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    Surviving Collapse
     

    The Island: A Dialogue on Rights


    December 16th, 2009

    Comments (17)
    Read by 58 people

    An interesting dialogue with several SHTF Plan readers and contributors took place in response to the article Job Creation: The Spy Behind Enemy Lines.

    The original discussion began with commentor shogunole. We suggest to our readers that they start at the origin of the dialogue with the first comment and then return for the follow-up below.

    Here is an excerpt from user shogunole discussing individual rights and how they relate to the community structure:

    “I too believe in individual liberty and property rights, but we as human beings do not live and die as solitary creatures.  We live and die as a community.  I am not speaking of communism either.  What I mean by this is that we survive by helping each other out because we are ultimately dependent on one another.  Health care is just one problem that can only be solved using a systemic solution.  It may mean that you may have to sacrifice for me or I may have to sacrifice for you, but in the end we both benefit.  In ” technical” terms, a bunch of all-stars does not a championship team make(see 2004 US Olympic Basketball team for a good example). “

    “By the way life is one of those inalienable rights isn’t it?  Last I knew, we need health,  food, clothing and water in order to live.  We can do better than standing idly by while people are suffering and chalking it up to the law of the jungle.”

    Response – The Island:

    To be quite honest, this conversation should be taking a back seat in Washington right now anyway…

    Two things should happen before we (i.e., the people of the United States) even talk about substantive issues:

    1.  Get rid of the corruption in government – on BOTH sides of the aisle.
    2.  Stop spending like drunken idiots (BOTH sides of the aisle) and balance the budget.

    That being said, you said that you agree with individual liberty and property rights.  Well, I’m not sure you really do…

    First, I agree that a “systemic solution” to health care is needed and I am fully in favor of some sort of health care reform (e.g., allowing policies to be purchased acrossed state lines), but having a “right” to the work, money, or property of another person is some form of communism, or socialism, which depending on who you ask, are just different degrees of the same thing – taking from one person, and giving it to another.  It makes no difference if you are talking about health care or wealth in general.

    OK, so what exactly is it that I think is wrong with such a system?

    Well, an attempt at such a system is ignoring the reality of human nature.  Period.  I wish that wasn’t the case, but that’s just the way it is.

    In a comment I wrote to a different entry earlier this year, I provided a hypothetical example that I friend of mine thought of a few years ago:
    - – - -
    “The Island”

    Say ten people are stranded on an island, and they know that they are going to be stuck there for quite some time.  So, they try to start their own little civilization.  They divide the work that has to be done to survive into say ten categories or jobs:  gathering food/hunting, building shelter, making clothes, etc., etc.

    What happens if at some point one or more of the people are not able to perform, or “underperform,” their task…for whatever reason (physical impairment, laziness, etc.)?  Well, if it’s really only 10 people, and say they are friends/family, sure, the other people might pitch in extra to help the “underperformers” get by…

    BUT what if the group is 100 people who didn’t know each other at all before being stranded? or 1000 people?

    Most/many of the people MAY be willing to take up the slack for a FEW of the “underperformers.”  However, this situation quickly snowballs in two ways.

    First, as the “underperformers” are “given” what they need, with little or nothing in return, SOME people will realize that there is little or no need for them to work as hard, if at all, because other people will pick up the slack.  So, the “underperformers” have no incentive to improve their performance, and from this you might even see the number of “underperformers” mysteriously increase.

    Second (and similar to the first), as the “performers” see an increasing portion of their work product going to more and more “underperformers,” at some point, they are going to refuse to have their work product go to the “underperformers” and/or they will work less (or not at all).  Why?  Simple – their incentive to remain “performers” is being increasingly diminished.  Thus, they too become “underperformers.”

    NOTE that I am NOT saying all people on some sort of welfare are lazy or something.

    What I am saying is that such a system is doomed for failure.  In the long run, MOST people will only work when they are rewarded for it and the amount of work product they produce is somewhat proportional to the amount of reward they receive.

    Likewise, those who are provided for by others will not work because there is no need for them to work.

    I realize my example is quite simplified…and I know what I’m saying sounds cruel…but that’s just the way it is.  It is human nature.

    - – - -

    In all sincerity, feel free to tell me in what way(s) you think the above example is off base.

    Please note that I don’t think that the “snowball” effect I describe above happens overnight…it might take years.  However, it is inevitable.

    (Also note that I am not necessarily saying that we (the United States) are at the point where we have completely lost our incentive to be productive – BUT we are definitely riding that slipperly slope…)

    With that example in mind, I’m not opposed to a BASIC, EMERGENCY social net…even though, technically, that contradicts what I wrote above.  However, that social net should be an ABSOLUTE last resort.  Support should come from family and friends LONG before the government gets involved.

    Second, regarding your comment:

    “In “technical” terms, a bunch of all-stars does not a championship team make (see 2004 US Olympic Basketball team for a good example).”

    In light of the progress capitalism has shown the world, I’m not even sure exactly how to respond, as I’m not sure what you mean exactly.  I think you are suggesting that the individual’s pursuit for “greatness” is not the best way to advance our society.  Is that what you are saying?

    If so, let’s consider one common, everyday group of products that has drastically changed the world over the last thirty years: computers.

    Do you honestly believe that without the competition among “individuals” to become “all-stars” we would have had all of the advances in the computing industry that we’ve seen over the last couple of decades?

    …and I’m not just talking about playing Doom.

    The benefits that every single person in this country (really the entire world) has received from the advances in computers are countless.  Automobiles, health care, personal computers, TVs, appliances, national defense, cell phones – the performance of the various products in all of these categories has been drastically improved while the relative cost-for-performance ratio has fallen.  These benefits have been received and enjoyed by EVERYONE…and that argument can even be extended to homeless people.  Yes, I mean it.

    …all just because some selfish people were trying to make a lot of money…for themselves…as individuals.

    That drive – to become an “all-star” – and the competition that arises from it do in fact benefit the “community,” as people are pushed to make better and better products at competitive prices.

    Third, I agree that life IS an inalienable right.

    HOWEVER, that right only extends so far.  As an example, take me.  I am 33 years old.  I have an undergrad degree in physics and a law degree.  I’m about 6 feet tall, weigh about 180 lbs, and work out 5 times a week.  I am clearly capable of being a productive member of society – and I’d like to think I am…most of the time (note that I don’t chase ambulances or anything – I write patents).

    …but what if one day I decided that I am never going to work again.  I just don’t feel like it anymore.  Sure, I’d lose my house eventually…and my car…default on my students loans…and eventually be homeless.

    Well, do I have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to life?  Should I still be housed, fed, and clothed from the efforts of other people, even though I have actively decided to be a bum? (see “The Island” above)

    I know what you are going to say – “Rick, you shouldn’t do that.  If you are capable of working, you should.” (BTW, I agree – I should not do that…and never will.)

    HOWEVER, we are now just a hop, skip, and jump away from “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” aren’t we?

    So, in the end, is life REALLY an INALIENABLE right in THAT sense?

    Let me rephrase that so I don’t sound like such an anarchist – Is life an INALIENABLE right to that extent that you have a RIGHT to others’ work and property?  By RIGHT, I mean should other’s work and property be “forcibly” TAKEN from them, regardless of the circumstances?

    Perhaps the Founding Fathers didn’t mean that.  Maybe they only meant that you have an inalienable right NOT to have your life taken from you by the OVERT acts of others (e.g., murder, etc.).  More specifically, perhaps the word “inalienable” was not meant to imply ”without bounds.”  Maybe it simply refers to the idea that such a right can not be taken away.

    Fourth, regarding your comment:

    “We can do better than standing idly by while people are suffering and chalking it up to the law of the jungle.”

    I agree with you here too.  Well, at least I think it sounds nice.  The problem is that when people are FORCED to do more than stand idly by, things spiral out of control.  At some point, it boils down to taking from some and giving to others (back to “The Island”).  Eventually, the number of those receiving will increase, and the number of those giving will decrease – both due to lack of incentive.

    Next, regarding your comment:

    “Trickle down economics does not work.  Shareholder dividends get put in shareholders pockets.  They don’t get spent.”

    I agree with you in that not all shareholder dividends get spent.

    However, they don’t get stuffed in mattresses either.  They get invested in businesses or put in banks (where they are often invested).

    How exactly do you think companies get started?  Does the Money Fairy give Joe the Plumber $100,000 so he can start his new plumbing company…which CREATES JOBS?

    (Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that the “financial” industry helped get us into this current mess…and then some…I have no problem with regulations that prevent institutions from doing insane things like getting leveraged 80:1).

    Finally, regarding outsourcing – I agree we’ve got a problem there…

    …and that problem is obviously that businesses do not have enough incentive to keep those jobs here in the states.

    How exactly do you think we should fix that?  Raise taxes?  Unionize every single industry in the country in order to raise salaries and benefits?

    Sorry to be a smart alec, I just don’t know see how your comments above relate to a solution for this.

    Overall, everything you said sounds great.  It would be great if everyone, both in this country and others, could have a house, a car, free health care, etc.  And perhaps one day, we’ll have the ability to do that.  Maybe someone will invent/discover an infinite source of energy…and some sort of gizmo that can create everything people need out of thin air (like in Star Trek or something).  After some period of time, such technology may become so inexpensive that everyone in the world could enjoy the benefits of it.

    However, we have to ask ourselves this question – “What is the fastest and most efficient way to get our society to that point?”

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    17 Comments...

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    1. Rick, you bring up many good points in this article, way too many to discuss in one reply.

      I have heard of the island analogy before, and it is an appropriate one. Just a perfect example why socialism doesn’t work and will never work. Human beings need an incentive or reward to work. Otherwise there is no point.

      The obvious point I would like to make is that your simplified analogy is exactly that, very simplified. The US economy and the world economy for that matter is practically infinitely more varied and layered. There are no easy answers.

      I like to believe in free markets, and I think I do. But I look back at the last 25 years and how healthcare “progress” has decimated millions of Americans by putting it out of reach in the form of escalating costs and all the other atrocities committed by insurance companies, and I keep coming back to the fact that perhaps some institutions should be more socialized than not. The appropriate conservative/libertarian response would probably be that free markets have not been allowed to work, and I would agree with that sentiment to a large degree. That with the formation of HMOs and medicare/medicaid the government has meddled enough to distort the workings of a free market system. Throw in a revolving door between Congress and big pharma and the concept of free markets disappear all-together. So the question becomes, if we ever tried to go back to a real free market system, who’s to say we wouldn’t fall right back into the same trap given the human propensity for greed and power?

      I don’t have the answers, but I think I bend toward a blending of free market capitalism with some core function socialization. One could make a case for either way though and I believe this is why the debate over the right form of government has been going on for as long as it has.

      Very nice article again.

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    2. Frank says:

      Comments…..This conversation starts with  an error that  has only one answer——-WE , ARE NOT GODS !
            The way  man has been able to play this game  is because  “GOD”  has made the rules ——–RULE  !!!  THOU SHALL HAVE NO MONEY BUT GOLD .
            This calls for explanation.  I do not attempt  this but will refer you to  a  solution  I  believe  in.  It is in the last  chapter  of  “HUMAN   ACTION”   by Ludwig Von Mises.  All other “problems”  Stay with rule #1  and  live with  the rest!!

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    3. baserunr says:

      The key to “fixing” healthcare, like most other problems, is to get the government out of the equation.  The problem is that the consumers of healthcare services are too far removed from the costs that are associated with it.  healthcare is a superior good, and people will purchase lots of it.  even more if someone else is paying the bill.  Many people, including those that do very well financially, donate generously to fund private healthcare projects.  This is the same as the people on the Island “picking up some of the slack” when one of the inhabitants is incapable.  But once one half figures out that they can vote themselves the work product of the other half, the game is up, and anarchy ensues.  The US is very near that tipping point now.  How many in this country have an actual tax liability?  Last I knew, it was about 53%.  That’s how close we are to anarchy.

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    4. eris says:

      All of these arguments boil down to one simple analysis. Governments are created to protect life, liberty and property. When they become re-purposed to institutionalized theft (a kleptocracy) everyone will hire their own thieves in order to survive. In the end the system fails because thievery implies deception and eventually the entire body politic is deceived as to reality. Then reality occurs.

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    5. I totally agree with you that humans need incentive to work. If our basic needs are met, we stop working. If others are covering our basic needs then we don’t work.

      Since President Obama came to office I’ve never heard the word “Socialism” so much. A guest recently on DemocracyNow! reminded the listeners on the definition of Socialism. Socialism is a philosophy of equality. France and the Scandinavian countries have a form of democratic Socialism and they seem to be doing okay. Their blending of free markets and some concepts of Socialism seems to work for them. I agree here with Chris C. It’s the central governments job to knit the nation together as one tribe. I feel it is government’s function to provide for a basic safety net for the greater good of the National Tribe. If we worked as a hive then we would naturally look out for the greater good of the group. Such as it is, humans need an over arching system to bind the nation together. The government is suppose to look out for the common good of the nation as a whole. In past administrations you could count on the central government to reign in corporate power for the good of all the people. For far too long I’v seen so many special interests groups dividing the people into polarized camps that are tearing the fabric of the nation apart. Seems that people are increasingly their ideology first and Americans second.

      I think that the deregulation era has been shown to be a failure. It’s been shown that after industries are deregulated consumer prices go up and profits go up, which is exactly the opposite that was suppose to happen. We need more regulation to check corporate power. Free market Capitalism works on the principle that greed is good. We need government to watch over the nation as a whole and work for balance and best practices in all areas. We’ve had the S&L scandal, Enron, sub-prime loans, derivatives debacle… We’ve seen that the capitalistic systems cannot or will not regulate themselves.

      The guest on the Podcast reminded us that the mingling of government and corporations is not Socialism–it is Fascism. When a government starts buying out corporations and then using the corporations to extend the government’s objectives you have Fascism. Just wish that in the news media they would use the correct term.

      I’ve never heard so many calls from the radical right openly calling for an overthrow of the Federal government. There are demagogues out there like Mr. Beck fanning the flames every night on his program. The open display of firearms at a public appearance by the President is disturbing. In my 44 years I’ve never seen this kind of fervor and anger and open calls for revolution. People are so tied to their ideology it’s as if that has become their tribe. It’s as if, “My people are the ones who think like me and everybody else is my enemy.” It’s disturbing. I fear the Nation is tearing itself apart.

      Agreed, people have a right to be angry as the people have lost control of their representative Democracy. It’s now a corporate Republic run by an Oligarchy if ya really want to face the reality based on their actions. The corporations influence government; and the government influences corporations. The people have lost power. I want our Representative Democracy restored, but we don’t know how to do it.

      Thanks for the article and for sharing your thoughts.

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    6. Greg says:

      Wow! Today’s Diane Rehm Show is so on topic with our conversation.

      http://wamu.org/programs/dr/

      11:00George Packer: “Interesting Times”
      New Yorker staff writer George Packer on his post-nine-eleven travels through war zones, the pitfalls of idealism and the Obama administration’s challenge of moving from rhetoric to policy.

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    7. Good stuff, Greg.  I actually agree with a lot of what you wrote.

      As I said, the VERY FIRST two things that NEED to be done is get rid of corruption ON BOTH sides of aisle…and for the love of god, stop SPENDING so much money.

      To be quite honest, I don’t think I would have that much of a problem with a national health care system IF (big IF) everyone paid into it…AND IF (bigger IF) the federal government could run it “efficiently.”  Those two things will not happen…at least not until we get rid of corruption and over spending.

      Also, as I said before, I am in favor of a basic social net – but we’ve gone way beyond that in some area – like pensions for ”special interest” groups – such as government workers.  As another example of special interst meddling, just look at the bailouts of GM and Chrysler…and I know those are just recent examples…

      Now closed-door deals are being made with drug companies with respect to the imminent passage of the health care bill. I truly hope that the bill makes things better – but I’ll only give it a 5% chance of doing that…not because the Dems are drafting it…but because our federal government is drafting it…yes, I know I’m quite cynical. 

      Which leads me to my next point – you stated you feel the era of “deregulation” has failed?  Would you equate that to the era of “lack of government intervention?”  If you are referring to “the free market” in general, we abandoned any sort of laissez faire economic principles decades ago.

      …and look what government intervention in the economy over the last ten years has gotten us? (Yeah, I know that TECHNICALLY the Fed is independent, but come on…)

       I realize that the situation is more complex in reality, but CLEARLY the Fed’s intervention early this decade of lowering interest rates is AT LEAST partially to blame…

      We could probably go back and forth for a long time…but I think you and I agree on what matters most RIGHT NOW:

      We need to get the corruption out of DC and get spending somewhere back into the real of reality before we do anything else.

      There are a thousand issues to debate after that – but as far as I am concerned, they can take a back seat for the time being.

      One more thing Greg – just out of curiosity – can you describe that man (what he looked like) who was displaying the firearm at Obama’s appearance in Phoenix?  I’m not trying to be a wise ass – I’m just curious.

      Thanks for being respectful…I know I sound like a bit of a loon…at least to most people.

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    8. Rick,
      I agree with you. We gotta get rid of the corruption on both sides of the aisle and stop spending so much money we don’t have.

      Do you think the root of all the corruption is corporate financing of campaigns? Seems that running campaigns now cost so much money that Senators and Representatives are constantly hosting fundraising events. The media portrays that the candidate with the most money will likely be the winner. The desperate need for the candidate to raise the most funds makes them beholding to the corporate donors. If taxpayers funded all campaigns and capped the amount spent and did not allow corporate donors or sponsorships of any kind then, I believe, the power of influence over the lawmaker would return to the people. Maybe that could help to restore our Representative Democracy.

      Yeah, government intervention on behalf of corporate interest is only making things worse for the nation as a whole.

      We have to get back to the ideas of the common good for the nation–for the greatest number of people, that we are all Americans first. Diane Rehm’s guest, George Packer, has some fascinating insights on this topic if you have time to listen to the show.

      I think the terms changed from “Government regulation” to “Government intervention” right about the time that corporate big money started flowing to elected official and funding their campaigns. The people want industries regulated so that the system is far and balanced, read as “don’t take advantage of me.” The big corp perspective is that this is intervention, and intrusion, read as “don’t impede me ability to make profit.” The talking heads on the corporate run media speak of “government intervention” now days because that is the corporate perspective. Unregulated free markets are not in the average citizen’s interested. In a system like that the average citizen is going to be exploited nastily. Once big money is not influencing the government I do think there are many dedicated Federal employees that would then be allowed to do their jobs. I have friends that work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, that were totally disgusted that they were not allowed to do their jobs to protect endangered species under the last administration.

      The gun carrying man you mentioned. I only saw him from the back and my eye sight focused on the fact that he had a large fire arm slug over his shoulder. In past administrations I think if someone had displayed a gun at an event in which the President was speaking secret service would have them in custody. That was the “oh, my gosh!” moment the part that stuck with me.

      Of course, I’ll be respectful to you. I love this Web site were we can discuss and learn from each other. No one in my personal life wants to talk about what we see happening in the economy. It makes them fearful and uncomfortable so I don’t talk about things like this. My housemate saw my food storage preps and at first thought I was a loon, but as time has gone on he’s now just fearful. I was fearful also, but the more preps I complete the more confidence and optimism I have for my own prosperity and survival.

      Thanks for chatting. I’m not one of those people that holds my ideology as if it were a religion. I want to keep learning and evolving my consciousness and reserve the right the change my opinions as I learn new information. :D Thanks for sharing your insights.

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    9. It’s funny, Greg…first, I am assuming that you are generally a “liberal” (if you want to use labels)…and I am obviously a conservative (probably 99.9% Libertarian if anything these days – or a social liberal and economic conservative)….

      Assuming I’m right about you, I think this is a good illustration of what COULD happen with a third party in the near future.  I think a “secular” third party, made of people from all over the spectrum who just want, for now anyway, to get the BS out of DC ASAP before the SHTF (acronyms galore!), COULD be the angle from which a legit third party threat arises.

      Yeah, I want the income tax abolished in favor of a flat national sales tax.  You want to snort cocaine in your home (as long as you don’t hurt anyone ELSE)? – fine by me.  Gay marriage?  I don’t care – government should NOT be involved in marriage AT ALL.  I want a military strong enough to kick ANYONE’s ass…

      You said that “we have to get back to the common good” – I’m not sure what you mean…

      BUT FOR NOW, I DON’T CARE about that stuff.

      We can talk about all that stuff later – as soon as we get corruption out and spending under control.  I just want our government to stop ruining our country.  IF something convinced me tomorrow that we were heading in that direction, even if it was from Nancy Pelosi (shivers), tomorrow would be one of the best days I’ve had in quite some time.

      I THINK that sort of thinking could bring a lot of people together…

      Re corporate financing – I don’t know, to be honest…but you are probably right.  I doubt it’s helping things…

      Oh, and regarding the man carrying the gun – I asked that question to see if you knew that the man was an African-American (yes, he was black).  I can send you a video link of the full video…

      Unfortunately, SOME media outlets did not convey that information, as they edited their coverage very carefully.  It would have prevented them from playing the race card – which they did.  Don’t get me wrong , although I am a gun person, I thought it was a very stupid thing to do – though he was clearly not violating any laws…and well within his rights.  I asked you because you mentioned it…and I’ve come across many people that brought up the racist nature of that act (NOT that you did) because they didn’t know the man’s race.  Just thought you’d like to know.

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    10. Rick,
      Where to begin.  As you can tell, I am a progressive when it comes to my political philosophy.  Though I do have some Libertarian streaks.  I personally don’t want gov’t in my bedroom but I do want them making sure that I don’t get screwed by some corporate interest more powerful than I am trying to make a quick buck.
      Anyway, let me respond to your comments:
      1) We are now faced with problems that require cooperation between individuals for the good of everyone and, yes, some sacrifice on an individual level so that as many people as possible survive.  Does it mean that we don’t take individual responsibility for ourselves, of course not.  We all have to pull our weight so to speak in order for the community to function.  My point to Mac was that no matter what the scale (family, extended family, village, town,….etc) we need others to survive.  Humans are not solitary creatures.  We never have been.  I think Libertarians, in their quest for total individual freedom, sometimes forget this.  I am a pretty individualistic person myself, but I know that there are times when being part of a team will benefit me as an individual.  Hopefully, I made sense here.
      2) Call me naieve (sp), but I tend to believe that people are generally good unless shown otherwise and I believe in the Golden Rule. I don’t like seeing others suffer needlessly.  To this point, it has served me well.  Does this mean that I shouldn’t protect myself from predators, nope.  I would be a fool if I didn’t.  There is evil in this world.
      3) When I was talking about the US basketball team in 2004, you seemed to have missed the point.  There is nothing wrong with competition and individuals  or companies striving for excellence (no competition is just as bad as too much), but a good team can’t have everyone trying to “pad their individual stats” and expect to win.  Good teams are made up of the best individuals at their respective positions working together for the good of the team.  The US is at a crossroads here in this respect. We have to decide if we are going to work together so that the nation that we love survives or are we going to go our separate ways and see our nation die.
      4) You are right in that some money gets invested in start-ups and small businesses, which creates a need for help and; therefore, jobs.  However, trickle down economics creates a very few rich people and a lot of very poor people (There is census data on income distribution during the Regan/Bush I years that show this) which leads to the mess that we are in (or what goes for reality in a lot of Third World nations).  When people are making money, they generally do not start companies.  They buy fancy toys, big houses, and generally keep their money.  Greed is a big part of human nature as well.

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    11. Shogunole – I gotta make it quick – I gotta get up early tomorrow…

      First, I don’t necessarily have a problem with “regulation” (e.g., laws preventing 80:1 leveraging) so much as intervention.  Recently, we’ve heard a lot about how bad the greedy banks, etc. screwed the entire economy, and almost the entire world literally.  However, I don’t see that as a failure of the free market per se – sure, these guys were greedy – BUT look at the environment that was created by the Fed earlier this decade, which at least IN PART helped cause this mess (govt intervention failure).  Then, when the S almost HTF last year, instead of letting these banks fail, the government/Fed stepped in, bailed them out…and these SOBs essentially walked away with free tax payer money (govt intervention failure).  We have not had a free market in decades – if we did, we probably would’ve made some real progress after the dot.com bubble because the Fed would not have mucked things up more by enticing reckless speculation with rates lower than the free market would have set.  So yes, greed played a part – but so did our goverment.  By the way, those geniuses (Ben) are doing the same stuff again – right now. (imminent govt intervention failure)

      1) Yes, we do need others to survive…and I agree that we are part of a community.  What sort of cooperation between individuals do you recommend?  I know you aren’t drafting bills on Capitol Hill, but in general…

      2)  I agree.  The problem is what to do about it.

      3)  Again, what sort of cooperation are you referring to?

      4)  I don’t know about the census data…BUT as far as the other comment you made – “when people are making money, they generally do not start companies…they buy fancy toys…”

      Even assuming that you are correct – what do you think happens to the money they spend on the fancy toys?  Does it get sucked into a black hole?  When they buy stuff like that, the money goes to pay for salaries of the employees, for materials (some of which goes to suppliers’ employees)…which lets those businesses stay in business and maintain/create jobs.

      As for the last bit – “they generally keep their money” – WHERE do they keep their money?  Literally…what exactly do you think they do with their money?  Get it in cash and stuff it in the safe in their basement?

      Let’s keep this going…

      Thanks for keeping it respectful.

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    12. Rick, Hi. I would label myself as a fiscal conservative and social liberal. By your description of what libertarians believe I think I also have a strong streak of that believe also.

      The government is responsible to the people to set about good governance and infrastructures to ensure the long-term survival of the Nation. They are utterly failing at this. I agree the government should be ensuring safety for Life, Liberty, and Property for every U.S. citizen, no exceptions. “And if it harms none, including yourself, then do what you will.” That should be the motto of the government with regard to social policies, in my opinion.

      I agree that income tax should be abolished and replaced with a sales tax. If 70% of the USA’s GDP is from consumption then a sales tax would generate lots of income. Plus, the rich would not be able to wiggle out of paying their taxes. If they want to buy a yacht, for example, they would have to pay the sales tax. As is now they hide their income to escape paying income tax, which poor people don’t have such means and know how.

      I agree that the government should only issue civil union licenses for all people. This would just be a marriage license certificate. Then if people want to have a separate marriage ceremony in the church/temple of their choice that is there decision.

      I want a strong military also with the most advanced weapons. I believe the military should be used to secure our borders and territories, embassies only. We don’t need 100s of military bases across the globe. If one nation invades another nation it’s not any of our business as long as it does not threaten us. The U.S. should not be the policemen of the world.

      I don’t think we’ll get corruption out of D.C. until we get the big money out of the lawmaker’s hands. I know it’s a complicated issue and I don’t have any solutions to offer.

      Maybe as history has shown some governments/nations just enter into a decline when their government become corrupted. It’s like a piece of fruit rotting on the tree. Maybe it just has to run it’s course until it falls off and a new one grows in it’s place. I don’t vote for either Jack Asses or Elephants any more because the candidates for both parties are both corporate back and corporate approved before their campaigns get off the ground. There’s no real choice as both parties are fairly close on many issues as we’ve seen unfold. I only vote for third party candidates now in the hopes that one day a true third or fourth party option will gain mass popular support.

      With the man carrying a gun at the President’s speaking thing, I did not notice that he was black. Regardless of race it seemed that the man was sending a message to the President, though I know by the letter of the law he was within his rights to carry the gun. Maybe we has just making a gun’s rights statement and wasn’t threatening the President…who knows…I never heard it reported about his motive. Did you?

      Maybe I’m a Libertarian. :D I can’t really buy into any man made organization 100%. I don’t like anyone telling me what I should think and believe to follow the beliefs of a group. No human can know all the answers. We just have to read, and reason, and analyze and come to our own conclusions based on the data at hand. I’m trying to learn, grow and reserve the right to change my opinions as I learn new facts.

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    13. Rick Blaine says:

      Greg – my only point about that guy being black was that many people did not know he was black because much of the media coverage didn’t include that point.

      …BUT they then went on the discuss the possibility that these “crazy right-wing nuts” were a bunch of racists.

      …and that is flat out fraudulent journalism.

      Re marriage and civil unions – in my opinion, the government should not be involved AT ALL.

      Why do they even have to recognize civil unions?

      The most common reason I hear is for tax purposes…i.e., to justify our 60K page tax code…

      I think you see where I’m going with that one.

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    14. Rick,
      No problem keeping things respectful, an eagle needs both a left and right wing in order to fly.  I guess the problem that we all face is one of balance.  How do we balance the rights of individuals with the needs of society (and the fact that no one succeeds or survives on their own)?   How do we create an environment in which capital can be used to create new and better things that benefit all and reward those who took the risk, yet protect us from being fleeced by the darker side of capitalism?  I don’t know the answers myself.  One thing I do know is that things are out of balance.  Personally, I think that the pendulum needs to shift to the left for a while (Don’t worry, a conservative ideology of some sort will rise again and the next Regan will come along in around 50 years or so.  US history is cyclical in that respect(Generations, by William Strauss and Neil Howe)).  We’ve edged too close to fascism for my tastes.  I know that a lot of you think otherwise and that’s ok.

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    15. Shogunole,

      Just curious – How do you define “fascism?”

      If it’s the merging of government and corporations (as Greg said above), I COMPLETELY agree with you…and probably most people who check this site regularly agree with you too.

      …but that’s probably not what you meant.

      As for your “50 year” call – I will respectfully take that bet…depending on how you define “conservative” of course.

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    16. Paul says:

      Comments…..
      Good morning all. In regards to your comment about naiive, Shoqunole, I don’t think you are. Even though I have been a police officer for 15 years, I have managed to keep my cynical side in check. Though there are alot of people who have a difficult time walking and breathing at the same time, generally, I believe (hopefully) that they account for only 1 or 2% of the population. Ask me after a 12 hour shift on a Friday night and that number may be 25%, though. But I truly wonder, as well as my co-workers in our discussions, just how many will “make it” if the SHTF. How many will reach the lowest common denominater ?
      As for the gentleman with the “black rifle” at the rally, that was not to bright. But, would not be illegal in most states. I did read in more than one article that it was being done for a filming of a documentary to be released in the future, and that he was part of the production crew.

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    17. As far as I know, your definition of fascism is correct.  Add to that the squashing of any political dissent and you’ve hit it on the head.  If we end up in that direction, it will be of the Francisco Franco, Pinochet variety.

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