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Comment: The shoes are us (Score 1) 3

by PopeRatzo (#47446285) Attached to: 1k words

Even knowing that, Republicans will vote for Republicans and Democrats for Democrats and Libertarians for people who are not libertarian. Even knowing they're just putting the yin and yang into those crushing boots, they will continue to believe if they could only defeat other leg, once and for all, their lives would be glorious.

The one thing a Libertarian cartoonist won't tell you though, is if you follow those boots up to the legs, and the legs up to the pockets and the pockets up to the head, you will find the corporate wizard pulling the levers, whispering, "God...guns...gay rights...family values...free markets...climate change...Sarah Palin...Michael Moore...liebruls...wingnuts..." into the megaphone. He's a wizened little man, looks a lot like Sheldon Adleson, in fact, whose own legs have withered. He's the subject of the Picture of Dorian Gray. Call it, "The Picture of John Galt". Corrupt, suppurating and certain of his position among The Elect. Plump and parasitic.

It's so easy to blame team red or team blue, but only because The Commissioner likes to keep our attention focused on the heels and away from the head.

Comment: Re:Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (Score 1) 322

by PopeRatzo (#47445493) Attached to: A Skeptical View of Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System

History is not going to be kind to the only liberal democracy in the middle east?

That's correct. A "liberal" democracy the same way South Africa was a "liberal democracy" during apartheid.

Now that I think about it, the Weimar Republic was also a "liberal democracy", as was the United States during the genocide of Native Americans and it's promotion of slavery.

Atrocity in a country that is otherwise supposedly "enlightened" stands out more, doesn't it? And make no mistake: the current government of Israel is perpetrating an atrocity right this minute.

Comment: Re: Not France vs US (Score 1) 258

Well, I don't know if anything in economics is provable per se, but Europe (more specifically the UK) is going through this debate right now. The EU is a giant free trade zone. How valuable is that? People who do business all think it's essential, but people are who are just employees aren't so sure. Let the debate commence.

Comment: Re: Not France vs US (Score 1) 258

Whatever the reason, they still boosted domestic production and economic growth.

That may have been true in the USA (hard to say given the lack of in-depth statistics back then and difficulty of knowing the impacts of such things even today) but it probably wasn't the case abroad. Sure, the USA didn't care one whit back then about the impact of tariffs on British or European manufacturers, nor did they care much if Americans couldn't afford superior foreign-made products for a while. They valued economic independence more, and given their situation that was understandable.

But putting military concerns to one side, free trade theory is correct. Those tariffs made the world as a whole economically worse off. If governments could be trusted not to use their economies as weapons of war, it'd be better for everyone if tariffs were reduced and removed, because it makes people wealthier in the long run and that's why every so often countries and trading blocs try to engage in free trade treaties.

Of course the problem is, governments do so love using economics as a weapon .... the USA more than most. So tariffs will continue to have non-economic justifications for the forseeable future, of the form "yes it makes us less wealthy, but the upsides are worth it".

Comment: Re:Free Shipping (Score 1) 258

Banning loss leaders (a.k.a. market dumping) seems like an inherently attractive fix to improve free markets, but it's fraught with difficulty.

The most obvious problem is R&D costs. I do market research and decide that people would be willing to pay $100 for a widget. But said widget does not yet exist, so I spend a million dollars to develop it, and then start selling it for $100 a pop. I calculate it will take several years to break even but that's OK, because I'm a businessman who thinks long term and we like those sorts of people don't we?

I think you can see where this is going - the business runs at a loss for several years, to build the market and spread out the development costs. Eventually I can reduce the price of my widget because I paid off the R&D costs. But until then I'm still in the red.

Amazon is no different. If they make no profit, it's because they choose to charge low prices, build the market and develop new products all at the same time, instead of cashing out. Though actually I think you're distorting history by saying they "muscled their way into the market". Amazon was one of the first online stores. There was no market to muscle in to, nobody else was doing what they were doing. Bezos pretty much created a new market from scratch.

Comment: Re:Price floors are subsidies (Score 1) 258

And sometimes it is, despite the supposed inefficiencies. That's what the French government thinks, and there are similar opinions in other European countries.

If governments could reflect the diversity of opinions in their population perfectly ever time, the world would be a simpler place.

In practice they tend to reflect the opinions of a very specific group of people - politicians (closely followed by bureaucrats) who are e.g. typically older and wealthier than the average man on the street.

There's an interesting article by an author on the topic, called "Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller: Buying books on Amazon is better for authors, better for the economy, and better for you". Worth reading, at least.

Comment: Re: Not France vs US (Score 1) 258

Oh, you might find this little essay interesting. It's about reducing tariffs when there is no "emergency". It discusses why the benefit of tariffs is not that they help us out of a tough spot, but that they create stability for wage-earners, which is exactly what our leaders have been trying to destroy for the past 30 years.

Tariffs are just one part of a sound trade policy.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com...

Comment: Re:Not France vs US (Score 1) 258

If it isn't better, why would you do it?

Small online book shop - you didn't hear about them so .... they don't exist? Is that what you're implying?

Read this article about a commercial dispute between Amazon and a large publisher (Hachette). It was on the Colbert Report, a US news comedy show. The hosts book was caught up in this dispute and so he told people to go buy his book and others at Powell's Books, which I can only describe as a small (relative to Amazon) online book store.

Comment: Re: Not France vs US (Score 1) 258

There were extreme situations extant at the time necessitating a tariff. And by extreme situations; I don't mean fiscal irresponsibility. I mean: there was no such thing as an income tax; the new government needed a bit of money to get on its feet, and the tarrifs were low and not a significant barrier.

Whatever the reason, they still boosted domestic production and economic growth.

According to the neoliberal free-trade types, tariffs can only have the opposite effect. It's quite possible that our fiscal irresponsibility is tied to our not having tariffs and other sound trade policies in effect.

Comment: Re:Cost of housing (Score 2) 258

The price of homes has become wildly disconnected from the cost of land thanks to their use as speculative asset, but even if that were not the case in most places you can build upwards way more than people do. And populations are stabilising or even falling in developed parts of the world. Only immigration keeps it from entering full-on collapse. So if our messed up financial system gets fixed and people stop using houses as piggy banks I see no reason why the cost of homes must go up forever.

If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else. -- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"

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