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Maarten

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  1. I don't think you necessarily need taxes for short term funding. An alternative is to issue bonds and repay them later. That's basically how we fund half the government these days, so it should certainly not be overlooked. Whether it's a good thing is another matter entirely
  2. He might be paraphrasing her thoughts on student loans. I think that was essentially what her argument came down to in that case (that you had either already paid taxes or would pay taxes in the future, so student loans aren't immoral to accept)... But possibly that is not analogous to this situation. Or am I confusing this with fellowships?
  3. How is an island with only enough resources to have 1 million worth of paper/gold equivalents going to have an economy that booms so much that they're having currency shortages? That seems a tad counter-intuitive?
  4. Also, in the very long term, there are considerable amounts of gold (and other rarer elements) present on both other planets in the solar system, as well as asteroids. I think the price of gold is already high enough (at 1700/oz it's about $54 500/kg or 54.5 million per metric ton) that it could be profitable to launch a spacecraft and get the stuff somewhere else. If not profitable today, that would certainly become profitable very soon if either the price of gold continues to rise, or it gets cheaper to launch stuff into space. There are basically limitless quantities of gold in the Universe (practically speaking, it's of course not really limitless, but for all intents and purposes it is), just waiting for someone to retrieve them. The same holds true for many other expensive elements. Yeah, someone has to take a risk and start a venture, and figure out how to mine in space, but I wouldn't put it past an enterprising businessman to come up with a solution like that. *I am not an expert on current launch costs, but I'd be very surprised if 54.5 million per ton is not above what it costs to launch something into space. I think it is considerably less than that with a good, cheap heavy lift vehicle.
  5. Also, it is worth asking how whatever standard is supposedly more important than life is justified itself. Why is that important to achieve? Basically anything besides life cannot be an ultimately value because it can't be good in itself; you can't say world peace (to give a nicely trite) is your ultimate value without justifying why it is important. How do you do that if not by placing it in relationship to some other value? Rand makes the argument convincingly that life CAN be the ultimate value (and is), how do other people defend their "equally valid" ultimate values? I have never seen a rational argument for adopting any other value; I don't think it can be done without relying on intrinsic value theory to some extent, which is untenable.
  6. Isn't that how issues such as discrimination would ideally be solved, though? It was my understanding that in the case of discrimination, Objectivism rejects laws banning the practice (because they restrict the right of a business owner to hire whom he pleases to) in favor of what basically amounts to the same as what I was talking about (i.e. businesses that are discriminatory should be shunned, and market forces will take care of the matter in the longer term). Why is the only possible solution something that is mandated to everyone by law? You can come up with these types of scenarios for pretty much any situation. Yes, it's possible for people to be defrauded in this way, but this is hardly unique to the police. You could make the exact same argument when talking about any business transaction. This can easily be addressed by various means, whether that is judicial review or some other way isn't really relevant at this point. Why would a police officer be much more likely than any tradesman to try and rip you off? And why wouldn't existing mechanisms that deal with these issues be sufficient in this case? If the local police department is staging fake crimes everywhere, sue them. That's ultimately what the judiciary is for.
  7. Exactly, which is why I stated several times that this should be something determined after the fact; not a prerequisite for whether the police comes to your house. However, I don't see any issue with charging people after the fact. Not paying could have other consequences, though. They could publicly post a list of people who refuse to pay, for example. That probably would provide quite a bit of incentive for anyone who really does have the ability to pay to actually do it. Maybe there are fundamental issues with this proposal, but I don't think this concern people keep bringing up is necessarily a problem. I sincerely doubt that the average person whose house is getting burglarized would mind that much paying, say, 200 dollars after the fact to the police that showed up in a timely manner (especially considering there wouldn't be any taxes, people would have far more disposable income). Does anyone have an objection to this idea that is not something I already addressed?
  8. Ice, that graph really doesn't show what you're claiming it does very convincingly. Yeah, for the US the point comes in conveniently at the depth of the crisis, but several other countries did it before their worst crash, or once things had already gotten better. Besides, there are so many reasons as for why a depression can be prolonged that saying based on this that it was obviously the gold standard's fault is ludicrous, to be honest. There's a million different government policies and economic facts that come into play there. I'd be very interested in seeing how much of the drop in income is explained by the gold standard; I'm willing to bet it is a very small % (when you do statistical analysis on it).
  9. I have a Hyundai Elantra, and I really like it. It's very dependable, maintenance doesn't tend to cost very much, and it gets fairly great gas mileage (I get 33-35 mpg when driving long distances on the highway, which is quite nice). It's pretty spacious, too, even though it's a compact car. Mine is an '05, so not sure if they made a lot of differences since then. I would probably buy another one if my current car dies eventually Oh, I got it at 49k miles, used, about 2 and a half years ago, and it was still under warranty until 60k miles which I thought was pretty nice for a used car. I think the powertrain is 100k miles/10 years, so I'll hit that level pretty soon with how much driving I do.
  10. The European debt crisis probably isn't directly related to the US, but it probably is relevant because of how interwoven the economies are these days, so I thought I'd give my perspective on that in case anyone wants to know . I don't think the whole place is going to fall apart, literally, although it is always possible if they have a major panic and for some reason can't muster the political will to paper over any policy differences and bail out whatever countries they need to. Having said that, the system in Europe is absolutely unsustainable, and in the longer term can't stay together unless all the economies there suddenly pull out of a major tailspin and start growing phenomenally. Further integration probably could force the peripheral countries to live within their means, but I really, sincerely doubt the political will is there. The EU is more and more unpopular, and if it goes on too long there will probably be electoral consequences and I think we'll see more and more anti-Europe parties getting into power. Given how they built the EU, any country can block progress over there so it doesn't take much to throw a spoke in the wheels. I think in the short term they'll probably come up with some new bailout scheme a la TARP, which obviously doesn't fix anything and will likely make matter worse long-term, but it may be enough for them to continue to ignore reality for a while longer. The wildcards there are either one of the core countries putting their foot down (or having elections where someone totally opposed to the bailouts wins), or if one of the peripheral countries decides to leave the Euro, as that will probably get messy. Not end of the world as we know it messy, but if Europe falls off a cliff and they lose half their banks due to government defaults and corresponding insolvencies, our economy will probably also tank because of how big a market the EU is. Having said that, I don't know if there's much we can do about it. I'd say Greek default is inevitable, but then it is hard to overestimate how much governments and central banks can manipulate matters if they really feel the need... We certainly don't have free bond markets by any stretch of the imagination, and the status quo will probably continue until we run out of other people's money. If China does have their real estate bubble implode we'd probably be in trouble
  11. You're welcome. It'd probably have been better for the original quote to have included another sentence or two linking the thoughts. I think the quote you gave is correct, but it relies upon quite a bit of pre-existing knowledge on the part of the reader for it to truly make sense.
  12. For the first question: think about what the term supernatural refers to, in essence. If something is beyond natural, and Nature is that which exists, then something that is beyond nature by definition couldn't exist. The concept doesn't refer to anything in Reality, therefore anything supernatural can be known to be false. The other part of the answer rests upon the idea that positive claims have the burden of proof; it's not up to anyone else to disprove that the supernatural cannot exist... If you think it exists, then you need to provide good evidence as for why that is the case. In the absence of this evidence, any statement saying that supernatural could exist is arbitrary and has no basis to be considered. That explanation depends on a good understanding of how a person can be certain, and what possible means (rationally speaking). But that is probably a separate discussion in itself.
  13. Most of those countries have their own distortions in the housing market; they're certainly not capitalist paradises that are completely unregulated. And in Europe, to a large extent their bubbles had to do with the Eurozone and many of their banks making terrible investments in peripheral countries, the results of which are currently playing out with all the sovereign problems they're having over there. Bank nationalizations are a form of bailouts, because the taxpayer assumes the risk at that point. Granted, it's a more explicit form of government involvement, but you can't argue that nationalizations are somehow not a way of bailing out a corporation. Yes, a nationalization wipes out shareholders, but there's a lot of shenanigans that tend to go on behind the scenes that reward certain groups more than others (see auto bailouts over here, where the unions got fat rewards). Ultimately, CEO oversight is something that should be up to the shareholders of a corporation, and not anyone else. If it takes a few terrible bankruptcies for them to learn this, then so be it. Maybe next time people invest in a company they'll demand more oversight and less risky behavior. Bankruptcy is the only proper, lawful way to resolve these issues.
  14. That is correct, but under Clinton the program was put into overdrive and became a lot more involved in banking practices. That may have been what Thomas was referring to. If it wasn't for the implicit backing of potential losses by the government, a lot of these loans wouldn't have been made because the risk would be too great. Bankers normally don't make terrible loans if it's their own money that is at stake. They're not stupid...
  15. Agreed, the socialization of risk is ultimately what leads to these huge excesses. Even before the '08 crash it was pretty clear from history that the government wouldn't let a big investment bank fail in all likelihood (as they didn't in S&L crisis), so it really wasn't much of a stretch for people to assume that would happen again.