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  1. For those with a serious interest in this topic, I strongly recommend the book, "Breaking the Banks: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions" (1990) by Richard Salsman. I read it years ago and when I have time I will re-read it. It is not specifically about fractional reserve banking, but it is a historical analysis of banking in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some interesting facts. During the free banking era (1837-1863), when banking was closest to laissez-faire, reserve ratios were around 42%. That compares with today's reserve ratios of something like 5%. In the free banking era, banks willingly chose to keep very large reserves. It was not 100% reserve banking, but 42% reserve banking. Salsman shows how reserve ratios progressively fell as the government socialized credit more extensively. In the post-Civil War period, the ratios were 20%-25%. Then after the Federal Reserve was established in 1913, ratios fell further until today's approximately 5% levels. Such data suggests to me that the problem is not fractional reserve banking, but central banking. Remember, central banking is about centralizing reserves. Reserves are principally held at the central bank, instead of at the individual banks. Also, a central bank acts as a lender of last resort. Finally, a central bank inflates. These facts induce banks to keep minimal reserves. With minimal reserves, the "multiplier effect" is greatest and the problems attributed to fractional reserve banking emerge. Thin fractional reserve margins are the result of central banking. The culprit is central banking, not the fact that banks operate with less than 100% reserves.
  2. I am glad to hear you are able to talk to at least your mother about the situation, and she has stated she will not permit your father to throw you out. I agree with the comments that you should make short and longer-term plans now. Have an emergency plan ready, to stay with an uncle, a friend, etc. Longer-term, save money as rapidly as you can. Apply to college, get student loans. Prepare aggressively to be independent. I also have to agree with Thomas Miovas that lying would be psychologically harmful. Nevertheless, if your father really were someone who truly meant it when he said he would throw you out on the street a few days hence because of your atheism, then lying is entirely appropriate, and would be far less harmful to you than being without money and home. You would use the time gained from lying to prepare quickly to move out in an orderly manner. I can relate to your experience on a personal level. When I told my father that I was an atheist and did not want to go to church any more at the age of 15, he reacted in a violent manner. I ran away from home and after spending a night on the beach, I concluded that I had no choice but to go back home, even if it meant going to church. I simply was too young and ill-prepared to be suddenly on my own. Once back home, I did exactly what I am advising you to do (although I never lied about believing in God). Through my efforts, less than two years later, I was in college, and glad to be away from parents who acted as if I did not have a mind of my own. I never regretted going back to my parents' house that morning, nor did I regret my subsequent moves that prepared me to get out of the house in a way where I wasn't harmed.
  3. Montrevux, If you are being coerced in this way by your parents, I would lie now and then get the hell out of there as fast as you can. Your parents have no right to just chuck you out of the house with no money the day you turn 18. Nor do they have the right to give away your possessions. It is not immoral to lie in this situation. Lie blatantly. If they are so self-evading that they pretend they believe you, then they are even more damned than I thought. Protect yourself. Lying for a short period of time in this situation is not wrong. It is not a "sin." When you are ready, go forth and live a happy, independent life. Best wishes, GB
  4. John, I have discovered a new fallacy of argument in reading your posts. I would call it the "Fallacy of Streaming Arguments." With all due respect, you throw out so many floating ideas that it is impossible to engage them. I will make just two points in response. First, I find your dismissal of the record of 19th century banking unconvincing. Your key argument is basically that people were ignorant. Therefore, although millions of economic actors, both businesses and individuals, found it in their self-interest to participate in a system of gold-based fractional reserve banking, their decisions taken as a whole were motivated by ignorance. Once that ignorance is lifted by the injection of rational philosophy, in a pure, laissez-faire world people will reject fractional reserve banking. In form, your argument reminds of the argument for the "New Soviet Man," the perfect, selfless man who will emerge once true communism is achieved. Reason was not invented by Objectivism, although it was properly validated by it. Men in the 19th century were certainly capable of acting in their rational and well-informed self-interest. They usually did so. Proof was the result that the 19th century was the most productive century of human progress up to that point in human history. I cannot look at the achievements in railroads, steel, electricity, etc., and then say that the achievements in finance and banking were based on mass ignorance. Second, I believe you are obfuscating the alleged problems of fractional reserve banking with actual problems caused by central banking and other government interventions. Artificial stimulations and contractions of money caused by a Fed whose policies are unmoored by gold are the principal cause of every financial panic and the ensuing recessions and inflations we have suffered. That was even true in the 19th century because even then government intervened in banking, although not nearly at the scale we see today. Other interventions that have undercut the stability of our financial system include deposit insurance and Fed-sponsored bailouts of large financial institutions under the "too big to fail" premise. These two factors socialize risk-taking so that individual financial institutions feel emboldened to take excessively risky actions. The institutions know that there is a partial "put" on their actions because the Fed will bail them out if things degenerate too far. We see this today with the massive liquidity injections into major banks such as Citibank and the Fed's decision to assume (i.e., socialize) $30 billion of Bear Stearns debt. Moreover, the nature of our mixed economy itself leads to financial instability. In a mixed economy, no rule is fixed, every law is subject to change. All sectors of our economy, including banks, are buffeted by a swirl of changing laws and regulations that can only create uncertainty and instability. What is a binding contract one day becomes a worthless piece of paper the next day, because of a new Fed, SEC or Congressional rule. This process is made worse by the bankers themselves. Knowing that rules can be changed, they lobby to change rules to give themselves special exemptions and favors. Some of these are legitimate; others are rules that may permit poor lending practices or deceptive accounting practices. Blame the mixed economy here. If government has the power to rewrite laws, people will approach government to have the laws re-written. Obviously, the solution is a capitalist government based on individual rights, so that no one can change laws in such a manner. Because of the complexities in sorting out cause and effect, I would skip over all of 20th century history in trying to use it as an argument against fractional reserve banking, unless you can very carefully identify which problems are (allegedly) specifically tied to fractional reserve banking. To do that, you must also identify which crises were caused by central banking and government regulation so that you can separate them out. Instead of doing that, you are lumping everything together. The bottom line is that I find your arguments ungrounded with concretes. Even your explanation of how banks work as intermediaries strikes me that way. Just how do banks work as intermediaries? What is the role of the various functions of deposit-taking, lending, and the issuance of money and other notes? Within that, how do reserves fit in? A solid, concretized understanding of this will go a long way in resolving this debate of fractional versus full reserve banking. Respectfully, GB
  5. Against prudent predator: That is the best one-line argument I've heard. It has the virtue of forcing one to consider whether it would ever be possible to be the only predator.
  6. John, I don't understand your answer. Could you summarize it in a few sentences? My summary of your answer is this: (1) People in the 19th century mistakenly accepted fractional reserve banking because they were ignorant of its hazards. (2) In a laissez-faire society, where people are more rational, they would see the problems with fractional reserve banking. Therefore, they would demand full-reserve banking. You also seem to be making a parallel argument which goes like this: (1) Fast information flows spanning the globe means that financial problems become global problems very quickly. (2) Fast information flows make the economy more vulnerable to shocks. (3) Therefore, fractional reserve banking is more dangerous for today's economy than it was for the economy of the 19th century. Is this accurate? GB
  7. Has anyone seen the movie "Bicentennial Man" with Robin Williams? In it, he plays a robot who gradually develops autonomy. He is shown beginning to value, when he starts carving sculptures at first for someone else, and then purely for his own enjoyment. As he starts choosing more of his own values, his "owner," played by Sam Neill, begins treating him as a being who has rights. He even goes so far as to fight on the "robot's" behalf for his autonomy in dealings with the company that manufactured him and with the government. [spoilerS FOLLOW] The way the movie ends is quite interesting. The "robot" is essentially immortal, not because he doesn't need parts, but because he himself goes to people who repair him when he breaks down. He can more or less keep replacing parts nearly forever. However, what happens is that he falls in love with a woman who is the the descendant of his original "owner." He cannot stand the idea of living immortally without her, so he undergoes a procedure that gives him a human lifespan complete with aging and a death whose exact timing cannot be predicted. When I saw the final scene of the movie, where he dies, I thought of Ayn Rand's immortal robot argument that such a creature could not value. In this movie, it is as if he deliberately gave up immortality so that he could *value.* Having a finite life made things *valuable.* Anyway, the type of entity depicted in the movie, because he had volition and pursued values in an autonomous manner, clearly has rights. In fact, in the final scene an official government body finally reaches that conclusion.
  8. People are paid to assume the risk via the discounts. See my just prior posting. By buying a note with a small discount, the buyer is assuming less risk. A larger discount means the assumption of more risk. The beauty of discounting is that it allows *all* of the paper to circulate and perform as money (until there is actual bankruptcy). This is exactly how bonds or even stocks trade today. All financial instruments carry some sort of discount that reflects risk and other factors.
  9. I have to think about this. I googled some academic articles on the discounts. They seem to have generally been small (under 5%), and would shoot up in cases where a bank's solvency was being questioned, to as high as 30%. The discounts sound very similar to how bonds are discounted today. Solid, investment grade debt is sold at a small (couple percent) discount to "risk-free" Treasury bonds, but non-investment grade or junk debt can be sold at much greater discounts, 10%, 20% or more. Apparently, the private money was rated by agencies that were similar to today's Moody's and Standard & Poor's. Good ratings were sought after by the banks. This acted as a check on the over-issuance of notes, which is the typical criticism of fractional reserve banking. Because this discount information was widely available (anyone could ask about the discount not just by consulting a book, but by going to any bank and asking for the rate of exchange for his notes), members of the public could choose how much risk to assume when they exchanged notes. In today's world, I would suggest that most banks would have strong, investment grade bond ratings. Just as their bonds are sold at small discounts to Treasury bonds, so would their notes generally be accepted at full face value. A discount would only happen in those rare instances when a bank was having trouble.
  10. An interesting discussion. First, thank you John McVey for the link to the New School economic history website. That is a useful reference to learn more about the historical roots of various economic controversies. Knowledge of history is very important in resolving debates such as this one between fractional and 100% reserve banking. Along those lines, U.S. banking history is relevant to this debate. Specifically, I believe that the U.S. has more or less always had a fractional reserve banking system. The track record is actually pretty good. Richard Salsman in his book on central banking reviews that history. I have also studied some of it academically myself. During the 19th century, although there were a series of financial panics and recessions, the value of money was remarkably stable. In fact, the purchasing power of money rose throughout the century, with the exceptions of the Wars of 1812 and the Civil War when convertibility into gold was suspended. Bank runs and failures did occur, but to the extent they occurred at a level that seemed too high, it was attributable to laws that prevented the full manifestation of free banking. In particular, unit-banking laws that restricted branch banking ensured that there were simply too many banks in existence. Of course, that meant that there was also a multiplicity of bank notes in existence, which led to the formation of extensive bank-note monitoring services. These services would publish guides to bank notes that were of poor quality or fraudulent. Although bulky to use because of the large number of banknotes, they still worked rather well. Observe that in Canada with only a few large national banks, there were not nearly as many bank note varieties in circulation. The same would have been true in the United States if national banking had been permitted here, thereby greatly reducing the need for the banknote monitoring services. After the Civil War, bank notes were still privately issued by banks, but the government stepped in to partially socialize the notes and to introduce an arbitrary and inflexible limit on their quantity. In particular, the government enforced unity of appearance, thereby reducing the branding of the notes and the ability of a bank's reputation to be advertised by the notes. This partial equalization of banks' reputations allowed more notes to be issued by financially shaky banks. The inflexible and non-market quantity limit on notes that was imposed at the same time was the result of a requirement that banks had to buy U.S. Treasury bonds to "back" the banknotes. The quantity of banknotes they could issue was strictly limited by how many Treasury bonds they held. Of course, when the Federal government produced surpluses and retired its bonds, that had the effect of shrinking the money supply, regardless of customers' demand for money. This inflexibility in note issue contributed mightily to the post-Civil War banking panics. Having described how government hampered free banks and their note issue, despite such growing interventions during the 19th century, it was a period where money held its value and the banking system was still able to finance (acting as an intermediary) the historically unprecedented explosion of wealth creation by the century's great businessmen. So, my point in mentioning this is that, in fact, people willingly held fractional reserve notes. This fact has to be reconciled with the assertion made by John McVey that in a laissez-faire world people would not want to hold these notes. The 19th century was not laissez-faire capitalism, but it was so close to it that it is not hard to abstract from the government interventions that did exist and draw broad and true conclusions about how banking would work in a laissez-faire society I welcome your thoughts.
  11. I am jumping in without following this thread in detail. So, with apologies for that, I have a basic question regarding fractional reserve banking. How is it different from insurance? Insurance is similar in a fundamental sense to a "fractional reserve" system. No insurer has enough cash or even assets to pay out all potential claims. Rather, the insurer is depending on the statistical fact that only a fraction of claims will need to be paid out in any given period of time. Recognizing this fact, the insurer safely and responsibly issues policies with a face value that dwarfs the assets he retains to pay claims. Now, what happens when a catastrophic, once-in-a-hundred years' event such as the Katrina flood creates billions of dollars in claims? How does the insurer plan for such an event and maintain a proper financial reserve, but without having to keep billions of dollars in funds idle for decades? He does this through reinsurance. Reinsurance involves selling the risk and a portion of the premium income to a much wider pool of insurers, in fact, a global pool of insurers. So, when the disaster happens in the U.S., the U.S. insurers can pay claims because reinsurers in Europe and Asia are also paying for some of the claims. I would contend that this principle can and, in fact, has been applied to banking. But there is one important difference between insurance and banking. The difference is in the nature of the rare, severe claims. The rare, severe insurance claim is driven by statistically predictable, natural events, such as an especially strong hurricane. However, the rare, severe event in banking, a run on the bank, does not have the same constraint that it is a result of physical natural forces, such as weather. Nevertheless, I would contend that this difference is not sufficient to prevent an institution similar to reinsurance from protecting banks from large, sudden draws on their (fractional) reserves. Banks do this in two ways, by having large scale, and through institutions such as clearinghouses, that function in the same way as reinsurance. It has been said (by Richard Salsman in his book on central banking, if I recall correctly) that during the Great Depression, whereas the U.S. had 10,000 bank failures (out of a total of 30,000 banks), none of the 5 large national banks in Canada failed. The difference was scale. The U.S. at that time, and throughout our history until very recently, suffered from state laws that severely restricted branch banking. Thus, if a problem such as an economic disaster occurred in one region, it brought the banks down in that region. In opposition to this, in Canada, if a problem happened in Quebec, for example, the strength of the bank's operations across the rest of the Canada would keep the bank afloat. Clearinghouses were an American innovation to get around the branch banking laws, and they worked quite effectively, if not as effectively as legalized national banking would have worked. Basically, a clearinghouse was an agreement among the member banks that they would lend reserves to each other in emergencies. The clearinghouse served to give its member banks the benefit of scale. The clearinghouse system worked well, if I recall correctly, in the financial panics that preceded the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. Incidentally, clearinghouses were outlawed when the Federal Reserve was formed. Observe that the result was a wave of bank failures during the Great Depression that had never been seen before in our country's history. At the end of the day, free markets would determine which form of banking would emerge. I see no argument whatsoever for making any form of banking illegal. Fractional reserve banking, if fully disclosed to customers, can be offered to them. From the evidence I have seen, I think most banks in a laissez faire economy would be fractional reserve banks for the advantage it gives them in lending out money and keeping costly reserves to a minimum. By the way, as a final thought, has anyone ever considered what happens when a bank fails? Most of the time depositors would get back a significant portion of their deposits. Their deposits would be paid out first, with other creditors having lower priority. Even a failed bank would have significant assets. A principal consequence of a bank failure is a huge delay in getting your money out, since the bank would have to go through the process of liquidation, but in most cases depositors would get significant portions of their deposits back. So, bank runs and bank failures are not such scary things after all. They would, in all likelihood, occasionally happen in a laissez-faire world, just as other firms and businesses and individuals would go bankrupt from time to time. I suspect that Murray Rothbard, et al., developed such a fear of fractional reserve banking because their views were shaped by observation of the Great Depression and the shear horror of so many bank failures. However, it must be remembered that those failures were not the result of fractional reserve banking as much as they were the result of the abandonment of gold, the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank, and the laws that restricted branch banking. (These are just the proximate causes of the wave of Depression bank failures. All of the other factors, such as the imposition of tariffs, tax increases, and sundry anti-business policies, that led to the stock market crash and the Great Depression were also causes further removed.)
  12. Infidel is a great book and Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an incredible woman. Her intellectual journey is amazing. Here is what I wrote on my blog about Infidel: [WARNING: "PLOT" SPOILERS FOLLOW] The face of reason confronts Dark Age primitiveness. That summarizes Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The face of reason is hers, the beautiful, intransigent face that appears on the cover of her book. Ms. Ali was born in Somalia. She grew up in that country, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Her father fought for a better government in Somalia but he, along with all of the people close to her, were Muslims. Primitivism meant female genital circumcision, which she endured without anesthesia at age 6. Primitivism meant Muslim Brotherhood imams preaching fundamentalism. Primitivism meant women wearing restrictive hidjabs. Primitivism meant having to endure forced marriages and beatings from your husband, if he so chose. Primitivism meant an oppressive clan network that reached all the way into European countries. Rejecting the primitiveness of her background, Infidel is the story of Ms. Ali’s personal unfolding, and her discovery of the Western values of free speech, the right to one’s own life, and religious freedom. By the end of the book, Ms. Ali declares herself an infidel, since she rejects the Islamic faith that she grew up with. She rejects all religious faith. Step by step over the course of her life, Infidel shows her make the conclusions that brought reason into her life. For that, for the ideas she publicly stated as a member of Parliament in Holland, for a movie she made, and ultimately for this book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has had a death sentence placed on her. Like Salman Rushdie, a fatwa is on her life. The director of her movie, Theo Van Gogh, was already murdered in cold blood on the streets of Amsterdam. Today, Ms. Ali lives in the freest country on earth, the United States. Her book is a warning to us of the nature of the Muslim enemy we fight. Islam is not a religion of peace; it is a religion of unspeakable evil. UPDATE OCTOBER 2007: Ms. Ali has left the United States after the Dutch government, which had been paying for her protection, stopped doing so. Apparently because Ms. Ali is a Dutch citizen, the U.S. did not take up the slack and offer her protection. By returning to Holland, Ms. Ali can presumably once again be protected by her country. Question: Has the U.S. government ever spent taxpayer money to provide security protection to this foreign citizen? You can see him on the right side of the picture holding hands with our President. That man is Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. If a double-standard does exist, could it be that the U.S. government is unwilling to protect someone like Ms. Ali, who is an "infidel" and denounces Islam, while offering protection to our "ally" who financially and morally sponsors terrorism against us? Ms. Ali is our ally and the man walking with the President is not. Until we learn that, and it becomes the basis of official government policy, we are gravely at risk. Islam's persecution of Ms. Ali and her flight from this country is a metaphor for what we all face until we gain the wisdom and courage to defend our values.
  13. I concur. That is an excellent response. It calls attention to the fundamental issues that lie at the root of this debate.
  14. I see that among the mortal sins is: “excessive accumulation of wealth by a few.” Moreover, a mortal sin is one where “immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell.” Wealth accumulation is also listed alongside pedophilia. I wonder how Bill Gates would feel about being declared the moral equivalent of a pedophile and someone who will immediately go to hell upon his death. (Well, I know what Bill Gates would think. He would try to figure out how much money he needs to give to the Catholic Church to get off their "go to hell" list.) It is telling that the Catholic Church itself is either guilty of committing these sins or of grossly abetting them. Anyone who has visited the Vatican can confirm the former sin. Anyone who has paid attention to the trials of the pedophile priests where bishops and archbishops knowingly moved them from parish to parish to harm ever more children can confirm the second sin. Moreover, the full list of sins is such a slapdash of sloppy categorizations that it condemns the thinking skills of the twisted minds that developed them: "polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice." In coming up with this list, the Catholic Church is not just wrong and immoral. It has also declared itself to be intellectually shallow.
  15. Yes, government intervention does make the market work less efficiently. However, the meaning of "perfect information" used by the perfect competition theorists also implies that any laissez-faire result is imperfect. It is imperfect because there is market power, oligopolies and the other manifestations of imperfect competition. The perfect competition theory calls for a standard of judging market performance based on a premise that is inconsistent with reality, and impossible to achieve. That is the premise of perfect information. The specific sense that they mean it is in the sense of both completeness and accuracy. In fact, they explicitly state that they are assuming that all information about consumer preferences and information about manufacturing methods is universally known by everyone, equally, all the time. In an environment of such universal omniscience, no producer can gain a price advantage over another. Therefore, all producers would sell goods at exactly their cost of production, and no more. In this imaginary, "perfect" world, prices would equal costs and consumers would receive the maximum welfare from their purchases. The entire construct is a fantasy. As an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism and, more fundamentally, as an advocate of reason, I have to reject any attempt to base a theory on a deliberate denial of reality. The fact is, knowledge is costly to achieve. It requires effort, and the acquirer of knowledge has to guard against errors. The costly effort required to attain knowledge means that it is entirely natural that one producer can have an advantage over another producer. If a producer discovers a better production method first , that producer will out-compete the other producers. (For a fictional example, think of Hank Reardan and the years he spent in his lab discovering his metal, or for a real life example think of the countless filaments tested by Thomas Edison before he perfected the light bulb.) To use the terminology of the perfect competition theorists, that producer will be a monopolist or an oligopolist. Moreover, he will be selling his goods at a price higher than his cost of production, which is evidence of market power. Monopoly, oligopoly and market power are all terms used by modern economists to denounce the efforts of capitalists to produce the things we value. Thus, we come to the realization that such phenomena actually represent perfect competition, but not at all in the sense that the perfect competition theorists say. It is perfect competition by a rational standard. That standard is freedom. If man is free to produce, the result is an economic system perfectly in accord with man's nature as a rational animal. The specific form of business competition that exists in such a society, where entrepreneurs struggle to produce better products and gain advantages over their competitors in doing so (exhibiting monopoly, oligopoly and market power) is perfect competition. **** The theory of perfect competition denies the nature of man's mind. It states that because acquiring knowledge requires effort and is subject to error, man is imperfect. But, in fact, for man to acquire knowledge does require effort. Therefore, the perfect competition theorists are saying that because man has a mind, he is imperfect. With such a flawed view of man's epistemology, it is not surprising that their economic theory is so warped, and so destructive when it is implemented in law.
  16. Intelligence. I love intelligence. The greater it is, the sexier the woman. That is my top non-physical value in a woman.
  17. A theory should be driven by the facts. The so-called theory of perfect competition is not. The facts are that all information is costly to acquire. It takes time to earn a college degree. An invention takes time to develop. A new production method takes time to perfect. Etc. The so-called theory of perfect competition dispenses with all that, and it simply asserts a state of affairs where all information can be acquired at no cost. This would be like a building engineer assuming that there is no gravity, and its results are just as disastrous. Imagine if that engineer simply assumed that gravity did not exist, and built his buildings accordingly. They would tumble down. Modern economics has done the same thing with the unreal theory of perfect competition. It posits a world that does not, can not, and therefore should not, exist. In this fantasy world, all information is free, it can be acquired at no effort and cost. Therefore, all producers are price takers, no one can have "market power," etc. The spinners of their fantasy, when they are done fantasizing, stop and actually look at the world, and then they discover that businesses behave as if information were... costly! They have pricing power, there are "oligopolies," etc. They decry this fact just as the gravity-denying engineer decries all the extra steel that is required to construct a building in the real world. Just as such an engineer would describe that extra steel as waste, the perfect competition economist rants about lost "consumer surplus" and "deadweight losses." Then the deadly part of the perfect competition fantasy emerges. It emerges in the demand -- implemented through legislation -- to force the world to conform to this arbitrary, fantasy ideal. There are many ways that is done, but the worst of them is antitrust. Antitrust essentially outlaws all of the manifestations of real-world competition that the standard of perfect competition declares to be destructive of "societal welfare." The result, in practice, is that the most successful companies, those that are actually competing with greatest success, are hamstrung in the name of protecting the consumer and the less successful competitors. The result is egalitarianism enforced by law, and it is justified by a bizarre theory that has nothing to do with reality. Microsoft, Alcoa, Intel, IBM and hundreds of other companies, and the standard of living of all of us, have suffered as a result. Economics, like every science, must start with the facts of reality. No theory is valid unless it starts with reality as its base and then correctly explains those facts. The theory of perfect competition is a nightmare fantasy made real with devastating consequences here on earth. An economist (it may have been George Reisman) wrote an article called "Platonic Competition" that explains how antitrust is based on the theory of perfect competition. The title captures the essence of this theory. It is a fantasy, platonic "world of the forms" that has nothing to do with real life.
  18. Topliner, All I can really say is that I am jealous that you get the pleasure of seeing Dae Jang Geum for the first time. As for the young Jang Geum, I too fell in love with her. She is a remarkable, sweet little actress and the perfect casting choice for that role. Her incredible intelligence just seems to pop out of her big forehead. You wonder whether the adult Jang Geum measures up to her younger self. All I can say is watch and see! Feel free to email me privately if you wish to discuss further. Best regards, GB
  19. New York City. One must not judge a location solely by its taxes, but rather by how well that location gives you the opportunity to fulfill your values. It is entirely possible, and in fact quite common, for New Yorkers to have the opportunity to earn fabulous incomes that allow for a great standard of living despite paying the highest taxes and housing prices in the country. I love New York for many reasons. It is the city of skyscrapers, the headquarters of American capitalism, and it is one of the top places where the best and brightest gather. There are lots of smart, ambitious people in this city. Working with them, interacting with them, and witnessing their achievements is energizing. Having said all that, I can see living nearly anywhere in America and even in many parts of the world. It all depends on your own personal values.
  20. These are beautiful images evocative of the industrial setting of Atlas Shrugged. They are also a reminder that heavy industry still does a lot of the heavy lifting that our comfort and well-being depend on (e.g.: coal that is mined and hauled on trains to power plants to create the electricity that lights our homes). Thank you.
  21. Take a look at this, "Tax Freedom Day." It shows the day when the average American stops working for the government, and starts working for himself. Right now, that day is April 30. You can do the math on how many man-hours of labor that represents.
  22. I agree with this. I don't see why this is should be a governmental matter. Pharmaceutical companies can set the rules for how their drugs are prescribed. Obviously, they have an interest in seeing that organisms do not become resistant to the antibiotics they manufacture. The longer their antibiotic remains effective, the more money they make. Let the pharmaceutical companies set the rules, not government. In response to this, I have a question. Why haven't we seen this wide-scale death in Mexico or the many other countries where anyone can buy antibiotics right from the pharmacy without a prescription?
  23. I can see this discussion going on in an endless back and forth. I will let my posts stand as my last comment on this topic, and end with the last paragraph of my last post.
  24. I will throw in another show that I bet no one has heard of: Dae Jang Geum I intend to provide a more proper review of this series at a future date on my blog, but here is a quickie on why I love this series. It is a Korean mini-series of about 54 episodes and tells the fictionalized story of a real life historical figure, Dae Jang Geum, which stands for "Jang Geum the Great." She was the first and only female court physician who personally served the king in 15th century Korea. Little is known of her life, except the above facts, and not much else. The author of the mini-series took the above and created a story that is a remarkable work of art. It tells the story of Jang Geum from when she was a little girl, the daughter of a disgraced "court lady" and soldier who worked for the king. I will not tell much because anyone who sees this has to experience the plot first-hand and with no spoilers. I will add a little, though. Jang Geum rises from being the daughter of parents from the lowest class to someone who enters the royal court as a "kitchen lady" who prepares the king's food, and eventually becomes the king's physician. Along the way, Jang Geum is revealed, not only as a beautiful woman, but one with a beautiful mind and a superb moral character. Above all, Jang Geum is first-handed. She forms all conclusions on her own, and then follows the conclusions of her mind to wherever it leads her, regardless of the risks she might face. There are tremendous scenes that illustrate her scientific character in a society that was quite primitive in many respects. Along the way, she has the most beautiful love affair with a scholar-official from the king's court, and she has remarkable friendships with various women and men of the court. The theme of Dae Jang Geum is integrity, both intellectual and moral integrity. In fact, the series ably illustrates how the two forms of integrity are aspects of the same attribute. Dae Jang Geum's moral integrity is driven by her intellectual integrity, which is that of a scientist. Incidentally, this series is wildly popular in Asia, although it is unknown in the West. I hope that changes. If you watch it, you will have to read subtitles, which is not hard to get used to. Also, understand that the original Korean is more poetic and the subtitles sometimes imperfectly translate it, making it too short or altering the meaning slightly. I don't speak Korean, but a good friend of mine does, so I benefited from explanations when this was happening. However, it turns out to be a minor flaw, because the meaning of all the dialogue is eminently clear from the context of the story. Much else can be said about this wonderful series, which I will do. In the meantime, I commend it to readers of this Forum.
  25. I will add a couple of humorous shows: As a very young child, The Flintstones and The Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Show (I still love Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and Yosemite Sam.) Also, I Love Lucy. Seinfeld. I still watch the re-runs. On cable, Curb Your Enthusiasm (although in the more recent seasons, Larry David is too nasty) and Sex and the City.
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