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Comment Re:Of course it was! (Score 1) 555

Issuing notes allowed them to engage in fractional reserve lending, which would be prosecuted as fraud in any other industry that attempted similar practices

I think there's an analogous practice for ISPs, Gym's, Clubs and Telecoms. They all charge a subscription fee for their services but if everyone actually tried to use their service at the same time, they couldn't, because in all of these markets the suppliers over-subscribe their services. This allows them to be more efficient and charge less for their services. In the case of banks, they don't charge anything for most of their services and even pay us for keeping our money safe. Just as described in what you quoted from wikipedia.

I'm sure there are other industries with similar practices but they aren't coming to my mind immediately.

Regarding the emergence of central banks. They are largely private enterprises and could have been created by private industry had it had the foresight to do so. The greatest problem with our modern banking system is accountability. The banks know that the Fed will bail them out and bank customers know that the FDIC will give them their money back if the bank doesn't. This leads to banks with very low liquidity taking even greater risks with their customers' money. To solve this problem congress could bring back Glass-Steagal, raise liquidity requirements and break up bank monopolies so that no bank is large enough to hold our economy hostage.

Comment Re:Of course it was! (Score 1) 555

I agree with everything that you've written here except that it would be better to say that the banks are an integral part of the regulation of commerce rather than that they are wholly dependent on government for their existence. The former is a quick summary of your point while the latter makes an unsubstantiated claim which cannot be proven and ignores the history of the banking system. We both know that banks work without a nationally issued currency as they did for hundreds of years so claiming that they wouldn't exist without it makes no sense. But saying the US banking system is tightly integrated with monetary policy is right on point.

One of the articles linked to by the wiki article you provided a link to describes exactly how the banks existed pre-federal regulation; They issued their own currencies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bank_Act

Comment Re:Of course it was! (Score 1) 555

I'm not understanding how a bank's existence depends on government decree. Banks will accept whatever common currency is available. Like any other service based business, they have no physical product. And like pretty much every business on the planet, they depend on a common currency to function. The world economy would fall apart without common currencies issued by the public and a vast majority of products could never be made without one.

While I recognize that some aspects of the villains in the novel also exist, it's to the same degree as the heroes... just like any novel.

Comment Re:Of course it was! (Score 2) 555

Banks have existed long before they were regulated and just because they are regulated they are not government enterprises. Much of their business goes on without any governmental oversight. Their primary means of exchange (not a product) is government issued currency but if people decided to start paying for things in bottle caps then they would accept bottle caps.

Your point about the villains and heroes in the book is still valid though. Unfortunately, I know of very few 1%'ers who don't participate in political bribery or manipulation.

Comment Re:Agreed (Score 1) 110

I'm sure if she wanted to just copy what her third grade teacher did it would have been a cake walk. Coming up with new ways to teach is very difficult and was probably a requirement of the assignment since plagiarism is grounds for getting expelled. If the bar for a meaningful job is that it requires someone smart enough to get an engineering degree then there's very few people with meaningful jobs out there. At my engineering school the joke was that you should join the College of Business.

Comment Re:Good for the Judges (Score 1) 218

Comcast has called, emailed and sent me multiple letters offering me free equipment to support their switch to all digital. I'm a basic cable subscriber who has only been watching the digital HD channels that have always been offered as part of the basic service (not digital). The lowest tier of digital service blocks the channels I get as a plain basic subscriber which is very odd to me but it probably complies with the law you speak of since their lowest tier service doesn't scramble those channels.

Comment Re:Poverty rate (Score 1) 696

I don't think it really costs more to buy healthy food. Processed foods are usually purchased because it takes less time to cook them, not because they are cheaper. Maybe it's the time that it takes to work two jobs which makes it nearly impossible to make a healthy and cheap meal. Also, while attending college I had very little income and ate nothing but processed foods yet I never strayed outside of my optimal weight range. I was probably younger than you are now which could impact how my body dealt with those fat generating foods

I've also found that produce in particular is very cheap, at least in my town, but we have lots of local farms and people who care about nutrition so that may contribute to the lower prices.

In trying to find the reason for a link between poverty and malnutrition I found this interesting article and thread which makes the case that it's a lack of knowing how to make cheap healthy meals or the time to research and make those meals which really causes malnutrition. There are some exceptions where there simply isn't a cheap source for healthy food but I doubt it applies to that many people.

I do agree that the CPI shopping cart needs to be changed as it contains items which people don't need to survive or be healthy and lacks some that they do. I also do not doubt that your issues in cooking nutritious foods are real but I'm fairly certain that you could find a way to eat healthily while maintaining an acceptable level of tasty food. Doing so might however require an adjustment to what you find acceptable as I know I had to adjust my desires for taste to lower my cholesterol and blood pressure.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 606

It would be great if we brought US law into the 21st century. Many laws already link to others by codes so just converting those into html links would help people understand them better.

I know the "paying attention" idea requires refinement. I would be happy with banning all forms of communication and entertainment from being present during the reading of a bill. Actually, we're pretty much defining a classroom here so probably whatever works in school should work in this situation. The esteemed senators might object to being treated like children though :).

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 606

The difficulty in deciphering laws is indeed a huge problem and I doubt that many congressmen even understand the laws they pass, at least as a whole bill. Short laws aren't the only solution to this particular problem however. One solution that I've been pondering for a while is what if lawyers used Object Oriented Design principles in writing laws. They could add layers of abstraction until anyone can understand the top layer of a law, just as with OOP (Object Oriented Programming). They could also create a central repository of common legal clauses with easy to understand and reference names so if someone wanted to delve into the bitter details they could just read the name of the common law clause and already know what it means precisely because they've already read it before.

While it's true that adding additional text to a law can introduce ambiguity, I doubt adding strictly clarifying text will do so unless it's added by someone who's less than competent in which case they shouldn't serve another term in office. Unfortunately a democracy doesn't deal with incompetence that well since most of the voters are not intelligent and/or skilled in law enough to be able to judge a congressman's incompetence. The only issue I see with forcing laws to be short is that some laws do in fact need to be long and complicated because what they are dealing with is large and complex, such as: the environment (which you mentioned earlier), aerospace (small mistakes kill people), transportation (mistakes kill people), interstate and international trade (macroeconomics is extremely complicated), etc.

I do like your idea of forcing someone to read each bill before congress and only allow those who were present during the reading to vote on it. It's an excellent incentive for them to write concise bills and to ensure that they have at least read the whole bill; although we'd need some way of monitoring whether congressman are actually paying attention. We could also require each congressman to summarize the bill before voting and if they don't show comprehension of the bill they must abstain. Or maybe require a quiz about randomly selected parts of the bill.

Comment Re:France has a problem (Score 1) 1198

Well I live in one of the safest cities in the US so I really don't have safety problems where I live but the murder rate in my favorite bar hopping city (Portland, OR) is 4 per 100,000. I've spent more time there than in Paris yet have seen no crimes in Portland which makes me think that murder doesn't necessarily correlate with crimes against tourists or near areas of interest for tourists.

Despite my experiences in Paris I would still tend to agree with you that it's a very safe place to live/visit as long as you know which areas to avoid.

Comment Re:Ironic (Score 1) 606

I agree that we have over-regulated in certain areas but we have also under-regulated or regulated in the wrong ways in other areas. I used to think that our government makes everything too complicated but after reading some bills which caused public outcry due to ambiguity and finding very precise language in those bills, even in the exact paragraphs people were complaining about, I've come to realize that it really is just that hard to write laws.

Comment Re:France has a problem (Score 1) 1198

Yeah... read some hostel reviews in just the shady parts of Paris (not the ghettos) and you'll see stories of muggings, pick-pocketing and stalking. I also took a hike to Sacré-Cur and felt unsafe passing through a very well maintained park where a bunch of black people were doing drugs in the middle of the day; I do have a natural tendency to distrust black people though due to being from Oregon where black people basically don't exist. I also saw a guy a vandalize a car using an ice-pick just a few blocks from my hotel in a good part of town. I managed to have both of these experiences while being there for just four days.

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