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Posts posted by punk

  1. "Demand"... here we have another problematic conceptualization, because economic demand is not the same thing as desire.

    Demand is desire.

    Economically my ability to act on that desire is based on my other desires and the amount of money I have.

    If the price of a commodity falls low enough demand is exactly desire - I will take as much as I desire.

    In fact, for plenty of us there are things that we consume exactly at the level of desire. For instance I probably drink as much coffee as I want to, as I don't have a budget that requires I consider not drinking coffee to save money.

    There are plenty of things I would start consuming if the price dropped a bit. That means I have the present desire to consume them, and would act on that as soon as prices enabled me to.

    In effect I'm demanding it, and the market hasn't reacted to push prices downward so I can act on that demand.

    Well, I do agree that this discussion of concepts takes the discussion away from whether the government's health care plan is a good one or not. However, you're the one who raised the issue of concepts, with your objection to "rationing".

    I simply said "rationing" was a red herring, as all markets perform rationing.

    This would be like objecting to a new model of car because it releases carbon monoxide...silly since most all cars now release carbon monoxide.

    It is in fact context-dropping, since avoids the context that health care is presently rationed by means of market mechanisms.

    A sound argument has to show how market mechanisms ration something better than government mechanisms, not imply that rationing would be some new phenomenon.

    Not only did you object to the use of the concept of "rationing", but you called it "dishonest". To call such usage dishonest is ridiculous. My granny used to tell me how they had rationing during the war; when I was young, households were issued "ration-cards" that they could use to buy a few food products; the Encyclopedia Brittanica explains rationing as "government policy consisting of the planned and restrictive allocation of scarce resources and consumer goods, usually practiced during times of war, famine, or some other national emergency." Are all these people not just mistaken, but dishonest?

    If so, the next concept we need to explore is "dishonesty".

    That is simply a non-market-based rationing scheme. The alternative is a market-based rationing scheme.

    The problem in your granny's day was that they had a shortage of things for civilian use due to diverting things for the war effort. The shortage would have existed regardless. The government chose to ration, the free market would have raised prices substantially.

    Those are both rationing.

    They both find a way to distribute scarce goods.

    Either way people aren't getting all the goods they would like to because there isn't enough to go around.

  2. I think I see what's causing confusion for you: context-dropping.

    "Supply" and "demand" make sense only in the context of a market of producers and consumers, with some medium of exchange. If you do not have the medium of exchange to buy a product, you are not a buyer. This means you are not "demand" in the "supply and demand" sense.

    Not at all.

    If I am in the village at the lake there is a supply of water. It is there and people can take.

    Nobody produced the water, but there is a supply.

    You can have a supply without any producer.

    The Earth has a supply of air, and we all breathe it, but no one made it.

  3. If you don't ahve money for a good or service then you're not part of the demand for that good or service. Wanting something is not the same thing as being able to get it.

    What you're saying is, in essence, that if the market cannot supply everyone with a free ride, then certain thigns are scarce and must be rationed by charging money for them.

    The point being we aren't talking about "shortages" and "rationing" any more. We are talking about something deeper about the nature of markets, supply, and demand.

    Recall, my point was that "shortages" and "rationing" already occur any free market, so simply pointing out that they will occur in a nationalized system is pointless.

    The only reasonable definition I can think of for "shortage" is that there exists someone that wants something and can't get it.

    That's so wrong I don' even know where to begin correcting it.

    Every time I read something like this, I always substitute the following:

    "I dogmatically think the contrary, but I don't really know why, and can't explain myself so I'm going to do some posturing".

    If you can't explain yourself, then you don't know what you are talking about.

    So, briefly:

    Things have a price in the market because making them wasn't free. The people who make goods or provide services naturally want to recoup their costs and make a profit.

    Scarcity means the supply is insufficient to meet the demand for a given item or service. Demand, I say, not wishes.

    If you want to spout off some more innacuracies, go right ahead.

    Again, all of this goes beyond "shortage" and "rationing".

    So why should a grounded thinker settle for setting up a simplistic "shortage" and "rationing" argument against nationalization?

    I generally guess that when people try to stay with superficial buzz-words that they have no idea why the hold the view they do.

  4. That's self-evident and irrelevant. The question is whether the supply si sufficient to meet the demand. IN a free amrket under normal conditions it usually is. During abnormal conditions, such as emergencies, it may not be.

    In practice supply never meets demand. There are always people who want something but cannot get it.

    What happens in a free market is that money is introduced and prices are set so that the demand for something given the price one has to pay for it meets supply.

    I have plenty of demand for things I cannot afford.

    I'd love to have my own private jet, it just so happens I don't have enough money. Thus the supply of jets and things like fuel don't meet demand, and prices are introduced to ration jets and aviation fuel.

  5. No, this way of conceptualizing it makes the word completely meaningless. This way, there is a shortage of anything that has any price. By this conceptualization, there is a shortage of rubber bands and of Rolls Royces, and of everything else in between. Again, I realize that some economists use the word that way, but it is not a standard meaning, nor is it useful.

    There is a shortage of everything that has a price.

    If there wasn't a shortage it wouldn't have a price.

    If I live in the only small village on a large fresh water lake, then there is no shortage of water (the resource is effectively infinite), so no one is going to pay anything for water and there will be no market in water.

    If I live in a village in the middle of a desert there is a shortage of water, and so water has a definite price, and there is a market for water.

    It is exactly the case that by having a price a commodity is effectively finite in amount (unlike the water in the first example) and thus is subject to shortage.

    A price always means there is more demand than supply (so people want more of the commodity than they can get).

    "Shortage" can only mean people want more of something than is available. If there isn't anyone around to say "I couldn't get all of the commodity that I wanted" then there wouldnt' be a shortage.

    "Shortage" means the same thing as there is a finite supply.

    You are trying to set up some sort of strawman and decide the argument by playing with words.

    But if you would like to come up with a rigorous and non-arbitrary definition of shortage different than what I said above, I'd like to see it.

  6. Punk ... we're talking about government control of the health care system, which leads to shortages and thus rationing and long lines. That doesn't happen in the free market.

    I highly recommend this excellent video critique of the Canadian single payer system.

    This is by Steven Crowder of PJTV. Steven went to Canada and, with his friends up there, found out how the system works. It's atrocious and deadly.

    This is what the current government is trying to force down our throats. It's a form of death.

    Shortages *do* happen in a free market.

    A "shortage" simply means someone not getting the health care they want.

    In a free market there is still a finite amount of "health care" to go around, it is distributed by how much one is willing to pay, and if you don't have enough money you don't get it (in fact even if you do have enough money you might not be able to get it if you are unlucky and all the other wealthy types have gotten to it first, say if you want an organ transplant).

    Stop talking like there is somehow an infinite supply of health care in a free market.

    There isn't an infinite supply of anything.

    There are already health care "shortages" by virtue of the simple fact that people want health care but cannot get it.

    Let's imagine (to make things simple) that health care can be ranked in coverage from 1 to 5 so it takes more money to get the higher ranked coverage.

    That means that if I can only afford health care of rank 2, then I am not getting health care of the higher ranks. Thus for me this care is effectively "rationed" because there is a "shortage". I can't get all the health care I want.

    Now suppose the national system is effectively saying everyone gets health care at rank 3. So it is rationed, and rich people no longer can get the level 4 or 5 health care, but for me, I'm happy because I'm getting more care than I got before.

    Effectively this is rerationing health care by getting rid of the investment in the really high end stuff for the few and giving more low end stuff to the many.

    Now don't miss the point here. If you want to advocate the free market and do it intellectually honestly you have to convince the person that is going to get better health care (me in the example) why they are better off in a free market system where they get less health care versus the national system where they are getting more.

    Surely you can use your powers of intellect to analyze that situation without setting up strawmen (such as "shortages" exist in the national system while ignoring "shortages" that exist in the free market - in fact if there were never shortages you wouldn't need a market in the first place, like I said, markets exist to handle shortages).


    So again, how do you explain to someone that the free market as a means of rationing in the face of shortages is better than a government regulated system as a means of rationing in the face of shortages?

  7. There is a certain dishonesty in the way the word "rationing" is tossed around in things like this.

    The fact is health care is already rationed.

    A free market is a way to ration things.

    Rationing is basically how you distribute a scarce resource. In a free market you distribute the scarce resource according to how much people are willing to pay (that is what all that economics of supply and demand is about).

    In any other system you choose a different method of rationing the resource than the amount people are willing to pay.

    So again health care is already rationed. To speak as if rationing only occurs in a non-market system is dishonest, and has a back-handed way of implying there is an unlimited health-care resource in the market system, which is obviously untrue.

    What free market advocates are saying is simply that a free market is the best way to ration things.

    Of course "best" is relative to how you measure how good something is.

    People opposed to national health care have to show that rationing health care via the free market is better than rationing it through government, and stop this nonsense about "rationing" versus "non-rationing".

  8. If freedom were the ultimate political value then we wouldn't have laws, or the people advocating freedom as the "ultimate political value" would all move to the jungle and live however they want to without worrying about anyone else.

    Anybody living in a civilized nation has sacrificed freedom for some other good.

    The fact is, by living in a community you have already acknowledged that benefits come from having freedom limited.

    The question is at what point further limitation of freedom does not come with a corresponding benefit.

  9. In view of that, What should have happened was their ought have been some rational means used to separate the guilty, those who harmed or meant to harm us from the innocent ASAPand the and the innocent made as whole as can be done. Once that was done I would have no qualms about doing to the guilty anything we felt like and the more brutal the better.

    In normal legal parlance this is what is called a "trial".

    The main objection to Gitmo has been the lack of trials to determine guilt.

  10. The number of unique positions is greatly reduced when you account for the fact if you have two positions that are the same except for having colors swapped, or simply having to rotate the whole cube, then they are really the same position.

    I believe Rubik himself wrote a monograph on the mathematics of the cube.

  11. We already have it.

    It is called a "safety deposit box".

    You can get one at the post office.

    Take all your money, put it in the box, and lock it.

    A variation on this for the traditionally minded immigrant is called a "mattress".

  12. The man is 78 years old.

    As such his own death looms larger in his own mind than it has in his past.

    His films are simply increasingly about characters facing their own mortality and finding their own accomodation with death, reflecting the preoccupations of an aging man.

    They are also about people looking back on their own life's work and accomplishments from the perspective of one nearing the end.

    You don't look at an old man's work expecting the preoccupations to be those of a young man.


    By the end of the film it has been established that he is probably dying of lung cancer. Eastwood's character has the option of going out standing on his feet or dying a lingering death in a hospital bed. One can argue it is simply the choice of dying man about how exactly he wants to go out.

  13. I have a problem with 2 valued logic involving the xor problem, which is simpyl that AxorBxorC cannot be construed in such a way that it's incorrect when A, B, and C are all true. So I'm trying to invent a new one.

    So far I've gotten an xor function that returns different values based on which problem occurs: Too many variables or too few.

    x OTU

    O OOO

    T OOT

    U OTU

    The problem is now a proper construction of the original & and |, and of a not table, along with equivalence, which is probably only valid for 2-valued-logic.

    Any help?

    The closest thing to a natural 3-valued logic is intuitionistic logic.

    Have you tried that?

  14. The free market hasn't failed.

    In fact what happened was that a bunch of people sold a bunch of financial instruments at completely incorrect prices and lost money as a result.

    Why were the prices completely incorrect?

    The models used to price the instruments didn't accurately reflect the real behavior of the markets.

    So yes, if everyone is going to go around devising weird exotic financial instruments that they are unable to price correctly then they are all going to lose money to people who can exploit the fact that the prices are all wrong.

  15. I recently learned about the Efficient Market Hypothesis in my Micro-economics course. When I first heard about it from my professor, i was kind of shocked that such an idea exists. Anyway, I did some research, and now it makes even less sense! According to EMH, the market right now reflects all predictable current and future trends for the different investment possibilities, so it is impossible to predict what stocks will do well.

    My problems is that there are deviations, and not just the statistical kind. If there was a plumber or someone that made a fortune like Warren Buffet, I would believe because that would mean that it really is just random. But all of these people are extremely well educated.

    What do more knowledgeable people here think though.

    It isn't remotely true but it makes the math a lot easier.

    I believe Buffet said something to the effect of "If the Efficient Market Hypothesis were true I'd be living on skid row".

    If markets were efficient your investments would have substantially lower returns.

    The fact is none of EMH CAPM MPT and the rest of the standard basket of economic theory is correct and that is part of the reason we are having all these financial problems right now.

    All the risk models were all wrong so no one was hedged against the event the has happened.

  16. As the previous poster said a state is a legal self-governing entity and a nation is a group of people that sees themselves as a natural unit of some sort.

    There was an ideal of a "nation state" where the state would correspond with a nation. Europe spent the roughly 500 years up to WWII brutally pruning its populations in an attempt to create nation states, and is the nearest any old world area has gotten to having nation states.

    Many of the problems in Africa and Asia have stemmed from the fact that the notion of "nation state" isn't dead and the groups in power have been trying to eliminate minorities to create actual European-style nation states.

  17. In John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government", published in the late 17th century, he uses the phrase "Life, Liberty, and Property". Less than a century later, Thomas Jefferson uses the phase "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". Why would Jefferson replace "Property" with the "Pursuit of Happiness"? Doesn't the "Pursuit of Happiness" go hand-in-hand with "Liberty"? Did Jefferson have a reason to leave out "Property"? This is a question that has bugged me for some time.

    I've always heard that he originally did use "Property".

    Remember the Declaration of Independence was subject to approval by a committee.

    I believe it was felt that using the word "Property" wasn't going to resonate with the poorer population, that it would make the Revolution sound like it was for rich people and the poor people were just fodder.

    So, for PR purposes it was changed to "Pursuit of Happiness".

  18. Is Sarah Palin a creationist? blog entries dated Friday, August 29, 2008.

    The characterization of Gov. Sarah Palin as a "nutty creationist" is wrong. As normal, rural blue-collar background American who doesn't really give a shit about abstract ideas and doesn't let her belief in god get in the way of living a typical materialist pragmatic American life, permitting both evolution and creationism in the schools seems like a politician's safe way out of a pointless debate. I agree. I was given a brief creationist presentation in high school and am none the worse for it, because it is obvious to students who care about ideas which of the two is plausible. I also learned phlogiston theory when introduced later to thermodynamics, and the flat earth theory in grade school at the beginning of geography. The contrast between opposing theories is a great way to learn to apply critical thinking skills. When schools are government financed, it is a form of censorship to permit only a single viewpoint to be presented when a large minority objects. The real way out of this conflict is to end government control of schools.

    People who care about the truth will find it, those who do not care do not matter. When teaching evolution is banned, when freedom of speech is diminished, then we are in trouble.

    We live in an increasingly technological and science-based world.

    I, personally, find the prospect of electing any leader that would let some bronze age texts trump the latest scientific investigations to be concerning - to say the least.

    Are policies going to be based on the facts on the ground - good or bad, or theology?

    The US is falling behind in biotech because of misguided policies by the present administration. This is one of the major future branches of research.

    Where would the US be if some administration had outlawed investigation into the steam engine?

  19. I cant think of an argument that can make the case that turning the country over to Obama, Reed and Pelosi is a good idea. Since it seems certain that Reed and Pelosi will keep their leadership positions, the only rational choice in this election would be a vote for Mccain. Aside from keeping the 'Axis of Evil' from controlling of the US government, there are side benefits to a McCain victory that should not be overlooked. First, a Mccain victory will demonstrate to future Republicans that towing the line of the religious right is not the only path of success in politics. It will succeed in further marginalizing the role of Evangelicals in the Republican Party. A Mccain loss will do the opposite. Should he lose the election, his failure to woo the religious right will get the blame, thus only strengthening the hold of religion over the Republican Party.

    As for the Democrats, an Obama loss might get them to conclude that nominating extreme left-wing candidates is a recipe for electoral disaster. That seems unlikely since they didnt seem to learn from the Clinton/DLC example, but instead continued along the path of defeat paved by Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry and now, possibly Obama.

    How does this calculus play out now that McCain has chosen a nutty creationist as his running mate?

  20. That analogy is not relevant. No one is asking the kid to play with only part of his potential. Besides, I think to play at anything but your best is wrong. I think it is wrong to play at half your potential (or some other non-100% proportion) just to placate the less skilled and play them.

    ADDITION: A solution that results in everyone winning has already been mentioned: trial the kid in a higher league.

    Okay then here is the solution:

    1. We let the kid play

    2. Every other team forfeits their games with the kid's team

    3. Before the season even start we give the kid's team the first place trophy

    4. Everyone else has a really fun time playing to see who comes in second

    Problem solved.

    Well except for those other kids on the kid's team who wanted to have some fun playing the game.


    The fact is you can't force all the other kids to play against this really good kid. If they all want to forfeit their games with him that is their own business.

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