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I'm Loyal to Nothing Except the Dream


#190

Isn’t price fixing one of the main features, if not the main feature of socialism? Socialism is the government ownership and administration of the means of production and the control over the distribution of goods. This means price fixing. It also means fixing the quantity of things produced. It also means fixing what is in fact to be produced.

I think it is safe to say that Venezuela’s main problem is in fact socialism.


#191

I’m sure some people don’t want a wall on principle alone, but I’m really more about the economics and efficacy of a wall. I just don’t see as effective means to solve the problem that proponents say it will solve.

I’ve heard two justifications for “the wall”; undocumented workers (aka illegal immigrants) are taking our jobs, the drug trade is just too easy with an “open border”. But will a wall really change either of these?

We already have a “wall” over parts of the border, and it hasn’t even slowed down the drug trade. They simply throw the drugs over the wall, either by hand, by air cannon, or even in one case a catapult. They dig tunnels under the wall. The point is that you can spend a huge amount of money, and in the end they will continue to find a means to move drugs. Look today, we already employ thousands of people to patrol the border, cameras, drones, and who knows what else. But if there is a high enough demand for illegal drugs in the US, someone will find a way to supply them. So bottom line, until you diminish the demand, you will never win the “war on drugs” in that there are just too many ways to bring them into the country if there is financial incentive to do it. So you build an impenetrable wall, they will shift back to bringing drugs in by boat along the gulf coast. Sure it will cost them more, and maybe we catch a bit more, but in the end if the demand is there they will keep finding a way to get the get supply in. This is a war of attrition on their part, we can spend billions on a wall, they can build an air cannon for a few hundred and defeat it. So we add more tech, more monitoring. They look at some simple way to defeat it, the problem is that as long as we spending a lot more than they are on our side, we will always be losing.

As for jobs, I’ve already said, and stand by it that if we enforced our current labor laws we could diminish the illegal labor market significantly, likely to the point where it’s not a significant factor in our current job market. But for some reason, which I don’t understand fully, we can’t seem to figure out how to keep illegal immigrants from taking jobs. So while I agree we have pretty good technology, why can’t we get a workable system to determine if someone is legally able to work? The reality is that business profits from the illegal labor market, so there is no cry to enforce labor laws. Businesses will lobby that it’s too burdensome to have to document their workers more than they have to today, and they will win, because in the end the wall and the “Mexican” problem isn’t really about jobs. It’s about demonizing someone or something so that politicians can make “average job” feel better about himself. They need a scapegoat to make the voter feel like their lot in life is entirely because of some outside force, and that they can fix it for them. Mexico happens to be a great fit for this need, they are close, we have a lot of undocumented workers from Mexico, and at least a few news articles that show that they are “bad hombres”.


#192

socialism - a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

I’m in Canada for example and our health care system you would consider to be socialism. But what we really (to my understanding) have is the government as a single payer (replacing all of different health insurance carriers that you have) who states how much they will pay per procedure and for prescriptions. The government then allow capitalism to provide the services that the government will pay for in our hospitals, clinics and doctors. The medical community here are still extremely wealthy, perhaps not as much as in the US, but close. But it does limit the costs that are paid, and people here do not have to pay separately for health coverage, it is provided by the government. This is the same system across the developed world in France, Britain, Sweden, etc. the US is the only anomaly where 100% of it’s citizens are not covered by their government.


#193

Well, I guess if that’s your definition of socialism.

Wikipedia is a bit less restrictive:


#194

I think the only way to really know the costs of say a drug is to crack open the books of a few big pharma companies and look at where their money really goes. And I don’t mean their public filings, this will take some forensic accounting, really digging into what are “marketing costs”, or “R&D”, or “litigation”. The reason I say this is that it’s way too easy to put a line item in a filing, but you really don’t know what went into something like litigation, was it costs in defending themselves, or suing other companies over patent rights? The point is that we often take the companies word for it, and don’t really dig into the data. I thought President Trump was going to be hard on big pharma and press for price bidding, but after he met with them he quickly fell back to that they need deregulation and tax breaks? What, if we lower their taxes we will get lower cost drugs? Isn’t that like just directly transferring the payment to them instead of through their products? So now the country takes on more debt so these guys can provide more profit on the products they already sell. Makes a lot of sense to me… And deregulation, hmmm, that sounds good and I’m sure we can do better there. I’m assuming they are asking for less oversight on bringing products to market, but based on history our for profit drug companies haven’t always been the most forthright about the products they sell, hence the regulation to begin with. When they drop products on the market with insufficient testing and it causes issues, then the pendulum swings the other way and people begin to demand again for the government to regulate. So this is one that we need to look hard at and decide where is a reasonable level of regulation.


#195

That definition is fine too. The point is, you can’t have socialism without price fixing, fixing wages, fixing profits, fixing everything (which is of course why it does not work. That is the whole point of socialism. If you have markets (the free play of individuals making use of their knowledge within general rules of law) determining prices, wages, and profits this is called capitalism or freedom. Certainly in most modern functioning economies there are elements of socialism and capitalism and to the extent socialism dominates, the county will function less well. This is what happened to Venezuela - they went full socialism.


#196

No Jeff, it’s even better than that, they are being paid by people like George Soros to go protest… Or so the conspiracy theory spinners out there seem to like to push. The thing I learn when I hear things like this is what motivates those who say it, and it’s money. The people who make this up are so motivated by money they can’t fathom that someone might actually get up off their butt and go protest something unless someone was paying them to do it. And to me that is probably one of the saddest statements on where we are a society today, that people can’t even see having motivation for anything unless it’s directly heading to benefit them, and not in some future way, but right now, in cash.


#197

Hi, you have to open your mind, your train of thought. You think you either have socialism or capitalism. Socialism does not mean price fixing, wage fixing, profit fixing etc… This is not black and white. For example China is communist right, except they have totally embraced essentially a capitalism market economy… Canada is a socialist county - but we also have a capitalist market economy. For health care we fix prices that the government will pay, but wages and profits are not fixed. If a hospital wants more profit, they simply increase the services they can offer. BUT the government does limit how much they will pay for services so they can cover the entire population. Since they are a single payer they can negotiate the costs better.

What you really have to look at is who benefits from your system. This is my point for the banks too. If they have effectively unlimited ability to make loans, then their profit is only limited by finding customers to take out new loans. This is one of the reasons for the 2009 financial crisis - excessive lending to non-credit worthy clients (subprime mortgages).

Moving back to the central banks. Our federal governments in the US and Canada, have the ability to get their central banks to create money to fund them, we see this in the national debs we carry. In Canada the government of Canada owns the Bank of Canada, but in the US the Federal Reserve is owned by it’s private member banks so it’s effectively a private corporation. I think they do have to send their profits back to the treasury department though. What this means is that our government’s ability to fund services is limited by our own self imposed budgeting, and our fundamental understanding of debt. Both the US and Canada owe a majority of their debt, to themselves… It’s like you having your own printing press, and having to print your own money to pay yourself back.

For me the proof is in the reality that the US government can fully fund the military, but chooses to not be able to fully fund healthcare. They can fully fund assistance to other countries, but cannot fully fund university education. We see the same thing in Canada to a lesser extent since we spend much less on the military. So in the end the beneficiaries of this spending are those “wealthy” individuals who benefit from the money going from the government to their businesses. The short answer is for you to get into business and you don’t have to deal with this mess! The problem is that all those workers are being left behind as many of the businesses no longer pay a fair share to their employees. You also see then that as a direct function, the richer you become, the more of other people’s debt money you hold. This is the problem our money system creates, but to get rich is the American dream - every one’s dream.

If you look at it from say a billionaire’s perspective, if you were to allow money to filter down to the masses, through good jobs, high pay, good social benefits, etc. then you are effectively making yourself not as rich. From the billionaire’s view (dems and republicans are both here), you should restrict this as much as possible.

What I think is happening is that the poorest of the ones left behind are starting to revolt, what else can they do? The only way out if people are not helped by their government is through education. I look at everyone I know who got a good education and they are all doing well. Look at doctors, lawyers etc. Look at unionized employees like police, they are also doing well. But even in IT our jobs are being outsourced, we are also feeling the pinch.


#198

I disagree with much of what Trump is doing since his win and when I first heard of this EO, it really frightened me. I do not agree with discrimination or hateful closing off of the borders. However, this blog post comes through as nothing more than cheap virtue signaling to impress fellow friends and buddies on the Left. All I see is narcissistic virtue signalling befitting of a future politician.

Where were you when Obama was blowing up weddings and violating the Constitution left and right? When did you stand up for Syrian refugees or for the truth, or do you only repeat what the media tells you? Have you even read the actual text of the executive order or only what CNN and your friends tell you? Why are you only speaking up now and didn’t speak up when Obama committed any of a similar number of abuses? Is it because he was the “cool” president and on your team?

The problems of America didn’t start with the election of Donald Trump and will not go away with the next Democrat in office and certainly not with Jeff Atwood in office. Until your group actually -understands- why the hell half the country voted for him and continues to ignore the very real problems of a biased media and a government that meets the needs of the elite first, you are very much part of the problem.


#199

That was my position, too, at first. I like to give the benefit of the doubt. And, in fact, on paper, too, it is not a “Muslim ban”. But then Rudy Giuliani came on TV and stated flat out that Trump wanted to “ban Muslims” and asked him “how can I make it legal?”. So, no, it’s not a Muslim ban, but apparently that was the underlying intention after all.

Why is this different from Obama’s ban? First, he only did it for Iraq, for a very specific situation. Second, as I mentioned, it’s the intention. And believe me, having someone who in general supports refugees and immigrants do it is one thing. Having someone who speaks horrors about immigrants, is backed by the KKK, and has Steve Bannon on his NSC is another.

Ask me why I can’t say the “N” word, but Obama can. I believe you might see a parallel.


#200

Yeah, I’ve thought about that. I’m VERY sure there are some real answers out there from people who study this for a living. But since I haven’t I wonder the following things:

  • Would this really be enforceable? Depending on how the enforcement is done, it either becomes a risk business owners will take, just a “cost of doing business”, or something not worth risking (jail time?), which would then be a huge shock to the system we probably don’t want.
  • What if we legalized the current undocumented workers and took it from there? Would the businesses “profiting” off of illegals be able to stay in business? What would happen if they couldn’t?
  • If there are whole business models that depend on a working underclass with below minimum wage and no benefits, would our society stand for officially creating that underclass (something like a nationwide Bracero Program)?

The point is there are serious economic shifts that would have to happen, and I don’t know what that would look like.


#201

No I don’t. Yes it does.

As I said in a previous post, almost all countries today have a mix of socialism and freedom. If socialism means anything, it means to “fix” some real or imaginied undesirable outcome of freedom. This means using force (the state) to fix prices or output or wages or profits or wealth or some or all of these. This can be done economy wide or in a greater or lesser degree in specific industries. Regardless, socialism entails using force to alter the results of capitalism and freedom and the attendant spontaneous order.

If it does not require force through price fixing, wage fixing, profit fixing, disallowing entry into an industry, etc., then its not socialism.


#202

True, and just so we aren’t being partisan - the Koch brothers aren’t innocent of using their wealth to influence public policy either.


#203

You called them critics. I quoted your own post.

And you keep dodging the point. There is literally, not figuratively, no ban based on Muslims. The ban is exclusive to citizens of seven countries. I don’t see why you can’t acknowledge that.


#204
  • The nuclear doomsday clock was just moved as close to midnight as it has been in 64 years.

Which is weird because it didn’t get any further when Obama pledged to speed up the destruction of nuclear weapons and didn’t get closer when Obama slowed the destruction of nuclear weapons. Also, your statement of closest in 64 yrs. is a bit amiss but doesn’t refute the larger point that at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the clock was further away from midnight than it is now. I don’t like Trump. I don’t like his rhetoric or his policy. I strongly doubt the clock’s veracity at measuring… anything.

  • America was downgraded from a Democracy to a Flawed Democracy.

Again, many of the countries ranked as ‘Full Democracies’ are exceedingly racially monolithic, have few or no legal protections of religion or speech of any kind, and have ‘white national’ elements that rather effectively fueled Nazism and put American racism/white nationalism to shame. Moreover, the United States, since it’s inception, has been a Federated Constituional Republic rather than a Democracy and even that was rather explicitly created to combat a ‘tyrrany of the majority’, mob rule, or… pure democracy.

Our country executed Timothy McVeigh, it’s exceedingly likely we will likely execute Dylan Roof. Anders Breivik, OTOH, will likely serve his 21 yr. maximum and be released.


#205

That’s why when you schedule your physical you go to Google and find the cheapest doctor with a excellent ratings/reviews right? Because it’s free market/capitalism at work?

You aren’t free to pick any insurance plan on the market, you’re constrained by (typically) what your employer has blessed. Not a free market.

When my doctor prescribed me an antibiotic for my ear infection did I get a choice of drugs/brands/pharmacies based on what it will cost me?

If that’s your idea of capitalism and freedom as it pertains to healthcare then I want what the other guy’s having.


#206

You make excellent points and I have no idea why you think I would disagree with you on this. The health care industry in the US, even before Obamacare, was one of the most government controlled industries in the country, perhaps after primary education. It would be a lot better if there was less government involvement in health care and more freedom.


#207

Agreed, removing a huge chunk of the labor pool could have some huge repercussions. But as Heinlein would say, “TANSTAAFL”, so someone has to pay for the results of what we do, no matter what they are. But the stated goal of a wall seems to be to stop those pesky illegal immigrants from stealing our jobs. Or I guess its to keep the rapist and murderers on their side of the border, though if we had 11 million rapist and murders here from Mexico I’d have to guess our crime rate would be much higher than what it is today, or these are the absolute worst rapists and murderers the world has ever seen. Not such “bad hombres” I guess after all.

The reality as I see it is the wall is not an effective means to do anything but to take abstract ideas and turn it into a physical edifice. Think of it as a monument, it’s a show of strength, a show of how we have the ability to “protect” our country from others. President Trump has a background in construction, he builds things. I’m in software, I build things too. If I were asked how to fix the problem I’d probably fall back on building software, it’s what I’m good at. For President Trump he builds walls, so he falls back on his experience there as well. He will build a wall. And as it was said somewhere on this thread, “it’s just common sense that a wall will keep people out”. So a simple idea for a complex problem. People like that, don’t muddy things up, make it simple. And to some degree for President Trump it’s his Space Race, his grand challenge to show how great he can pull an idea together and follow through with it. Originally I think it was a means to weave a story of how great he was at negotiating; he said “I’m so good, I can build a huge wall, and get Mexico to pay for it”. It was his way of saying he was such a tough negotiator that he could get someone to pay him to do something they didn’t even want. He got cheers for that from his supporters, so he kept saying it over and over and it took on a life of it’s own. For many became a symbol of their struggle and it embodied what they saw as what was wrong with America. It’s those illegals, stealing their jobs, using their hospitals, stealing their tax dollars by being on welfare; it embodied all the things that they saw that were against their beliefs of what American really was supposed to be. So now they have it in their heads now that if we only have a wall all those things would be fixed. So now there is a demand for it, rational or not, because it’s become a symbol of “making us great again”. I’m not even sure what “Make America Great Again” means, and I’m pretty sure it means something different to everyone. But for many I think they got it in their heads that if we just had a wall…

Ironic that as I write this I’m listening to Pink Floyd, “The Wall” soundtrack, and the lyrics are playing “Mother should I build the wall, Mother should I run for President, Mother should I trust the government”.


#208

Nick, you’re assuming Trump’s intentions were good, as Jeff has done as it relates to Obama and some of the “sins” he’s committed.

So let’s consider that Trump’s intent wasn’t to ban “good” muslims, he wanted to ensure “extremist” muslims from nations that we’re bombing back to the stone-age didn’t make it into this country. Unfortunately there’s no sure-fire way to identify these people, so you throw out the baby (good muslims) out with the bathwater (extremist muslims.) Because we are the United States of America, you can’t just outright ban all muslims coming from those countries because it targets a specific religion and that’s bad for optics, it would be unconstitutional and all that good stuff (that’s my technical jargon for additional side-effects.) So they do the next best thing and ban everyone from those countries, which is really just a defacto muslim ban from those nations.

It’s not a huge leap in my mind to believe that’s how this played out - that’s from someone who voted for Trump, and you can bet his critics have connected the dots.


#209

Do you believe that the media is biased in only one direction? Watching Fox makes me sick to my stomach. Same for MSNBC, and sadly CNN (or maybe they were always biased and I just never saw it.)

Nobody cares about objective reporting, nobody controlling the networks anyway.