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Hermes

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Hermes last won the day on October 2 2013

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About Hermes

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  • Birthday 11/10/49

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    http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com
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  • Gender
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    Austin, Texas
  • Interests
    Numismatics, aviation.
    The origins of artifacts and institutions.

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    United States
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    Texas
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    Married
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  • Real Name
    Michael E. Marotta
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  • Biography/Intro
    Technical writer and longtime author with over 300 magazine and newspaper publications. I am a former computer programmer. My hobbies include aviation and numismatics. Bachelor of Science. summa cum laude, Criminology Administration. Master of Arts in Social Science. Areas of concentration: fraud and misconduct in scientific research; transnational and global crime.
  • Experience with Objectivism
    "Basic Principles of Objectivism" (Cleveland, Ohio; 1966-1967). Continuous contact and involvement with Objectivist culture and community. Frequent contributor to Objectivist discussion boards and websites.
  • School or University
    Eastern Michigan University
  • Occupation
    Writer; Criminologist

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  1. History of Banking in the US

    Murray Rothbard was a fraud and a faker. A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II by Murray N. Rothbard, Von Mises Institute, 2002. Pages 119-122 on the Suffolk System. Rothbard begins: “But Dr. George Tivoli, whose excellent monograph, The Suffolk System, we rely on in this study …” Where does Tivoli's work end? On page 120 is a footnote 102 to John Jay Knox's A History of Banking in the United States in support of a quote. Then follows more narrative. Is this a continued paraphrasing of Tivoli? And where is the publication citation for that monograph? I found that original publication about the Suffolk Banking System. Rothbard just used scissors and paste on what was then an obscure work. Today, we have the Internet. What Has Government Done to Our Money?, 2nd ed (Santa Ana: Rampart College, 1974.) Section 7, pages 8-10, ending with footnote 9. No mention of actual private gold coins issued by Bechtlers, Templeton Reid or many others, or of private copper such as Higley's "Granby tokens" or many others throughout history, including “Hard Times” and Civil War issues (Patriotics and Store Cards). “Privately-minted gold coins circulated in California as late as 1848.” (page 10 closing Section 7). The actual use of fractional dollar gold coins in California in 1848-1849 is still much debated. Private gold had a 20-year run in North Carolina, 1831-1852. And again private gold in California was not used "until 1848," but starting in 1848. The coins of Wass-Molitor & Co. (1852-1855), Kellogg & Co. (1854-1855), Schultz & Co. (1851), Mormon Gold (1849-1860), and many other issues would have informed any researcher seeking to understand the substantive topic. Rothbard claimed that kings minted coins. Indeed, they did. So did perhaps a thousand other authorities: bishops, counts, town councils, etc. Kings held no monopolies until much later, and even then only tenuously. Again, relying on my faith in Rothbard, I was brought up short in an online discussion via Usenet's rec.collecting.coins by Francois Velde, a Federal Reserve economist who authored and co-authored books on medieval economics. While I disagree with Velde's theories, I have to accept his facts, which are available to anyone who cares to do the research -- which I did for an article, "Champagne: the Athens of the Middle Ages" for The Celator – and which Rothbard apparently did not. Rothbard completely ignored the error in “Gresham's Conjecture” the evidence of the silver half dime and nickel 5-cent circulating in parallel (as did the nickel 3-cent and silver 3-cent). The National Bank Acts of 1863 required the deposit of gold with the Treasury. In return, banks got Treasury bonds, against which they could issue their own National Bank Notes up to 90% of the value. This was, in fact, a gold-based demand banking system. Moreover, contrary to the baseless claims of Rothbard, state banks did revive and continue up to the 1933 mass closings. Rothbard just tailored his history. And he ignored the rich, varied, and informative history of the Wildcat Era, focusing only on the Federal government as the bogeyman. Discussing the origins of the evil Federal Reserve Bank, Rothbard writes of the Panic of 1907 without a word of the Clearinghouse Scrip that served the banks through the crisis. The vouchers demonstrate an ad hoc market solution to the (highly putative) "problem" of credit contraction. It would have helped to prove the case that the Federal Reserve System was not necessary.
  2. Saving Mr. Banks may be a new invention in modern cinema: a Romanticist biography. It is the story of conflict between Walt Disney and P. J. Traverse, author of the Mary Poppins books. At the end of her writing career, she is out of money. For 20 years, Disney has been offering her a lot of it. But she will not give up final rights to the artistic control of the movie. She says at least twice that Mary Poppins is like family to her. We see why in flashbacks. Talking to his writers, Disney says that he understands her well: at one point, when "I was just a kid from Missouri," he had been offered a lot of money for Mickey Mouse. "It would have killed me to do it. Mickey was family to me." Ultimately, they have the same values, but diametrically opposite goals: both want control of the production; and both are right to expect that. Some of the facts were tailored for the story. In the end, Walt Disney comes to Pamela Traverse Goff and tells her his story, to free her from her own. If I understand the facts from various Internet presentations and discussions, it was Roy Disney who went to London to negotiate the contract. But such is historical fiction; and as romanticist fiction, it was necessary for the integration of plot and theme; and nothing was lost. My wife, (and daughter) and I have stayed for the credits for 30 years, ever since Brain Storm. You never know where your friends have been working. It is also our tribute to the creators, the artists, the production workers who made the movie. Watching Atlas Shrugged in the theaters, we enjoyed a final moment of epilogue that many people missed. So, too, here, did the credits roll over a final scene that substantiated a crucial element in establishing the ground truth of the film. That was convenient for all the people fishing for handkerchiefs and tissues. I always have one laundered and ironed. Fortunately, I had another in my jacket for my wife. Added by Michael E. Marotta on 12/26, 8:40am
  3. Returning to his alma mater at the University of Texas, Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute spoke to a packed lecture room at the McCombs School of Business, on December 3, 2013. Contrasting Bill Gates with LeBron James and Mother Teresa, he said that we accept huge salaries for sports heroes because we can conceptualize what they do. “We all shoot baskets, and we know how bad we are at it.” Public opinion is that corporate officers do not deserve their rewards because few people actually operate businesses. Moreover, our culture has a dominant morality of altruism and unselfishness; and business is all about self-interest. He then engaged the audience to identify the virtues required by the marketplace. Hard work honesty, discipline, persistence, long-range thinking, and justice were offered; and he expanded on each. He summed them up with the virtue of passion. “Business is all about self-interest,” he said. In the popular mind, Brook said, the worst thing about Bill Gates is that he enjoys charity. “We would prefer that he give it all away, live in a tent, and if he could bleed a little, that would be perfect.” On the other hand, Mother Teresa is considered moral not only because her work was for others, but also because she did not enjoy it. Brook also identified guilt as a dominant motivator for charity. Pointing to the Occupy movement, he agreed with their condemnation of crony capitalism. However, he drew from the earlier discussion to point out that few people can conceptualize what investment bankers do. We shoot baskets, so we understand LeBron James. We own computers, so we “get” Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. In order to appreciate investment capitalism, “people must be conceptual and must think about it right.” He added that in the hierarchy of production, bankers are responsible for the greatest range of value creation. Brook urged the UT business majors to reject the morality of selflessness and to adopt a philosophy of self-interest, egoism, rationality, productivity and achievement. During the Q&A he cited The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, by Arthur Herman. Brook identified education as the only way to reverse the trend of statism and decline. He asked his audience to think ahead to the year 2050. “It’s going to take a generation or two or three.”
  4. Over 3500 people contributed $446,907 toward a $250,000 goal to fund the advertising budget for Atlas Shrugged, Part III: "Who is John Galt?" If you go to the site and make the effort to load the full list, you can see all the names. I found no easy way to read the full roll of contributors until I loaded it with repetitive keystrokes. The list is in chronological order. Consequently, at at the top is the roster of early supporters who themselves have kickstarted tens, even hundreds, of other projects, including this one though they may not be Objectivist or even "objectivish" at all. I am there near the bottom. I took it to the last minute while I worked to bring home a contract that would let me sign up for the $1000 commitment. As it was, I bought the t-shirt. You may recognize people you know from this board or others. The link to the Atlas Shrugged pages of Kickstarter is: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atlasshrugged/atlas-shrugged-movie-who-is-john-galt Or go to www.Kickstarter.com and look for Atlas Shrugged. You can also go to the Galts Gulch discussion board (http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/) and find the Movie site via the top menu bar. And the movie has a separate URL - http://www.atlasshruggedmovie.com/ They will put you on their weekly email list, if you want. If you sign on the Galt's Gulch site as a Producer for $3.95 per month billed to your card, you will have access to the "Producers Lounge" where you can find special features, such as Frank Lloyd Wright's design for Ayn Rand's home. The most recent is a video made in 1993 to promote investment in the movie. That film includes encouragement and support from Leonard Peikoff.
  5. If you enter "Atlas Shrugged Part 3 kickstarter" in your search engine, you will find that the mass media bloggers from Time to Salon and beyond are having a great time not stating the facts. The goal of the kickstarter was to put $250,000 into the advertising budget of the movie. The purpose of the campaign was to let people get involved. The producers did not need the quarter million dollars -- but money is always nice to have. What they offered was a hierarchy of values based on your willingness and ability to buy into the process. For $35 you get a special T-shirt. For $1000 you get your name listed in the roll-up of the credits at the end of the movie. You can buy a signed film cell, or a specially endorsed DVD, and several other mementos. These are vanity gifts, indeed, and if you want one, you can still buy one. The deadline is October 23.
  6. Our ideas about intellectual property are rooted in medieval law about real estate. Patents are given to the “first” inventor (which is defined differently by different laws) and deny the reality of independent invention. Rational law would recognize that all independent inventors have the rights to the products of their own minds. Also, rather than expiring, intellectual property would continue forever, like any other kind of property. Johanna Blakely of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California has a TED Talk about the importance of copying to the multi-trillion dollar fashion markets. Copying is how trends develop. The buyers of originals are not the buyers of knock-offs (and vice versa). In fashions no patents or copyrights exist. Only trademarks are protected. We still think of property as if it were land. You cannot copy land. Therefore, you must not copy an automobile transmission. No two farmers can plow the same land at the same time, so no two engineers can be allowed to develop the same process at the same time. On a deeper psychological level, our laws on intellectual property are founded on a false doctrine of jealousy in love, which is based on a lack of self-esteem, and the desire to own and control another human being. “This is mine and no one can have it.” That is fine, for things that really are yours. Other people and the content of their minds are not yours. We have examples of the value of the opposite mindset. In 1661 Robert Boyle's "Sceptical Chymist" explained why the secretive methods of alchemy had to be replaced by open publication of reproducible results. It was a radical idea. The proud (arrogant, in fact) creative people in the Homebrew Computer Club came together to show off their work. They shared ideas by implicit trade. Those who had something cool were highly regarded. It made the computer revolution possible. However, it was not to last. Look at your computer display. Open a window. Make it smaller by dragging the corner up. That is a logical XOR, either the bit is on or the bit is off. From that, one window overlays another, wholly or partially. That became a patent. Someone claimed it, years after it was standard operating procedure. Patents are defined as broadly as possible in order to secure their rights against any and all similar but different competitors. Take xerography, for example. Many different chemical combinations and many different processes can be engaged to create copies of images. Xerox wants (wanted) not just a patent on the one they actually developed, but they use the one they actually developed as evidence of their claim to all other possible variations. Then when someone else does the same thing a different way, suits at law are supposed to sort that out, as if courts (judges, juries) are competent to evaluate any and every new technology. 3-D printing is now being developed by independent technologists in many different ways. Will someone then be able to claim the rights to all of them? I see Henry Ford in his motorcar. I can build one, too. Of course mine will be materially different for many basic reasons - basic, metaphysical reasons from the nature of human intelligence. A generation ago, computer programming instructors figured out that in any average introductory class, no two students will ever (likely) produce similar programs, even for the most basic of assignments. Therefore, any two programs that are arbitrarily "too similar" may easily be evidence of copying (cheating). So, too, with other inventions. It would take an intellectual effort - having first stolen the plans - to slavishly copy without making any changes. Even when you have the blueprints, you may well lack the special insight of the original inventor. A process could be documented completely but its failure modes might be known only to the inventor. Enter “early automobile patents” (and similar phrases) into your search engine. The internal combustion engine itself was patented, of course, even though it is only a recombination of James Watts' steam engine. I mean the valves and chambers. The only new idea was putting the flame inside the engine, a tough nut to crack, indeed, but many ways to achieve it. Sparkplugs are the common solution, but Rudolph Diesel's engines achieved combustion by pressure alone, though modern engines do have "glow plugs." And on and on it goes. Some libertarians attempt to justify property rights on the assertion (from John Locke) that you "mix your labor" with it to earn the right to it. Undeveloped frontier land is offered as an example. But what if you choose a buy-and-hold strategy, keeping the land as wilderness to watch its value increase as other property is developed? Also, applied to commercial and financial markets, this "mix your labor" theory would nullify any buy-and-hold investment strategy. Applied consistently in a libertarian utopia, you might lose your ownership in a joint-stock company if you fail to vote your shares, or otherwise display an active interest in the company's operations. Finally, when you steal someone's invention - unquestionable theft, let us grant: you steal the blueprints from the bedroom vault - if you have only stolen the ideas, then in order to profit from them, you must also "mix your labor" even if only to sell the plans to someone else. Clearly this "mix your labor" theory cannot support even the right to land. It surely cannot be used to define and protect intellectual property. Read about the case of Charles M. Gentile and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. It is an example of the false philosophy behind such laws. Gentile was sued for his images of this public building. Architect I. M. Pei claimed all rights to the image. The museum was built with public money. It sits wide open to be seen from anywhere. After being sued, Gentile was ordered to destroy all copies of his work. Eventually an appeals court reversed the ruling at a cost of about $2 million to the artist. Interestingly, about 100 such buildings are protected by similar copyrights, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Chrysler Building. (The NYSE Facade is a copy of a copy of a copy. See The Parthenon.) Alternately, if an invention is property then, it never ceased to be property. The government would act like a land office, registering the ownership deed. But land is finite and limited in occupation by the laws of physics. Ideas have no such limitation. So, independent invention and discovery must be allowed. But granted that, the property exists forever. Instead we have a mystical fiction that 17 years or some other magic number is the correct length of time for a patent. Right now under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a work is protected for the life of the artist plus 75 years, or plus 90 if the work is sold to a corporation. That is not rational, but just arbitrary.
  7. The best of all possible worlds… At least that is what the progressives claimed when their hidden Administration finally bankrupted the national governments of Earth in the construction of huge Domes into which humanity was bottled up. This is the world of 2084. For about 60 years, everyone has known only a planned and monitored life of balanced nutrition, daily exercise, and public transportation within a sealed environment. Travel is possible for those who are assigned to it. Among them is Elliot Fintch: he has been assigned to Mars. Fintch is an “eductor.” Identified as a child as being capable of thought (COT), he has been cared for, groomed, educated, transitioned, and placed. His assignments require the rare thinking that makes him valuable. But no one is irreplaceable and Fintch must be careful always to avoid any statement of disloyalty. He could be trapped by a secret agent of the Administration. He could be turned in by a watchful citizen. Nonetheless, he believes in his work because he knows nothing else. He does not know that his wife was arrested for disloyalty while he was in the shower. Swept from the kitchen, she was gone. He was told that she left. Flexible in his thought patterns, Fintch adjusts to the new reality, though it leaves him unhappy. His own problems must take second place (or less) to the challenge he has been given. The Mars colony has been the site of gruesome, seemingly causeless murders. The Administration is sending him because his special abilities for intuitive and insightful thinking are their hope. From the huge complex of Domes that connect Phoenix with San Diego, by ship to Costa Rica, and underwater to Ecuador and then off-planet via Elevator, Elliot Fintch is confronted by people outside his experience. For a man who has had superior access to mountains of information, he is woefully inexperienced. All the people he knows are bureaucrats. Now he has to deal with people who (however law-abiding they may seem or be) are different – different from him; different from each other. But Fintch is intelligent and determined; and he never stops thinking. This novel stands on its own; but it also rests on a set of short stories, Fallacies of Vision, set closer to our own time. Both are available as Kindle downloads on Amazon. (Shadows costs $4.99; Fallacies is 99 cents.) Not a Kindle person myself, I found it easy to put the software on my Macintosh and enjoy the reads. Ashinoff is clearly and consciously a political conservative. (We met on the “Galt’s Gulch” website of the Atlas Shrugged movie producers.) The opening story in Fallacies of Vision, “Erosion” won him undeserved condemnation from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  8. Choice to live

    Doctors know that patients die despite everything being done to help them live. When infants die in that manner, it is called "failure to thrive." The the so-called "choice" to live is actually a meta-choice, the denial of choice, a blanking out, a retreat, the surrender of will.
  9. The origin of "making money"

    A speech at the American Numismatic Association convention. #076 THE PUZZLING ORIGIN OF THE DOLLAR SIGN ($) (Chicago, 1991) by Eric P. Newman. The origin of the symbol and the date of the first use of the dollar sign ($) in written form is explained. 1.0 hrs. "The dollar sign : its written and printed origin" by Eric P. Newman. In: Kleeberg, John M., ed. Coinage of the Americas Conference. Proceedings No. 9. America's silver dollars, New York: American Numismatic Society,c1995 p. 1-49 pp. 5-16 Vol. 70, No. 2 (Feb. 1957), pp. 137-147. Basically, the dollar sign evolved from a ligature for Pesos. Ps. Its origin is traced to a merchant in Florida.
  10. Three Strikes laws

    It is a fact that the average "first offender" has committed something like 35 felonies before first being sentenced to jail or prison. That is the deeper problem you identify. However, it is also true at 20% of the goods on the market have no clear title. We Objectivists too easy glide "fraud" along with "force." We can say that your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins. Whether, when, and to what extent you have misinformed me about the fitness of use or merchantability of your product is less readily defined. As for force, people are given to it. It is a fact of human nature; and it often happens that the initial aggressor only becomes the last victim. How much time elapses, what intervening events occured, are factors. You think of a person walking down the street suddenly attacked and robbed. That happens. Knowing that my bachelor's is in criminology, for a graduate class in Geographic Information Systems, the professor assigned me a project in crime mapping. It is generally useless. I demonstrated my initial point by showing a map of our campus with so many pins that you could not see the buildings. So, yes, that kind of crime does happen. But it is not the majority of police business. In 85% of cases, the victim knows their assailant: it was personal. The assailant may well still be a bad person deserving of harsh punishment -- but that is not an easy determination except in the abstract. In real life, victimology is an important part of criminology. Often, they both need to be prosecuted, just to get their attention. A criminal justice system based on Objective Law would look very little like the retributionist violence that we call "justice" now in a society of mixed premises, many of which are based on Biblical teachings of divine wrath softened by redemption through sacrifice.
  11. Three Strikes laws

    OK, what is N? Why 3 and not 1 or 4 or 12? How do you objectively decide that number? Case 1: Brooklyn Burrough, New York City. A common street scam is for one member of a gang to sell one dollar "raffle tickets" for "big giveway" inside this storefront, a $1000 flatscreen or whatever. When enough people are inside, a different guy comes out from the back and says there's only a few of you here and I'm going to draw one ticket, but we thought we'd sell 1000 tickets and we need to sell them, so who wants to buy more chances at a dollar each to win this $1000 flatscreen. And he sells 10 or 100 or 1000 more tickets and he says that he needs to get something or someone and he leaves. They all left. It's a scam. Later in the day, one of the marks sees them and confront. They beat him up. Satisfied with themselves, they walk over to a bar and get drunk, jaywalk, confront the motorist and bash out the car's headlights. They are arrested. Everything comes out in court. Three strikes. Case 2: Outside Seneca Falls, near where County Road 118 becomes County House Road, Clem sells a blind horse to Charlie. Later that day, they duke it out. But they kiss and make up and go into a bar and get drunk, get into Clem's car and immediately hit a street lamp -- and it all comes out in court. Three strikes. ... and hey, why not, four?
  12. Discrimination Laws

    What if you went into a convenience store and behind the counter, a sign said "Death to Americans." It is the business owner's right, is it not? And you would be offended, of course, and never shop there again. What if the sign was a cartoon making fun of an ethnic group? Would you be so offended as to never shop there again, or would you figure that the goods and services were worth the price, as long as you are not personally offended? What if the sign said, "I hate fags." Or "Marriage is one man and one woman in the sight of God." Or "Vote Yes to Raise the Sales Tax." A rational person does not sanction their destroyers. But at some level, I had to accept that every pizza I enjoyed was made by someone who posted icons of the Pope and President Kennedy. You have to pick your battles. Right wing ideologies are common among numismatists. They understand gold and silver. They relate to the 19th century values evidenced in the coins and currencies of those times. But that is a broad range and we have no shortage of old times not forgotten racists on the bourse floor. I never shop among them. I was in a shop when the owner was making fun of Scientologists. I did not disagree with him in substance, but I believe that a good merchant never argues religion with his customers. I never bought anything there again. The claim that a business has a right to discriminate is rooted in an earlier time when the shop and the home were one structure with the store open to the street and the living quarters in back or on top. "A man's home is his castle" is an aphorism from a time of looting and hoarding, when might made right. The modern retail emporium was created in the 19th century, from Alexander Turney Stewart to Aaron Montgomery Ward. This was when the ethics of business changed from "Caveat emptor" to "The customer is always right." No longer an armed lord behind a castle wall, the merchant's "Welcome" mat became an open contract with the public. Does a business have a right to discriminate on the basis of religion? Do you have a right to smoke crack? Does a rational person act contrary to their self interest? Objectivism is a philosophy of fact, reason, happiness, congeniality, and achievement. I allow that other people have every right to be idiots, but mass idiocy is not the goal here. If there is a public message -- and the creation and sales of books, and the existence of this discussion forum are all evidence of that publicity -- it is that each individual regards each other individual on the basis of their character, their merit as an intelligent and productive, honest and open, partner in a society where respect for others grows from self-respect.
  13. If an Objectivist posts in a forum, does he make sense?
  14. Three Strikes laws

    It is difficult to discuss without being specific: different states have different laws. Also, you say "crime" but even among felonies, there are "Category I" and "Category II" crimes, with Arson being less severe than theft of an automobile. (It's OK for a businessman to torch his establishment, but stealing a car is like stealing a cowboy's horse.) So, as you note, there are specific problems. The general problem is that such laws remove discretion from the bench. No law can give all the whereas and wherefor contingenices, but the judge has all the case files and can see circumstance that might warrant the harshest penalties on the first or second offense for one person and not for the fourth of fifth of another. Three strike laws replace the bench with legislation, crossing the lines of separation of powers. But, I grant that so far, we are philosophizing, not discussing facts. I read the Wikipedia article and I note that generally all of of egregious cases involved habitual offenders. Minor though their crimes were, they were the repeat customers of the criminal justice business. (more later)
  15. Franchises and special interests?

    Greebo, clearly, several companies make pencils and a few others also make jet fighter craft. While a contract for a million pencils or a hundred jets is clearly a win, that does not in itself create a monopoly. Others are not prevented from entering the market for other buyers. A franchise is just a kind of monopoly - street car franchise; ferry boat franchise. We understand that. Assuming some common understanding about the way businesses and individuals organize their affairs, nothing prevents you from stopping at McDonald's on the way home from the supermarket and once home, picking your own tomatoes off your vines. You - and even a large corporation - always multisource. In fact, the very existence of AMD versus Intel is based on the broad need for second sources of the same devices -- and Intel is more or less happy to sell a fraction of their licensing to a competitor because doing do strengthens their market position. Government does not work that way. Whether it is by open bid - usually the case here and now - or by the "arsenal" model - one governmental entity creates something for use by other agencies and departments - the modality is exclusionary. The basic assumption of government is a zero-sum game. The basic assumption of business is win-win: competitors cooperate for mutual profit. As long as there is a government, there will be special favors, insider deals, a military industrial complex, a revolving door between industries and agencies. I am not arguing against government. I am just saying that this is the wsy things always will be of necessity. And it is not entirely bad. I just added a post to my blog, "Unlimited Constitutional Government."
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