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Comment Re:Fake news (Score 1) 266

Or even more correctly, "Government borrows money. Apple buys some of that debt."

I own some of the same kinds of bonds Apple does, but the government didn't borrow that money from me. It borrowed it from someone, somewhere, at some point, who then sold that debt on the open market where it traded many hands over time and eventually some of it ended up with me. Actually some of it ended up with a bond index fund that owns and trades many kinds of bonds, and some of that fund, through a similar process, eventually ended up with me. That's how bonds work. That's how ordinary people save up for retirement.

If you have a few hundred bucks lying around you can "make the government borrow money from you" too.

Comment Re:So you say, Solandri.... (Score 1) 254

But by abandoning the gold standard and not coming up with anything concrete to replace gold, we effectively said our currency is no longer tied to anything tangible of any value, so only faith in our leaders managing everything keeps it afloat.

This. Pinning a currency to one specific commodity is stupid, but pinning it to nothing at all is even more stupid. Currency should be pinned to a representative basket of investments -- some precious metals like gold sure, but a variety of them, and other valuable commodities, and shares of public companies, and so on -- that is continuously updated in a passive fashion (akin to the techniques underlying index funds) such that one unit of currency represents a stable amount of economic value over time.

Comment Re:Net worth is over $86 trillion!!! (Score 1) 254

$180,000 is more than "decent", it's 300% the median household income for California, i.e. three typical California families would live off of that.

Of course, you're also right that $200k (I assume you made a typo) debt is tiny compared to the typical mortgage in California, namely about 50% of it.

(Those two things together just means it's fucking near impossible for anyone to stop renting in California).

Comment Re:What about cutting down full time to 32 hours a (Score 1) 538

Reducing the length of the work week will raise up the lower class at the expense of the middle class and do nothing to the upper class who already don't work for their living but rather profit off of owning capital, leaving a larger (but slightly better off) lower class, no middle class, and an ever-growing gulf between them and the independently wealthy upper class.

We need to do something to help the lower classes, but it has to be at the expense of the upper classes (if anyone), not the middle class, because doing the latter only creates a race to the bottom for everyone unfortunate enough to not already be at the top. What we need is something that pulls everyone toward middle class, making it easier to get to it and harder to exceed it, not something that pushes people away from middle class and grows the divide between top and bottom.

Comment Re:Curing Greed. (Score 1) 468

Thanks for asking. There are lots of different schools of thought on the matter, so I'm just giving my own thoughts on it here, not an overview of every possibility entertained. If you were to strictly-speaking enforce a process of diminishing returns on concentrating wealth, that wouldn't be a free market anymore; keeping wealth from concentrating in a free market requires you find some kind of loophole or process that is enabling that, and then you just stop enabling it.

I think that that loophole is rent, including rent on money otherwise known as interest. I'm cutting this really quick here and glossing over a lot (mostly rebuttals to anticipated objections), but basically rents happen when one person has more capital than they (in their own estimation) need for their own use, and someone else has less capital than they (in their own estimation) need for their own use, and the one with more exploits that difference by charging the one with less a permanent fee for the temporary use of the capital, so that when the whole transaction is over, the one with more now has even more, and the one with less now has even less, and (this is the key part) that process then loops over and over and over again, unless by some other means the one with not enough capital manages to get enough capital of their own (a process made all the harder by having to pay to borrow someone else's meanwhile).

In the absence of the ability to rent the capital (lend it at interest), the one with more capital would need, if they wanted to profit from it at all (since they're not using it themselves), to sell their excess capital, and the only buyers would be those without enough already, so the sale would have to be on terms (price and payment schedule) the latter can afford, to satisfy both of their own self-interests. This would still come at the cost of extra labor from the buying party (being all that they have to trade, lacking in capital), and consequently afford the selling party some leisure (lack of labor needed), but that would be a temporary condition until the sale is complete. Afterward, both parties have the amount of capital they (in their own estimation) need for their own use, and can continue about their usual amount of labor, keeping the whole product thereof for themselves.

For illustration consider a toy model economy where the only capital is land, the only labor is farming, and there are only two identical participants, with the same needs and labor capacity. If they both have enough land to farm to meet their own needs, then they can each farm their own land and they are equals. If one has more land than he needs and the other less, and rent is a thing, the first can rent some of his land to the other, which he pays by also farming some of the other guy's land (besides the part he's renting), meaning the other guy can kick back and work less... and this will continue like that indefinitely, one person perpetually indebted to the other, all because one of them started out with more than the other. Meanwhile without rent, the poorer farmer would still need to buy the excess land from the richer farmer, meaning he would still have to do some of the farming for the other farmer in trade for that land, but a finite amount thereof, after which time the price will have been paid, they will have equal amounts of land, and go about farming it with equal amounts of labor to meet their equal needs, neither indebted to the other.

Fortunately, we don't have to ban rent to get rid of it, because rent is not just a voluntary trade of one thing for another, that would be a sale; it's a special kind of contract. If we simply stop enforcing such contracts, consider them invalid the way we consider a contract selling yourself into slavery invalid, then rentals and interest-bearing loans would be, while strictly speaking allowed, economically untenable (inasmuch as I will not be punished for agreeing to be your slave, but as soon as I decide I'm tired of it, tough luck for you, that agreement is not binding). So you're not using any force, and all trades are still free, just certain kinds of contracts are not protected, and so won't be used, and in their absence, actual trades (still free) will have to be used instead, in the process circumventing the problems that arise from rent.

And Marx thought capitalism was an unavoidable byproduct of free markets just because he couldn't see what it was, in addition to the free trade of private property, was really causing it. The problem is not, as Marx thought, that the factory-owners pay the workers less than they in turn sell the product of those workers' labor for; the problem is what causes the workers to be in such a bind that their best option is to agree to such an arrangement instead of telling the factory-owners to go fuck themselves, and that is that the workers have debts to their landlords (and possibly other creditors) to pay. The only difference between capitalism and feudalism is that the lord whose land you live on and the lord whose land you labor on can be different people (and you can pick who they are); you're still laboring upon someone else's capital, and then giving a big chunk of the product of that labor to someone to borrow the capital you need to live and continue laboring. That the someones are different instead of the same doesn't make that much difference to the economics of it.

Comment Re:Curing Greed. (Score 1) 468

i think you're a moron with no knowledge of the history of economics who can't distinguish propertarianism (private property ownership) and voluntarism (freedom to conduct commerce voluntarily) from capitalism (the shaping of a market -- free or not -- by the prior distribution of capital, such that ownership flows to those who already have more of it; first coined by Marx as an unavoidably byproduct of free markets, though I and plenty of others think he's wrong).

Comment You can turn this off (Score 1, Informative) 555

Emergency alerts can already be turned off on your phone. I don't need to be getting woken up at 3AM for flash flood warnings in a different watershed or missing children in a vehicle on a major interstate hours' drive away from my out-of-the-way little hometown, so I have them off already. If that means I don't get stupid fucking Trump tweets either, great.

Comment Re:Should be obvious to everyone (Score 1) 560

If the US were more of a republic, it wouldn't bother me because in a more republican state these people (and many of their supporters) could not even vote. However, if we do go full on legalization we will need to veer strongly toward the more pure republic model from the trend toward more "democracy" in order to keep legalization from becoming a crippling effect on our system.

You apparently don't know what the word "republic" means. Hint: it's not somehow opposite "democracy". I suspect you think it means what's properly called "representative democracy", though it sounds like you don't like even that.

A republic is a state operated in the name of the people. A democracy is a state controlled (directly or indirectly) by the people. A republic doesn't have to be a democracy, and a democracy doesn't have to be a republic, but you can have democratic republics, and the United States is one. (For contrast, the UK is a democracy but not a republic; North Korea is a republic but not a democracy; and Saudi Arabia is neither).

Comment Re:Yes, we do need regulation (Score 2) 333

If "the salesman has already packed the wagon and moved onto the next town", why do the lawmen not follow them to the next town over? This isn't ancient Greece where you just leave the city and you're in a different country. When some fly-by-night company springs up, sells a bad product, and then "closes up shop", whoever did that is still around somewhere, and we can find them and punish them. If for some reason we're not finding them and punishing them, well, there's the problem right there.

Prior restraint of action is the literal antithesis of liberty, where you're not allowed to do anything without getting permission first, effectively presumed guilty until proven innocent. But to make sure that liberty does not become anomie, we have to make sure that if your actions bring negative consequences, they are suffered by you only, not an innocent party. If we're letting people cause harm and get away with it scot free, the solution is to not let them get away with it, not to make everyone ask permission first and prove themselves innocent before they attempt to do anything.

Comment Re:SO... (Score 5, Insightful) 333

This. We don't need some kind of special regulatory committee for aloe products specifically to address products like this. Claiming to sell one thing and then actually delivering something is already a crime, one of the most elementary crimes out there next to things like murder or theft: fraud.

Even without levying a specifically punitive fine for that crime, at the very least restorative damages would mean returning the money for everyone whose money was taken without delivery of the agreed-upon goods. Having to refund every fraudulently sold bottle is probably punitive enough even without adding specifically punitive damages on top of it. And like you say, Wal-Mart etc can go after the producers, and if for some reason they can't, then it sucks to be them and they should make sure that doesn't happen again, by whatever means necessary.

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