Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fifi's World, A Monetary Allegory - Part II

As Fifi's father listened, the stranger told him to chuck everything he was told about his daughter's illness by the so-called experts.  It was obvious that Fifi was not suffering from a simple cold, but that she had a bad case of walking pneumonia and, therefore, no matter how much aspirin she took the illness would persist and continue to worsen. The parents should immediately renounce More Is Better  and concentrate, instead, on fewer but much more effective rememedies, such as a course of antibiotics and a healthy diet.

The stranger also insisted that a radical shift in lifestyle was very important, once Fifi was healthy again.  Exercise, outdoor activities and the like were very important, if Fifi's family wanted to get healthy and stay healthy.

Fifi's father didn't even bother to think about the stanger's propositions.  It was more than obvious that he was a quack, a mendicant - perhaps even a raving lunatic.  Everything he said was a blasphemy against the official religion, an abomination before FIAT.  He slammed down the phone without a word, More angry that a total stranger would have the temerity to approach his family with such nonsense when Fifi's life was in More danger.

What became of Fifi herself we do not know.  Moreover, we are in the dark about her family and all other families in Fifi's world  because, soon thereafter, the illness spread and wiped out everyone.
-------------------------------------------------------

We now shift from Fifi's world to our own.

The Earth is obviously reaching its carrying capacity under present conditions of science and technology.  We cannot expect to feed, clothe and coddle another 3-4 billion human beings - Chinese, Indians, Africans - to the level accustomed by us westerners, or even near-westerners.  Natural and environmental resources are depleting fast and, unless we immediately discover another nearly-unlimited, higly concentrated  and non-polluting energy source, we urgently need to:
  1. Revamp our socio-economic system to Sustainability and just as importantly,
  2. Adopt a monetary system to match.
Quite obviously, an unbounded, unlimited fiat currency monetary system is hugely at odds with a bounded economy, i.e. an economy where growth is severely constrained by the hard boundaries of resource depletion and environmental degradation.

The dollar, euro, yen, yuan... they are all based on Permagrowth, the once simple but today simplistic premise that debts incurred today will always be serviced tommorrow - and ad infinitum - by an ever-expanding global economy. 

We have, as of last Sunday, played our last global FIAT card: the EU has gone all-in in the credit bubble game when it announced it will set up a $1 trillion special purpose vehicle to issue Yet More Debt to shore up the clearly bankrupt PIIGS economies and the banks that financed them (and everyone else, the UK included).  More debt, to solve the problem of too-much-debt...

Bottom line: Bretton Woods is deader than a doornail, yet we are embarking on a last vainglorious attempt to prove it is still alive and kicking.  It will cost us dearly.

I feel like Fifi..

54 comments:

Daniel de Paris said...

"Quite obviously, an unbounded, unlimited fiat currency monetary system is hugely at odds with a bounded economy, i.e. an economy where growth is severely constrained by the hard boundaries of resource depletion and environmental degradation."

Certainly not to late to read Austrian Economics or, more precisely, Jacques Rueff, hell. The brainwash that was organized by and at academia should not deter you to read Rueff.

Sure Rueff was more of a practitioner that a gifted writer. Not all of his dated writings were translated.

Sure Jacques is French and lived part of his business life during the 20s and 30s. And was a pretty effective manager of public money at that time.

Sure he dared to propose de Gaulle to get France dollars for their bucks during the 60s.

But is that really enough to discount him as an economist?

Whilst being on personal ground absolutely uninterested by money and gold. A as "haut fonctionnaire" he never made any... And indeed considered precious metals as the less evil currency base. As a dirty stupid way to force humanity onto decent monetary track.

PS: I am certainly not uninterested myself. But that's indeed another story

Thai said...

Nice post

I might like to add one small clarification: there are other factors which are even more important than diet when it comes to preventing pneumonia. But I might be labeled a raving lunatic for pointing this out with some here (which I rather enjoy if I think about it). ;-)

PS- I'm all in favor of healthy eating so don't misunderstand my comment.

PPS- Contrary to popular opinion, the medical profession is not entirely comprised of quacks (quaRks). Alas research on the efficacy of education as a means of altering high risk behavior is not as encouraging as you might imagine. There can be benefit, but it is no panacea, that's for sure.

People want their cake and to eat it too. Or as Deb says: "we are not rational animals". ;-)

Be well

Arnould said...

As a French myself, I can only agree about Jacques Rueff.

And also as a French who does not always understand a native speaker well enough I have a question about this sentence: "We have, as of last Sunday, played our last global FIAT card"

With the second "last" it this sentence do you mean the same as with the first "last? Or do you possibly believe that there will be no other such FIAT card to play in the future?
.

Keenan said...

Arnould:

As a native english speaker I would interpret the sentence you quote as follows:

"We have, as of this past Sunday, played our final global FIAT card"

Tiago said...

Ok, lets assume that the last big card was played. End game at the next big event (Though these guys seem able to invent something to extend things a bit more).

The fundamentalist church of fiatism still controls much of our collective spirits, and will continue to do so. This I think, will have a few consequences:

1. Bad solutions will be devised to address the problem. Old fashioned thinking will shape the way.

2. The cognitive dissonance between pervasive expectations of everlasting growth versus an unsustainable reality will make people follow very strange leaders and ideas.

I am afraid.

Arnould said...

Then I am afraid that I had understood Hell's sentence after all.

And to be more precise, I think that the next event will be burst of China's real estate bubble, followed by social unrest within China, followed by piping of this anger towards China's neighbours (Taiwan, South Korea, Japan..) as organised by Chinese leaders to save their asses, followed by... God knows.

I hope that I am too pessimistic.
.

TMoney said...

The best beer addled idea that a friend & I came up with was the megawatt backed currency.

A sustainable "gold standard" - the amount of currency your allowed to issue must be backed by the # of mega watts of national energy (oil, nuclear, solar etc).

Obviously if you burn oil, an amount of money is destroyed (deflationary), investing in solar = monetary growth (inflationary, progrowth).

Yeah it's plagued with problems and open to some cheating but it's a sustainable measure and self correcting and even mostly verifable.

Any better "new" currency ideas out there ?

Anonymous said...

So you want a new inflexible currency. One shared by the world?

Dink said...

Interesting quote I read this weekend:

"Lenin lied to us about communism and told us the truth about capitalism."

There is no perfect system if the players aren't fair.

OkieLawyer said...

TMoney:

So how would you divide said assets for countries like the US, which don't produce a lot of energy (BTUs or Watts, or whatever), but create incalculable savings from inventions and innovation?

There is more than one way to count wealth and advancement in a society.

Think of all of the oil-producing countries that contribute little more than the energy, but stifle creativity and invention. Should they get all of the world's wealth just because they are sitting on the biggest reserves?

Hellasious said...

If I may beat my own drum... The Greenback.. Search for it within this blog.

Debra said...

Times are looking rather like what they appeared during the Protestant reformation.
If not earlier...
We are already in the midst of a revolution.
Interesting, huh ?
Personally, I find it all rather exciting and I'm happy to be alive right now.
Almost as good as 16th century Elizabethan England...
Can't have everything..
I think that people who are worrying mainly about saving their shirts are going to get taken to the cleaners... without their shirts.
Sometimes you just have to go full power ahead and accept that you don't have any idea WHERE you're going...
Those.. RISKS, right ?

TMoney said...

Ack Sorry Hellasious! I knew there was a reason that the idea resonated here. Your "greenback" idea has stayed with me. The nifty part of it (for me) was how growth would be tied to the ultimate measure of productivity (energy). Without energy of some form, all economic activity ceases.
It contrasts strongly with the fiat permagrowth currency we have now. If, in the greenbacked economy there was a shortage of money, it would represent a short of energy to perform economic activity.

Thai said...

Tiago re: "End game at the next big event"

Don't forget the weird axiom of debt, i.e. nothing is any different than it was before even if it is the end game.

... Though I agree a few canned good might be in order

Unless we are saying there are a few bad people out there who are cheating the rest of us and these people are going to be really upset when they have to come up with a new strategy...

Forgive me while I change channels on that particular news broadcast

Thai said...

And Deb re: "Times are looking rather like what they appeared during the Protestant reformation.
If not earlier..."

Indeed they (always) do. ;-)

Anonymous said...

@ Thai... regarding "Fraud is fraud"

hahaha check out David Weidner's piece. (even though he's a schill)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-government-may-be-undermining-its-goldman-case-2010-05-12


MA - RH

OkieLawyer said...

The New York Times covers the investigation into the stock market crash last Thursday:

Market Inquiry Focuses on One Trader

It kind of follows what Econolicious was saying about it starting in the mini-S&P market.

OkieLawyer said...

@Rich:

From your link:

Fraud is fraud, but when a practice is prevalent across an industry, it becomes accepted. Suddenly the burden shifts from the alleged fraud to regulators who should have stepped in if the practice was unacceptable.

Uh, no.

You know, the rise of Ararcho-capitalism is really disturbing. And that seems to be what is advocated most by commenters on many investment websites.

The weakness in Anarcho-capitalism comes from the lack of understanding the relationship of bargaining power. The presumption (whether stated or not) is that all parties to a contract have equal standing and bargaining power. But this simply isn't so; and that is ultimately why you have to have what in constitutional lingo are called the police powers under the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution).

OkieLawyer said...

I think that maybe Thai will like this:

Does this prove that debt is fractal?

And how does just one person lose almost $4 BILLION?

Debra said...

Okie, your link on anarcho-capitalism was really interesting.
About ten years ago, when I was the volunteer treasurer of a 1901 association with five salaried employees, it suddenly smacked me right across the face that the LOGICAL CONCLUSION of the neoliberal docrinal attitude toward the "free market" was a society of... ungovernable INDIVIDUALS.
So... anarcho-capitalism is the endgame point of the free market system, and rampant privatizing, for example.
In your Wiki articles, what I find interesting is the difficult to INTRICATE our dual requirements in society : a PUBLIC AND a PRIVATE space, both of which are differentiated.
Put simply.... in a pure anarcho-capitalist system, I am not sure that we will have ANY remaining COLLECTIVE infrastructure, and I can see us... in front of our homes with toll boothes set up to collect payment from our neighbor for each centimeter of road traveled...all of the upkeep coming out of OUR pockets, of course...
Pretty... RIDICULOUS, now, don't you think ?
But then... we federate our society around.. ideas, not money, or goods..

Thai said...

Rich thanks.

Okie and Deb

Anarcho-capitalism is but one perspective on this spectrum.

For I seem to remember reading endless articles about this in the popular press as well.

Frame the issue any way you want, you are still left with the same irreconcilable paradox...

Are we a collective? Or are we a wave? Or are we both?

I think you know my answer

Be well

Thai said...

And Okie re: " ultimately why you have to have what in constitutional lingo are called the police powers under the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution)."

This takes us back to the very first conversation you and I ever had on this blog (however long ago)

So if I read you right, now you have changed your mind and decided that the power of force IS the ultimate power in the end?

Times have changed

Thai said...

Definitely worth the time reading

Especially for the Europeans amongst us

OkieLawyer said...

@Thai:

What on earth are you talking about? Ultimate force?

What point are you trying to make?

Thai said...

I tried looking for our first chat but couldn't find it in a reasonable time frame so I gave up.

... It is fascinating to read over old conversations and see how views have changed over time.

Never mind

Debra said...

Hey... these days I am seriously trying to work on the... POWER OF LOVE...
The power of...total vulnerability and surrender.
Pretty amazing, the power of vulnerability...
It seems to work miracles for me, and the people I come into (physical) contact with, at any rate...
I said I was working on it...
After all, I have the rest of my life to work on it, right ?
Who knows where that will take me ?

Debra said...

Interesting link, Thai.
You know the way I like to (critically) tear THINGS and IDEAS apart....
I realized a while ago that one of the most potent forces behind our... evangelizing, (and the author, while proposing HIS ideas is ALSO trying to convince others of the validity of his ideas, this is inevitable..)
is our NEED to convince OURSELVES of the validity of our ideas at the same time we are busy convincing other people. (This holds true for me too, of course, although.. I AM working on this...)
I voted against the European constitution. For better or for worse...
I recognized in it an attempt to construct a European model which was basically a grimacing copy of "our" North American neighbor, the U.S., and... I didn't want UNION at that price. (By the way.. if, should I say WHEN, the vultures decide to descend on California, WE WILL SEE THE STATE OF THE UNION in the U.S... with or without federalism.)
We are talking about ideas, here, you will notice, and not JUST filthy lucre.
The author of this article (whose name I already can't remember... Alzheimer's oblige...) is handicaped by an historical vision which only goes back a hundred years at most.
This is a BIG handicap. A logical one. Our civilization has been around, with all those (printed) books to pick and choose from, and the ideas IN them, for about a thousand years now, at least.
And who we are today, is STILL related to who we were 1000 years ago, and the great majority of people, including the educated, have NO vision of the continuity of our civilization.
Globalization has been around forever. Since man was man. Since the prehistoric period, certainly.
The Protestant Reformation would not have been possible without globalization.
So.. exit... illusion number 1.
Now... the IDEAS BEHIND globalization have been changing.. Let's not incriminate globalization, (I don't care for nationalism though...) or democracy.
But I seriously doubt that democracy is possible within ANY ideology that thinks in terms of.. the masses. Incompatible.
But... although we mouth off a lot about democracy, I don't really see A LOT of it around, anyway.
Maybe.... it's already GONE...
Who was it who said.... "the man who wants liberty AND security will end up with neither."
Can somebody help me out here ? (God, sure hope it's not Voltaire... my.. PREJUDICE. Sorry...)

Debra said...

Thai...
You're gonna have to remind me how to GET your Mails that you have been sending me.
Lots of... glitches, to use a word I don't like.
On my loony forum, we have messages priv├ęs, PRIVATE messages to say certain things, and this makes some stuff easier.
You have my E Mail anyway, probably, without having to go through blogger, I think....
We can't seem to get along without each other, can we ?
Like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, or... Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart...
I'm really a BIG ZERO with a computer, you guys.
And.. I don't really LIKE computers either.
But... they are a medium to allow me to WRITE, and that is a vital activity for me. One I can't get along without... Some addictions are more fun than others, and less expensive, too..
A word of warning...
As a shrink already on an Internet FORUM, I feel qualified to say that... private messages circulating underneath the public blog CAN wreak havoc.. with the PUBLIC blog, and institute lots of misunderstandings. In whatever form they take. They are not JUST ways of clearing up misunderstandings...
Think about it... WORDS are a liquidity that circulates EVEN MORE EASILY than filthy lucre, as dematerialized as it has become these days...

Arnould said...

I have BIG DIFFICULTIES to read and UNDERSTAND a text WHEN ONLY some of the words are CAPITALISED. I do not want to OFFEND someone here, but I definitely CAN NOT read those comments.
.

Debra said...

Sorry Arnould, then you are not going to be able to read my comments.
I have tried giving up my style, which seems to offend lots of people, but it just doesn't work for me.
Shall we say... like 9/10 of humanity these days, I have gotten to a point where cooperation is very difficult.
And I'm NOT making excuses or apologies for myself either...
Hey, Arnould, why don't YOU try a few capital letters thrown in there every once in a while ?? ;-)
To keep me company a little bit ?

Debra said...

A little while ago I mentioned the FACT that Greece just happened to be one of the birthplaces of our Western civilization, and that this state of affairs was no coincidence in the way things are playing out, in my book.
But since a lot of the people on this blog are not reading any book that is more than five years old, I think that this observation MAY have been lost on you.
If/when the lights shut down because we are no longer capable of cooperating any more (mea magna culpa...) you will be able to light a candle and dig into Aeschylus' Oresteia, written between 500 and 400 B.C., the play cycle that dramatizes the foudation and emergence of our Western ideas about justice.
These plays are not very long. They would take you, maybe... an hour or two to read, and would certainly give you much more... spiritual and intellectual meat and potatoes to reflect on than... books about black swans, for example...
They would give you a glimpse of the larger picture.
Like Sophocles "Oedipus" plays too, where you would be able to see "hubris" play out in grand style, and just EXACTLY WHERE it leads to.
WHY are we attacking the place which is the birthplace of Western culture ?
Doesn't this get you... intrigued ? worried ? upset ?
Is it just "business as usual" to you ?
Not me. For me, there is NO ACCIDENT involved here.
I know what melancholy is.
It's that state of mind when you want to take as many people out ALONG WITH YOURSELF as possible.
I don't think the OTHER animals are capable of melancholy.
Because... it goes with consciousness.
Time to crack the books, guys... The ones that are more than 5 years old and are not necessarily about economic "science" or any other "science" while we're at it...

Thai said...

Daniel and Arnould,it seems you may get your wish after all.

Be well

OkieLawyer said...

To change the subject:

Here is a quip from a New York Times story, The New Poor:
In a Job Market Realignment, Some Left Behind
:

Ms. Norton, for her part, may be reluctant to acknowledge that many of her traditional administrative assistant skills are obsolete, but she has tried to retrain — or as she puts it, adapt her existing skills — to a new career in the expanding health care industry.

Even that has proved difficult.

She attended an eight-month course last year, on a $17,000 student loan, to obtain certification as a medical assistant. She was trained to do front-office work, like billing, as well as back-office work, like giving injections and drawing blood.

The school that trained her, though, neglected to inform her that local employers require at least a year’s worth of experience — generally done through volunteering at a clinic — before hiring someone for a paid job in the field.

She says she cannot afford to spend a year volunteering, especially with her student loan coming due soon. She has one prospect for part-time administrative work in Los Angeles — where she once had her own administrative support and secretarial services business, SilverKeys — but she does not have the money to relocate.

“If I had $3,000 in my pocket right now, I would pack up my S.U.V., grab my dog and go straight back,” she says. “That’s my only answer.”

With so few local job prospects and most of her possessions of value already liquidated she has considered selling her blood to help pay for the move. But she says she cannot find a market for that, either; blood collection agencies, she said, told her they do not buy her blood type.

“Sometimes I think I’d be better off in jail,” she says, only half joking. “I’d have three meals a day and structure in my life. I’d be able to go to school. I’d have more opportunities if I were an inmate than I do here trying to be a contributing member of society.”


One: Why are employers demanding that you volunteer? Seriously, there is something wrong when your business model is based on essentially slave labor to become profitable. And it also says something about the distribution of resources / wealth when it is the only viable model.

That last comment is also telling: there are, in fact, people who make that very calculation who could otherwise be productive. And it is a lot cheaper to put them to work on government work projects (repairing parks, dams, bridges, power structures, etc.) than to guard them in overcrowded institutions.

If private businesses will not pay people to work, we should do it through taxation and public works projects.

I am going on a rant here, but I just can't understand how here in the United States that we have NO vacation time, NO sick leave, NO guaranteed retirement and no other benefits enjoyed in other western democratic capitalist countries; and yet, even with all of these non-benefits, our businesses insist that they cannot survive without free labor.

It boggles the mind.

Debra said...

No go, Thai. I REALLY TRIED to access that G Mail account, but... GOOGLE fucked up for once... (!!!!!)
No getting through to that account. It's really Kafkaesque, the computer sometimes..
Okie, I really feel sorry for that lady..
But you mean you can SELL your blood in the mother county ?? Here you... GIVE it...
Cripes...

OkieLawyer said...

I would like Econolicious' and Rich Hartmann's take on this story (since you are so close to the action):

How To Manipulate The Stock Market (By Janet Tavakoli)

Chicago residents grew up to the sound of local early morning radio rundowns of pork belly futures and other exchange traded commodities. Every trick in the book from manipulation of soybeans to silver has played out in Chicago's trading pits. Every market professional I've talked to in Chicago since Thursday is of the same opinion. It makes no difference whether human beings or computers are front running and manipulating trades. The gyrations in the market last week have the look and feel of classic market manipulation.

OkieLawyer said...

Yes, Debra, selling your blood is one way to get a small amount of money (~$20) as blood banks are often short of blood (even with blood drives). I wouldn't be surprised if they did that in France, too.

Thai could give you more info than I could, I am sure.

Thai said...

Can't

They won't take my blood, even when I try to give it for free.

I lived in London for a number of months in the early 90's while I worked for St Bart's (I think it's now closed).

The Red Cross has decided that Limeys apparently have a massive public health problem called Mad Cow; long term exposure to the British diet is considered reason enough to refuse blood donations.

... And I guess I might agree with them that long term exposure to the British diet is enough to go mad. So we sort of agree.

Thai said...

Re: "... our businesses insist that they cannot survive without free labor."

Even if you beleive this tripe, I do hope you at least see the flaw in your logic.

We are doomed if you don't

Thai said...

Put in a less controversial way by looking at the same issue in another field of science to remove the emotion:

What is the leading hypothesis to explain why humans live so long compared with other primates?

I'll let you look this up yourself so I don't "bias" your searches.

Arnould said...

To Debra: OK then let it be. If literature had been written with your style to emphasize then I suppose that I would have no problem.

To Thai: I don't understand the relationship between Rueff and your link.

To Okielawyer: The economists say that one of the great drawback of the European economy is the language barrier hence the difficulty to move, and that the US economy does not have this brake.

But even within one country like France or Germany it is more and more difficult to change the type of job because of all sorts of regulations. And there are more and more of them every day, despite the project of our political leaders: free and undistorted competition.

I am sure that just after WW2 our grand parents didn't need any diploma or experience to make bread of wash cars or build roads or cook in a restaurant.
.

Thai said...

Re: "But even within one country like France or Germany it is more and more difficult to change the type of job because of all sorts of regulations."

... (quite literally) To be or not to be, that is the question?

Do we allow externalitites? Do we not allow externalitites? Or do we allow only some externalities? ;-)

Be well

OkieLawyer said...

@ Arnould:

The economists say that one of the great drawback of the European economy is the language barrier hence the difficulty to move, and that the US economy does not have this brake.

But now in the U.S., the barriers to entry include the costs to individuals because of student loan debt; houses that cannot be sold to pay off the mortgage debt; credit ratings used to determine whether someone is trustworthy.

In economic terms, the language barrier is what is known as a "non-tariff barrier to entry" because it is not a barrier based on the cost of producing goods or taxation.

What we have now in the U.S. is more akin the the stock market crash of last week, wherein the bid/ask divide was extremely wide. Bidders (employers) are saying "we want to buy the stock (labor) for next to nothing." Sellers (employees) are saying "we need $$$ to pay off the student loan debt, housing, food, clothing, transportation, utilities, health care, retirement savings, child care, education, energy, public services and taxation (not to mention unexpected expenses and entertainment / travel).

Employers are unwilling or unable to pay what the employees are demanding given their own limitations on what they need just to survive.

But even within one country like France or Germany it is more and more difficult to change the type of job because of all sorts of regulations. And there are more and more of them every day, despite the project of our political leaders: free and undistorted competition.

What regulations are you referring to? I am unfamiliar with the laws of France or Germany that limit changing careers. Please elaborate.

Debra said...

I HAVE THIS THEORY....
I think that for quite some time now we are engaged in terminal wishful thinking.
We would like our bodies to behave like...
our fiat money and
our language.
You know, like Superman ?
The "average" American, French, German, Japanese worker is supposed to have a dematerialized body to be able to get up in Spain, have lunch in Portugal, dinner in the U.S....
That's what the airports are all about, keeping up that big illusion...
Last time I checked my body didn't get transmitted like a wave...

Debra said...

Okie, I call what you're talking about the multiplication, not of the loaves and fishes, but the NEGATIVE.
It's like... the less you have, the less you have to have, or ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE in the case you are describing, and then we add up all those minuses, and pfftttt.
We get down past rock bottom.
This is a psychological phenomenon.
Haven't you noticed that... the LESS crime we have, the LESS we tolerate EVEN the crime we have ?
Isn't that what a function looks like approaching zero ?
You never get there ? (I'm nulle in maths...)
But you sure make yourself miserable trying...
This may sound incredibly irrational to y'all.
But I assure you... it is "logical" within its own framework...
It is called... trying to make the world behave like, and look like your symbolic systems...
Next time I give my blood I'll ask if "we" buy blood.
I don't think so, though. Unless it's done underhanded.. I wouldn't know about that though...

Thai said...

Deb, this is a classic linear argument in a non-linear system

I suspect that last time you checked, not everyone is like you.

Teleportation might not exist, but differences between people in the willingness to either push yourself and or personally sacrifice most definitely do.


@Okie, which gets to the point as to whether all the education/training, etc... are necessary for the position?

I might remind you that PhDs are actually quite rare now a days in America's most successful industry (the high tech industry).

Notice that woman in your article blew $17,000 on a worthless education and when she ultimately defaults on the loan, it will be paid for by someone else's labor.

There is this bizarre notion that throwing away someone else's perfectly good time and labor is OK when it comes to education but its not when it comes to other's throwing away your time/labor.

Don't drink the legal profession's cool aid that tells you all this complexity is necessary just because they say so.

Utilities love to justify their profits by saying they need more expensive generators.

Or that we need to subsidize more fuel efficient cars and/or wind power when simply picking up BOTH the mail and the mayonnaise on the same trip will double your fuel efficiency as opposed to taking two trips.

Your argument doesn't hold water.

Every "thing" on your list of fixed employee costs- e.g. student loan debt, housing, food, clothing, transportation, utilities, health care, retirement savings, child care, education, energy, public services and taxation (not to mention unexpected expenses and entertainment / travel, etc... you are treating as if they are fixed costs that are not modifiable (which is often true do to regulations designed to avoid other externalitites)

The reality is they are not fixed at all. ALL of them can be readily modified.

This is just like our obesity argument where you say its society fault (actually you have come around to the fact that it is both) while I say it is both but in the end it is really your own behavior you can change so the responsibility for change rests with you.

Debra said...

DRING DRING DRING DRING...
The alarms bells are going off in my head...
Here we are arguing again...
Thai, are you sure that you aren't NOT agreeing just to NOT AGREE ?
Gotta be careful with the NEGATIVE.
It is very very powerful...
It can be very very irritating, the contact with people who NEVER agree (with you...) about anything.
And... last time I checked NOBODY had managed to teleport. Not me. Not Barack Obama. Not Nicholas Sarkozy.
Hey... NOT EVEN THE FILTHY stinking "rich" people can teleport. HOW CAN THIS BE ?
Maybe "we" are NOT all powerful..
I still maintain that hubris has some dastardly effects that we should be thinking seriously about.
Honestly, I don't understand how this innocuous little statement is open to discussion.
I must be dumb...
I'm dumb and a millenia's worth of our best writers are dumb too...
So be it.

OkieLawyer said...

Notice that woman in your article blew $17,000 on a worthless education and when she ultimately defaults on the loan, it will be paid for by someone else's labor.

No it won't, because of 11 USC 523(a)(8):

(8) unless excepting such debt from discharge under this paragraph would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor's dependents, for--

(A)

(i) an educational benefit overpayment or loan made, insured, or guaranteed by a governmental unit, or made under any program funded in whole or in part by a governmental unit or nonprofit institution or

(ii) an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend; or

(B) any other educational loan that is a qualified education loan, as defined in section 221(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, incurred by a debtor who is an individual;


I know what point you are trying to make, but I am afraid this one is placed on the backs of anyone who gets a college education in the U.S. who depends upon any type of student aid that requires repayment.

They can even take your Social Security benefits to pay student loan debt.

Again, the cost isn't shifted to others. We are putting all of the risk and burden onto people who cannot handle it.

OkieLawyer said...

Don't drink the legal profession's cool aid that tells you all this complexity is necessary just because they say so.

What are you talking about? When have I ever said that "complexity" is "necessary?"

The reality is they are not fixed at all. ALL of them can be readily modified.

Oh really? Modified how? And by whom?

This is just like our obesity argument where you say its society fault (actually you have come around to the fact that it is both) while I say it is both but in the end it is really your own behavior you can change so the responsibility for change rests with you.

I have always maintained that it was both BUT what I have complained about (see blog post at Street Rat). For the record, here is what I have said:

"And, of course, what is the solution that is given to us? Here, just take these medications. Lose weight. Eat less. Exercise more.

What bothers me is that there is this meme all throughout the American culture that states that everything is personal responsibility. Further, that business interests have no responsibility to provide healthy foods -- or any other products -- that are safe for use by the ultimate consumer or user. We have been heading back -- for many years now -- to the rule that had been abandoned because of its inequities and harshness: caveat emptor.

The rule had been abandoned long ago because it was decided that sellers were in a far better position to know the hidden dangers in their products. Eventually, the legal theory of products liability came to be.

In the United States today, we are facing an obesity epidemic. While I try to eat only organic food, sometimes it is not available. And what about when I decide to go out to eat? Do I have the choices to eat and drink foods that don't contain this additive? It is not just in Coca-Cola and other soft drinks; it is in ketchup and candy and even "healthy" fruit drinks.

We are told that we don't exercise enough. OK, that's true enough. But what about the community's / society's responsibility to provide parks and streets which make exercise available? The point I am making here has to do with how our cities are predominantly designed for cars as opposed to walking.

Doesn't anyone recognize that the obligation to provide healthy choices is more than just a personal responsibility, but also a -- for lack of a better word -- a corporate one?


This is what I have been saying all along. My complaint is that in the United States, EVERYTHING is all about personal responsibility, and it is used to the exclusion of discussion or acceptance of a collective obligation. I am saying we are putting too much of a burden on individuals -- so much so that they cannot handle the load.

And I am sure Hellasious just loves the fact that we are hijacking his board arguing about this stuff.

JP said...

Okielawyer says:

"This is what I have been saying all along. My complaint is that in the United States, EVERYTHING is all about personal responsibility, and it is used to the exclusion of discussion or acceptance of a collective obligation. I am saying we are putting too much of a burden on individuals -- so much so that they cannot handle the load."

Not to worry, the OkieLawyer era is beginning.

The "burden on individuals" is the Boomer/Xer mentality.

Boomers are "Spiritual (inner directed)"/"Individualistic" and X-ers are "Materialistic (outer directed)"/"Individualistic" as generational cohorts.

Now, we are seeing the rise of the Millenials, who are "Materialistic"/"Cooperative".

Individuality has hit a trough, and now we will see an upswing to more cooperative/corporate behavior, although still materialistic (outer world) directed.

Note, if you get a "Materialistic"/"Cooperative" cohort with evil leadership, you get unfavorable results. See Nazi Germany for further details.

JP said...

I thought that the global human population was ultimately going to peak and then steadily decline.

I think the fertility rate in China is even about 1.5-1.7 now.

That's below replacement rate.

The rest of Asia is even lower.

India's the high one.

Thai said...

Deb, I didn't disagree with Arnould ;-)

... And here is one for letting a little more blood out of the stone:

Okie, I honestly didn't know (I paid my loans back). If this is true (and I checked so it is), then I think it is fair to say that knowingly putting someone into that kind of debt servitude puts the entire higher education profession on an even lower moral level than bankers.

As for hijack- touche. Hell, my apologies.

Agreed JP, agreed

Anonymous said...

@ Okie…

I could be 100% wrong. I’m 100% speculating with my theory regarding last week’s plunge. …but my “speculation” is based on (from my experience / knowledge) what I would think is “common sense” to a person with my specific background.

(Funny analogy based on a true event. About 3 years ago, I went to park my car by the bus stop on a VERY STORMY morning. As I drove down Ridge Blvd from 89th st to 69th st (where the bus stop was), I got to 73rd st, and saw lots of leaves on the ground… Got to 72nd st and saw branches on the ground… Got to 71st St and 70th st and saw SEVERE DAMAGE. Trees down, roofs ripped up and people poking their head out their doors looking dumbfounded. Passed by Ovington and Bay Ridge Ave, and there were branches and leaves down… Parked my car on 69th, where there was no sign of any damage. Myself and others walked back to 70th and surveyed the damage up and down the block. We all concluded… A TORNADO JUST RIPPED THROUGH BROOKLYN!?!?!?! We were sure of it. It was 8am.

Later that night, at about 7 or 8pm, the national weather service, and our local authorities concluded that a Tornado had indeed touched down. 12 hours later!!! ??? !!!)

What I said immediately after the drop, and even posted was a similar severe storm.

You have Algo trading bots in place. They are programmed. They don’t think. During our crisis 2 years ago, our quants realize their faults in programming when buys would trigger during a true collapsing market. My “assumption” is that the quants have now plugged in a short circuit at a certain point. As algo’s and Quant go, they probably “think” alike.

Market activity was DOWN all day, from the get go. Sells/downs HEAVILY outnumbered the Buys. Combine that pressure, with redms in the Money Market world (remember, those MMKTs are the oxygen, lifeblood of the entire market) …and now you have the size of the days drop starting to trigger these new short circuits on the algos…

Perfect storm. There are open sale orders. …and high speed bit/algos are not buying because they are tripping circuits. Then you’ve got MMKT cash coming in short, so you big institutions aren’t just lumping buys either. The NEED cash.

0 bids on buys. Yet there are open sale orders that need filling (but the sells aren’t “thinking” they’re just programmed to do their function, which on the sell order was to sell.) Was it manipulation??? …or poor planning? or those damn variables?

All the best,
MA/RH

Debra said...

Rich... my personal experience with computers in the workplace, ANY workplace, is that they result in thinking being turned off.
Yep, you're right that's a big generalization, but so far, it has held true in my experience.
With almost NO exceptions.
Because our PREJUDICES dictate that...
the purpose of the computer is to think FOR us.
Like... it is a machine that is designed to take away a task from us, and in this case... the task is thinking.
Okie, I am in 100% agreement with you in your analysis.
That is why I lovingly bolster the "loonies" on my self help forum, because... "the system", Okie, has rigged it so that you're a sucker or unpatriotic if you don't CONSUME, but then "it" hits you over the head with a baseball bat when the consequences of all that addictive consumption make themselves felt.
So I say... why participate humbly and obsequiously in your own alienation, and the punishment that "the system" is keen on doling out to you ??
Why hand over the whip to hit yourself with ??
I am a lazy person, but no freeloader.
But I'm tired of hearing all the crap about how much the unemployed are costing our society, which has PUT IN PLACE this unemployment.
It looks a hell of a lot worse in France, and has done for quite a while now, as I keep harping on.
Welcome to the global club.
I'll be in the streets with my butterfly wings on May 29 to defend our retirement pensions, and what remains of our once PUBLIC services.

Hellasious said...

Whatever the cause of last week's plunge was - and it certainly wasn't a fat-finger error, we know that - it exposed the truth about the market's condition right now: hollow (very shallow depth on the bid side).

Thbink of it as a puff pastry: very pretty, crispy golden on the outside and yummy looking - but if you bite it it's all air.

Works for breakfast stuff, but not for stocks..