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softwareNerd

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  1. In the news

    Folk living near Boulder, CO can go check out "The John Galt Line" http://www.lhvc.com/news/train-to-run-this-weekend-in-niwot/article_b123a3bc-9ef2-11e7-b91a-b31bda5e6f54.html
  2. Shadow Banking

    Since you say you don't have much of a background on the topic, let's start with a really trivial example: you, as an individual could lend money to another individual, and you would not be regulated as a bank. If the borrower does not pay you back, you will suffer a loss. If a lot of people lend money this way, and the economy turns down, many borrowers may not be able to pay back their loans, and a lot of such lenders will suffer losses. Lending: Now, one small step up: imagine you do not know anyone worth lending to, but you have a friend who has a lot of family/friends, who run some type of businesses (gas stations, corner stores, restaurants, etc.). You -- and many like you who trust him -- lend him money, and he figures out whom he trusts and how much, and he lends the money to them. When they pay interest or return the principal, ... that's when he returns it to you. Once again, if a higher than average number of borrowers turn out to be duds, then the lenders ultimately suffer. Next, imagine the middleman is personally wealthy. So, he tells you that he will pay you from his pocket, if the actual borrowers don't. This provides some degree of buffer. Now, to make it more realistic, imagine a billion-dollar company that borrows money for various investors and lends it to borrowers. None of these examples are quite completely "banking" in the sense meant by McCulley; rather, they're "lending". Lending has its own regulations, but they're not banking regulations. Folk like McCulley would not include any of the above as being shadow banking. Banking: Now, imagine the middle man says that you do not have to wait for the original borrowers to repay their loans. If you suddenly need your cash, he will pay you back out of his own money, because he's confident that others will be depositing more money anyway, and he also has other ways of getting additional cash. This is where things become "banking" in the sense meant by the term "shadow banking". This is where some new benefits and risks come in. The key difference in such a system is that the original borrower has been given a certain amount of time to pay, but the original lender has been told he can have his funds back sooner. This is called a "duration mismatch". The middleman keeps a reserve of money from which he pays folk who want to withdraw. As they withdraw, others make deposits. If people withdraw from one bank and deposit in another, one bank can then borrow back the funds from the other bank. The system works pretty well most of the time. This system is called a "Fractional Reserve System" since the bank does not keep all the cash on hand that depositors may theoretically withdraw; it only keeps enough to meet the normal range of activities. The danger arises if lots of depositors demand their money back because they fear they will not get it if they leave it in. The bank does not have the money and isn't going to get it quickly. That's the "run on the bank". It becomes particularly problematic if there is a run not just on one or two banks, but on banks as such. That's when it becomes a banking panic. [Aside: Some libertarians say that it should be illegal for bankers to promise to pay out "on demand" if they do not hold 100% of the possible cash that might be withdrawn.] Panics and response: There have been repeated panics across history. Over decades, people (aka the market) figured out various ways to address the issue of duration-mismatch and thus bank-runs. But, a full and robust solution had not yet evolved. In parallel, the government also started to build systems that would take on some of the risk. When the government takes on risk, the market sees no need to plan for that risk. So, this undercut the private systems that were evolving. Also, when the government takes on risk, it cannot do so willy-nilly. It has to specify rules that the lenders should follow, in order to get government protection. Shadow banking: Finance is pretty sophisticated these days, with some very complex instruments available. Companies that are not banks can buy and sell combinations of instruments that leave them with huge "duration risk". Yet, when they do not do so in the normal way of having deposit accounts etc. they don't have to follow the rules that apply there. That's shadow banking.
  3. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    Now that the meaning is sorted out, I have a question: what are the implications of the distinction? Is it possible that what is good -- in principle and always -- for each and every individual, is actually not good for me? If yes, could you provide an example. If not, are there additional things that are good for me, but not always good for each and every individual? I doubt this is possible as long as one expresses the latter abstractly enough, like "take the specific medicine related to your specific disease" , or even something more abstract like "take appropriate medicine when appropriate" For additional clarity, it might help to focus on some sub-set of human endeavor: say car maintenance. Is it possible that "good car maintenance" is at odds with "the maintenance that my particular car -- with all its idiosyncrasies -- needs"?
  4. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    I don't think WhyNOT is talking about Mankind's life though. Perhaps he'll clarify.
  5. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    I assume WhyNOT means it, just not in the sense you think. Perhaps he'll clarify with an example.
  6. Abstractions as such do not exist?

    Yes of course. I assume the OP simply misunderstood the meaning. That's why I asked OP to clarify, but he/she has not returned.
  7. One can agree with Objectivism 100% and still think Rand modified her views over time. I assume you do not see a contradiction in that. Similarly, one can agree with Objectivism 100% and still think that Rand was wrong on some conclusions, even where she used her philosophy of Objectivism as part of reaching those wrong conclusions.
  8. I don't understand what aspect you're disagreeing with and why?
  9. Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus. It starts with someone reading about Objectivism and thinking: "So much that I've been taught is wrong; yet everyone spouts this wrong stuff". It isn't too surprising that this lowers the reader's empathetic-benevolence to the views of others. E.g. you could love Fountainhead and want to be like Roark, but -- in doing so -- you might conclude: "life is going to be one big struggle, and if I don't get lucky with a good jury I'll end in jail; if I don't get a rich guy who loves my work, I'll end up in a garret" Also, the majority of readers focus on politics. E.g. you might read Atlas Shrugged and end up thinking: "The world is so screwed up that there's really little hope for change". Perhaps you might try to fight for political change in some way, with little success, and end up dejected, and reduced to ranting to other ranting Objectivists. Sure... one can implicate Rand, Peikoff, etc.in this, but in the end Objectivism is about the individual, and the buck stops there. Rand was asked: "How does one live a Rational Life in an irrational World?" and her most fundamental reply was "One must never fail to pronounce moral judgement". At face value, this is flawed at two levels: firstly, the possible premise that the world "is irrational"; and, also in the response. I say "at face value" because the question is being interpreted narrowly. Objectivists need to ask a variation of this question. Something like: "How do I live a Happy life in an imperfect world?" And, the answer needs to be mostly inward-facing: take all the good self-help books, and extract the the good philosophical principles from those. Even from religious teachers like Rick Warren and from Prosperity-Gospel folk. Anyone who is giving people "life hack" ideas of how to succeed in something. Remove the specifics, and extract the philosophical principles, and you'll get the nuggets that are consistent with Objectivism. The primary focus of the individual should be "How to Live a Happy life". The rest is essentially useless if it is does not contribute to that happiness. (Aside: It would be truly ironic if someone agreed and then ended up feeling guilty that he ain't happy enough.) Movements makes mistakes, learn, and evolve. Looking at the Objectivism's history, one sees three or four pretty distinct periods, and it gets better each time. Over the last few years, the student groups have taken that focus, even re-branding themselves "Strive". Some local community groups have done the same. I think the movement needs an intellectual or two who pursues this into "a thing": where they demonstrate how Objectivism is -- first and foremost -- the route to personal happiness; where he integrates this with the best self-help ideas and life-hacks out there; and, hopefully, where they do this so well that they become popular. Not sure is Alex Epstein is heading in that direction.
  10. Abstractions as such do not exist?

    Could you explain why you think this is strange: by providing a couple of examples where you think abstractions exist. That will give others something to work with.
  11. Ayn Rand's official public notice

    I assume that the sales of FH and AS was both a vindication and a disappointment. Through introspection, we all know how it feels to grasp a complex subject, and then to explain it to someone in as lucid a way we can, and then feel... what? If the other person's response shows that they completely get it, it feels really good. It gives us psychological visibility of being understood and a confirmation of our competence in putting our point across. And, we feel a kinsmanship that comes with the feeling that all's well if others can get this too... a bit of a "benevolent universe" affirmation". OTOH, when people do not get it, despite our thinking that we were lucid, and when we see them evading our key points and arguing against strawmen, it's just the opposite feeling. Personally, I label a huge conceptual disconnect as a "epistemological chasm". It's the feeling that "I will never reach you" (and it can often be felt by both sides, not just one). That in itself, is a dent in the feeling of visibility and the feeling that world is a great place if others can "get it"! Adding obvious misrepresentation into the mix just makes it more depressing. I expect Rand hoped that many more would see things her way if she really laid it out. After all the focus, integration and effort that went into AS, I expect she would have been disappointed seeing that Objectivism was still somewhat niche even years after publication. Still, she had the affirmation of great sales, and ardent students. So, I assume she would have felt that she'd done things right, and that some people do get it, but fewer than she'd hoped for.
  12. Causality For Someone who Doesn't Get it!

    Okay, fair enough... though, I'm both an Objectivist and a lay person and I'm surprised lay people like me are interested in this question.
  13. Causality For Someone who Doesn't Get it!

    Why does one have to choose between those two? To my mind, they are both true. There's a whole sequence of events and if you start with yourself,. you're an entity taking some action (on the switch rather than the light) and if you start describing it from the switch, then the action of the switch does something (indeed, even that does not turn on the light as such, there's a sequence of events). I'm not sure what the issue is here in the first place? They're all just fine ways of describing what's going on. Which one I describe depends on my purpose... whether I'm telling my wife I turned the light on, or whether I'm talking to a physics class and telling them that the magnet on the base unit of the light turned the switch on, because of the Wifi signal from the switch which the human pressed... and one can break that down way more if needed.
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