I'm Loyal to Nothing Except the Dream


#271

There is no way Trump could have won those states without a change in policy and posture.


#272

That comes off as being surprisingly xenophobic of you, or at least antagonistic and a bit short-sighted. It only makes sense if the whole goal of the discussion is to directly influence U.S. policy.

I think Nicholas is providing an excellent opportunity to discuss these points with someone who is pragmatic and reasonable - that’s something you probably won’t get while on the front lines of a protest. He brings up points that challenge anti-Trump EO rhetoric. If you can’t summon a good counter-argument, then you may end up looking like a fool on Fox News at some point (just as Trump supporters end up on CNN looking stupid), and you wouldn’t want to be THAT person. So, at the very least, he serves as good practice.

At the most, I would say we need how to learn to build bridges. Learning to understand how different people think helps you see them as real people. Dismissing them outright turns them into yet another opponent.


#273

I do not feel building a bridge all the way to New Zealand is a sensible use of anyone’s time. That is purely argument for the sake of argument, with zero skin in the game. I quite clearly wrote my blog entry as an American citizen who is directly affected by the Trump regime. Furthermore, I have Discourse customers in Europe who will no longer do business with us because of the uncertainty of data protection under Trump, as our servers are in the USA.

We have agitation enough in the US already; adding outside agitators to the mix is an (intentional!) distraction.


#274

Very disappointed to see you dragging politics into your blog. The issues are very important and absolutely need to be discussed, but lately there are few places that haven’t been muddied up by discussion about Trump, and now there is one less. I read and listen to the news, I educate myself, and I keep an open mind, but when I’m done with politics I’d like to be done with politics. I find myself removing bookmarks and separating myself from communities not to make a point but because they have simply become unpleasant places where people can’t focus on what brought them together in the first place.


#275

You missed a big difference between the immigrants of previous centuries and the immigrants of today. Back then when people immigrated there was minimal government. There was no such thing as an income tax and entitlement handouts did not exist. The immigrants that came to America back then came with an expectation that they would have to work hard to raise their standard of living.

Unfortunately today you cannot have open borders with a welfare state. It is not sustainable to have section 8 housing, free medical care, food stamps, free public education, free cell phones, student loans, and tax credits with immigrants entering the country.

The demand to come for “free stuff” is never ending and is not sustainable… eventually there are not enough working, productive members of society to pay for everyone coming in search of a handout. Look at the 20 trillion in debt the country is drowning in… we are not far from a financial crisis.

If you want open borders that is fine but that means you have to roll back the welfare state or accept that the country will become bankrupt.

The irony of modern democracies is that they tend to choose bankruptcy over entitlement reform.


#276

Wow, where to start…

First I’m glad you started to talk about this, this is how people from both sides can discuss these ideas and learn from each other. This needs to happen. This is why I’m glad Trump got elected, not because I support him, but because he is accelerating the US decline so quickly that people can finally see the truth, whether or not they want to. It is all about the money.

First I asked you guys where does money come from to illustrate my point that pretty much everyone fundamentally doesn’t understand money. When you say “look at the 20 trillion in debt the country is drowning in…”, that shows you do not understand. You need to understand. Why do you think the richest country in the world also has the most debt in the world, because that debt is actually the money that makes you rich. MONEY=DEBT… Do you understand. The government spends all that money into the economy and businesses, employees, CEO’s and shareholders all benefit. If you were able to get your debt down to 0, you would have no money, no millionaires, and no billionaires, and no economy or savings. Do you understand??? All politicians either don’t understand or are lying to you about this. Why do you think Trump plans to expand the debt by another 9 trillion or so - because he has to, to create the 9 trillion in wealth to pass on to his wealthy friends via the government and it’s contracts. YOU must open you eyes and see what is going on…if you have more questions on this ask and I’ll try to answer them, it’s fundamental.

Who owns the debt, take a look: https://www.thebalance.com/who-owns-the-u-s-national-debt-3306124

Why can japan have a debt to gdp of like 400%, because they owe most of the debt to themselves. Again the politicians are fear mongering and lying, the debt and the growth and size of it is not going to end the world. It is how the system is designed. I’m not saying it’s right, just this is how it works and it’s not a huge problem like the politicians are saying. When you see that, they you realize what mess Greece is in, they gave up their sovereign right to print money to the ECB so they actually owe it to someone else, and more importantly they cannot just print more, they have to ask the ECB to print them more and then borrow it and pay them back - they are screwed.

If you don’t believe me, then you also don’t believe the bank of England who explain how money works, google it and read it for yourself. For something more entertaining google the money myth with the island survivors and the banker, it’s a good read.

In addition, most of that debt is owed by the US to itself since the government via the federal reserve essentially creates the money it needs to spend. It also borrows from other governments or banks if they want to buy the us debt, or the banks can just create the money from nothing to lend to the US government just as easily as you can do it for yourself. People want to be in the government so they can control government spending or pass laws that are favorable to their supporters. The idea used to be that government was to represent the interests of the people, but apparently that is passe.

The first fallacy in the normal line of thinking is that people apply economic reality that applies to themselves to the government. They believe (like I did), that the government should balance the budget, that a surplus is a good thing. They feel that any debt from today is a burden to the future generation, which is not correct. They believe that that debt must be repaid eventually, which is not just incorrect, but not possible. Picture yourself as Neo in the matrix, your mind like all of our minds are born into this train of thought because of what we see around us. This it the matrix that the world and economists have created for us, for our minds.

The reality is that governments that have their own currency, are essentially self funding, in that they can “print” as much digital currency as they need to satisfy their funding and spending. If they print too much and there isn’t a requisite increase in the amount of goods and services in the economy, and they put that money in the hands of people who will spend it, you will see inflation somewhere. When you pay federal taxes to the government it is effectively destroying money. Paying back a loan destroys money. Taking out a loan creates money from nothing. As a point of fact, a government that prints its own money like the US and Canada can never go bankrupt. Their currency can become worthless but they cannot be bankrupt. The difference in what the government spends and takes in in taxes is the deficit/surplus.

When you learn how the government funds itself you learn that entitlement reform is a tool for those that have money to attempt to keep down those that do not have money. It is class warfare by the haves against the have nots. Do you really think that the wealthy care about health care? They can afford all they need so why should they let everyone else have it - that would make them less wealth? Why can the US spend all it needs on the military but not supply health care for all it’s citizens? It certainly can afford to, either by reducing military spending and increasing health care spending, or simply by running a bigger budget deficit. If you say that’s not acceptable, then under Bush and Obama, it certainly was acceptable to run a huge deficit to save wall street’s banks. Again you must realize that this excessive spending is always possible, it just depends on who stands to benefit from it.

All of these divisive issues, and meant to do just that, divide you - republicans and democrats, black and white, immigrants and citizens, left and right, abort and anti-abortion. If you are divided, you cannot stand up together as one united people. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both the elite. They are friends. You are not in their circle, but they do take care of their friends. All that Trump is doing now is blinding us to all of the legislation they will pass, things like bank deregulation. These are regulation put in place after the last financial crisis. Taking them away will certainly help Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. Not sure how that will help the rust belt. Oh, Goldman got their guy to run as Trump’s economic advisor too, good for them. More love coming to the rust belt for sure.

As a response to this “It is unclear to me how American policies can affect you in New Zealand, or matter to you at all in any way.”

The US and it’s military and economy have an effect on most nations on Earth. I’m not sure why you don’t see what Trump is trying to do. He is continuing what Bush did, and Obama to a degree also did, remove your rights, and create an all powerful surveillance state. Snowden tried to out the government and inform the public about this. Trump is destroying the powers and people who stand against him. He called the federal judge who stayed his immigration order “this so-called judge”. Wow, he should be “this so-called president”. I’m sure that judge has more brains and has worked harder in his career than Trump has. Can we directly compare his experience in government with the judges judicial experience? Trump’s rise is similar to the rise of a dictator, and that will always end badly for everyone. In Canada with the US as it’s largest trading partner, if he takes you guys down, what do you think will happen to our economy? Of course we are concerned even though it’s not our country. I absolutely will not enter the states while Trump is in power - that means tourism dollars that you will lose. Trump is presenting “America first” policy, as if America can go it alone in the world. Perhaps they can, but China with it’s 1.6 billion people and India with it’s 1.2 billion people will not choose that path and their businesses will thrive because of it.

You mentioned companies will not do business with you due to the privacy concerns. I read that the US government under Trump has removed any privacy protection under the law for non-citizens, so I’d say their concerns are valid. Do you see how this government will affect you? Over time (a very short time based on how Trump is going), you will see your nations allies in the world, not supporting you and that is where the dangers lie. As people say the US and it’s citizens will be less safe and will create more enemies, because by definition if you piss off your friends and threaten your enemies who is left? I too have family and friends in the States and that is also part of my concern. Another part of my concern is Trumps aggression towards China. Both countries are nuclear nations, and I distinctly get the feeling that Trump isn’t afraid to use nukes, I guess he thinks nuclear winter is as much a fallacy as global warming. Oh, he put Iran on notice - what is he the principal?

The sad thing is the people who voted for Trump are going to be the most hurt by him. He will cause job losses and they will feel it the hardest. This is what we know trump is - born rich and a narcissist. He is also a lying president and doesn’t have any ethics, I believe because he doesn’t know or understand what ethics are, or he simply doesn’t care. His character traits are fact and cannot be disproven based on what he says and does.

Let me know if any of this is sinking in and makes sense, because you first have to realize that all that you learned before about money is wrong and the politicians are playing on this. At the end of the next 4 years, you can be certain Trump and his friends will be richer, the debt will be larger, and the American people will have been played, yet again. This will not change much if and when the democrats take office after 4 years, but I think the decline will slow. Sorry to be so harsh, but this is like watching your children get addicted to drugs and seeing them destroy themselves, or watching a loved one die. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do, but writing this stuff is a bit like therapy.


#277

Good luck for your project. You should ask @codinghorror for advice, he’s obviously a very successful software startup entrepreneur. For what it’s worth, I’d say get a team of fantastic people to work with you, and if you need to raise funding to make it happen (might be better to be non-profit and run on donations, as Wikipedia does), try to put that off for as long as possible.


#278

I need to get off this thread, but I want to give your excellent post the answer it deserves.

First point, completely agree.

Second point, that’s a very good point. When does symbolism, implicit messages, semiotics, and hurting people’s “feelings” start to have drastic impacts on reality? E.g. you bully someone, they commit suicide. Insulting a nation can have serious consequences. Where do you draw the arbitrary line of caring too much or too little about what other people think? A tough issue. I think you have to go with “common sense”. What that is will be disputed. Not easy.

Third point, completely agree, and you’re right, that’s not the only example, but it’s the best modern example I know of. For that to work long-term you’d have to do something like instill a culture where the leader not doing the “best” he can for his people and corruption is so far outside the realms of what’s acceptable that it’s utterly unthinkable to that society. Like cannibalism. A long slow process that would require harsh penalties and probably hundreds of years. And what if the leader is just incompetent? You’d need another one, and then you’re back to democracy (unless chosen by a small cabal. How would that work?), or you’d just have to wait til he died, which would suck as well. You’d have to make sure the replacement was amazing. Fighting human nature all the way here…

Last point, sounds like you want something like the Asari do in Mass Effect. Regarding only interested parties voting on very granular issues, I’d say that this idea is utterly crippled from the very start due to fraud concerns. If you can solve the fraud problem, you’re a genius. For example, there is in fact an endangered species of bird that lives on the beach near where I live. There is alot of interest and volunteer work done to protect it and the native wildlife. The area it is in is being very slowly developed. Development means extinction for these birds. The developers have to get formal permission from the council (corruption potential here with the current system), and their submission always meets stiff opposition from environmentalists. So development occurs very slowly. Now if this were voted on on a website, and that vote was binding, the developer is very likely to find ways to bribe voters (directly or indirectly). You see the problem? The developer has millions to draw on, the environmentalists hundreds, thousands if they’re lucky. If the police (or whoever is assigned to making this thing work) can’t even enforce the drug laws properly, investigate burglaries, and stop foreign exchange scams being advertised on the radio, I can’t see how the anti-fraud bit is going to be effectively enforced in Western societies. It would have to be utterly impossible thanks to the technology. Note that private individuals simply can’t bribe voters in council and national elections, because it’s just too hard. Too many people to bribe. They’d get caught. On small case-by-case issues, I can see fraud and corruption to the horizon.

So by all means do your wiki project. Only good can come from it. Think about direct democracy after that.

Regarding your “shock and awe” comment, New Zealand has been there, and it sucked hard. We used to have a two-party, first-past-the-post system, and every election the new government would undo everything the previous one did. We had a referendum, scrapped two-party, adopted Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and things have been pretty good and stable since then (not that we have no problems. Far from it. But it’s not anywhere near as dysfunctional as it used to be.)

I hope that helps. No need to reply, I love discussion and learning and testing my ideas, but one has to draw the line somewhere. All the best!


#279

This is largely correct. You key point, that debt/money is created with an accounting entry in response to demand for loans is the secret key our fiat money economies are based on. This means that most economic textbooks, including the ones on monetary policy, are wrong. This is effectively secret knowledge. Most academic economists do not know this. Most people who work in banks and even central banks do not know this. Most people who work in finance in general do not know this. So of course the general population does not know this. In the current system, debt/credit/money creation is the main driver of economic cycles. In New Zealand, house prices are at a million dollars, driven by lending (inflationary, new money) from our banks and the Chinese system. Startups are at astronomical levels because of new QE money. For the logical endgame, look at debt-saturated Japan. Every economy in the world will eventually end up like Japan, zero interest rates and deflation as the debt pile slowly shrinks. In this environment, new loans cannot be created. Then the only solution will be debt cancellation, unless you want to wait until all the debt is paid off or written off, which could take generations. So fear not! It just means asset bubbles won’t be as prevalent as they used to be. You can’t really directly profit from this knowledge, unless you’re redesigning the global financial system or work for a hedge fund, playing asset bubbles inflated by credit. How do you know this? What’s your background? So few people know this. I’m curious.


#280

You could be right. I guess we’ll never know. I read he lost by 2.9m votes. I’ll just make the point that Trump had enormous rallies, lots of them, with huge audiences, which have a flow-on word-of-mouth effect. Who really knows what he would have done differently? Also bear in mind that the current situation has been shaped by a long history of presidential candidates campaigning for swing states in an electoral college system. If they had always campaigned for the popular vote, maybe the political map would look different. Maybe California and New York wouldn’t be so blue, maybe the middle wouldn’t be so red. Maybe rural vs city would look different. Don’t know, too many variables. If a switch had suddenly been flipped that made the 2016 election a popular vote election, it would have completely upset the delicate political balance between the two parties that has evolved over a very long period of time. Who knows what would have happened? Hope that helps, no need reply, good luck with your project.


#281

I’m trying to figure out if you mean this in some sort of metaphorical sense, or a literal sense, because this is flat out wrong. It sounds like you mean it literally, to which I’d have to ask when you think this situation started, because in 1835, the U.S. paid off all its foreign debt, and then had a government surplus for the first and only time in its history. It didn’t have $0, as you seem to be asserting:

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/04/15/135423586/when-the-u-s-paid-off-the-entire-national-debt-and-why-it-didnt-last

It’s true that debt is how you finance growth - this is true in both governments (usually via investment in infrastructure), as well as companies (well, either by taking on direct debt, by issuing bonds, or by selling off a part of the company via VC fund or IPO). So, yes, debt funds growth, and that’s why the U.S. has so much of it, but that’s not where money comes from. Also, there is an expectation of repayment, which is why the debt interest payments take a bit out of the annual budget, why interest rates and credit ratings are so important, and why people are keeping an eye on the “magic number” of debt vs. GDP, which often signals a collapse in the economy.


#282

Right, totally agree. And your points about the risks of fraud/cheating are absolutely right. I’ve been trying to think about all the ways this could be thwarted and what would be the counter-measures, but it’s all just a thought experiment for now. The wikipedia debate site will be very helpful even under our current system, so one thing at a time.

Thanks for the great conversation! Cheers!


#283

Isn’t discourse generally relocatable if needed to say … Canada, at least it would be closer.


#284

I wonder if you’d make a serious effort to test your ideas in real discourse with an American who disagrees with you.

So someone from another country who wants to learn about and discuss American politics and test their ideas in rational debate with intelligent and open-minded people, many of whom live in that political system, on a platform dedicated to civilized discourse, is an agitator? OK, sounds reasonable.


#285

Seriously?? Now THAT is interesting. That might be worth a follow-up blog post. Do you know any others that are facing a similar situation? Also, are you considering getting some servers outside the U.S. as a response?


#286

A nice picture to understand socialism: “To each according to his need”. Where did the three wooden crates come from? Who built them? What right do any of the three people have to any of the crates?

Citizens are not children of the state. Government employees are not parents who are in a position to know and evaluate the needs of their children - which child needs a little more care, who needs a little less ice cream.

You cannot and do not even run a small business on this principle, as it is impractical if not impossible for you to be able to know or evaluate the relative needs of your employees. Even if you could, your employees would immediately realize how demeaning and unfair it was, and would quit.

If you want to see how treating people based on the color of their skin over the content of their character works out, look at what has happened to the at the St.Paul public school system since implementing Obama’s program to reduce the disparity in disciplinary rates of whites, blacks and Asians. I hesitate to provide a link here, as I don’t want to offend you by linking to a disreputable source, but I’ll give it a shot. Let me now and I will refrain from doing so in the future:

The really sad thing about this is that the people hurt the most by this misguided policy are minority and immigrant students and their families who cannot escape the public school system.


#287

There are (at least) two fallacious concepts about inequality exhibited in the video, and in virtually all discussions about inequality by progressives. One is the idea that wealth and income is distributed in the same sense that government benefits are distributed
.
People’s heights are not distributed by anyone, though there is a distribution of heights that can be measured. If people’s heights were distributed by a knowing body of some sort, by the government, it would be unjust and unfair if everyone was not given the exact same height.

Similarly wealth and income is not distributed by the government (except in a socialist country). In a free society, calling the ex-post facto distribution of wealth unjust or unfair is no different than saying it is unjust or unfair that it rained on your birthday.

The second erroneous concept is the idea that inequality of wealth or income is bad, unjust, or unfair in and of itself.

Successful acts of entrepreneurship create inequality in a variety of ways. The founders get rich, obviously. Innovative products are not instantly available to the whole world, so initially only some people, usually the wealthy, get them. It can take decades for playthings of the rich to become necessities for the poor.

Conversely, inequality is a requirement for entrepreneurship. Accumulated capital, sometimes vast amounts of it, is needed for any entrepreneurial activity.

Even acts of charity often increase inequality. If you donate cell phones to 10 percent of the people in a poverty stricken country where no one has them, you have increased inequality in that country.

The mere existence then of inequality cannot be cause for concern, and in fact is a requirement for economic growth and increasing living standards for all.

Thus we cannot stand against inequality on principle.

There may be things that cause or contribute to inequality that are indeed unjust, and these can be attacked on principle. If women, for example, were not allowed to drive or own property, we can take a stand against this on principle. Another example would be restrictive land use policy that creates a housing shortage that drives up rents in places like San Francisco. This can also be attacked on principle. No doubt there are many more.

So, there may be a problem that can arguably be defined as the #1 most serious problem in the United States, and that problem may contribute to inequality, but there is no logical way the problem itself is inequality of wealth and income.


#288

Hi, so what do you say is the problem?

I haven’t watched the video, but to counter your argument which is black and white. It is not that income and wealth need to be evenly distributed, but it should be more equally distributed that is it being done today. In the 50’s after the war it was more evenly distributed and society and companies were better off than now.

A good video to watch (yes it’s a liberal video) is inequality for all by Robert Reich. Agreed, in a capitalist society we will have inequality, it is the mechanism where the best/brightest workers and entrepreneurs create the wealth and jobs are rightly rewarded for their efforts and their companies productivity and innovation. However that is not the problem. The problem in my opinion is that currently they are being rewarded excessively, and that is entirely based on your subjective views. If you look back after WWII and see how employee salaries were, and compare that to now you will see that people are being paid less and executives more, much more. You will also see that as a percentage of the economy, that the financial services sector takes up more now that it used to, and it doesn’t create anything productive, it primarily creates more wealth for those that already have wealth.

Another item that is overlooked in this equation is the role of the consumer. I would argue that the consumer is more important than the entrepreneur. Why, because if there is no consumer, or if the consumer (person or business) is unable to buy the products, then the entrepreneur has no customers and cannot become wealthy. Does this not make sense? What good is a bank without people willing to take loans. What good is apple is no one needs or can buy their phones? This is why we say that people who have to work and earn money to spend are the drivers of the economy, not entrepreneurs who will generally hoard their wealth. Entrepreneurs respond to the needs of consumers (people, business, government) with products and services they will buy. If you go to some horrific end state where all of the money is in the hands of the best entrepreneurs and none in consumers then businesses will not be able to sell their products

You say “Similarly wealth and income is not distributed by the government (except in a socialist country).” but this is not true - not a black and white determination. Canada is a socialist country and we do not distribute wealth and income by the government. We do have higher taxation (wealth redistribution), and socialized health care, but that health care is primarily provided by the private sector. Other than that we reflect the US as a market economy. The US also has taxation, just at a different level. Our higher taxation provides health care for all, as well as things like maternity benefits etc.

Inequality itself is not the issue but how unequal things are, and which direction we are headed. If things work well then as you say the goods would trickle down to the masses as well as better pay for the work they do and inequality would decrease. What we have today is hugely growing inequality, where the wealthy become even more wealthy and the poor, even more poor. That fact of where inequality today is cannot be argued against. That doesn’t benefit anyone, and it has led to some of the great revolutions in society that we have seen. Again it’s not good for anyone long term.

Lastly looking at the nuclear argument against inequality. If as you say it’s not the problem then the end game would be the best entrepreneur having all of the money for that person none for anyone else. That is the most unequal we can be and obviously wouldn’t work. One the other side having exactly the same for all give no incentives to anyone to be exceptions and would not work either. I think capitalism should efficiently distribute goods through our society where they are needed, in the most efficient manner possible. It should allow failing or unneeded companies to die. After the bail out of wall street, that is effectively socialism for the wealthy, and we can see the US is not a truly capitalist society.


#289

Hi, for the government is this what the US constitution says?

The basic functions of the United States government are listed in the Constitution. They are: ‘To form a more perfect Union’; ‘To establish Justice’; ‘To insure domestic Tranquility’; ‘To provide for the common defense’; ‘To promote the general Welfare’; and ‘To secure the Blessings of Liberty.’

I don’t see the government as a business nor should it follow the rules of a business. I see health care for all citizens as part of “to promote the general welfare” but I guess that is open to interpretation. It doesn’t say to earn a profit like a business.

Also I don’t think business or government tries to understand the relative needs of employees or people. I think government tries to understand the collective needs of the society and then leaves it to either smaller forms of government, or capitalist business who they pay, to meet the relative needs of those employees or citizens.

Another example, basic healthcare in Canada is guaranteed to all. What companies do is offer health care credits and you can choose to use them if you want or not, and get some money back if you don’t want to use them. Each employer offers differing levels of coverage and some offer very little. Things that are covered under these plans are optional health care items like massage, prescriptions, eye glasses, orthotics, dental plans etc.

The reason employers like the system in Canada is that the government takes it upon itself to pay for these basic services, so business does not have to directly pay. Health care is paid indirectly through our taxes to the provinces, and the federal government gives the provinces some funding as well.

One other thing the I feel is forgotten by capitalist arguments. There is the argument that we all deserve equal treatment under the law and government (which we don’t necessarily receive). Conservatives use this to argue against social policies and social safety nets. Why should a minority student for example get a spot at a university when a non-minority could be denied access? On the face of it, it makes perfect sense, in a perfect and equal world. But we don’t all start from the start line as equals. Have you looked at the household net worth by race? For minorities (black and Hispanic) it’s around 10k (less) but for Caucasian it’s around 100k (more). You can see that this inequality translates into all aspects of minorities lives, they live is poorer communities with worse schools, often they grow up with only 1 parent, their parents make less money and are therefore less able to send their kids to university. They are more likely to get in trouble as per your “No thug left behind” article clearly shows.

I am a minority, but both my parents were university teachers and so I have “piggy backed” off of their success. My children hopefully will do the same off of mine. Donald Trump’s children are most likely so successful because they basically can step into his businesses after having attended the universities they can afford. It’s a fact of life. This is where the government steps in to help equalize the playing field so that people from any race who are disadvantaged can have the opportunity to move upwards in society. That is not, nor will it ever be a business function.


#290

How even is even enough? Where does the slippery slope end?