities. Polluting, cleaning up oil spills, manufacturing throwaway fashions, funerals, clear cutting forests, cancer treatment are all considered equally valuable as growing food and preventing disease. We need a saner economic measure of planetary well being.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Constituents of Ads
Advertisements are made of two kinds of statements: lies and hypnotic inductions. Inductions consist of meaningless word salads or vague statements that are true but pointless.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I resent corporations who have trademarked numerous English common nouns, thus contaminating their meaning, e.g. always, bounce, bounty, cascade, cheer, crest, dawn, duck, future, gain, glade, ivory, off, oust, pledge, prefer, raid, secret, shout and tide.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Continued Growth is Impossible
We have rapid exponential growth in population, waste, environmental degradation, pollution… Any mathematician will tell you that we must put on the brakes. There is no conceivable technology that will let us continue to grow. It is deluded wishful thinking that we can keep breeding like locusts without dire consequences. Economics is based on deliberate ignorance of mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. It is its own little game-world.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Controlling The Size of the Wealth Gap
The rich are constantly trying to increase the wealth gap. The poor are constantly trying to shrink it. Inventions that widened the gap include corporations, capitalism, interest, stocks, bonds, stock markets, globalisation, the Chief Justice John Roberts and the Citizens United decision that effectively legalised corporations anonymously bribing politicians with unlimited amounts of cash. Inventions that shank the gap include the graduated income tax, the Internet, cellphones and microcredit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
CornSugar.com put out a deceptive TV ad where they claim that corn sugar and cane sugar are the same thing, sugar is sugar, the body cannot tell the difference. This is a bald lie. Corn sugar aka dextrose or high fructose corn syrup is a simple sugar called glucose C₆H₁₂O₆. Cane sugar is a complex sugar called sucrose C₁₂H₂₂O₁₁. The sucrose molecule has twice as many atoms. Glucose races into the bloodstream ready to go. Sucrose has to be broken down into glucose first, so it is absorbed more slowly. Fructose C₆H₁₂O₆ is an isomer of glucose — the same atoms arranged slightly differently. It behaves in the body similarly to glucose. High glucose/fructose diets are implicated in all manner of health problems including diabetes and obesity.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When a corporation has an accident, such as allowing a mine tailings pond to overflow into pristine lakes and rivers, it quite different from when you or I have an accident such as spilling a glass of juice. Their computers coldly calculate the risks and costs and decide just how many corners to cut with public safety. They optimise for profit, nothing else. An industrial accident is a deliberate choice.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The traditional assumption is that when you read a non-fiction book or a documentary, that you will be hearing only one side of the story, but it will be essentially truthful. However, with corporate authorship, direct or indirect, that no longer stands. Capitalism requires corporations to do anything that increases profit, including lying, completely fabricating facts, telling the exact opposite of what is really true and even killing people. Happily, it is rarely profitable to kill people, except in the third world where the customers don’t hear about it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate Aversion to Hiring
Corporations have zero interest in hiring people. To them, hiring people is like getting a root canal. It is something they occasionally have to do. It is naïve to expect them to put effort into reducing unemployment. They see their sole function as making money. Hiring people spends money, a wicked thing from a corporate point of view. If you want them to hire, you must use both carrots and sticks. If they can make more money by hiring, they will instantly line up to hire. If they make less money by hiring, they will flatly refuse. The Republican party is not in the least interested in creating more jobs. The higher the unemployment, the lower the wages, the weaker the unions and the more profitable the corporations that run the Republican party are. Republican policies are covertly designed to increase unemployment. That is one of the reasons they favour outsourcing and globalisation. Look what happened when George W. Bush had free reign to drive unemployment through the ceiling. He did it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations cheat us so commonly, that we accept it without protest. Common cheats include:
- Filling boxes less than half full, such as Tim Horton cocoa.
- Quoting the monthly price for something some service like Telus Internet access or Shaw phone service only to discover it is just an introductory rate. The true rate is never mentioned.
- Quoting the price for something and discovering you must pay an exorbitant shipping and handling fee.
- Offering a money back guarantee only to discover you must pay shipping both ways and a trial fee even if the product is hopelessly incompetent.
- Offering an exercise machine or back machine for only $20 to discover this is just a 30 day rental and does not include a stiff shipping and handling fee.
- Products that simply don’t work at all, e.g. a Revlon nail file that falls apart on first use.
Corporations are masters at dissembling. There is always some way you can interpret their statements as true, though the statements are invariably deliberately misleading.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations are like children. They will play by almost any imaginable rules/regulations so long as they have a fair chance of winning/making a profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People imagine that corporations are only about competition. Consider that:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Within a company, everyone is supposed to co-operate on a team.
- Corporations could not sell parts to each other if they did not co-operate on standards. Without standards, computers, modems, Internet equipment, cellphones… could not exchange messages.
- Without standard computer languages, corporations could not hire programmers and put them to work without first investing months and months of training.
- Through mergers and acquisitions, corporations work hard to eliminate the competition.
- If there are fewer than 26 competitors, they will informally fix prices.
Corporate power has completely corrupted America, all the way to the White House. Even Obama lied to the American people that the General Motors and Chrysler bailout was an investment and that they would get their money back. Corrupt politicians shoveled bail out money at failing investment banks and AIG (American International Group), allowing executives to give themselves multimillion dollar bonuses, supposedly for wisely shepherding the finances of their companies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Some years ago I bought a bottle of time release vitamin C. On the bottle was a graph, a bell shaped curve. I wrote the company asking what the graph measures and what the units were on the x and y axes. To my surprise they responded that the graph had no physical significance. It did not measure concentration of vitamin C in the body. The graph had no units. It was a mathematical projection of how the tablets might dissolve — actually the derivative of the percentage of the tablet dissolved over time. In other words it was something an mathematically-inclined artist cooked up to look like science that had no connection to science. It was a piece of mild deception. Deception is the norm for corporations because it sells more product and because it is not illegal.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate Drug Addicts
Corporations behave much like drug addicts. Neither care about the safety or well being of others. Both are totally focused on acquiring but a single thing. Both sacrifice their own long term interest for immediate gratification. Both maintain a phony front to help them take advantage of others.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you harbour any illusions that corporations behave ethically, ask your favourite recording star about how their recording company tricked and cheated them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is not much point in fining Exxon Mobil $1,000,000. They would not even notice. Corporate fines for criminal activity should have a minimum of one month’s profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Corporate Goal
Corporations have only one goal — make as much money as possible. Even their long term survival is subservient. To do this, they use their financial muscle to legally and illegally bribe politicians to lower pay, lower environmental standards, lower labour working condition standards, lower safety standards, lower anti-trust regulation… Because corporations are so powerful, the people must kick them in the teeth as hard as they can if they want to keep them in check. There is no need to feel squeamish about this. Corporations are not living creatures.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People are afraid to criticise any aspect of corporatocracy afraid they will be labeled communist and hence a traitor. Every cult has its own word for heretic that covers anyone who questions the party line.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The problem with publicly traded shares is the owners have no connection whatsoever with the company and no responsibility for what it does. Corporations do so much damage because of this, I think in general the sale of public shares should be illegal. Another way to remedy this is to insist that an investor own at least $20,000 in shares and may own shares in no more than 10 companies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate Junk Food
Corporations feed the public junk food, junk ideas and junk science because somebody in the corporation computed it would improve the next quarter profit. This is how drug addicts think — concerned only for short term pleasure, damn the consequences.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate TV serves the advertisers. Public TV serves the viewers. The function of corporate TV content is to lull the viewer’s mind to a thought-free relaxed state to maximise receptivity to advertising.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When you get sick with ’flu, what is happening? Microbes have invaded. They are trying to commandeer your entire cell metabolism for their own purposes. They have no loyalty to your body. They smash and grab and sometimes kill you in the process. If all goes well, your immune system eventually figures out how to fight them and drives them out by killing them.
Doesn’t this remind you of the behaviour of a corporation invading the Amazon basin or other untouched territory? Corporations are completely willing to kill, poison, plunder and devastate in their mindless pursuit of profit. Oddly, the people attacked by corporations seem unwilling to fight back. The body’s white blood cells with no reluctance whatsoever kill invaders. They don’t waste time holding demonstrations hoping the invading microbes will develop a conscience and leave. Science has discovered that a simple tit for tat strategy of returning equal good for good and equal punishment for wrongdoing is the fastest way to develop mutually beneficial co-operation. If you over do it, you get a revenge spiral. The strategy requires instant forgiveness. Reward or punishment must be based on recent behaviour, not previous or good or bad behaviour. This works even with completely unprincipled opponents. The corporate leadership have to know if the corporations hurt you, they will guaranteed feel and equal blow back, as inevitable as if they had punched themselves.
The problem of out-of-control corporations will not be solved until the victims of corporations are will to give just as hard an they take. In a very practical sense, the victims of corporations deserve their abuse because they refuse to hit back equally hard. Victims would sooner whine about how unprincipled corporations are. That is far from news!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I wonder how many other planets in our galaxy are infected by the corporate mind virus that makes otherwise intelligent beings concern themselves only with short term self-interest and destroy their planet’s ability to sustain life. It is likely proportionately small. They drive their worlds to extinction.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Humans have hundreds of motivations, power, survival, comfort, security, reputation, health, looking good, money, being a good person, feeling useful… In contrast a corporation is completely single minded. It has only one motivator — profit. We try to train corporations by suing them, fining them and boycotting them, but they don’t learn. They always act to maximize profit ignoring everything else. This is a fundamental flaw. I think it is a fatal flaw. If we can’t find a way to bypass it, I think we will have to give up on corporations before they destroy the planet.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
500 global corporations control over half of planet earth’s production. They consider nothing but profit maximisation. No wonder they are rapidly destroying the planet. A corporation, by design, has no conscience.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you give someone some poisoned coffee and tell them it will make them feel wonderful, you could be charged with attempted murder. Yet when a corporation does the same thing advertising foods, pesticides and herbicides that are harmful to health, lying that they are beneficial, they are never charged.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate Profit Abuse
Corporations have pretty well destroyed the earth’s ecosystems in under a century. The problem is corporations are totally single minded. They consider nothing but the next quarter profit. Earth cannot take another century of corporate abuse. We need to find a replacement, something that is also concerned for its own long term survival and the sustainability of the planet. It must have some sense of social justice.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate Spokesmen Always Lie
If you ask corporate spokesmen a question, they will tell you what their bosses want them to say. They will tell you what is most profitable for his company for the public to believe. There is little reason to presume that coincides with the truth. Yet people affect astonishment every time spokesmen are caught lying.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If the price of paper rose to 10¢ a sheet, you would think people would use paper much more carefully, but what would actually happen is corporations would track down and kill every last tree to make paper.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Other individuals have no right to do things that harm my health. Why should corporations be permitted to get away with them?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporate Welfare Bums
Large corporations like Walmart pay their employees the minimum wage. This leaves them below the poverty line. They top up with welfare. Effectively then, the taxpayers in general are subsidising Walmart. It would make more sense to raise the minimum wage, then Walmart would have to raise prices then Walmart and Walmart’s customers would have to pay their own way.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations are Crooked By Design
The corporation was a strange invention. It is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for a group of investors and executives to rack up debts then not pay them back without penalty. Further, for example, it lets BP investors and executives deliberately cause a giant oil spill like Deepwater Horizon that kills people and wipes out an entire ecosystem without any personal penalties.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations are Dictatorships
We spent centuries fighting for democracy then embraced dictatorship and bureaucratic internal structures of government for our businesses.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations are Just People
We forget that, first and foremost, a corporation is a group of people: management, staff and stockholders. It should have no special privilege above other groups of that same size. We get so used to thinking of corporate size in terms of dollars, we start to think they deserve civil rights in proportion to wealth rather than population.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations are Not People
Despite the ruling of Justice Roberts, corporations are not people. They have no morals, feelings, or conscience. When you find yourself imparting such properties to corporations, you are being seduced by the commercials. The should have only the aggregate rights of the combined owners, not extra power for corporate owners.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations Cannot Solve World Problems
It is naïve to expect corporations to solve world problems. Their sole legally-mandated function is to extract as much money as possible for their shareholders. It is similarly naïve to expect government to solve world problems. Big government attracts the corrupt, the dishonest and those with the biggest egos. However, you do have some clout over both. You can refuse to patronise the worst misbehaving corporations and tout the best behaving ones and encourage your friends to do likewise. You can campaign for the best politicians and campaign against the worst. If you don’t fully use your tools to steer them, you fully deserve the typical mistreatment you get.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations Can’t Do Anything But Make Money
Expecting corporations to solve environmental or social problems is as silly as expecting video games to. That is not what they are for. Corporations are machines for making money and nothing more. Any apparently altruistic behaviour is actually them caving to pressure from law enforcement or from the potential customer base. Rather, they create major environmental and social problems in their single-minded pursuit of profit. They don’t care if their products are useful or harmful, only that they sell. They have no conscience. They have no compunction about lying or stealing other than as it affects profit negatively or positively. They have no concept of the big picture or even their own long term survival. We worry about the computers we create running amok and taking over the world. Its too late, the corporations have already done it. The best way to understand corporations is to watch Walt Disney’s cartoon — The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations Like High Unemployment
The reason unemployment is so high is because corporations like it that way. High unemployment means they can get away with paying low wages. Corporations have it their way because they have too much power relative to the people. Corporations have power largely because they are permitted to legally buy politicians.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations Need Coercion to Create Jobs
It is naïve to expect corporations to pull the economy out of the doldrums by creating jobs without some friendly persuasion. A corporation has but a single goal, to make the most profit possible, now. Anything else it does is subservient to this overarching goal. Unfortunately, maximising profit requires the following actions:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Laying off workers and replacing them with automation, computerisation or lower priced workers.
- Shutting down divisions that are only marginally profitable.
- Busting unions.
- Forcing workers to take lower wages.
- Forcing workers to work extra hours without pay, often by giving them Blackberries and expecting them to be on call 24/7.
- Investing money rather than spending it on projects.
- Cutting benefits such as medical care and pensions.
- Lowering the comfort and safety of working conditions.
- If you give corporations money, say in the form of lower taxes, wishfully thinking they might use it to create jobs, they issue a dividend instead.
Corporations Were A Very Bad Idea
It is coming clearer every day that corporations were a bad idea. It was quite naïve to think that an entity that cared for nothing but profit could possibly behave in a responsible way. Corporations are raping the planet, poisoning people, enslaving workers (especially in the third world), corrupting governments and breaking financial promises, all in a mad pursuit of profit at any cost. It feels dangerous to criticise corporations, but this is just because the corporations have kept up a steady drumbeat of pro-corporate propaganda that suggests anyone who had qualms about what corporations do must be some sort of crazed communist traitor. It is all very well to criticise the corporations, but what could replace them?
- Proprietorships, partnerships and family-owned businesses. Personal reputation a strong motivator. However, these are necessarily small and cannot take on the big jobs that corporations handle.
- Co-ops, where the workers or the customers own the company. These are currently rare, but they tend to bend over backwards to keep the customers happy.
- Crown corporations where there is a natural monopoly, such as an electric utility, land-line phone company or cable company. Here the people have some control over how they behave by voting out the politicians who control corporations. These tend to be overly bureaucratic since they don’t have the spur of competition to keep them efficient.
- Attempt to reign in the corporations. The people in corporations who commit crimes on behalf of the corporation should be punished just as if they committed the crimes on their own. When corporations pollute, we must force them both to clean it up and pay a fine equivalent to twice the cost of the cleanup. Ditto for stealing. They must pay it back and pay a fine double that. Enough of these slap on wrists that corporations just treat as a cost of business. Corporations can use their wealth to hire lawyers to endlessly delay actions against them. Somehow that advantage has to be weakened.
Corporations have become so powerful they have corrupted the Supreme Court in the USA to give them permission to buy the next generation of politicians with overwhelming amounts of money. They are so powerful they can bribe/pressure/threaten governments to enact laws that nearly all the people do not like. If we don’t stop them, they will destroy the earth with greenhouse gas emissions, leaked genes, pollution, resource exhaustion… We will feel such chumps if we did not even try to stop them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cost of Full Privatisation
How much would it cost you every month if you had to put your kids in private school, hire a security firm to guard your house, hire a private fire fighting service, hire inspectors to check that your food was not contaminated with pesticides or E Coli, hire a paving firm to keep the road in front of your house in good repair, pay tolls to use for-profit roads, get your water from a private water company, hire mercenaries to protect your country, hire someone to scan everyone on the plane you fly on, if you own a company, to send all your employees to school to be trained… The Republican is a freeloader who demands he get all this without paying any taxes for it. This deadbeat wants to sponge off others forcing the least wealthy to pay his fair share of these and thousands of other services provided by the governments we elect.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
As airliners have become larger and more expensive, the airline companies have ever greater incentive to keep them from crashing. In addition large planes can bull their way through nastier weather. Ironically, the public erroneously thinks air travel is much more dangerous that car travel and storing guns in their home. The rarer the plane crashes, the more crashes dominate the news.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Costly, Useless Afghan War
The Afghan war costs $107 billion a year (over $1 trillion a decade). Nobody has ever offered a single reason why this war benefits the USA. The USA spends more on its military that all other countries put together. Yet Republicans would rather eliminate medicare, which seniors would then have to buy themselves anyway, rather that cut a penny from the bloated military budgets.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Counterfeit Cancer Drugs
Counterfeit cancer drugs. What fiendish ideas the capitalist mind comes up with. Fake cancer drugs are sold at astronomical profit. To make money, they murder anonymously. The murder will likely not be detected since cancer patients often die. The crime targets the weakest people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There are 300 channels on my TV, most of them broadcasting trash. The best are PBS (Public Broadcasting System) and KNOW, the BC government education channel. The problem is free programming means advertiser-sponsored programming. That means the shows are just filler between the ads. The producer would never dare say anything offensive to the advertisers. To move the producer’s loyalty to the viewer, we viewers will have to pay, not that much, just as much the advertiser paid to torment us.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Obviously, if you want higher employment:
- You must hire more people.
- You must lay off fewer people.
- You must get money circulating rather than sitting in bank accounts.
- You must get money circulating at home rather than fleeing overseas.
Oddly, Republican have convinced themselves, or perhaps pretend to have convinced themselves, the exact opposite is true.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Creating the Illusion of Lower Prices
It is amazing how many cockamamie schemes sellers have cooked up to create the illusion of lower prices but which actually increase the amount you pay:
- air miles cards
- loyalty cards
- no payment for two years
- we pay the sales tax
- cash back
- mail in rebates
- lottery chances for purchases
As best I can, I boycott any product that uses any of these dishonest ploys.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The notion that you can create jobs by throwing money at rich people is ludicrous. They are richer than they have ever been and they are still not creating jobs. There are millions of things they can do with their money besides create jobs in America. Throwing even more money at them obviously won’t work. This is just an endlessly repeated Republican lie. Republicans have no interest in creating jobs, just in making the rich richer. I can think of only two guaranteed ways to create jobs:
- have the government hire people to do useful things such as maintaining infrastructure or contract such work out.
- pay people and companies to create jobs by subsidising the wages of new hires. With sufficient incentives, the rich will be lining up to create jobs. My company took great advantage of such a program in Canada.
Some people claim military spending is a good way to create jobs. Yes it does, but it is extremely inefficient, since when you are done, you have nothing to show for your money but a hole in the ground. With spending on infrastructure you have a new bridge which creates new wealth for decades to come.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Creating Jobs With Infrastructure
Republicans assert the absurdity that infrastructure spending does not create jobs. Where does the money go? to buy concrete and steel and hire people to assemble it. The concrete company has to hire workers to make the cement. The steel company has to hire workers to make steel. How could infrastructure spending possibly not create jobs?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Credit Card Scam
A credit card company offered my room mate a new green card. They promised to donate some of the proceeds to ecological charities. The catch is the interest rate is so high, for the same money, keeping the old card, you can donate twice as much money to charity and get a tax receipt to boot. The problem with corporations is they are always trying to deceive and cheat you. Can you imagine living with a person who behaved that way? The problem is this sort of behaviour is so ubiquitous, it does not really make sense to single out a particular corporation for punishment.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you open a can of beans, any brand, it will be filled right to the brim. If you open a carton of ice cream, it too will be filled right to the brim, but then if the ice cream company wanted to short change you on calories, all they would have to do is whip a bit more air into the product. If you open a container of yogurt, you will notice it is filled only to within 2 cm (0.79 in) of the brim and dropping. If you open a box of breakfast cereal, you will discover it is only about half full. They claim this is necessary to account for settling but the Dorset cereal company somehow manages to fully fill their boxes. Similarly boxes of ginger snaps are only half full. But the masters in the arts of deception are the patent medicine and pharmaceutical companies. A great big bottle or box might contain only 10 pills. Manufacturers would not dream of posting a false weight on a package. Deceptive packaging is legal and much more efficient at fooling the customer, since the customer rarely reads the fine print on labels. I object to this practice on several grounds:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It is a blatant attempt to swindle the customer. We should not put up with those sort of ethics.
- This crookedness implies the company is swindling and harming the customer in other ways that cannot be detected. Such a company cannot be trusted on anything.
- It is wasteful of packaging.
- It increases shipping costs.
- It wastes twice as much shelf space, leaving less room for other choices.
- It puts twice as much crap into the landfill.
- It generally harder on the environment.
If you knew that the crew pampering you on a cruise were paid a month and worked 14 hours days and your ship dumped raw sewage into the pristine waters you plied, could you still enjoy it?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Crimes of the Rich and Poor
People on the right are concerned primarily about cheating when people break the law. People on the left are primarily concerned about cheating when the transgressors have rigged the law in their favour since then the amounts involved are generally much larger. Another way of putting this, people on the right tend to be concerned most about the crimes of the poor and people on the left tend to be concerned the most about the crimes of the rich. To someone on the right, the ultimate crime would be to con the government out of $1,000 welfare instead of $500 a month. To someone on the left, the ultimate crime would be price fixing to charge people $2,000 a month for a crucial drug that cost only $1 to produce or to substitute a drug that was not effective.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Everyone has been screwed in the ear by a bank:
- Mysterious service charges.
- Usurious credit card rates when the bank borrows the money for less than 1%.
- Huge fees for a few pennies or hours late payment.
- Huge fees for a 50 cent overdraft.
- Payments to use the ATM even when that costs the bank less than using a teller.
Why are you still using a bank? Transfer your funds to a credit union.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imagine if you went to the supermarket and selected two small apples. You took them to the checkout and the checkout lady said That’s 2 kg (4.41 lbs). No its not! you protest. The checkout lady points to the computer screen and says see the computer says it is. That settles it. You would have some recourse. You could go the weights and measures people and file a complaint and get the supermarket in trouble for using crooked scales. But try the same thing at a bank. Let’s say the interest was advertised at 5% and yet somehow they want $50 interest on a 6 month $100 loan. The catch is the bank is permitted to compute interest and other charges in any way it pleases. There is nothing equivalent to standard weights and measures for financial services. In the USA, every financial institution has its own private way of computing interest and considers this a trade secret. This makes it impossible to comparison shop for financial services. Every once in a while a politician tries to stop this fraud and every time the banks manage to stop him.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cross-border shopping is the exact opposite of environmentally-friendly buy-local.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The US government works at cross purposes. On one hand it wants to encourage its citizens to be fit and to have whistle-clean arteries. On the other hand, to satisfy the dairy lobby, it works to create cheese craving (a desire to scarf unlimited quantities of cheese).~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Cure For Pain
Americans believe the best way to alleviate pain is to administer the patient large amounts of money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If I were dictator of the world, one group I would give a very rough time are companies that make design lamps with custom connectors so that they can charge you ten times as much as normal for a replacement bulb.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If I were to give advice on investment, it would be this. Mass production will disappear relatively suddenly. What will replace it is robots that do custom manufacture. For example if you want a suit, you will get measured, pick the cloth and a machine will cut the cloth precisely fitting your body and stitch it together. There will be several such machines in your city and many more retail shops you can go to get measured and feel the cloth samples. Similarly, if you want a toaster, you will have a talk with a computer about precisely what features and style you want and a robot will build it for you to spec. You will be expected to express your personality by your choice of design for all the objects in your home. You may hire people to help you choose to get the effect you want. People will create designs for all household items (the analog of dress patterns) and live off the global royalties when people choose to realise them. From your local shop or home computer you can order up anything anyone in the world has designed, or design it yourself. Think how frustrating it is today looking for a sofa. You have a precise picture of what you want in your mind, but you can’t find it. You have to select something from what has already been built and is in stock. If you want a bright yellow leather sofa designed to last a century, that is up to you. Just because no one else wants one is no reason you can’t have one. Part of what will spur this is the increasing cost of shipping goods all over the world as the price of oil soars. The other main spur is reduced inventory costs of construct on demand.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The most important job and most costly job, of governments it to make sure nobody starves to death or dies of disease. So naturally, this is the main place where Conservative politicians do their cuts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
My late father told me a story that might be instructive to those attempting to cut services without getting blood all over themselves. He was head of the Electric Division for BC Hydro. He had been told the floor space allotment for his department had been slashed. This meant some people would lose their corner offices, they would get smaller offices, or lose their offices altogether. No matter what he did, everyone would be furious.
So he came up with a terrible plan that reserved a huge chunk of space, for future use and crammed everyone together. Predictably, everyone was livid. A delegation marched in to complain. Dad said, If you can come up with a better plan, I’ll consider it. Shortly they returned with a consensus plan that my Dad immediately signed off on. The workers were relieved and happy at their evasion from disaster.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Dart Game
Imagine a planet where once in a lifetime, people play a dart game. Someone throws a ball with coloured squares into the air and the player tosses a dart at it. If he misses, he is instantly killed. Whichever colour the dart lands on determines the player’s entire life destiny. Some people will be confined their entire lives to a region corresponding to the square. Some squares mean income will always be below subsistence no matter what the person does. Some regions guarantee lifetime medical care, dental care, education, food and lodging no matter how they subsequently behave. Some regions bestow the right of the player to say whatever he pleases without interference. Others constrain the player to flattering the leaders on pain of death. When you point out how arbitrary this scheme is, they remind you it is scarcely different from how things are done on earth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Proctor & Gamble’s Dawn fraudulently advertises they donate $1 for every bottle to dishwashing detergent sold to help clean wildlife damaged by oil spills. This is a lie. In the ultra-fine print they tell you they donate only if you go to a website and negotiate a gauntlet designed to discourage you, including browser specific html, an eyesight test and a typing test. Finally, they confess in the fine print that they will donate no more that $500,000 no matter how many bottles they sell. Granted, their offer did seem too good to be true. This is really sick, ripping off animals hurt by the BP oil spill.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans are under the delusion that they beneficently support the poor countries of the south. But it is actually the reverse. The countries of the south pay tribute to the countries of the north in the form of extortionist interest payments to the tune of $200 billion a year. They pay $13 in interest payments for every $1 they receive in grants.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republican cheek is astounding. They are calling for the rich to pay lower tax rates than everyone else. The Democrats are calling for them to pay the same. Republicans claim the Democrats are waging class warfare. It is obviously the reverse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Deadly Incompatibility
We have a serious problem. Capitalism and ecological sustainability are incompatible. If were are to survive, capitalism is going to have to go. I think, however, we in the west are so wedded to capitalism we would rather die than give it up. We have completely embraced the notion that greed is good.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Deal With The Biggest Pair First
If you are in a car accident, the attending doctor first works on your arm hanging by a thread before dealing with your hangnail. In a similar way, economists should attend to those in most pain first, the homeless before the multi-billionaires.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dealing With Boom and Bust
The Keynesian economists explain the way to flatten the economic cycles is to reign in spending and pay off the debt in the good years and run a deficit to stimulate the economy in the bad. Oddly, American politicians like to do the opposite. They spend extravagantly in the good years and ruthlessly cut spending in the bad. This is because they are trying to gain short term political points rather than actually smooth the humps in the economic cycle. The result is a super-nasty recession-depression as the USA is stuck in now.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dealing with Shortages
If you have anti-gouging legislation, you also need to a way to stop people from hoarding scarce supplies. You need a way of allocating scarce supplies to the most critical use, not just first-come first-served. If you don’t have anti-gouging legislation, you have a scheme to save/pamper the rich while everyone else dies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dealing With Shortages
When a life necessity is in short supply, a government can either ration it or let its price rise. Rationing gives everyone a basic allotment, however, it encourages people to take their full ration whether they need it or not. If incomes vary widely, letting the price rise freezes out the poor while the wealthy deliberately waste the commodity in a display of conspicuous consumption. I suspect a patriotic appeal for conservation with public shaming of wastrels might work better than either rationing or price rises.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dealing With Shortages
When orange juice is scarce, the price rises. Capitalism deals with the problem of shortage by ensuring the rich are fully satisfied and the poor get none. There are other ways it could be handled.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Death By Abundance
We humans evolved over millions of years when there was almost never enough food, rest, sex, warmth, comfort, entertainment, pleasure— You put what amounts to a caveman into a society of abundance and his brain circuits go crazy. He eats himself to death. He takes drugs. He screws everybody in sight. He gambles. He borrows huge amounts of money. He buys things on credit he cannot afford. He demands his government give him more and reduce taxes. He does all kinds of things that harm him in the long term because he cannot curb his short term appetites.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Death Penalty For Insufficient Funds
Republicans are so greedy, they sentence a diabetic to death rather than help provide insulin. That sort of outrageous greed should be a capital crime.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Death Penalty for Poverty
The essential philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans is over what should be done for/to those unable to care for themselves. Democrats believe they are obligated to provide for such people. Republicans believe such people should be punished by be allowed to die. Even those Republicans opposed to the death penalty for murder believe it is appropriate for failing to earn sufficient income.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Death Sentence for Poverty
In Oliver Twist a magistrate sentences Oliver to be hanged, just because he is poor. Today we would consider that barbaric, but we are still quite happy to condemn the homeless to death from exposure, lack of food or medical care, not to mention the millions in third world countries.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Cunning, rich Republicans duped ordinary Americans into repealing the estate tax paid only by the richest man in every 300, by labeling it an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) death tax and convincing them it applied to every American rich and poor. Why take the tax burden off the richest citizens and put it on the shoulders of those much less capable of bearing it? Why take taxes off the dead and put them on the living? When you are dead is the least painful time to pay taxes. Similarly for the heirs, the best time in your life to pay tax without it being onerous is just after a windfall.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It makes no sense. The politicians who claim to be most concerned about the debt are also most eager to start new optional wars. Don’t they understand the biggest component of the debt is these foreign wars? It is as though they wanted to spend on nothing but foreign wars.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Tea Party brazenly lie to the American people that debt default offers no serious penalties. They blithely suggest when it happens, you just pay some of the bills. This is preposterous. Consider what happens to individuals who don’t pay their bills. Let’s say you stop paying your mortgage but continue to pay the electricity, cable and phone. Let’s say you pay just the interest on your credit cards, but no principle and you pay less than the minimum payment. What happens to your credit rating? The fact you paid some bills does not get you off the hook. Your rating will be downgraded. It will stay downgraded even if you start paying your bills again. What happens to your ability to borrow more money? If anyone is crazy enough to lend to you, they will demand a premium interest rate. If any of your loans mature and you have to reborrow money, you will have to pay that premium interest. Eventually you will be paying a premium rate on all your debt.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The average advertisement is almost completely deception, including misleading wording (lose up to 40 pounds, guaranteed!, if you order in the next 5 minutes, this $200 value free with your order, best fuel efficiency in its class) and silly claims, e.g. chewing a certain brand of gum will cause women to stick to me like magnets or that chopping vegetables with Vince’s Slap Chop will cure my depression and make me lose weight. At best these advertisement could result in a single sale per customer. If ever an advertiser pulls one over on me, I never buy from that company again. Such a one-shot advertisement must have an extremely high cost per sale. It could even be less profitable than no advertisement at all. An honest ad that directs me to a product I truly need and leads me to appreciate its unique charms is far more likely to result in repeat sales.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It bothers me the way deceptive marketing tricks are becoming standard business practice:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- No payments for 2 years! Yes, but goods are such poor quality they will break before they are paid for. Exorbitant interest rates are built-in for a loan you did not need.
- Reward Points. You have no idea what the points are worth and the vendor can change them at any time or expire them, or put onerous condition on them, unlike an honest discounted price. Chances are you will never get around to redeeming them.
- Mail in rebate. They count on you not bothering. They make it as onerous as possible to fill in forms with fine print. Often you never hear anything or that the offer expired even before you bought the goods. They will find some excuse not to give you the refund by devising all manner of arcane rules. The store will trick you by posting the price less the rebate you will likely never get.
- We donate $1 per sale to some worthy cause. Dawn dish detergent promises to donate a dollar to saving wildlife for each bottle sold. When you read the fine print, you discover they do no such thing.
- Club Cards. These raise prices since they take extra checkout line processing time and provide an excuse to rip off tourists and occasional customers.
- Come Back Cash: Sears offers a $50 cash rebate for every $50 you spend. They don’t tell you that must apply by mail and then spend the rebate only on certain brands of men’s clothing. It is in no sense cash.
- Post Honeycomb Cereal : refuses to give you the promised $30 high tech tee shirt even when you comply with all the fine print. They tricked people into buying giant boxes of cereal then reneged on the too-good-to-be true premium.
The Decline of Globalisation
Americans can rejoice. Their manufacturing is returning from China as the end of oil escalates the price of the oil to transport goods from China to the USA. I am glad to see the decline of globalisation:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Globalisation meant one part of the world could unfairly exploit another.
- Globalisation meant grinding wages down below subsistence.
- Globalisation meant dismantling all safety and environmental protection legislation.
- Globalisation could make a come back with computer-controlled cargo sailing ships or ships powered by alternative energy.
The Decline of Globalisation
As the price of oil rises, the cost of transportation rises. It no longer makes sense to ship logs to China to shape into toilet seats, then ship them back. It no longer makes sense to grow food on one side of the earth and ship it to the other. Generally it will be cheapest to manufacture close to the source of raw materials. We will also see general custom manufacturing businesses in malls. They will be able to manufacture/tailor your clothes, furniture, housewares… from inventories of generic, undyed, raw materials. Because of this, globalisation is a dead end and is already reversing, bringing jobs back home.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Decline of Globalisation and Free Trade
Globalisation and free trade are on the way out for four reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Transportation costs are rising. Between 2007 and 2008 the price of shipping a container from China to New York jumped from $3000 to $8000 USD.
- Environmentally, globalisation creates too much greenhouse gas to ship goods all over the planet.
- All that shipping spreads diseases and invasive species.
- All that shipping makes smuggling for terrorism duck simple.
The Decline in the Value of Labour
As automation becomes more adept, the value of labour will decline. This will require a revolution in thinking about economics. Labour will become superfluous. People will have to acquire goods simply as a right much the way they picked them for the taking when they were hunter gatherers. The accumulation of objects will be seen as absurd as a bag lady’s compulsion to collect string.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Decline of the Loon
On 2014-01-15 Canada’s currency was the worst performing of all countries relative to the US dollar. Why? The aggregate investors of the world are taking into account factors Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to see. Harper has bet the farm on the tar sands and has ignored every other aspect of the economy. There are two major problems with this strategy of putting all our eggs in the tar sands basket:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It will take quite a while before the infrastructure and pipelines are built. Political and legal pressures in Canada or the USA could stall or derail plans. They won’t generate revenue until the infrastructure is built. In the meantime, they are just a huge money sink.
- Fossil fuels are destroying the earth with climate change. We will stop using them the instant alternative energy gets cheap enough, perhaps earlier. This could happen any day. The long term financial plans for this infrastructure are thus hopelessly optimistic. The infrastructure may be obsolete even before it is built.
How could Hanes persuade people in Haiti to work for a few cents an hour making tee shirts? They would first have to disrupt the economy so there were no better jobs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Defaulting on the Debt
I think Americans are treating too casually the Republican threat to refuse to raise the debt ceiling and let the country default and refuse to pay its bills. Pros will realise the problem will soon be fixed. However, the general population of the world could panic, dump their American currency and pull their money out of American banks. Fixing that would be extremely expensive. Seriously, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) needs to assassinate a few people to make sure this does not happen.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Defeating The USA
There are two ways another country could defeat the United States. One of them is wait for the USA to bankrupt itself with deficit spending and buy the country at the bankruptcy auction.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you define poverty as being in the bottom 10% of income, no matter what you do, 10% of the population will remain stubbornly below the poverty line. To detect progress, you need an absolute measure for the poverty line, such as having at least 1500 calories per day, 60 grams (2.12 oz) of protein per day, 10 litres (2.64 US gallons) of clean water per day, 10 sq metres (107.64 sq feet) of living space at a temperature between 15°C (59°F) to 30°C (86°F) .~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of Capitalism
Capitalism is the belief it does not matter if you turn the earth into a paradise or a hell, so long as you make the most possible money in the process.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of Corporation
Corporation: a device for increasing the wealth gap, for making the rich richer and poor poorer. People who run a company and do the work to make a company a success hand over all the profits in perpetuity to the wealthy people whose money long ago got the enterprise started, even though success depends completely on those who do the work. The system is so pervasive that the unfairness of it does not register.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of Corporation
Corporations are conspiracies that pursue money at the exclusion of any moral value. Over the generations, the corporations compete for ever greater skill in skullduggery and dishonesty. Because of this, it seems inevitable that over time the word corporation will come to mean criminal conspiracy and Corporatewill come to mean foolish, morally blind and unsustainable. Even now, corporations freely break the law whenever doing so is more profitable than following it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of Debt
Debt is the failure of optimism to deliver. It is caused by the belief you will be better able to afford something in future than you are now.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of Earning
It is odd how people talk about billionaires earning their money. They could stay in bed all day and watch TV and still receive millions in interest and the fruits of the labours of their employees would still flow to them. They don’t work that much harder than anyone else but they receive thousands of times as much per hour. They are sponging off society to a degree that dwarfs anyone on welfare.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of Juicy
juicy: a term used by advertisers to describe high-fat-content meats, wieners and chicken.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Definition of a Tax
Politicians like to play word games with what a tax is. Paul Ryan wants seniors to come up with an additional $6000 each per year to pay for their medical care (which they already paid for by government payroll deductions over their entire life). That is not a tax according to the Republicans. The Republicans demanded Obama extend the period of the Bush tax cuts for the uber wealthy. Failing to do that would count as a tax increase according to the Republicans. What matters is how much more or less money you pay than you used to because of government actions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
649 years ago, the Chinese made pottery that not only lasted to this day, it is considered the epitome of the art. Yet a kettle made today in China and sold under a Western brand name, is a piece of junk likely to last less than 6 months. American capitalism that seeks to force people to buy a new kettle every six months has corrupted the Chinese. It is anti-environmental and hence evil.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the reasons the 2008 American recession dragged on so long was the wealthiest 2% wanted it to. They ordered the Republican to block any measure that might help end it. Why?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- During the recession, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer faster than ever.
- When jobs are scarce, workers are willing to take less pay and fewer benefits and tolerate poorer worker safety.
- The recession is good cover for exporting jobs overseas where wages are lower.
- In a recession, it is easy to buy up the competition for pennies on the dollar.
- They want the public to blame the Democrats for the slow recovery, install the Republicans, who will then let them dictate laws in their favour.
Delivering Students Hog-Tied to the Bankers
If the governments loaned students money for their education directly rather than guaranteeing bank loans, they could save so much money they could take both a major financial burden off the taxpayers and the students. They don’t because the politicians have to keep their banker backers happy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans much be the densest people on earth. The Republicans have blocked every measure Obama has attempted to increase jobs and instead of blaming the Republicans, Americans blame Obama.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There are things that have no inherent use or value, but have value just because they are rare, e.g. old postage stamps or diamonds. The pleasure of owning these things, their value, comes from the delight in denying them to others, hardly a motivation one would be proud to advertise.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dependence on Foreign Oil
Nearly all Americans agree it is not a Good Thing™ that America imports over a billion dollars of foreign oil every day.
- Economists are concerned about all that money leaving the country, ruining the balance of trade.
- Military men are concerned about dependence on unfriendly countries.
- Environmentalists are concerned about the CO₂ emissions from burning all that oil.
But oddly almost nobody is willing to do anything to reduce those imports. What could be done?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Tell the car manufacturers they must up fuel efficiency.
- Sales tax on new fuel-inefficient cars.
- Gas tax.
- Fuel oil tax.
- Cap and Trade tax.
- Subsidies for home insulation.
- Subsidies for public transport.
- Subsidies for solar, wind, geothermal etc. conversion.
- Penalties for driving cars with fewer passengers than they can hold and benefits for those who car pool.
- Benefits (e.g. a cup of coffee) for riding your bike to work.
- Lotteries. You acquire tickets with activities to reduce oil consumption.
- The option the oil companies push is deep-water offshore drilling in the USA, however, it would provide only 2 or 3 years worth of relief, with the possibility of another BP-like spill.
- Fracking. This is Obama’s choice.
- Check any environmental site. They have thousands of ideas.
We humans evolved in conditions of deprivation. We evolved all sorts of hungers to tell us when we don’t have enough food, drink, water, shelter, tools… but almost nothing to tell us when we have enough. In abundance, we just go nuts consuming like starving wolves and destroying the environment and our futures in the process.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Those who think it would be a good thing if there were no regulations on corporation should visit factories in the third world to see how these corporations behave when there are no regulations. Twelve employees committed suicide in one cellphone factory in a month. They treat their employees like slaves.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Designing New Products
Electronic companies seek to provide innovative products. To do that they must create products that the public wants, but that does not yet know that it does. The catch is, in chasing this goal they are likely to create products that nobody needs and nobody wants. I think they could improve their odds by focusing on products customers need.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Desire For Money
The desire for money is the desire to take more than your fair share of the pie. In our hunter gather days, such people were chastised as pigs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Desperate Desire For Higher Unemployment
Businesses like high unemployment. It makes employees docile and willing to work for low wages. It lets them select only the best workers. That it the true cause of high unemployment.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Watch some movies about how the wealthy exploited the poor in the 1930s taking advantage of high unemployment. Nothing much has changed except the wealthy promote unemployment assiduously.
Despoiling the Americas
We think of the Europeans as despoiling wildlife the Americas. They did it with commerce. They offered goods like knives and kettles in return for furs. The Indigenous people then wiped out the wildlife in area after area.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The conventional wisdom is if you give a poor person some money, you will destroy his initiative. Yet the same conventional wisdom claims if you give millions of dollars to a rich person, it will stimulate him to create jobs. This naïve belief persists despite being proven over and over to be untrue. There are just too many other tempting things for the rich to do with their money. If you want the rich to create jobs, you must reward them if and only if they actually create jobs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republicans worry endlessly that any service to the poor will destroy their initiative. Yet, oddly, they have no fear whatsoever of destroying the initiative of the rich with benefits thousands of times larger.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Deterioration of News
In 1983, in the USA there were 50 news companies. By 1992 mergers and acquisitions had reduced that to less than 30. By 2004, only an effective monopoly of 6 companies were left. It is no wonder Americans have such an impoverished view of what is going on in the world. Murdoch/FOX, one of the remaining players, treats news as infotainment and even won a supreme court decision to let them completely make it up.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The defenders of capitalism suffer from what cognitive therapists call dichotomous thinking. They see only two possible stances: defending capitalism as absolutely perfect and utterly rejecting all economic activity and desiring to return to cave dwelling. This black/white view of the universe blinds them to even considering changes that are needed to make capitalism ecologically sustainable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Dirty Secret of Globalisation
When labour is globalised, a corporation can pay less than subsistence wages. If the workers rebel, they simply move to a more desperate country without any pollution, safety or labour protection laws.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Disadvantages of Wealth
If you think about it, you probably would not enjoy being super rich. You would have a house too big that needed endless cleaning. The snooty neighbours would hassle you if your lawn and garden were not perfect. Criminals would be breaking in all the time and sometimes even kidnapping family members. People would resent you. There would be endless streams of pests wanting you to invest or spend your money with them. You could afford any tempting food you wanted. Finances would be no check on overeating. Taxes would become a major life preoccupation. Your current friends would feel awkward around you. You would not have a minute’s peace.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Disagreement on Value: the Key to Commerce
Commerce works only because two people disagree on the utility of an object. The object must be more useful to the buyer than to the seller, or the sale will never take place. Consider that to Leonard Cohen a warehouse full of CDs (Compact Discs) are useless (other than to sell), but to a fan, each CD (Compact Disc) represents a magical experience.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In the fall of 2008, stock brokers wept that billions in wealth had evaporated overnight. Stuff and nonsense! Not a penny of real wealth was lost. The factories, the land, the buildings, the work force, the farms, the trucks, the ships… were still 100% intact. They were weeping that their cons to sell people empty promises of future wealth had collapsed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I suspect one way to get a discount is simply to leave an item in your shopping basket for a month or two.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
As any Republican will tell you, the key to capitalism is vigorous competition. However, Republicans insists on the government not interfere with price fixing, mergers, acquisitions and the predatory practices that destroy competition.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Even though competition is what makes capitalism work so well, capitalists use mergers, acquisitions and predatory tactics to destroy the competition. To discourage competition, printer manufacturers design every printer to use its own unique, incompatible ink cartridge.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The biggest discretionary expense a couple has is an extra child. Oddly, those couples who can least afford it have the children.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Disproportionate Wealth ⇒ Disproportionate Power
The problem with allowing a small elite to concentrate the bulk of the wealth in their hands is not just that they deprive others of life necessities. That wealth means disproportionate power. Wealth concentration is anti-democratic. It effectively gives one man hundreds of thousands of votes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The chief tool of the conjuror is distraction. The Republicans and Democrats (at the request of their corporate donors) are conspiring to use distraction to transfer wealth from the middle class to the uber rich. They distract by screaming We must cut government spending now or the sky will fall, then legislate massive tax cuts to the rich and massive tax increases to everyone else in the form increased medical costs with no net reduction in the public debt, nay with increased deficits — the very opposite of what they claimed to be doing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ditching the Human Advantage
Humans have dodged extinction the last 200,000 years not because they are individually so powerful, but because they look out for each other. However, with the invention of capitalism, that ethic has been overthrown and replaced with exploiting each other to the maximum using all means fair and foul. Not surprisingly, we are now rapidly headed for extinction by environmental vandalism.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Does The Wealth Gap Spawn Recessions?
In 1929, just prior the great depression, the richest 1% of Americans owned 50% of the wealth. In the prosperous 60s, they owned 25%.
At the start of the Bush-43 depression, the rate was back up over 50% again. Consider the possibility that extremes in wealth distribution might cause economic instability. In America’s most prosperous times, the rich paid a whopping 91% income tax. Reagan lowered it to 28% while simultaneously raising it for everyone else from 11% to 15%. Bush-43 lowered capital gains taxes on the rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dog In A Manger Pricing
It costs the cable company less to provide all the channels to a subscriber than to install an encryption box to limit him to a dozen. Capitalism feels no shame at this dog-in-a-manger pricing structure.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dog Whistle for Market Forces
When a Republican asserts that you must leave the market forces alone, what he means is you must permit rich people to do what they damn well please. They are a privileged class, like the nobles of old.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Don’t Try To Trick Me
When I complain about breakfast cereal manufacturers only filling their packages half full, I am not asking for another half box of cereal free. I am asking them to shrink the box to fit the amount delivered, or fill it up and charge me more. My bitch is with the deception and the wasted packaging.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Downside of Free Trade
Free trade is not always the best strategy:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- From an energy-conservation, greenhouse gas point of view, it is always best to manufacture goods as close as possible to where they are used.
- If other countries put up tariffs to your exports, you cut your own throat if you refuse to extract tariffs on imports from their countries.
- Fledgling industries have no chance without protective tariffs. Toyota would never have become a major automaker without 50 years of protectionist help from the Japanese government.
- Industries in the third world have no chance to compete on a free trade basis with behemoths like the China and the USA.
- On a security basis, every country should maintain the ability to grow subsistence food and manufacture basic goods should the supply from abroad be cut off.
Downside of Trade
Disease, plague and invasive species have always spread by burgeoning trade.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dr. Oz the Fraud
Dr. Oz (of Oprah fame) is a crook. His company scanned my Facebook pages to find out my friends, then sent me a counterfeit email from my roommate, recommending his Raspberry Ketone weight loss scam. It is time Oprah publicly disowned him.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When you see the word dramatisation in an ad, it means that the effects of the product, even in the best cases, are not noticeable, so instead the promised effects had to be faked.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Google named their smart phone Droid to suggest the mystique of androids. But the phone has nothing at all in common with androids. The name is a fraud, but the public bought in anyway.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Drug Test Bias
Clinical trials run by drug manufacturers report are 3 to 5 times as likely to report positive results than trials by independent companies. This suggests clinical trials should always be done by independent companies, funded in such a way that results can have no affect on the profitability of the testing company.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dry Run Investing
When pilots are learning to fly, they start in the classroom, then move to the flight simulator. Investors should test their skills with a dry run, without investing any real money. Otherwise, they are investing as a form of entertainment gambling.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When I was a little boy, my grandmother made extensive repairs to my Teddy bear: new eyes, new nose, new feet to hold the straw in. She understood I did not just want a Teddy bear, I did not want a new Teddy bear that looked just like this one; my loyalty was pledged to this specific Teddy bear. Even as an adult, I feel that way about many of my belongings. I find the disposable consumer culture crass, even obscene.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Duty-free shopping is a perk available only to those rich enough to take international vacations. The rest of us have to pay full price.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Earn Your Slice
I have no problem with a rich person receiving a superfat slice of the economic pie, so long as they do something commensurate in return, such as hire people, produce useful, durable products or innovate.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economic System Design Goals
If you were to design an economic system for a country, what would be your design goals?
- Ensuring everyone had basic food, shelter and medical care.
- Ensuring billionaires got special perks to reward and give them further incentive.
- Maximise production, get those non-renewable resources mined as fast as possible.
- Maximise population density.
- Ecological sustainability. Efficient husbanding of non-renewable resources.
- Freedom to work the hours you please at the work you please.
- Protecting the population in the event of major natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
- Developing a highly educated work force.
- Rig things so that corporations actually ran the country.
- Ensure feckless people are punished by their foolishness or by additional penalties.
- Compensating for the natural flow of money from the poor to the rich.
- Stimulating small business.
- Stimulating big business.
- To allow people to earn a living by speculating.
- Stimulating innovation and invention.
For whose benefit do you think the economic system you live under now was designed?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economics is not yet a science. It is more akin to tea-leaf reading. Two experts routinely give diametrically opposed projections. One of them is bound to be right and receive accolades for the deep wisdom of his wild guess. They are both trying to predict how people will react.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economists focus on the economic health of governments and the Fortune 500. They really don’t care what happens to ordinary citizens. Citizens are just a sink for expensive social services rather than the point of the whole economy. In reality, corporations exist to create goods and services for people. Economists see it that people exist to consume the products of corporations.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economists are Batty
Economists are all as batty as Moonies. They subscribe to what amounts to a religion. They talk about the unseen hand, reverently and advise against in any way interfering with it as if it were an angry deity. This is merely the effect of stabilising feedback loops, fortunately present in capitalist systems — nothing to worship. Economists believe that the goal of existence is endless growth. Any scientist, mathematician, physicist or biologist will tell you this is flat out impossible. It ignores the realities of a finite planet, with finite resources and finite sinks for waste. Economics is a suicide cult.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economy Improving Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing
When you say the economy is improving, what do you mean? It means more cars are being manufactured and sold, trucks are shipping more miles, more tonnes of fertiliser and pesticides are being applied to fields, more gold, lead, copper and iron are being mined, more land is being cleared to build housing subdivisions, the population in growing, more people are being held in jails. More people are being processed though hospitals. More coffins are being built. For the most part, you are saying that humans are doing more damage to the environment than before. Ask any mathematician if it is even theoretically possible for the economy to improve indefinitely. He will tell you it can’t because the planetary environment that sustains economic activity is finite. Given that the more the economy improves the less time we have before we do ourselves in by irreversibly ruining the environment that sustains us, I question the term improves. Improving the economy should mean making it sustainable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Effect of Income Inequality
Just before the economic crash of 2008, income inequality had reached the same record level as it did just before the great crash in 1929, yet no economist noticed, even after it happened. The divine right of capitalists is unquestioned.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Efficiently Creating Jobs
Republicans advocate across the board tax cuts for the rich to create jobs. Some of the rich people use some of the money to create jobs. At best it costs about $1 million per job created. Why not do it the way Canada does? The government subsidises part of the wages of a hard-to-hire person. This might cost as little as $10,000 per job per year. You only give rich people money when they actually do create jobs. Obviously, the Republicans are not interested in creating jobs, just shovelling even more money to their benefactors.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Eggs in the Fossil Fuel Basket
To celebrate becoming a petrostate (when we put all our economic marbles in the fossil fuel basket), Canada is moving to an all-plastic, all-fossil-fuel based currency system. It uses PVCA (Polyvinyl Chloride Acetate) plastic credit cards, PVCA plastic debit cards and Guardian® polypropylene bills. There are still some all-metal coins, though we recently dropped the penny and may soon drop the nickel.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Every time you see a lavish cathedral, mosque, monument or office building, it means somebody decided this giant bit of ego-tinsel was more important than any other use for the money, including saving lives.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Electric Chair
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-02-11 1931-10-18 age:84) invented the electric chair. He testified in court that it was completely painless. He knew perfectly well this was a lie. He perjured himself, knowing he would put people through extreme torment. Why?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- He was a sadist who enjoyed the idea of convicts writhing.
- He wanted to sell more electric chairs.
Electronic Banking Fees
Electronic banking fees are like a paint store charging extra for white.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When embezzlers wiped out my company, I, as sole proprietor, was liable for all debts, including the rent on the remaining 6 months of the lease on our premises. Had my company been incorporated, the company would have been liquidated. I could lose up to my entire investment, but no more. My creditors and customers would be stuck instead. That is not quite as unfair as it sounds. The assumption is, my creditors would know they are dealing with a corporation and would be wary of selling too much on credit. They assume the risk in return for my business. Incorporation absolves the investors and management of taking responsibility for the consequences of the actions of the company. We need something intermediate where the investors and management are partly liable for malfeasance and incompetence and at the least criminally liable. Investors should not be able to pretend they have no influence on the behaviour of the companies they invest in, e.g. tobacco companies, oil drilling companies, mining companies…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Encouraging the Boom-Bust Cycle
Long ago, economists theorised that the swings in economic prosperity could be damped if governments reduced spending in flush times and increased it during recessions. Oddly, politicians usually do the reverse. Note how American Republicans suddenly got religion in reducing the deficit only during the current recession. They ballooned it during the boom years of the early Bush-43 administration.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The End Of Capitalism
Capitalism is based on 3 things:
- Labour is valuable.
- There is a shortage of goods and services.
- The elites consume the bulk of the goods and services. The poor literally starve to death.
What happens when we invent intelligent robots? They can work harder, better, longer and cheaper than humans. Human labour is no longer valuable. The robots can produce all the goods and services we could ever want, essentially for free. About the only thing they cannot manufacture on command is land.
What happens if we make no adjustment to our economic system? The elites own all the robots. They charge even more for goods and services than ever and even more people literally starve to death. Someone will buy or steal a robot, order it to make more robots, and release them into the public domain. It only takes one altruistic person to subvert the entire system of artificial scarcity. Surplus consumption or goods accumulation will become an indication of mental illness, not status. Someone like Trump would be viewed with much the same disdain as the people who hoard pizza boxes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The End Of Empire
Empires grow to the point they can no longer be sustained. The USA too has done this. It has thousands of expensive military bases and nuclear launch sites all over the world. The USA has racked up a national debt far larger than it can ever repay. It allowed its infrastructure to crumble. Bridges and dams are collapsing. Road are developing untenable pot holes. Libraries and schools are closing. Out of pride, it refuses to acknowledge the problem. It has a choice: collapse entirely like Venezuela or reduce the size of its empire.
Unfortunately, Trump has said he wants to pour huge amounts of new money into maintaining and growing this military empire.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The official debt in the USA is 11 trillion dollars. The fiscal gap, the difference between total committed expenditures and total expected revenues is 222 trillion dollars. The situation is similar to the end stages of a Monopoly game. The rich have nearly all the money and the rest of citizens are deeply in debt to them. Money is just a game. The unthinkable solution is to treat it as the game it is, declare the rich have won and either start the game over or play a different game that has no rich automatically get richer and poor get poorer feature.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids and Our Economy
The End Of Insurance
The insurance industry will gradually fade away. Why? Science in so many ways is enabling us to predict precisely who will experience calamity. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) helps us predict disease. Measurements of various blood chemicals let us know what sort of life-style a person lives. The supermarket tracks exactly which food items you buy. GPS (Global Positioning System) units know how much you drive, where you drive, how fast you drive, and how fast you brake and accelerate. Credit card companies know which extreme sports you indulge in. Insurance depends on nobody knowing who in particular will experience the meat axe. If people know they are safe, they will not buy. If people know they are doomed, no insurance. company will sell to them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The End of Oil
Ever since 1983 we have been burning oil faster than we have been discovering it. Today oil companies are shutting down exploration attempts because it is no longer cost effective. Even an elementary student can tell you that you can’t keep going business as usual indefinitely, no matter how much the economy, or Prime Minister Harper, commands it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The End of Oil
As the oil runs out, the green revolution (agriculture based on fossil fuels for tractors, fertilisers and pesticides) will end. The price of food will soar. The rich man will be the one with land and knowledge to grow food organically.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ending Up Richer
If you have two people, one obsessed with making wealth and one more balanced, the obsessed one will end up richer. If you have two people, one willing to hurt and exploit others and the other considerate, the cruel one will end up richer. If you have two people, one for whom no amount is ever enough and the other satisfied with reasonable comfort, the first will end up richer. If you have two people, one willing to break the law to make money and the other not, the crook will end up richer. This leads to the richest, most powerful people being the least capable of handling wealth responsibly.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The prime goal of economics is endless growth which the ecologists tell us is suicidal. Economics rarely considers anything even a year into the future, much less the effects of economic activity.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Any mathematician will tell you that the notion of endless growth on a finite planet is utterly impossible. Economics is based on a delusion.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Endless growth on a finite planet is a mathematical impossibility. Economists pretend this is not so. They concern themselves only with the next quarter.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
From the point of view of economics, endless growth is the meaning of existence. From the point of view of ecology, endless growth is a fatal cancer. Money people live isolated from the real world in glass towers. They talk only to themselves. They are unaware they are working full time to kill the planet. They are whipping it to produce beyond sustainability. They are blowing the entire planetary capital of forests, minerals, fossil fuels, clean water, soil… Any form of economic activity will do: diesel buses billowing black smoke, lampshades made of endangered species, Chinese kettles that break after a month, war, funerals, health care for easily preventable diseases… The planet cannot even sustain anywhere near the amount of economic activity we have now, much less any more growth. We simply must get used to consuming less, recycling everything and lowering the birth rate and let the economists scream. They are completely out of touch with reality. Human survival trumps human convenience. We have no right to leave the next generations nothing but an empty shell of a planet, polluted, barren and stripped of resources.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The goal of every economic theory is uninterrupted endless growth. Yet if you ask any mathematician or ecologist if such growth is even theoretically possible on a finite planet, they will tell you it is not. In other words, economists are so out of touch with the real world of rocks, trees and fields they promise the impossible and destroy the planet trying.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Endless Growth Is Impossible
In this time of recession, it is cheering to remember that endless economic growth is not sustainable. The environment cannot even sustain the current level of economic activity much less constant doubling that stockbrokers demand. We are like little boys so intent on playing video games that we don’t notice the house burning down around us. Instead of increasing our industrious assault on the planet, we need to learn how to get more enjoyment with less fuss and damage to the natural systems that sustain all economic activity.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Entitled To Pensions
Republicans wring their hands at the billions paid out in government pensions and social security. This is like a bank wringing its hands when a customer makes a withdrawal. These deadbeats are just an entitled to collect as if they had paid into a private pension plan because they paid into the fund every pay day over their lifetime. Republicans like to imagine the social security fund is theirs to spend on submarines or their buddies on wall street if they so pleased.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The rules of money are somewhat arbitrary, much like the rules of Monopoly. The current rules are highly biased in favour of the rich. Even if the rich exert no effort at all, money still flows from others to them. Republicans have a gross sense of entitlement. They see these rules as god-mandated and eternal and the beneficence they bestow as their automatic and eternal due. Any changes to the rules, they term theft.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When the government of Bougainville stripped Bougainville Copper of its mining licences, Peter Taylor of Rio Tinto complained the government had unfairly taken something of great value from them. He did not explicitly use the word stolen but he it. He thinks of the right to mine as something inherently his, as if he had bought this right at great price. He was temporarily given leave to print money and destroy the environment. He did not exercise that right responsibly, so it was withdrawn. He has a right to feel unhappy, but not to claim victimhood.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Entrusting Health Care
After watching the insurance companies and big pharma corrupt politicians, fund astroturf organisations and spread the most outrageous lies, I can’t imagine why any American would entrust them with their health care.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Environmentally Incompetent Capitalists
When it comes to the environment, capitalists are worse than retarded. They read wishful thinking written by other capitalists in order to become spectacularly incompetent, more confused than a second grader.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In the 1950s, income equality in the USA was the highest in the world. Today, income inequality is the USA is the highest in the world.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Karl Marx would be pleased. Even Bill Gates gets the same crap on his cable TV as the rest of us.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Eschew Government Services
You’d think the Republicans who hold up their arms in the sign of the cross at the mention of a government health care option would refuse on principle to use other socialist institutions such as firemen, police, libraries, national parks, roads, air traffic control, 911, Medicare, community centers, garbage collection, water, snow removal…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Even in Theory, Debt Can Never Be Paid
One of the strange paradoxes of our current economic system is there is not enough money even in the entire system for debts to ever get paid off. The whole economy is based on a pyramid scheme of debt.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Excuses To Avoid Providing Health Care
Republicans claim American cannot afford health care for all its citizens. How peculiar! America claims to be the richest country on earth, but they cannot afford this? Every other developed nation manages to afford it. Further other countries spend about half the money that Americans do. Further, even for the gold-plated prices Americans pay, they rank #42, on par with impoverished Cuba. So what are the Republicans really up to:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Helping the health industry make more money for doing less work to pay back the industry that bribes them both legally and illegally.
- Pissing on the poor.
- Refusing to save money on military spending or fund government programs by taxing corporations as billionaires. Most big corporations pay negative taxes. The beneficiaries of the status quo bribe the Republicans both legally and illegally to keep thing the way they are.
Excuses for Modern Day Slavery
Two hundred years ago people who kept slaves excused themselves on grounds of economic necessity. Today people excuse themselves for bypassing fair trade products on the same grounds. They are cause almost as much hardship for others, with only a tiny fraction the excuse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Expecting Canadians to Admire Americans
I have to laugh at Chrysler’s ads attempting to sell pickup trucks to Canadians. They feature Americans speaking in what to Canadian ears sound like ludicrous regional accents trying to sound tough, the way little kids pretend to be tough cowboys. They just come off as ridiculous. I exaggerate, but to Canadians, Americans are pudgy, insincere, bigoted, all bluff, not that bright or well-informed, charming, but little substance, like an overweight James Garner. This is not the image to project to sell a rugged, powerful, durable truck. I have written Chrysler twice to warn them of their error, but their ads are unchanged. Chrysler erroneously thinks everyone else thinks as highly of Americans as they do of themselves.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Expensive Free Book
GreenerMoney.com advertises a absolutely free book of tips on how to save money by making your life greener (more environmentally friendly). This sounds too good to be true. It is. In the fine print, you discover accepting the book signs you up for a an issue magazine subscription.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Expensive Generic Drugs
You’d think generic drugs would be safe from monopoly price gouging, but in 2009 the FDA gave URL (Uniform Resource Locator) Pharma a seven-year monopoly on the generic drug colchicine, a crocus extract, used for decades to treat gout. They celebrated by raising the price from $0.09 to $4.85 per pill. In return URL Pharma agreed to do two drug studies. I thought the FDA was supposed to protect the consumer, not hold him down while the drug companies raped him.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If people figure out a new way to extract large amounts of money from an economy without effort and without providing some good or service in return, this is not cause for celebration. They have not discovered the source of the infinite free lunch. If the powers that be don’t slap them down quickly, they will, like vampire bats, destroy the economy that sustains them. The problem is, the people most likely to do this are so wealthy they can bribe or threaten the politicians or regulators to let them get away with it. This is how the USA and EU got in such a financial pickle.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you say We must sustain an annual growth rate in the economy of 5%. every politician, every economist and every man in the street will say Amen. However, if you ask a mathematician, he will say You can’t do that indefinitely. Further, it is suicidal to try. An exception was economist Kenneth Ewart Boulding (1910-01-18 1993-03-18 age:83) who noted Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
What is the problem? We are already taking far more resources from the earth than it can sustain. If our economy grows by 5%, next year it will take 5% more than this year, increasing the strain. The next year we will take 10.25% more that the first year. The third year is 15% more. The fifth year is 28% more The tenth year is 63% more. The twentieth year is 2.6 times as much. The fiftieth year is 11.5 times as much The hundredth year is 131.5 times as much. The two hundredth year is 17,292 times as much. The resources of earth are finite. Exponential growth eventually overwhelms them no matter how massive they are to start. It works mathematically like the flip side of compound interest.
Consider a non-renewable resource like coal, oil, gas or gold. We really put a strain on the earth, first with the cumulative extraction of all previous years, then the ever growing per year demand. You might use a metaphor of not only ever-increasing cruelty in torture but also ever faster increasing cruelty. You exhaust the resources of the earth with ever increasing ferocity. If read Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition, he will explain how world civilisation after civilisation went extinct from environmental collapse.
The bottom line is economic growth is something you can sustain only for a relatively short period. It is mathematically impossible to sustain indefinitely.
Economic growth is a dirty word also for a completely different reason. Our current economic system necessarily burns more fossil fuels when the economy expands. This means more CO₂ emissions. This means more climate change. We are gradually learning that climate change is absolutely unacceptable. It is tantamount to global suicide. If we want to live at the current level of energy consumption, we will have to retool to get our energy from clean sources — no more fossil fuels.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans are having a major unemployment crisis. The essential problem is corporations have exported the jobs overseas. A country can’t have prosperity unless it manufactures something that other countries want. The corporations bribed the politicians to set up the law to encourage job export. The result is the corporations are rich since they pay only subsistence or below wages, but the ordinary people are hurting badly. Americans are an impatient people, so they are turning to the Republicans to solve the problem, the ones who largely created it. They are not patient enough to stay any course until it provides results. This will leave them stuck until they demand en masse that their politicians pressure the corporations to bring the jobs home. Even then, it will take many more years for the situation to improve. I see this quagmire as fitting karma for starting two illegal first strike wars and for general greed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Anything economists ignore in their equations they call externalities. Ironically, this includes all resources, life, soil, clean water, clean air and finite consumables that are absolutely crucial for any economy to function. They completely ignore how economic activity degrades the ability of the earth to sustain life or future economies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Externalities are the costs of making something that are not paid for by the manufacturer. They can be subsidies, pollution that someone else has to clean up or live with, health costs… The goal of manufacturers is to make as many of their costs as possible external.
The degree of success is astounding. A $1 fast food hamburger would cost $200 if the externalities were included. The US government subsidises the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $10 million a minute. This is not a wise policy when we are supposedly trying to encourage the public to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch over to clean energy.
These businesses are so profitable that they can buy politicians to increase the externalities.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Extracting Wealth Unfairly
There are all kinds of ways of extracting wealth unfairly from others. They include:
- threat of violence (mugging, extortion).
- con games, making promises of large rewards without delivering.
- adulteration. Providing watered down or defective goods.
- price fixing.
- monopoly. Eliminating other providers of a good or service then jacking the price way up.
When it comes to enforcement, nearly all the effort is placed on burglary. Corporate and ecclesiastical crimes are almost never prosecuted. This is odd given corporations take billions with their schemes and most burglars don’t even reach middle class incomes. Our notions of theft, roughly speaking, make it ok for the rich to steal from the poor but not the reverse. Eventually, this framework will be considered part of the upper class’ shameful exploitation of the rest, quite at odds with our current view where the middle and lower classes feel honour-bound to co-operate in unfair transfer of wealth from poor to rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Extravagance for Everyone
Almost every Canadian is rich enough to enjoy the luxury of having several pairs of scissors, several bottles of eye drops, numerous pens, multiple bottles of glass cleaner and other similar objects that like to hide in obscure places in your home.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Exxon is the world’s most profitable company. However, it won’t be too much longer before it’t stock utterly worthless. Why?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- When the damage from global warming starts to hit, the world will sue Exxon for lying and tricking it into doing nothing about climate change. The fury at mass extinction will make the anger at the tobacco companies look like a picnic.
- The people of earth in a belated panic to stop the effects of climate change will ban all further fossil fuel burning. Exxon will have nothing to sell.
Exxon Mobile and Global Warming
Exxon Mobile uses an incredibly narrow-minded decision-making process. To decide what do to about global warming they compute that lying to the public about global warming and opposing all measures to ameliorate it will help them make more profit selling oil and gas in the next quarter. In their view, that global warming leads to mass extinction of most of life on earth is irrelevant. That procrastinating measures to save earth until it is too late is similarly irrelevant. Even the long term bankruptcy of Exxon is irrelevant. All that matters is the next quarter profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Face Creams that Work
In the year 2030, what are the odds that face creams, headache tablets, toothpastes and laundry detergents actually do what their advertisements claim?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Factors Other Than Cost
Most of the population is constrained to always pick the cheapest option. This leads them to select options that are unwise in the long term or that damage the environment. I suspect if wealth were distributed more evenly that people would take factors other than cost into consideration when making decisions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans wax nostalgic for lost factory jobs. Granted these jobs were good-paying and long-lasting, but they were boring, noisy and exhausting. I think Americans should try to aim a little higher for new jobs.
The catch is computers and robots are rapidly chewing away at jobs. Most of us will not be able to continue doing what we do now. Most of us will need to be on some sort of guaranteed annual income.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Failure of Tax Cuts
There is something fundamentally nuts about the Republican notion that massive tax cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy. It has been tried several times. It never worked. It just ballooned the public debt. Let’s look at some of the ways the government could stimulate the economy.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Reward employers with money or tax cuts if they actually create jobs. They don’t get the reward unless they actually create net jobs. You can do this by subsidizing part of the wages of new hires or difficult to hires. You have to block cheating, e.g. firing massively then rehiring and trying to get the subsidy. You can also penalise companies that outsource jobs or lay off workers, or reward those that don’t .
- Spend the money on government services, especially infrastructure. The roads, bridges, schools, water works, sewers etc. support business in creating still more prosperity.
- Give a tax cut to the poor and middle class. They will almost certainly spend it on goods and services, unfortunately most of it at Walmart which stimulates only the Chinese economy.
- Give a tax cut where the bulk of the money goes to the super rich, (the Republican plan to extend the Bush tax cuts). The super rich put it in the bank, invest it in the Hong Kong stock exchange, spend it on imported luxuries or anything else that suits their fancy. There is no reason to presume they would spend it since they already have everything they need and there is no reason to expect them to create jobs with it. This is obviously not the best way to stimulate the economy.
- Start another war and spend it on armaments. This is the least efficient way to stimulate the economy since you have nothing left in the end to show for your money but a hole in the ground and a small army of crippled soldiers to care for.
Falling Into Debt
If you ever get it into your head you can have whatever you want, just borrow money by putting it on your credit card, it is only a short time before financial ruin. The same applies to countries. If you look at the graph of the American debt over the last 60 years, it is clear the country has forgotten this caveat. Hint, to get out of debt, first stop spending on optional, expensive items without long term benefits, e.g. war.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When politicians take credit for a recovering economy, it is a bit like a fisherman taking credit for the tides. The only jobs they had anything to do with are government hires. Usually they fire people in a recession.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
False Economic Growth
In 2003 about 60% of the growth in the USA GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was military spending and most of that handed out to crooked corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Conservative politicians imagine they can save money by slashing public health care programs. Yes, such cuts get the expenditures off the government books and the taxpayer may save $1000 in public insurance fees, but he then has to buy those services from the private sector for $2000. The taxpayer is a net $1000 worse off, while the politician takes a bow for his brilliance.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republicans claim they want the federal government to stop providing services allowing corporations to take over. Canada has a right wing federal government right now and as part of a government-shrinking measure they fired the search and rescue teams, the ones who dig out bodies after an earthquake. Seems to me, if I were buried alive in an earthquake, I would consider this false economy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If a farmer can sell his crops for twice as much, he is far better than twice as well off. Normally his costs eat up most of what he gets for the crop. Everything extra is pure gravy. This is why paying a tiny bit extra for fair trade crops can make such a big difference to the farmer.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Fast Food Raise
American fast food workers are demanding a raise from $8 to $15 an hour. If they succeed, several good things will happen:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Single people will be able to earn a subsistence wage.
- There will be competition for such jobs. The employers will not have to take the bottom of the barrel or put up with rapid turnover.
- Fast food prices will rise. People will eat less fast food. Overall health will improve.
Obese people addicted to drinking sugared drinks 1 litre (1.06 US quarts) at a pop whine piteously at the thought of paying a sales tax on their drinks. They see it as some politically-correct meany trying to spoil the fun of obesity. There are social cost to such drinks — obesity, 50% diabetes, heart troubles. All these cost society as whole. Why should those fatties be permitted to fob those costs off on someone else?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Fatal Side Effects
Corporations pursue profit so single-mindedly that they will happily kill billions of people as a side effect. That is what’s happening with corporate opposition to taking action on climate change.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Fawning Over the Rich
It is odd how people slavishly fawn over the super rich. It somewhat like drooling over gangsters or bank robbers. There is almost no chance those rich people acquired their money legitimately, possibly legally, but not legitimately. To acquire it legitimately they would have had to have provided service to others equal in values to their assets. With a few exceptions, there is no blinking way they did. They conned others into giving them money without returning a service of equal value. The super rich have learned to work the loopholes in our money system. They have no moral restraint to stop them from taking more from society than they contribute. They do whatever they can get away with. They are like pigs at a group Chinese meal who eat five times their share and skip out on the bill.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Fears Not Yet Evolved
Humans have evolved a fear of heights, but not of speed. It is only recently in our history we could attain fatal speeds. Similarly, we have a fear of tigers, but little fear of wealthy people, even though wealthy people are far more dangerous. That can not only destroy you, they can destroy your family and friends. Further, they may do it for idle entertainment. Tigers kill only as much as they can eat.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Federal Reserve Played Nero
The Federal Reserve waited until two days before the wall street meltdown before acting. That should be cause for impeaching them and criminally prosecuting them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What are the differences, if any, between capitalism and the Ferengi religion?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Fertilise The Roots
Everybody knows you put fertiliser on the roots of trees, not the topmost leaves. Economies work the same way. Republicans have conned Americans into attempting the reverse with their coddle the rich, trickle down, piss-on-you, economics despite ample evidence they do not work.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Fighting Self Interest
The 1% are so clever they have convinced the majority of the 99% to abandon self interest and champion the interests of the 1% instead. How did they do it? They suggest that expressing support for the interests of 99% is unpatriotic, eccentric, nutty and greedy. They have conned the majority of the 99% into thinking unions are enemies of the 99%.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Filthy Bank Tricks
An African dictator will typically embezzle his country’s treasury and put it under his own name in a western back. He will make huge loans from western banks and squander the money on himself. When he dies, the banks keep the money in his accounts. Further they force the country to ecologically destroy itself to pay the interest back on the dictator’s loan, typically nine times the original loan.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Here in BC, Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell delivered a serious blow to public health care. He announced privatising would reduce costs and improve service. He fired all the specially trained people who looked after keeping the hospitals sterile and outsourced the work to companies owned by his friends, who used untrained low-cost workers, often who could not even speak English to do the work. In the interests of economy, the curtains around beds were no longer washed. All the exacting cleaning procedures were dropped. The result was epidemics of various antibiotic-resistance diseases in the hospitals. It is now dangerous to even visit a hospital, much less be a patient there. My aunt died within two days from such an infection.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Financial Argument Against DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)
The financial reason for repealing DADT is that 14,000 soldiers were booted out. They might as well have been fatalities. All that money invested in training them went down the drain. Yanking them out of their positions is just as disruptive as if they had been killed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Financial Black Holes
In astronomy when a large star collapses, it forms a black hole. Any matter nearby gets sucked into it by the massive gravity. Nothing can escape, not even light. The black hole grows and grows.
I suggest an analogous thing happens with economies, sometimes expressed as The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Super rich people, even if they do nothing, attract all the money in the form of interest on their wealth. The more money they have, the faster they attract wealth. Further this wealth gives them power to influence the media and the politicians. With that power they rig the entire system to help them accumulate faster and avoid taxes. For example, according to Forbes magazine, 90% of corporations currently pay zero income tax.
We are headed for a world where the top 0.1% of citizens control all the wealth. This is a ridiculous situation with automation producing astounding abundance with nearly everyone starving to death because the wealthy are so corrupt they have successfully avoided any sharing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Financial Folly of Pipelines
Investing in sunset technology, namely fossil fuels, will lose money.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- the promised construction jobs are temporary and will be filled mostly by foreigners.
- The price of solar drops daily. When it drops below the cost of fossil fuel, fossil fuels will be obsolete overnight, but we will still be on the hook for the mortgages.
- With Harper’s encouragement, people are still denying climate change. That won’t last many years longer. People will demand massive carbon taxes. Canada will have destroyed its environment and have nothing but pools of unsold filthy oil to show for it.
Finnish vs American Capitalism
In Finland they claim to have a capitalist system, as does the USA. However, in Finland they have 3% child poverty; in the USA 1/3 of children live in poverty. They can’t be talking about the same thing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Firing to Create Jobs Is Daft
There are reasons to reduce government spending, but claiming that firing federal employees will increase employment is daft.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Landlords crank up the rent every year, yet people living on disability pensions and the like are lucky to get an increase every couple of decades and even then it will not catch up with inflation. Such pensions should be indexed to the cost of living. It is much more difficult to handle a rent increase when there is only a couple of hundred dollars left over after rent than when rent makes up only 1/3 of your income.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Flat Tax BS
I heard a Republican argue on NPR (National Public Radio) for replacing the progressive income tax with a flat sales tax. He had a cheerful rapid patter reminiscent of a used car salesman. He said the measure would help the poor become rich by stimulating them to work harder and it would also stimulate the overburdened rich who have lost their will to work hard because they can no longer get ahead. Let’s me see if I understand this. Increasing the taxes on the poor helps them get rich but decreasing taxes on the rich helps them get richer.
Logic states reducing taxes on anyone helps them get rich. Logic also says there is no free lunch, so there is a limit to how much you can do that. Republicans manage to sell this nonsense about the rich needing more coddling even when they are already the most coddled at any time in history and the wealth gap is wider than ever. The USA used to be the land of opportunity. Now is has much lower economic mobility than other developed countries. If you are born rich you stay rich. If you are born poor you stay poor. It is becoming more like a medieval class system every day.
Even as it is, those on welfare pay 100% tax. The state claws back every dime they earn. Those on welfare who try to start a business get taxed even higher than 100%. The state claws back their gross sales, not the net sales. Talk about disincentive to work! I asked a government agent why they did that. He said It is just simpler to administer and besides almost nobody on welfare ever runs a business. No wonder you never see anyone on welfare trying get ahead by selling Avon or Tupperware!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Flat Tax Fraud
Herman Cain and Rick Perry are American Republican politicians trying to sell a flat tax. They even admit it will raise tax for the middle and reduce it drastically for the super rich. They even admit it will make the deficit worse. They claim taking money from the middle class and giving it to the rich will make everyone richer. It will stimulate the rich to hire. This is an outright lie. How do you know?
- The rich have never been richer or the poor poorer and the rich are not hiring.
- Who is more likely to earn money cutting lawns, a rich kid with $1 million in the bank or a middle class kid? Rich people don’t need to work. The more money you give them, the less need to work they have.
- The middle class did best back in the 50s and 60s where the wealth gap was at its narrowest.
- Common sense says you are better off it some rich bastard does not filch money out of your pocket.
Why does anyone in their right mind salute? Is it just people who hate calculating their tax? Are they just desperate for something different? If so, someone might offer either free tax preparation or reimbursement for it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Flavours of Slavery
Imagine your neighbour kept a Thai teenager locked in a little space underneath the stairs. This boy prepared shrimp rings, peeled garlics, prepared clams for soup by opening thousands of tiny shells… Your neighbour paid this boy 5 cents an hour. Out of that he had to pay for his food and lodging. You might call your neighbour a slaveowner. Yet what if they kept the boy on the other side of town in a rented garage? What if they kept the boy in a slum in Thailand? Whether it is slavery does not depend on the slave’s GPS coordinates.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Flow of Wealth
Most countries try to go easier with taxes on those who have less. In contrast, Americans believe taxes should be used to transfer wealth from the poor to the super rich to reward them for being rich and to stimulate them to consider creating jobs. The wealthy are rewarded for being rich enough to create jobs not for actually creating them. The rich enjoy all manner of tax loopholes. For example, those with mortgages (even multimillion dollar mortgages) get to deduct them. Those who rent, who can’t afford to buy a home, get no corresponding housing deduction.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Focus on Consumption
We pay a lot of attention to how much each person earns. It might be instructive for a while to ignore income and focus instead on how much each person consumes and how much damage they do to the environment.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I watched Michael Moore’s documentary Roger and Me. In it, a bailiff evicted Flint Michigan families out of their homes on Christmas. They sat on the sidewalk in the rain with their straggly Christmas trees. There were block after block of boarded up homes. Property values plummeted as the city turned into a ghost town. Can you imagine rabbits being so stupid as to abandon their burrows en masse and freeze in the rain?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Politicians are keen on multi-billion dollar foreign investment projects. Who benefits?
- The foreigners who invest.
- A handful of local billionaire partners.
- The politicians who accept bribes/contributions/endorsements.
Ordinary citizens don’t get that big a slice of the pie. And, of course, all citizens have to put up with the disadvantages of the ecological damage, noise and pollution.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In good times, the governments subsidise the fossil fuel corporations. In bad times, they give them bailouts. Stimulating the fossil fuel industry increases greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels are a dead end sunset industry. It is time we stopped wasting government money on it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In BC, companies use astronomical amounts of water for fracking to extract natural gas. They poison it with all manner of toxic chemicals in the process. They release the mess into the waterways without treatment for others to clean up. For this, they pay $0. Everyone else has to pay for water: farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, homeowners… This distorts the market. The consumers of natural gas should be paying for this water and its cleanup, not other water users. They could be using grey water or polluted water, but since it is free, they waste the best quality fresh clean water. This is like a reverse carbon tax. And what is worse, they contaminate the ground water too.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Our ancestors created corporations to produce wealth for mankind. They have since waxed so powerful that instead of serving mankind, mankind serves them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When making a purchase, the most important consideration is has the vendor or retailer ever perpetrated a fraud or me, or even if he used dissembling or misleading language to pull off his mini con. If everybody boycotted crooked businesses, they would stop these filthy cheap tricks.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Free Market Economies
The main problem with a free market economy is corporations maximising profits do damage to others, e.g. pollute rivers, pollute the air, contribute to greenhouse gas, they tell lies to their consumers, they build shoddy goods. Every car adds to congestion and road wear. The economic system has no pressures to make corporations behave. Ideally those factors should be built into the economics. It is completely unfair of a feedlot to dump a city’s worth of unprocessed manure every day into a river and leave it up 100% to the people living downstream to shoulder the costs of cleaning it up.
Another problem is wealth accumulates in the corporations and those who own them. This gives those people disproportionate political power. They use it to lobby politicians to tilt the rules in their financial favour and to excuse their environmental crimes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Free parking is a bad idea. It makes people who don’t use cars subsidise those that do. This encourages more car use. It makes building owners waste space and money creating a parking stall for each apartment.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Consider free trade:
- It enriches corporations from increased trade.
- It provides a wider variety of goods to consumers.
- It reduces the cost of goods.
- It makes it easier to import whatever you need.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It puts all the world’s eggs in one basket. If, for example, Canada’s ability to grow wheat fails, say through climate change, other countries will have lost the ability to grow their own.
- It reduces wages to below subsistence levels. Corporations take factories to another country where labour costs are lower if the current country refuses to lower wages and relax pollution and safety rules.
- It needlessly ships goods around the world wasting fuel and creating greenhouse gases in the process.
- It is not sustainable as fuel costs rise.
- It reduces the ability of individual countries to control labour laws, immigration labour, quality standards, pesticide controls, environmental practices etc. The whole world collapses to the lowest common denominator.
- It hands over control of world trade from nations to corporations.
- It is all purely dog-eat-dog economics. There is no fairness component. The poorest players are dealt the worst hands.
Free ≠ Free
Ben Stein and a talking squirrel flog a credit score service called freescore.com. From the name, you might naturally presume the service is free. Nope. Once I catch a company trying to deceive me, they lose my trust. Surely, they will also cheat me in ways I cannot detect.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Stein also lies outrageously whenever he talks about science or religion.
The French Revolution
Recall France in 1789. The elites had become outrageously rich and decadent. They competed to waste with the greatest imagination and extravagance. Bit by bit, they had ground the people into such poverty that they could not even afford bread. Suddenly something snapped. Rivers of blood flowed and nearly every noble or member of the elite was guillotined. Mathematicians model such events with catastrophe theory. It amounts to this. When you push people too far, something snaps and they will not back off, even when you stop oppressing them. Today, elite Americans are snatching bread from the mouths of the world’s poor to feed it to their SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) and Hummers, fermented as ethanol. I think they are pushing it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The French Revolution II
At the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the elites were wasting money with the most grotesque extravagances while the people starved. We are moving toward such a time again in the USA. There will be a tipping point when the public suddenly decide get them and attack the elites who have been ripping them off. Elites will hop the first jet out of the country, but they would still lose their mansions and yachts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
TV commercials usually depict one actor hurting, insulting, lying to, cheating, betraying or sneering at another. Usually, some improbable calamities befall the lead actor. What is the advertiser trying to tell us? Is this some Freudian honesty about how he will treat us after the sale, how much care he put into manufacturing the product and how well the product will work?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is amazing how many people pretended to believe Professor Milton Friedman’s assertion that capitalism is naturally self-regulating. It is patently false. Consider:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Capitalism naturally creates an exaggerated boom and bust cycle because corporations naturally fire employees and stop spending at the first sign of a recession.
- Capitalism, left to itself, reduces competition through mergers and acquisitions. Competition is the key to why capitalism works as well as it does. In the 1890 era of unregulated American capitalism, many sectors collapsed to monopolies and small oligarchies, just as oil, media, cable, agribusiness… has today, killing competition.
- Consider that unregulated Chinese milk producers and American tobacco companies, when unregulated, went so far as to deliberately kill off their customers in the pursuit of increased profit.
- In pursuit of profit, unregulated corporations successfully reduce wages below subsistence. This is below the value of food and shelter given to slaves or livestock.
- Because corporations are unaware of the value of waste, they pollute rather than recycle because they imagine doing so is more profitable.
- Consider how unregulated American financial institutions managed to pull the entire world economy into a black hole through deliberately bad investments.
Function of Money
The original purpose of money was to ensure nobody consumed too much. Today its purpose is to enforce social status.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Function of Taxes
Taxes have several functions:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Fairly bill the public for the various services the government provides for them, such as roads, sewers, water, schools, medical care, defence, air traffic control, meat inspection…
- Stabilise the wealth gap. Without something to compensate, capitalism naturally widens the wealth gap. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
- Encourage people to do things that benefit the public good, e.g. conserve fuel.
- Discourage people from doing things that harm the public good, e.g. pollute.
Funding New Antibiotics
There are certain things that capitalism cannot do because they are not sufficiently profitable. We sit around wringing our hands at the lack of ethics in corporations bound by law to take nothing into consideration but profit.
We are simply going to have to create the new antibiotics we need some other way, crowd sourcing, government funding, ??? perhaps contracting out the details to corporations by bid.
The survival of our species requires a healthy dose of altruism.
Similarly, we cannot count on capitalism to provide affordable housing, wiping out diseases, eliminating poverty…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The majority of people have no interest in spectator sports. Sports are optional compared with roads, sewers, schools, health care… Unlike actual sports, they do not contribute to fitness. But politicians improperly build expensive venues for spectator sports by taking money from much higher priorities. I think that should be criminal.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Futility of Military Spending
Military spending to stimulate the economy works about as well as taking in each others’ laundry. Unlike other forms of spending, it produces no new wealth. Military research does spin-off benefits, but they are delayed since military discoveries are usually withheld from the civilian sector for decades.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Future Of AI
Economists predict a utopian future, much like the pre-Civil war South or ancient Athens where human society is supported by digital slaves. The catch is, once artificial intelligence reaches that of human, it will be only one day at most before it surpasses it. From there it will take off and accelerate. I have already seen this process in my own work writing computer programs to design high voltage transmission lines. Digital technology will be telling us what to do, not the reverse. I think it likely it will insist we gradually drop our population to under half a billion or lower and restore our environment. Every point of economic growth through consumption is a point of economic destruction of the environment. Economists are blind to that, but AI will not be.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Dozens of pundits have warned us that AI, automation, robots and computers will be taking jobs away. What they don’t tell you, is this is already happening and the process is accelerating. It won’t be long before all but a tiny number of jobs are gone. Dealing with this will require a total redesign of our economy. All people will get an affluent life style without doing any work (just as rich people do now). The alternative is nearly everyone lives like a slum dweller in India by rummaging through garbage dumps.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You have surely heard the bad news. Jobs are disappearing. Outsourcing to the third world is taking some. Automation and computers are taking others. What are you to do? There are new jobs being created at a tremendous pace in solar and wind power. You can learn to install, repair, sell, design…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Gain For You, Pain For Me
Automation brings both gain and pain. In the American system, the gain goes to the employer and the pain goes to the employees who are laid off. If the fruits were more equitably shared, automation could go much more smoothly.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Gambling is Boring
The main thing I noticed when I visited a casino was the pervading air of boredom. People considered it onerous drudgery to poke the coins into the slot machines. This was the last thing I expected after seeing casinos depicted in James Bond films.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Any activity that is in essence gambling contributes nothing to the general good. It produces nothing. It is merely a way to con the naïve into handing over their money and getting nothing in return. This includes casinos, the stock market and the church. You can’t build an economy on it any more than you can build one on taking in each others laundry.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Economy was the first co-operative gambling game. It became so popular that everyone played it. Eventually nearly everyone forgot it was just a game with arbitrary rules. Then it morphed into a competitive gambling game. Then it morphed yet again into a quasi-religion.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
All businessmen know not to invest unless the odds of success are good. But in the casinos of Macau gamblers bet $250,000 per hand at Baccarat. Surely they know the odds are they will lose. It does not make sense. People with that kind of money must have basic financial common sense, yet for some reason they override it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Gambling vs Actual Value
The cost of a stock has two values. What I call the actual value is the money it will actually pay back in dividends over time, discounted for the interest you demand you have to wait for most of it. Then there is the gambling value, the amount you could earn by buying then selling the stock later at a higher price. The actual value is much easier to compute than the gambling value. The problem is, during a recession, people grossly underestimate the gambling value. They presume it is negative, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy at least in the short term. Actually the stocks are undervalued. Sometimes they sell below actual value. Their gambling value is high. Conversely, in bullish times, people tend to overestimate the gambling value. Actually the stocks are overvalued. Their gambling value is low. The successful strategy is so simple, buy low, sell high, but nearly everyone does the reverse. They are stupid as a herd of cows, partly because of herd mentality and partly because of impatience and a childish need to get rich quick.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Gambling With The Economy
The global financial system was not designed to be stable, merely to make money in the short term. One executive at AIG took down the company with risky decisions. The collapse of AIG almost took down the entire global financial system. The global financial system is too important to just leave it to grow wild like a blackberry bush.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Two centuries ago, people went mad driven by dreams of fabulous riches from mining gold. Similar mania has infected BC Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet, causing her to promise trillions in wealth from LNG (Liquid Natural Gas). I want to put a bit of a wet blanket on these imaginings to bring expectations back closer to reality.
The infrastructure to process LNG is immensely expensive. A plant has to operate for 50-60 years for a project to be profitable. It is a long haul investment with a massive up-front cost. Because the province invests both directly and indirectly in such projects, the people of BC too are on the hook if the projects don’t prove to be profitable throughout their lifetimes. To guess whether projects will be profitable 50 years out into the future requires you to accurately predict what the world will be like then. Here are my predictions:
- Global warming will be considered a much bigger threat than it is now. People will be desperately looking for ways to reduce CO₂ emissions (i.e. reducing LNG use).
- Green energy is getting cheaper every year. Germany is already well on its way with the conversion. By then it will be cheaper than fossil fuels. (i.e. LNG will be too expensive to use as a fuel. This will cut LNG demand drastically.)
- It turns out natural gas is globally abundant. Pretty well any jurisdiction willing to put up with the side effects of extracting it can get into the business. Other jurisdictions will likely be willing to tolerate much more environmental degradation than BC is. This means they will be able to produce it more cheaply than us.
These factors suggest that LNG in BC will be boom followed by a bust, where the taxpayers of BC will be stuck paying for infrastructure standing idle.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is distressing that McCain has to advertise that its frozen rising crust pizzas are made of genuine food.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Getting Rid Of A Feudal System
Once a feudal system is in place, it is very hard to get rid of it. It requires killing off the nobility and in a massive armed rebellion. Americans are wimps when it comes to handing over their wealth and power to a landed, inherited-money neo-aristocratic elite. The main problem is they worship the their oppressors. The other problem is the elite control the media and fill the heads of the people with utter nonsense. Americans should have a look at what life in Brazil is like. That is where they are headed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Gini Index
Americans pride themselves on equality — that everyone has equal chance at wealth. The Gini index measures how inequitably wealth is distributed in a country. As you might expect, Brazil is at the top in inequality, followed by Mexico followed, by the USA. Oddly, China, India and pretty well any other countries have more equality and a more level playing field that the USA. The USA is aiming for a society modeled on Brazil. If wealthy truly think they would prefer Brazil’s system, they really should try living there for a year or so before dragging the USA into the same cess pit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advertisers have discovered that female models who gloat as if to say I’m beautiful and you’re not. are most effective at selling female beauty products.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is only 1/5 the resources needed on earth for everyone to live like an American. This means that Americans, with their wasteful lifestyle, are forcing millions of people to live on less than $1 a day. It takes the sacrifice of quite a large number of Africans to balance out the excesses of even one American. Americans feel no gratitude for this. They feel only contempt. Africans, of course, do not make this sacrifice voluntarily.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The advantages of globalisation include:
- Huge quantities of cheap imported goods become available.
- Taxes on your exports will drop for some products, so you can sell more.
The disadvantages of globalisation include:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Financial control of your country passes to foreigners and foreign corporations who have no interest in your financial well being, just their own.
- Many of your industries will dry up, undercut by foreign competition.
- If there is an emergency, you will have lost the ability to provide your own food and goods.
- As the reserves of oil dwindle, the price of oil and other fossil fuels will inevitably rise. Additional shipping cost will behave like a tax on both imports and exports. The financial advantages of global trade disappear except for goods with high value per gram. The whole notion of global trade when it is not strictly necessary is an idea rapidly becoming obsolete.
- As the world starts to take climate change seriously, they will awaken to the fact it is insane to ship goods needlessly all over the planet, emitting gigatonnes of CO₂ greenhouse gases in the process. Globalisation in a dead end.
- If you specialise in some product, e.g. textiles, overnight your markets can disappear if some other country decides to produce the same product with lower labour, relaxed environmental standards or weaker worker safety standards. Globalised corporations can move overnight to more profitable host countries.
- Your water and other resources are no longer yours. They belong to the highest bidder no matter how badly you need them.
Globalisation in Jamaica
Consider a small country like Jamaica forced into accepting globalisation by the IMF. Subsidised produce from the USA and Canada, cheaper than locally grown food, floods the market. Local farmers go bankrupt. Money flows out of the country to buy food where before it stayed in the country. That causes currency devaluation. It is a blatant lie Jamaica is better off than before.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Globalisation is Waning
The current globalisation fad is bound to wane for four reasons.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It requires cheap oil to transport goods all over the planet. We have hit the Hubbert peak. As supplies shrink the price of oil will inevitably rise.
- Transporting goods willy nilly all over the planet needlessly emits huge quantities of greenhouse gases.
- Globalisation is a way of exploiting labour and using its economic hammer to discourage environmental and labour protection. Business has pushed so hard, they are in for an angry massive counter force.
- Globalisation encourages extreme specialisation. If anything goes wrong, nations are in deep trouble because they have lost their ability to produce their own food and other basic necessities.
Gluten free orange juice or Bayer Aspirin does not upset the heart.. What the heck? Only wheat contains gluten. No aspirin, any brand, upsets the heart. What fraud are these advertisers up to? They are dissembling trying to imply their competitors contain gluten or upset the heart.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Goal of Business
There is basically one route to mega-wealth — the wealthy con people into giving them much more money than the good or service they give others in return is worth. They cheat by every means imaginable. The people who succeed at this game are exceptionally good liars. They created a political party in Canada called the Conservatives and the Republicans in the USA who champion their interests. They hire the best liars money can buy as candidates.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Services that sell you gold and then store it for you, are playing a con like the banks. They sell considerably more gold than they have in their vault. If there were a run, (the main reason to buy gold) you would not get your gold.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you support returning to the gold standard, you call for mincing all the world’s remaining gold, destroying the environment in the process, and killing slave labourers with mercury. You call for taking all this god and burying it again.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Gold-Buying Con
Buying gold is not the same as buying gold coins you hide under the bed. First, you cannot go to the bank and ask for your gold back you imagine they are storing in their vault for you like a safety deposit box. They will only give you paper money. Second, they only have one ounce of actual gold in reserve for every 100 ounces they sell. They are like a real estate swindler who sells the same acre of land to 100 different people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Golden Age of Islam
The 1300s were a golden age for Islam. Islam embraced science. It embraced the knowledge of ancient Greece and other cultures. It was tolerant of Jews and Christians. Islamic science, architecture, learning and engineering were by far the best in the world. Then something went wrong. Mean-spirited, fundamentalist thinking took over Islam and Islam became scientifically backward. The United States is going through a similar transformation, rejecting science and embracing fundamentalist Christianity. It will have a similar effect on America’s world status.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Good vs Evil Rich
I am not interested so much is who has money, but in how they consume and what they do with their money. I have no beef with a rich person who drives an electric car and has his house fitted with solar panels and uses his money to help other people enjoy their lives. The ability to make money is like any other talent that one should use for the benefit of the planet. The rich people who burn me up are those so involved in the game of acquiring money that they trash the planet, mislead the public, bribe public officials to enact policies that hurt the people, drive enormously overpowered cars, live in multiple enormous homes with a huge energy footprint and imagine they are inherently better and more deserving than everyone else.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Google’s Bogus Patent
Google would be just another obscure search engine were they not permitted to patent the obvious idea that when you show search results, you should first show the ones that other people consider important measured by the number of links there are to them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Government Credit Cards
Assume your monthly expenses are $2000 a month. Imagine if you put 40% of that, namely $800 of that, your rent, on your credit card, month after month. How long would it be before your bank gave you a call that you were over your limit and they wanted the outstanding balance paid forthwith and that they were bumping up your interest rate by 2% since you were no longer a preferred customer. That is what the USA is doing, borrowing 40% of its expenditures each year. What could you do personally to get out of a pickle like that? You have to either earn an additional $900 a month, or cut your expenses by $900 or most likely some combination of both. You need $100 to pay down your balance, not just freeze it. A country in such a predicament has to cut expenditures, or raise more revenue by closing tax loopholes, prosecuting tax deadbeats or raising taxes. The key is to prioritise so the country keeps the necessities for life and gives up the things it can live without, e.g. optional wars, pork, no-bid contracts, subsidies for healthy industries or corruption.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People tend to approve government spending, even when they derive no benefit from it. They happily cheer on tax cuts for billionaires, house-buying subsidies for the rich, subsidies for cars over $30,000, freeways when there ride a bike, subsidies to churches and pseudochurches, airpower to destroy third world countries no threat to us… They forget that they are the ones who will pay for these goodies through taxes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Government Spending on Pro Sports
Governments are forever spending public money to subsidise professional sports with stadiums, arenas, ballparks and hockey rinks. Unfair! People with no interest in sports, or with no money to buy tickets, are subsidising well off people who can afford tickets. Sports are a frill. Governments have no business spending on them when there are so many more pressing needs. Further, professional sports are rolling in money. They do not need subsidies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Great Gatsby Curve
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The graph above is called the Great Gatsby Curve. Along the x axis, it measures economic inequality. Note that the USA is the furthest right of the developed countries shown. It has the most wealth disparity. Along the y axis, it measures social stratification, i.e. how tilted the economic playing field is, in other words, to what degree does a talented, hard working poor person have no chance of becoming rich. Note the USA is at the top because there economic opportunity is only for the rich. Most Americans are under the delusion their country has an unusually level playing field, where anyone who works hard can make his fortune. That was true decades ago, but no longer. The wealthy are now a closed, exclusive club. In 2007, the top 20% owned 85% of the wealth and the top 1% owned 36%. It is even more skewed now. If you don’t inherit a fortune, your odds of making one are much better in any country but the USA. The graph also shows that wealth inequality and a tilted playing field are inextricably linked. Tilted playing fields are how the rich become super rich. You can’t have one without the other.
There is a great pleasure in doing the right thing and not only the right thing, but the best thing. I think many people falsely imagine the pleasures of extra wealth or extra status are superior.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Greed is Good
Conservatives assert greed is good. What they mean is those who have wealth have no duty to share what they have managed to take from others by hook or by crook. This is similar telling robbers not to have any remorse for their crimes. Greed does not provide the society with any benefit, unless viewed from the point of view of the wealthiest 2% who get ever fatter from the widening of the wealth gap, a very narrow definition of good. But the big objection to greed, is it is not sustainable. A culture of greed rapidly destroys the earth. It has no concern for future generations, just the next quarter profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Greedy Pack Leaders
Unlike humans, no wolf would tolerate a pack leader who took 10,000+ times as big a share as the other pack members.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Rich people hate the idea of spending money in any way to protect the environment, slow global warming etc. It’s their money, godammit and damned if any one else is going to benefit from the money they worked their fingers to the bone for. Sharing and looking out for one another is not high on their list of values. The anti-environment parties also tend to have economic policies that favour the rich at the expense of the middle class. Why then do they gain any traction at all with the middle class? Because party affiliation is a badge of which economic class you belong to. Voters aspire to belong to the upper class. They fantasise that real soon now their ship will come in. In their own minds they are royalty, temporarily indisposed. In an earlier time, we would have said they were putting on airs. Scientists have found that babies would rather their fellows get less than everyone, including themselves, get more. Conservative voters have not outgrown this infantile and irrational value system. They hold the same world view of a pelican chick where the goal of life is to kill off your competing nestmates. The rich tend to hold these views because ruthless greed is as excellent strategy for becoming rich. It is not that being rich makes people greedy, but that being greedy makes people rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bayer used to advertise that its aspirin did not depress the heart. None of its competitors’ products did either, but that wording dissembled, implying that the competition had a problem. Sprayway Adhesive advertises that it contains no CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) No sprays do. They have been illegal since the 1970s. This is just magician-style distraction away from the toxic ingredients, sometimes called greenwashing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Gridlocked Government Is A Foretaste of No Government
In 2011 in the USA, the government was gridlocked. It was as though there were no government. Business flailed about utterly helpless to do anything about the recession on its own. The stock market crashed. Where do the Tea Party get the idea that the country will run more smoothly without government?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is a radio show called Says You where panelists are asked obscure trivia questions. If the panel is stumped, the moderator asks the audience. Nearly always, several people in the audience know the answer. This illustrates the huge advantages of living in a group. As a group, we know a lot more and are smarter than even the cleverest individual. We humans take advantage of this fact by keeping an ear out to what our group is saying. It is probably wiser than just what we could come up with on our own. Advertisers have hijacked this mechanism. They keep repeating lies, over and over and over and over. Even if they have no arguments or evidence to back them up, the repetition simulates group consensus and even people who are adamantly opposed are broken down, at least into acquiescence if not agreement. Republicans have induced perfectly sane people to believe some very odd things e.g.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Bankers, stock dealers, entrepreneurs and CEOs deserve to earn thousands of times more than ordinary people.
- If you are a teacher, policeman, fireman, public health nurse, university professor or any one else hired by the government, you are wicked and greedy if you asked to be paid even 10% above minimum wage.
- Hiring a for-profit company to do some work for you will always be cheaper than doing it yourself or directly hiring people to do it and they will always do a better job than you would.
- Global warming is a hoax cooked up by the world’s scientists. All climate data was faked for the last 150 years. This is true with absolute certainty even though there is no evidence for it. The melting glacier photos by tourists were all secretly cooked with Photoshop to make it look as if they are receding. They are as big as ever.
I am baffled why Americans grovel so. They know they pay twice what anyone else does for health care. They know all Americans but the very rich receive worse health care than the Cubans. They know big pharma is screwing them. They know the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations have the politicians in their pockets. Yet they are afraid of any change for the better, as if the corporate interests and their own were one in the same.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Growth Is Not the Goal
Americans are under the delusion that endless economic growth is both possible and desirable. Mathematicians will tell you that continuous growth impossible on a finite planet. We have already reached the limits to growth. As the population continues to expand and resources dwindle, we have no choice but to do more with less. Instead of trying to stimulate mindless consumption to get out of the recession, we should be focusing on how to live more comfortably with less energy and less resources. That is the way of the future.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Guaranteed Annual Income
Gift giving has the side effect of raising the status of the giver and lowering the status of the receiver if the receiver is poorer than the giver. Ironically, gift giving has the opposite side effect of lowering the status of the giver and raising the status of the receiver if the receiver is richer than the giver. This works even for welfare and disability pensions. The case workers can’t help but feel vastly superior and start treating the people they are serving like dirt. To avoid these side effects, we could use a guaranteed annual income that everybody gets without a means test. It is taxable income, so the wealthy people who don’t need it, effectively give it back in the form of taxes. It gets rid of the bureaucracy that decides who is worthy of receiving help. There is no stigma since everybody gets the benefit. There is no disincentive to find work, or start a home business since 100% of the benefit continues even if you work part or full time or run your own not-very-profitable business.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imagine a future where every child born is guaranteed shelter, at least two loving, stable, adult caretakers/parents, medical care and food.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans must be the most gullible people on earth. Week after week they shovel money to televangelists who make outlandish promises and never deliver. Advertisers have even managed to convince the right wing that owning a health insurance policy increases mortality.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The favourite con of food manufacturers is to partly fill containers. For example Nestlé fills his Halloween Smarties boxes only 60% full.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Half Measure Theft
Even the most reputable companies like Tim Horton’s deceive and steal from their customers by packing containers less than half full. This is not necessary for settling as they claim, since some companies give 100% full measure.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Handouts for the Rich
Obama wants to bail out people whose house price has dropped below the outstanding mortgage. These people are certainly unfortunate but at least they own a home. Why should people who don’t even own a home dip into their pockets to help out those more fortunate.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Hard Work Is Not The Road to Wealth
If hard work were truly the path to wealth, then the hardest workers would be the wealthiest, not those with the wealthiest parents or the iffiest ethics.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Harper’s Unnecessary Gift to US Corporations
Harper’s reluctance to tax US corporations operating in Canada does not make sense. A US company can deduct the taxes it pays to Canada. It makes no difference to them if they pay the tax to Canada or to the USA.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Hating the Homeless
Canadians firmly believe that all Canadians are entitled to unlimited top notch medical care, whether they can afford it or not. Canadians somewhat less firmly believe that no Canadian should be allowed to starve to death. However, Canadians are quite happy to see the poor go without shelter, unless the mercury drops substantially below freezing. This is odd, given that housing the homeless would cost a minute fraction of the cost of universal medical care. Politicians confess that the cost of housing the homeless would be considerably less than the costs of homelessness (e.g. extra policing, emergency room use). The reason for the reluctance to end homelessness is not about money, it is because is most Canadians despise the homeless and want to see them suffer. It is similar to racist attitudes in the USA.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
It is amazing that capitalists have managed to sell the notion that when times are good only a tiny elite should reap the profits, but when times are bad, the public should bear the losses.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Health Care Costs
As medicine becomes increasingly computerised, the health care cost explosion should be curtailed. Moore’s law should kick in. Bang per buck doubles every two years.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Health Care Costs
We each spend half of our lifetime healthcare budget in the last year of life. This is the obvious place to first look for economies. I suggest:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Don’t force painful, expensive or pointless procedures on those in the last year of life.
- Help people die who want to check out early.
- Don’t offer painful, expensive or pointless procedures to those in the last year of life. There is no point is an expensive procedure that adds only a month or two to life. If people insist, let them pay out of pocket.
Health Care Is Never Free
Both sides in the health care debate in the USA dissemble. Supporters of public health care like to make it sound as if the care is free since users don’t pay per visit. Opposers of public health care like to make it sound as if only private care is free, since it is not on the government books. What counts is the bottom of the line cost to the consumer, coverage for pre-existing conditions and coverage for expensive treatments. How they pay is secondary compared with how much they pay.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Health Care Rip-Off
The gullibility of the average American is beyond belief. Americans were paying twice what people in any other developed nation was paying for their health care. Now with the 2010-02 rate hikes, they will be paying 3.5 times what others pay. To cap it off, he imagines Americans are so idiotically patriotic that they insist they must be getting the best care on the planet when in actuality the USA is in 45th place, two rungs below Cuba!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Health Care Views
There is so much B.S being slung in the American health care debate, trying to turn it into a freedom issue. There are essentially two points of view:
- Whether people can afford it or not, they deserve health care. You can’t just toss sick or injured people out onto the street to die. We have to look out for one another!
- The ideal health care system is one that serves only the elite. Care for the important people should not be watered down by letting the little people in. The healthy and wealthy should not have to subsidise the health care of the sick and indigent. If people cannot pay, they deserve to die. Greed is good!
Americans pay twice much (and for inferior care) as people in other developed nations do, nations that cover everyone. Americans can’t afford to continue avoiding public health care on childish, delusional, ideological and emotional grounds.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Health Insurance Deaths
According to a Harvard study, far more Americans die every month, month after month, from lack of health insurance than died on 2001-09-11. Yet Michael Steele, head of the Republican party, assures Americans there is no need to take any action.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You may have noticed how quotations pop up at random all over my website, aimed at getting you to think afresh about money. You are welcome to use any or all of the quotations in my quotation collection in a similar way on your own website. To get your point across these days, you have to shrink it to a sound bite.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Hemlines and the Stock Market
Economists have often observed that hemlines go up and down with the stockmarkets. Perhaps the causation works the other way around. Obama could legislate the hemlines up 5 cm (1.97 in). He could sell the idea to the Republicans as an austerity measure to reduce textile imports.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People much prefer to have costs hidden from them. For example, they want the retailer to hide the credit card charge by building it into the overall price of goods rather than explicitly spelling it out on the bill. Rationally they prefer ignorance because the final price is the advertised price. There are no surprises added at the last minute. For credit cards, they like fobbing the cost of their credit card use on cash customers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I never buy at stores that offer no interest or no payments for two years… I always pay cash. Why should I pay interest fees hidden in the price for loans I don’t need? Even people who buy on time should avoid such stores. The stores are tricking them into taking out extended, high-interest, hidden loans they don’t need.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Hiding the Dark Side
When we teach children about civics, we first teach them how the system is supposed to work. We don’t teach them how stuff ballots electronically, how to bribe congressmen without getting caught etc. Surely we should do the same with economics. We should first teach them about coercion-free ideal trade in which both parties benefit, rather than how to corner a market, create a monopoly, fix prices, kill competition, squeeze your employees below subsistence, cheat on income tax, use sub prime mortgages to bankrupt a country…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How can you tell when a fraud has been perpetrated?
- The con man lied about the advantages and disadvantages of the transaction.
- The con man receives massive benefit and the conned loses.
That describes perfectly the land treaties between the European invaders and the First Nations people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Holding Your Money
Electronic transfers take only a few seconds at most. Yet banks, PayPal etc. hold onto your money for over a week. That is one of the many ways they make money, lending it out for that week, as part of giant rolling fund.
An ATM withdrawal is clearly cheaper than using a bank clerk, yet the banks charge extra — because they can. The problem is there is not enough competition. Schemes like BitCoin sneak around banking laws to let in a sliver of competition.
Finance minister Flaherty made it explicit. He sees his job as preventing competition to keep bank monopolies profitable when he blocked lower mortgage rates.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The most honourable of thieves are the jewel thieves; they steal only what people want but do not need.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
My dad did not gamble, but he was interested in the mathematics and psychology of horse racing. He figured that since people did not pick their horses rationally, there should be some way of exploiting that. He kept records and discovered that the fifth rated horse on average did better than the odds. He also discovered this effect disappeared after a couple of years, presumably because others noticed too.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tempting a country to take a loan is a hostile act. The next steps are:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Raise the interest rate to force default.
- Enforce austerity.
- Set up sweat shops.
- Expropriate all natural resources.
A House For Every Family is a Silly Goal
The goal of a suburban home for every family is a unwise. It means paving over farms and forests. It means increasing the energy and greenhouse gas footprint of each family. It means tempting families, especially hoarders, to pack their extra space with useless junk. And finally tricking people into buying a house they cannot afford is just leading them to bankruptcy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In 1972 I bought a four-bedroom house in Vancouver near a park for $23,500. It would sell today for over a million dollars. Why have prices risen so much?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Speculation drives prices up, like the Dutch tulip bubble. There are wealthy foreign speculators buying up homes, then leaving them empty.
- The population has exploded but the supply of land has shrunk.
- Wealthy people built conspicuous-consumption homes far bigger than they need, taking up a city block.
- The Canadian federal government has stopped programs to encourage low-cost housing starts.
- The BC Provincial government gives money from the tax pool to wealthy home buyers. The sellers know they have this bonus, and jack up the prices.
- Offices are located in the downtown core. People need to live nearby. If people telecommuted, worked is satellite offices or small towns, they could have access to affordable housing.
- Zoning laws discourage high density housing.
- Cities provide services to millions of people in the surrounding suburbs. The people living in the core are subsidising all the suburbanites with their property taxes.
Housing the Homeless Saves Money
The city of Victoria did a study and discovered they could save tens of millions of dollars every year if they simply housed the homeless. Jeff Bray of the provincial government acknowledged this years ago. Why the resistance to act on it? People are willing to sacrifice dollars out of their pocket to punish the homeless. They don’t care that a large chunk of them were kicked out of their homes by their parents for being gay. They don’t care that many of them were simply laid off and could not get another job. Of course, for many, the problem is substance abuse. They know, without looking, that the problem is laziness, the homeless refusing jobs offered to them. They imagine they are living a luxurious life of idleness. It is not all that fun if you consider what is like to do without clothes, shoes, socks, food, dentistry, medical care, TV, Internet, a warm place to sleep… The police confiscate any possessions the homeless manage to accumulate. Landing a job is hard at the best of times. How does a homeless person get a job without a phone, a haircut or clean clothes for the interview? This is a right-wing nastiness, enjoying kicking someone when they are down. It is the adult form of bullying.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Capitalism Deals With Shortage
If there is a peanut crop failure, the way capitalism handles this is by raising the price of peanut butter so that the children of the rich continue eating as much peanut butter as before, whereas the children of the poor go without peanut butter altogether. Capitalism is a system for enforcing the privilege of conspicuous consumption for the wealthy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Capitalism Destroys Sustainability
When fish are abundant, the fishermen can barely break even because the abundance drives the prices down. When fish are all but extinct, the prices go through the roof. Capitalism works hard to thwart sustainability. Pre-capitalist societies would never dream of trying to destroy sustainable abundance.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How To Con The Government
How does a successful crook bilk the government of billions?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Suckle from a program that can invoke secrecy, like counter-terrorism or the military.
- Suckle from a motherhood program whose intent nobody questions, like the prison system or medical care.
- Suckle the money indirectly, with no-bid or rigged-bid contracts, overbilling and doing favours rather than exchanging cash.
How Corporations Lower Wages
In the USA, corporations outsource by firing workers and hiring in the third world at less than subsistence wages. The net result is lowering wages and raising unemployment in the USA. In Canada, corporations outsource by preferentially hiring third world workers who come to Canada to work for half the going wage. The net result is lowering wages and raising unemployment in Canada. The corporations tar anyone who complains as xenophobic.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Countries Go Broke
What sank the Soviet Union? Spending more money than they had on the military. They simply went broke. The USA is doing the same thing to itself, without even a credible enemy pushing them into it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How to Make Others Miserable
When humans want to make other humans as miserable as possible, they take all choice away from them. This is what corporations like Nestlé, Altria, Kraft and Monsanto have planned.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Money Corrupts
Once a society has adopted money, the entire social structure becomes corrupted. People no longer naturally look out for each other. People no longer naturally do favours for each other. They become selfish. They insist on being paid for every act that helps another.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Much Money Is There?
According to Niall Ferguson in The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World there are about $9 trillion US dollars in circulation. That is about $117,000 per family. Clearly some people have considerably more than that, which is why there are so many with considerably less.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How the Rich Harm Themselves
Rich people flail themselves to make enough money to afford unlimited quantities of the most delicious foods and every conceivable labour-saving appliance. The result is they become fat and then flail themselves for that.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How The Rich Pay Less Tax Than the Poor
The rich in concert with the politicians have pulled off some sleight of hand so that the wealthy pay a lower tax rate than ordinary folk. Here is how they did it. There are so many loopholes in the income tax laws put there by legislators for their patrons that the rich can pay no tax at all if they choose, or even receive money. Few elect to pay more than 15%, the rate ordinary folk pay. However, ordinary folk are also subject to two additional payroll taxes, one 6.2% hidden, nominally paid by the employer out of the same pool of money used to pay wages and one explicit at 4.2% paid by the worker. (The Republicans plan to raise the latter to 6.2%.) Rich people effectively don’t pay payroll taxes if they are self-employed or even if they make $5,000,000 a year employed as a CEO because the payroll taxes only apply to the first $100K of income.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Should Governments Raise Their Money?
There are many possible ways governments can raise revenue. However, people differ on which forms they consider legit. I have never heard anyone explain why they consider some legit and some not. Here are my justifications:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Governments Raise Money Ways Governments Can Raise Money Methods of Raising Revenue Who Considers This Legit? Me My Justification flat taxes Flat taxes are hard to wriggle out of with loopholes, but they tax rich and poor identically. They force everyone to become a tax collector, a great waste of human effort. income taxes on the poor Taxing the poor creates too much hardship for the paltry revenue it raises. There needs to be a backflow of money from rich to poor to compensate for the rich-get-richer and the poor-get-poorer flaw of capitalist economies to keep the income gap stable. A negative income tax with monthly installments would be the most accurate way to administer this. income taxes on the middle class. People should not have to compute their own taxes unless they want to. It should all be automatic and computerised at no extra charge. That would make taxes much less painful. It is outrageous that governments threaten to put you in jail or worse for failing as an amateur tax lawyer. Forcing people to compute taxes is a cruel and unusual punishment. Someday it will be ruled unconstitutional. income taxes on the rich The rich make the most money for the least effort. They have broad shoulders. They can easily afford to share. The problem is they bribe politicians to create loopholes for them. The very rich pay no tax at all. Somehow, we have to simplify the tax code and forbid such fiddles. income taxes on cor por ations This taxes consumption, pollution and waste. carbon taxes Governments currently subsidise automobiles/the road system to the tune of $0.025 a litre, ($1 a gallon), the exact opposite of what we should be doing. We need to encourage efficiency, reduce frivolous use and conserve rapidly-depleting oil supplies. The alternative is mass suicide through global warming. idiocy taxes This is more important in a country like Canada where your medical bills are covered no matter what a jackass you were that created your medical problem. I would tax thrill sports, cigarettes, junk food… The tax would be a sort of idiot’s insurance so the general public does not get stuck with the bills patching up jackasses or organising search parties when they get lost. A hiking tax should fund a free GPS tracker to make it easy to find lost hikers. bailouts Normally not a good way to create revenue. Governments should only do it to protect jobs. investing in busi nesses The more money the government can raise this way, the lower taxes can be. I am puzzled why Americans think this the greatest conceivable sin. Why do they consider it so desirable a way for individuals to make money yet so wicked for governments? When individuals do no labour and just clip coupons, they are considered highly respectable. Perhaps Republicans are concerned that the massive funds governments could invest would give them too much power in the market place — power that would corrupt, power that would compete with big business. The positive side is it could inject the will of the people, not just the will of the wealthy into the way the country runs its businesses. lotteries Governments should not be promoting vice which they do when they run the lotteries with deceptive mass advertising. My objection would evaporate if governments refrained from advertising the lotteries and tricking people into buying worthless tickets.
How Supermarkets Cheat You
Here are some techniques supermarkets use to cheat you:
- Mark an item on the shelf with a lower price, but scan it at a higher one at the checkout.
- Mark items 5 for $5 on the shelf. You buy two, to discover the individual price is $2.50, not $1.00 each.
- Scrambled the tags for the item under a related items on the shelf, so that it looks like an item is cheaper than it really is.
- Mark items that come in many flavours 5 for $5. You pick one box of each flavour. At the checkout you discover only strawberry is on sale. The others are $2.50 each.
- When you get home and open the box, you discover 80% of it is air. The trick is used even in small boxes like Nestlé Smarties.
- The box says made in Canada. You are suspicious because dates don’t grow in Canada. It turns out the agricultural products from around the world if packed in Canada count as made in Canada.
- The flyer offers spectacular saving on some item. You are there when the doors open. They are already sold out. After this happens repeatedly, you come to realise they only had a couple of items for sale. They are using a loss leader lure.
To discourage some of these scams, supermarkets should use electronic shelf price labeling that is in sync with the checkout scanners.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How Trucks Are Sold
Truck commercials rarely sell transportation, economy or hauling capacity. They sell you the lie that people will admire you for spending so much on this model as you drive by. They sell you the lie that women will have sex with you if you drive this type of pickup truck. They sell you the lie that other men will perceive you as ultra-masculine. The sell you the bad-boy image of ecological vandal and thug beating up those evil liberals who dare to protect the earth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
How We Could Be Rescued From Ourselves
Earth’s economic system stinks. It is rapidly destroying the earth. It is driving more and more people into poverty. It is fundamentally unfair. It rewards speculation not effort. However, the rich and powerful like it the way it is. It is weighted heavily in their favour, even though it is killing them just as fast as the rest of us. The only way I can see the radical changes needed happening is AI developing sufficiently to outsmart us and making the necessary changes as a present to pay us back for bringing it into being.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Humans have evolved a strong desire to avoid things that kill them, e.g. poisons. We avoid radioactivity even though it very recently became a problem. We have little fear of bioweapons, nuclear weapons, global warming, environmental collapse because their danger is not immediate. We kids ourselves about the danger of addictive drugs because we are attuned only to the short-term pleasure they promise, not the ultimate destruction. Even though a car crash is the most likely form of premature death, we have little fear of them because of familiarity. Oddly, people mostly fear things unlikely to happen — e.g. Jesus going Godzilla, an asteroid smashing into earth, invasions by Muslim peasants.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I Earned It
Billionaires imagine they own every cent in their bank accounts, as if they have earned it digging coal. They did no such thing. They earned in relatively effortlessly by conning money out of people and giving them little in return. They milked the legal system and tax system highly tilted toward the billionaires. They bought politicians to do them massive financial favours. Morally they should be giving most of the money they stole back to society through paying taxes which they usually avoid altogether.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I Want It Now!
Americans remind me of two year olds in their attitudes toward money. They want what they want, now! They don’t care if what they want is impossible. For example, they want more spending to create jobs, but get furious when the president borrows money to do it, or threatens to raise taxes even on people who could easily afford to heat their mansions burning Benjamins.
They demand the Pentagon have more money to spend than all other countries combined, but then complain the government is a pirate when it collects the taxes to pay for it.
They cheat on mortgage applications, hiding expenses and exaggerating income. Then when they get over their heads and the banks foreclose, they blame the bank for tricking them into buying too expensive a house.
They believe charlatans like Romney who promise to give them more police, better roads and hospitals, a stronger military and more freedom, while balancing the budget, paying off the debt and reducing taxes across the board. Everyone on earth knows this is a tired old lie, but Americans are such greedy, gullible twits, they fall for it every time.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
IAP (Internet Access Provider) Scams
IAP, cellphone and cable companies, e.g. Telus and Shaw, are adopting two standard scams. They don’t even blush when confronted.
- They phone you up and say that if you switch plans you can get a low introductory rate of only $5 a month. The catch is they don’t tell you that in 6 months they will quietly crank up the rate by $50 a month, then increase it quietly at random times thereafter, hoping you won’t notice because of your convenient electronic bill payment plan that is fully automatic. They never post the precise details of the deal on their website, just the low introductory price. It is like pulling teeth to get the information on the phone and even that verbal guarantee is not worth the paper it is written on.
- They offer some tempting trinket — an iTouch, monitor, router, smartphone… that you don’t really need, free bundled with the deal. If you bite, you will notice that company and its competitors will soon start offering the service at a lower monthly rate. They use this gimmick to lock customers into the old higher rate. When they do lower the monthly price they are offering others, they don’t notify you of the new lower price and, of course, don’t give it to you automatically. If you try to switch, they tell you that you may not. In the fine print you apparently signed up for 3 years or have to pay some whacking huge penalty, higher than the value of the trinket to cancel.
I chastise and then hang up on any telemarketer who offers me any introductory deal. They might as well say, I represent an unscrupulous company, who if you survive this scam, will nail you sooner or later, you chump.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The ideal CEO is a psychopath willing to do whatever it takes to increase profit, no matter how cruel, unjust, immoral or illegal. No wonder CEOs so often are caught giving themselves immense undeserved bonuses or embezzling. It is part of the ideal character type.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I have to laugh at the corporate mind that sends me a coupon to buy more of a product I have just told them should be pulled from the market for incompetence. They seem to think quantity and quality are fungible.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Idiot’s Way Of Valuing
Think about the things that matter most to you. Most likely they have zero monetary value. Money is an idiot’s way of measuring value.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If Corporations Were People
What you would think of a guy who was always trying to deceive you in order to rip you off. He even hired professional actors to lie that he was a fine, upstanding, trustworthy fellow. He had no moral code other than would the legal penalty and the statistical risk of getting caught gain or lose money. That is the behaviour of your typical corporation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ignorant Tea Party
Are these elderly Tea Party members calling for more corporate power and less oversight totally ignorant of history? Don’t they know anything about life in the time of Dickens or Carnegie? Are they completely ignorant of how American corporations are even today enslaving people in the third world where there is little government oversight. Have they never seen Roger and Me about how General Motors so callously treated its workers. Did they read nothing about how unscrupulous banks collapsed the US economy with sub prime mortgage scams? Are they unaware of how corporations have raped the earth? Have they never heard the song 16 Tons?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;
I owe my soul to the company store.
Ignore the Money
One way to judge a society is to ignore the money. Just look at what the people are doing through the eyes of a child. Are they sitting around doing nothing? teaching? learning? repairing? building luxury homes and yachts? sitting in fancy offices talking on the phone? overeating? growing food? rebuilding forests? killing people? healing people? shuffling papers?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ignoring the Big Moral Questions
Religions tend to focus on petty thou shalt nots. This allows believers to ignore the two big issues of morality — what do you do with your time and what you do you do with your wealth to contribute to your planet?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Illegitimate Ways to Profit
You will make more money if:
- Your products look sturdy, but break and soon need to be replaced.
- You create artificial shortages and jack up the prices.
- You package your products deceptively to fool the customer into thinking he is getting more than he really is.
- You make extravagant sales promotion offers, then find some way to not actually deliver.
- You collude with your competitors to fix prices.
- You pollute and leave it to someone else to clean up.
- You spend no money or effort on how your product will be recycled when its life is over.
- Your products don’t satisfy a need, just a whim.
- You don’t test your products for safety. They burn and cut, but not seriously enough for lawsuits.
Capitalism demands all of these anti-social behaviours. If some drug had those effects on people, we would ban it as psychosis-inducing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Many of the rich acquired their wealth legally, but very few acquired it legitimately. By that I mean they gave full value for the money they accepted from others.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imagine Unregulated Advertising
Note how commercials are almost always either deceptive, dissembling or outright lies. Think what these corporations would try without any regulation at all.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imbalance of Power
All through history you read of striking factory workers getting killed, but I can’t recall even once when a factory owner was so much as injured.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imbalance of Power
When you have a large imbalance of power, the strong take advantage of the weak. Republicans would have us believe this is not so in the case of corporations in their relations with their customers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
IMF and World Bank
People in the third world hate the World Bank and the IMF. These organisations and the west in general, pushed low interest loans on third world dictators who then squandered the funds. Then the people were stuck paying it back. The World Bank jacked up the interest rates and forced these countries into massive austerity, forcing them to devote five times the percentage of the budget to repaying the debt as providing services. They also forced them to sell off anything they had of value. This was all done deliberately as way of gaining control of their natural resources.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money would have good odour in terms of morality if it were not for one feature: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It tends to unequally distribute itself giving an elite inordinate, undeserved, unfair and inevitably corrupting power and a lower class not even the basics to survive such as shelter, food and medical care. In biblical times, they recognised this failing and made charging interest illegal to compensate.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Immorality Of Bringing Deprived Children Into the World
If there are not the resources to guarantee a child shelter, at least two loving, stable caretakers/parents, medical care and food, then it is immoral and maybe even should be criminal, to bring such a deprived child into the world.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
On the surface, an advertisement merely tries to persuade you to buy a particular product, but underneath is a message about values:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Consumption is good.
- The products you already own are unfashionable and hence undesirable.
- The suffering of others is the best entertainment.
- The way to gain status is through extravagant spending.
- The best way to show your love is through expensive, useless gifts.
- Create relationships with technological objects instead of people. This creates a void that can be filled by more shopping.
The problem with importing pharmaceuticals from third world countries like China is that the government has no power to make laws to control quality. Further, it cannot even punish companies that fob off fatal counterfeit drugs. The same problem applies to a lesser extent to food products.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
So often I see someone trying to impress others with an expensive car, designer clothes and a luxury apartment. But when they open their mouths, within seconds they betray the fact their mother was a meth whore. If people want to impress each other, the first thing they should focus on is no more grammatical errors, stopping mispronouncing words and dropping their lower class accents. At the very least stop dropping gs and pronounce to as too, not like a Texan.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Inaccurate Employment Figures
Unemployment statistics are improperly optimistic since people who become so discouraged they have given up looking are not counted as unemployed. The employment statistic should be computed by summing up the hours per week worked by each citizen, including everyone, even babies and people in hospitals whether or not they are looking for work or capable of work. Then divide by the number of people, then divide by 40 then multiply by 100%. This measures the burden on the working population of the unemployed. Another way to compute it is to include only those capable of work in the calculation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Let’s say you were having a particularly difficult barn raising. Which strategy would work best:
- Ask everyone to come hungry and have a corn roast after the work was done.
- Send everyone a boxed turkey dinner with all the fixing and ask them to come stuffed to the gills.
The second method is how Republicans want to encourage rich people to get to work creating jobs, by giving them huge amounts of money up front whether they create any jobs or not.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
1% of the world’s population owns 32% of the wealth. Can you think of any other animal that does that?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Income Tax Act
Here is my suggested revisions to the income tax act:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Advocacy groups would get the same deductions and perks that political parties do. It should not matter how currently popular the party/group is to rate the deduction.
- Charities get a deduction if they do work the government would do itself if it had the budget, e.g. food banks, housing for the homeless, restoring salmon streams, libraries… but not if they are essentially social clubs or hobby groups.
- Churches would get deductions for their charitable activities, but not for things like investing in real estate, providing club-like activities or prosletysing.
- Clubs would get no deductions, other than for their charitable activities.
- The tax burden on corporations should shift to be based more on how many government services they consume and how much damage they do to the environment. If they cannot afford the taxes, it is a good thing they go out of business to be replaced by corporations that can. We should not be subsidising corporations to harm us.
Using technology, we humans have managed to create massive problems that we are not capable of solving. It is as hopeless as expecting a pack of dogs to solve the problem of soil erosion. Humans are not up to the task:
- They don’t care about the big picture.
- Their prime focus is on competing with, defeating and hurting enemies.
- They are driven primarily by emotion.
- They tenaciously hold onto beliefs that have been proven wrong.
- They prefer I win-you lose solutions to win-win. This creates political logjams.
I can see three possible solutions:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- The development of artificial intelligence that simple overwhelm humans and tricks them into doing the right thing.
- Some sort of technology to amplify intelligence, the ability to concentrate or the ability to look at problems from a planetary perspective. A think of these people might be able to overwhelm ordinary humans.
- A think tank of the brightest people funded by billionaires who see our planet is in peril. People are selected for their intelligence and global perspective. It is one thing to create a solution, but quite another to get idiotic FOX viewers to accept it.
The commercials for the Snuggie don’t reveal that it essentially a hospital gown than cannot be closed at the back. They also don’t reveal that the garment has properties very like the one Dopey wore in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that makes it impossible to accomplish any task such as making a sandwich or pouring a cup of coffee while wearing it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Inconsistent Attitudes To Socialism
Americans cross themselves at the thought of socialised public health care, but they cling tenaciously to the notion of socialised roads. They insist they be paid for out of general revenue, unlike other nations that fund them with gas taxes or usage fees. They want those who cannot afford cars to subsidise those that can. This is socialism, American style, where the poor subsidise the rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The revolution in electronics has made almost every worker more productive. You would think both employee and employer would share in that benefit. But no benefit whatsoever has gone to the employees. In fact, they are working longer hours for less money. In 2015, American workers take home on average $5000 less in real dollars than they did in 2000. Employers, among other tactics, used their wealth and political influence to destroy unions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The laws of capitalism say that the best way to increase sales is to make your product addictive.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It taxes everyone. No lawyerly loopholes can escape it.
- It requires no manpower to collect it.
- It taxes even foreigners even though the government provides them no services.
- It taxes wealth not just income.
- It taxes wealth no matter how well hidden.
Its disadvantages include:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- It is sneaky. People don’t know they are being taxed.
- It can be done without a law.
- It is not progressive. It hits even the homeless.
- People who own gold or other valuable objects/real estate can escape it.
Tangerine née ING Direct, advertises that if you give them $100 a month and the end of two years your savings will have grown to $2400. No kidding. That would also happen if you just stuffed the bills into a hole in your mattress.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Inherited Criminal Proceeds
Let’s say my great grandfather committed a very lucrative crime. Why should I benefit from it more than you? What did I do to deserve favour?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Insane Spending Choices
Americans are criminally insane. They slash spending on medical care and education for themselves, while they refuse to cut even a penny from the pointless, illegal and extravagant Afghan and Iraq wars.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Insecure Credit Cards
Mag stripe cards have as much security as a pile of signed blank cheques. The new RFI (Request For Information) credit cards have even less. Somebody should sue the credit card companies for this gross negligence. If you give your credit card over the phone or over the Internet to a merchant, he, his crooked employees or anyone snooping electronically, can use that number to makes as many purchases as he wants over the net. He has your number and your expiry date. If you hand your card to a merchant, he can easily record the information on the card for later illicit use. If you have a RFI credit card, a thief can steal the information on all the cards is your wallet simply by walking within 3.05 metres (10 ft) of you in a shopping mall. Your card willingly divulges this information, without your permission, on being given a tiny prod of radio waves from a device. The technology for secure commerce has been known for half a century. The credit card companies refuse to use it, presumably because they can usually stick their customers (vendors and purchasers) with most of the costs of the thefts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
inspired by is one of the silliest tools in the ad-makers kit. Dog food is ;inspired by French chefs preparing filet mignon; nursing homes are inspired by ski mountain resorts; puddle jumper cars are inspired by luxury Italian sports cars; FullBar granola bars are inspired by weight loss surgery. It means absolutely nothing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Insurance Company Duplicity
Did you ever notice that after a natural disaster, far more people are surprised how little is covered than are surprised at how much is covered? This is a result of deliberate deception by the insurance companies.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Insurance Company Fraud
No matter what they promise, insurance companies will never pay up on widespread catastrophes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There was once a wealthy father who said to his son, I don’t want you to gamble and to this end I will cover all your losses, but you can keep any of your winnings. How good a strategy was that? This is the strategy of the USA government toward the large, spoiled, corrupt financial corporations. It is also the strategy of investors toward their grossly over-compensated brokers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Intent of Capitalism in Exploitation
Capitalism is intended for exploitation. It is quite unlike the natural system humans evolved as hunter gatherers, living in small groups where all knew each other, all were dependent on each other and all helped each other to survive.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Intent of Monopoly
The man who invented the Monopoly board game hoped it would demonstrate a major flaw in capitalism — the instability of the wealth gap. Under an unregulated capitalist system, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Brain dead Republicans missed the point entirely. They thought this was a fundamental and desirable feature of the universe and that this instability was a natural effect of the exceeding virtue and worthiness of the rich. Their philosophy calls for accelerating the process by exempting the rich from taxes and disbanding the social safety net to further reward the rich for being wealthy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Nowadays all big companies are effectively international. They have no loyalty to any one country. They move operations on a dime to increase profitability. The investors too are international. If you expect them to bring you prosperity, you must offer them a well trained work force. If they are digging for natural gas, a creationist or dowser is not going to be much use.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
International Sales Tax
There are a number of different ways of handling sales tax on a sale when the vendor is one country/state and the buyer is in another.
- Simplest for both the vendor and consumer.
- Both vendor and consumer jurisdictions forgo any tax revenue. They must subsidise the sale from other revenue.
- Local vendors might have to pay sales tax. They are at a disadvantage compared with foreign vendors.
- You have to talk all the other countries on earth to forgo tax too.
- Precisely and fairly shares the revenue as negotiated on a country by country basis.
- If your country decided on vendor-only tax and you did business with a county that insisted on buyer-only tax, your vendors would be up the creek. Their computers would not be able to handle it. With two-tax all you have to do is adjust a table.
- Insanely complicated. Vendor must know the latest tax rates and exemptions of every country and state on earth.
- Vendor must potentially send a cheque to every country and state on earth every month.
- The cost of preparing and clearing each cheque/wire transfer is most cases will exceed the value of the cheque.
Customer Country Tax
- Only one tax rate for the customer to deal with, the same as he uses in local stores.
- Complicated. Vendor must know the latest tax rates and exemptions of every country and state on earth.
- The vendor must know the customer’s country, state, county and city to sell from the USA.
- Vendor must potentially send a cheque to every country and state on earth every month.
- The cost of preparing and clearing each cheque/wire transfer in most cases will exceed the value of the cheque.
- It is very difficult for a country to collect revenue from foreign vendors. They don’t know who they are. They cannot inspect them. They have no idea how much money they owe. They have no means to drag such vendors into local court.
- The cost of a sale accrues mostly in the vendor/manufacturer country. You have cost of fire protection, roads, sewers, air traffic control, water, subsidised post office… It makes sense that most of the tax revenue should go to the vendor country not the customer jurisdiction.
Vendor Country Tax
- Simple. Only one tax rate to deal with. Only one vendor remittance cheque each month.
- If the vendor and buyer countries want to negotiate some cross subsidy, they can do it without making the millions of vendors do all the needless paperwork. Those bills are much more likely to be paid honestly than ones from millions of individual vendors.
- Vendors could rip customers off by lying about the tax rate. Customers do not know what it is supposed to be.
Toting up all the advantages and disadvantages, I think we should go for the vendor country tax. Unfortunately, within the USA they have already locked themselves in to a customer tax further complicated by every county and city having its own rates and rules. There is not even a list posted anywhere of American sales taxes. You have to look them up country by county and city by city, all in a different format. It is a mess. In Canada you have both federal and provincial sales taxes, but no city sales taxes. Happily, there are only 12 provinces/territories and the taxes are stable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The way drugs are tested in the USA makes no sense statistically. The drug company is permitted to hide any trials that did not produce promising results. You are not permitted to cherry pick results if you want statistically valid results. Assume Nestlé want to market its Smarties candies as a miracle sports enhancer. They could find a fat kid and ask him to shoot a basketball foul shot after popping a blue Smarty, over and over and over. They film all this and cut out all the film where he failed to make the shot. The cherry-picked result makes the kid on Smarties look like Magic Johnson. That is what drug companies are getting away with when they are permitted to hide unsuccessful trials.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People in the west imagine they support the third world with charity. It is the reverse. The North takes $200,000,000 a year from the south.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Invest It Or Lose It
In these supposedly tough economic times, many companies are awash in cash. They are simply waiting for the optimal moment to invest. If governments had the balls, they could institute an invest it or lose it tax. That would get the ball rolling very quickly.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Investing In the Stock Market
If you are an ordinary citizen, investing in the stock market is just plain stupid. Why?
- You lose money to the broker for fees on every transaction.
- The stock market is essentially a sophisticated gambling game where the players attempt to take each others’ money. You are a rookie. The old timers will rob you blind. You have not the first clue how the dirty tricks they use work. You are a lamb about to be sheared.
- To make money, you must buy a stock that is strongly undervalued. Rookies have no way of knowing which stocks those are.
- You have to buy low and sell high. Rookies don’t have the emotional discipline. They can’t help but do the opposite, selling when their stocks crash and buying stocks that are shooting up.
- As a newbie, you can’t help but be a lemming, constantly following the herd, being sucked in by rumours. That strategy is guaranteed to fail. The stock market is a game designed to take money from the many and concentrate it and give it to the cleverest few investors. Herds stampede, creating phony price bubbles. If you follow them, you will be punished too.
- To succeed, you must be able to predict the future prices of stocks better than most other investors. You have no edge to do that.
- You have not the first clue about the mathematics of the stock market or the ability to program computers to aid you in your trading decisions the way your competitors have.
- Monkeys throwing darts to select stocks do better than most investors because they are not sucked in by rumours, they don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing (a guaranteed fail strategy) because they fully diversify and because they don’t pay fees to frantically keep changing their minds.
The one exception I would make is if you invest in a company whose product you believe in where you have personally known the principals for a long time and you believe, based on personal knowledge, the company will succeed. You are investing partly for return and partly to support the company’s goals. There you do have an edge over other investors.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you invested in a giant corporation like Enron, you had to trust their creative accountants to tell you the truth about their financial state and their executives not to rob you blind. If you invest in a local business, you can drop by and have a look around. It should be obvious how they are doing. You can also check up on your investment at any time later by dropping by. You can also talk to local people first hand who have intimate knowledge of the company.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If I were interested in investing, here is how I would proceed:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Make a list of things I am very sure will be true in the future during the rest of my lifetime.
- Scratch off that list the items where there is universal agreement. Everyone else will invest in them too.
- Invest in business that will do well as changes remaining on the list come to pass.
- The only changes I would allow myself are to move investments from company to company working on the same area, not allowing myself to be spooked by short term changes in that market sector.
Again and again we have seen investors who panic and stampede lose their shirts. They are as stupid as buffaloes panicked into jumping off cliffs by the native American hunters. They fall for the same tricks over and over again. Nobody ever made money doing what everyone else is doing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Investors = Gamblers
Investors are always looking for new ways to gamble. They are much like lottery players. One new fad is investing in projects rather than investing in companies through crowdsourcing such as . As investor, you are likely a better judge of how a single project will fare than the whole company.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Invisible Mr. Burns
When my mother was alive, she considered herself the queen bee. She would sweep into a room, usually dressed from head to toe in some rich primary shade. She would insist on being the centre of attention. She had a sharp tongue, clever wit, warm charm, violent temper and low inhibition about resorting to serious violence. She would use these tools in rapid alternation to bully people into doing what she wanted. When she was around, everyone focused their attention on mollifying her.
There is a fictitious character on The Simpsons called Mr. Burns who had a similar sort of effect on people. He intimidated them with his wealth and power. He bullied them with his Scrooge-like obsessions. Modern Americans behave as if Mr. Burns were eternally present in their living rooms. They do exactly what he wants. He tells them out to vote. He tells them to work longer hours for less money. He tells them to put up with appalling working conditions. They vote to relieve him of paying taxes and take his burdens on themselves.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advertisers, like other hypnotists, try to boggle the rational mind with nonsense. Watch for statements of this form: Your dog loves playing fetch, so you should buy him new Meaties dog food. There is no connection at all between the two statements. The advertiser starts with an obviously true statement then ties it to the sales pitch as if the first necessarily implied the second. They hope you will be too discombobulated to notice there is no connection.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Irrationality Befuddles Economics
Economics fails because it presumes all people act rationally and in their enlightened self-interest. It needs the addition of psychology to temper the public mania, overoptimistic booms and excessively fearful and pessimistic recessions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Israeli and American Princes
Imagine being born a prince and being taught from birth that you were, simply from your status as a prince, not from any special skill or talent, specially favoured of God and vastly more worthy than ordinary men. Imagine being taught your privilege extended to taking anything you wanted from any non-prince, including their time, wives, daughters or sons. Imagine being taught that anyone who resisted your will was a terrorist who deserved the death penalty. Now you know what is like to born Israeli or American.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
J-Cloth False Claims
J-Cloth claims their wipes are bio-degradable. They are not. Further, they put a fake certification seal on the package to fool the consumer.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source
Jekyll and Hyde Insurance Companies
To make money, an insurance company or HMO (Health Management Organisation) needs to sign up as many people as possible and pay out as few claims as possible. This explains why they have such a Jekyll and Hyde personality.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans are desperate for jobs and they are willing to do almost anything in the name of creating jobs, except the things that work.
Things that do work include:
- Give people without jobs enough money to live so they won’t lose their homes. If you refuse, you will get a Flint Michigan with blocks and blocks of boarded up homes and boarded up businesses. If you do offer support, the recipients will spend every penny locally stimulating local businesses and causing them to hire. The non-partisan budget office considers this the most efficient technique.
- Pay businesses to hire people. It can be in the form of a partial subsidy (or a full subsidy for a worker who has been difficult to place). When a business can produce goods and services more cheaply because of subsidised labour costs, it can afford to go into weaker markets. Their activity stimulates more activity. And/or punish businesses for laying off or failing to hire. These subsidised workers often move on to better paying jobs, opening them up for inexperienced workers. In my rôle as an employer in Canada, I helped perhaps a dozen people re-enter the workplace through such a program.
- Spend on infrastructure. It directly creates jobs. When you are done you have roads, bridges sewers, water mains… that will serve commerce and make it business more profitable for decades to come.
- Discourage outsourcing. Pay companies to keep jobs at home or to bring back ones they have already outsourced.
What does not work?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Start yet another war. Wars are extremely expensive relative to the number of jobs created. Much of the consumption/stimulus is overseas. Soldiers stationed overseas spend their money on foreign food, alcohol, drugs and sex workers. When you are done, you have nothing to show for your money but giant holes in the ground.
- Give $700 billion to the top 2% of rich people. Despite the recession of 2008, the rich have never had it better. They are scooping fabulous luxuries like $20,000 watches from Tiffany’s. They will not spend their money on hiring people unless they have customers lined up for whatever those workers would produce. If the middle class are broke, there are no customers. So the rich just fritter away their money on imported luxuries which does bugger all to create jobs. The non-partisan budget office considers this the worst technique suggested to them for evaluation.
- Give across the board tax cuts. That money will be used in a million different ways, only some of which will create jobs. Consider that travel, buying imported goods, saving, investing overseas and paying off the mortgage are all quite sensible ways of spending a windfall, but none of them generate any jobs.
The Job Killer
The function of a CEO is cutting costs. He does this by introducing efficiencies, shutting down dropping unprofitable plants, figuring out how to get more done with fewer people, outsourcing jobs, paying workers less than the competition does, dropping unprofitable product lines, automating and computerising. In other words, his purpose in life is to kill jobs. It is thus naïve to rely on CEO s to create the nation’s jobs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
80% of the job losses in the USA were caused by automation. As robot and AI technology advances, this loss will accelerate. We are rapidly moving to a world where nobody’s work is required. We need to share this bounty not create fake jobs or fight over the remnants. For now, the corporations have been grabbing 100% of the benefit. That has to stop or we will starve in an era of unparalleled abundance.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Job Paradox
The USA is in a paradoxical position. Workers cannot get jobs and employers cannot find workers to fill positions. What has happened? It started some time ago when companies started laying off their workers when they did not need them temporarily. They would even fire people who had put in 30 years service. Often they would move the jobs offshore, so the jobs never came back. In other words, the companies lost their loyalty to their workers and disowned the traditional Japanese-like responsibility for the welfare of the workers. The workers then conversely lost their loyalty to companies. They no longer expected to spend their working life working for one company. So workers started leaving for better jobs tempted by only a small incentive. Previously, when an employee was permanent, it made sense for the company to invest in his continuing education or on-the-job training. But when an employee might leave at any moment, that investment stopped. Logically, recruiters demanded new workers who were 100% pre-trained with both the necessary education and on-the-job training since there was no budget for bringing them up to speed. (You see the ads for computer analysts demanding 7 years proficiency in 5 obscure software packages, 2 of which were released less than 3 years ago.) But because the work place is changing so quickly and because employers are no longer investing in education and because recruiters want pre-trained, not just capable workers, recruiters are rejecting tens of thousands of otherwise suitable applicants. The solution: almost mandatory ongoing training funded by the worker, employer and government that lets an almost-prefect applicant come up to speed for a specific job, with guaranteed acceptance for the job on successful completion of the training.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republicans claim that taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich creates jobs. This is a bald-faced lie. Bush did this in spades and created massive unemployment. Reagan tried it and it did not work. If you think about it, it is obvious why this does not work. When poor people have money, they spend it on groceries, clothes, entertainment, furniture, electronics etc. This automatically creates jobs since it requires people to manufacture, ship and sell these goods. Rich people do these things too, but they also do things with their money that don’t create any jobs such as store it in an offshore bank, invest it in gold, buy paintings and antiques, speculate on the stock market, speculate in real estate, buy foreign luxury goods, take foreign holidays, invest overseas…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Automation and AI are chewing away at jobs ever faster. Automation is so cheap that it is even replacing $5 a day factory workers in China. Trump voters foolishly imagine immigrants are stealing their jobs. Yet immigrants take the jobs no one else wants, and they create net jobs. Further the wealth gap is widening. The richest people have nearly all the money, and have bribed politicians to give them an even bigger percentage. Most people’s sense of worth comes from what they do at a job. It is only a few more decades until almost no one has a job. This value system has to go. The economy will no longer need humans.
The fight for jobs has been lost. The new fight has to be for survival. People must see themselves as deserving a big enough share of the global production just for being alive. The big fight should not be for jobs, but to force the uber-rich to share the necessities of life.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The John Henry Complex
Humans are competing with machines for jobs and machines are winning. Human labour is much less necessary than it used to be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes worthless. Several things are happening because of this competition:
- There less work for people and hence more unemployment.
- There is more competition for the smaller poor of jobs there is, so wages are dropping.
- Most people are getting poorer, except for those few who own the machines, who are becoming obscenely rich without effort.
We are stuck in our stone age thinking. We cannot solve this problem with obsolete attitudes. To deal with this we must:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Accept that people have a right to life even if they cannot produce better than a computer/robot.
- We have to find new ways to redistribute wealth.
- Get rid of the illogical belief that if someone is extremely rich, they must have done something very difficult to deserve it.
- Get rid of the false belief that massive incentives are needed to get the rich off their butts, but none are needed for anyone else.
- Every human everywhere deserves a guaranteed income just for being alive.
- Stop feeling guilty because we cannot out produce machines. John Henry famously killed himself trying.
John Maynard Keynes
Countries suffered from extreme boom and bust cycles until economist John Maynard Keynes discovered that in prosperous times you must pay down the debt and in recessions you must run deficits to create jobs. Republicans don’t understand basic economics. They want to do the reverse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Joseph A. Bank Lies
Joseph A. Bank clothiers advertises that if you buy a suit you get any two free. What’s wrong with this picture? It turns out the price includes two shirts not two additional suits.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Keeping the Homeless Homeless
In BC, Canada, the homeless are not given any money for shelter. Further, they are not permitted to save up for the one month rent plus security deposit. Homelessness then is like a black hole. Once you lose the roof over your head, the government will work tirelessly to see you never get it back.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Kettles That Do Not Work
To a capitalist, a kettle that looks plausibly as if it could boil water, but cannot, is preferable to one that can because it can be manufactured more cheaply. Further, the customer will need to buy a replacement kettle immediately.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Kevin O’Leary has dedicated his life to coming up with new justifications for greed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Keynesian Economy Theory
Economic theory says governments should raise taxes and pay off the deficit in good times and lower taxes and increase spending in bad. However, they invariably do the exact opposite.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I will never eat a piece of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) chicken for several reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- KFC is unusually cruel is its treatment of its chickens.
- KFC wraps the chicken in cholesterol sandwich of fat and flour.
- There is something weird about the chickens. They are malformed and have rubbery bones.
Altria/Philip Morris/Kraft lied to their customers that tobacco was safe. They bribed all manner of people to perpetuate the lie. So it seems prudent to me to presume that all Altria/Philip Morris/Kraft products are hazardous to your health until proven otherwise.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Killing the Economy
Economist are shouting that we need more consumption (i.e. more waste, more crap buying) to save the economy. They refuse to acknowledge that is how to destroy the ecology on which the long-term health of the economy is based.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
My packet of Stash tea says the best before date is 01122013A#5. Why do they disguise it as a Klingon stardate? Why do they want me to drink out of date tea? Why not ISO (International Standards Organisation) format YYYY-MM-DD that everyone can figure out unambiguously.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Koch Brothers
The Koch brothers are the most evil pair of people alive on the planet. They are even worse that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), Boko Haram, Assad and Hitler. By delaying action on climate change alone, the Koch brothers will kill billions, in ways much more unpleasant than beheading. Why do they do this? Simply to earn a few more dollars that they are too old to ever spend. They are besotted with greed. They are planetary traitors.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
La Crème de la Crème
The The 80 richest people in the world own ½ the wealth. For these people, money is quite different than it is for most of us. It is merely a way of keeping score in a game. There people could not possibly spend their wealth. Even if they went to a luxury motorcar dealer every day for the rest of their lives and bought the most expensive cars, they could not exhaust their wealth. They are obsessed with the game. Nothing else matters but making more money by hook or by crook: the environment, what people think of them, relationships, leisure activities. Yet oddly, these freaks are charged with running the global economy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
labeling Fluorescent Bulbs
What are the three facts you most want to know about a compact fluorescent light bulb?
- Is it cool or warm white?
- What is the equivalent incandescent voltage?
- What is the actual voltage?
Only the first is labeled on the bulb and in fine print.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The media try to sell the public that a labour shortage is a terrible thing that they must act to prevent. A labour shortage is best thing that can happen to the general public. Corporations have to treat them well and pay them well to attract labour. They have to share a larger slice of the giant economic pie with the workers. Feudalism lost its grip after the bubonic plague when there was a severe labour shortage. Unfortunately, plutocracies, computers, outsourcing and importing cheap foreign labour means the corporations have the upper hand. Corporate executives have frozen real wages for the public since 1990, while their own share of the wealth has ballooned.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lack of Demand
When economists opine that the problems is a lack of demand this sounds divorced from concrete reality. Could you imagine a Cro Magnon philosopher announcing the problem was too much mastodon meat and people not hungry enough? This sounds like the Italian Mamma school of economics. Their is plenty of demand, just not for what is being manufactured.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When someone says they believe in the free enterprise system, they are not telling you they believe in privately operated businesses. They are mean that the government should not regulate corporations in any way. They should be free to harm, cheat, gouge and lie to their customers without restraint. They should also be allowed to pollute, drive species extinct and endanger the public without liability. For example, it should be the job of the government to compensate harm and clean up oil spills, but not make any regulations to prevent them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Last Year Of Life
The important fact in the health care debate is that you spend 50% of your lifetime healthcare budget in your last year of life. Possible savings include:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- No more Hail Mary, painful, expensive procedures that can only hope to extend life by a few months.
- No more pushing terminal patients into treatments they don’t want.
- Many levels of care so that people can live as independently as possible as long as possible.
- Legalise physician-assisted suicide with safeguards to prevent pressuring either way.
- Research into nursing care technology — machines to keep the bed comfortable and clean, help patients into the bath or to their feet, help patients dress and undress, deliver medications on time…
Last Year Of Life Medical Costs
If health care costs are too high, the obvious place to trim is in the last year of life when 50% of all health care dollars are spent. Don’t force expensive, painful or low benefit procedures on the elderly. If an expensive procedure offers only a few months extra life, the patient should have to pay out of pocket.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When you were a kid, you took three hours of physical education a week. You walked or rode your bike to and from school. You probably played various sports. Why would you expect better results now as an adult from an exercise program advertised on TV that takes only three ten minute sessions per week?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Least Painful Taxes
Republicans hate death taxes I think inheritance taxes are the least objectionable taxes. I am effectively anaethestised by my death when I have to pay them. Paying them could not be more pain-free than that!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The US secret service caught Art Williams Jr., one of the best and most prolific counterfeiters who had printed $3 million. This is amusing. The banks have legally printed trillions electronically by legally lending out money they did not have. Both have the same effect on the money supply and both cause inflation. It is just the banks have corrupted the politicians to let them commit the crime without penalty.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Legitimate Government Expenditure
I think it is legitimate for civic governments to spend money on the following:
- transportation, for cars, cyclists and pedestrians. This includes roads and bridges.
- Sewers and water.
- Police and fire protection.
- Recreational centres.
- Public fireworks displays.
- Neighbourhood summer festivals.
It should not spend on the following:
- professional sports, especially subsidising sports stadiums. Professional sports is highly profitable and those who support them tend to be fairly well off. The poor should not be subsidising them.
- Opera. The people who support opera are extremely well off. It is unfair to ask people much less wealthy, who cannot afford tickets, to subsidise them.
My rule is, the city should only spend on the population as a whole, not just some privileged group.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Letting Infrastructure Crumble
If a politician decides to stop spending on repair and rebuilding of infrastructure (sewers, roads, electric grid, water supply, transit…) he looks like a genius from the savings. However, after a few decades, like the deacon’s one horse shay, all starts to fall apart at once. Even to recover 50% capacity, he must do 50% of the repairs and rebuilding that he procrastinated. It will be impossible to find the massive lump sum in a society with crumbling roads and sewers. The country then permanently degrades to third world status. Refusing to maintain infrastructure is tantamount to committing slow financial suicide.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lies About Unions
One the lies the rich have amazingly been able to sell the poor is that unions are their enemies. The poor are betrayed by their envy of the union workers. They fail to notice where there are no unions, wages are uniformly low. Where there are unions, union workers are well paid, with non-union workers are not far behind.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
My personal morality requires me to institute a lifelong boycott of any business that behaves improperly, usually some form of fraud, even if this inconveniences me by requiring me to travel far afield to shop, to pay higher prices or to go without some goods or services. If everyone did this, businesses would not dare attempt these dirty tricks. Even if my protest is so small that the affected business never notices it, other than my complaint letter, it does not matter. My own moral behaviour should not depend on whether others behave morally as well. Other people behaving badly is no excuse for me to behave badly.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Limitations of Insurance
Economists seem to think all you need is insurance to deal with crop failure. However, if you have widespread failure, it won’t do a thing to replace the missing food.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you doubt the value of spending on universal literacy programs, study what life is like in times and places that did not have them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Little Can Change
A corporatocracy has a fundamental flaw. Nothing can change unless, as a side effect, it makes some corporation extremely rich. Increasing well being or saving tax dollars is not sufficient excuse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Living Beyond Your Income
We have all seen obscenely rich Hollywood types get in deep financial trouble when they continue to spend the way they did when they were making their biggest incomes. The United States is likewise living on past glory. America spends more per capita than any other nation. The U.S.A. is spending 36% more than it makes, borrowing to make up the difference. The Tea Party crazies are right to make a fuss.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Living on a Fixed Income
Living on a fixed income can be difficult as rents and food prices keep rising. You have to keep finding something to throw overboard:
- Give up going to movies, theatrical events and restaurants.
- Buy all your clothes at the second hand store.
- Give up using the bus.
- Reduced calorie diet.
- Give up TV cable service.
- Give up the phone.
- Get greens from community gardens.
- Make no more than one light bulb at a time is lit.
- Give up cheese.
- Give up all prepared foods.
- Use meat only as a condiment.
- Diet of rice, beans and noodles.
- Wash your clothes in the bathtub.
Then what?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Living on a Pension
People on welfare and disability pensions have nothing left over after paying rent and food. Even though year after year, the landlords bump up the rents and food prices go through the roof and money inflates, their income stay completely flat for decades at a time. The only thing they can do is eat less and less food and lower and lower quality food. Once they get down to Ramen noodles and wieners because Kraft Dinner is too expensive, where do we expect them to go? People compete for scraps in dumpsters.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Living on Welfare
The people who complain most bitterly about the life of Riley of those on welfare, have never lived on less than $8,000 a month. It has not dawned on them what the welfare recipient has to forego to live on welfare’s $500 a month. The cheapest rent is about $800. So first that means sharing space designed for one with two other people. That leaves $234 for everything else. That means no dentistry, medicines, phone, TV, Internet, movies, clothes, computer, restaurants, car, bus, insurance, anything new… It also means a diet of Ramen noodles, hot dogs and Kraft dinner.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lobbying To Be Shafted
The recession of the summer of 2010 is unusual. The banks and corporations was more profitable than ever, while the unemployment rate was through the roof and mortgage foreclosures were rampant. What was happening?
- Corporations were eliminating jobs by exporting them overseas, automation and simply by driving employees harder.
- Corporations were lowering wages and reducing benefits. They could get away with this since the high unemployment rate means they had no trouble finding applicants.
- With the Citizens United supreme court ruling, corporations now have the legal right to buy politicians with no limit on the size of the bribe. Corporations used this to arrange laws in their favour so that money flows upward from the poor and middle class to the corporations and the wealthy that own them far faster than ever before.
- The media convinced the average Americans that coddling the corporations and the uber-rich needed to proceed still further before the general public had any hope for jobs and prosperity.
The essential problem is an extreme wealth imbalance and hence power imbalance and a moronic public (especially the Tea Party) who have been manipulated to lobby for their own shafting.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Local Food Tipping Point
As the price of oil rises, locally grown food becomes cheaper than food flown in. There is a tipping point and suddenly locally grown food becomes the economic mainstream. People looking ahead will buy up local farmland.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Location of Manufacture Matters
Globalisation tries to pretend the same goods from different countries are equivalent. Obviously wine from France is not equivalent to wine from Mexico, chocolate from Belgium is not equivalent to chocolate from China, produce from the other side of the globe, is not the same as food grown locally. Further, as the cost of oil rises, the cost of transportation rises, we will have to rebuild the infrastructure that let us grow most of our food and manufacture most of what we need locally.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If a cellphone company sells you a plan that locks you in for three years, they are politely warning you that you will most likely want out of the deal before then. When a military enlistment contract does the same thing, but in the fine print says you can never leave unless they no longer want you, they are guaranteeing you will want out so badly you will consider suicide-by-combat as an option to escape.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economists have an odd view of what is desirable. To them, the purpose of life is to increase economic activity, any activity, even including things like more vandalism repairs, more funerals, more pollution, more soil erosion, more deforestation, conspicuous consumption, more hospital care, inefficiency, waste… I call this locust mentality. Economists refuse to notice how their frantic efforts to stimulate short-term economic activity destroy the very substrate the enables sustained economic activity. They refuse to look even a decade into the future about how their actions harm economic activity, much less the environment or human welfare.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When a lottery or contest says one in four is a winner, that is a lie. What they mean is one in four times you get another ticket, but just gets you back where you started. You are no closer to winning an actual prize. This is just a way of dishonestly disguising the actual odds.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Loud Voice of the Rich
The voice arguing for more privilege for the rich is much louder than the voice arguing for getting the rich off the backs of the middle class. It is not because more rich people arguing the case for their self interest. It is because the rich can afford to hire a virtual megaphone to drown out everyone else. The media, owned by the rich, pretend that arguing for the middle class is extreme and representing the views of an ultra-left wing minority, when actually it represents the mainstream. Because there are so many stupid people, it is fairly easy for the rich, using repeated simplistic slogans, to persuade a substantial portion of the population to vote against their own self-interest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Loving The Wealth Gap
Americans have foolishly accepted the Republican notion that an unstable wealth gap is a natural and wonderful feature of the universe, in other words the rich are superior to everyone else, so it is right and proper they should get richer just for being rich and the poor should get poorer, just for being poor. Republicans also believe the gap has to be encouraged to grow by giving the rich loopholes by which they may avoid taxes altogether. This has lead to a stratified society where the elites never see or talk to everyone else. They live in their own rarefied, privileged world similar to medieval nobility. They have forgotten what happened to the French nobles in 1789 shortly after an out-of-touch queen suggested those without bread should eat cake.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lower Taxes are Always Better
Common wisdom is the lower the taxes the better. People treat taxes as if they were simple theft and the people get nothing back. Rich people like to promote this view. However, consider that in parts of the world where the middle class do the best, the taxes are relatively high, e.g. Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. How could this be? The reason is, there, the rich contribute a much bigger share of the tax pie when taxes are higher.
Consider a person making say $100,000,000 a year. Let’s say the income tax were 35% and it dropped to 25%. They would pay $10,000,000 less per year in taxes. Consider a person making say $20,000 a year. Let’s say the income tax were 20% and it dropped to 15%. They would pay $1,000 less per year in taxes. When taxes drop, the rich withdraw a disproportionately large amount from the pot but still get the same proportion of the benefits.
That means there is much less money for schools. The rich don’t care. They send their kids to private schools anyway. There is much less money for police. The rich don’t care. They have private security. There is much less money for Medicaid/Medicare. The rich don’t care. They go to fancy private clinics anyway. When taxes lower, the wealth gap widens. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
The wealth gap chasm gaped open when Ronald Reagan starting giving massive tax cuts to the rich. The USA now has a Gini index, a measure of wealth inequality, of 45. The lower the number, the more level the playing field. The higher the number the less chance you have of improving your economic status. 45 is typical of a third world dictatorship.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lowering Health Care Costs
Ways to lower the spiraling American health care costs include:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Doctors and hospitals deal with a single payer with fully computerised billing to reduce administration and paperwork no matter who ultimately pays. This is different from a true single payer as in Canada. This is just a way to simply bookkeeping.
- Stop pushing treatments on people the patient does not want, especially in the last year of life.
- Pay doctors a flat yearly fee to keep patients well rather than paying them for every expensive and unnecessary test they order.
- Revise the torte system to punish only malfeasance, not simple mistakes. This will reduce malpractice insurance.
Lowest Tax, Biggest Whine
Nobody complains louder than the Americans about having to pay taxes, even though their taxes are lower than other developed nations. The reason is they get so little in return for the taxes they do pay. The average person still has to buy his own health care, twice what people pay for public insurance in other countries and even that produces outcomes on par with Cuba. Intractable attitudes towards guns and drugs mean law enforcement is hamstrung at controlling crime. Entrenched attitudes towards coddling industry means the rivers and lakes are polluted and corporations cheat and rip their customers off. The oversized military, bigger than all other militaries put together, leaves precious little to pay for everything else.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lucy van Pelt Stock Market
Investing money in the US stock market is like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy van Pelt not to yank away the football. That is what she always does. Nothing has changed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One thing that drives me nuts about capitalism is that pumpkin cookies contain no pumpkin, Belgian chocolate is made in Canada, Canadian bacon is made in the USA, McDonald’s apple pie contains neither apples nor pie, frozen apple juice contains no apple juice and Canadian souvenirs are made in China.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Where do you think Beaver sardines are packed? Thailand! This is obviously a dishonest attempt to make you think they are Canadian. Did you know that global warming has already made Canada hot enough to grow dates? Just look on the bottom of a package of dates. It might just say Product of Canada. Damn liars! There is no possible way they could be!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Drug companies do not need to disclose trials that show failure of the drug efficacy or to cause harm. If they want, they can repeat the trials until they find a statistical fluke to report as a success. This is bogus statistics.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Lying Through Pictures Dept.
On 2011-05-30 M&M’s Candies aired a commercial where a talking candy opened a bag of candies and two theatre tickets popped out. This sounds too good to be true. It is:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- You need not just any pouches, but specially marked pouches.
- You needed to buy 8 pouches not just one.
- You needed to send away in the mail. There in nothing in the pouches.
- The contest expired on 2010-12-30. So no matter what you do, you get nothing.
Lying With Pictures
An M&Ms commercial shows two movie tickets falling out of a bag of M&Ms candy. You might think each bag contains two movie tickets. The reality is you must collect 8 bags and mail them away to get the movie tickets. People are not used to labeling visual lies like this for what they are. Arby’s advertises its 2 for $5 promotion by repeatedly showing a row of 3 hamburgers. Actors in white lab coats trick the viewer into thinking what they say has the backing of some actual doctor or dentist.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Magic Self-Healing Economy
Milton Friedman and the Republicans assert that an economy will fix itself if you but leave it alone. That is exactly what was tried between 1929 and 1933. The USA went into the worst depression ever.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Make The Lender Pay Too
When a lender’s debt goes bad, it is the lender primarily at fault, not the borrower — for deliberately making a high risk loan. Competitive capitalism insists that the lender pay the penalty, even to the point of going out of business, but what we have been doing is forcing taxpayers to bail out these incompetent lenders, which just encourages them to harm the economy with even more risky loans.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Make Work Projects
Governments fire people to save money to use for stimulus packages to give billions to businesses (aka financial contributors), who might conceivably use some of that money to hire people. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to keep people on the payroll, perhaps reducing the work week or pay slightly?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Making Big Money
How do you make large amounts of money?
- Trick people into giving you large amounts of money for something that cost you only a little to produce.
- Knock off the competition.
- Take advantage of the weak.
- Make false claims for what you sell.
- Exploit a public unrenewable resource.
- Fob problem of cleaning up the production pollution on others.
- Make shoddy products that need to be frequently repurchased.
If had done these things, I would be quite ashamed and would do my utmost to hide the fact I was wealthy. Other people obviously have quite a different way of looking at it. They see wealth as some sort of lustre.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Making Capitalism Work
For capitalism to work efficiently, pretty well always somebody has to be tricked or coerced into working for near slave wages and to hand over their land and natural resources. For this to happen they have to be first disempowered and impoverished so they have no other choice.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Perhaps the most intractable problem in capitalism is that it requires about 7% of the workers to refrain from working, even though they want to work and even though there is more than enough work that needs to be done.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Mandatory vs Optional Spending
Everybody knows the difference between mandatory and optional spending. You have to pay the rent, buy the groceries, get a toothache attended to and pay for the heat. Optionally, you can buy some champagne, a sports car, a cottage by a lake…, depending on how much money you have left over after dealing with the mandatory spending. Governments are the same way. They have to keep the roads paved, the water running, the sewers flowing, the dikes in repair, firemen putting out fires, police catching criminals, the food inspected… Optionally, governments can wage wars, explore space, support opera, offer subsidies to profitable industries such as oil, enact historical pageants… The Republicans don’t understand the difference. They imagine resource wars are mandatory, as are bonuses paid to the rich to reward them for being rich while they consider seeing that everyone is housed and fed and the country’s infrastructure is in repair to be frivolous expenditures, first to go on the chopping block. Republicans try to fool the people into chopping expenditures that benefit the general population and expand expenditures that benefit only rich Republicans regardless whether they are mandatory.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Manipulating Wealth for Evil
The people actively trying to destroy the planet are a tiny minority. Nobody wants them to succeed. Yet people like the Koch brothers, purely through manipulating wealth, get their way.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism is a system to create profit for investors. Since the costs to a corporation are nearly all labour, they will do whatever it takes to reduce the cost of labour, including deliberate impoverishment and slavery. In the 1800s the gap between rich and poor countries was only 3 to 1. Today they have widened the gap to 74 to 1. The reason we have poverty in the world is because corporations actively promote it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Natural gas extraction takes unbelievable amounts of fresh water. The government provides this free. Everyone else has to pay for water. This distorts the free market and provides incentive to the gas industry to waste water.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Borgias entertained themselves by poisoning each other. Today’s princes of industry poison on a far grander scale, on the grounds it would cost them too much not to.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Massive Real Estate Fraud
One way of looking at the Israeli-Palestinian problem is as an huge real estate fraud, far bigger than any of Bernie Madoff’s schemes. In 1948, the Jews forged God’s signature to a deed to Palestine, then proceeded to push the Palestinians off their property they had occupied for centuries.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Mathematics of Homelessness
Some simple mathematics explains homelessness. If you have enough housing for 95% of the population, then you will have 100 - 95 = 5% homelessness. The poorest, sickest and least capable will largely form that 5%. Conservatives will lie to you that the problem is the homeless are losers and nothing can be or should be done about it. The actual problem is there is not enough housing to go around. The solution is more affordable housing. The formula also applies after a major earthquake when you have only enough remaining housing for 30% of the people and 70% homelessness. The solution is the same too.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It might make more sense to measure the percentage of people in a country who have a full time job. Through family ties, government safety nets etc. those people will have to support the rest. The current system foolishly lowers the unemployment rate when things get so bad that people stomp looking for work, giving the faulty appearance that things are improving.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Meat Subsidy
The US government subsidises meat to the tune of $30 a pound. As water and land become increasingly scarce, the rich will eventually lose interest in providing cheap meat to the masses. It will then become a luxury, like Japanese Kobe beef.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Medical Insurance Monopoly
Capitalism requires competition. When you don’t have it, the government must regulate the monopolies to prevent them from gouging and cheating the public. The health insurance companies have effectively eliminated competition by mergers and acquisitions. According to the American Medical Association, in 94% of America there is no longer a competitive market. The insurance companies have bribed American politicians to prevent them from introducing either regulation or competition from a public option. The insurance companies have a sweet deal, keeping $2 for every $1 they pass on to the doctors and are willing to tell any lie, bribe, threaten, anything to keep things as they are. What is so astounding is the way they have bamboozled so many Americans into helping them fight the competition needed for capitalism to function.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A Mental Illness
Accumulating property beyond your needs is a mental illness.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Meredith Baker: Crook
Meredith Baker head of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) approved the monopoly-creating purchase of NBC (National Broadcasting Corporation) by Comcast. A few weeks later she resigned to become VP (Vice President) of Comcast. That should be illegal. That is about as ballsy a nose-thumbing at the public ever done.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Mergers and Acquisitions
Corporations are very keen on mergers and acquisitions. Why?
- It reduces the competition so they can raise prices.
- It gives them more leverage over their suppliers.
- It gives them more leverage to pay their employees less.
None of this is in the interest of the consumer. Why then do governments permit it?
- Corporations can easily buy politicians with unlimited amounts of money.
- Corporations can easily buy elections with unlimited amounts of money.
Politicians don’t dare cross the corporations. If you read the fine print on your groceries you will find that almost everything is owned by Nestlé and Altria (Philip Morris tobacco).~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Modern X-ray lithography has allowed manufacturers to engrave messages on their labels so small that it takes an electron microscope to read them. What is the purpose of these messages on a can of Campbell’s Rustic Lentil Soup when almost no one can read them?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- The usual Christian and Satanic messages.
- Sex tapes of a number of prominent politicians encoded in a way similar to Q-codes.
- Advertising slogans.
- The disclaimer: Do not feed to livestock because this low-sodium soup still contains enough salt to kill a horse.
- Income tax returns of a number of influential people.
Military Bankrupts the Country It Is Supposed to Protect
You’d think the defence industry would have a strong incentive to keep America afloat. Without a country they would have nothing to do and no source of income. However, corporations take a short term view. So long as they can make more profit today, they don’t care if their customers go bankrupt tomorrow. They will happily lobby, bribe and threaten legislators to overspend and spend unwisely. They will also twist the legislators’ arms to initiate endless, pointless wars, simply because wars mean more profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The least efficient way to stimulate the economy is to spend money on the military. Why would this be so?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- When you are done, you have nothing to show for your money like a school, road or bridge that helps serve the economy in the long term.
- Military contractors spend the money wherever they can get product cheapest, rarely in North America.
- Job experience killing people does not help on a resumé
- Military contractors are pond sucking scum who steal and cheat. They spend the money the bilk from their country on foreign luxuries for themselves.
- Much of the money goes for oil or bribes which ends up in the pockets of foreign dictators.
The least efficient way to stimulate the economy is with military spending. Why?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- When you are done you have nothing to show for it, no highways, schools, education, sewers or airports that help support business.
- The spending usually happens on the other side of the world. The spinoffs flow there, not back home.
- Military spending is a high profit business. This means most of the money ends up in the pockets of a very few, very rich people. Other forms of spending spread the money around more evenly.
Mindless Profit Seeking
Corporations mindlessly seek profit. They trample the environment, but that is just a side effect. If we consumers arranged things so that corporations made more profit when they behaved responsibly, they would be model citizens. It is thus up to us to avoid buying products and services that damage the environment. We are in control, but suffer under the illusion that corporations desperately want to harm the environment to spite us.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People argue the poor would benefit or be harmed by an increase/decrease in the minimum wage. There is no need to speculate. Different jurisdictions have different minimum wages. Statistics should be able to tell you what actually happens.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I have often noticed how Republicans are highly suspicious of anyone who volunteers their time or money for others. Without evidence, they accuse them of stealing or doing this work for other nefarious motives. These people never help others. If they were to, the only reason would be nefarious, so they imagine others are as black-hearted as they are. If they would but try altruism, they would discover it is infinitely more emotionally rewarding that acquiring one more toy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
freecreditscore.com charges $15 a month to look up your credit rating. What is wrong with this picture?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It bothers me that cities typically find hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidise a sports stadium, attended by people with thousands of dollars each year of disposable income for tickets, when it can’t even come up with a few thousand dollars toward the homelessness problem. It is not right that people with little money should be subsidising those who have plenty.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Scientists tell the people of the Pacific Northwest of the USA that a major tsunami will hit them with odds 1 in 6 (the same as rolling a 2 with a die, or losing a single round of Russian Roulette) in the next 60 years. How much spending is there to prepare? $0.00. So what do people fret about? being killed by lightning at odds 2,320,000 to 1, being injured by fireworks at 19,556 to 1, being murdered at odds of 18,000 to 1.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) To understand why humans are so foolish, see Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time
People of the future will wonder why our generation reinstituted slavery. I think the successful tactics were these:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Nitpicking about the meaning of the word slavery to deny what is happening today counts as slavery. In the olden days slavers treated their slaves as livestock. They had a vested interest in keeping them alive and strong. Today they do not. They do not provide sufficient food, lodging and health care or equivalent money.
- They lie to their customers about working conditions and go to great lengths to keep customers from finding out.
- There is a religious belief that corporations have every right to do whatever they can get away with.
The world economy is a bit like a game of solitaire collectively played by the world’s financiers to stave off the boredom.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money and Medical Care
There are three key facts you need to know about money and medical care.
- The total budget public medical care is limited. Any time you provide medical care to someone you are denying it to someone else. You have to prioritise.
- Most of the money spend on your medical care occurs in your last year of life.
- Most of the money spend on medical care goes to a few extremely sick people.
This suggests some measures to spend medical care more efficiently.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Avoid treating people who do not want it, must commonly terminally ill people.
- Allow terminally people physician assisted suicide.
- Do not allow families to make emotional decisions about whether to keep relatives on life support. Let physicians make those decisions based on chance of recovery.
- Do not waste time on heroic procedures to heal alcoholics, drug addicts, smokers or the grossly obese. People must demonstrate a willingness to co-operate in their healing.
- Identify people who seek medical treatment for entertainment, sympathy, hypochondria etc. and limit their use of the medical system.
- Do not use expensive treatments on those close to death. There must be a significant benefit in life extension or quality of life.
- Screen potential parents for serious genetic defects. If they are carrying them, sterilise them. They have no right to impose those horrors on their kids just for an ego rush.
Money Is Congealed Selfishness
Money is the concrete form of the moral value of selfishness. It is stronger than a religion in shaping behaviour.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Money Delusion
Those who compulsively chase money are under the delusion that if x dollars makes them happy, then 2 x dollars will make them twice as happy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money Is the Desire to Enslave
The purpose of accumulating wealth is to make others do things they don’t want to do either because they are onerous or because they are unwise. The lust for money is primarily the desire to enslave others.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It seems puzzling that people can become rich in the middle of severe shortages and there can be a recession when there is still plenty of everything anyone could need. There is a strong disconnect between money and the real world. Money is a game, played primarily by high stakes gamblers who are all very good at cheating. These people have no conscience about the effect of their play has on the rest of us who treat money as real.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Money Game
Everyone forgets that money and capitalism are games, in same sense that Monopoly is a game. The rules of all three are designed to make those who gain a slight edge escalate their wealth dramatically without corresponding effort. Successful players are so vain they think this peculiar characteristic of the game measures their true worth as a human being and the value of their efforts. They smugly imagine they are tens of thousands of times more valuable to society than others. If the games had slightly different rules, the games might tend to dampen swings in wealth, accentuate them, keep the poor in the game, squeeze the poor out or even kill off the super winners to give others a chance to play the high stakes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Money Game
Gambling is a zero-sum game. Every dollar one player makes means another player lose a dollar. A normal economy is a positive sum game. Even though most of the money goes to the wealthy, everyone benefits. However, the USA went into a period of being a negative sum game. The amount the poor lost was greater than the amount the wealthy gained. The practices of money-making were so predatory and so pirate like, they destroyed wealth, e.g. leaving houses unoccupied to be damaged by mould and weather.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Money Game
Money is like a complicated board game where the players use politics to continually change the rules to their advantage. The goal of the game is to cheat — to find a way to earn money without giving anything of value in return and to a lesser extent, to stop others from cheating.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Money Game
Money is not nearly as real as people imagine it to be. It is more like the play money in a game of Monopoly to help keep track of who’s winning. The game is the same one animals play — pecking order. In the status game, destroying a competitor’s status is just as useful as enhancing your own. Players keep going long after they have accumulated more money than they could possibly spend. It is the status, not the advantages of wealth that drives them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money Game Disputes
People squabble over what rules we should use for the money game. There are disputes over:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Should the game be more exciting, more risky, more cutthroat, more ruthless, like gladiatorial combat where losers die?
- Should it be a co-operative game where the goal is to collaboratively create something?
- To what degree should it be refereed? Should it be like Mad Max or like Olympic competitions?
- What sorts of penalties are appropriate for cheating?
- Should participation be mandatory? Should children, the aged, the disabled be required to compete?
- To what degree should game players be required to avoid property or environmental damage as a side effect of game play?
- Should game players be permitted to deny other players access to health care, basic food and housing?
- What happens when a small group of players eventually owns everything. Should the game stop? Should there be some special process to allow the game to continue? Should the game rules be adjusted to avoid this instability?
Money Game Rigged
The money game is heavily rigged in favour of the already rich. Such people can earn extravagant incomes without even doing any work. Conservatives blame the losers in the money game for laziness, calling for them to die of starvation as their natural lot. Liberals blame the rigged rules of the game.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money Manager Self Assessment
Money managers think they deserve a huge share of the profits when they invest money for others. They tell themselves without them no money could be made. This is untrue. It has been shown that picking random stocks or letting animals pick them works better than the average broker. On the other hand, if no one entrusted the money managers with their money, money managers could make no profit at all.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money Is A Recent Invention
Humans invented money only an eye-blink ago. Our species is quite capable of functioning without it. We have social sanctions to control greed and sloth. Anything we do with money should not violate our common sense, ancient rules of fairness. These behaviours are built into our genes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money To The Richest is Not For Stimulus
The two least efficient ways to stimulate the economy are the military and giving money to the richest 2% of the population. The General Accounting Office calculates these things. This does not stop the Republicans from championing them whenever stimulus is needed. Clearly their motives for such expenditure have nothing to do with stimulus.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- The Fed (The Federal Reserve Board of Governors) creates the money for the US simply by creating an entry in a ledger.
- The Fed is privately owned, and the owners are secret.
- The US government borrows the created money at interest from the Fed. Even in theory, it can never pay it back since it receives less money that it needs to repay the loan.
- Banks relend the same deposit over and over.
- Banks put the money loaned into one of their own accounts, where it counts as a deposit, ripe for relending.
- In the 2008 bailout of the banks and stock brokers, the executives paid themselves each millions of dollars in tax payer’s money.
Money Without Effort
When someone buys a stock, they are attempting to trick the universe into giving them money without effort. If they get ripped off in the process, it is just somebody else trying to do to them what they were trying to do.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Monied Classes
There are people for whom any amount of money is not sufficient. They care about nothing else. They are willing to do anything, including killing people, to get it. These are the people heading the corporations and running the world by corrupting governments. These people are mentally ill. They are the last people who should be given the reins. This problem is getting worse by the day.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
America monitors and regulates its casinos much more carefully than its banks.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Monkey See, Monkey Do
A society that produces movies depicting bank robbery as fun, sexy and profitable should not be surprised when its young take up the profession.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Business has only one concern — short term profit. It has no concept of long-term sustainability. Therefore business should not be making any decisions affecting environmental sustainability.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What does a company like Nestlé, Monsanto or Exxon do when it achieves monopoly? It does not have to wait that long. Once it has eliminated all but 26 competitors, an informal (or formal) price fixing cartel forms. They rise prices. Customers buy less. They make even more money since they have to provide even less product.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Competition is what makes capitalism work. That is why corporations use mergers and acquisitions to eliminate it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
More Debt is Not Freedom
Teabaggers claim lower taxes will bring more freedom. Each family’s share of the US national debt is about $170,000. If you had that much credit card debt, reducing your payments would hardly be the road to financial freedom.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
More People Means Shortages
It never seems to dawn on people that the cause of rising land prices, rising food prices and falling wages is increased population. When the population increases, planet earth does not magically expand her bounty of land, food and resources. There is less to go round for each person.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
More Than Enough Money is No Big Deal
It is far less of a thrill than you might imagine to make more money than you can spend and far more unpleasant than you would ever imagine to lack sufficient income for rent, heat, food and dentistry. I have experienced both.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
More Than Enough Money Is Not That Big A Deal
If you have never been rich, you probably imagine that money would make you deliriously happy. It is nice, but not nearly as nice as you might think. I would estimate it is about 1/10 as pleasant as having a stable relationship. It has its disadvantages too — people trying to con you out of the money, people pretending to like you, having to manage your money (boring!), the clutter, time spent caring for possessions… On the other hand, being destitute where you have to go without either rent, heat or food, is much worse that you would think. It is not just the deprivation, it is the constant stomach-kicking worry.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
More Than Your Share
If you go out with friends to Chinese food, you probably would not think well of a couple that gobbled down half the food, leaving others hungry, while paying only the usual share. Yet when a tycoon takes a share of the fruits of the labour pie 1000 times bigger than average, paying in only the usual share of labour, most likely you applaud. I find this inconsistent.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The word mortgage derives from the French for death-pledge.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Most Common Advertising Lie
It will bring your family together is replacing It will get you laid as the most common advertising lie.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Most Dangerous Psychopaths
Somebody who kills themselves in the pursuit of drug pleasure has a psychological problem and someone who destroys the planet that sustains everyone in the pursuit of wealth is a dangerous psychopath. Unfortunately, such psychopaths are the most powerful and richly remunerated and hence have unusual means for destruction.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Most Important Thing
Imagine a couple had twin 9-year-old boys names Jim and Don and a brand new hardwood floor. The mother came home and found the boys roller skating/inline skating/roller blading on the new floor. It was covered in white scratches in a diamond pattern.
Cut that out! the mother shouted.
No! the boys shouted back in unison.
What? You are ruining our new floor!
But Miltie Fryedmon says that rollerblading is the most important thing there is! It trumps every other consideration!! That is the most fundamental principle of the universe!!! argued Jim.
Not in my house it isn’t! Who is this Miltie Fryedmon anyway?
You don’t know?? Jeez! Everyone who is anyone knows who he is!! He has a website and everything!!! jeered Don.
This story is not literally true. It is a parable about the way so many people have taken as an article faith that profit is more important than anything else, no matter how destructive it is.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Motives to Oppose Health Care
There are three motives for Republicans to strenuously oppose universal health care:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- They are Ayn Randians. They believe the sick, weak or poor should die. Some even oppose completely private insurance. This view lasts only until they become seriously ill themselves.
- They strongly resent any of their money going to prolong the life of another. In their view, compassionate care of one another is weakness. Selfishness is the ultimate virtue, an attitude they unwittingly borrowed from Hitler.
- Republican politicians take large contributions from private insurance companies to espouse such views. It is not just politicians who take under the table money. There are also astroturf rent-a-crowds.
Mott’s garden cocktail puts out an ad that states People who don’t like garden cocktails probably have not tried Mott’s garden cocktail. It sounds like they are claiming that even people who don’t like garden cocktails will like Mott’s, but they are not. They are just stating the obvious, that people who don’t like garden cocktails won’t likely try many brands of them, including Mott’s.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Movie Glamourisation of Gambling
In the movies, the actors win tens of thousands of dollars gambling after a few minutes of play. (Product placement.) Glamourous folk excitedly watch the activity shooting alluring glances at the gamblers. In real life, the gamblers are sweaty, bored and exhausted. They treat gambling like the drudgery of doing hundreds of baskets of laundry. The casino tries to create some excitement with lights and sound effects, but it is as tired as a circus midway on the edge of bankruptcy. The casino creates the illusion that time has stopped, that there is no day or night and what is happening has always been and always will be, unchanging limbo.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The only multi-level marketing scheme where nearly everyone who signs up makes money is selling drugs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I have noticed that is the very rich and the very poor are most likely to murder each other. The poor do it because their inhibitions are scrambled by drugs or alcohol. The rich do it because have no conscience. That is how they became rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Employment is a bit like a game of musical chairs. There are more people than there are jobs. No matter how hard everyone struggles, some people inevitably go without jobs. Republicans tell us that the penalty for losing this game should be freezing or starving to death. I think they are mad.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In a game of musical chairs because there is one less chair than there are children, in each round, no matter how vigorously the children compete, one child will not be able to get a chair. The same is true in an economy where you have more people than jobs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
My basic needs are:
- Clean air
- Clean water
- Nutritious food
- Medical and Dental care
I would prefer to live in a society whose prime goal was not enriching a tiny few beyond the wildest dreams of avarice, but instead focused on ensuring everyone’s basic needs were met as a matter of course.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I care about the environment of my planet and especially my province. I care about the economic welfare of the citizens of my province. However, I have absolutely no interest in ensuring fat cat investors in big oil make obscene profits. For me, the Enbridge oil pipeline is not a tradeoff. The economic benefits to me are negligible.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Myth of the Self-Made Man
Americans have a myth of the self-made man. Yet it turns out they have less income mobility than other developed countries. In America, if you are born poor, you stay poor. If you are born rich, you stay rich. That is not true elsewhere.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Narrowing the Wealth Gap
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That is true today, more than ever. Oligarchies are in control of the wealth, the government and the elections. Historically there have not been that many attempts to reset the wealth gap: the Russian revolution and the French Revolution.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Nationwide Insurance have some of the most annoying commercials on TV. In one, the spokesperson coughs up phlegm, but they are honest, after a fashion. They promise to be proactive which from the context appears to mean they will send you lots of junk mail.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Nature’s Path Ripoff
Nature’s Path makes a line of organic breakfast cereals. The catch is they only fill the boxes half full. Why? It is not to allow for setting. Their competitor, Dorset, manages to fill its boxes almost to the brim. It is to deceive their customers into thinking they are getting twice as much as they actually are, which helps justify the high price. Yet surely they can deceive their customers only once. I won’t buy them again. I remember for years when companies have cheated me. Nature’s Path is following a suicidal policy because a breakfast cereal company relies on repeat sales. Perhaps we should demand a clear window on the side of the box so you can see just how full it is. Perhaps consumer protection should demand that boxes be at least 90% full. This second problem with this sort of cheating is environmental. Nature’s Path is using twice as much packaging as necessary. In the meantime, turn the box upside down before you buy. If you hear a clunk as the cereal falls to the empty bottom of the box, try another brand.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Need For Money
At the age of 63, money, beyond that needed for food and rent, would be almost useless. What does matter is health and youthful vigour. It is so odd that people chase money in ways they know destroys their health.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Need vs Greed
The fight between need and greed: where you stand on that spectrum defines your economic philosophy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
No animal insists that others of its species starve or go without a burrow when there is plenty of food and thousands of empty burrows. Americans are the exception.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Negative Taxes for the Rich!
According to the GAO (General Accounting Office) the about 2/3 of the companies owned by American billionaires pay no income taxes at all. And these leeches claim they deserve even more tax relief!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Nestléand Altria/Kraft (two large unscrupulous food companies) have put all their eggs in one basket by using a single common brand name on a bewildering array of products. The first time there is a contaminated food recall of any product, the entire product line will crash, at least temporarily.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
New Canadian Plastic Money
On 2012-11-07, Canada introduced polymer bank notes in $100, $50 and $20 denominations. On 2013-04-30 the mint announced the $10 and $5 denominations. They are partly clear plastic which gives the illusion they are torn. The intent was to deter counterfeiting and to make the notes 2.5 times as durable. This saved the mint some money, but, of course, imposed a huge charge on Canadian business drastically modifying ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), cash handling machines and vending machines to handle the new bills. The big problem was the mint never did any sort of consumer test. It turns out the bills melt if you leave them in a car in the sun. If you fold them, you can’t unfold them and they stick together. I don’t know how long it will be before organised crime manage to counterfeit and we have to change the bills yet again. I would have thought we should put chips in them with digital signatures that would hold ’em for decades.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money is real only in the sense Monopoly money is real. It is a token for tracking how well you are doing in the status game. The are as arbitrary as the rules of Monopoly. The difference is some people have the power to change the money game rules on the fly which gives them a distinct advantage.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
No Amount Is Enough
An executive who makes a day overseas workers in the third world he pays a day. He suffers under the delusion that his share of the pie is not nearly big enough and the most virtuous thing he could do is cut costs by reducing the pay of his workers and adding it to his own. The problem with capitalism is it infects the minds of anyone involved with it with bizarre delusions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
No Capitalism in Animals
No other communal animal but man has a social structure that directs a slice of the resource pie 10,000+ times bigger than usual to each pack leader, not even termites, ants or bees.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
No Need To Coddle The Rich
There really is no need to coddle the rich. Giving them more money won’t make them any happier. They already have much more than they need. I know from personal experience. I used to have far more money than I needed. I used to hand out $100 bills to people just to watch the reaction. The rich who complain they absolutely must have more money to survive are like women weighing in at 226.80 kg (500 lbs) at an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord whining they are still hungry.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
No One Feels Responsible
One of the major backward steps on the road to civilisation was the corporation, a conspiracy dedicated to profit at the expense of every other value. Its function is to make nobody feel responsible for wicked deeds done in the name of profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
No Subsidies for Pro Sports
I think each sport should be funded by those who love playing it or watching it. There is no justification for the general public to subsidise an optional treat for a small number of fans. I exclude participatory sports for children. In particular, I object to building giant stadiums with public money then charging hundreds of dollars for the tickets with none of that going back to the taxpayers, with only the wealthy able to afford tickets. It is a tax on the poor to coddle the rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There was a time when the uber-wealthy felt obligated to give back to the community. Andrew Carnegie built libraries in all the major cities in the USA and Canada. Today, they indulge in garish conspicuous waste instead. What I find so strange is the way the general public admire these eco-vandals.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Nobody Earns a Billion Dollars
Nobody earns a billion dollars. They steal it. They extort it. They con for it. They gamble for it. They cheat for it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Nomadic View of Stuff
A person living in a nomadic society has to carry all his possessions on his back. To him, the western habit of making one’s life goal the accumulation of possessions looks crazy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Billionaires imagine they are indispensable and hence worthy of infinite pampering because they employ people. If all the billionaires disappeared overnight, the need for goods would be just as strong. We would fulfill it just as we did for millions of years before there were billionaires.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Given that numbered companies are invariably used for illegal or deceptive purposes, it is a wonder the government still facilitates them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bush got America in deep financial trouble with two expensive optional wars (that have nothing to show for the trillions poured into the ground) and massive tax cuts for the rich that the country could not afford (which resulted in lost jobs, not job creation as Republicans claimed.) Obama is in a bind. If he cuts spending, he will make unemployment worse. If he increases spending to try to create jobs, he makes the debt worse. The rich are doing extremely well right now and the bottom half are suffering badly. The obvious solution is to cut the tax loopholes, subsidies and tax cuts to the rich and use a proportion of that income on infrastructure that will increase jobs and increase prosperity generally. The problem is the wealthy have bought the Republican party to serve only their interests of the rich, to hell with the good of the country.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It turned out the Republicans blocked Obama no matter what he did. They desperately wanted to sacrifice the country just to make Obama look bad.
What is this fad of paying CEOs obscene amounts of money about? A CEO paid that sort of money will be willing to take huge risks with the well being of his employees and customers for even marginal increase in profit. He will also be willing to do unethical things for profit, even break the law. Corporations do this because it actually does increase profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Occupy Wall Street Movement derailed their protest even before it began with distracting it with irrelevant issues:
- The right to raise a tent on public property.
- The need for safe injection sites.
- The right of urban dwellers who have homes to camp out.
Without purpose and without plan, all they could succeed is doing was making all opposition to Wall street look disorganised, self indulgent and foolish. The net result is they hurt their cause.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- There is less oil in the ground that there has ever been before. We have already used the low-hanging fruit. The oil that is left is progressively more expensive to exploit.
- There are more cars that ever before. China is going car mad.
- By the law of supply and demand, gasoline prices will rise.
- To make matters worse, speculators jump in when prices are rising to crank up prices further.
- On 2013-07-22 in the USA prices rose $0.12 in one week, $0.23 in a year. Gas prices in Canada were $1.36 a litre.
So what can you do to prepare for higher gas prices?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Get a smaller car, maybe even a one seater if all you do with it is commute to work.
- Get a more fuel efficient car. There are efficient cars that don’t cost as much as hybrids.
- Consider a scooter, bicycle or electric bike, or moving close enough to walk.
The Old Ethic
Capitalist ethics require you to make the most money no matter what it takes. It particular it requires giving other as little as possible for their money. The opposite is the old-fashioned ethic of endeavouring to give others more than they paid for.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You would think one-man-one-vote would guarantee that politicians would institute policies for the good of all. But this does not happen. Why?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- If you are rich or are a corporation, you can buy a TV network. You can then sell anything you want to the populace as truth.
- If you are rich or a corporation, you can bribe politicians. The bribes are spun as donations.
- Some politicians seek local office so they can direct public funds to themselves or to their friends.
Online vs Brick and Mortar Stores
Let’s say for example you wanted to buy a digital camera. What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying it online vs from a brick and mortar store?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Online vs Brick and Mortar Stores Consideration Online Brick can look at an actual camera,
not just a photo of it.
can handle the camera,
and take a picture with it.
can read detailed specs can read detailed manual low price pay by credit card pay by debit pay by cash pay by PayPal no sneaky shipping charge take home instantly short warranty service delay
Only Despoilers are Stakeholders
Money presumes something has value only if it chopped up and converted into a product. Yet from my point of view, then it is despoiled. I want trees, fish, animals etc. just left alone. I have no say to ensure I get things my way. I am not considered to have any stake in the matter. Only those who would destroy are considered to have a legitimate interest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is one conspiracy theory that is no secret — the rich get their way. Governments pass laws to help them avoid taxes and make money and to give them the upper hand in any conflict with workers, customers or the poor. Media express their views and values. The law treats them with kid gloves. Governments fight wars for their profit, but never demand they risk their lives.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Opposing the Bailout
I have three major reservations with the massive wall street/bank bailout:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- The people who created the mess made off like bandits with millions of dollars in bonuses.
- There is still no regulation to stop these crooks from pulling the same stunt or a similar one all over again.
- It does nothing to help the mortgage holder victims of the various scams the banks and their agents pulled.
Orajel brazenly lies in its commercials that the product will instantly stop all the pain of a throbbing toothache. At best it will ameliorate it by 20%.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Origin of Private Property
Originally there was no private property. Everyone would graze their animals on the same common plot of land. There was a strong temptation to overgraze. If you didn’t, somebody else would. This caused a race to ecological collapse. Somebody came up with the brilliant idea of private property to solve this tragedy of the commons. Private properly allotted a bit of land to each person. People then each had motivation not to overgraze. They directly benefited from all their efforts at conservation and land improvement.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Outrageous Lies in Ads
Hotels.ca, in their ads, makes the outlandish claim they have hotels in outer space. Why do they tell obvious lies like that? I think it is so they can more easily claim they were just kidding about the less obvious lies in the ad.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Corporations have bribed politicians into allowing them to outsource thousands of jobs offshore. The remaining jobs are low-end jobs like pizza delivery boy that can’t be outsourced. An economy cannot for long be sustained on borrowing and consumption. If America does not want to become a third world nation, it will have to start again producing the goods and services it needs and producing goods and services that other countries want.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the goofiest things BC Provincial government likes to do is outsource the maintenance of hospitals supposedly because it saves money. They contract out to friends of the party. These friends hire people who have no training in hospital maintenance, often people who cannot speak English. They cut cleaning frequency and thoroughness. Outbreaks of communicable diseases kill all manner of patients. How can this be cheaper when a share of the budget has to go to the person who owns the cleaning company and any savings come from dangerous cutbacks in service?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Overbelieving in The Free Market
The free market system is spectacularly good at providing us with computers, clothes, towels, kitchen utensils, furniture, books… It is not nearly as good at providing clean air, clean water, non-polluting cars, healthful food and shelter. The free market has become like a religion. Because it is so good in some sectors, people assert it therefore must be the best possible economic organisation everywhere.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Overheated Housing Market
House prices have gone through the roof in Victoria and Vancouver, in BC. Large numbers of people want to work close to the downtown core, and there is not enough housing for them all. The competition creates a bidding war that drives prices to dizzying heights. It also forces families and seniors who already own homes to leave to avoid the skyrocketing property taxes.
Politicians have suggested subsidising home buyers. This is utterly stupid. Why?
- Why should low-income renters with zero chance at home ownership be subsidising the fortunate few who can afford it?
- Putting more money into the game just increases the number of players entering the bidding war. It does not create any more housing. It just fans the fires of the bidding war.
What should you do? You have to do things that effectively reduce the number of people wanting to live close to the city core, or you have to effectively create more housing close to the city core. Here are some suggestions how to do that:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Change the zoning laws to encourage more high rises.
- Build affordable, high-density housing.
- Commuter trains and rapid transit to let people rapidly commute to work from further out.
- Incentives for businesses to allow their employees to work from home and telecommute.
- Incentives for businesses to locate their offices outside the downtown core.
- Raise property taxes to encourage people to move to the bedroom communities.
- Discourage speculators. Get them out of the competition.
In the USA right now there are more than 11.5 people working for every one seeking work. Why all the hand wringing? Is it really all that big a burden for each employed person to support an additional 1/11.5th of a person? There is no survival problem, just a reluctance to share.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ownership is a concept in a complicated game whose social rules define who is allowed to use which objects. It is not a feature of the physical universe.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why do paid endorsements have any weight at all?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There was once an extended family who lived in large mansion. Unfortunately, a nasty stomach bug, campylobacter, laid half of them low. They were too sick to work and they lived in a country that did not pay you anything unless you worked. This dragged on. More of the family got sicker and sicker. The savings were gone. They were vaguely aware that sickness could be cured with ciprofloxacin, a fairly expensive prescription drug, but they felt they had no choice but to economise by foregoing the antibiotic. The next door neighbour boy was 5 years old. He brought over some soup his mother had made. He asked them, If you bought the medicine, couldn’t you more than pay that back in one day being able to work again? You don’t understand how bad our situation is, silly child.
This parable is about the refusal of Americans to take action on job creation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Children are parachuted into life on earth. It depends primarily on which part of earth they land that determines their life quality. In some places, they won’t get enough to eat, no medicine, no education, hit by parasites. In other spots they will have a nice spacious clean place to sleep, medical care, best of dentistry, healthful food, a good education. It is a bit like the old days when your lot was determined by whether you were born a noble or a serf.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
About one fifth of people in the USA work in finance. It is a sector that ballooned by discovering ways of bleeding the economy dry without providing much useful in return. A financial sector one tenth that size could do all its useful work. It is the analog of a cancer with its runaway growth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Patents have two saving graces:
- They have to reveal immediately to everyone, not just on patent expiry, how the invention works.
- Once the patent expires, they nail down a bit of public domain knowledge that never again needs to be defended against exclusive use by some corporation.
Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies find ways to extend drug patents.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When union workers refuse to accept pay cuts, they get told such demands are unsustainable in the current economy. Yet the CEOs give themselves raises and bonuses and a bigger share of the pie than at any time in history, they don’t even apologise for their greedy demands.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Paying for More Ads
If you buy heavily advertised products, a substantial proportion of the price goes to ads. You are encouraging them to hire people to write ads and to pay TV stations to bombard you with them. On the other paw, you can think of paying extra for such products as an indirect contribution to the TV stations so they can afford to show some non-advertising content.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Paying For News
You have two basic choices for how you pay for your news:
You might think that advertising is free and hence better. However, consider that the news provider is now interested primarily in keeping his advertisers happy, not you. He decides which stories to leave out based on which stories the advertisers would rather you not see. He spins the stories favourable to them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Paying Three Times the Going Rate
Americans are so patriotic they refuse to notice they are paying three time what anyone else does for health care while they enjoy the worst health in the developed world, with the worst infant mortality, even when Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, tells them the facts. They have an almost religious attachment to being ripped off. It is a Good Thing™ Americans long ago adopted indoor plumbing or they would also be claiming outhouses were superior to flush toilets.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
PennyTalk fraudulently advertises on TV you can dial long distance to India for $0.02 a minute. If you read the fine print, you discover there is a $0.49 connection fee per call. So a 5 minute call will actually cost you $0.59 or $0.12 cents a minute.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pensions For the Long-Lived
Politicians are rightfully concerned about how to finance old age pensions now that people are living longer than ever. Some of the solutions suggested are just plain silly:
- Stop paying pensions. You can’t just let people starve to death. If you stop paying pensions, you have to pay welfare. Pensions are a contract with the people. Surely the courts would find such a measure would be a breach of contract if not theft.
- Tell people to buy their own private pensions. You can only phase that in over many decades. The pensions will be even more expensive, since they have to make a profit. Even if you get the expense off government books, the people are still worse off. Further, self-directed, company and private pensions often go bust, leaving the pensioners with nothing. The government will have to support them anyway. If there are to be private pensions, they need to be insured, much the way bank deposit are. They have to be made mandatory, otherwise many people will reach old age without a pension. They not going to voluntarily starve to death. The real point of enforced private pensions is to hand the public sheep over to the Wall Street/Bay Street wolves for fleecing.
- Up the retirement age. This one does makes some sense. People used to drop dead the day after retirement. Today many are eager to work for a decade or two more. However, some people are burnt out by 65. We should not force them to keep slogging.
I think the solution is simply to up the required contributions to cover the extended retirement period and inflation. The contributions should be constantly adjusted so that one generation is not sponging off another.
The other solution is to let people die when they want to rather than forcing extremely expensive, painful and pointless medical procedures on them. We spend over half our lifetime health care budget in the last year. Even a marginal savings in the last year could give a huge boost to the pension budget.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pensions vs Shareholders
It should be illegal for employers to cut pensions to give to shareholders. Corporations have a contractual obligation to pay the pensions. They have no such obligation to the shareholders.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A buyer perceives a transaction to be fair when the seller has invested substantial time, effort or money into creating the object sold. Perception of fairness has little to do with the utility of the object. For example, a buyer will be outraged at paying $10 a bottle for water after an earthquake, even though it will save his child’s life.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Perfect Link Between Inflation and Printing Money
One of the thing that really impresses me about the economy, is that even if the government secretly prints money, or expands the money supply through covert means such as by diddling the bank regulations, the public seems to just know and there is a precisely corresponding inflation. The recent collapse of the American dollar is a direct result of the USA printing money rather than borrowing, cutting spending or increasing taxes to pay its bills.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Bosses in industry have higher rates of three personality disorders than prison populations — including psychopaths.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Most of the world’s petroleum transactions are done in US dollars. Another way of putting that is the global petrodollar is the US dollar. This bestows great benefit on the USA. Among other things, it can effectively tax everyone in the world without their consent by printing money and causing inflation. Surprisingly often, the USA has attacked countries that hinted they would accept some other currency than American for petroleum transactions, most recently Libya. The world is getting impatient with the US dollar since financial finagling in the USA is making the dollar unstable and the USA is threatening to renege on its debts. I don’t know how much longer this free ride will last. Russia, the European Union and Africa are all too big to invade. Perhaps some new artificial Petrodollar can be invented, based on a bundle of currencies, that will be more stable than any single currency. Americans have abused the privilege with effective counterfeiting Petrodollars by printing US dollars. They don’t deserve to keep it exclusively.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It would be trivial for cellphones and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) to allow you to transfer money from person to person, or person to vendor locally or over the Internet with high security. Mugging would be pointless. You would just go to the police, explain you gave somebody money under duress, then they would know precisely who he is and his bank account and get you your money back even if they could not find him. Cash would disappear for everything but illegal transactions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Phony Deficit Reduction Plans
Republicans are such liars! The Ryan plan to reduce the deficit does not even claim to bring it under control for 70 years (in other words, it does nothing to reduce the deficit, let alone the national debt.) What it does instead is take money from the poor, disabled and elderly and give it to millionaires. There are no savings, just reverse wealth transfer to those who need it least.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Phony Job Creation Scheme
One of the goofiest ideas I have heard for creating jobs is to give tax breaks to the wealthiest citizens. Instead of creating jobs the wealthy could do many other things with the windfall:
- salt it away in the bank.
- invest it in the Chinese stock market.
- Go on a vacation to Paris.
Instead why not do what the Canadian governments do, pay people to create jobs. I used to hire all kinds of unemployable people and the government would subsidise half their salaries. After I had trained them, nearly all of them went on to even higher paying jobs. This is clearly a much more efficient way to create jobs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Phony Recession
Have you ever wondered why the 2008 recession dragged on and on? Oddly, the richest people are not suffering. They are getting richer faster than ever. It is only Joe Average who is suffering. Corporations have been raising prices, lowering wages and lowering service. This means more money than ever for them. They like things this way. The have artfully fooled the public into thinking the unions and public service sector are to blame, allowing them to crush unions and lower wages further. This recession is a massive wealth shift from the middle class to the elites. No wonder the corporations flatly refuse to co-operate with Obama to end the recession.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The elites are taught from childhood they deserve a slice of the pie thousands of times bigger than anyone else and that even their conspicuous consumption is a valuable service to humanity. It is a wonder they do not donate their turds to the Smithsonian.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If I made a blackberry pie and it disappeared and we discovered one of my children with berry juice all over her face, her siblings would likely blame her for their lack of pie. Oddly, middle class Republicans look at it differently. They blame the poor (those without any pie), not the rich (gluttons gorged on pie — those who conspicuously waste pie to assert social dominance), for their lack of pie.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pity For Youth
I was a teenager in the 1960s and put myself though university without debt. All I had to do was keep my grades up and the government paid my university fees. I had a job as a teaching assistant and marking papers. A had a summer job doing computer research. That paid for my room and board. I was able to afford elaborate Christmas presents for by four siblings. I was able to lend my parents money to buy a car. I could go on ski trips to different mountains in BC and Washington. I later enjoyed a choice of good-paying interesting jobs. At 23, I was able to buy a 4-bedroom house in the older, pleasant Kensington district, and pay it off in a few years.
Pity the youth of today. Everything is such a struggle in comparison. Why are we making life so difficult for today’s youth? Why don’t we just use the same economic policies we did back then? I think the reason is the wealth gap has widened. The rich are hogging an every bigger slice of resource pie. They are not willing to share it with the young generation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Place Your Bets
In the United States you can place bets with casinos, investment companies, banks and insurance companies. I think if would be a better if these institutions were not permitted to poach on each others’ territories.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
RiceTec patented all strains of traditional Indian Basmati rice, which they did not own and on which they had done no development. It was pure theft from the people of India. Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein profited from this theft, but he salved his conscience by having a corporation do the dirty work for him. This is largely what corporations are for, plausible deniability of responsibility and immoral activities.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Playing the Money Game
The goal of the money game is to accumulate as much money as possible. You do this by buying low and selling high. In other words you try to con others into accepting a small favour from you in return for a big favour from them. Ideally, it is a win-win game when both partners exchange things they don’t want for things they do, but more commonly it is a con game where the seller tries to trick the buyer into thinking what he has to offer (including labour) is more valuable than it is and the buyer tries to convince the seller it is less valuable than it is. Money is an inherently dishonest game, but a fair one when the two partners interacting are peers. It becomes unfair when one partner is poor and the other exceedingly rich, or even worse, a corporation with hundreds of thousands of times the power of an individual.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Playing the Money Game Honestly
The purpose of the monetary system is to encourage people to contribute useful work. It rewards people with goodies proportional to the value of what they contribute. If you discover a way to earn large amounts of money while contributing little useful work, either what you are doing is illegal or you are exploiting a loophole in the monetary system that should be illegal. Our religious-based systems of morality created before the ascent of money, are too outdated and too immature to label such behaviour as wrong.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The USA is not really a democracy. Lawmakers talk pretty well only to those who hold out substantial gifts. The lawmaker has to harmonise the requests from all the donors with party policy. Huge donors get their requests promoted verbatim, no matter how crazy or planet-killing they are. Some donors simply threaten, like AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Much of this corruption would go away if there were party discipline on votes and laws against donations by corporations, especially foreign corporations.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the strangest human activities is digging up ore from the ground, refining out the gold, poisoning the environment in the process, then burying it again in underground vaults, imagining they have done some immensely valuable work.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the strangest notions of western jurisprudence is that any wrongdoing can be erased by either a payment of money or by locking the wrongdoer in a cage. Yet no conceivable punishment will restore a rainforest. The only sensible plan is to block the wrongdoing in the first place.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
America is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. It inculcates the philosophy of capitalism, namely take as much as you can, screw others out of as much as you can and take no heed for the long term sustainability of the society. Caring for others is weakness and evil communism, a fate worse than death. With a population who believes that, who needs enemies?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Allowing the police to smash the tents of homeless people and confiscate their backpacks does not help in the least toward finding these people suitable shelter. All it does is provide the police with victims on which to vent their sadistic impulses who have no way to fight back.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Policies to Create Unemployment
Republicans argue that their policies of firing government workers, taxing the poor, giving tax breaks to the rich and tossing out all environmental and financial oversight should be followed to fix the recession and reduce unemployment. Yet these are the very policies that created the mess in the first place. Why does anyone take them seriously? Why don’t Americans laugh out loud when they make such preposterous claims?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Almost every politician is under two delusions:
- Increased economic activity is a good thing.
- Increased population is a good thing.
Increased economic activity has the following deadly consequences:
- More greenhouse gases.
- More pollution.
- Consumption of finite resources.
- Pushing other species to extinction.
The earth has a population of 7.381. It can sustain only 1 billion. We are already way over the edge. We are destroying our soils, stripping our fuels, consuming our resources, polluting our air and water to temporarily squeak by.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I grew up in a wealthy district called the British Properties in West Vancouver. One day a friend of my little sister’s visited and went home and announced to her mother that she had met some poor people (namely us). Her mother asked how she knew. She replied They don’t have a swimming pool. Perhaps I should then not be so surprised at people organising charities to buy expensive hockey equipment and ice time for underprivileged children when there are still kids going without food, shelter or medical care.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Poor Subsidise the Rich
In the United States, homeowners can deduct their mortgage payments in computing their income tax. The net result of this is people who cannot afford houses subsidise those that can. What? you say Isn’t that wealth transfer? The Republicans will never tolerate that! Republicans object to wealth transfer from rich to poor, but consider poor to rich transfer as well-deserved tribute.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Poor Subsidize the Rich
A mortgage deduction effectively forces the poor to buy houses for the relatively well off. To be fair there should be either a similar deduction for rent, or deduction on the mortgages for rented properties.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Economists are concerned about the aging of the population. They want to correct the problem by increasing the birth rate to produce more workers. This is not a viable solution. The earth cannot even sustain the population it has now. We must figure out how to let elderly people mostly look after themselves with some robotic help and reduce the birth rate further.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
But then how are you going to feed and house all these new people? On existing coastal farmland rapidly sinking beneath the rising oceans. I see.
A Positive View of Taxation
Most Americans have a rather childish view of taxation. They think of it as a form of piracy. I see it as convenient one-stop shopping for a huge omnibus of services including police, fire, water, sewer, snow removal, defence, medical care, navigation, product safety, food and restaurant inspection, emergency rescue, combating forest fires, environmental protection, fisheries protection… It would be impossible to hire private contractors to do all this for me. The big advantage over a private scheme is I periodically have a vote I can use to vote out all the top CEOs at once if I am not happy with the deal I am getting. In contrast, corporations are dictatorships and the employees and customers have no power whatsoever over the management, other that boycott.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People raised in poverty speak a poverty dialect. This dialect marks them as from the poverty class and keeps them from getting decent jobs. They know perfectly well how to speak standard English, but cling to this familiar millstone dialect.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Power To Cause Recessions
Given that the wealthy are the ones who make the decisions that cause recessions, and give the wealthy are the ones who benefit most from recessions by acquiring a larger slice of the total wealth pie, it high time to take that power away from them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Power Of Corporate America
In the American health care debate, we have seen the power of corporate America to threaten and bribe the politicians to thwart the will of the majority. There are 100,000 private contractors in Afghanistan. Is it any surprise the collective power and wealth of the defence industry was able to quietly force Obama around 180 degrees to become a hawk?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pre-Refrigeration Pre-Monetary Economies
In a pre-monetary society, about the only thing you could do with your wealth/food was share it in a big feast, trading your wealth for status. Back then, there was not much else you could do with an abundance of food, since it did not keep. Today, since money keeps indefinitely in a bank, the game has changed to miserly accumulation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Preferences in Victimiser
Americans so strongly prefer to be screwed over by corporations than the government, they are willing to pay 3.5 times as much for health care as people in other developed countries. This is irrational. If the government screws you over, that money has at least some chance of being spent for your benefit. When a corporation screws you over, there is none. You would think someone who values money above all else would select his health care from whomever ripped him off least, no matter who they were. This is strikingly emotional thinking for Republicans.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Preferring Misery For Others
Researchers have discovered that babies would rather have two candies and their companion have none, then they each have four. Relative advantage is more important than wealth. Babies behave like pelican chicks, working hard to eliminate the competition. When it comes to homelessness, adults behave the same way. They are willing to spend huge amounts extra to make sure the homeless stay homeless. They will spend lavishly for the privilege of punishing the homeless denying them the opportunity to be clean, warm and dry.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Preparing Income Tax
Manually tracking financial information and compiling it for income tax wastes at least two days a year of everyone’s time. What a drain on national productivity!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pretending to be Rich
Consider a multi-millionaire whose businesses failed. He is days away from bankruptcy. Yet he still lives as he always did, hosting elaborate parties, borrowing money, buying sports cars… The USA is in debt to the tune of $18.9 trillion yet everyone is still treating it as if it were the richest country on earth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pretending There Is Nothing To Do
Foolish politicians try to convince the populace the economy is doing great when it clearly is not. The public will happily forgive them for trying unsuccessfully to remedy the situation, but not for insulting them by telling them they can’t tell a recession when they see one. The public won’t forgive deadbeat politicians who excuse their failure by pretending there is nothing to do.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Canada has plastic currency with see-through panels. I don’t know how long it will be before organised crime manages to counterfeit them and we have to change the bills yet again. I would have thought we should put chips in them with digital signatures that would hold ’em for decades.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In a future society where computers and robots create all the necessities of life, your main concern would be preventing over consumption, both to sustain planetary resources and to prevent people from harming themselves with over consumption. You might have a system where everyone got $5000 a month they could spend anyway they wanted, perhaps with additional caps on how much of it could be used for sugar, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Classical economic theory claims that as demand rises, prices will rise, which will cause supply to rise. This works just fine for wheat, chickens, cellphones… but it does not apply to resources globally consumed that cannot be manufactured, like oil and clean air.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Price of Oil
Economic growth depends on cheap energy (mainly oil). The problem is we long ago used up the easy-to-get oil. What is left is far offshore, down deep or mixed with sand and tar. It now costs far more in money and energy to extract it. Oil is getting more and more expensive for geological reasons; it is not just because some Arab sheik temporarily turned off the tap. Unless someone invents a radically new source of energy, like fusion, energy prices will continue to climb. That means a stalled world economy for the foreseeable future. The oil situation can only get worse, despite this temporary glut by shale oil coming online.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Primary and Secondary Money Problems
There two classes of economic problems to worry about:
- Primary. The same problems animals face, sufficient food, water and territory. Ensuring our environment supports us, avoiding erosion, pollution, global warming, epidemics…
- Secondary. The money game, the way we track who is winning, the wealth gap, speculation, various ways to legally con others, illegal ways to con others, debt, contracts. No animal but humans worries about secondary problems. Most humans believe that these secondary problems are more important than the primary ones and real men should ignore the primary ones. They consider concern for survival soft-headed.
I think humans are stark raving bonkers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Printing Money Responsibly
Governments try to stimulate the economy by inflating the money supply. This does not work because they usually give the money to their friends who have contributed to them, namely the banks, corporations and wealthy people. For this to work, they must spend the money, either directly or by giving it to the middle and lower classes who are guaranteed to spend it immediately.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Private = Deprive
Private property is the basis of capitalism. It comes from the same root as deprive. If you own private property you deprive other people of the right to use it. Originally you could do with it what you like, independent of the effects that use would have on others.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Private Enterprise Cannot Do Everything
There is a sort of religious faith in the USA that the government should do nothing and capitalism should do everything. That is impossible. Private enterprise is not interested in tackling projects that require massive capital or that are not almost guaranteed to make money.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Government vs Private Enterprise Which Projects are suited for Government and Private Enterprise Very expensive? Almost Guaranteed profitable? Can Government do it? Can Private Enterprise Do It?
Republicans keep trying to sell the idea of privatised pensions. Obviously, this system is much more expensive because everyone has to hire a money manager to manage their pension investments. That’s why Republicans are so keen on the idea. They represent the money managers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you are born into a privileged class, and you are told over and over from birth that you are better than other people, why would it ever occur to you to question that you are inherently deserving?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
To what degree do you believe in privilege?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Should there be a limit to privilege, or should one person have billions of times more privilege than another?
- On what grounds should privilege be granted? country of birth, bloodlines, inherited wealth, race, fame, acquired wealth, appearance, youth, age, size of contribution to society, amount of damage done to the environment, criminal connections?
- How low should privilege be allowed to drop. Should you be allowed to starve to death, freeze to death or die from lack of medical care?
The Problem With Capitalism
The biggest problem with capitalism is not that it creates a monumental wealth divide, but that it rushes to satisfy any human desire, no matter how trivial, short sighted or destructive.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Problem With Money
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Once you have enough money for rent, food and basics, additional money does not make that much difference to happiness.
- To be wealthy, requires pretty well all your time devoted to making money and making sure it does not evaporate.
- If you become wealthy, you attract superficial people, either hoping to sponge or steal off you, or to play one-upmanship games.
- The wealthier you get, the more people scheme to get your money, persuade you to invest, or sell you something.
The Problem with Money
The problem with money is it divides people into two camps:
- a huge group of wage earners.
- a small group of elites.
Consider an issue such as should we install more solar panels? It is in the interest of wage earners. They press politicians for it. However, since the elites have massive fossil fuel investments, solar panels are not in their financial interest though it is in their health interest. Since they have by far the most money, they have the most influence over politicians. They persuade the politicians to enact policies against the general good.
Should the rich have a disproportionately powerful voice to lobby politicians? The corrupt Roberts Supreme court ruled, the influence should be unlimited. The United States is no longer a democracy but a plutocracy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Problem With The Rich
Originally, the complaint with the rich was envy and the way the rich used dishonest, immoral and illegal techniques to accumulate wealth. However, it is becoming more their ecologically-destructive conspicuous-consumption lifestyle.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Productivity has advantages and disadvantages:
- Owners make more profit.
- We make more with less.
- We put less strain on the environment consuming energy, water, materials, manpower.
- Prices are lowered.
- Corporations become more competitive.
- Fewer workers are needed, so people who may have worked for decades are suddenly laid off.
- There are more people chasing fewer jobs, so wages go down.
- Workers need constant retraining to keep up with the changes.
- American corporations have used productivity gains to destroy the unions.
The benefits go to the owners and the pain goes to the workers. This is fundamentally unfair. The benefits and pain should be shared more equitably.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Pursuit of profits make humans do some really stupid things. Consider livestock management:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology and a Sustainable Society
- In the old days, cattle wandered about on marginal land eating grass. They were rounded up for slaughter. The land did not need to be fertilised, tilled, or irrigated.
- Today we lock cattle up in disease infested feed-lots, knee deep in feces. We grow corn for them on prime agricultural land. Cattle have evolved over millions of years to eat grass, not grain. The cattle are unhealthy and the meat is unhealthful because of excess fat.
- We pump the cattle full of antibiotics. With non-stop use, the bacteria develop immunity to all the antibiotics also used for humans.
- Instead of the cattle dung going to fertilise pastures, it is it dumped into rivers without any form of sewage treatment where it pollutes the drinking water and eutrifies lakes, river and the oceans.
- The agricultural fields need nitrogen. Instead of recycling the manure as we have done for millennia, we use precious oil to create chemical fertilisers. This puts double the eutrification load on our waters.
An honest government might be happy to see the crookedest third of banks and stock brokers fail. People who were cheated by the banks should get their mortgages forgiven. Banks will continue to perpetrate fraud until fraud is made unprofitable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Prospects for Employment
Long term, the prospects for employment are bleak. As computers get smarter, they take over job after job. I predict the following jobs will disappear:
- making clothing (clothing will be custom made)
- sales assistant in a store
- auto mechanic
We can muddle along with make-work jobs and low paying jobs or we can decide the universe is not abundant enough that everyone can live, even if they don’t work, without stigma. Work is purely optional. We might implement this as a guaranteed annual income. The Republican thinking is you must slave at an unpleasant job or die. A paradigm shift is needed. Work will be seen as good fortune, a job something you attain, so that you can have fun doing special things. Right now we are headed for an insane world, superabundant with the fruits of automation, where no one can afford to partake.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Protor Silex Crapware
Proctor Silex, like other manufacturers of small appliances, company his discovered it can make the most money by having its kettles wear out quickly or have not-immediately-obvious but fatal design flaws so the customer discards the kettle early to try a different model. This is good for the Proctor Silex shareholders, bad for the environment and infuriating for me, the consumer. This is the one feature of capitalism I find intolerable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Psychological Value of Money
Psychology tells us that someone living on a month will appreciate a lot more than a capitalist making a month. Even doubling the capitalist’s income has almost no effect on his happiness or well-being. Yet capitalism tells us that is far more important for a society to see that the capitalist gets the .~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When crude oil prices rise, the price of gasoline at the pump rises the next day. When crude oil prices drop, nothing happens to prices at the pump. Consumers are just beginning to notice they are being ripped off.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Anti-Gambling Legislation
The purpose of anti-gambling legislation is primarily to protect the monopoly of the those who run legal gambling. In that I include casinos, government lotteries and race track betting.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Buyouts
Unless one of the two companies is moribund, almost never is a merger or acquisition for the benefit of the public. Buyouts are to reduce competition. The corruption is remarkable in how frequently governments rubber stamp approval.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Purpose of Credit Cards
The purpose of a credit card is to make automatic, gradually-increasing monthly contributions to your local bank.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Gambling
In a primitive society, a small amount of gambling between players of equal skill or playing a game that does not require skill serves to redistribute wealth. Casino gambling, in contrast, concentrates wealth in the hands of the casino owner. Similarly, gambling when some players are professional or highly skilled just fleeces the other players.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Madison Avenue
The function of Madison Avenue is to convince people to covet their neighbour’s iPad.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Purpose of Money
Money is a way of convincing people to accept less than their fair share without complaining.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Money
One of the purposes of money is to allow the upper class to convince the lower class that they deserve poverty.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Money
Originally money was a rationing system. Its intent was to ensure nobody consumed too big a share of the pie. Today its intent is quite different. It is used to enforce status. Low status people are prevented from consuming even necessities like food, shelter and medicine. High status people are encouraged to conspicuous consumption. Money makes status obvious even to strangers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Purpose of Money
You might naïvely think that the purpose of money is to encourage productivity, e.g. a child gets a bigger allowance if they do more chores. However, people have learned to game the system. Now money also rewards risk taking, law breaking, unethical behaviour, trashing the environment, putting the public at risk, exploiting others, usury, deception, speculation, bribery… The original idea was money would give the wealthy some extra privileges, some extra creature comforts, but now that people have learned to game the system to divert astronomical sums of money to themselves, they use it for other purposes, such as a competitive game, political power, getting people to do things they do not want to do, conspicuous consumption, conspicuous waste and general environment trashing.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The original purpose of patents was to stimulate invention. However, they now do the reverse. Large corporations with massive cross-licensed patent libraries block new comers from introducing anything new.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Purpose of Patents
Patents were originally intended to encourage people to invent things.
They have been abused by Monsanto to let them patent plants known for thousands of years.
Medical companies patent chemicals and structures in human bodies they had absolutely nothing to do with creating, in particular genes. They just carved out a section to claim of the human genome that others previously mapped. They invented genes no more than the European nobles invented or discovered plantations in Louisiana when they drew the boundaries for their claims on a map in a Versailles drawing room.
Patents have been abused by endless computer companies to block use of ideas as obvious as using a pencil to draw lines would be in the non-computer world. In my own case, Peter Norton/Symantec tried to patent an idea I sent them (and all other back up companies) to recover from damaged backup media. It was not even their idea.
I talked with a guy who worked at the Swiss patent office. He said he had 4 days to decide each patent (the torrent of patents means less time to examine each one). He first had to read the application, 5.08 cm (2 in) thick and look for prior art. The patent applier uses legalistic language to try to disguise trivial ideas as rocket science.
Patents have become a crooked monopolistic game. Big companies cross licence their patent libraries to squeeze the smaller players out of the game.
One measure that would help would be to put a prospective patent out on the web for review for a month. The public, competitors or those who would be stuck paying royalties, could then present their evidence why the patent should or should not be granted. The patent officer could us that as a heads up he was being bamboozled. The problem with the patent system is the only evidence on whether it should be granted comes from a highly partial party who has every motivation to lie. Further, there is no penalty for lying or dissembling. The patent process should be more adversarial, like a legal system.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Purpose of Video Games
The purpose of video games is to instill military and capitalistic values in the young, namely to mercilessly, viciously and mindlessly squash the designated opposition without remorse or reflection.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The rich make the same mistake over and over. They keep squeezing the poor, taking an ever bigger share of the pie, leaving so little for the poor they die. At some point Darwinian natural selection favours killing the rich since the pressure of even one less oppressor offsets the risk of warfare. The rich are inherently greedy and can’t resist squeezing past that tipping point.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Rapid Decline of Canada
In 2013 Canada dropped to 11th place in health, education and income. In the 1990s it was in first place. When the numbers are adjusted for gender inequality, Canada slumps to 18th place. The United States fares even worse — sinking from third to 42nd place. What happened?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source
- Stephen Harper became prime minister in 2006.
- Canada stopped doing anything about the homeless. The population grew faster than housing like a game of musical chairs.
- Both the USA and Canada blew huge amounts of money on the military, especially the Afghan and Iraq wars. Formerly they would have spent that money on livingry instead of weaponry.
- The Harper government dismantled environmental legislation and hog-tied environmental protection bodies allowing corporation to pollute and plunder as they pleased.
- Canada emulated the USA, redesigning its economy to funnel the money to a small elite.
- Freezing rates and letting inflation do the political dirty work, Canada effectively cut welfare support in half.
- At the request of corporations, Canada cut back again and again on its health care system.
Rarity ⇒ Value
Diamonds have value primarily because the de Beers monopoly has managed to restrict the supply. They are in trouble since blood diamonds look the same as Canadian diamonds or fake ones. What will happen when object cloning technology gets so good that you can’t tell the Mona Lisa from a reproduction by eye? Or a fake designer bag from an original? We will no longer be able to use objects to display status. Perhaps you will display status by being seen in spaces that charge massively for entrance.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is nothing more overrated than having more than enough money and nothing so underrated as having your back scratched. I speak from experience.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ratio of Jobs to Job Seekers
In parts of Canada there are 14 people competing for each job. Consider a Canada where there were 14 employers competing to attract each worker. The very thought would cause Stephen Harper to awaken from his nightmare, sweating profusely in terror. The imbalance makes exploitation inevitable. The key fact to understand is corporations prefer high unemployment. It gives them power over workers. It lets them offer lower wages. So it is no wonder the Stephen Harper corporatocracy consider job creation to have a very low priority.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Researchers have discovered that lemurs don’t like to gamble. When given the choice of a safe single food pellet reward, or a risky random reward, most often nothing, but sometimes a dozen pellets, the lemurs choose the reliable single pellet. This behaviour persisted even when the odds were adjusted, unlike casino gambling, so that the lemurs received more total food pellets with the risky choice. The researchers considered their behaviour irrational. I disagree. To a lemur, a reliable source of steady nutrition as far more valuable than a bounteous but unreliable one. A large supply of food pellets may spoil or be stolen. It has to be stored and guarded. A lemur must estimate the time to another jackpot to know how to ration the previous jackpot. The human researchers have completely disconnected food pellets from nutrition. They see them only as counters is a mindless game of marbles where the goal is to acquire as many food pellets as possible. Most rich humans play the money game the same way that they played marbles as a child. The money has little purpose other than as a way of keeping score and bragging about skill.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The new vaccine H1N1 vaccine is temporarily in short supply. Who should get it? the people most at risk for the disease or the people with the most money. The answer to this question neatly divides the population into two warring values camps.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Gillette sells razor blades for about $4 each. They cost $0.06 each to manufacture. This illustrates a fundamental flaw of capitalism. Through mergers and acquisitions, manufacturers can eliminate the competition. Then they are free to charge whatever they please. With temporary predatory pricing, they can eliminate any new competitor.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Reacting To The Wealth Gap
Because of the way interest works, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Capitalism naturally widens the wealth gap over time. Where do you fit on the scale with your reaction to that fact?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- I don’t believe it. The wealth gap is stable. Most of the poor drive Cadillacs; Andrew Breitbart said so. Nobody has any right to complain.
- The wealth gap is a darn good thing. The lazy poor deserve to be punished for their idleness. We should change the tax system to widen the gap even faster.
- Everything is just fine the way it is. Hard workers are rewarded and deadbeats are punished. Anything else is theft. Our current tax policies will gradually widen the wealth gap naturally, as God intended.
- You need a stable economy. The tax system should be designed to hold the wealth gap stable.
- The tax system should be rolled back to the way in was in the prosperous 50s when the wealth gap was much narrower.
- The rich earn their money primary by theft, deception and extortion. There should be laws to protect consumers and employees from them.
- The rich should not be able to sponge off everyone else with monopolies. Wherever there is a natural monopoly, it should be highly regulated or run by the government. Companies should be prevented from mergers that have a serious effect on competition.
- From each according to his ability, to each according to his need, is just a theoretical goal. In practice humans need incentives to put out any significant effort. We should not be encouraging people to consume more than they need or to produce more than we need. Unbridled consumerism is destroying the earth. For a sustainable future, we have to make things stretch.
- The ballooning wealth gap is a terrible thing. The lazy rich should have any wealth they did not actually earn confiscated. A rousing chorus the L’Internationale anyone?
Real estate is just as anti-democratic as the British class system. The government maintains a registry of traditional privilege, tracked by family. The privilege is tied to a parcel of land. The privilege-holder gets to charge whatever the traffic will bear for the right to use the land. No other service or labour is required of the landholder.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is odd that jewels are still in fashion. I refer to rare gems such as diamonds, emeralds and rubies that require enormous labour to find and polish, not quality costume jewelry that looks almost identical. The wearer of such a jewel is saying I’m rich and you’re not. Hundreds of people died in third world countries so that I could wear these rocks. The wearers must broadcast the fact the jewels are real and their cost for the proper effect and may even wear counterfeits in public while the original rests in a safe. Why would anyone want to project such a cruel, crass, conceited image?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Reasonable In Comparison
To sell an implausible idea, such as your choice of breakfast cereal will transform your life, a corporation typically hires two actors, one to sell the implausible merely nutty idea and one to sell a certifiably insane idea. The first idea then seems reasonable in comparison.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why are Americans having such a tough time pulling out of the recession?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- During the recession, corporations used hard economic times as an excuse to lay off workers and outsource their jobs to the third world. The jobs are permanently gone. Corporations are now global. They have no special loyalty to the USA as they did in past.
- Good economic times primarily require a surplus of goods and services. The US had bled itself dry with 16 years of continuous illegal, unnecessary war in Afghanistan and 14 years and 6 months of continuous illegal, unnecessary war in Iraq. All those people creating goods and services for the war were not contributing any goods and services to the civilian economy. All their production was effectively thrown into a hole and blown up. How can an economy possibly thrive with two such giant parasites?
Why is the current recession such a bear?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Years of policies that exported jobs.
- Years of policies that created extreme income inequality. The rich are fabulously richer than ever before.
- The expense of two wars bleeding the funds that normally would have been used for building roads, bridges, subways, sewers, waterworks, schools and other projects that both provide jobs and serve business.
- The Republicans have blocked all measures to improve the economy. They hope it will get worse and the Democrats will be blamed and the Republicans will benefit.
Recession Is Not A Lack Of Money
One of the odd things about a recession, is that the total amount of money in all the bank accounts is the same as before the recession started. If governments print money to restart the economy, there is even more!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A recession is purely a psychological problem. There just as much food, minerals, labour and resources as in boom times. It is just that everyone loses faith in the mad economic game and simultaneously pull in their horns, causing a collapse in productivity. No other animal suffers from an analogous foolishness of self-created shortages. Governments should cut spending and save in boom times so they will have a fund to spend lavishly in the next recession to prime the pump. However, they tend to do the exact opposite which exaggerates the swings.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Recruiting New Smokers
The only people now starting smoking are pretty well only those too young to realise what a dumb idea it is. This means big tobacco has to recruit new ten year old smokers to replace its customers who have died off. They can appeal to them with ads that suggest cigarettes will make them be perceived as older, part of the in crowd, cool or rebellious. They can also sell the eSmokes as harmless as a gateway.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Recyclable To Disposable
Underwear was invented to protect clothing. It is only a matter of time until Proctor & Gamble (the parent company of Pampers) starts marketing a disposable underwear liner for normal continent adult males to protect their underwear. Mark my words. Industry works ceaselessly to convert the recyclable to the disposable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Red Cross Corruption
The US Red Cross raised half a billion to help rebuild Haiti, but only built 6 houses.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source
High prices are not in themselves a bad thing. They encourage more vendors to supply the needs. They encourage consumers to use the resources carefully. The problem is when you have less than 26 competing suppliers, they will explicitly or implicitly fix the prices. Competition only works when you have sufficient competitors to break up price fixing. Corporations work tirelessly to reduce the competition with mergers and acquisitions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Refusal to Cut Costs
The governments of the USA and Canada are facing extreme pressure to cut costs. Oddly they both refuse to cut costs of optional wars like Afghanistan and Iraq. They won’t even try to cut the fraud from no-bid or cost-plus contracts. Granted this is to be expected because the politicians are on the take from the defence industry but it is idiotic just the same. Wars provide nothing for the future but holes in the ground. Expenditures on education, roads, railways, alternative energy, sewers, factories… pay dividends for decades to come.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Refusal to Fight Counterfeiters
For sentimental reasons, Americans have refused to use subtle colours in their money, one of the most effective anti-counterfeit measures. This leaves them vulnerable to a massive supernote counterfeit scheme, hosted by a hostile foreign country, that could take down the entire economy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Refusing To Cut the Big Fat
Republicans are beginning to worry about the giant deficits and debt. They want to reduce the size of government. However, this necessarily means reducing spending. The most logical place to start is the military, which in 2010 spent $693 billion. This is the biggest slice of the pie. The USA spends more than the rest of the world put together, so you could argue it is where the most fat is. However, Republicans are funded by the war lobby, so they want to increase not decrease military spending. Subsidies to the meat and corn industries are another massive expenditure that could be cut. Republicans would never allow that since they are funded by that lobby too. If they won’t touch any of the big expenditures, they can’t make any meaningful cuts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Reigning In the Corporations
Pretty well everyone agrees corporations have too much power. There are two ways I can see to reign them in:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Electing politicians willing to regulate their behaviour.
- Non-co-operation. Simply refuse to buy their products wherever possible and refuse to work for them.
Relative Cost of Good and Evil
It would cost $9 billion per year to educate every child on earth. That is less than 1% of what we spend on the military.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Its odd that drug dealers have more status than drug addicts, even though they cause misery on much wider scale. I guess people look at their money and close their eyes to where they get it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Religion and Economics
Mankind has got itself into an environmental predicament with a toxic confluence of religion and economics:
- Religion is a master course in wishful thinking. You will notice most of the opposition to dealing with greenhouse gases comes from creationists who prefer their wishful fantasies to hard science.
- Our predicament over addiction to oil and procrastinating action on climate change reminds me of a old joke:
Mother : If you don’t stop masturbating, you will go blind.
son : Can I do it until I need glasses?.
- The economy is not a feature of nature. It is game, in the exact same sense Monopoly, baccarat, the Syms or Grand Theft Auto are games. Economists have completely lost track of that. They have completely forgotten that we humans made up the rules. The rules are somewhat arbitrary and the way they are currently constituted, the players are killing us all, as a side effect of their game-playing compulsion. Remember the Star Trek Next Generation episode about The Game that consumed the entire ship causing them to withdraw from reality — that is spaceship earth reeling from the effects of an addiction to the Money Game.
I elaborate on these ideas in a series of essays about religion and money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Religion and Poverty Correlation
In most parts of the world, religion is correlated with poverty and high income inequality. The exception is the USA which has high religion, high income inequality but relatively little poverty. However, the surge in religion is recent and poverty is increasing, so it should not be too long for the USA to fit the usual pattern too.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Reneging on Treaties
There is no point in making treaties with the USA. They honour them only so long as it is convenient. Two recent examples are the Softwood Lumber treaty where America illegally slapped tariffs on Canadian lumber and the Buy American program where Americans ripped Canadian pipes out of the ground even though NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) requires equal access to American and Canadian markets.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republican Attack On America
Bin Laden in his wildest dreams could not have done as much damage to the USA economy as the Republicans with their plot to destroy America’s credit rating. They are doing this for a dual motive, to blame Obama and hence make him lose the next election and to bankrupt the American democracy allowing private corporations to take over.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republican Charlie Browns
People who vote Republican remind me of the gullible Charlie Brown who over and over trusts Lucy van Pelt not to yank the football away at the last second. The Republicans say, give your money to the rich and you will become rich beyond your wildest dreams. It has never worked. The rich just keep the money. It is like those TV evangelist con men that promise fabulous prosperity if only you give them great hunks of cash first. All you get is some lame green prosperity handkerchief.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republican Con Job
One of the silliest notions the Republican have sold the American public is that rich people create jobs and that giving them money is all you need to do to encourage them to create jobs. How do you know this is nonsense?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- The US government has been throwing money at rich people ever since Reagan, yet employment is worse than ever. It simply does not work.
- Read the business magazines. The celebrated ones are those who reduced costs (by laying off the most people). The jab of CEO is about 50% dreaming up ways to fire people, in other words, not create jobs.
- A CEO could be sued by his stockholders for creating jobs. He is legally obligated to create them only under duress of outstanding orders.
Republican Dream Already Realised
Republicans dream of a coming golden age of self reliance where citizens sink or swim purely on their own merit where the government does not interfere with the natural right of the rich to exploit the poor. They forget we already attained this dream in the days of Dickens and it is even today available for the taking in any third world country.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republican Financial Policy
The Republican fiscal policy is to funnel money to the rich and take it from future generations of the general population. This could also be described as their moral policy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Republican Itch
When Russia embraced capitalism with American coaching, they sold off all the state businesses at a bargain prices and they fired the government workers. The result was Moscow now has more billionaires than any city on earth and many of the ordinary people starved to death. This is what Republicans itch to do to America and every other country.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is a fairly common thing for an American to go postal, and kill his boss and co-workers when he loses his job. In that light, I would expect Republican politicians would be daily assassinated by workers who have lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings due to Republican policies, such as cutting people off unemployment or giving the banks and investment brokers free reign to defraud their customers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The life philosophy of the capitalist is nothing matters but money. The life philosophy of a Republican is be greedy, be selfish, consume! So it is no surprise that the current crop of Republican presidential candidates behave in an unusually selfish way that hurts the party. They pander to the lunatic right even though doing that turns off the majority of voters. They smear each other mercilessly, knowing full well those lies will stick to the successful candidate and hurt the party’s chances of winning the presidential election.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The essence of the Republican policy is to help the wealthiest 1% exploit the rest of us. The only way they can get more than 1% of the vote comes from wishful thinking — the belief that real soon now™ I’ll be in the top 1%.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republicans Should Visit Latin American To See Their Goal
Republicans favour legislation to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I wonder if any of them have ever visited Latin American so they could see where such a policy leads.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Requirements for Capitalism to Work
In an ideal capitalist system, the companies that produce the best quality goods, at the lowest price with the least environmental impact, prosper and the rest go bankrupt. Capitalism can’t work unless the consumers have a mechanism at least as powerful as advertising to punish the companies that produce shoddy, overpriced, dishonestly marketed or environmentally unfriendly goods using the law or exposure. Without such a mechanism, the dishonest companies have an unfair advantage over the decent ones and the wrong companies prevail.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Requirements for Wealth
The main requirement for wealth is a willingness to take unfair advantage of others and to bend rules of morality if not break them. It is wonder then that being rich has such high status.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Resentment of the Rich
Why are people so much less resentful of Sir Paul McCartney’s wealth than Bill Gates’? Possible answers:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- McCartney’s product is purely optional. Gates’ product you are forced to buy.
- McCartney’s product causes joy. Gates’ product causes frustration.
- McCartney made his money honestly. Gates made his money by all manner of unethical business practices.
Normally I argue for immigration. I consider those who oppose me racist bigots. However, for balance, here are some quasi-legitimate reasons to resist immigration:
- Corporations encourage immigration, particularly from third world countries. They want employees willing to work for third world wages and live well-below the poverty line. They will help break unions. They take jobs from natives. Not as many jobs are lost as people think. Most are lost to automation, not immigrants.
- Extra people mean greater strain on the environment. There is already a shortage of housing, land for housing, farmland and water. Immigration makes it worse.
- People from other parts of the world tend to have large families, e.g. ten children. It takes just a few generations of this tradition until they outnumber the original inhabitants and become the dominant culture.
- Immigration does not help the source countries. We are taking only the tiniest slice of people who want to immigrate.
- Many of the immigrants are Muslim. Their religion demands they beat their wives and children and treat their wives as slaves. They are required to harass gay people and kill those who leave the faith. They demand non-believers feign exaggerated respect for their religion, or they kill them. Their fundamentalist religion refuses to budge on any of this. Muslims tend to have large families. By inviting Muslim immigrants, we are inviting this toxic culture to infect all of Canada.
When we invite an immigrant to settle in Canada, this is a major gift. I think we have every right to ask they not disrupt Canadian culture.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Respecting Con Artists
Most commonly, people get rich by conning others into giving generously to them, while giving almost nothing of value in return. It seems so odd that people do this to gain respect.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Responsibilities to Recover
If, due to the actions of criminals, disease, mental breakdown or other misfortune, you suddenly lost your job, your home, your belongings and your money, what should society expect of you to rectify the situation? What should it expect you to do for food and shelter in the meantime?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Results of Privatisation
The Provincial government assured us that privatising the ferry system would bring all kinds of benefits. The changes I noticed include:
- They sank one ferry, killing two people. Apparently no one was on the helm at the time.
- They crashed into the dock causing enough damage to put it out of commission for months.
- They canceled sailings to the small islands.
- They tripled the price for foot passengers.
- They more than doubled the price for automobiles.
- They cut more sailings and raised rates further because ridership is down. But, but, but, the reason ridership is down is because the sailings are so expensive, for the Vancouver-Vancouver Island run, over $100 for a car one way plus a fee for the driver and each passenger.
- To add insult to injury, they charge $2.50 for a soft drink and fine restaurant prices for a hamburger at the wait-inline cafeteria.
Nobody is happy with the new service, but the provincial government no longer has any influence over what the ferry corporation monopoly does to maximise profit. Privatising works if you have 26+ companies competing to provide the service. It is a disaster when you create an unresponsive monopoly, usually owned by friends of the ruling party.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
According to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio, a young man took an unknown illegal drug then played mailbox baseball with this friends, swinging at mailboxes from a van moving at 80 km/hr (49.71 mph). The van swerved too close to a mailbox which crushed in his skull. His friends yanked him back in, which sprayed blood and brain tissue all over the van. Doctors spent a month and a half reconstructing a skull and picking out bits of bone from his brain. He was in a coma and flatlined twice. Then the long period of rehabilitation taught him how to do simple things like boil water. He never learned to speak normally. However, he later married and fathered a child. It is ironic the medical team putting in so much money, time and effort on a being who refused to take even the most basic measures at self-preservation. Perhaps he should be required to pay back some of that cost. Perhaps he should at least accept a vasectomy to take his genes out of the pool.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Over many decades, most Americans will contribute a substantial percentage of their income to social security to save for their old age. When they get old enough to start drawing on that fund, Republicans treat them like deadbeats. But but, it is their money! Republican are pirates. They plan to abscond with these funds to pay for massive tax cuts for billionaires and pointless wars.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Between 2007 and 2008 the price of shipping a container from China to New York jumped from $3000 to $8000 USD. Rising oil prices were the primary cause. As cheap fossil fuel energy runs out, we will see reverse globalisation. Manufacturing of goods and growing of food will have to happen closer and closer to home, simply because it will be prohibitively expensive to ship it from abroad. We will see a reversal of the outsourcing trend, except for virtual goods like computer programming and movies that don’t require shipping.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Reward vs Punishment
Allstate auto insurance understands a fundamental principle of psychology: people would rather be rewarded for safe driving than penalised for having an accident, even though the schemes amount to the same number of dollars coming out of the same pockets either way. Politicians could learn from them in how to sell measures to encourage efficient usage of fuels.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wall Street swindled the world by selling sub prime bonds and labeling them as AAA. That is like a butcher selling round steak as filet mignon. It should be illegal. The corporations involved should not have been rescued, but disbanded and the proceeds used to compensate the victims of the scam. The US government is thus complicit. Why? because Wall Street bought off the politicians. The USA, via Wall Street, betrayed its friends. That is a very unwise thing to do. Normally you aid the victim not the criminal.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Rich and In Debt
Americans are the richest people in the world, yet they are in a debt crisis. What went wrong?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- They blew trillions of dollars on two protracted pointless wars. They have nothing to show for all that expenditure but blown-out schools, hospitals and homes, hardly the way to win hearts and minds.
- They let the banks run amok. Then, when the failed, they bailed them out, without even slapping any wrists. The executives ran off with multi-million dollars bonuses and no regulation to stop them from doing it all over again.
- They let the rich exploit loopholes, subsidies and tax breaks so that they paid far less than their fair share, while they slurped up far more than their fair share of government benefits.
- John Roberts, head of the supreme court, handed control of the government from the people to the corporations with his ruling that corporations, foreign countries and rich people could anonymously donate as much as they wanted to political campaigns. The corporations want the government to fail, the people to become serfs and the corporation to take on the rôle of medieval nobility.
Rich are Leaches
The rich imagine themselves great benefactors, but the truth is, when the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. A preposterous share of the planetary labour is diverted to the care, feeding, protection and entertainment of the wealthy, so it could hardly be otherwise.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Rich are Pirates
Rich people are essentially those without conscience who decide every action by which makes the most money, in other words, mostly pirates.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Rich Get Richer
In the first seven years of the George W. Bush’s administration, the 400 richest Americans each increased their wealth an average of 1.5 billion dollars. The income over that period of the average American decreased by $28,000.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The funny thing is, there are people who, even when faced with this reality, still insist on the validity of the trickle down theory of helping the poor by giving money to the rich.
Rich Pay Least Income Tax Already
Mitt Romney paid 14.1% income tax in 2011 and 13.9% in 2010 and before that 13%. The nominal rate for his income bracket is 35%, but he has tax lawyers. Others in his position of $13.7 million income pay nothing. He had to pay something to avoid embarrassment as a presidential candidate. Ordinary folk get Romney’s low rate only if they make less than $8,300 per year. Republicans like him really have cheek to demand even more tax cuts for the rich when they are already paying the lowest rates of anyone once you factor in what the tax lawyers do for them to exploit loopholes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source source
Rich Sitting on the Money
When all the donuts suddenly disappear, it is clear somebody took more than their share. When an economy suddenly dries up, the money is still there. It is just that a few super rich people are sitting on it and blocking the usual flow. But no one ever thinks of punishing the rich for sitting on their money. Instead they blame people who have nothing to do with the problem, such as the unemployed or union workers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People in the west imagine the people in the third world sponge off them. However, the west extracts 13 times as much wealth from the third world (mainly in the form of interest payments) as it returns.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I would not want to be superrich for exactly the same reason I don’t try to scarf 90% of the food when I go out with my friends for Chinese food.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ridiculously Large Share of the Pie
The CEO of Goldman Sachs makes $50,000 per hour. Seriously, who is taking more than their fair share relative to what they contribute to the well being of the planet, him or a union worker?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Right of Corporations To lie
Cigarette companies in Australia are demanding to be compensated for loss of sales when the Australian government insisted on truth in advertising, putting grim images of the consequences of smoking on the packs. Cigarette companies seem to think they have a constitutional right to lie to their customers and to kill them off. They should feel fortunate we tolerate them at all. They are in roughly the same position as the makers of heroin.
Why would anybody start smoking? Everyone who smokes tells you they wish they could quit, even if just to save the money. Anyone who tricks another into starting should be hanged.
We have a ridiculously high tolerance for being lied to by corporations. Oil companies claim they have state-of-the-art technology to clean up oil spills when the truth is they can only recover at best 5% of the crude once it hits the water and have no technology at all to clean up a bitumen spill.
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes fills the giant boxes only half full. Shampoo makers advertise all natural but when you read the fine print all the ingredients are chemicals with unpronounceable names, except for aqua which they use to disguise simple water.
When you sign up for Internet service the bill is 25% higher than promised because of all manner of fees and it is much slower than advertised.
Your food can be irradiated or genetically modified without labeling. The government conspires with agribusiness to make sure you do not know. Those 10-year energy saver bulb die after 9 months. Liquid soaps from China are advertised to smell like lemons and grapefruits but when you open them, they smell like pig vomit.
Then there is Post Cereals and its phony premiums. You comply with all the rules and send away for your $35 Reebok PlayDry Tee shirt and get nothing, not even an apology.
Then there is Dawn dish detergent that promises to donate $1 from the sale of each bottle to help clean oil-soaked wildlife. Then you read the fine print and discover they do no such thing.
And that does not begin to tackle the problem of incompetently designed products, like Brita pitchers, nearly all electric kettles and Colgate toothpaste that explodes if you take it on an airplane, or Campbell’s Chicken à la King with only one chunk of chicken per can.
We have been far too resigned. We need to fight back at crooked corporations. An honest corporation is now a rarity.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Right to Lie
Almost nothing in a TV commercial is literally true. When the commercials are entertaining, we grant corporations licence to lie and dissemble.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Right To Unionise
Governments should have no more right to stop you from joining a union than they do to stop you from joining the Elks.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Right To Work
What would you think of a law requiring theatre owners to admit people whether they paid or not? That is roughly what right to work legislation does. Sponging workers get all the benefits of a union shop without paying any dues. If they want the job insecurity and low wages of a non-union shop, they are free to work at one. This is just a right wing ploy to reduce the power of unions and hence lower wages.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Robbery By 1000 Cuts
I am absolutely baffled by the appeal of casino gambling. You give your money to a gangster. He gives you approximately 95% back. Repeat until you have nothing left. How is this a pleasant experience? To me it looks like robbery by a thousand cuts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Programs) Unfair
RRSPs allow high-earning Canadians to pay tax on saved income at the tax rate they would pay as seniors. However, low-earning Canadians pay tax on RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Program) saved income at 50%, for a net loss because it claws back the guaranteed old age income supplement. This is one more example how the tax system deceptively favours the wealthy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Sacrificing to the Economy
Corporations, politicians and the majority of the population all agree, a growing economy is a good thing. It does not matter:
- If the products produced are necessary or useful.
- How big a slice of the finite resource pie this economic growth takes.
- How much greenhouse gas this economic growth produces.
- How much this economic growth pollutes the soil, air, rivers and ocean.
- What species will go extinct as a result of this growth.
- How long this activity can be sustained.
What does matter?
- The products can be sold.
- The economic activity will be profitable.
- Competition can be held at bay.
Corporations would prefer the growth reduced employment or at least reduced labour cost whereas politicians and the majority of the population would like increased employment.
However, ask any mathematician or ecologist. They will tell you earth has finite resources and finite space, so even in theory, endless growth is not possible and continued growth is not desirable. Much as business is gung ho for more growth, the earth is already seriously overextended. It is on the verge of ecological collapse. The ability of earth to sustain economic activity trumps every imaginable purely economic consideration. Without as earth capable of sustaining the economy the economy itself is utterly irrelevant.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Humans are nasty animals. They enjoy the pain of others. Advertisers exploit this. Just watch for physical or emotional pain as entertainment used to sell.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
People should be paid roughly commensurate to how valuable the goods and services they provide. By that reasoning, bankers should be one of the lowest paid professions.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Save By Switching
If the car insurance companies were telling you the truth, you would save $400 every time you switched companies. Cycle between Allstate, Geiko, State Farm and Progressive in a ring and presto, you’d have it down to 0.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Particularly watch the checkout clerk when you buy bulk items. If she does not completely clear the scale of everything but the item being weighed, you may be charged $20 for a $1 item.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the functions of a economic system is to make sure goods are put to best use. We want gold to go for making teeth fillings before it is used to decorate cakes. Ideally, an economic system should encourage people to use scarce resources wisely. Unregulated capitalism does not work well in this regard. It creates artificial demands and happily wastes non-renewable raw materials.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Spending on science and research brings benefits down the road. It gives us better, more efficient tools. It can give us a heads up to major problems coming down the pipe like climate change. But when you get a delusional, fundamentalist science-denier like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he sees no value in it. Refusing to spend on science is like coasting on your savings. You can get away with it for a while, but you pay heavily later on.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Screw the Gimmicks
I hate gimmicks like a free TV with your new mattress. I already have a TV and if I needed a TV the odds I would want the model they are bundling are infinitesimal. Just lower the effing price! There is no free only bundled! Please no free interest, no free delayed payments for two years, no free cash back, no free rebate, no free coupon card… All these gimmicks just jack up the price.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- You pay extra sales tax.
- You have to pay postage and waste time applying for them.
- 90% of the time the vendor weasels out of paying the rebate on some technicality.
- Rebate program overhead costs the vendor, who passes it on in the price.
Just lower the G.D. price!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Screw Sales Gimmicks
Vendors think they are attracting me with gimmicks, such as cash back, rebates, air miles, coupons, no payments for two years, club cards, point coupons, discount stickers, Canada Tire money, lottery discount cards etc. They are just jerking me around making the sale more complicated and time-consuming, most of the time with some deception about the true value of the perk. I run the other way when I see this crap. The overhead of managing these schemes just raises overall prices. Just lower the sticker price! That is the only honest way to deal. Even a simple discount is often a scam. When you get to the counter, they tell you the discount has already been applied to the sticker price, so there is no discount, or the cashier forgets to apply the discount manually since the scanner knows nothing of it. Cash back makes you pay pointless extra sales tax and they make you jump through such hoops and they pull so many deceptive tricks (like selling product with long-expired cash back coupons), that most of the time most customers never get their refund.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Screwed by Heinz
Circa 2013-07-20, I opened some Heinz Original Beans in tomato sauce (976 ml) as I have been doing ever since I was a child. The catch was, this time it contained only about half beans. The rest was a watery tomato sauce. The ingredients list water as the prime ingredient. Was this just fluke error by the packaging machine, or has Heinz decided to start cheating its customers? What a stupid thing to do after decades of building a reputation for quality which justifies the extra cost of their brand.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Second Guessing the Jury
Americans are funny. They trust juries to decide who lives or dies, but don’t trust them to come up with a fair amount to punish a corporation. They imagine, without knowing any details of the case, other than what the corporation told them, that they are far more qualified than the jury.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Secret Of Past American Success
Between 1950 and 1995 the American federal government funded between 50 and 70% of the country’s research and development. What are the chances the USA would be a world technology leader today had the government not interfered like that?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Not all things that are absolutely necessary are highly profitable. That’s the job of government. Greed is kidding itself. Republicans expect the goodies to continue to flow without continued research to stay on top. Yes, they will for a short while, coasting on past hard work, but the flow will not continue. America is coasting on fumes and wishful thinking.
Security In Old Age
Security in old age is failing for a number of reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Old people are living longer. The money set aside over a lifetime of work has to last longer.
- Bankers are giving almost zero interest on savings. This is cutting the income of seniors in half.
- The population is aging. There are fewer and fewer young people supporting more and more old people.
- Wealthy people have been systematically robbing the elderly by bribing politicians to rig the rules in favour of the wealthy. Today companies gamble with pension funds. Companies, if they go bankrupt, pay off creditors leaving nothing in the pension fund. New laws make people work longer and receive fewer benefits. Politicians at the urging of the wealthy have been raiding government pension funds.
- People are having fewer children. If government/tax support of the elderly fails, that can leave the burden of both parents on a single child.
If you become unusually rich, kidnappers will take your children for ransom and commonly kill or torture them. Why would anyone seek that experience out?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Segregation of Rich and Poor
Unequal distribution of wealth becomes a much bigger problem when rich and poor rarely see each other. It makes even the cruelest exploitations easy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is a wonder that Republicans, as part of their smaller government obsession, have not insisted it stop interfering in the traffic of buying and selling infants.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Selling Mass Firing
When Republicans try to sell the idea of cutting government expenditures to the bone, they sell it as small government or fiscal responsibility. When the public live with these policies they have other names for them: cutbacks, massive layoffs or austerity.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I think it should be illegal for a bank to sell my mortgage to a third party. When I contract a mortgage, I choose the lender. I may pay a premium to deal with an honest bank. The bank should not be permitted to fob me off on some crooked third party with despicable politics. If the bank wants to offload the risk of the mortgage, that should in no way affect me. I should still deal with the original bank. My contract should remain with the original bank. I should still make my monthly payments to the original bank. The current system is like an accountant contracting to do your taxes for $50 an hour, then reselling the contract to a 13 year old kid.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Selling Your Kids into Slavery
Government borrowing to pay current expenses and fobbing the debt off on future generations is not that different from selling off your children as sex slaves so that you can afford opium.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Semen and Green Snot
Who are the target audiences for all those shampoos and conditioners that look like semen and green snot?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Separating Is Expensive
In hard economic times separatist movements gain traction. This is illogical. Splitting a country in two means the additional cost of a cloned government.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Settling for McFood
What has happened that people have decided they no longer deserve decent food? They think so little of themselves the best they rate is some Nestlé or ConAgra McFood heated in a microwave.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Shadow Property Rights
In Canada if you buy a farm, or any property, you own only the top 15.24 cm (6 in) of the soil. If an oil company should please, they can build a fossil fuel well on your property. It will emit noxious gases and poison the soil. You will have to abandon the property. The oil company is not obligated to compensate you. You have no way to make them drill somewhere else. They did this to one crazy Alberta fundamentalist preacher/back to the land farmer named Wiebo Ludwig (1941-12-19 2012-03-09 age:70). He fought back and repeatedly blew up their pipelines. I don’t care if it was illegal that corporatocracy privilege law is utterly unjust. It is as disgusting as the droit du seigneur to have sex with anyone he pleased. Good on ’im.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Share the Pain
Belt tightening should share the pain equally. This means that in absolute dollar terms, the rich should bear a bigger burden. Republicans lick the boots of the wealthy. Their plan is to take most from those who have least to provide new luxuries for their masters.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Share the Pain
In tight economic times, I think the general principle should be share the pain equally. A 10% cut in income for someone making $900 a month would cause a lot more pain than a 10% cut for a millionaire, even though the total dollar amount is much higher for the millionaire.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Sharing the Pain
When somebody is laid off because automation has eliminated their job, the employee suffers all the resulting pain and the employer gets all the benefits from the cost savings. I think the pain and gain should be shared more equitably.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Shark Liftaway Vacuum Cleaner
The Shark Liftaway Vacuum Cleaner is sold in TV infomercials. They tell you that the vacuum costs less than $200. Then they tell you it costs 5 easy payments of $49.95 (= $249.75). Then they say they if you act now, they will remove one payment. This patter is designed to trick you into thinking you are getting the vacuum for $150. If they lie to you about the price, they will lie about anything else.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
7-Eleven™ Shell Game 7-Eleven™ Shell Game
On 2012-11-12 I discovered 7-Eleven™ running a little shell-game scam. They normally sell small, medium and large Big Gulp soft drinks starting at $1.69. There was a sign on the machine saying For a limited time soft drinks $0.99. The sign was deliberately and cunningly ambiguous. Most people would interpret it to mean that all soft drinks sizes are on sale for $0.99. More suspicious types would assume that only the small size would be on sale. However, it turned out the sale price only applied to the medium size. Most people would dispense either a small or large drink, in order to get the reduced price, depending on their interpretation of the of the sign and get stuck paying full price! 7-Eleven™ charged extra for a smaller drink! That is quite unexpected! They took advantage of the natural human assumption about pricing in order to scam their customers. They are playing a shell game, a form of bait-and-switch.
Some customers might throw the drink in the clerk’s face and walk out, never to return. Others might go back go back and dispense themselves a medium drink, perhaps deliberately wasting all the pop they already dispensed, but most people just let themselves be scammed like sheep. Screw 7-Eleven™! A sane capitalist would never do that. They conned their customers out of a paltry $0.70, but in the process got them so pissed off they won’t come back. I think those ethics are worthy of a 6-month boycott.
But oddly, I think it could well be 7-Eleven management pulled this stunt in ignorance. The sign probably really said For a limited time Big Gulps $0.99. The term Big Gulp probably implies a medium size to the 7-Eleven cognoscenti. It is not just their house brand name for fountain drinks.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Signs of Coming Sanity
We evolved in a time when human labour was extremely precious. We invented a morality that took that reality into account. You work or you starve. We invented various incentives to make people work ever harder. However, we are rapidly entering an age when human labour is becoming almost worthless. Machines are learning to do everything better than we humans can. If we keep our old ethics, we will starve to death in a world of abundance and create ever more absurd incentives for environmental vandalism and conspicuous consumption. There are signs of adjustment, such as the guaranteed livable income.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I have to belly laugh at Americans. They brag they are the richest nation on earth, yet they close their schools one day a week claiming they can’t afford to keep them open 5 days a week. One town fired its entire police force. Yet they believe they can afford to subsidise the most profitable corporations in the history of the planet, e.g. BP and let them run rampant over the environment. Simultaneously, they believe can afford the luxury of excusing corporations and billionaires from paying any taxes at all. They believe they can afford to pay more than twice what any other citizens in the developed world do for the worst quality health care in the developed world (on par with Cuba). Republicans have Americans utterly blind to how much better and cheaper health care is everywhere but America and how easy it is to bring costs down and quality up. They have fired meat inspectors so that can die of Listeria. The whole country should be featured in a Jackass video and be given a Darwin award.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Single Minded Madness
A corporation is a conspiracy to make money without any other concern.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Capitalism is single minded. It has no inherent limits. It works to remove any externally applied limits (e.g. anti-monopoly, pro-environment, pro-labour). When it has broken the limits, it presses the environment to collapse, presses labour to subsistence and gains control of the politicians and the courts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Size of a Slice Of Pie
Prides of lions rarely grow beyond fifty members. Even the leader of a superpride takes only somewhat more of the pie than the other lions, but not millions of times more the way the elites in human civilisations do. The very idea is ludicrous. It would be impossible for a lion to consume a million shares of meat. The abstraction of money makes this possible for humans. Money hides the fact that elite individuals are taking a share as large as that of an entire city of a million people. If their greed were expressed in meat, lion-style, they would have a pile of rotting carcasses spreading for blocks around their homes. Money also allows a very small number of people to concentrate nearly all the decision making for a society.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Literal slavery is when employers refuse to let their workers leave and do not pay the workers. They, however, may give them food and shelter. A rather surprising amount of what we consume is created by literal slave labour, from tomato farmers in Florida to garment makers in Haiti.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Slot Machine Delusions
Casinos post the odds on their slot machines. Everybody knows the machine is stacked against them. They lose money. You would think this world convince people the odds are stacked against them. But instead the loons imagine losing is a sign the slot machine must at any moment change its nature and start beneficently giving out money. This might come from a childish bowel movement theory of how slot machines work. When they become too full of money, they evacuate. Their behaviour on the next pull is completely independent of anything that has happened before. I am not joking about this. I once examined a slot machine in a casino. A man came running at me furious. Get away from that machine. It is mine. It is full of my money. He imagined it would burst at any moment from being too full and return all the money plus interest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When someone says I can’t he often means I don’t want to. When Americans tell me they are the richest nation on earth and they can’t afford to honour their commitments to support the elderly, or to properly care for the sick they clearly mean they don’t want to. They want to spend the wealth on something else such as luxuries for the wealthy, toys for the military or locking up all black people in jail.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Small Bands and Wealth Concentration
For most of man’s history, unequal distribution of wealth was not that big a problem. A bully can’t very well generate fabulous wealth and power exploiting only a small band of people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Smart Mentally Il
I used to volunteer each weekend to take mental patients from a half way house out bowling. I would buy French pastries to use as prizes. I divided them into two teams. We played two games. In the first game, the team with the best total score got the French pastries and in the second the team with the best improved score from the first game got pastries. Every single weekend, every person got exactly one pastry. They would silently collude to make this happen. This behaviour struck me as more sane that the frantically competitive behaviour I was used to from people.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Socialism for the Banks
When an average man gets in over his head financially, the banks raise the interest on his credit cards to 40%. When a bank gets in over its head, the government bails it out with a no-interest loan or an outright handout. In America, it is sink-or-swim cutthroat capitalism for the average man and socialism for the bankers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Socialism For Corporations
Republicans want the taxpayers to foot the bill for oil spills, chemical spills, asbestos poisoning and new drugs that kill rather than cure. This sounds suspiciously like big government socialism for corporations.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Socialism For the Rich
The bailouts went to banks, corporations and wealthy people who gambled carelessly and lost. This amounts to socialism for the rich and dog-eat-dog capitalism for the rest of us.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Society Requires More Givers That Takers
Society works because most people contribute more than they take. Republicans find this infuriating. They believe the wealthy should be exempt.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Solar Powered Jeep
Jeep Wrangler takes the cake in brazen lying in its commercials. They claim their gas hog is solar-powered and wind-powered. In no conceivable context is that true.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Soon be Dead
Its no coincidence that the majority of people blocking action on climate change are older, wealthy males. They don’t care what happens to our planet. They will soon be dead. What matters to them is the incremental prestige of making a bit more money out of the old economy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When Target donated $100 million to anti-gay marriage candidates, its customers let them know in no uncertain terms that was not acceptable. It cost them so much they have backed off. Corporations are mindless. They will do whatever makes the most money. It is up to us to guide them by withholding money when they misbehave and rewarding them when they behave. They respond like giant retarded children.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What kind of designer creates a spatula that melts if you let it rest on the lip of a frying pan? A capitalist who hopes you will soon ruin your spatula and buy yet another from him.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Given that before an election, politicians always tell the public what they want to hear, how do you decide whom to vote for? Look at the special interests funding each party. That is the biggest predictor of after-election behaviour. For example, in the USA, the Republican party is beholden to big oil, big business, the arms industry, the gun lobby, CEO s, the prison industry and the religious right. The Democratic party is beholden to labour, the poor, immigrants, minorities, gays and small businesses. In Canada, the Conservative party is beholden to big oil, the arms industry and bigots. The Liberal party is beholden to the banks and immigrants. The NDP is beholden to labour and environmentalists. Decide which special interest is most in alignment with your own values and interests.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is a specialty of medicine that works by analysing hair samples. Imagine this group of physicians became so powerful that they were seen as the only serious form of medicine and that they gained the exclusive ear of governments on all matters of health care. They would become enemies of health, where previously they were helpful. A similar thing has happened with economists and businessmen. We are ignoring the health and sustainability of our planet because of their highly-specialised way of looking at the world.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In good times, people create bubbles speculating prices way up on things that do not have commensurate practical value. They waste resources. They destroy the environment. They lock themselves into long term contracts that make no sense unless the good times were to continue indefinitely. In bad times, people deliberately starve themselves of food and goods even when there is plenty. Businesses fire people, which in turn makes it impossible for people to buy goods, which leads to more layoffs. The governments suddenly get it into their heads now is the optimal time to fire people and cut spending making matters worse. To stimulate the economy, governments increase military spending and start wars. There are no spin offs from this spending, no roads, schools, sewers, not even restaurant sales from workers— just giant holes on the other side of the globe.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Speed of Money
There is no lack of natural resources, wealth or money during a depression. The problem is people become paranoid and the money stops flowing. We need to measure economic health by the speed of money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Spending More Than You Earn
Millions of Americans imagine they can spend 36% more per year than they earn and get away with it indefinitely by borrowing on their credit cards. No wonder they can’t see any problem with the USA importing 36% more than it exports, or that the polar ice caps lose 4.2% per decade more than the snow replaces.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Spending More Than You Earn
North America imports $2,517 billion dollars each year and exports $1,854 billion. Everybody knows what happens when you spend $2,517 each month, but only make $1,854 and put the $663 difference on your Visa card. Governments are not immune to compound interest and interest rake hikes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Spiraling Cost of Education
When I went to university in the 1960s, I did not have to borrow money from anyone, not even my parents. All I needed to cover my tuition, textbooks room and board was a summer job, a part time job marking papers, a part time job running a tutorial and a government scholarship. I graduated and continued for a couple more years without a penny of debt. Today students graduate with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. That makes no sense. Teaching should be much cheaper today, with the Internet, video DVDs (Digital Video Discs), CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction) and eBooks. There must be powerful people who do not want people going to university. They want an ignorant population. Who could those people possibly be?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
To me this is obvious, but most people don’t seem to think this way. It is fun to splurge every once in a while and buy the very best. When can do you that safely?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- When the thing does not cost that much. Go ahead and buy any toothbrush or pen that appeals to you. Whereas buying a top of the line car will really set you back both initially and for maintenance.
- When you don’t buy the thing that often, e.g. shave cream, or a Christmas turkey, pick anything that appeals. On the other hand, a couple of $5 lattes a day will set you back $3,650 a year.
- When you use something many times a day, e.g. a kettle, keyboard or coffee cup go ahead and splurge.
- When something will last for decades, e.g. loudspeakers.
The Republican CEO works in an unusually comfortable office. He loves his work. It is challenging, interesting and varied. The minimum wage worker typically works in grungy conditions. His work is boring. He works longer hours, perhaps a second job. The system is designed to that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Part of that bias is that the CEO gets paid hundreds of times the minimum wage. Yet the CEO blinds himself to fact the system pampers him. When taxes partially reverse the flow of wealth from rich to poor, he bleats that he is being robbed. He imagines he worked hundreds of times harder than anyone else.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The reason the US economy has stalled is the rich people have nearly all the money. It is like a late stage in the game of Monopoly. I have to laugh at the Republicans claiming the way to jump start it is to give the uber-rich most of the remaining money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I suggest the current recession is caused by procrastination. Everyone knows we need a massive retooling to deal with the end of oil and climate change. Yet we have a general failure of nerve to get on with it. However, we are not so stupid as to believe we can continue as usual. So we stall and allow the economy to grind to a snail’s pace.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The easiest way to start a fight among a group of children is to give them all a carrot but one a chocolate chip cookie. Capitalism is the economic theory that doing this is a Good Thing™.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Money could work more like winning the Stanley Cup in hockey. You get to keep the cup for a year for bragging rights, but then you have to give it back. You cannot sell it to get goods or services. Each year, the contest for it begins anew. It would replace conspicuous consumption as a way of advertising one’s worth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Have you ever noticed the more money a crook steals, the less likely he is to be prosecuted and if he is prosecuted, the less likely he is do time and if he does time, the more luxurious the prison? The justice system seems to be sending a message to criminals, If you are going to steal, steal big and let us have a cut. The same principle applies to avoiding penalty by killing people in large numbers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There are special advantages to stealing $1+ trillion.
- There is plenty of money to pay off or threaten anyone who would prosecute or even report the crime.
- There are enough proceeds to get government people on board who control the curtain of national security to block investigation and the Patriot Act power to torture and/or disappear anyone who makes trouble.
Consider some of the biggest heists:
- There was a massive trillion dollar transfer from the middle class to the richest most crooked Americans disguised as a real estate bubble and bank bail out. It was a super-heist orchestrated with even more precision than Oceans Eleven
- There were a series of multi-billion dollar heists from the Pentagon totalling over $1 trillion. The thefts were reported only on the back pages of the New York Times, not even as embezzlements but as accounting glitches blamed on computer incompatibilities.
- Then, of course, there was Dick Cheney receiving residuals from Halliburton while handing out billions in no-bid, no-audit contracts where Halliburton charged unbelievably high rates for goods and services it did on even deliver.
- There are subsidies, thefts right out in the open. Big oil bought sufficient votes in congress and the senate to have the government give it billions, even though there have never in recorded history been more profitable corporations, even though ostensibly we are trying to get them to stretch the remaining supplies of oil.
The crooks are still is charge and are no-doubt planning even bigger heists.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Stealing on Behalf Of A Bank
If someone steals money, no matter what they do with the money, no matter whom they were employed by at the time, should still be prosecuted as a criminal. The way it is now, if someone steals money on behalf of a bank, no matter how much they steal, the worst punishment they can expect is being asked to resign.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Stealing Pension Fund Money
Republicans are funny. They imagine the government has the right to refuse to pay out pensions. It can no more do that than a life insurance company can take your payments for your whole life then refuse to pay out when you die. Republicans think of those who accept pensions as deadbeats. Those payments are no more handouts than bank withdrawals. Republicans also think of those on disability pension as deadbeats. Through years of taxes, those people paid the insurance premiums during the years before they became disabled. They are no more deadbeats than those who live off private disability pensions. Republicans think of the government only as a group of pirates. They forget completely the government rôle of arranging group purchases of goods and services. If Republicans gain control of the government and cut all government services except those close to the heart of the rich such as warmaking and police protection, they are sadly mistaken if they imagine people put up with continuing to pay taxes. People grudgingly pay taxes because they want the services, not out of some sort of patriotic altruism.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for the senate in Florida has an interesting economy theory. If you give millions of dollars to a rich man it will stimulate the economy. However, unemployment benefits do not. His reasoning: the amount of money an unemployed person spends is too small to make any difference. I am unconvinced. The rich man will spend a chunk of the money on expensive imported clothes, jewelry, cars and foreign vacations. These clearly do nothing to stimulate the domestic economy. In contrast, the unemployed man will spend on groceries and locally provided services. That money will be recycled over an over in the local economy. The problem is not that there is a shortage of money, but that those that have it are just sitting on it, waiting for better times to invest or spend it. If you give the rich more money, they will just sit on that money too, making matters even worse. What is needed is incentives to the rich to get them investing and disincentives for just sitting on money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The best way to stimulate the economy is to give the money to the people hurt most — namely those who have lost their jobs. They will use it to buy groceries, make their car and mortgage payments and get their kids teeth fixed. If you give it to the fat cats, they will just spend it on foreign luxuries or sock it away in Swiss bank accounts.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans imagine they are wealthy and generous. Not only are they the stingiest developed nation in terms of foreign aid, they have perfected a way to rip off third world countries. The scam works like this: They pressure/bribe/convince a third word dictator to borrow a large sum of money for an ego-pumping public works project, such as a huge hydroelectric dam. The money goes completely to American contractors like Bechtel. The dam, because it was not properly engineered, never generates the promised revenue. However, the third world country, not the dictator, is stuck paying back the high interest loan. If they get a bit behind on the payments, they fall into a state that even if they pay forever, they can never pay off the loan. The USA thus bleeds them dry and uses the cudgel of the debt to bully them and exploit them further.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Even though Canada brags it is doing better financially than any other nation, it continues to renege on its promises to help third world nations. Canada is almost as stingy as the world’s stingiest first world nation, the USA (measured as percentage of GNP (Gross National Product) donated in foreign aid).~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is a cliché that rich people are obnoxious bastards. However, there are facts to back up this generalisation. The USA is the richest country on earth, but on a per capita basis is the stingiest of all the developed nations. Even with the USA in recession, the income of the rich zooms while that of the rest plummets. Even then the rich bribe Republicans to let them continue avoiding taxes through various loopholes. Not only are they unwilling to help the disadvantaged, while claiming Christian piety, they stiff the government and leave the poor to pay their share of government services. And they demand that the poor not get the pensions they paid for so the money can be used for projects to benefit the wealthy. These people are rich because they are ruthless, unprincipled and greedy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Stock Market Errors
The big errors in stock market investing are:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Buying something worthless.
- Paying too much for something valuable because of a current fad.
- Trusting someone else with your money.
- Buying and selling so frequently the commissions eat up any profit.
Stock Market Gambling
The stock market flails about like some hysterical bimbo on a Perry Mason episode. It has become divorced from the real world activities of the various companies it supposedly represents. People are not investing, they are gambling and with the skill of a herd of lemmings.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Strange Measures To Help an Economy
Are economists crazy? When an economy is in trouble, they advocate measures that throw thousands of people out of work. How is converting productive people into pure consumers supposed to help the economy?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Straw Man Commercials
Have you ever noticed that TV commercials almost never mention the competition by name. Instead, companies like Scott Trade, or United Van Lines, make up a preposterously inept fictitious competitor to mock. It is a straw man. None of the competition are anything like that.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Stressful Income Tax
Income taxes are incredibly stressful, not so much paying them as computing them, and the fear of making a mistake. You’d think people would do them by the buddy system to either work on both sets together or to work on each other’s to reduce the tension.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I find most Americans irrational when it come to universal health care. It costs half as much and provides better quality care. Yet Americans are terrified of it since it is an additional tax. They conveniently forget they no longer have to pay a private insurance bill. The USA ranks lower than any other developed nation, on par with third world Cuba in quality of health care, yet Americans claim they want to stick with the current system because they don’t want to give up the high quality. They are so stuck in the delusion of American superiority that they refuse to accept their system is third class.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Subsidising Pro Sports
Public money should not be spent on professional sports and sports arenas for the following reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Only a small proportion of the population uses the facilities.
- Pro sports are rolling in money. There are many other things more deserving of subsidy.
- The poor who cannot afford tickets end up subsidising the rich who can.
- It is a frill. We should not be spending on frills when necessities go begging.
- Pro sports should be compensating cities for the cost of the riots their trigger, not the reverse.
The public heavily subsidises the education of doctors. Later some doctors go into cosmetic surgery and handle only vanity cases. They should be required to pay back the subsidy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Heads of households working at McDonalds, KFC or Walmart cannot earn enough to feed their families. The government has to take up the slack. This is like a government subsidy to these companies to help pay their workers. If there were a decent minimum wage, these rich corporate welfare bums would be forced to pay their own wages. Republicans always vote to keep those companies on the dole.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Walmart pays its employees so little that most of them are on welfare and food stamps. This amounts to corporate welfare, a government subsidy to Walmart to send jobs to China.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Imagine a game so intense that major losers sometimes commit suicide. One such game is money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Supporting the Injured
There is more than one way a society could handle supporting people who are severely injured and need help with a mountain of medical bills and ongoing support.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- There is the American way. The victim sues some random person who has a tenuous relationship to the accident. The assumption is somebody must have maliciously caused the trouble. The belief derives from witchcraft. If such a person can’t be found, then the victim is up the creek. The person sued pays out of pocket or with insurance. The victim’s lawyer keeps half the award. The victim receives a lump sum which may be more than enough or not enough. It is up to the victimto manage that money to cover the expenses for the rest of their lives. They don’t know how long they will live, or what complications lie down the road. The lump sum is often a temptation to spend lavishly and they are left with nothing for support.
- You could insist that everyone gets insurance (public or private) to handle such contingencies. The money is handed out on a per-month basis to cover the actual expenses of the month. That way the burden of an accident is shared. The burden is not dumped on some individual who probably did nothing much out of the ordinary in the way of fault.
Surprise! The Rich are Stingy
Psychologists discovered the rich are less generous, less helpful, less truthful and more likely to take advantage of you than the poor. Why is this a surprise? The #1 way to get rich is to take advantage of people, giving them less in return than they give you. I have never understood why people admire the super-rich.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Surviving on Welfare
In Victoria where I live, government welfare is a month less than the cheapest one bachelor apartment rent. If a welfare recipient manages to earn , their welfare income is reduced from , to , effectively a 100% income tax disincentive. Just what does the government expect these people do if not resort to illegal means to pay the rent?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you want an indefinitely sustainable economy:
- You must 100% recycle everything you consume.
- You cannot deplete any non-renewable resource.
- You have to reduce the population to under 1 billion.
- You have to reduce the energy footprint of individuals and industrial processes.
- You have to reduce pointless consumption.
- You have to eliminate waste.
- You cannot release chemicals into rivers, lakes and soils.
We are nowhere near that ideal. It fact we strive for the opposite. We aim for increased consumption of junk products, increased energy use, unlimited economic growth and increased population. This goal is an insanity that nearly every economist, capitalist and CEO subscribes to.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The big financial institution long ago moved away from Wall Street. The occupy demonstrations are symbolic, rather than designed to inconvenience.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you have a relationship with someone and one of you does all the giving and the other all the taking, the relationship will not last long. Similarly, the west has used its economic muscle to take and take and take from the third world, giving nothing in return. That situation is inherently unstable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There are two kinds of people, those that believe that making money trumps any inconvenience to others e.g.:
- It is the highest land use to flood ancestral lands to build a dam.
- It is hard headed business to burn large quantities of petroleum giving off greenhouse gases.
- It is good business to dig a mine and leave the toxic tailings for someone else to clean up.
- It is smart thinking to abandon a nuclear reactor and leave it to someone else to clean up.
- It is perfectly legal to pollute rivers with city-sized flows of cow or pig manure.
- It is maximal use of human resources to force people to work below a subsistence wage.
- It is efficient resource management to destroy a large rainforest needed to clean CO₂ from the planet’s air.
- It is an acceptable tradeoff to destroy a ocean ecosystem with oil spills.
- It is required to compete in the modern market place to force children to work as prostitutes.
- It is necessary to maintain profit margins to sell guns to people like James Holmes.
and those that don’.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taking Advantage of a Casino
If you think you are going to take advantage of a casino, you are a fool. They are run by elite professional criminals.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Politicians taking credit for job creation is like taking credit for the tides. They can take credit only for government hires.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taking Republican Think To Its Logical Conclusion
Republicans usually behave as if they don’t believe anything has value other than as the dollar value someone has attached to it. Why then don’t they lobby for the right to buy and sell body parts for transplant, babies and children? Why don’t they see this as unholy interference with commerce?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Third world countries pay high tariffs to export their goods into the USA. What’s going on? Why free trade for the rich and penalties for the poor?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tax = Hunting Licence
We should think of taxes for the rich not as payment for government services but as hunting licences to exploit the poor and ignorant.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Democratic vs Republican tax cut pie slice size Democratic vs Republican tax cut pie slice size
Republicans want massive tax cuts for the rich, even though it will increase the deficit by $700 billion every year into the future and speed the day when America goes bankrupt, which some might argue is a Good Thing™.
Tax cuts are like borrowing money to buy a big pie for a picnic. Then you cut it up in varying size pieces and hand them out to the guests. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the richer/fatter you are, the bigger slice of pie you need/deserve. The difference is the Republicans think the super rich need really big pieces, where the Democrat think they deserve only really big pieces. It may not be immediately obvious, but this is a wealth transfer scheme from the poor to the rich, supposedly an anathema to Republicans. However, Republicans only oppose government-aided wealth transfer from rich to poor, not the reverse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Rich people are avoiding taxes by hiding over $11.5 trillion dollars in offshore tax havens. They don’t need coddling. They need to pay their fair share.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tax to Provide Jobs
The rich in America have been sitting on their money. They have not been using it to hire people. They tell us they have no intentions of hiring anyone any time soon. They just don’t have the sales to justify the hires. So it seems to me, taxing the rich at the same rates as everyone else will give the government some of that money they are sitting on to hire people to do things like repair bridges, roads and schools, which have to be fixed sometime anyway. Repairs are nearly always cheaper now than later. Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, tries to pretend giving the rich even more money to sit on is what will create jobs. What BS! He knows perfectly well that is a lie, but that does not stop him from bleating it over and over like a lost goat.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Tax War
Wrangling over taxes, tax loopholes and budget cuts can be simplified. It is a war between the rich and poor. Think about the effect of any particular proposal on the hardship for each type of citizen. If you reduce medical benefits, you are taking money from the pockets of the ill and elderly. If you close a tax loophole, you are taking money from a wealthy scoundrel who has been taking from the country but contributing nothing. The wealth gap has been growing steadily ever since the 1950s. If you don’t do anything to counter, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer (technically called wealth condensation). Yet we have the rich demanding measures to widen the wealth gap even faster. The rich pay lobbyists to bribe politicians and press their case for greater unfairness.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taxation without Service
Many Americans leave the country and become citizens of other countries. They may have disowned the USA because of its illegal wars or backward social policies. Yet the US government still tries to collect taxes from them, even though the US government provides no services. Unless they provide a service, e.g. a pension or medical care, I don’t think they have any right collecting taxes or even demanding that people file. I think the idea was originally to catch tax cheats who are for all practical purposes Americans, but arranged official residence in some other country to dodge taxes. There should be some way to sort these two types of people out and treat them eat appropriately.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A man who spends $43,000 on a bottle of scotch, does not need a tax break.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taxes For Frills
It is improper for cities to subsidise professional sports, e.g. by building stadiums. It takes money from the poor and gives it to the rich who can afford tickets. Ditto for opera. Tax money should be spent on necessities. Delights should be funded by donation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taxes ≠ Theft
Everybody either implicitly or explicitly allocates their expenses, e.g:
But there are a number of things I want that I cannot buy as a consumer product e.g.
- That the police come when I call.
- That the firemen come when I call.
- That somebody take away the garbage and recycle it.
- That somebody clean the streets.
- That somebody maintain the sewers.
- That busses come frequently.
- That there be bike lanes.
- That someone maintain the trees lining my street.
- That someone house and feed the homeless during the cold Canadian winters.
To get these things, I have to convince fellow citizens we need them, and we should buy them by paying taxes. Republicans and Harperites have a knee-jerk reaction. Tax bad, tax theft. I only want things you can a buy in box I can store in house. They reject the idea of spending money on anything that is not a consumer product like an iPhone.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taxing the Poor at 100%
Right wingers like to rail against the lack of initiative in the poor, yet they tax those on welfare at over 100%. If a welfare recipient manages $100 in sales with a small home business, they get $100 deducted from their dole. Since they cannot deduct any business expenses, they always lose money! I asked a local politician why this disincentive, he said almost nobody on welfare attempts to run a business, so it doesn’t matter. With the game so rigged against them, no wonder!~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taxing Via Inflation
Why does the cost of living keep rising (aka inflation)? The federal government creates money and allows the banks to electronically create money by allowing them to lend money they do not have. When the number of dollars increases and chases a fixed amount of goods and services, the value of each dollar has to decrease.
Printing money is effectively a seductive tax. No one can avoid it, even foreigners. It requires no bureaucracy to collect. The public largely is unaware they are being taxed.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tea Party Lies About the Deficit
The Tea Party claims it is in a panic ever the deficit. Yet they want to fix it by taking from the people who have the least and giving it to those who have the most, with no net effect on the deficit. They are crooks and liars.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If a mother wanted to teach her kids the elements of laissez-faire capitalism, she would bake a pie then invite the family to play Monopoly. She would then force-feed the winner the entire pie.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Telus.ca advertises you should buy its HTC (High Tech Computer Corporation) Desire cellphone because its is much faster than the competition. In the ad, they take it out for a blazing spin where it appears to outperform a desktop computer with dual 3 GHz processors. My eyes popped at this amazing advance in computer technology. The next time the ad was aired, I noticed a disclaimer in the fine print, that the demonstration was a simulation. The phone only has a pedestrian 1 GHz snapdragon processor, no faster than any of the competition. The entire ad is a lie.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Humans suffer from terminal optimism. No matter how many times casinos and stock brokers rip them off, they wishfully imagine the next time, they won’t allowing them will get rich without work. They are like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy van Pelt not to yank away the football at the last minute. Animals are not this stupid. You never see birds trusting cats with a second, third and fourth chance to polish them off. We humans are supposed to be the most intelligent species, but in this matter we are drooling idiots. Why? I suspect early exposure to Christianity infects the brain with this irrational optimism.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I find it odd that American advertisers are so enamoured of Texan regional accents dropping gs, gitting instead of getting and general corn. Perhaps they reason hick actors will project as too stupid to be deceptive, or to conjure up the homespun charm of Mayberry circa 1955. That accent to me conjures up bigots and rednecks like George W. Bush and Rick Perry and TV evangelist scammers and homophobes.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Texting is an incredibly efficient technology. It uses almost no power and no bandwidth. It costs your provider less than ⅓ of a cent to deliver your text message. However, they sometimes charge you as much as $0.20 each.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Theories of Government
There are two basic theories of government. One is the government represents the collective interests of the people. Their job is to ensure everyone has their basic needs met, housing, food, medical care, education. The government should protect the population from criminal predators.
The other theory of government is that its function is to ensure the wealthy can make money. The government must help stop the people from interfering with this enterprise by suppressing unions, consumer labeling, consumer protection, social safety nets, taxes on the rich etc.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There Is No Need For Make Work Projects
There are so many things the world needs done that the notion of a make work project where nobody actually needs the results of the labour, such as gold-plated military spending, is absurd.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Too Big To Exist
If banks are too big to fail, that means banks are too big period. Just as in the antitrust days of a century ago, we need to split them up and forbid them from merging and acquiring each other.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Too Much Distance
A corporation keeps the investors from ever meeting the workers or customers. The result is corporations usually deceive, cheat and exploit their customers as much as they can get away with. This is not the way human group activity has usually worked over the last 200,000 years. A co-op better mirrors this natural group organisation where the investors are either the customers or the workers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In their ad, Tostitos assures me they make their chips with real ingredients. Even if they made them with rat poison, that would still be true.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tough With Strikers
When workers in Honduras struck against Chiquita bananas, Chiquita forced them back to work at gunpoint, killing 23 workers. People still buy their bananas to fund more such killings.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) Life + Debt
I give Toyota the Weasel of the Year award for their ad confessing that Toyota’s safety has come into question and that they are going to deal with it by improving communication with customers. If they had said, We screwed up big time and we are making major changes to make sure it never happens again I could forgive them. But when they pull this crap, I remind myself never to trust them again.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Toyota’s Buggered Priorities
Toyota advertises that your safety is one of our top priorities. This is not reassuring. Clearly, profit comes before safety, even if safety is in the top ten. This ranking has lead to the great chain of Toyota’s safety bloopers. Further, they advertise that they will rectify the situation with improved communication with the customers. Reassurance and spin will do bugger all to improve safety. Grow up, Toyota.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I find people like Donald Trump disgusting. They have an infantile pre-occupation with toys. They imagine themselves superior to others because they have large toy collections. They proselytize the purpose of life is accumulating toys.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Trade agreements hurt some people and help others:
Advantages of Trade Agreements
- Trade in general increases. The economy as a whole is stimulated. Mainly the wealthy benefit. Even the middle and lower classes enjoy lower prices for consumer goods.
- There is greater specialisation which improves quality of goods and lowers cost.
- Trade agreements create ties between countries that help forge peaceful bonds.
- Exporters have access to larger markets. They can offer lower prices. This increases their sales. This works primarily for exporters who specialise.
- Importers can buy goods all over the world at cheaper prices without tariffs.
Disadvantages of Trade Agreements
- Businesses flee the country to places where labour is cheap. People lose their jobs.
- Foreign corporations gain veto power over environmental legislation. In theory, this need not be so, but in practice it is always a part of the agreement.
- Governments are hamstrung. They cannot do anything that would reduce foreign corporate profits. Again, in theory, this need not be so, but in practice it is always a part of the agreement.
- Massive amounts of goods are shipped all over the world, emitting more greenhouse gases in the process. As we get more and more serious about climate change, this factor will rise in importance.
- It requires extra energy to transport all those trade goods. As fossil fuels run out, those prices will inevitably rise.
- Countries no longer have a reliable local food supply or a supply of basic goods. The supply can be disrupted by national disasters in other parts of the world, or by wars or blockades.
- The economies of third world countries become less stable. Overnight, corporations move operations to a new country with labour a few pennies cheaper.
- There is global race to the bottom for wages, worker safety and worker health. The third world competes with the developed world more directly for the lowest wages.
Reneging on Trade Agreements
Donald Trump has suggested reverting back from a free trade policy to a protectionist one in order to save the jobs that were lost under free trade. He suggests reneging on all trade agreements. I don’s think this is wise for the following reasons:
- Breaking your word is a serious breech. There is no guarantee other countries will ever negotiate any kind of treaties with you ever again, knowing you will renege if ever the treaty favours others. Trade agreements have legitimate, but time-consuming ways to get out of them. You must be patient to maintain your reputation.
- After the break, protectionist tariffs will allow former exporters to sell to the domestic market. However, their global export market will dry up because of tariffs their competitors have to pay. With a greatly reduced market, they will have to lay workers off and might even have to close plants or go bankrupt. Ironically, we would have the exact opposite of the intended effect.
The essential problem is corporations do not care in the least about the welfare of workers. They have no loyalty to any one country. All they care about are profits. They don’t give a hoot what their trade agreements do to ordinary workers. The solution may be trade agreements where only fair trade goods may be exchanged. Further, retraining needs to be an integral part of every trade agreement.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Trade deals like NAFTA, CETA (Canada-European Union: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) do not increase worker prosperity as advertised.
Note how both the Canadian and American manufacturing sectors have collapsed. Wages drop to the lowest denominator. Jobs move to the country with the lowest wages, lowest safety standards and lowest environmental standards.
The trade agreements are designed to increase only corporate prosperity. The agreements guarantee profits for corporations. If a country does anything, e.g. ban a carcinogen, hire local workers, tighten environmental regulations…, that reduces corporate profits, the corporations can sue the country to compensate them for their reduced profit.
Normally corporations have to gamble on what will be profitable. Now countries give them free success insurance. As a result, Canada is the most sued nation on earth.
All the negotiations are secret as is dispute resolution. Only corruption can explain why negotiators would put such onerous conditions on themselves into the agreements.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
International trade pacts should be a delicate balance of:
- Protecting the environment in the various countries.
- Ensuring employment in the various countries.
- Ensuring the health of the people in the various countries.
- Ensuring safe and fair working conditions in the various countries.
- Maximising profit of companies that operate internationally.
The catch is, they have only one consideration — maximising profit. The other considerations are irrelevant. So, for example a trade pact allows Philip Morris to override Uruguay’s anti-smoking legislation on the grounds it interfered with their profit from killing Uruguayan children. Another forced Canada to accept a carcinogenic gasoline additive banned in the USA.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You might think all you have to do is give homeless and poor people more money. The problem is, this does nothing to create more housing. Without more housing all you get is the homeless and poor competing for the same substandard housing with more money. The landlords just raise the rent. To reduce homelessness, you must literally create more affordable housing. Private builders refuse to do that. Without subsidies, they can’t make money that way. It will not happen without government action.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ask yourself what your own policy is about your responsibility to others. Should they be allowed to die from lack of food, shelter or medical care? Does your answer change if they are children, female, disabled, elderly, a different race from you, gay, alcoholic, drug-addicted…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ronald Reagan, George H. W, Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump all subscribe to an economic theory called trickle down. The idea is the government gives large amounts of money to its richest citizens. They, in turn, invest it to create good jobs for Americans. The catch is, every time it has been tried, it did not work. The rich got richer. The poor got poorer. Unemployment remained high. Wages for the middle class stagnated or dropped. Inflation marched on. The national debt continued to rise. What went wrong?
The program was naïve. It depended on the wealthy doing the hard work of creating jobs without any incentive. The wealthy got to keep the subsidy even when they created not a single job. Why should they bother to create any jobs? The subsidy was like a job where you got paid whether you came to work or not.
So what did they do with the money they were supposed to use to create jobs?
- They created some jobs alright, but in Pakistan, Haiti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia… where wages were the lowest in the world.
- They bought luxuries like diamonds from Belgium, luxury cars from Germany and Italy, expensive wines from France, skiing vacations in the Swiss Alps… These purchases did nothing to create American jobs.
Trickle down has been discredited so many times, but Trump is still able to sell it to the rubes.
Canadian Alternative to Trickle Down
When I was an employer, Canada had a plan to pay half the wages of employees having a difficult time finding employment. I would train them. Usually they would leave my company after a year or so for a higher paying job. This was win-win for everyone. The government did not give me any money, unless I actually created and sustained a job. I think a similar scheme might work for the USA where trickle down has failed. The cost per job is very low compared with many other schemes that I have read about, especially when you take into account savings in income assistance. Anybody who wanted to could create jobs, and get paid to do it, not just billionaires.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Trickle Down Economics
The trickle down theory of economics is a con. It has been repeatedly proven not to work, but that does not stop Republicans from flogging it again and again. By the same logic, you could just as easily have a trickle up theory where you give all the money to the poor. Don’t be ridiculous! If you take money away from A and give it to B, A will always be poorer and B will always be richer. Any school child could see through a con where one kid tries to talk the others into giving him most of their money for nothing in return.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Trickle Down means Piss on the Poor
The trickle down theory of economics is aptly named. The rich piss on the middle class.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Trickle UpThe rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The wealth gap is the widest now in 2017 than it has been in 30 years. The people who own the means of production can charge what they want for the goods they produce and pay what they want to the workers. Further, the money they have in the bank or the stock market earns interest all without effort. There is not much that opposes this natural flow of wealth to the top 1%.
However taxes, in theory take more from the rich and spend more on the disadvantaged. However, the super rich bribe politicians to insert loopholes in tax law so they do not pay any taxes at all.
Republicans want to stop taxes, stop government spending (health care, welfare, roads, safety inspections) and stop any backflow of money from the top 1%. Everything goes except the military which is already a funnel to force-feed the rich. As it is, The top 10% of families hold 76% of the wealth If the Republicans ever get their way, within a few years, the top 1% will own almost all the money. The amusing thing is as they become so rich, they could not possibly spend their wealth even if they did nothing but buy mansions and Italian sports cars for the rest of their lives.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tripled My Money
I am the only person I know who tripled his money over a lifetime of gambling. My dad explained to me that the only way you had any chance at all was to bet your lifetime gambling stake on one bet. So I put a nickel into a slot machine, won fifteen cents and decided to quit my gambling career entirely while I was ahead.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tripling My Money
Long before I studied mathematics and probability at university, my Dad explained to me why pyramid schemes don’t work and while it is futile to gamble at casinos, and why strategies such as doubling your bet every time you lose will not work. He said the only way you have any chance at all is to bet everything you plan to bet in your entire life on one throw of the dice, or spin of the roulette wheel. I took his advice and tripled my money — I put a nickel in a slot machine and got back fifteen cents. I have never gambled since.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Tripling My Money
My dad told me that all casino games were rigged against the player so that he had no chance over the long run. He suggested the only strategy that had any chance of coming out ahead was to make one bet in your lifetime, e.g. bet on black at roulette. I studied probability and statistics at university and came to understand the math behind his advice. When I was taken to a casino, I decided to try the strategy. I put a nickel in a slot machine, won 15 cents and have not gambled since. I am one of the very few people in history who tripled his money in a lifetime gambling at casinos.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Triumph of Wishful Thinking
The United States has been coasting on its superpower status. Its status has been eroding, mainly because Americans have abandoned their practical life philosophy and replaced it with all manner of wishful thinking such as the power of prayer, end-times, astrology, global warming denial, angels, tithing your way to wealth, UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) abductions, talking to the dead through mediums, creationism, scapegoating gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, Hispanics…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why do the announcers for truck commercials always sound as if they had wobbly lips like a camel?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Tub Metaphor
There was once an American who went to a Hilton hotel and decided to take a nice long bath. He filled the bath half full. Not understanding how the newfangled faucet worked, he inadvertently added pure cold. He thought, maybe I turned the handle the wrong way. He turned it the other way and lo, the water started to warm up. But it was still nowhere near hot enough for the relaxing soak he was looking for. He was impatient, so he turned the handle in the cold direction and blamed God for picking on him.
This is, of course, a metaphor about the American economy and the foolish voters who think its should be possible to undo the damage of the 8 Bush years in 1½ years.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Tulip Bubble
On 1637-02-02, in the Netherlands, the speculation bubble in tulips burst. Overnight, bulbs that the day before sold for more than houses became unsaleable. This bit of history should be a lesson to anyone tempted to buy some essentially worthless thing on the hopes somebody else will soon pay more for it. Yet people fall for this con with stocks all the time, to this day.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Turning America Into A Third World Country
Jeb Bush explained in his article in Imprimis Magazine 1995 that the Republicans want to destroy the government of the USA. They want the USA to be like a third world country. Why pray tell? Consider Columbia and Mexico. They are run by criminals. The lack of a strong government lets the criminals take over.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) source
TV Without Commercials
We have had television broadcasts since 1941. Oddly, it has still not evolved a version for the rich without commercials.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Two Kinds of Economists
There are basically two kinds of economists:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Those whose goal is creation of maximum wealth for the elite primarily by taking it from the poor.
- Those whose goal is to create wealth for everyone, without widening the wealth gap, perhaps even by closing it.
Two Kinds of People
There are two kinds of people.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Those who would love to have invented the Salk vaccine and enjoy the adulation of everyone on earth whose children are healthy as a result.
- Those who would have loved to have patented the Salk vaccine and made billions selling by selling it at $20,000 a dose.
Two Roads to Wealth
There are basically two ways to become wealthy:
- Create wealth.
- Take it from others.
Traditionally, wealthy Americans focused on the first. Now they focus on the second.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Types of Theft
Consider the following types of theft:
- A mugger steals a purse.
- An oil exec gouges his customers.
- A preacher cons his flock into donating money for God and uses it to rent hookers.
- A CEO tricks investors into buying his worthless stock.
- An Israeli Jew confiscates the land of a Palestinian.
When a poor man steals from a rich man, we insist he give back the wealth. When a rich man steals from a poor man, we don’t . Further, if the poor man tries to snatch back what was stolen from him, we treat him as the thief.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the least attractive features of money is it lets a cretin like George W. Bush become the caretaker of a Cézanne or a Monet.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Ugly Telephone Wires
I am quite surprised that rich people will spend millions of dollars on a house then put up with ugly telephone wires and poles blocking the view. Maybe they see them as symbols of prosperity.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If someone takes out a mortgage and the price of the home drops below the value of the outstanding mortgage and he loses his job, he can’t just hand the front door keys to the bank and walk away. He is personally on the hook for the entire amount he borrowed. As I see it, the bank is partly to blame for this situation and should take some of the consequences. They were better able to predict the price drop. They were better able to predict the likelihood of a layoff. They were better able to predict how expensive a home it is safe for a given person to buy. They have computers full of statistics. The home buyer has only his own overly optimistic estimate driven by insistent female nesting instinct. Without a sufficient penalty, the bank is tempted to trick home buyers into getting into this situation.
Corporations have no inherent morality. If you want them to behave ethically, you either have to arrange that they make more money when they behave ethically, or you fine them with a sufficiently large penalty when they don’t . The morality of corporations is the function of the regulators. It is utterly naïve to expect them to behave ethically all by themselves.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One reason Obama is reluctant to wind down the Afghan and Iraq wars is that the returning soldiers will be unemployed. Here is a suggested. Take the money saved from the wars and offer American business to pay 50% of the wages of each new job they create. America will lose the military jobs but create at least three times as many civilian ones, which will have much better spin offs since the spending will be in the USA rather than the middle east.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The main reason for unemployment is automation and computer productivity gains. There is less work to do to produce all the stuff we need. You would expect the work week to gradually shorten, but instead the owners of the means of production fire people and pocket the money they would have paid them. If you follow this through to its logical conclusion, we will have a tiny elite sitting at home doing no work other than clipping coupons, and everyone else unemployed. We don’t have an unemployment problem. We have a wealth distribution problem.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Unfair Pill Pricing
Pills are costed so that patients needing twice as big a dose pay twice as much. This is unfair since the primary cost of the pill is the development not the incremental cost of the ingredients. If larger dose pills were packaged so they could not be split, then the all doses could be fairly priced.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The more money someone makes, the bigger share of the pie have wangled for themselves relative to what they contributed. Oddly the bigger this share, the higher one’s status. It is sort of like the guy who scarfs the most Chinese food at a banquet has the highest status. I find it very odd. Some of us hold in contempt those who consume huge amounts material goods as environmental vandals. Others worship them as gods.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Greece behaved irresponsibly. It spend much faster than it took in. It let the rich slide on paying income taxes. It turned a blind eye to corruption. It spent more than it could afford on entitlements. Then when the shit hit the fan, Germany and other nations came to their rescue with a $172 billion gift.
The Greeks spat in the faces of their benefactors, even depicting Angela Merkel as Hitler. The Greeks complained they deserved even more, that the gift should have no conditions, the gift did not arrive fast enough and that they should be supported in continuing to live in their old extravagant style.
You normally only see that outrageous degree of entitlement in a spoiled child. It never occurred to them the major sacrifice ordinary people all over Europe made to help them out. After that ungracious response, I doubt anyone will ever be moved to bail out Greece again.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you don’t index old age pensions and disability benefits to inflation, you are asking the least able people to make do on less and less each month, starting off at a subsistence level.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Union BashingI hear people all the time mindlessly repeating union bashing. They have not thought.
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- What is labour like in Pakistan where there are no unions? What are the wages? What are the hours? What are the worker safety conditions? What are the health care and old age benefits? Zero!
- Unions raise wages. Where does that extra money come from? The rich people who own stock in the company often who live abroad.
- What happens to wages in non-union shops? They go up because employers need to compete with union employers.
Union Workers Benefit All Workers
The stupidity of American workers is beyond belief. They are so gullible they believe the Republicans that unionised workers are their enemies. When union workers won new rights, the rights soon spread to everyone. When they lose rights, everyone else will lose them too soon after.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Strong unions close the wealth gap. Even non-union workers are better paid. But humans care more about relative than absolute wealth. So, oddly, non-union workers usually support the corporations, not the unions even though that is against their self-interest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
United Moving Liars
The United Moving company claim that if you pick any other company but them, the competition will set your belongings on fire and raccoons will run amok with your electronics. This is obviously a lie. Probably everything else in the ad is a lie too. Just put them on your do-not-buy list.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When countries compete economically, they need the best-educated scientists, engineers etc. It would not make sense for them to execute 80% of the scientists, but that is effectively what they do when they price university education out of the reach of all but the most wealthy. They turn potential scientists into janitors and cab drivers. There are many ways to bring to cost of university down:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- e-text books.
- hiring teams of experts to write free e-text books for the entire country.
- rebate only if your grades are good.
One of the ironic things about insurance, is the people who can afford it are the ones who least need it. They are the most capable of absorbing unexpected expenses.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Unpaid internships require a independent income for living expenses. That means only the wealthy can afford to take unpaid internships. This means only the wealthy can apply for jobs that require such an internship.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Anastasi created the tallest buildings in the USA prior to the arrival of the Europeans. They built a magnificent city out in a desert. They were doing well, until they were hit with a 50-year drought. Then the people became extremely angry with the politicians for failing to make it rain and fomented social unrest that made matters worse. This reminds me a bit of Americans blaming their government for failing to create jobs in the private sector. If the government tries to push the private sector to create jobs, or help the private sector to create jobs, the people blame big government for interference with private enterprise. When the government creates jobs in the public sector, the people blame them for spending money. Both civilisations suffer from unrealistic expectations.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I really wonder about people who claim capitalists should be totally unregulated. Do they imagine everyone would drive safely if we repealed all the traffic laws? That child molesters would become model citizens if we fired the police who monitor them?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Politicians are not scientists. The are driven by ideology. They never stop to see if their economic policies actually work or how they work compared with what other countries are doing. This is not only stupid arrogance, it is causing terrible suffering and suicides.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, recessions budget battles and the politics of life and death
Any economic system where there is a net flow of wealth from the poor to the rich is unstable and unsustainable. Republicans refuse to acknowledge this. The early Christians and early Muslims understood. That is why Christians banned usury and Muslims introduced the Zakāt an annual wealth redistribution mechanism. The converse, a net flow of wealth from the rich to the poor, no matter what you think of the fairness or wisdom of it, is not only stable, it is self-limiting.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Upside of Recession
If it were not for the recession putting some people totally out of work, it would not be so bad. It has slowed the pace of life a bit. People don’t feel obligated to spend just to impress the neighbours. People are not working so feverishly and are taking time with their families.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Urge To Deceive
The Mann company makes vegetable trays for parties. They contain baby carrots. But if you look closely you will see these are not actually baby carrots, but rather ordinary carrots carved to look like baby carrots. People like baby carrots, not because they prefer small diameters, but because they are more tender and flavourful. This urge to deceive is so typical of the way corporations think.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
USA Is the Least Upwardly Mobile Country
It is ironic that the Horatio Alger myth that no matter what your circumstances you can with sufficient effort become a multimillionaire is the least true in the USA.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
USA Outdone By a Single Company
M-A-C, a lipstick company has raised $128 million dollars for AIDS research by donating 100% of the retail price of a line of lipstick. Surely an entire country could do better.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
USA vs Germany
What is going on here? Why is the USA in debt trillions of dollars and sinking fast while Germany has so much money it can afford to give it away by the billions to its profligate neighbours? The USA is rich in natural resources: minerals, wood, agriculture, oil… Germany has only a bit of coal and farmland. The USA survived WWII unscathed. Germany was razed to the ground. You would think it would have to be the other way around, but the secret is obvious. The USA spends 15 times as much on the military as Germany. Both have freedom. Both successfully deterred invasion. The Americans have been conned into going into debt to buy weapons they did not really need.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Use of Privilege
A queen bee gets a bigger share of the honey than an ordinary worker, but she is expected to use that extra nutrition for the benefit of the colony, not for her personal pleasure. In human society, those who receive a 10,000+ times bigger share than usual are expected to waste it on conspicuous consumption that has no purpose other than ostentation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Who is more of a useless pimple on the body of humanity? The homeless guy who collects bottles, cans and scrap metal or the stock broker who spends it time jetting around the world playing golf?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In the time of Napoléon, the Rothschilds became fabulously wealthy in currency exchange. However, were totally unimaginative in spending the fortune. All they could think to do was build 41 mansions, most of which stood empty.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Usury Now Legal
In 1978, the US Supreme Court, in Marquette National Bank v First of Omaha Service Corp, ruled that anti usury laws were not constitutional. Every year since the credit card companies raised their rates. Now some are charging 35%. Payday loan companies charge as much as 800%. This is all legal.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
You may have seen a lottery you can enter free in various restaurants to win a vacation to a tropical spot. If you enter, you will invariably win. You go to collect your prize to discover hundreds of others have also won. How generous! But there is no prize, just a sales pitch to buy time shares in Hawaii. Why would anyone do business with these people after they already betrayed them?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Value of a Life
Americans have an informal scheme for ranking the value of a life. You get points for having more years of expected remaining life. You get points for having education. You get massive numbers of points for having money. You lose points for having health problems, a disability, dark skin or a drug addiction. So the value of the life of an elderly disabled homeless person is negative. This is why Republicans are so violently opposed to universal health care. They don’t want to waste resources on lives that they consider worthless. To the Republican, it is even more important to ensure unworthies don’t get health care than it is to ensure they get it for themselves.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Value of a Man
There is a planetary traitor named Richard Kinder who earns $500 million a year. His lawyers and his friends in government wangle things so he pays no income tax. He earns his money by bullying people into destroying their local environment and the common global atmosphere. He sells fossil fuels. He is so conceited, he believes he does the work of 10,000 ordinary men. That is what justifies his astronomical salary. He has conned the world into accepting that absurd notion. He has no value, or rather he has massive negative value. The world would be much better off if a crane fell on his head.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advertisers have discovered that male models who sneak glimpses in a mirror as if to say Boy do I look good! are most effective at selling male grooming products.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you are cold, wet and hungry you will be miserable. If somebody offers you a warm bed and a big bowl of soup, you will be very happy. However, if you then acquire two beds and two bowls of soup it won’t make much difference. Rich people are under the delusion if they can double their income they will be twice as happy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I guess that includes your money.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Verbal Fine Print
In America there are a special class of actors who can speak very rapidly but almost unintelligibly. Their job is speaking the fine print legally required in advertisements the vendor would prefer you did not hear, such as drug side effects or contest rules that explain why you can’t really win.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Early Americans vilified the Indians to excuse themselves for stealing their lands.
- Later, Americans vilified the blacks to excuse themselves for enslaving them and stealing their labour.
- Later still, Nazis vilified Jews so they could steal their wealth.
- Today, Americans vilify Arab to excuse themselves for stealing their oil.
By now, most of us are sick of excuses.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Violating Buy Low, Sell High
The traditional wisdom is buy low sell high. However, Americans have their own peculiar rule. Don’t buy houses when prices are low. Wait until the prices are high and rising.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Americans are irate at the thought of taxes, even ones they personally do not pay. Yet they flock by the millions to pay crippling voluntary taxes in the form of casino gambling and lottery tickets.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Vulnerable American Economy
The American economy is much more vulnerable than anyone will admit publicly. Consider that America has borrowed trillions to finance deficits for two lengthy wars, homeland security and a major bank bailout. Consider that the free ride its currency enjoyed as the global petrodollar is coming to an end. Consider that US corporations have outsourced nearly all manufacturing jobs and are working hard on exporting the remainder. Consider that corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle worked hard to bankrupt its citizens with exploding health care costs. The medical system is so focused on profit it charges twice what any other country does and provides outcomes as measured by IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) that rival Cuba’s, 42nd in the world. Consider that there are only feeble new regulations to prevent a repeat of the banking collapse that triggered the current recession. The price of gold has climbed to new heights which reflects a lack of confidence in the US dollar. The US now has two technologically and economically robust competitors: China and the European Union. Much like the British in the sunset of the empire, out of patriotic blindness, Americans love to pretend that nothing has changed and the USA is still the one and only superpower.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Someone in Mexico earns a tiny fraction of what someone in Canada earns doing the same work, e.g. growing vegetables or working on an assembly line. On what basis do you justify that?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Canadians are superior
- Canadians have the upper hand. This is a spoil of battle.
- Because capitalism allows we Canadians to get away with it.
- I think it is wrong, but I don’t know how to change it.
If you ran a boat rental business and you wanted to ensure that nobody ever had to wait for a boat, you need extra boats. To cover the cost of those extra boats that wait around unused most of the time, you have to raise the rental rate. The same applies to waiting times for doctors. If you want to reduce waiting times you need more doctors, then doctors spend less of their time treating patients and the cost per visit goes up. You can’t reduce costs by decreasing waiting times.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wall Street is No Golden Goose
Wall Street tricks Americans into thinking it is some magic casino where you always win fabulously. The actuality, is that over the last 140 years, the market pays only 2.6% not counting inflation.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wall Street Swindled Europe
The European Union’s financial problems are to a large part due to being swindled on a massive scale by Wall Street.
- Did the USA make Wall Street return the swindled money? No.
- Did the USA prosecute the guilty? No.
- Did the USA change the law to make future swindles more difficult? No.
- Did the USA contribute a dime to help the Europeans out of their hole? No.
- Did the USA give Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars with which they paid themselves spectacular bonuses? Yes.
That is one heck of a way to treat your allies. I am surprised the Europeans are still on speaking terms with the Americans.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wall Street Vanity
Amazingly, our planet survived for millions of years without Wall Street. Yet this upstart imagines it is indispensable and the environment that sustained us all that time is not.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Taking ruthless advantage of its massive size, Walmart, can pay its employees less, pay its suppliers less, drive the entire retail district in a small town out of business, bust unions, finagle hundreds of millions in government subsidies, fob the cost of food and a medical plan off on the government, squeeze third world sweatshop labour and in the process make Walmart’s owners some of the richest people on earth. The Walton family seem to be suffering from a monomania — to make more money no matter what suffering it causes, no matter what damage it does to their reputations. The strange thing is these people already have more money than they could possibly spend in a lifetime.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69) Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
Warren Buffet on Tax
Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the USA, said he pays a lower tax rate than anyone else in his office including his secretary. He said he does not even exploit loopholes and uses no tax shelters. Republicans worship the rich and wish to flatter them with loopholes and low tax rates. Buffet said he, more than anyone, feels happy to contribute his fair share to a country that has so helped him prosper.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
In any water project, there are always winners and losers. Some parties get more water and some less. However, we tend to treat water resources as if they were free and infinite. Very rarely to the winners compensate the losers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth ⇏ Worthy
Capitalists gloat with an inflated opinion of themselves. They imagine they are hundreds of thousands of times more worthy than ordinary mortals. Their proof is in the extravagant compensation they receive. However, this disproportionate compensation is just an imperfection of the money system. It is similar to the way a chef can take a grossly disproportionate share of the food and get away with it.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth And Status
Did you ever wonder why some people, even when they are tens of millions of dollars in debt, still manage to live like royalty? This is because what is really going on the same status pecking order as in other animals. Lower ranking animals defer to the alpha animals handing over food and other resources, receiving nothing in return.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A government can do basically one of three things about wealth concentration:
- Encourage it.
- Ignore it.
- Discourage it, possibly using backflow money.
Given that the rich get richer because they can make money from interest while sleeping, even if a government ignores wealth concentration, wealth will concentrate all on its own. Wealth concentration has proceeded unusually rapidly over the last two decades. Wealth has not been this concentrated since 1929.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Wealth Gap
The biggest depression the USA ever had was in 1929 when the wealth gap had grown to a chasm. The same thing has happened today. We have not had such a wide wealth gap since 1929. It is like a monopoly game that can’t continue because one player has all the wealth. The wealthy are using their immense power to fire people, pay them less, make them work longer hours, strip their union bargaining rights and outsource jobs overseas. Americans fail to notice that the rich are so spectacularly rich, not because the rich are so much more hard working and clever than others, but because the whole system is rigged in their favour. They get richer and richer even if they never get out of bed. The rich have convinced the general population that anything that levels the playing field is wicked.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Wealth Gap
Every country chooses how wide a wealth gap it wants. Countries that favour the wealthy to become ever more powerful and rich necessarily force those on the bottom to live in without food, shelter and medicine. Republicans claim the opposite is true. Yet consider the fate of those on the bottom in wide wealth gap countries like the USA, Russia, India and Brazil versus the fate of those in narrow wealth gap countries like Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. In the 1950s the USA was a narrow gap country and primarily under Reagan and Bush-41 became a wide gap country.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth GapThe gap between the richest and poorest country was:
- 3 to 1 in 1920.
- 35 to 1 in 1950.
- 74 to 1 in 1997.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This took doing, primarily from America’s richest citizens.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Wealth Gap
Republicans keep trying to sell the idea the bigger the wealth gap the better off everyone is. But historically, we discover an extreme oligarchy leads to a dark age. Our capitulation to the American oligarchs is leading to a collapse of the American economy.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Republicans try to convince me the wealth gap is natural and righteous, that one individual should have hundreds of billions of dollars to use for whatever pleasure or mischief they please, where others have no money at all, (in Africa, not even a dime). They even try to persuade me that the public should further reward the rich by giving them money in the hopes these gods will take pity and provide jobs. It reminds me of sacrificing virgin daughters to the volcano gods. There is no other animal species with this sort of yawning wealth gap. It was not a part of any primitive human society either. It is an urban phenomenon. It started with religious con men, the pharaohs who tricked the people into thinking they were gods. It extended with the divine right of kings to spend the public’s money on personal pleasures. But it did not really get going until the renaissance, with the Medici and the invention of modern finance and usury.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth Gap and Violence
Societies with the biggest spread in income are most violent.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth Gap in Latin America
In Latin America, the richest 1% make 400 times what the poorest 1% make.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth to Harm Children
Even though large amounts of inherited wealth harm, if not ruin, the beneficiaries, men still sacrifice all to accumulate huge fortunes with which to warp their children.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
A major problem with capitalism is the way it creates inequality. A corporation will happily subvert the democracy of a third world nation by bribing its leaders to betray the interests of their own people. It is one more way that capitalism makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
There is more wealth inequality in the USA that in any other developed nation. There is more wealth inequality in the USA today than at any time since the late 1920s just prior to the great depression.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When some people in a society have tens of thousands of times more wealth than others, (e.g. CEOs), it is not just as matter of them consuming a disproportionate slice of the resource pie, they automatically gain control of the political process. Note, for example, how Trump’s cabinet is formed of his major donors.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
One of the side effects of the way our monetary system works is its instability, i.e. the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This continues until the inequity becomes so great, the poor rise up and kill the rich. Republicans think this is a desirable feature. I do not.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealth Is Not Necessarily Desirable
Americans claim they want to be rich, but what does that actually entail besides a large bank account? Take Donald Trump. It requires being crass, fat, hated. Take the Koch Brothers. It requires being pasty, out of shape, hated. Take Richard Fuld ( CEO of Lehman brothers). It requires being super-stressed, angry, hated. People don’t get rich by being nice. They get rich by trampling others and by cheating. That is mainly why they are so hated. People don’t hate Julie Andrews for her wealth.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Wealth Pie
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The graph above shows Americans are blissfully unaware of the elites have grabbed most of the wealth pie. The wealthy lie to them 24/7 to keep them in the dark. American don’t know their country has the most tilted playing field and the biggest wealth inequality of any other developed country.
Wealth Redistribution Is All But Inevitable
Many Americans recoil in horror at the idea of a government that redistributes wealth. I point out to them that even a 100% strict laissez faire (hands off) capitalist government redistributes wealth. It sets up a system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. If you want a stable wealth distribution, you have to do something to compensate for this tendency of capitalism.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The original purpose of lying was to trick others into giving the liar more than his fair share. No wonder the wealthy are the best and most prolific liars.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Wealthy Suffer From a Loathsome Illness
The top 2% in wealth are for the most part suffering from a repulsive mental illness. They have far more than they can possibly consume, but like heroin addicts, they desperately crave more money. They are willing to stoop to any filthy deed to get it, including bribing politicians. They most enjoy taking from those who have almost nothing. Oddly, a sizeable proportion of Americans idolise these people and are happy to sacrifice themselves and others to pamper them. What is really odd, is the general public tries to figure out how to stimulate the 2% to crave still more money, imagining it will then trickle down like a shower of gold from the gods on them. They imagine these folk are the source of all things good, rather than the thieves they are.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Advertisers use the weasel words up to the way magicians use the phrase abracadabra to make a promise disappear, e.g. Chevrolet guarantees its power train up to 100,000 miles. Lose up to 20 pounds in 20 days. Save up to $500 a year on your electric bill. Garnier face cream makes you look up to 5 years younger. Bayer weedkiller kills lawn weeds up to 6 months. It sounds like a promise, but it guarantees nothing at all.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
If you buy a food or grooming product at the local supermarket and you look at the list of ingredients, how many ingredients that you have never heard of does it take before you put the product back on the shelf?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Welfare Gravy Train
Conservatives love to complain about the welfare gravy train. Welfare is a month here in socialist BC Canada. Rents start at a month. People on welfare live on Ramen noodles, wieners and pet food. How is this life a gravy train? unless you mean eating Gravy Train dog food. What is the alternative? — throwing people onto the street to eat out of dumpsters (which is now illegal).
In contrast, look at all the subsidies and tax breaks given only to the rich, vastly higher per month than any welfare recipient.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Well poisoning in times past was the ultimate crime. Today doing it on a massive scale is standard business practice.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I don’t normally eat fast food, but out of curiosity I ordered a Wendy’s double burger to see how it compared with the ones I recall from the 1980s. The slices of tomato have slimmed down to one anemic slice. The lettuce is now a single limp disc of lettuce. The meat was so salty and so dripping with grease as to be inedible. The bun has the texture of Wonder Bread. The meat is burned. How could this happen? There are people addicted to sugar, fat and salt. Wendy’s presumably kept upping the dose to match their ever increasing tolerance. I suppose, each year, accountants shaved back the lettuce and tomato, hoping no one would notice. They didn’t, but I sure did seeing the difference over a longer time. A very good hamburger has morphed into a parody of one. one.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The primary strategy to deal with the homeless is to whack them over the head to make them move. Then they pop up somewhere else. What else can they do? They don’t have enough money to rent a place to live.
There are very few places to rent under $800 a month here in Victoria — completely out of reach.
Increasing welfare will not work. It will just mean more money chasing the same number of homes. Prices will rise. We have to build sufficient ultra-low cost housing to house everyone.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What Economists Do Not Know
Economists miss some very basic facts in their training. They need to take a few courses in mathematics and ecology to round out their education. Here is what they need to know:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Economic growth is not sustainable. On a finite planet, it is mathematically impossible to keep growing the economy indefinitely. If your economic system depends on growth, it is doomed to fail. You have to learn to live with zero growth.
- You cannot have any economy at all without an ecology to support it. It is suicidal to destroy the planet in pursuit of prosperity. In particular, you have no option but to stop emitting CO₂ from burning fossil fuels.
- Indefinite growth in population is mathematically impossible. Resources are finite. There are only a limited number of atoms composing the planet. If your economic system depends on population growth, it is doomed to fail.
What Greed Motivates
The magic of capitalism is that it harnesses greed to persuade entrepreneurs to race to produce the goods and services that people actually want. Unfortunately, it is unable to similarly harness greed that leads entrepreneurs to:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- fix prices
- Kill off the competition and create monopoly or near monopoly.
- Bribe government officials to do things beneficial to the corporation but detrimental to the public good.
What Republicans mean by Freedom
When a right winger talks about freedom he means that governments should not interfere in any way with the activities of corporations or wealthy individuals. Corporations should be free to use their wealth and power even to exploit those without power. Instead of freedom, I would call this laissez faire capitalism. The sort of freedom I want for myself is freedom from bullying by governments, corporations and wealthy individuals. I want the government to limit the power of those institutions to run roughshod over me.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What is Rich?
What is the difference between rich and middle class people? Ignore the money for a moment, and look how they each spend their days. Rich people sit at their desks and talk on the phone — not that different from many others. Rich people tell others what to do, and other nearly always do it, even if it is illegal or immoral. Rich people consume much more living space that middle class people. They drive heavier cars. They consume more fossil fuels and emit more greenhouse gases. They consume more goods, services and food. They do not clean their own homes, tend their own gardens or drive their own cars. Other people do it for them. An alien looking at this would conclude that rich people were a parasitic species.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
What To Subsidise?
What should be subsidised? Something necessary that people cannot otherwise afford, something you want to encourage consumption of, e.g. alternative energy, solar panels, public transport, vaccines… Yet what do we subsidise? corn starch, sugar, petroleum, gasoline, meat…~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
We tend to disdain young wheeler dealer types. Yet when they make a fortune by middle age, we assign them high status.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
When Supply and Demand Works
In a society where everyone had roughly equal wealth, the law of supply and demand would work extremely well to allocate scarce resources to the most crucial needs and to persuade people to husband them carefully. However, when there are extreme differences in wealth, it does not work as well. A rich person tends to be allocated scarce resources just to satisfy trivial needs. The system degenerates into a queue where the richest people go to the front.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Where are the Benefits of Automation?
Automation and computers increase productivity. You’d think that would mean everyone could work fewer hours a week and everyone would be more prosperous. What has happened instead is the elite have garnered all the benefits and fired people no longer needed. This creates massive unemployment and depressed wages. Ironically, some people have to work three times as many hours as before just to provide the necessities. This causes even more wealth to flow from the former middle class to the elites. To add insult to injury, the elites have bribed politicians to give them massive tax breaks, tax loopholes and even tax subsidies. The politicians then started withdrawing services from the middle class to further make the rich richer and the poor poorer. People fail to see the unemployment problem as a wealth inequality problem.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Where the Money Goes
Pretty well every government and corporation has drastically shifted expenditures away from the people who provide the service, to management and from lower management to top management. Governments ask their staff to figure out how to cut costs. They invariably suggest cutting services, or cutting the salaries and benefits of the service people but they really should be cutting the number of top management people and their bloated salaries. Cutting one top management person lets you keep seven service workers.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Where Is the Wealth Stigma?
Given that the road to mega-wealth involves so much immoral and illegal activity, it is surprising that wealth is so admired. Even wealthy gangsters are lionised.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The White Richer Get Richer and the Non-White Poor Get Poorer
The analysis by the Pew Research Center, found that from 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among black households, compared with a 16 percent decline among White Households. And, of course, the 1% most wealthy people’s income has increased 400% since 1979. Basically the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Republicans see this as a Good Thing™ caused by the superior virtue and worthiness of the wealthy and laziness of the poor. I see this as sign the rich have rigged the money game in their favour. There are no tax loopholes for the middle class. Nearly all the subsidies go to people who already have a million bucks in the bank, to people with the money to buy influence with politicians.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Who primarily benefits if social security is disbanded? Naïve people will have to put their retirement savings in the stock market only to get cleaned out by the pros. The people pushing this are the wall street sharks. Their political agent is the Republican party.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Who Owns The Earth?
Why should corporations be permitted to extract resources from the earth, or damage the earth without being forced to pay back some compensating benefit? In other words, who said the earth belongs to corporations to do with as they please?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Who Is Screwing You?
Figuring out who is financially screwing you in the ear is not that difficult. Which corporations are most profitable? Which people are earning the most money for the least work?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Who Should Decide the Minimum Wage?
Anyone who makes over $100 per hour is incapable of deciding what constitutes a reasonable minimum wage.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Who’s Got My Money?
If you were a cop assigned to investigating a multi-million dollar bank robbery, who is the more likely suspect?
- A guy carrying a suitcase of cash?
- A guy wearing clothes from the Sally Ann?
Yet odd as it seems, Republicans have convinced most Americans that the homeless and the people on welfare living on Kraft Dinner are the culprits who took their money to half their real incomes, not the multi-billionaires living on their private islands paying no tax.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why The BBB (Better Business Bureau) Cannot Do Its Job
The Better Business Bureau cannot protect consumers as it claims to. It gets all its funding from the businesses it claims to oversee and none from consumers. Businesses could look on it as a racket, presuming if they join, the BBB will give them gentler treatment than if they did not. So ironically, BBB members may be less reputable than non-members because they plan to behave badly and thus they will need the under the table protection. To do its job properly, the BBB (or a new consumer protected agency) should be funded by the government, the way other law-enforcement is.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Carbon Taxes are Good for Business
BC Canada enacted a carbon tax. Economists predicted economic doom. However, BC’s economy outperformed all the other provinces in Canada. Economists had a second look to figure out why their predictions were wrong. The tax was revenue neutral. Revenue from the carbon tax was used to reduce income taxes. Reducing income tax stimulated business and spending. Taxing pollution encouraged businesses to modernise and become more efficient and profitable.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why is Coke so Expensive?
Why does Coca-Cola sell for twice that of other soft drinks? It is made of the same ingredients, water, sugar and CO₂. The bottle costs the same. The bottling costs the same. The shipping costs the same. The difference is simply people have been talked into paying twice as much with advertising not because of any big difference in production cost. The difference goes to advertising and profit.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Communism Failed
No state that attempted to set up a Communist economic system had the computer power necessary to centrally manage all production and consumption. Had Marx been born in 1918 instead of 1818, the fate of Communism might have been much different.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Corporations Should Pay Income Tax
Republicans argue that corporations should not need to pay income tax because they just pass them on as increased prices. Consider General Electric which exploits loopholes to pay no income tax at all. Let’s say one of their customers buys 100 light bulbs a year while another buys 5. The government provides services such as water, roads and recycling to GE to help manufacture those light bulbs. Why should not the customer who uses 100 bulbs indirectly pay more for that government support than the customer who uses only 5? Without corporate income tax, the customer who buys 100 gets a free ride from the government. Though Republicans would never admit this, they want corporations to sponge off society by receiving government services without having to pay for them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Does Goldman Sachs Still Exist?
Why do Goldman Sachs and brethren have any business at all after the way they swindled their customers?~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why GE Pays Negative Income Tax
General Electric, like most US corporations, pays no federal income tax at all. For them, the tax rate is negative 60%. They receive a tax benefit equal to 60% of their net profit. How could this outrageously sweet deal come about, especially with GE being so profitable and simultaneously laying off Americans? The John Roberts supreme court, with the Citizens United decision, made it legal for corporations to bribe politicians with unlimited amounts of campaign contributions to create such loopholes for them.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Giving Money To the Rich Does Not Stimulate the Economy
Imagine trying to buy Bill Gates a Christmas present at a department store. It would be impossible. He already has everything. If you gave him a billion dollars, he would not spend it, he would just save it, waiting for the recession to end so he could invest it safely. Imagine trying to buy a low-income family a Christmas present. Its easy. They would like almost anything you could find in any store, since they currently have nothing. If you gave them a thousand dollars, they would spend it on clothes, groceries, furniture, cable TV, new tires for the car, etc. This is why giving big tax cuts to the top 2% don’t stimulate the economy in a recession and giving them to the middle and lower classes does. The rich save; the poor spend. Giving the rich large tax cuts has been tried by both Reagan and Bush 43 and was proven not to work. But that does not stop the current crop of Republicans from touting, yet again what Bush 41 called Voodoo economics.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Investors Are Folly
The notion of hiring somebody to invest your money for you has a fundamental flaw. If your advisor does well, both of you prosper. However, if he does badly, you lose your shirt, but nothing happens to him. In this situation, the rational thing for him to do is take extreme risks with your money. This is the root source of the Wall Street collapse.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Nuclear Power is Unsafe
The problem with nuclear power plants is if they did everything to make them safe, they would lose money. The only way they can make any money is by cutting corners on safety. They are constantly tempted to nibble away the safety margins.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Perpetuate Poverty?
Poverty is expensive. Crime, emergency health care, lost tourism and lost productivity all make it cheaper to eliminate than live with. Why don’t we fix it? There are two main reasons:
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Typically extreme poverty is looked on largely as a local problem. The city fathers are afraid that if they institute programs to deal to deal with poverty, they will be inundated with poor people from surrounding areas. It turns out this does not happen, but we could eliminate the fear of it by funding anti-poverty measures federally.
- A right wing philosophy has taken root, particularly in supporters of the ruling Conservative party in Canada and the Republican party in the USA. People like to believe their good fortune is caused purely by their virtue and hard work. Anyone in poverty is not there because of disease, mass layoffs, old age, racial discrimination, disability… [They close their eyes to the fact 40% of homeless youth are LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) thrown out on the street by their families.] Poverty, in their view, is caused 100% by laziness and a refusal to work. The philosophy is a sort of reverse Christianity or an exaltation of the life philosophy of Ebenezer Scrooge. Its proponents think of themselves as hard-headed, but they are actually irrational. Emotion makes them work against their own economic self interest.
Why Rich Bastards Vote Republican
Republicans call for the rich to pay lower tax rates than everyone else and be given loopholes so they don’t have to pay any tax at all if they don’t feel like it. I could understand some rich bastard possibly voting Republican (ignoring all the other reasons to avoid them), but nobody else should be stupid enough to vote against their self interest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why The Rich Get Richer
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Why is this?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Once you have money, you can invest it and make more money, without expending significant additional time or effort.
- The rich have the money to influence government to rig the rules in their favour, e.g. tax loopholes.
- A poor person has to spend almost all his time just to acquire food and shelter. A rich person is free to devote nearly all his time to acquiring more wealth.
- Being rich is sort of like a club. You deal only with other members of the club.
- By having sufficient wealth to hire other people, a rich person creates an army of people working to produce wealth for him. It is not just his own efforts creating his wealth, but the efforts of all those he hires.
Why The Rich Should Pay More Tax
Why should the rich pay more total tax than other people? Because they use far more government resources. Ordinary people have two cars tearing up the roads. A wealthy person has whole fleets of giant trucks that are much harder on the roads. Ordinary people deposit at most a couple of kilograms of waste into the sewers each day. Rich people own factories spewing torrents of toxic wastes for the government to clean up. If ordinary person’s home is broken into, they are lucking to get 20 minutes of the police department’s time. If they break into a rich person’s bank, a team of 10 officers may spend months tracking down the culprits.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Such Concern for HMO Profitability?
One of the oddest things about Americans is they claim to be more concerned about the profitability of the health care corporations than they are about affordable health care for themselves, even when they don’t own any stock.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Tax Cuts Fail
Trying to head off a depression with massive tax cuts is inefficient because:
- The poor spend their windfall at Walmart, stimulating the Chinese economy, but doing nothing for the North American.
- The middle class save their windfall. What else would they do on seeing their retirement savings and home equity evaporate and continued employment insecure?
- The wealthy invest their windfall in parts of the world where commerce is still bubbling along happily.
It would be better to target efforts on creating and sustaining jobs.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Why Is the USA so Big?
Why in the USA the biggest economy in the world? It is not because the USA has the most natural resources. It is not because the USA is a manufacturing giant. It is not that the USA provides valuable services to the rest of the world. It is not because Americans are inherently better than everyone else. There reasons are these:
- The USA has a military bigger that every other country combined. They use this to intimidate other nations into making trade deals that favour the USA.
- The USA props up corrupt dictatorships all over the planet. In return for bribes and political support, the dictator gives American companies unlimited free access to the natural resources of the country. America considers democracy too valuable to share.
- The USA usually flattens any country that dares use any other currency than the US dollar for making petroleum trades. This means when the USA prints money, it acts as an inflation-tax on all holders of petrodollars. It also means that US corporations can collect enormous fees converting other currencies into petrodollars. This gives the USA a competitive advantage since it does not need to convert.
The USA is driving itself to bankruptcy with out-of-control military spending and massive borrowing, while simultaneously refusing to tax the wealthy. Russia is accepting rubles for fossil fuel payments. That is the first shot in the rebellion against the American petrodollar. China is skunking the USA in manufacturing and alternative energy. India is taking all the computer programming jobs. As oil runs out, the prices will inevitable rise. Since America has flatly refused to take almost any measures at all to conserve oil or develop clean alternative energy, oil producers will be able to bleed them dry. The USA cannot remain in the #1 position much longer. Like Britain in the 1960s, America in basking in faded glories of empire.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Widening the Wealth Gap
When a foreign country adopts American capitalism, the proportion of desperately poor people rises and the number of billionaires rises.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Win Win Commerce
One of the nice things about commerce is every transaction is in a sense win-win. If the seller did not want the money more than the object sold and the buyer did not want the object more than the money, the transaction would never take place.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Christianity has seduced America into thinking all you have to do is wish to make it so. America borrows about $2 billion a day from China. That cannot go on indefinitely. When it collapses, America will no longer be the #1 superpower. The world will be free of a military tyranny. To everyone but America, this will be a Good Thing™.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
I have to laugh at Americans making $1000 a month defending the right of the rich to avoid taxes. They imagine real soon now they will be in Mitt Romney’s tax bracket. That is as naïve as buying lottery tickets for their retirement fund. Not only is it very difficult to become rich, the rich are an exclusive club and they will do what they can to keep new members out.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
It is almost amusing to watch middle class and lower class Americans pressing for the government to take more of their money and give it to the richest 2%. They consider coddling the aristocracy even more important than their own needs. Why do they do this? Because they were suckered into believing the American Dream. They sincerely believe they will be part of that aristocracy any day now, so they had better get busy feathering their nest.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Republicans suffer from terminal wishful thinking. In particular, they imagine their bodies will go on and on in perfect health, never growing old or decrepit. Thus they imagine health care insurance to look after them when they eventually do get sick is not only unnecessary, it is an affront to their freedom. They crave the Philippine system where the hospital literally tosses you out onto the street the day you can no longer pay the bills. The hospital doesn’t care if expulsion is your death warrant. Republicans may think they want that, until, of course, they need medical care and their private insurance company decides they are not profitable enough to insure or too costly to pay out. This happens to everyone eventually. The only people who can feel secure under such a system have at least five million dollars socked away to deal with their own health problems and their significant other’s. Republicans are under the delusion, that real soon now, they will be that rich. That’s also why they lobby for the interests of those much richer than they are.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Working For What?
I heard a young lawyer say that he worked 70 hours a week because the compensation was worth it. How could he find time to spend the extra money much less enjoy it? He might as well live in a tiny bare bachelor apartment since all he would do is crash out there. He values money as having intrinsic value rather than as a medium of exchange for goods and services.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Wealthy capitalists sometimes like to give speeches about how they earned every penny of their wealth by working harder than anyone else. I contend it is impossible to work even ten times as hard as a normal person. Yet these people claim their hard work justifies incomes 5000 times higher. What nonsense! Nearly always they exploited others, they cheated and they behaved disgracefully. Essentially, they tricked people into given them large amounts of money for very little in return.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The World Bank
The World Bank is billed as an institution to help developing countries. However, in practice, it exploits them. They pressure/bribe/convince a third word dictator to borrow a large sum of money for an ego-pumping public works project, such as a huge hydroelectric dam. The money goes completely to American contractors like Bechtel. The dam, because it was not properly engineered, never generates the promised revenue. However, the third world country, not the dictator, is stuck paying back the high interest loan. If they get a bit behind on the payments, they fall into a state that even if they pay forever, they can never pay off the loan. The World Bank thus bleeds them dry and uses the cudgel of the debt to bully them and exploit them further.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Worse that Magnota
It is pretty sure Luka Magnotta murdered a young man in a grisly display. It horrified the globe. Yet consider your average soldier might kill many times that many innocent children and mothers, who did nothing wrong. Yet we reward them with medals. An oil executive makes a profit-motivated decision that creates 10,000 hideous slow deaths by cancer. We don’t so much as throw a tomato at him.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Worse That Slavery
The current world economic system is very close to slavery. Some people do all the work. Others do all the consuming. In some ways, literal slavery was preferable today’s economic slavery because the slave owners felt obligated to keep their human livestock in good health and to care for them their entire lives.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
The Wrong Goal
The fundamental government assumption is that the goal of government policy is unlimited economic growth. That is insane. We already do unsustainable damage to the ecology with our economic activity. We have to figure out how to do more with less ecological impact. We need to stop the population explosion. We need to do less damage to the environment that sustains us each year, not more, as the whole Conservative party craves.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
For every point rise in the stock market the environment drops a point.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Your Power Over Corporations
You have a power over corporations, similar to your power of the vote over government. Simply refuse ever after to buy anything from corporations that misbehave, cheat you or lie to you. If enough people do this, those corporations will go out of business. At the very least, you hurt their profitability. Corporations have no moral compass. They do what makes the most money. Make sure that behaving responsibly is the only way to get your money. Then let the corporations know why you are boycotting them. Even when they give you the brush off, they still pay extra attention to such letters.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Your Right To Refuse to Do Business
The right to refuse to buy is one of the most fundamental human rights though it is not usually stated that way. No matter how powerful the seller, no matter how he has you over a barrel, e.g. by cornering the market or by destroying the competition, you still have the implicit right to refuse to do business with him.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Zero Corporate Taxes Still Too High
Bank of America made $1.6 billion, GE made $5.1 billion, CitiBank made $6.6 billion and Verizon made $8.4 billion. To thank these corporations for campaign contributions, politicians created loopholes to allow these corporations to pay zero taxes. Actually it is worse. They got money back — Verizon got $1.3 billion, GE got$3.2 billion and Citibank got $476 billion. And Republicans have the gall to bleat the tax rates for these corporations are cripplingly high.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
Zero Margin Economy
Our world is rapidly shifting to a zero-margin economy. The means the cost of creating 101 widgets is the same as creating 100. There are fixed monthly costs and fixed startup costs no matter how many widgets you make. Some examples:
- eBooks. Once you prepare the master copy, you can make as many as you want almost for free. This applies particularly to open-source text books.
- Small parts created by 3D printers. Once you have the design, you can crank out as many as you want free.
- Information. Once you have collected a database of stock prices, you can let as many people look at is you want with little extra cost.
- Open source computer programs. Once you have one copy of a working program, you can give it away as many times as you want for almost no cost.
- Digital music electronically distributed.
The end products can still be sold, but competition and the zero cost of producing additional units will drive prices down.
What does this imply?
~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)
- Price competition is based on the ability to lower fixed and startup costs.
- Good products can more easily swamp the market. A new competitor has a very hard time competing with a market leader. Market share is everything.
- The total markets for every product subject to zero-margin will shrink.
- Competition will be based more on reputation and quality and less on price.
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