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Comment Re:Who wants to prick the bubble? (Score 5, Insightful) 371

I recently had a discussion about whether or not the spike in BTC is a bubble or not and came to some interesting conclusions.

From what I can tell, essentially a bubble burst occurs when prices have become so inflated that people are priced out of buying in. This creates a lack of buyers, causing the sellers to dramatically drop their prices. For example, if I buy a house for $100,000, and then sell it for $150,000, then they sell it at $250,000, etc, etc. Eventually the price gets so high that people just won't buy the house. Leaving the last buyer to take the hit and sell at a loss (if he chooses to sell).

BTC is somewhat different though. It is divisible to 8 decimal places (infinitely divisible in theory, just need to update the clients). So people can never be "priced out" of the market, they can just buy a smaller slice of the pie if they desire. This is unlike a house where I (typically) can't buy just a fraction of it.

So the only thing I can say for sure, is that we cannot be sure whether or not the rapid rise in BTC value is a bubble which will burst or not.

Comment How would it handle a large load? (Score 4, Insightful) 499

This is a nicely done website, there is no doubt about that. And certainly the people who implemented healthcare.gov could learn a thing or too from it.

But I do have to ask, how would thehealthsherpa.com hold up when 100,000's of people try to use it at the same time? My guess is that the site is hosted on a single, relatively small server and wouldn't hold up very well. I could be wrong, but I think that scale is worth considering.

Comment Re:A century ago, Progressives (Score 1) 926

Many years ago the site manager at the company where I worked put it quite succinctly: the purpose of companies is the creation and distribution of wealth.

I guess what it boils down it, is that I simply don't agree with that. I would instead say that companies create value, which can become wealth if (and only if) consumers choose to exchange their wealth for the value in the companies product. In essence, I believe that something is only as valuable as what you can sell it for (or barter it for, certainly the economy isn't just cash).

Comment Re:A century ago, Progressives (Score 1) 926

I think that you have misunderstood the concept of investment. The whole purpose is to spend money on something that becomes more valuable than the money spent. Hence creating an increase in overall wealth. It's value may be based on its future capacity to produce products and not just the value of the machines, land and buildings.

That's the purpose, but it isn't guaranteed to be successful. There is no guaranteed that you will get more out of the investment that you put in. And I would also assert that you are only capable of making out of the investment what others are willing to put in. I could make a bridge and charge a toll. But if no one drives on it, I've lost wealth.

That's a measure of relative personal wealth. But that's not very useful because we were talking about total wealth in the economy.

Perhaps you are right about that, honestly, I'm not sure I really see the value of measuring the wealth of a whole economy unless we are discussing how one country can exert economic pressures on another, which is often based just as much in politics as it is in actual wealth. And as a result much more complex.

In the end, my assertion is simply put. For one to become more wealthy, that wealth has to come from somewhere, typically the consumer. While it is not proof in itself, I cannot think of a single scenario that violates that concept.

Comment Re:A century ago, Progressives (Score 1) 926

You ask an interesting question about the bridge/factory.

I would say that no the total wealth hasn't changed at that point in time because the bridge/factory took investment. That investment may or may not have value. Even after the investment is recouped, they can only produce as much wealth as others are willing to spend on what it provides.

If I build a factory which makes a crappy product that nobody is willing to buy, my wealth has done down. If that same factory makes a wonderful product that is popular, my wealth goes up... but the buyer's net worth goes down slightly.

For example, when I buy an XBOX from Microsoft. Microsoft has clearly gained some wealth. (let's assume they are profitable in straight sales for simplicity's sake), but my net worth has gone down a little bit. I can't resell that same XBOX for a profit (on average, I'm sure there are fools out there). MS marginally went up, I marginally went down.

Your question about the total wealth I think is a good one as well. And I suppose it would depend on one's perspective. So let me define mine. I consider wealth to be a measurement of what percentage of the economy you own. The economy can grow/shrink, but the there is only 100% available to have. Your perspective may differ, I'm fine with that, it just means we disagree.

I think that a more important economic measurement is the **utility** of ones money. Certainly the utility of money has increased over time, because many things have become so cheap there is pretty much no economic barrier to acquisition (for example, I've seen homeless people with cell phones). This to me is not a sign of an increase in wealth, but instead an increase in standards of living.

In the end, there will always be "have nots", I honestly think that inequality is required for an economy to thrive. People need to have goals to shoot for, things that seem **just** out of reach that they can work for. That's OK. What we can do though is do things to raise the floor so the have nots don't live in unlivable conditions.

Comment Re:A century ago, Progressives (Score 1) 926

Additionally, let's say that you're right and there isn't a specific, finite amount. If that were the case, why couldn't the government in theory just print more dollars and give that to only the poor? It wouldn't hurt the rich since the rarity of the dollar hasn't changed.. after all there are infinite dollars available!

They can't, because it would devalue the dollar and cause runaway inflation... because there IS a fixed amount of wealth to be had.

Care to demonstrate in any way, that this is not the case?

Comment Re:A century ago, Progressives (Score 1) 926

First let me clarify. When i say " there is a fixed amount of US dollars at any point in time", I am talking about the whole world economy. Sure I could take tons of Yuan (if I had it) and convert it to US dollars, but that's not adding to the economy, that's just shifting piles around.

But in the end, yes, you do need to explain how there isn't a fixed amount of US dollars because you can look at the federal reserve and see a specific number in circulation.


which states: "There was approximately $1.22 trillion in circulation as of October 23, 2013, of which $1.17 trillion was in Federal Reserve notes."

That plus, whatever I could convert from other currencies is the **effective amount of US dollars in the world** which is certainly, a specific, measurable, quantity.

Sure the government can and regularly does print new money (about $500 million a day, but most of it is to replace old money) but when new money is added to the system, it is effectively slightly lowering the value of all other dollars.

Think of it this way.

Suppose tomorrow, I trip over a brick of gold which no one has ever seen before. This wasn't wealth "added" to the economy, that new brick actually caused every other bit of gold to lose value by some incredibly small amount. This is trivially true, and I'll show why. Let's take the example further. Let's say that I wave a magic wand and now "find" a few hundred thousand tons of gold instead. The value of gold would noticeably go down as I try to exchange it for goods, services, or money, because... gold would suddenly be less are.

Comment Re:A century ago, Progressives (Score 1) 926

You're right in that it's not a closed system. Certainly there are outside factors which matter. Money comes in and out. But I think that the poster simply used the wrong word. A more accurate way to describe the system is IMO "zero-sum".

Meaning that in general, there is a specific amount of US dollars that exist at any given point in time. An individuals wealth equates to what percentage of the dollars they have. Even with exchanges from other currency or precious materials, the exchange has to be actually have enough USD to do the exchange (they can't just create dollars given some pounds if they don't have enough dollars).

The conclusion of that fact is that that system must be zero-sum. I actually find it very confusion when I speak to republicans who say the following two things:

1. "that's income redistribution/class warfare! The government isn't hurting the job creators by giving to the poor!"
2. "the economy isn't zero-sum, everyone who works hard can be wealthy."

These two statements directly conflict with each other.

If point 1 is true and is truly a problem. Then that means that the income redistribution is making the rich less wealthy in order to give the poor more wealth. In other words it's like looking at an unbalanced scale and moving some weight from one side to the other to make it closer to balanced. Don't get me wrong, I agree that this is bad for the government to do on large scales (help small groups doesn't hurt too much IMO).

If point 2 is true, then there is "infinite slices to the pie" conceptually available, so the rich would not be hurt by making the poor more wealthy... which is obviously not true.

Additionally, the fact that the government printing more money results in devaluing the dollar directly implies that there is a finite amount of dollars to be had, because it is changing the rarity (and therefore the value) of the dollar. Rarity means that it is limited in availability.

Comment Re:Why is this even news? (Score 1) 375

You make some very good points.

The data on car fires doesn't really speak about average maintenance or age of the cars, that's worth taking into account if possible.
Additionally I have to agree that Tesla's are new, so any data we have on them is subject to change as they are in the market for longer and with higher numbers.

So yea, I can agree that using statistics to speak about the safety of them is premature. But I feel my point still stands... Cars catch fire, fairly routinely. So much so, that if the news chose to report them all, we'd hear about nothing but car fires. The fact that some new car type catches fire in relatively small numbers shouldn't be newsworthy at all. We should note it, and move on without sensationalizing it.

If it happens to be the case that over the next year or so the failure rate rises as more of them are on the road, then THAT's a story worth reporting.

Comment Why is this even news? (Score 5, Informative) 375

I really don't understand why every fire in a Tesla car is so news worthy. According to the NFPA (http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/vehicles) there were an average of 152,300 car fires between 2006 and 2010. That's the same as 417 per day, and about 17 car fires per hour.

Cars catch fire. There have been somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 Telsa Model S's on the road. (3/15000) * 100 = 0.02% failure rate.

Meanwhile there are about 250 million cars on the road in the US last I looked. (152300/250000000) * 100 = 0.06% failure rate for cars on average.

So even with there being 3 fires, they are below the average. Additionally, there have been zero injuries in the 3 fires so far.

So... why is this news?

Comment Re:Access management nightmare? (Score 1) 632

Even so, would you really want to have each gun accessible by every person in the unit? What if there was a friendly fire incident? Wouldn't you want to know that the only person capable of firing a weapon was the person it was allocated to? If it could only be fired by one person then an investigation into a friendly fire or non-combatant death could be investigated rather quickly.

That's a good point, but there is a fairly simple solution. You could have the gun record which finger print was approved when it was fired. if storage is a concern, then you could have it only store the newest 1000 rounds or something to that effect.

That way, you can approve the gun for many finger prints, but still know which individual fired recently if there is an incident which requires investigation.

I suppose the major caveat with that, is that you need to store the information properly encrypted to avoid people covering there tracks or worse yet, framing someone. But once again, that's doable.

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