The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Time to change the subject

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Seems the last conversation has a gotten a bit personal, so I thought I’d bring up something simple and non-controversial so we can all be polite to each other.

What do you guys think about the Occupy Wall Street movement?

corwin

Author: corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

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  1. It’s an interesting experiment in decentralized protest movements, deliberately avoiding creating figureheads that can be imprisoned or discredited. There have been some successes (getting our problem with income inequality onto political radar), and some failures (it doesn’t take many bad apples to really screw things up). I think a lot of people are missing the point: the protests are a symptom of an underlying problem, not a coherent policy-making organization trying to get an agenda passed. If Congress decided to run an algorithm of “while (interest rates are lower than inflation) { invest in infrastructure; }” (i.e. taking advantage of the fact that the rest of the world is willing to lend to us at negative real interest rates), the economy would pick up and the protests would evaporate.

  2. ” I think a lot of people are missing the point: the protests are a symptom of an underlying problem, not a coherent policy-making organization trying to get an agenda passed. ”

    Wow. That may be the single most cogent point on the subject I’ve ever heard.

  3. I’m commenting on based on what I’ve seen, read and heard from headlines, snippets and sound bytes from mainstream media, which here is also focused on local Occupy movements. So some of what I say could be grounded on unresearched ignorance.

    – I think the “99 per cent” tagline is brilliant as they are saying to everyone else they are absolutely mainstream and not a fruitloop fringe mob.
    – In terms of specifics, I don’t know what they want. We’ve have Occupy movements down here (not to the extent of the Wall Street movement) and I’ve seen TV journos plug a mic in front of some of the occupiers asking what they want and the answer is “um… dunno”. Whether that is the mindset of most of the people or its just a handful young students who have nothing better to do with themselves, I don’t know. But I haven’t seen anybody representing the movement and saying “we believe this and this is what we want”.
    -I’m guessing the movement is a soup mix of socialists, anarchists, nihilists, people who have been disfranchised over the past 4 years due to the economic conditions and provocative assholes. Some having a proposed solution; some people want their lives back to what it was; some thinking not beyond the thought of “I want more money” without thinking how, what and why; and some thinking “Cool! Let’s start a fight!”
    – I’ve seen the usual footage of cops dragging screaming people away from a site who are either, chained, refusing to stand up, etc. As usual you hear stories of police brutality and the politicians defending the cops for their professional conduct. I’m guessing there is some element in truth and some element of bullshit to both sides of this never ending story.
    – People might be concerned about the perceived violence and civil disruption but I think it very tame compared to broad similar historical events. Looking at rallies over the past 200 years around the world due to labour/civil rights/anti-war/anti-government/anti-“big guy” agendas, the Occupy movement in its current (dare I say, receding) state is a baby. Those people should look back in history to see what worked and if they want to get their “message” across.
    – and what Max Kaehn just said.

  4. Wow, no controversy here. 😉

    Very good points made above. I also love the double standard–people expecting us to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to create a coherent, unified set of demands, while a lawmaking body a fraction of our size achieves momentum only to the extent that most of its members stagger slowly in any given direction. People expect more of a decentralized protest than they do of their legislative body, and I’m not sure whether to be flattered and think it a sign of the times, or annoyed at the presumption.

    I don’t know where we’ll be in a year’s time, but I will credit the occupy movement for achieving two things for me personally. First, it politicized me. Before 38 people were arrested in Austin for defending a food table, I avoided politics out of a sense of doom and gloom. When I actually saw a large number of people try to do good, get suppressed and stream the whole thing live, well, that changed the equation for me.

    Next, it got me personally involved in doing what I can to help solve some of society’s issues. In addition to joining working groups and helping with actions, I’ve donated money to our kitchen and have opened my home to homeless occupiers. This world would be a much better place if each of us stepped up to do what we can.

  5. The Mrs. thinks they’re bongo-beating, ukele-flailing vagrants pissing in bushes.

    I think they’re pretty awesome for devoting months of hardship and cold for something they believe in.

    Unfortunately, I feel most American’s are *just* comfortable enough to politely ignore the entitlement and gratuitous advantage-taking of the “1%”. How bad things will get before the majority of the other 99% of us glowing-rectangle-addicted serfs start getting pissed off enough to do something?

    Who knows?

  6. Wow. I read through the previous discussion and now am too intimidated to say anything too deep here.

    Who am I kidding? My real issue is that after years of working with people who are completely disenfranchised in this country and advocating for their health and basic civil rights I never have to intellectual stamina to argue the macro when I’m dealing with the micro.

    I’ve worked here and overseas and one thing I know is people without power, money or basic human pleasantries like say, running water or the ability to not live near their own sewage streams, let alone food and health care, rarely think about the rest of us. I’m 50 years old now, but when I was in my twenties I learned an important lesson that my job was to deliver the goods ( whatever they were..health care, food, water, shelter) and shut the fuck up. I got over myself and my first world I’m here to save/help you attitude. It took another few years for me to start questioning how all our resources get concentrated among so few. I have no idea how to fix that and I won’t be a hypocrite and claim I have no possessions and have tried to even the playing field.

    So, I think the Occupy movement can get the message across to some that this huge chasm does exist. I just feel like my own personal energy is better used adovocating and caring for folks in a micro level because telling people in abject property to hang on while the system gets fixed doesn’t work for me and I’m no good at the big picture anyway.

    ( slinks away in shame for lack of intellectual prowess)

  7. I fell envious, in Russia (I’m russian) there are few protest leaders uncontrolled either by Kremlin or US.

  8. For about 5 minutes I thought this could be something great; a way to bring together people on all sides who agreed that one major source of the first world’s problems was the total lack of a moral compass in the corporate executive culture. But then the idiots took over and started fighting with each other, trying to twist something simple to meet their own, unrelated, touchpoints; and the whole thing became a pathetic effort by people more interested in complaining than working for change.

  9. So … how are ye, Steve?

    No, really, I got nothin’.

    Maybe I’m just greedy. You know, like, how’s the book coming, and all that.

    What? You know how it goes. My family freaks out if I try to have a conscience. I mean, sure, as long as I vote, and volunteer to help autistic kids pass the time each day in the local public school system, it’s all good. But having an opinion? A belief? A notion that something more is called for than politely saying, “It just doesn’t seem right, but that’s just me”?

    (And I’m thirty-eight.)

    Right.

    Anyway.

    How are ye, good sir?

  10. That’s a movement? It’s already been said but I think it’s an expression of frustration rather than a cohesive political exercise. I don’t oppose it but I can’t really support it either. It’s the societal equivalent to a temper tantrum. Not that we couldn’t use a good temper tantrum … sometimes a good tantrum is the best way to get attention. Just ask any kid or parent 😉

  11. Amysue … don’t slink away, yours was one of the wisest posts by far.

  12. The Occupy “movement” is the socio-political equivalent of hives: the most visible surface indicator that something is going perhaps seriously wrong with the body or that something harmful to the body has been ingested or otherwise introduced into the system.

    I predict that, before things get so bad that the rest of the 99% actually begin to take to the streets, the government will do as they did in the New Deal and adopt/enact just enough progressive social legislation to keep the majority of the majority content, or at least willing to stay seated.

  13. For those who feel that the Occupy movement is a complaint or tantrum, I challenge you to look beyond the mainstream media and to perhaps join one of the many working groups striving to solve problems on a smaller scale. You won’t see these in the news because it doesn’t make nice stories, and the media wants to shape a rhetoric of this movement counter to what it is. Here are just a few examples of what Austin has done:

    A corporate charter school, IDEA, is moving into our east Austin community. They’re a bad move for our school district, but the school board has been ignoring community outcry. Most recently, AISD prohibited teachers from speaking out against IDEA, threatening them with their jobs. Occupy Austin’s education working group read anonymous letters from teachers so they could speak out and not lose their jobs.
    While our End Homelessness working group may not succeed at doing so, we are actively seeking to address some of the issues that make it illegal to be homeless in Austin. Additionally, we’re interested in creating a tent city modeled after many of those along the Pacific coast, and are pursuing land via city ordinances that allow us to legally petition for unused city property to be turned over to the public (I know little about this effort, but an unrelated group has cited a number of local laws and has identified six avenues by which we can get land from the city.)

    Our kitchen provided roughly one meal per day for three months to 40-50 occupiers in our camp. This was all funded by individual donations.

    Our Bank Action group has advocated for moving over 1.5 million out of big banks and into local credit unions. Additionally, Austin is considering breaking up with Bank of America and joining a credit union as well.

    Our guerrilla gardeners have planted a new garden on unused land for the past six weeks, and have pledged to make a new garden during every week of 2012. These will hopefully serve as a source of fresh produce for our kitchen, discussed above.

    Our IT group isn’t terribly active, but we’re planning on participating in several upcoming open government hackfests. We also partially moved our camp’s power generation to solar. Additionally, while not directly related, the Free Network Foundation (http://freenetworkfoundation.org) used Austin as a beta site for an early Freedom Tower.

    I could also state that our local Occupy has been a source of community, drawing people from disparate paths to work together…but I think that most of the commenters want to see examples of how we’re doing more than just complaining. Also, the claim that these things aren’t related is inaccurate. Homelessness relates to corporate greed because the top 400 richest Americans own more wealth than a large percentage of the rest, and perhaps the 2 million homeless could benefit from the repurposing of ~20 million vacant homes foreclosed upon by banks. Besides, the only difference between an employee and a homeless person is, in many cases, a paycheck or two. Occupy relates to education because corporations prioritize profits over learning, and Texas alone spends roughly a hundred million on standardized testing.

    But anti-Occupy critics have set up a no-win situation. If we just addressed a single concern then we’d only be complaining. So we address many and try to solve some of these problems, then we’re told that we’re too scattered. Please make up your minds. Should we only complain and focus, or should we do more than complain and spread out?

  14. Mia culpa. But, in my defense I wanted to keep my reply short. Now I can’t, but that may be OK.

    You imply I am befuddled by mainstream media. No. I stand by my temper tantrum analogy in spite of all of your examples.

    Examining your list is an exercise in reviewing Socialist activism. This is the problem, Americans have been not just taught but have the idea that Socialism is Evil for generations. If the Occupy movements are to have any lasting effect they must break the fallacy that Socialism is the enemy of Freedom.

    It’s all propaganda and state of mind crap. While I know that socialism and freedom can coexist quite nicely, better even than capitalism and freedom do, most Americans do not believe it.

    Until they do we might have to throw a few more temper tantrums. I call dibs on Grandpa’s porcelain urn that sits on the mantle.

  15. Two years ago, I was going back to college for a skills upgrade. Many of the people in my IT class were former autoworkers, but one was a young man that had been a Salesman. The used car company he worked for had been financed by a US company (because they didn’t meet regulations for Canadian bank funding, which must be low risk by regulation) that had cut off everyone in 2008. The Canadian banks were told by gov to ignore regulations and help keep as many of these abandoned companies afloat, but they hadn’t offered enough to this used car company and it folded.

    So I’ll ask this of all of you: if the financial institutions had not been bailed out, how many small companies that are dependent on such financial infusions to make payroll each week would have folded? The bailouts not only saved the financial institutions, but every business dependent on them. Why is this relevant? One of the major protests of Occupy was that financial institutions got bailed out, but individuals did not. Truthfully, bailing out financial institutions bails out everyone dependent on them, so for the Fed it is one stop shopping. But to the Occupy people, it’s heinous to save bankers that give money to construction companies that need to pay their carpenters.

    I wish I could find an article by Rex Murphy — a reporter from CBC, Canada’s national media company — but it has been too long and its not online anymore. In it he paralleled Occupy and the Tea Party. The Tea Party started with protests, created a unified vision, and moved into US politics via the Republican party. Rex pointed out that Occupy needed to do the same, but he couldn’t see a unifying solution in the Occupy movement. It has complaints, but it lacks solutions. Without solutions, it can’t run a candidate. Pointing at problems isn’t enough to get votes: you need solutions to that perceived problem.

    Occupy hates “globalization”. What is it, and how do you end it? Globalization, economically, is the breaking down of trade barriers (tariffs and quotas) that decrease international trade. Free Trade is a globalization effort. I won’t bore you with the mathematics, but I’m sure you’ll accept that economists at least believe that globalization is inherently good for everyone, even if you disagree with their mathematics. Globalization gets accused of being responsible for the poorness of farmers, but if there was no international trade, those farmers wouldn’t have a job at all, would they? It’s not globalization that’s the problem, but the fact the farmers get so little that is the real problem. Getting them more money requires creating a collection system that reduces profiteering before the food gets to the international shipper (where prices skyrocket more from the fuel used to get them to market than profiteering), so that the farmer gets a bigger portion of the final cut. But is that what the Occupiers are arguing for? No, they argue against Globalization, without understanding what Globalization is or does, or how to fix the problems in the system that cause him to make so little.

    Occupy is driven by disinformation. Ask an Occupier what Fractional Banking is, and he’ll tell you that the Fractional Percentage is the amount of money banks can loan out more than they have taken in. Seriously, that’s what they believe, because that’s what they get from Youtube. It’s completely wrong. If the Fraction permitted by the Fed is 10% (I know it’s not, this is just an example), the bank can only loan out $90 of every $100 in savings it receives: Youtube tells you they loan out $110 or the $100. (I guess that since the Canadian percentage is 0% right now, banks up here aren’t creating money.) They are audited every year to prevent them from accidentally creating money this way. The 10% is a safety net of cash introduced because of the runs on the banks to start the Great Depression, to ensure that some money was always present for people that demanded money in this way, without driving the bank out of business. But that’s not what the anarchists on Youtube tell you, and everyone knows the economists are liars. Only the Fed creates money in the US, but that’s not what many Occupiers believe. You cannot solve a problem in a system that never existed.

    Blame Wall Street. For what? What is “Corporate Greed”? The desire to make money? Everyone works to make life better for their children, which takes money, so they’re no different from anyone else. Get rid of the Wall Street speculators and what will happen to your daily life? Nothing. Prices will still rise and fall with market demand. Wall Street, if anything, limits some of that variation by holding onto stock for when there are shortages driving up prices. Their additional volume puts downward pressure on prices when they are high, and their additional demand when prices drop act to raise prices. (Sure, illegal speculation is bad, but so is shoplifting from a retail store, and that happens a whole lot more.) But that’s not what the Occupiers see. They see money, and the green blinds them more than it blinds the speculators.

    Occupy lacks knowledge and solutions. It has failed to turn its success into substantial political force, and so has become irrelevant. Oh, I’m sure next summer it will come out and protest again, but it cannot solve what is not a problem. Solutions begin with education, but so long as they get their economics from Youtube, and their solutions from Ron Paul, they can solve nothing.

  16. I’ve never heard anyone in my local movement claim that socialism is evil. From where is that coming? Also, I’m personally not a big fan of Ron Paul, and don’t have all that many friends in the movement who are either. Racist, sexist dude who wants to slash social services? No thanks.

    Also, a sentiment I’ve encountered lots in my local movement is a general disdain for our political process as it stands. The closest I’ve seen us get to political action is considering swaying local elections and running a candidate for council or mayor. So people who want us to influence a political process might as well speak of fish with wings. They’re missing a rather substantial point, that we’re not really interested in influencing a broken system or playing with a stacked deck, and while that system may hold influence today, I think I’d rather wait out its collapse and be a bit more prepared for it than waste energy playing a rigged game.

    I’m not going to pretend to know about things that I don’t. I can’t debate economics or advanced political theory with anyone. All I know is that Occupy got me out of my home and helping people. All I know is that I’m disenchanted with our political process, and think that any change we affect is going to come from the bottom up–worst case scenario, small communities organizing around some of our current principles after major systemic collapse. And if my giving from my own pocket to feed the homeless and offering up my couch is me throwing a temper tantrum then so be it. I’ll keep throwing tantrums for as long as I can. 🙂 When you look beyond the media and actually examine the process, you’ll see lots more people like myself taking action, but it would look silly for the media to call us off-message while sending mixed signals of its own.

    Perhaps Occupy’s critics should educate themselves on the movement before calling us uneducated. The best way to do this is to attend your local Occupy, talk to people on the ground, learn what is really happening and what has been accomplished. It is hard to take someone’s call to educate one’s self seriously when said call is full of falsehoods, or when the person making it hasn’t given any indication of spenting time at a general assembly or in a working group. Learning may be hard, and so might be finding a message, but the difficulty of acquiring knowledge does not make it invalid. Holding up some stereotype anarchist from Youtube and saying “this is Occupy” is like saying you’re an expert shot, then proving it by placing a large target five feet away–not terribly effective. 😛

  17. Thank you all of the discussion so far. Civil, and I’ve learned a few things.

  18. “Perhaps Occupy’s critics should educate themselves on the movement before calling us uneducated.”

    Then educate me. I’m here and listening. (And I can’t interrupt you, either.)

    BTW, you misunderstood the Anarchist-Youtube connection. Anarchists have been posting disinformation on Youtube in order to undermine knowledge and tear down the system. It’s an active disinformation campaign intended to inspire fear and distrust of the system. (Remember that tearing down the system is the goal of the Anarchist.) We’re talking about pseudo-documentaries designed to look legitimate and can only be discovered to be false by studying official sources… sources inherently distrusted by those that distrust the system. People believe these lies because it is what they want to hear, that there are identifiable enemies they can hate, rather than certain problems being inherent in the system. The Anarchists have nothing directly to do with Occupy, but their disinformation has corrupted the viewpoints of many Occupiers. I am not calling Occupiers Anarchists… I’m calling them victims of a disinformation campaign.

  19. @Nolan … I wouldn’t expect your socialist group to consider themselves Evil, nor do I. I think what you missed is that those outside of an Occupy activity view it as socialist and therefore evil.

    My point was that, in America pretty much since its founding but more aggressively since WWII ended, we have been indoctrinated to believe that socialism = communism and it is the worst and most vile economic system. Early in the movement Michael Moore declared that capitalism was Evil … with two E’s. What surprised me was not that he said it, but that it was aired.

    To further expand on my temper tantrum analogy and this has some bearing on Nolan’s complaints, the Occupy movements are unable to fundamentally change what the American people as a whole believe about socialism. I submit that they probably know this but will continue to forge on doing “what is right”.

    Now, I happen to agree with their idea of “right”. but the Occupy activists are in the minority … I will go out on a limb and even say extreme minority. And so, what is “right” to them becomes a temper tantrum to the rest of America. And, I renew my claim to Grandpa’s urn during the next tantrum should crockery and china be targeted.

  20. First time posting here. Hi Steve. Longtime fan. I find it very insightful that you detailed the economic collapse of 2008 in Orca. I later learned how repetitive the economic cycle is, but it was pretty eye opening for me when I read the novel in 2010 thinking it was social commentary and then turned to see that it was written in 1996.
    Anyway, I just have a counter argument for “… the Occupy movements are unable to fundamentally change what the American people as a whole believe about socialism.” A statistic that I recently came across, provided by Michael Moore, so I understand if it is discredited here as biased, is that 33% of young adults do not find socialism abhorrent and might support it, as opposed to 37% for capitalism and the rest being undecided.
    However, aside from numbers that may or may not be disputed, I myself have found that a good number of students at my high school do have an open minded, not blindly prejudiced opinion of socialism. This observation is based on surveys taken in my Government class and my overhearing of discussions among my fellow students. Considering I live in a small town with such a severe WASP majority that our diversity is comparable to a stagnant pond, I find it very surprising that the youth around me have such a liberal point of view. If such a strong liberal message is reaching this far out into rural America, where “huntin’, drinkin’ and sexin’ is ow’ lifeblood,” or at least the lifeblood of many of my peers’ parents, how can anyone believe only a minority of people have this opinion? If the traditionally conservative areas show so much liberalization, what kind of affects are happening in the cities where there was already a majority of people who thought that way? The only explanation I can find is that those who have these opinions in areas currently labeled “Republican” are too young to vote, but their parents and grandparents are not.

  21. @Ryan … Can I safely assume you are a teenager? Probably not but I will anyway. If I’m right then I would offer no challenge regarding your views of the liberalization of thinking amongst your peers.

    If I’m wrong and you are not a teen, your view of teens seems consistent with my own.

    However, be you teenaged or not, the world view of teenagers is worth very little TODAY. While I am encouraged by the idealism and opposition to oppression in the young culture, I am also almost 50 yrs old and am wise enough to know which demographics (age/education/wealth) are making the rules. It’s not the youth.

    You mentioned parents and grandparents and make an insightful but naive observation. You assume the elder generations (baby boomers like me) are open to listening and changing. A few of us are but the biggest challenge and greatest piece of activism the youth can engage in, IMHO, is to beat all the old and bad programming out of the heads of my generation. I wish you luck.

    So, today we have tantrums. Perhaps many tomorrows from now when my son is my age we will have economic justice.

  22. I have to admit that I was often confused and baffled by the Occupy phenomenon- I liked that it highlighted the frustration that so many of us have with our day to day realities but I wasn’t able to discern a larger plan to affect change.

    I think for our species to continue we have to find a different modality. We assume that the only system that works is some version of a democracy that allows free trade and a wide open market. I know it’s naive to think we can just throw it all out, redistribute all the planets wealth and rework our lives and communities into healthy and functional places that meet all our needs…it’s just not possible. There aren’t enough resources available on the planet to evenly distribute amongst us all, even if we wished to.

    I guess I’m just short-sighted. I want real, tangible things I can do now to help as many folks back to the proverbial table as possible and I know i should be more aware of the intellectual fallacies that have led us to this place, but I’m fairly certain I can’t change the larger picture.

    I’m reading Katherine Boo’s look at a Mumbai slum, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers and I am struck over and over again by the fact that we live in such a capricious world. Everything comes down to chance and how do you fight that?

    I guess we all just muddle through as best we can, call attention to the stuff we truly find repungnant, change what we can and help where we can and in my case keep hoping a better plan might show itself.

  23. “There aren’t enough resources available on the planet to evenly distribute amongst us all, even if we wished to.”

    Of course there are! Ignoring that you can evenly distribute nothing, check out some of the following on how there is more than enough for the current population to live comfortably:

    Food: http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/1998/s98v5n3.html

    Water: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001444/144409E.pdf

    Energy: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/opinion/powering-sustainable-energy-for-all.html

    Houses: http://shetterly.blogspot.com/2012/02/empty-houses-and-homeless-americans.html

    Money: http://ask.yahoo.com/20060717.html

    Labor: wait a minute…

    Above is from my own Googling just now; I’m sure others have summarized a more comprehensive case. The point is that poverty is not the result of limited resources, but rather of inequitable access to them. If someone has statistics to the contrary, I would love to see them.

    I DO NOT think that a centralized power should be responsible for equal distribution. Since I work closely with the US federal government, I have no confidence in any central government’s ability to do so competently, efficiently, or ethically. As a good American, the idea also grates against my ideals of freedom and justice. I believe that everyone has the right to work for what they want, rather than a right to what the Powers That Be decide they deserve.

    Which brings me to what, as far as I can tell, is an ACTUAL shortage: jobs. I tend to think people would rather be productive, useful, contributors than lazy, charity-dependent, free riders. Honestly. I just do. But I can’t quite wrap my head around a system that would allow (or better, encourage) everyone to pursue their own freely chosen career paths.

    Thomas Friedman writes in The World is Flat that “There may be a limit to the number of good factory jobs in the world, but there is no limit to the number of idea-generated jobs in the world.” That’s an encouraging, pie-expanding vision. But it seems to me that while plenty of social mobility projects focus on increasing the education and skills of low income workers, there is little supply-side effort to increase the opportunities available to well educated people.

  24. I’m not convinced the resources are so readily available, but admit I am not knowledgable in that area. The problem is distribution of not only resources, but people, is problematic without some central government to oversee it ( which I agree is not a good idea).

    As long as work is something we think of in terms of ” I do this one thing” there are many types of work needed that just won’t happen.

    Small collectives and groups of people can work and provide sustenance for each other but the system breaks down when it gets too unwieldy. Often, people start wanting a little more of this and a little less of that.

    I also know that I have no right to decide that someone half a world away, living in conditions that are horrific, would be fine with some “fair” system I cook up on their behalf.

    I want people to own their own lives and to have access to food, clean water, health care , shelter and safety . I don’t want to make their choices for them, but I also know that if it meant food water and more for their families, most people in that situation would accept gladly and worry abut the implications later, when they had the luxury to do so.

    Which is still a simplification that makes me sound pretty arrogant.

    I agree that jobs are a big part of this problem as well. It’s odd that the toughest, most physically demanding and emotionally challenging and meaningful work I have ever done paid just a little more than minimum wage and had little benefits and the less meaningful my work was the more I got paid and the better my benefits were. I’m lucky that I can afford to work and or volunteer where I will now, but it’s a luxury, just as being part of a CSA is a luxury or being able to take the past three months off to care for my 13 year old son who has been ill, is a luxury.

    I may mean well, but I am part of the problem.

  25. “As long as work is something we think of in terms of ” I do this one thing” there are many types of work needed that just won’t happen.”

    Amen to that! Division of labor is SO overrated. Who wants to do only one thing?

    Of course it’s arrogant to contemplate ‘what is best for everyone’. Trouble is, accepting that I cannot say what is good/bad for others implies that the status quo is better than change. Is that an equally arrogant assumption?

    Rather than think of changing the world, I think of the world being created every single day by every one of us. Whatever I do, it will have implications for others. But I’m a coward, and will be paying my taxes this year. Like you, I find it easiest to identify right things to do at the micro level.

    And now I’d better get back to my well paid and meaningless job. I hope your son gets better soon!

  26. Food: http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/1998/s98v5n3.html

    Does not face the core issue that transporting food from where it is overproduced to where it is under-produced is extremely expensive and cannot be sustained.
    ____________

    Water: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001444/144409E.pdf

    Sets goals. Does not provide solutions to the socio-political and environmental issues in the third world that causes a lack of fresh water.
    ____________
    Energy: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/opinion/powering-sustainable-energy-for-all.html

    “We need to raise sustainable energy to the top of the global agenda and focus our attention, ingenuity, resources, and investments to make it a reality. ” Rhetoric, not solutions.
    ____________
    Houses: http://shetterly.blogspot.com/2012/02/empty-houses-and-homeless-americans.html

    This issue has never been simple. It’s not just about having shelter, but getting the Homeless to use them. You actually have to talk to the homeless to realize that they have a sort of pride that keeps them away from shelters.
    ____________

    Money: http://ask.yahoo.com/20060717.html

    One-shot injections aren’t a solution. You need sustained revenue to keep someone alive. If you took the top 40 wealthiest Americans and redistributed their wealth, you’d get a $5000 injection to every American… once. Does that solve the problem, or just make you feel good about screwing over a rich guy?
    _____________

    There are two problems with limited resources. First, the human population will expand until it has greater need than production can fill. Even if right now it does not appear that way, it’s inevitable.

    Second, it’s getting the reources from where they are plentiful to where they are needed. Shipping food from the Prairies of Canada where they are overproduced to Ethiopia is incredibly expensive, and no one can afford to sustain that every year. We can do one-shot shipments during famine, when people donate, but if you ask those same people to donate that same every year when there is no famine (even though the food is desperately needed), they won’t. They instead ask the question, “If the region can’t support that many people, then they shouldn’t they move to a region that can?”

    Water is simply not available everywhere, and it is even harder to justify the immense shipping costs. Water is a local, not global, issue. It needs local technological solutions. Some have been tried, but culture and prejudice can get in the way of what we might call a reasonable solution. One type of water pump was designed as a game for children, but when the children figured out they were doing work, they stopped playing with it. Smart kids. No water.

    Energy is a much more capable fo a global solution. IN theory, we are really only buying time until D-T fusion becomes available. And that buys time until D-D fusion, which buys time for H-H-H-H fusion, when we’ll be golden forever (we can grab H from solar wind to prevent the loss of earth’s resources). ITER is intended to produce 10x as much power as it consumes, which is extremely hopeful for long term energy.

    The focus on money is completely inverted. Instead of focusing on the wealthy line, turn and focus on the poverty line. In terms of raw numbers of poor in Canada and the US, the poor has not reduced, but as a percentage of population it certainly has. The percentage of poor in the population is dropping. A large portion of the poor are immigrants, which may simply be unavoidable. Another portion are people whose jobs disappeared as markets changed (ie. Detroit region as the auto firms pulled out.) There is always going to be some poor as a result of changing markets, no matter what your system of government.

    But the capacity to deal with problems relies on cash — taxes — and that is directly proportional to economic prosperity. The USSR couldn’t drag itself out of poverty because no one had disposable cash to help others with. More disposable cash, more people above the poverty line, means more economy that can be taxed, and more money that can be assigned to helping the needy. If you stand there and say, “We need shelters, not cell phones,” I’ll say right back, “More cell phones means more workers which means more taxes to keep those shelters heated.”

  27. I was going to just let that slide but it’s just too simplistic.

    Redistribution of Resources – Food, Water, and Energy
    It is agreed that water can only be distributed on a regional level. But with regards to food and energy you kind of missed the mark. You mentioned the fertile plains of Canada and the desolate fields of Ethiopia. Then you said the redistribution costs are not sustainable.

    So, Canada has surplus food and Ethiopians are starving. The sad thing is they are greedy and will demand to eat every day! Sometimes more than once. So, Canada, you can send Ethiopia your surplus food or Ethiopia will send you their surplus Ethiopians. We in America have the same problem with our southern neighbors: we have and they want.

    Regarding energy, if you think D-T is the solution you know little of physics and economics. The cost of plant production and D-T (particularly T) production is enormous. You also mentioned H-H-H-H reactions. That’s a new one because H won’t fuse into Be. H-H reactions are possible … in a star and the protons take about a million years of wandering around before they fuse. The problem with nuclear reactors is we humans really don’t tolerate neutron emissions. With fission reactors, lots of neutrons, D-T, pesky neutrons. There are two neutron free reactions, D-D (or D-p forming He3) and He3-He3. D-D/D-p aren’t energetic enough to break even so forget them. He3-He3 is viable and may see development after we build Moon Base Alpha but then some astronomical catastrophe will cause the moon to leave Earth’s orbit and we’ll lose our supply of He3.

  28. Occupy seems to me to be doing several important things. How much it will accomplish, I can’t even guess.

    It’s already put the 1% on the agenda. (It’s more like 1% of 1% really, but that’s not the point.) It’s push back against the deficit flummery which has been featured by the noise machine since the last election. The first popular pushback I can recall.

    It’s showing a lot of people they aren’t alone. Occupy Chicago is centered at the foot of LaSalle St., in front of the options exchange. That does three times the daily dollar volume of Wall St., employs a lot of lackeys, and is in the center of the city with every sort of pedestrian traffic, including waves to and from the biggest train station.
    There’s a lot of sympathy, and a lot of diversity.

    Occupy is also an opportunity for a whole generation to begin to learn organizing and self-organizing. It may bridge a critical gap in American culture. From at least the railroad strike of 1977 through the sit-down strikes of the Depression, there was a continuous American version of class consciousness and a tradition of action.
    The children of Reagan have had no opportunity to come in contact with any of that directly, and if it doesn’t happen in the next decade or so, there could be even more serious loss.
    That’s more of a personal notion than a concrete observation, but it was already on my mind in the big picture, before Occupy came along.

    Now, if I could only find people doing anything interesting or creative for national Dog-Bite Prevention Week . . .

  29. Robert, food has nothing to do with desire. Fuel costs are high and rising. Ethiopia is across not just one ocean, but two. The food needs to be shipped from the prairies to BC through the rocky mountains, then across the Pac, then Indian oceans. All of that costs $ and burns oil. Or you could try to train it to Lake Superior, through the Great Lakes, then transfer it to a ocena going vessel, then across the Atlantic, then through the Med. All of which costs $ and oil. And you can’t just do it once, but constantly. But the problem with Ethiopia is only partially environmental. The old Ethiopian famine was partially caused by a war, so even when Live Aid got food to Ethiopia, it sat on the docks unable to be transferred to the starving, because the trucks would get shot up. Feeding the world is just not as simple as saying, “The food is there for them to eat.” It’s here, not there, and getting it there is expensive and and more of a problem than just shipping. Just check out Somalia for an example of local politics getting in the way of trying to feed the world. You want to go into these places with guns again? Is saving people from starvation worth the lives of your soldiers? Because that’s what it will take.

    The real solution to world hunger is that hated technology — genetic modification. They need plants that require less water, produce more food per acre, survive drought better. And it will take more than just cross breeding to achieve that.

    As for fusion in general, as I said, it’s not ready yet. We’re buying time until it is. Tritium is a an initial start-up problem for D-T, yes, but they now know how to regenerate T in the fusion reactor, so it is consumed very slowly (and that solution reduces the D-T radioactivity problem, which is another bonus). And T can be produced in fission reactors in greater quantity using the new process (but you have to give up plutonium production, aw such a shame). Earlier D-T efforts were restricted because the T only came from fission and was consumed in the process, but now it regenerates from the free neutrons so that limit is gone. Theoretically, we could use old radioactive waste to produce the T we need (since you only need a neutron source), but that will take some serious technological efforts. Easier to do it in nuclear reactors first.

    It would be wonderful if Solar and Wind worked everywhere, but it does not. Solar is nearly useless in the north more than 1/2 the year, and the weather in my region is erratic, making wind unreliable. Ironically, we’re already greener than Europe in Ontario, since 40% of our power is Hydroelectric (Quebec is 95%), but that’s a regional solution not available everywhere. There’s an interesting idea on the books to dam James Bay, which would produce massive amounts of power, but is simply beyond reasonable cost right now, and the natives would object and they get a say. (There is no treaty for northern Quebec, so the natives have lots of power there.)

    4H fusion is a long way off (outside our lifetime, certainly), but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. D-T and D-D will come online first before they’ll start work on it, since it takes the highest temp of the three, but it has the greatest possibility of sustaining humanity over the extreme long term.

  30. Kriestor,

    I don’t wish to nit-pick and while the future of global energy use and production may seem off topic it isn’t. Currently we have a petroleum economy, under conditions were fusion dominates we would shift to a KwH based economy.

    The 2 questions that come to mind is – 1) does it matter (leaving global warming out of the mix)? and – 2) is it realistic?

    Realistic is easy. Currently the cheapest way to make Tritium, or T as it was referenced earlier is in a CanDu reactor. These are Canadian and have significant differnces to the vast majority of fission reactors in use world wide. One of the most interesting things about the CanDu plant is almost 30% of the facility costs are used to make ‘heavy water’ which is not H2O but rather HDO, the D being deuterium previously discussed.

    I stated D-T fusion is pointless because of fuel costs (argument supported by the CanDu facilities currently functioning) and those pesky neutrons. While D-D reactions have no neutron emissions the mass lost in fusion (E=mc^2) is too small to be economically self-sustaining. The only really promising fusion reaction that is energetic enough to be economically viable while remaining neutron free is He3 + He3 -> He + p + p. Sadly, the best supply of He3 is on the moon.

    This leads to the first question. So, we build Moon Base Alpha and the moon doesn’t fly out of Earth orbit and we have He3 reactors downtown so each city can consume KwH’s the way we now consume petroleum. So what? Unlimited energy doesn’t make poor people not poor. It doesn’t change anything.

    Technology, be it energy or genetic will not change people. We’ve had ‘technology’ for centuries if not millennia and we are still us.

    Back to the Occupy issue and other expressions of desent, the desenters do themselves a disservice when they adopt the mindset that what they are doing is ‘right’ and we should see the ‘rightness’ of their acts. It’s a self satisfying state of mind and does nothing to further their cause. I suggest the Occupy protests should instead be Occupy centers for education. Instead of teaching participants how to protest maybe they teach them how to purge the skulls of their neighbors back home of the decades of bullshit that has accumulated regarding the concepts of capitalism, socialism, and freedom.

    Sorry for the long post and I won’t do it again.

  31. Politics getting in the way of feeding the world is the point. If the money is available, transportation costs are not an issue. During a DC winter, I can get watermelon, asparagus, and Apulian burrata. Not to mention coffee from Ethiopia. (There are, unfortunately, ecological footprint implications to getting food from across the world.)

  32. Robert:

    1) D-D fusion does not produce He4. It produces He3+n or T+p at about 50%. The n is potentially dirty. However;

    2) Tritium regeneration intercepts the n and turns Li6 into He4+T, which handles the radioactivity issue at the same time as producing T. This works in D-T reactors, so with good design, we can sustain T production in the Fusion reactor, not just rely on fission reactors for it. Further, potentially n from spent fuel rods could be used to produce T, too, but I haven’t seen any proposals for this: there may be a roadblock I don’t know about.

    3) There will be some stray n that get through the lining, so there will be some leakage and radioactive by-products in the casing. Fusion will never be completely clean, but it will be a lot cleaner than fission.

    4) T-T fusion isn’t on the table at all anymore. It’s not even being considered.

    5) He3-He3 produces too much power in the X-ray band to be used for power.

    6) D-D also produces a lot of X-ray power, but there is still some hope for it, so it hasn’t been abandoned entirely. Yet.

    7) ITER will be a D-T reactor that will sustain a 10:1 reaction for 1000 seconds. I think you’re grossly underestimating just how close fusion power is. We’ll see it in our lifetime.

    And the advantages?

    a) It does not produce radioactives usable in fission reactions, so cannot be weaponized. Extracting radioactives from the casing would be prohibitively difficult, so dirty bombs aren’t a worry, either. This makes it safe to give to third world nations.

    b) Fusion reactors can’t meltdown. They’re safe to put in earthquake zones.

    c) Fusion is not dependent on weather, so can be used worldwide.

    Long term, fusion is the answer to electrical power. We just have to last long enough to get to it.

  33. In contrast to the Tea Party movement so conspicuously absent from the Republican primaries, I don’t think Occupy is a flash in the pan.

    The concerns expressed were a long time abuilding, and are widely shared even amongst those not ready to go squat in the park all winter.

    Occupy has attracted not merely the notice but vocal support of such heavy hitters as the AFL-CIO, who determined that Occupy protests are to be regarded as pickets and respected as such, to the extent of advising that unionized police should decline to disperse such actions. That’s HUGE.

    Staid, respected, solidly mainstream clergymen highly placed in the Church of England have resigned highly prestigeous offices, viz. Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, rather than act against Occupy protest camps at their doorstep. One went so far as to say, “Jesus could have been born in that camp.” The CHURCH of motherlovin’ ENGLAND! That’s HUGE!

    International. Persisting. Noticed & endorsed by the Big Boys. Yeah – this is a political current of significance. Stay tuned.

  34. “Staid, respected, solidly mainstream clergymen highly placed in the Church of England have resigned highly prestigeous offices, viz. Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, rather than act against Occupy protest camps at their doorstep. One went so far as to say, “Jesus could have been born in that camp.” The CHURCH of motherlovin’ ENGLAND! That’s HUGE!”

    I’m not certain why you think that. Christianity has a significant history of helping the poor and needy, which is aligned with the socialist goals of helping the homeless, etc. My own church began a program that helped unwed mothers in the mid-80’s, which sought to teach them parenting methods, nutrition, financial management, and just give them some relief by taking the kids off their hands for a little while. (Christian studies were available and optional. Ultimately, it grew far beyond the capacity of our tiny 8 family church and had to be turned over to the Gov.)

    Protestant Christians aren’t drones that are required to obey the words of some minister or church superior. They cover the entire spectrum of political thought, with changing demographics depending on the particular denomination you’re visiting. You’ll find conservatives in northern Baptist churches, liberals in Pentacostal, and even Communists in some. (There’s a scene in Acts that has often been used to “prove” that Christianity was Communal in the first years after Christ died.)

    So that a high level cleric sides with a particular political movement is, ultimately, meaningless, because you’ll find some high level cleric that supports everything.

  35. Kreistor,

    Your responses to myself and Daniel are well thought out and while I agree with your reasoning in both it still doesn’t answer the fundamental question of, “So what?”

    D-T reactors have neutron emission issues that, given their cost, make them no better than current U235 reactors. But, let’s say the research and developers figure out how to use Li6 in D-T reactions to negate the neutron issues.

    So, under your view of the near future we have commercial fusion power. So, what? Even if the energy production capacities were nearly limitless and the costs were very low, so what?

    How does cheap, limitless energy equate to economic justice? We had that once, remember?

  36. I am, among other things, a clergyman so I do in fact have a good understanding of the diversity to be found within and across denominations.

    And while Rowan Williams is by no stretch the second coming of William Laud, it remains that the C of E is an established church. Speaking in favor of a movement, or cooking soup for the Occupy camp is one thing (and a good thing). Resigning as Dean of St. Paul’s rather than siding with the big banks against it is another.

    One generally expects established churches to support the establishment, as it were – to maintain the status-quo while serving to encourage and facilitate the more charitable impulses of society.

    Taking the side of those who are challenging some fundamental assumptions upon which the status-quo rests is… unusual. Less so in the Anglican Communion, perhaps, than other bodies but surprising nonetheless.

    I believe that Christians should stand for social justice, but the Church is not always on the same page. This can make it difficult to heed one’s conscience.

    It would have been easy for Graeme Knowles to have reluctantly agreed that the camp needed to be dispersed, made some pious, noncommital statements of guarded support for Occupy in principle, and washed his hands of it. But he didn’t.

    I think that’s significant. Telling, even.

  37. Robert asks, “How does cheap, limitless energy equate to economic justice? We had that once, remember?”

    There was an effort to make fission reactors safe from use as weapons manufacturing programs (Candu efforts in India and elsewhere) but they failed. There has never been a political will against power for the third world… there has only been fear of nuclear weapons standing in the way.

    Access to cheaper energy can do many things. Run wells to water sources currently out of range. Make factories cheaper to run, giving the region access to other work than manual farm labour. And so on.

    ___

    Dani3l wrote, “Resigning as Dean of St. Paul’s rather than siding with the big banks against it is another. ”

    St. Pauls is NOT a part of the banking community. It is NOT a part of the government. It is NOT a part of the problem.

    So WHY was St. Paul’s Occupied? In fact, why was it BARRICADED? The Church had to issue an appeal to the Occupiers to stop blocking entrance to Tourists that had traveled thousands of miles to see this amazing piece of architecture and art — a piece of Architecture that does NOT represent oppression or anti-socialism.

    Removing the Occupiers from St. Paul’s had NOTHING to do with banking. It had to do with a LACK of RESPECT of other people’s Rights. (Specifically the Right to freedom of movement. You do not have the Right to block me from going where I want to, which is why Strikers can only block the entrance to buildings temporarily.) It is one thing to demand your own Human Rights, but another when you stomp all over other people’s Rights in doing it, you’ve become a hypocrite.

    The Occupiers at St. Paul’s were very much in the wrong choosing that location, and in their methods. St. Paul’s was a symbolic choice, but not a symbol of Capitalism. As such, they should have moved on without a court order. Obtaining a court order was not supporting the bankers… it was telling the Occupiers that other people have Rights, too, and St. Paul’s must not be permitted in the long term to become a place for Protesters to block off whenever someone feels the desire. The danger was in a constant repeat had the Church issued an official statement supporting them. That Church, an amazing piece of architecture, can no longer be enjoyed for the beauty of it, if it is constantly plagued by people yelling and screaming their issues and waving placards when people try to take pictures. It is a place of beauty, not just symbols.

  38. Should have ended with “A place of beauty and spirituality, not just symbols.”

  39. I must say, this is the most constructive, intelligent, and reasonable discussion about the Occupy movement that I’ve read to date. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments, even if some seem off-topic.

    I have learned a lot from this thread. Thank you Steven, for instigating it for us.

  40. Robert asks, “How does cheap, limitless energy equate to economic justice? We had that once, remember?”

    I’m curious… when do you feel “we” had “economic justice”, and how are you defining those terms?

  41. @Nathan I thought Robert was referring to us having “cheap, limitless energy,” although I would dispute that statement as well.

  42. Quite right Dennis, I was referring to the cheap energy rather than the cheap justice.

    As to disputing whether we had an era of cheap, limitless energy, well … you can dispute what you like but the terms ‘limitless’ and ‘cheap’ are relative. It’s hard to argue given several decades of GDP growth on the back of ‘Big Oil’ that our access to energy until the 90’s was cheap and, until the point of peak production, limitless.

  43. Is US power running off Oil instead of coal? Ontario has no oil based power production: we used coal (and are almost done phasing it out for Natural Gas). They use diesel for emergency generators, but that’s just for emergencies.

    Oil is the only serious option for transportation right now, but there are a couple replacements for that we could implement fairly quickly if we were cut off from oil. Coal oil can be extracted from Ontario’s massive coal reserves to at least keep critical systems running. I know a lot of the USA has ready access to coal. (This is not a solution to the oil issue, only something we could do if Canada was cut off from oil imports from the Middle East.) And Canada does produce excess food, some of which winds up getting thrown out. That should be used to generate ethanol, and now that some regions have increased the maximum ethanol content of gas, maybe it will wind up getting used.

    But we’ve got one very hopeful oil replacement technology undergoing a lot of development right now. Algae can contain up to 30% mass oil that can be easily converted to biodiesel. The rest can replace cattle feed, allowing the grain being fed to cattle to be converted to ethanol. One effort in Florida is trying to identify the best salt water Algae species for biodiesel production (combination of fast growth and high oil content). Algae is, essentially, a method for converting solar power into car fuel, so it winds up being fairly green. You don’t need fertilizer, but it helps so it’ll probably get used in the process.

    Replacing gas is going to take a few technologies. There’s no one stop solution.

    Electric has one rarely known problem — Lithium. While lithium is abundant, it is not easily extracted from ocean water (where it is a tiny fraction of the salt content) or normal rock. There are a few known reserves of lithium salt (two notables in South America, one in Afghanistan, a few smaller ones scattered world-wide), but if all of that was turned into electric car batteries, we’d only get a few hundred thousand, but we need millions. So electrics are wonderful… but not for everyone until new extraction technologies come up the pipe, or a decent energy density battery using easily obtainable elements is developed. (Sodium-sulfur failed, darn it. Too fragile.)

    The infamous Hydrogen economy relied on Fuel Cells that used ultra-rare Platinum. Again, limited numbers of Fuel Cells will be available, but Platinum is not abundant at all. Hydrongen is stripped off oil (which can come from algae or crude), so it’s not really much more than an efficiency increase.

    Algae has great potential. There are both fresh and salt water types, so every coastline and river could provide the water requirement. Fast growing varieties outgrow every land based plant by 5x, including bamboo. Test facilities connected the output of a Coal plant to an algae filled mass of water, and got better than 99% conversion of CO2 to Algae. Extracting the oil from the algae is the hard part right now, since it requires crushing the algae. I’m hoping they can develop a virus that will break open the cells, but I doubt anyone is seriously working on that: that proposal has Frankenstein’s Monster written all over it, if it escaped. An enzyme would be more fiddly, but a lot safer since it wouldn’t be self-replicating.

    Brazil is already converted to an ethanol economy. The only thing holding Barzil back from exporting enormous amounts of ethanol is fear of some Venezuelan crackpot dictator that sells a lot of oil.

    But solutions don’t need to be limited to oil replacements. Business has taken note and the incidence of working from home is on the rise. My sister is a tech writer that can work 3/5 days from home. Some call centers are running remotely from homes. The Electronic Cottage is on the rise… finally… after being predicted in the mid-80’s.

    I’m surprised that no one has picked up ona Soviet era development. Wing-in-ground effect aircraft cut fuel costs by 30% while allowing much larger aircraft, but it had the inherent fear that the plane would crash because it flew at very low level. It was slow, but implementation could reduce international fuel costs. But the USSR crashed and Russia couldn’t fund the research, and no one in the West reallly knew how good it was because of Cold War secrecy.

    Another thing I’m wondering about is Sail power. Some types of resources simply don’t need to move that fast, like Oil. It may take a month to cross the Atlantic with wind, but it would cut fuel costs to a fraction. but salary costs rise. For non-critical shipments of oil, iron, etc., why not Sail?

    To solve shipping problems in northern Canada, one company is bringing back the blimp. It could keep those little towns fed when the ice roads are closed.

    Anyway, enough. I’ve seen too many proposals, obviously. I could go on.

  44. @Robert I wouldn’t say oil was ever functionally limitless: there are production and infrastructure requirements, and costs associated with its use nor could it power everything.

    Thanks to entropy, nothing’s really infinite, but there are theoretical energy solutions (truly efficient solar capture; fusion; etc.) that would effectively be much more limitless and require much less infrastructure than oil.

    And that’s the point where we’d really be living in a post-scarcity society, and we’d learn whether limitless energy really leads to economic justice.

  45. @Kriestor – US electricity is close to 50% coal.
    @Daniel – The term ‘limitless’ as I was using it described a state whereby production, or potential production of a commodity was equal to or greater than the demand for that commodity.

    Until peak production oil was limitless, long before that it ceased to be ‘cheap’, a term describing costs relative to the wealth of the consumer. In the US oil was cheap until 199x.

    If you’d like to argue over the value of ‘x’ feel free but it doesn’t change the question I previously asked nor does it fundamentally matter what ‘x’ is.

  46. “@Kriestor – US electricity is close to 50% coal.”

    Good to hear. See, I think there’s confusion there. You’re confusing Culture with Economy.

    The Economy is driven by the electrical grid, and so is power driven, and provided by a variety of sources.

    Culture is driven by transportation of people, and thus is oil driven. Transportation deciddes where we can live relative to our jobs, what activities we can do, where we can go to relax.

  47. Posting briefly on the only thing here that I know anything about…

    Kreistor, don’t hold your breath waiting for ITER to achieve Q = 10 for 1000 seconds. You know the joke: “Fusion is the power of the future, and always will be!” Everything I’ve seen about ITER (following it for the past 3 years) suggests that (a) tokamaks simply aren’t a viable design, and (b) commercially useful fusion power is no closer today than it was in 1950.

  48. “commercially useful fusion power is no closer today than it was in 1950.”

    Well, that’s clearly absurd. IN 1950, no one had ever fused two atoms outside a bomb. We have already hit 1:1, so progress has clearly been made.

    So unless you’re of the belief that no progress has been made on a bridge until cars are driving over it, an approach that I utterly reject for both construction and development, I don’t know how you can justify that statement.

    As for tokamaks… we’ll see. I often find people that believe a technology can never work often lack the creativity to solve problems. It can’t be done! It cant be done! And then someone lines the chamber with lithium and both drastically reduces the problem where radioactives are produced by neutrons striking iron, and the problem of generating T to keep the reaction going. It can’t be done! Yeah, don’t listen too strongly to people that say that.

  49. The topic seems to have diverged widely into looking at the root causes while not looking at the root causes.

    The key issue, and one exemplified by Kreistor’s detailed analyses, is that people somehow think that our ultra-consumerist society is

    a) A good thing
    b) Sustainable in any way shape or form

    It isn’t, and science and common sense are on my side for that, while wishful thinking is all that can be arrayed in defense.

    We are consuming at an exponential rate and when I say consuming, I mean consuming. Recycling technology is woefully inadequate (and looks to stay that way) for recouping losses so we are literally destroying key resource groups.

    Hilarious ‘invisible hand’ nonsense aside, this train isn’t going to stop until it derails – the enculturation of consumption (thanks post war US surplus!) is too ingrained.

    Fools like to think science will ‘fix’ things but as someone whose career means exposure to scientists from all disciplines and cutting edge research, you’d be better praying for a personal lottery win tomorrow.

    Fluffy internet articles aside, we’re pretty damn screwed. Unless something fun like a massive, contained Asian land war selectively cripples certain developing economies while western nations magically restructure themselves into dynamically growing, sustainable systems, the current state of affairs has a very limited lifespan in historical terms.

    I’ve seen more data than I care to remember on the scarcity of untold numbers of resources and domino maps that show precisely how few we need to lose for others to be consumed at an unforeseen rate.

    What does this mean? It means many of our technologies will be unavailable. It means many people will die. Upside, it may see the end of Fox News 🙂

    No matter what, it will see a major change in the way our societies work.

    And this is what I think of OWS. I think OWS is a herald of things to come.

    I think OWS is a hope that many people in our society can unite under a positive cause and see that sustainability is the most important thing.

    I think it’s a chance that Kriestor’s unfortunate view that humans are by nature nothing more than self-serving locusts can be replaced as our dominant social perspective by an understanding that we are social creatures whose systems are most sustainable when run equitably, rather than when dominated by authoritarian monsters with unchecked appetites for consumption.

  50. Please note before the usual conservative talking point rebuttal – I am not saying the world will end tomorrow. It may not even be within the next fifty years. But I don’t subscribe to the conservative baby boomer ‘well, if it’s not within my lifetime it doesn’t matter’ argument.

    In terms of history, our society does not have very long at all. The big question is what we get afterwards.

    An authoritarian/fascist paradise run by the remnants of the glorious military-industrial complex?

    Jesusland (not the nice one)?

    Or a community-focused society where management of limited resources in a sustainable fashion is predominant?

    Scientifically speaking, hunter gathering is the only truly sustainable model of human existence so far, by the way. If that sounds like your thing, you might be in for a rosy future 🙂

  51. There’s a remarkable documentary series ade in the early 80’s from the BBC called Connections by James Burke. IN it he follows a number of technological developments from past to modern invention, demonstrating how technology develops in a variety of ways, and the first episode discusses what would happen if something critical failed. What would you do if civilization collapsed, assuming you were a survivor and trivializing the violence necessary to get there. And it came down to one simple question: could you use a plow?

    I think a lot of people misunderstand the nature of technology. They get so used to seeing that one common solution that they don’t know others exist. How many know the Germans fought WW2 on coal oil, and we could respond to a fuel emergency with that in North America? People focus so much on doom and gloom from the failure of crude oil that they don’t know that the first plastics were made with starch, and we only use oil because it’s cheap and easy. Alternatives exist, even if we do not use them today.

    “I think it’s a chance that Kriestor’s unfortunate view that humans are by nature nothing more than self-serving locusts”

    I’m not sure how you get to there from what I said. The tragedy of famine usually happens due to environmental changes, not from overpopulation. Overpopulation happens too slowly to have an emergency situation arise quickly. Robert Heinlein suggested that it is a poor generation that cannot double it’s population, but that doubling takes 20 years to achieve. That’s enough warning for everyone to see food consumption hit and slowly exceed production limits, and understand the need to either increase food production through efficiency or decrease consumption. And where famine occurs, the view that people should move somewhere else is foolish: they lack the energy to leave, because they are starving. When food consumption is simply slightly higher than production, people will naturally move to where food is more plentiful. Yes, we’re reaching a point where there are few places to move to, and that means something has to change.

    What will change? The Roman Catholic Church for one. One of the problems in Africa is that some nations are dominated by the RCC, and have laws against abortion, as well as ministration against family planning. This has lead to massive HIV infection rates, incredible orphan rates, even as families grow in size due to access to better medical technology. (Overpopulation doesn’t just come from higher birth rates, but from medical science keeping people alive longer, and reducing the diseases that limited population growth.) Muslim dominated nations have the same restrictions, but I don’t see those changing: they’re more callous about that sort of thing. A lot of RCC observers think that any other choice for Pope would have resulted in an end to their restrictions against birth control already.

    “It may not even be within the next fifty years. ”

    Fifty years ago, the only source of titanium was a single mine in the USSR, so the CIA had to form dummy companies to order it in small amounts to redirect to the SR71 project. Your driver is titanium produced using a new process in Australia. It is simply not possible now to predict what technologies will make which materials readily available in fifty years that are a problem today. Alternative designs, alternative materials, and alternative uses all reduce our reliance on currently critical materials. What critical substances are we currently reliant on that have no alternatives? I find it hard to name even one. When we lose a good one, we turn to less efficient methods, which prevents tragedy. Are we going to all die because catalytic converters can’t be made due to platinum shortages?

    Something could break. But it is far from certain that something critical will break so badly civilization would collapse. And collapsing past the 1800’s would be nearly impossible. We’re never going to be cavemen again.

  52. Unfortunately you are still pushing the paradigm that research will grow exponentially, which underpins the consumerist mindset.

    This is not necessarily the case, especially in an increasingly corporatised, globalised environment that is trapped within its own self-perpetuating consumption cycle.

    The kinds of research you are talking about are no longer prioritised. Instead the focus is on research that increases profits on the great and glorious *free* market.

    We don’t look for cures any more, we look for symptomatic relief as that is where the money lies.

    Collapsing past the 1800s is incredibly simple. I think you underestimate the interreliance of most of our technology. We only need to lose one or two key resources for the demand to rise exponentially on others.

    You then get the domino effect.

    It’s a simple equation, and one that proponents of the current, consumerist system seem too insane to grasp.

    Graph it up. Continual growth of demand on one side, finite resource on the other. Keep exponentially raising growth and reducing the resource by a commesurate amount.

    No matter the games you may play in your head, that’s the concrete reality.

    And please, don’t point to the ‘invisible hand’ or other regularly-debunked economic myths. Those are fantasies created to prop up the system. They don’t circumvent the blindingly obvious base facts of the matter.

    Constant growth is not sustainable.

    The only sustainable system is one where growth is dictated by environmental limits – such as a hunter gatherer society or preferably an environmentally-aware society that consciously controls its growth within global limits.

    This is a scientific fact. Ideologically-charged economic fallacies don’t get around it, neither do ‘magic bullet’ scientific handwaving ruminations.

    It’s all about energy in its truest definition, as opposed to the myopic focus on fuels and electric power.

  53. “Unfortunately you are still pushing the paradigm that research will grow exponentially, which underpins the consumerist mindset.”

    No, I most certainly am NOT. Where on earth do you get that idea? Technology advances, and in some cases exponentially (computers, invention in the late 1800’s), but not always. Heinlein’s quote had to do with a colony on an empty world. We can double population every generation, and in Africa regrettably they try, but the birth rate in the USA and Canada would result in population shrinking without immigration. We already ARE handling the population problem, and all we would have to do in response to a local food crisis is close the gates and let the population slowly return to sustainable levels. Rationing can get us through an immediate food crisis, simply because on average, food consumption in North America is much higher than what is required, so we can all go onto a tummy tuck regime and still survive with much lower food production.

    “The kinds of research you are talking about are no longer prioritised. Instead the focus is on research that increases profits on the great and glorious *free* market.”

    Yeah, BS. First, you’re assuming that research has ever been for any other purpose, and that intentional research develops all invention. To counter the first, you need to look into how Edison did business. The man invented inventing. Over 100 years ago, he was telling people to get funding before trying to invent. For the latter, an example is artificial colour dye. The man researching that was looking for a artificial quinine and discovered the dye when he poured a failed experiment down the drain (his white powder turned the water deep red, a rare colour for artists). Accident creates development as often as intent.

    No one has his finger on the R&D button ensuring only one thing is invented, because no one knows what the combination of things will create in all instances. Since research can’t control technological development, your suggestion that it is controlled is absurd. Aspartame, the propeller, Sticky Notes… vast numbers of inventions were created by accident.

    “The kinds of research you are talking about are no longer prioritised.”

    I saw a complaint by a scientist that Reagan’s Star Wars was going to be responsible for an end to his research into VTOL aircraft. Oddly, the military’s research budget continued to develop the Osprey and later the JSF. You’re flat wrong. “No longer prioritized”? When was such development *ever* prioritized? You’re thinking of some ideal time that never existed. Semiconductor development grew partially due to the moon mission. Was that an obvious outcome of the Apollo program? You get technological developments in other industries whenever you develop for a specific industry.

    “consumerist system seem too insane to grasp.”

    In an artificially limited, arbitrarily restricted case study, maybe. In reality, alternatives exist and take over when critical limits on resources are reached. Lithium is best for car batteries, but less energy dense batteries do exist that could take over for some applications. Powering trains by electricity is a definite option for maintaining civilization while taking the weight off diesel from crude. The studies that show these types of conclusions hold technology in stasis, unable to respond to changes with already known alternatives.

    “The only sustainable system is one where growth is dictated by environmental limits”

    “environmentally-aware society that consciously controls its growth within global limits.”

    People capable of making those decisions don’t exist. No one is qualified to decide how many humans are allowed to live and how many are to die to reach such an “ideal” society. (A society of disease and death, ironically, since medical technology becomes impossible. No thank you.) And anyone that thinks they can declare such limits is going to find himself the first against the wall when their revolution fails. You don’t get a popular uprising when 80% of the people that want to join get told, “Oh, good. You’ll be killed three days after our Great Vistory because we’re going to increase the size of the forest in your area.”

    “This is a scientific fact.”

    No, it’s scientific ignorance. You’re picking and choosing a few technologies and missing development as a whole, and how science advances.

    “Ideologically-charged economic fallacies don’t get around it”

    And you’re not spouting an ideology? Yeah, nice Mr. Pot.

  54. You’re still misunderstanding what I mean by prioritisation. The issue should be something you understand keenly – current research funding rewards lateral research over vertical research. That’s simple economics. Vertical innovation will occur of course but at a statistically lower rate as opposed to the redefinition along parallel lines.

    Of course invention occurs outside of funded activities but if you’re hingeing the survival of humanity on a random accidental discovery then no thanks.

    Again you seem to be referring to fallacious free market justifications by asserting ‘alternatives exist’. Of course they do, but then THEY run out and then the NEXT one – and in most scenarios this occurs at an exponentially increasing rate.

    There’s a reason why we don’t use those ‘alternatives’ now, it’s because they are less efficient for one reason or another. That means as you step through them you hasten the process of entropy. Not a complicated understanding but one that is handwaved by free marketeers.

    You also fundamentally misunderstand my point about a sustainable society. You’re still thinking inside your authoritarian box. It’s not about PEOPLE dictating who lives and who dies, it’s about the ENVIRONMENT doing so – which is how a HG society operates.

    Whether you want to admit it or not, that is already the case. You may think *man* is in control of his destiny but you’re wrong. We are dependent on multiple external energy sources – these dictate our destiny.

    This is indeed simple scientific fact.

    You seem to be trying to insinuate I am a crazed Gaian activist about to feed poor freedom-loving bourgeoisie into a grinder to fertilise my beloved forests.

    Wrong. I’m just pointing out simple scientific facts that your small novels of economically-focused rationalising seem to be missing.

    As it stands we are currently on the downswing of a simple entropic process. Our energy consumption in a vast spectrum of areas exponentially outweighs the ability of the commensurate sources to replenish themselves. Since there is no internal sustainable governance in place for our species’ consumption, the simple logic is that we are in an ever-degrading spiral to our numbers being precisely limited by external factors, dictated by the ability of the environment to sustain all required needs within a defined framework of interdependence.

    I’m sorry but this isn’t up for debate. If you claim otherwise you are at best a fantasist and at worst someone complicit in our shared destruction for their own profit.

    This paradigm is only escapable if the fundamental limitations change – and that’s your scientific ‘magic bullet’ right there (such as the creation of Sci Fi matter creation devices).

    Could happen in an infinite universe, sure, but not likely.

    And with Libertarians, Authoritarians and their kleptocratic brethren in control of our shared resources, a lot less likely than that.

  55. “You’re still misunderstanding what I mean by prioritisation. The issue should be something you understand keenly – current research funding rewards lateral research over vertical research.”

    What the frack is lateral and vertical research? I’m an Engineer, and I’d really like to know what kind of absurdity someone has come up with to somehow qualify research. I really mean it. Studying the unknown has no qualifiers. I guess it sounds fancy to you, so it must have some nebulous description. It’s also absurd. Was developing the Blackberry vertical or lateral? It’s just a smaller handheld computer, so it’s lateral, right? But it conferred significant new power, so it’s vertical? Is algae for biodiesel lateral? It’s replacing oil, so it’s got to be lateral. But it’s a new technology that will need massive capital resources, so it must be vertical?

    Seriously, trying to pigeonhole research before it is developed is like trying to decide which baby will be the next superstar quarterback.

    Second, what dire emergency is going to kill us that needs studying? Not global warming… that’s only a change to our weather patterns, not a disaster. Ice melt? Well, that causes us to move back from the coasts, but is too slow to kill us by surprise. A Super Hurricane? Haven’t seen even one yet. Is there a critical resource that isn’t being replaced? No, the potential profit for creating single source replacement for a critical resource drives research into just about anything that is viewed as critical. There are always companies researching higher yield, drought resistant plants, for instance.

    You’re dropping buzzwords about rhetorical worries. There is no disaster so imminent that we need to divert research to it at this time. Tell me the specific thing you feel will break down, and I’ll tell you what we could do today to deal with it. These generalized gloom and doom claims are just paranoia.

    “Wrong. I’m just pointing out simple scientific facts that your small novels of economically-focused rationalising seem to be missing.”

    No, you’re a fatalist. There is no evidence that any critical part of our system is in danger. There is no resource facing elimination that lacks an alternative ready for implementation. There is no technology that, if we are forced to abandon, we can’t bite the bullet and use something unattractive.

    Your claims are so nebulous and generalized, you could use such things to claim anything at all. You say that something is going to break, but not what specifically will break first. I’ve listed above the efforts to replace what is generally considered the most critical resources, and presented sustainable solutions (algae for biodiesel, for instance). If fuel is not going to become a critically unsustainable resource, what could? Plastics? The cellulose from the algae can be turned into plastics. Iron? It’s so heavily recycled, that’s unlikely. Aluminum is your best bet, but is society going to crash if we have to use tin for soda cans instead of aluminum again? Titanium is the 5th most common element on the planet, and can now be produced in quantity, so it could take over Aluminum’s jobs. Lithium? It’s not critical yet.

    I see why you think no one can argue against your claims… they’re so non-specific, that there’s nothing to argue. Frankly, your claims are so non-specific, they simply aren’t scientific: they’re fear mongering. It’s a fancy trick of mathematics, not a simulation of anything real, because you’re not facing the details of a particular critical resource. Present a technology that you think is going to break down, and then we can talk. Without it… you’re just paranoid.

  56. Uh, research is not ‘studying the unknown with no qualifiers’. Researching history is not the same as theoretical physics, which is not the same as reverse engineering technology. There are indeed qualifiers but since you seem to view everything solely from your own perspective I can see how you wouldn’t get that.

    Maybe do some *research* and start with seeing how approaching from a theoretical perspective generates a very differently qualified research approach than from the practical?

    “What dire emergency?” Nice throw in of global warming ‘change to weather patterns, not a disaster’.

    Yeah because THAT never affected anything, hey?

    /facepalm

    The dire emergency is over consumption of finite interdependent resources. It’s a simple paradigm and one you still fail to address over and over.

    The claims are ‘non specific’ because they include every non-renewable resource and those renewable resources that can/are be made extinct.

    It’s not a question of ‘which resource specifically so Kreistor can internet win with more sophistry’.

    Our current society is not sustainable at all. Any sane person knows that and if you’re arguing this rate of consumption can be indefinitely maintained, you truly and simply have a screw loose.

    That’s not really the question, but it is related to the thread as OWS is one of the more currently visible harbingers.

    The real question is when things do start to fail, which they will barring miraculous intervention, how quickly will they fail and how effective will human mitigation strategies be.

    If you really want to engage, just answer these simple questions simply, without yet another of your Libertarian page turners:

    a) Do you understand that humans are reliant on external energy sources to survive?
    b) Do you think all of these sources are infinite in abundance?
    c) Do you understand what happens when you exponentially increase consumption of a finite resource?
    d) Do you understand what happens when you exponentially increase consumption of finite resources that are interdependent?

    Seriously, this is simplistic stuff indeed. I can only imagine you’re being wilfully ignorant by trying to ignore my clear statement that I am talking about a long term process and not some specific event/resource within the short term future.

    This is why you will no doubt go on and on *deconstructing* the specific *arguments* of OWS and complaining that they actually aren’t *specific*.

    That’s because OWS isn’t about any one thing, or even any ten things.

    It’s not about the individual COMPONENTS, it’s about the overall PROCESS.

    As you stated you were an engineer, possibly that is where the lack of understanding is?

    Think holistically not specifically otherwise you’ll spend your time puffing yourself up about all those trees you avoided but never find your way out of the forest.

  57. “…so we can all be polite to each other.”
    I think, maybe, some have lost sight of the social atmosphere Steve envisioned this discussion to take place in.

    While reading all of this, I wondered what opinions Kelly, Cawti and Morrolan would have on an Occupy-like organization. I guess for this, limiting the characters to Phoenix’s time period would make things easier.

    Kelly and Cawti would agree with most points, but they would find the decentralized aspect of it unnerving. Kelly relies on rousing speeches and symbols to lead, but in this group that would not work as effectively. His words would not have the impact that he would be used to, because he would not be leader. There is no leader. But he would not have such a huge target on his head either.

    I think Cawti, however, would be happy with this. She is for causes, and if being decentralized means being stronger and more resilient to attacks then she would be all for it.

    Morrolan. He is certainly a member of the 1%, so he would probably see the Occupy movement as unruly peasants. It is difficult for me to imagine his opinions past that, but I’m sure he would have something. What do you guys think?

  58. And Vlad would just see it as a threat to his marriage, so he would go out killing people until it went away. When that makes things worse he would pull off a crazy scheme that saves his wife’s life but forces him to go on the run.

    Sorry for double posting, but I thought that would be funny.

  59. “As you stated you were an engineer, possibly that is where the lack of understanding is?”

    Muahahahah! That’s funny. Engineering is the application of invention to create solutions to problems. There is no one more qualified to judge the applicability of the result of research to real world problems. That’s our job — creating solutions to real problems.

    “It’s not about the individual COMPONENTS, it’s about the overall PROCESS.”

    I mentioned Connections. It’s a documentary of the history of invention. Burke discusses this approach to development specifically, as well as some others.

    And what he says is this: through the program he demonstrated that development is inherently not controllable. By focusing on one theoretical solution, and abandoning other technologies, we could be avoiding superior solutions, which lie down different development paths. No one can foresee what development will come out of which effort, no matter how smart they think they are. Further, extending further into one line of research may be fundamentally limited without developments in another, but you can’t know that before the developments are completed and the roadblocks cleared.

    So, no, your approach is fundamentally flawed. It relies on all development creating exactly what it intends to, and never anything else, as well as research not being unknowingly limited by other developments. That is not historically accurate.

    “If you really want to engage, just answer these simple questions simply, without yet another of your Libertarian page turners:”

    Libertarian? Yeah, try to pigeonhole me. No one else here has been able to. But I will answer your questions, because it’s fun!

    “a) Do you understand that humans are reliant on external energy sources to survive?”

    Yep, I need food to live. (Last I checked, I don’t photosynthesize yet.)

    “b) Do you think all of these sources are infinite in abundance?”

    Oh, you mean electrical or mechanical power? Never said they were infinite. Never said they need to be, either. *You* need to prove that extension into the infinite is necessary. (So far, infinity has not been achievable in anything for humanity. It would be remarkable if we somehow got there on power consumption.) I present that approach to be fundamentally flawed, since we are already seeing that human population is self-regulating in North America. It appears that humans, when given the freedoms provided by increased automation and productivity, do not choose to reproduce as often, which inherently counters rising consumption per person.

    Further, as energy production increases, it uses inherently less efficient methods, making power exponentially expensive, but revenue does not increase exponentially to fund the increasing expense. Exponential growth is countered by exponential cost of power. Consumption is inherently restricted by the aggregate cost of power for the next device. As power costs increase, fewer people can afford the increased expense. That also counters exponential growth of power consumption.

    “c) Do you understand what happens when you exponentially increase consumption of a finite resource?”

    You need to demonstrate that is happening, and is not regulated by other means. You also need to demonstrate that power providers would even consider exponential growth of their systems.

    Once we hit the point where production cannot increase to match consumption, your case study breaks down. At that point, exponential growth cannot continue. Since we know population growth in technological nations with relevant power systems is negative, we don’t have to worry about exponential population growth burdening the system with critical needs instead of non-critical wants. Non-critical wants follow supply and demand rules, and so are easily reduced by rising power costs.

    “d) Do you understand what happens when you exponentially increase consumption of finite resources that are interdependent?”

    Again, prove exponential consumption. You’re putting your cart before your horse. *YOU* have work to do before this question even approaches relevance.

    You talk about exponential growth a lot, but you haven’t backed it up in any way. Exponential growth is speculative, not scientific, especially in the face of negative population growth in Western nations, the largest power consumers in the world. There are many factors that act to restrict power consumption.

    “can only imagine you’re being wilfully ignorant by trying to ignore my clear statement that I am talking about a long term process and not some specific event/resource within the short term future.”

    You could go back in time 80 years, and make the same argument. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. It presumes we are stupid, have hit a technological wall, and are incapable of controlling our desires. All of those are false observations.

  60. I need to apologise here Kreistor.

    I actually thought you were being wilfully ignorant and argumentative.

    I now see you simply are unable to understand what I am saying.

    I’m not being passive aggressive either, I am quite serious – the fact you repeatedly take clear lines of argument and derail them over and over to fit your own perspective indicates something of a more pathological nature, either due to education or indoctrinatrion.

    That basically means it’s a waste of time talking to you as you will either never grasp the issues being discussed or you will simply derail every one so you can ‘win’ in your own head.

    Just to give you an example that might help in future, I clearly stated I was discussing ‘energy in its truest definition, as opposed to the myopic focus on fuels and electric power.’. You know, everything from sunlight to food.

    And what do you do?

    ‘Oh, you mean electrical or mechanical power?’

    ..and launch into an utterly irrelevant screed which you then fallaciously and incorrectly apply to my other comments for some unknown reason.

    Again, I suggest to you that your focus on specifics is the issue. You keep digging your own rabbit holes and vanishing down them.

    I’m talking about PROCESSES (I keep putting it in caps for a reason) and trying to explain to you that this is the key to understanding OWS (which I assume is why you are posting here?).

    You keep answering my discussion of general process with irrelevant commentary about time-located specific issues. Apples and oranges.

    You also seem to misunderstand philosophical arguments in favour of a focus on competing.

    You make a big point of me needing and failing to ‘prove’ exponential growth will occur forever – without grasping that the reason I am discussing it is to illustrate why it CAN’T.

    I apologise again for not discussing the specifics of OWS (although you seemed to have gone way off-reservation already) but the point I will make again is that they are irrelevant and that is why I keep talking about these PROCESSES and the overarching framework they fall within.

    I’ll put that in another post so the discussion can hopefully not get sidelined again.

  61. The individual *complaints* OWS protesters have are relevant to the people involved but are simply symptomatic of bigger problems, and I’ve not seen evidence that this is misunderstood by the majority of OWS participants.

    When OWS people are interviewed and they complain about ‘the system’, while conservatives roll their eyes and make snarky comments about ‘lack of focus’ well that IS the focus.

    It is the ‘system’ that is the problem. And it’s being disingenuous to suggest anyone wouldn’t understand what that term means.

    It’s shadings certainly mean different things to different people but the commonality is simple and wide enough for everyone to grasp – yet not easily expressed in a soundbite.

    ‘The system’ that OWS opposes isn’t one, ten, a hundred, or even a thousand things. It’s orders of magnitude beyond that. It’s all of the kleptocratic behaviours and action underpinning a vast swath of human communities worldwide.

    ‘Oh that’s too general. And where are the answers, huh?’ prattle the conservatives as they wave it off.

    Of course it’s general. And that is the job of OWS (and all of its future incarnations). These movements provide general frameworks on which to begin hanging specific handfuls of this massive list of crimes and problems.

    Each person is there for their own specific reasons, which will see both commonalities and differences. However, they are all there for the same general reasons which is a dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire for change.

    Each of these movements shares that similarity with previous and forthcoming movements that display dissatisfaction with kleptocratic or authoritarian status quos. Individually they represent a plethora of different desires and contexts. Collectively they represent a desire to work on a solution to systematic oppression.

    Of course there are contradictions in all of them between lofty ideals and practical displays of action (oooh look, an iPad!).

    But they all represent an understanding of a greater truth – the collection of conservative ideologies that have controlled much of humanity for much of history are viciously unsustainable. Powered by greed and fear, by definition they are unhealthy constructs for human happiness and positive growth – and can have direct physical impacts on the ability of the species to survive.

    The current consumerist paradigm is one of the most dangerous due to the exponential (there’s that word again!) ramping up of environmental destruction (in the broad sense) required to sustain it.

    This is something all but the stupidest or craziest understand on a basic level. It’s just that people don’t really want to deal with it.

    But it can’t be avoided. Sooner or later ‘invisible hand’ fantasy will be revealed for the sham it is when inescapable physical reality comes crashing in – and take your pick of which disaster arena this will occur in, as you’ve got plenty on the horizon both for western society and humanity as a whole.

    And this will almost certainly be caused by systemic human greed and fear, which is what OWS is working to expose and try and ameliorate before this happens.

    @Ryan Smith

    “…so we can all be polite to each other.”

    You know, I’m thinking that with Kreistor and certain other folks as regular posters here, SKZB may not have meant that statement quite as literally as you think, given the subject matter 😉

  62. “I’m talking about PROCESSES”

    I would love to talk about a process with you… but you don’t describe one that is a specific problem. I can’t argue process, because you don’t describe a process. You complain the “system” is a problem… but which system? There is no single system. There are hundreds, disjointed, because the LAW as defined by JUDGES demands privacy between branches of government. You can freely list “Cocaine sales” on your Tax Return, because the IRS is not allowed to tell the Police you’re a drug dealer. (And if it went in front of a judge that found out they had revealed you this way, you’d get rich off the lawsuit.) The Police have to get a warrant from a Judge to get your Tax Statements, and they have to provide reasonable grounds to do so. The “system” you believe in does not even exist. “Systems” exist. And that enforced lack of communication is what has so many frustrated by it, without understanding that it protects your privacy every day.

    The vast majority of the systems and their restrictions are laid down by Judges, in response to lawsuits, not by the Executive or Legislative bodies. You fight your battles against public opinion, but your real “enemy” is in the courtroom. That’s what amuses me most about these protesters. They want to redistribute wealth, but the Courts would immediately declare it unconstitutional if any Legislative body tried. Sure, win the Senate and try it… see how far you get. Changing the “system” requires taking over the Legal branch of government, not Legislative, because the Legal decides which laws and regulations the Legislative branch creates are allowed to exist.

    “and launch into an utterly irrelevant screed which you then fallaciously and incorrectly apply to my other comments for some unknown reason. ”

    That’s nice and nebulous, and totally rhetorical. If you could demonstrate that, you would have.

    I’d be happy debating Processes with you, but you list no Processes or their issues. You talk about a theoretical exponential growth, but in what? There’s nothing to debate, because you’re talking about studies without source. You are assuming everyone agrees with your assumptions, and then get mad when I call you out. Assumptions are fine for a start, but if you want to maintain the conclusions, you have to press on them to ensure they’re accurate. Anyone can say, “The sky is purple” and think themselves right due to lack of evidence against, if they’re blind.

    Sorry, but I have higher standards than just blindly accepting the word of anyone. I expect evidence, a demonstration of understanding of history to demonstrate modern parallel (what’s ironic is that I could list some for you, so I know you could try, but I’m not making your job easier), even a modicum of understanding of the “process” and “system” you complain about. But everything you present is so intellectualized, you can’t even list one specific process you have a problem with.

    “Of course it’s general. And that is the job of OWS (and all of its future incarnations). These movements provide general frameworks on which to begin hanging specific handfuls of this massive list of crimes and problems.”

    Which crimes specfically? You answered that before:

    “‘The system’ that OWS opposes isn’t one, ten, a hundred, or even a thousand things. It’s orders of magnitude beyond that. It’s all of the kleptocratic behaviours and action underpinning a vast swath of human communities worldwide.”

    Again, pretty nebulous. More specifically:

    “And this will almost certainly be caused by systemic human greed and fear”

    Greed and Fear.

    Thoughts, not actions. The reason for actions, not the actions themselves, which may be 100% legal. You want to criminalize the “Why” of their actions.

    Thought crime.

    It is a crime to be greedy. It is a crime to act on fear. Such a new concept to criminalize others for the way they think. We haven’t fought wars against such ideologies, have we?

    But that’s what OWS does, isn’t it? It’s afraid of the results of the “system”, and so it acts out against it. It acts on fear, not hope, or it would be pushing solutions, instead of screaming “The world is ending!”

    You’re already guilty of the Thought Crime you accuse others of. Inherently. Fundamentally. Tragically.

  63. Kreistor,

    We’re not going to get a dialogue going here if you randomly stab your finger at your screen and examine paragraphs of my posts without reading the bits before and after.

    You missed the bit where I explained that it’s MEANT to be nebulous – I don’t think either you, me or anyone else actually wants me to be listing around four and half million specific issues that you can post lengthy replies to. Actually you might, but I sure don’t.

    You’re viewing the entire conversation from a bottom-up perspective while I am talking top-down.

    I’m making philosophical chit chat while you are banging the table and demanding everything be bullet pointed and referenced to free market economic theories.

    I did like your ‘thought crime’ comment though, that was pretty funny and off the wall.

    However, watching you utterly fail to understand what I am saying, bark up the wrong tree and then seem to be extremely satisfied with yourself for doing so isn’t the aim of the game.

    The aim is to discuss what we think about OWS.

    So you did *kind of* do that in your closing rant, which was cool.

    You correctly identified from what I said the idea that OWS is afraid of the results of the the “system” (ps – love how you use that word in a singular sense after your prior rant, top work :D).

    Yes, it is acting primarily from fear. Unsurprisingly that’s often what disenfranchised people do.

    You also showed great perspicacity in explaining that being driven by fear is a major reason why few *solutions* are being produced as opposed to *warnings*.

    So you kind have answered some of your own criticisms, which is a rather cool thing to do, props!

    What wasn’t quite so cool is that in your head you imagined I was suggesting ‘criminalising’ greed and fear (though now you mention it…) and then tried to Godwin the place by implicating the NAZIS into it (or was it the COMMIES? ).

    Now I know folks from your neck of the woods may be into all that blame and punishment stuff. And I know that you certainly can accuse some of the OWS folks of that too.

    But I’m certainly not advocating criminalising greed and fear, no sir.

    I suggest education, bringing up children to realise there are more important things in life that your ‘Greed is natural and good’ screed and teaching that sustainability = optimum survivability.

    Now I’ll just leave that on the table for you as I guarantee you can get some mileage out of references to Communist indoctrination and Hitler Youth.

    I need to head off and get my kids ready for school. First period is English (Sponsored by Pepsi!) and then they have a Maths test (Brought to you by Corning – Giving YOUR kids a clear future!).

  64. “I don’t think either you, me or anyone else actually wants me to be listing around four and half million specific issues ”

    No. I’m asking you to name ONE. Show me that you have studied and analyzed ONE of these critical issues you fear may cause the downfall of civilization. Show me that you are fastidious in your study of the science. That you have a specific fear. That you know a single issue. And you can’t do it, because you never have. You have repeatedly shown a lack of understanding of the nature of technological development, so you have no knowledge of how solutions are found.

    You gather all these theoretical issues up as a nebulous issue, and want a nebulous solution, but you deny the nebulous solution that has worked for the last 300 years… that smart people study specific issues and solve specific problems for whatever motivation that guides them, be it obsession or profit. You have no evidence that method is going to fail, and only assume it will. You want another… but you don’t offer another, so there’s nothing to debate. You want to discuss the process of solving this nebulous issue of technological collapse, but technology is simply not nebulous. Technology solves specific human problems. There will not be a nebulous failure, if something fails. There will be a critical failure of one system, which will lead to collapse of another and another. The solution is to constantly identify systems that are nearing failure and devote more resources as they become increasingly critical. And that actually does happen, in the current “process”, when entrepreneurs see approaching opportunity… just as they have for 300 years.

    “Yes, it is acting primarily from fear. Unsurprisingly that’s often what disenfranchised people do.”

    Except they aren’t. Disenfranchised, I mean. For the most part, the Occupy movement was started by socialist idealists, not homeless and societal fringe elements (they joined in later). So, no, those are most certainly not disenfranchised… they have chosen to exclude themselves, which doesn’t fit the definition. Willingly giving them up and intentionally not using the privileges available to you is abandonment, which doesn’t fit the definition that requires deprived.

    “However, watching you utterly fail to understand what I am saying”

    No, I understood and disarmed what you said. There’s a difference. I demonstrated that you have similarity to your own complaint, and that has you falling back, again, to an undefined position from which nothing can be discussed. I don’t think anyone is missing that you’re backpedaling, and removing any specifics that I can discuss. You’ve abandoned your previous statements about greed and fear, which I count as a total victory over socialist BS.

    In other words, i got you to stick your neck out, and cleaved a nice big chunk out of it. So pull it back in and hide again Mr. Turtle.

    “that your ‘Greed is natural and good’ screed”

    When did I say that: that’s an incorrect assumption, or gross mis-characterization, on your part. I don’t pass judgement on the morality of other people’s choices, unless it becomes illegal or harms me. Greed *is* a natural aspect of human beings, but whether it is good is irrelevant. The concept of enlightened self-interest ensures that greed being good or badis irrelevant: it is merely one of a number of selectors which direct manufacturing via the vote of the dollar. It also handles altruism in exactly the same way, so the morality of the choice is made irrelevant. Manufacturing responds to profit, profit comes from expenditure, and expenditure comes from choice. Whatever guides that choice guides the manufacturers.

    “and teaching that sustainability = optimum survivability.”

    And while you’re talking about me missing points, how about you? Above you’ll find that I celebrate many sustainable power initiatives, when applied in the right environment, instead of them assumed to be functional solutions for every area of the world, no matter how absurd. (Solar above the arctic circle is near useless, for example.) I have, from the start of this conversation, long before you bothered to enter, promoted algae for biodiesel, ethanol, and electrical for personal transportation. Solar in lower latitudes and wind on coastlines for added power production. I have promoted the idea of restricting immigration in the face of food shortages. and I promote genetic modification for increased food production and heartier plants, so that we can reduce our reliance on fertilizers and pesticides. (For my opinion on Organics, see “Irish Potato Famine.”) All of these are sustainable solutions to at least some volume of production.

    “But I’m certainly not advocating criminalising greed and fear, no sir.”

    “It’s all of the kleptocratic behaviours”

    Yeah, I think you very much did. You called the foundation of community a government of thieves, but no laws that criminalize those behaviors. You can only be referring to the greed you specifically mentioned, and equating that to theft.

    Sorry, but I nailed you on that one. You, like others of the same attitude, completely missed the implications of your complaint.

  65. This should come as no real shock but semi-chemical synthesis using common cryogenic gas for super-critical extraction combined with common as dirt ubquitious toxins such as the Destroying Angel Mushroom toxin should inform Kreister and his ilk that you assholes are not paying attention. Occupy is a nice fluffy bunny way of attracting attention to social inequality that was created purposefully to destroy our jobs and our ability to feed our families. That there are fools that will defend the system even as they are marched into the ovens is par for the course however do not expect that there will not be a successful resistance.

    We are smarter and more ruthless than you. Always were and always will be. We stand right behind Occupy and have their backs even though they do not really like us very much. They are the fluffy bunnies and we are the Jacksonian tribe who insist on unconditional surrender of the enemy, boot on neck. Who owns America? Why we do. Remember the Founding Fathers were Terrorists one and all you legalistic dip-shits do is run your mouths. You argue like a lawyer defending the privileged. Quisling, traitor and tory same shit different day. AMF

  66. They caught you in Toronto, though. Infiltrated right into the Black Bloc core, and slammed you to the wall with your own planned riots. Anonymous? Not any longer. Now YOU need security and to vet every applicant.

    Smarter? Self declared intelligencia have never succeeded in dominating anyone. SunTsu tells us to know yourself and your enemy, but deciding that you’resmart and the enemy dumb abandons that entirely, and leads to constant failure. The “dumb” police put two people right in your planning meetings, pal. Not dumb. Smarter than YOU.

    More ruthless? You’re the ones claiming we’re sociopathic criminals. That self-delusion really amuses me. Sympathetic, empathic individuals that devote their lives to help others are incapable of true ruthlessness. If you are trul correct about our psychological flaw, you’re inherently incapable of our level of ruthlessness.

    If they can infiltrate the Hells Angels and Mongols (organizations that are far, far more terrible than you), they can fool a bunch of idealist socialists and foolish anarchists any day of the week. Keep pretending to be tough and attacking those Starbucks. But come up here and trash a Tim Hortons, and see what state our society of hockey goons leaves YOU in!

    When your sport consists of knives on feet and clubs in hand, anyone that thinks they can intimidate you with a little riot is just asking for a ten minute roughing major.

  67. Wow, someone just turned up the crazy in here!

    *loosens collar*

    In other news, it’s nice to see unabashed sociopathic fascism hasn’t gone out of style. And in a Canadian World of Warcraft-playing hardass no less!

    Why drink the Kool Aid when you can be the guy pouring it, eh?

    😉

  68. And before you ask, why yes, I may have played on your server.

  69. The follwing is an on point link to an article on CBC.ca, Canada’s national media broadcaster. In it is a discussion of various studies which both support and cast doubt on the conclusions of the Occupy movement (which is mentioned specifically). It might provide an interesting basis for continued discussion.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/02/27/science-class-ethics.html

  70. I could type out a massive splurge on the various psychological and social issues at play here but really, everyone simply knows that the richer you are the bigger douchebag you tend to be.

    I guess the fundamental *class* issue is that rich people and those who idolise them see douchebaggery as a positive character trait.

  71. On a serious note for a second, my above comment does raise an interesting question.

    There is high awareness of the psychological issues caused by the socio-economic factors affecting the *lower classes* and plenty of resources expended on *treating* them.

    Meanwhile there seems to me to be very little awareness of the breadth of the psychological issues caused by the socio-economic factors affecting the *upper classes* – ‘executive stress’ is about as deep as it tends to go.

    In my experience there’s just as weird and wonderful collection of issues for the upper echelons – but they seem to be ignored or even privileged.

    An example is sociopathic behaviour – there is plenty of evidence that there is much more acceptance of sociopaths in the higher ranks of society, as many of their traits have been (questionably) privileged as successful behaviours to win and maintain power.

    From what I’ve seen, being rich isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be in terms of personal happiness and there’s plenty of supporting evidence for that.

  72. “An example is sociopathic behaviour – there is plenty of evidence that there is much more acceptance of sociopaths in the higher ranks of society, as many of their traits have been (questionably) privileged as successful behaviours to win and maintain power.”

    Citation, please. I have heard this over and over, but not one person has ever been able to link me a study I can tear apart.

    Frankly, it’s an urban myth. It’s wishful thinking from socialists wanting to vilify the “enemy”. Wikipedia describes sociopathy as:

    ___
    A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

    1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
    2) deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
    3) impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
    4) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
    5) reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
    6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
    7) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;

    B) The individual is at least age 18 years.
    C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
    D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
    ___

    A1: failure to conform to social norms

    Obviously false. Positions of power go to conservative individuals, not radically different people.

    A2: deception

    Possible, but not on the level described. Aliases and conning others for PERSONAL profit. CEO’s represent their entire company and profit for the company benefits everyone — board, employees, and himself. It is not enough to profit, but you must deceive for personal profit pathologically.

    A3: impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead

    You can’t become powerful in business without a capacity to plan ahead.

    A4: irritability and physical aggressiveness

    Clearly false.

    A5: disregard of safety

    Potentially in some cases where safety regulations have been overlooked or intentionally lost; however, it is never done as the decision of the CEO alone, but as a group decision by all managers and the CFO. However, I suspect that this has more to do with direct personal safety, than shorting a budget that causes the warehouse to cut back on fixing ladders. This is talking about walking on the railing of a bridge, or pushing someone towards it. Direct interaction that leads to unsafe behavior, not third hand at a distance financial decisions that lead to unsafe business practices.

    A6: failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations

    Poor money managers never get to the level of CEO. Reliability is a key factor for obtaining managerial positions

    A7: lack of remorse

    Unprovable. Assumed to be true by socialists, but actions in the public eye are not evidence of actions behind closed doors. You don’t see a ever CEO cry about a tragedy in front of the media. I tis considered unprofessional. And you don’t see them apologize, because a judge often takes that as admission of guilt, losing court cases that may not have actually been the company’s fault.

    ___

    So, simply obtaining the title of CEO rejects many of the features of a sociopath. It leaves a few and three is enough, but not all CEO’s show evidence of all three, and anywhere the decision is made by the group, it is not applicable to the individual. To prove sociopathy, the decisions must be solitary and personal.

    Sorry, but I personally think that is the biggest load of horse manure ever created by the socialists. No one can psychoanalyze a person from a public persona, without a massive amount of prejudice to convince him it’s “okay.”

  73. Citation?

    Here you go http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociopathy

    Oh wait, there’s nothing there but links to other pages! So where did you get all that from?

    Ohhhh, from the APSD section! Wrong link mate, try this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy

    Wow, look at that! Ticks all up and down the list! Check it out (and self-reference if you see fit).

    Note that if you were paying attention, I was not saying rich and powerful people = socio/psychopaths. Plenty of poor pyschopaths too (and see if you can tell which traits push you in which direction).

    What I said is that many of the attributes of socio/psychopathy are seen as being positive ones in areas of power – this is historically clear and obvious, don’t try telling me that the great and powerful figures of the world got to where they were by being such LOVELY people.

    This means that certain manifestations of those psychological frameworks will find it easier to gravitate to positions of power via certain channels and maintain their position once there.

    I’m confused by all this though.

    On one hand you trumpet the *ruthlessness* of *your people* and love to crow about how the *powerful* conservatives *crush* the pathetic socialists/hippies/poor people by being so much more focused on *achievement* as opposed to plaiting flowers in their hair/holding hands/discussing FEELINGS.

    I’m agreeing with you bro! I’m saying that socialists tend to be namby pamby empathic sponges who can’t muster the ruthlessness to survive in this dog eat dog world!

    I mean they’d rather be FRIENDS with their enemies instead of crushing them, seeing them driven before them and hearing the lamentation of their women.

    But could you please clarify – are conservatives ruthless hard-asses who have the stones required to keep freedom free and not give in to emotional pleas to *share* things so we end up in a communist nightmare?

    Or are they sweet caring folks who put the needs of the many before their own, and those close to them, and who are keenly in tune with the emotions of others as they recognise the commonalities we all share?

    Also, while you’re at it, could you explain why it is that conservatives seem to have real trouble understanding ironic or sardonic humour? I struggle with this 🙁

  74. “On one hand you trumpet the *ruthlessness* of *your people* ”

    #1 Grow a sense of humour. The post before mine, and mine, were both meant to be humorous. Mine began seriously, but I pulled the Canada+hockey paradigm switch to indicate I had gotten the humor in the post I was responding to, and was only responding in kind.

    #2 I actually *am* ruthless. But I also choose morality. When I have conflict wiht someone else, I respond with my perception of his morality, so often I am a mimic. You are seeing yourself in me. I have always viewed it as a challenge to win without using actions my opponent is incapable of. (My best trick is winning by doing nothing. No one ever expects you to do nothing.)

    #3 But I am also not a representative of any group. I have what you call Right Wing tendencies, but I have clearly stated in previous posts that Social Programs should receive increasing funding as we can economically afford them. I support universal Health Care, but demand that physicians not be treated like slaves, as they are under the Canadian system. I support and oppose Right and Left Wing ideologies in turn.

    “are conservatives ruthless hard-asses who have the stones required to keep freedom free and not give in to emotional pleas to *share* things so we end up in a communist nightmare?”

    In Canada, a study (about two years ago) showed that Conservatives donate a far greater fraction of their income to charity than Socialists, and do more volunteer work per capita.

    “why it is that conservatives seem to have real trouble understanding ironic or sardonic humour?”

    Because such humour does not translate to the written word. It’s the same as believing that no one can lie to you. In person, we have tells, facial expressions, tonality, and body language that can give away a lie. In text, three people can interpret the same sentence in three ways, based on which words they give stress to. The tells that give away those types of humour are inter-personal and lost in text. Subtle humour has never worked online.

  75. Funnily enough, I’d bet plenty of other people see the subtle humour you miss.

    That would be ‘the socialists’ you refer to I think.

    But I do appreciate you telling me to get a sense of humour, that’s irony I can happily take to the bank 😉

    Anyway, since you aren’t getting the humour in this conversation, I wonder if you could answer the actual question here – what do you think of OWS?

    You personally – and no need to back it up with your informative dissertations for every point, I think by now that’s a given.

    What’s your gut feeling about OWS, as someone interesting and unique enough not to be defined by belonging to any group, left or right?

    As a nation of one, what are Kreistor’s gut feelings about OWS?

    Bonus points if you can not say ‘socialism’ at all in there 😛

  76. I already made that clear above.

    Short version:

    1) Unfocused. Occupy is not about solving an issue with a solution, or a set of problems with a single set of coherent solutions, but about solving many issues with many different solutions. If they weree to somehow win, the infighting on how to solve the many social issues would tear the group apart. They all agree only on the first step of somehow tearing down the current system, but beyond that, have no unity of solution.

    2) Ignorant. Taking over a public space on a permanent basis is a violation of everyone else’s Civil Rights, as confirmed by dozens of Judges across North America, in both our countries. If you’re going to protest the loss of Rights, don’t abuse other peoples’ Rights in doing it.

    3) Ignorant. Many of their arguments seem to be based on disinformation from Youtube versions of economics. When they stick to Homelessness, and classic issues, they’re fine, but when they drift into economic, they are totally ignorant of reality. Few have studied the issues behind Greece and the 2008 collapse, blaming Bush or Goldman Sachs for all the worlds’ woes, as if the Greek politicians weren’t complete morons for taking on the Euro when they needed 17% inflation to keep up their deficit spending.

    4) Prejudiced. “Greed and fear” “Sociopathic CEO’s”. Etc. You showed that clearly once again. Socialists fought prejudice for racial Rights in the 60’s, but seem to think that they are immune. Nope.

    Nothing I haven’t said before, over and over, in this thread and others.

  77. Appreciated, it’s nice to see a short version.

    1. Your first sentence is spot on. You then go on to talk as if OWS is about doing a ‘thing’ rather than being an ongoing ‘process’, which is fundamentally where you seem to misunderstand its reason for being. However, you are half right in the lack of unity of solution – there’s no singular imposition of will on others that you would see in an authoritarian perspective. I think the cognitive gap is that you seem unable/unwilling to understand the notion of ‘unity in diversity’.

    2) Yep, and plenty of them got beaten, sprayed and slung in jail for the heinous crime of sitting on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, executives nearby continued unmolested to destroy the lives of citizens to line their own pockets with full governmental support. Yet in your mind these things equate? Again, a fundamental cognitive gap and an interesting one.

    3) Again, see #1. You’re talking as if this is a singular approach to developing a singular action to deal with a singular issue – or even multiple approaches to multiple issues. It’s not. It’s about dealing with the overall processes behind those issues. It’s about shifting the paradigm to shift the issues, not the other way around.

    4) Prejudiced that a tiny fraction of the population steals their wealth from others? Prejudiced that corruption is endemic in the financial and governmental institutions that run our allegedly free western society? Prejudiced that the greed-focused agenda of this minority is rapidly destroying our shared resources beyond the point of return?

    Well, yes. Plenty of prejudice there. And I’m not being smarmy – it’s a valid point you make and it’s a key issue of OWS. How do you not be prejudiced against people who are utter scumbags?

    You said ‘socialist’ so no extra points there by the way 🙁

    Interesting, and thanks for sharing. I find it fascinating to see this kind of stuff – from my point of view you seem to be a mentally unwell person whose ideological indoctrination seems to push you to believe in things I believe are utterly antithetical to the positive survival of humanity.

    I’m also sure you think the exact same thing about ‘socialists’ such as myself and by your lights I can imagine why.

    Just please be aware I don’t hold your views against you – I am sure there are very good and explainable reasons how you got to be the way you are and I don’t see them as being morally reprehensible.

    Unfortunate, maybe, dangerous even, from my POV, but in honesty I am sure you have a convincing framework of internal justification that would invalidate any accusations of actual ill-will towards people.

    Except maybe socialists. 😉

    Again, thanks. For someone with strong authoritarian leanings, it’s good to see your willingness to engage in a format like this.

    Also, just for clarity, this was a mostly serious post with a minimum of sardonic humour 😀

  78. BTW,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociopath

    Takes you to Anti-social personality disorder, and at the bottom an explanation of what Sociopathy means.

    Psychopathy? Another list… Hare Psychopathy Checklist. Scale is 0, 1, 2. High is bad.

    Factor 1: Personality “Aggressive narcissism”

    a) Glibness/superficial charm
    Nope. If anything, they have real charm.

    b) Grandiose sense of self-worth
    They have real self-worth. Comes with real success.

    c) Pathological lying
    ying as part of a business deal is not pathological.

    d) Cunning/manipulative
    Can be. I’ve met CEO’s that were and ones that weren’t. CEOs that come from Engineering (R&D companies) tend not to be.

    e) Lack of remorse or guilt
    Confusing public persona with private can make this appear true, but note that the appearance of guilt prior to a lawsuit’s completion is admissible in court. CEO’s are required to not apologize or show signs of guilt. requires private knowledge not available to the public.

    f) Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
    Can only be determined by private, long term analysis

    g) Callousness; lack of empathy
    Indeterminate from public persona.

    h) Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
    Seen lots of CEOs take responsibility for their company’s failure.

    Factor 2: Case history “Socially deviant lifestyle”.

    a) Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
    Most are workaholics without time for this flaw.

    b) Parasitic lifestyle
    Definitely not. Make own money at own job, and are not parasitic off relatives and friends.

    c) Poor behavioral control
    Definitely not. Require strong acting skills to keep public and employees from knowing about difficulties.

    d) Lack of realistic long-term goals
    Can happen with entrepreneurs that built the company rather than a CEO raised to the position.

    5) Impulsivity
    Translates to budgetary roblems at management level. No.

    6) Irresponsibility
    No. See confusion with company requirements for lawsuits above.

    f) Juvenile delinquency
    Highly unlikely. Would result in inability to gain management positions due to criminal record in some States.

    g) Early behavior problems
    ADD can be an issue, but doesn’t lead to this behavior.

    h) Revocation of conditional release
    No.

    Traits not correlated with either factor

    a) Promiscuous sexual behavior
    Common enough for all A type personalities, including a certain Assange.

    b) Many short-term marital relationships
    Sometimes. The CEOs that I knew were all in long term, stable marriages.

    c) Criminal versatility
    No. Can’t hold the position with a record.

    d) Acquired behavioural sociopathy/sociological conditioning (Item 21: a newly identified trait i.e. a person relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive)
    No.
    ____

    Sorry, but no. They score low, according to my estimation. List isn’t that different from ASPD.

    I’m sure that you can twist this into whatever you want, by trivializing the entry conditions such that just about everyone in the world qualifies. Psychopaths are extremes, with strong evidence of these factors. “Parasitic lifestyle” for instance, does not mean “Runs a company that produces goods at high prices”. It means “Living off of someone else’s work instead of working for a living.” Lives in Mom’s basement, wife works while he drinks, etc.

    No, your rhetoric “Lots apply” isn’t enough for me. Most of these miss the mark by a wide margin.

    And I’m still expecting a citation for a “Socipathic CEO” study. Our amateur analysis is fun, but I want an expert’s opinion in the form of a study. You claimed this, so give me a citation, please. Or is it just another Left Wing urban myth?

  79. 1) No, not authoritarian. I said and meant “focused”. Failure to provide a solution backed by a majority of the Occupy group leads to multiple attempts to solve the same problem. That is financially wasteful, and beyond what you can expect the public to pay for. The public expects results for their tax dollars, not wasteful mismanagement, no matter how you spin your failure to unify as some kind of positive. When you go to the public trough to pay for these solutions, you’re going to be facing Texans with guns that expect you to be smart with THEIR money. You’re headed to a complete financial disaster on the national level without some unity of solution.

    2) Occupy’s problem is that they think someone else violated Rights, but are completely unable to prove it in a court of law. You are, essentially, a lynch mob, wanting to punish someone for rumor and suspected unethical behavior. If you have proof of Corporate malfeasance, take it to the authorities and put the supposed unethical CEO’s in jail. You don’t have the proof, only self-generated theory about unethical behavior without specific evidence that can lead to the warrants necessary to investigate. Stringing up someone for a suspected crime is called “lynch mob mentality”. If you want to set a precedent that you can go into a corporations records any time you feel like to gather evidence of crime, then don’t be surprised when the cops knock on your door and search for drugs without a warrant. The same privacy law covers you and corporate privacy, and any attempt to split the two will get the slapdown by a Judge for being unconstitutional.

    3) “It’s about dealing with the overall processes behind those issues.”

    You haven’t suggested a single “process” or a single “solution” to its problems. You don’t like “Corporate Greed.” Fine. How do you solve it, when a company can only remain solvent if it makes a profit? You don’t like “sociopath CEO’s”, so what do you expect of a CEO that won’t result in failed lawsuits when the company wasn’t at fault? Pick something and discuss. Most of your complaints are simply impossible to fix, because you don’t recognize the legal requirements of corporate existence. That’s why I call them “nebulous”. You can’t deal with the specifics of a process, because you are unaware of the legal and regulatory issues that guide corporate behavior. You blame the corporations, when they are only obeying the demands of the legal and legislative bodies that govern them.

    4) “Prejudiced that a tiny fraction of the population steals their wealth from others?”

    They don’t. They make goods. You buy them. Not theft. Financial bailouts? Weren’t free… the US government is now a 1/3rd investor in all US institutions that were bailed out, so 1/3rd of all dividends go straight into the public coffers. The US gov also has a 1/3rd voting share on all of those institutions to prevent excessive CEO wages, or a return to toxic loans, while the US gov works out new regulations to replace the ones that permitted the mortgage nightmare that started the 2008 recession. Oh, you thought they got those bailouts for FREE? They are going to have to buy back ALL of those shares someday to get the government off their backs. The jailer is on the Board of Directors. Every shareholder essentially lost 1/3rd of their holdings in those companies when new stock was issued to the government.

  80. I don’t think you actually read my post?

    I am not saying all CEOs are socio/psychopaths – or even a majority necessarily. Your flawed analysis of those conditions aside (you don’t seem to understand what many of them mean?) it’s not a question of trying to hang those conditions on an surface appearance, as you have tried to do.

    What I am saying is that certain attributes held by socio/psychopaths are VALUED and VALUABLE in many areas of power.

    That ruthlessness you have previously described for example.

    Now I’m not judging in essence here – as previously stated, there’s a strong argument that people with such a lack of empathy are required to fulfil certain social roles. A distinct lack of empathy is a trait shared by a significant majority of the world’s most successful leaders for example.

    I joked about it before but there’s a serious question here –

    On one hand, the pro-authoritarian commentary is all about POWER. It happily waxes lyrical about the ability of conservatives to act where progressives would shy away.

    Now that may well be true. Assuming that it is, that conservatives have the ability to make hard – bu necessary – decisions due to lack of empathy getting in the way (a common conservative catch-cry) why is there such a stigma applied to being labelled with sociopathic tendencies?

    So what?

    If, as the conservative argument goes, a lack of empathy allows hard decisions to be successfully prosecuted then surely it would be a badge of honour to have sociopathic tendencies?

    To put it another way, conservatives continually express respect for those people who can accumulate capital in a temporal sense. The bitchez and the bling, if you will.

    It’s clear that sociopathic tendencies increase effectiveness in doing so – removing impediments caused by fear and empathy for example.

    I don’t see why conservatives get bent out of shape about being labelled as sociopathic, I’d have thought it tied in with images of being the metaphoric social and economic kings of the jungle?

  81. Kreistor, are you truly and utterly unaware of the hundreds (thousands?) of documented situations of malfeasance on the part of the financial sector in recent years?

    And before you scream ‘Nothing proven in court!’ well that’s kind of the whole point.

    Seriously, there are uncounted articles covering this, with plenty of evidence from all directions. Articles by researchers, journalists, law enforcement officials, financial analysts.

    You have access to Google, go read a few hundred.

    Oh wait.

    ‘But socialism!’

    You’re not getting it, are you? (Or are you?)

    Your entire argument about OWS boils down to that it won’t hold any water in the current system.

    Um, that’s kind of why they want it dismantled and a new, less corrupt one developed.

    I know you don’t believe it, but your world view is not the only one, or the only workable one.

    By the way, you’re starting to make me feel sorry for all those multimillionaire execs getting a bad rap for their totally innocent activities.

    Those guys have feelings too!

    Or do they? 😀

  82. Well, Hell! I miss a couple of days and the whole thread explodes! Cegorach, you may not subscribe to the Baby-Boomer, and I’m not sure it’s fair to demonize Baby-Boomers as the originators of the ideology that future generations can shovel the shit piles and like it because I’m damn sure I heard my father and his father before him expres the same disregard for the future generations.

    But, speaking for this Baby-Boomer only, the generations that follow mine can kiss the fattest part of my ass. I owe them nothing.

    I’ve protested, lectured, taught, and spoke out to so many young vapid faces that I just don’t give a shit anymore.

    What would Vlad, Cawti, Sethra, and Aliera do regarding OWS? Only Steve knows for sure. For my part, I think Vlad wouldn’t give a shit, Cawti would organize more of them, Sethra and Morrolan would ignore them for different reasons: Morrolan because they are beneath his notice and Sethra because they are but a pimple on the face of time. Aliera would, of course, kill them all.

    You guys keep arguing about weighty matters. Who knows, I might even learn something.

  83. @Cegorach

    PS> There is a fundamental difference between sociopothy and psycopathy. In fact, the difference is so great that you ought not use them as synonyms (i.e. sociopathy/psycopathy). The difference between the two disorders is so profound that different areas of the brain correspond to each disorder. Also, it is possible to be both; a psychopathic sociopath.

    That being said there is some truth to your assessment that some measure of sociopathy is beneficial to Capitalists. In fact, sociopathy will impede the development of Socialism because Socialism requires a consideration of Bentham’s societal “utils”. By definition, a sociopath has no capacity for empathy and ideas like “greater good” mean nothing.

    Now, the real question is, “How do we cure America primarily, and Europe secondarily of their societal sociopathy?”

  84. “I am not saying all CEOs are socio/psychopaths”

    “An example is sociopathic behaviour – there is plenty of evidence that there is much more acceptance of sociopaths in the higher ranks of society, as many of their traits have been (questionably) privileged as successful behaviours to win and maintain power.”

    Yeah, you did. “Sociopaths in the higher ranks of society”. Your exact words. You retreated to them only having a few of the traits when I hammered you. So I’m going to hammer you again, with your own words. You have lied about your previous claims.

    I love guys that spin like you. You can’t keep track of your own lies, which makes it easier to disarm you with every posting. Quick, look down! Your inconsistencies are showing!

    “What I am saying is that certain attributes held by socio/psychopaths are VALUED and VALUABLE in many areas of power.”

    Which ones? I listed both ASPD and Hale. It’s at your fingertips. But again, it’s a nebulous “many”, when in fact it is “none at all.”

    “That ruthlessness you have previously described for example.”

    I didn’t mention it, and it’s not on either list. Ruthlessness is not a sociopathic or psychopathic indicator. And Black Hatz mentioned it first (not me), and he was talking about Socialists being ruthless, not conservatives. Try to keep up with the program. I know you Americans have trouble keeping track of the puck, but this is right there for instant replay. There’s no excuse for getting that reference wrong.

    “A distinct lack of empathy is a trait shared by a significant majority of the world’s most successful leaders for example.”

    No, they are empathic. But we always see them in professional situations, where emotion is contra-indicated. We do not WANT leaders to act on emotion. Being stoic and confident encourages others to hope in the face of tragedy, and tells the world that you are reacting with reason and logic. It boosts morale and community spirit to see a leader showing small amounts of emotion when everyone else is crying, and turns others’ emotions into actions. Emotional responses, especially sorrow in the face of tragedy, inspire fear, despair, and inaction.

    “On one hand, the pro-authoritarian commentary is all about POWER”

    which is irrelevant because I have never promoted authoritarianism. But the rest that follows (which I didn’t include in the quote), concerning a lack of empathy etc… all strawman. You have yet to provide any evidence that conservatives have a tendency to a lack of empathy. Black Hatz suggests that it is socialists that lack the empathy that permits ruthlessness, for example. And the Canadian survey I mentioned suggests Conservatives are empathic on a personal level, rather than a societal level. So, no, your assumption that conservatives lack empathy is extremely prejudiced, and based on socialist theory, not scientific study.

    “I don’t see why conservatives get bent out of shape about being labelled as sociopathic”

    Seems you’re the one that lacks empathy. Try calling someone in a bar a sociopath and see if you get out without a busted jaw. Maybe the pain ill help figure it out.

    “are you truly and utterly unaware of the hundreds (thousands?) of documented situations of malfeasance on the part of the financial sector in recent years? ”

    Yep. I am also aware that the biggest complaints are the result of deregulation on the part of politicians that lacked the foresight and hindsight to understand why the regulations were a good idea. The CEO’s were unethical… but nothing they did was illegal, or punishable in any way, legally. Note the bailout scheme I mentioned above punished all of them, even though you may not understand the punishment of losing share value.

    “Your entire argument about OWS boils down to that it won’t hold any water in the current system.”

    No, my complaint is that Occupy does not have a system to replace it with. Without identifying a singular response to each identifiable problem or a generalized unifying system to serve as a foundation for a set of solutions, Occupy success would result in stalemate between the disparate supporters of different solutions, or conflict between groups that promote different priorities.

    “your world view is not the only one”

    My world view is not the one you’re arguing against. You’re arguing against Republican pundits, not me. At least I am quoting and responding to your precise statements. You respond as though I am quoting Glenn Beck, when he’d rail against half of my statements, too.

    But keep talking. The more inconsistencies you reveal, the more ammunition I have against you.

  85. @ Robert Ekas: “But, speaking for this Baby-Boomer only, the generations that follow mine can kiss the fattest part of my ass. I owe them nothing.”

    Yeah, you owe them for burdening them with the massive debt load your generation’s deficits created, that they are going to have to pay. You let your politicians borrow against your children’s future. For that, you owe them.

  86. There’s owing and then there’s paying. You may think we owe but what you think matters nought. As to paying, well … I think “kissing the fattest part of my ass” pretty much covers my intentions regarding “repayment”.

  87. I sometimes wonder if Kreistor is a creation of Steve’s, ala Card’s fake sibling pundits in the Ender books. You know, a straw dog for us all to kick around, a thoroughly unlikable and ultimately pathetic collection of tics and hackneyed phrases espousing the polar opposite of everything Mr. Brust believes in. After all, why would a Canadian Tea Party-nista spend so much hanging around this message board spouting overly researched Palin-ology. It makes no sense. Who has that much time and so little useful to do with it?

    Of course, it is an idle thought. Mr. Brust has never written a character with that little depth, and I doubt he could ever resist inserting at least a hint of humor into one. Kreistor must be an actual troll, not a fictional one. The truth, sad as it is, must be acknowledged.

    BTW, since there has been so little artistic discussion around here lately, I am going to throw in an outrageously off-topic but heartfelt thanks to Steven! I was just listening to the Dresden Dolls on my mp3, and I was filled with gratitude for your introducing me to Amanda F Palmer. Thank you, sir! Literature and music, my too greatest pleasures, and you have enriched them both. You are a tastemaker!

  88. Let’s see, where was it… oh, yeah, here it is:

    “h) Failure to accept responsibility for own actions”

    The kids didn’t vote those politicians in. So who is responsible for electing those governments, hmm?

    “Tea Party-nista”

    That’s funny. I’m a Keynesian.

  89. Kreistor- yes, yes, I know that you imagine yourself an original thinker with deep, philosophical underpinnings for your tropisms. You all do.

    Ultimately, the symptoms are less interesting than the syndrome.

  90. “Deep”? “Philosophical”?

    Keynesian is economics, dude. Look it up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics

    Why on earth would I think myself philosophical? Phffft.

  91. Despite all the whitewash to the contrary, economics is not a hard science.

    It’s rather bendy social science at best and most often waxes towards the philosophical.

    This is simply due to an unwillingness to actually pursue it according to scientific principles – which would mean bringing in uncounted variables for macroeconomic theories, variables that would be too watery to provide the evidential basis required to push your agenda of choice.

    People who don’t understand that economics = only on paper perplex me. Even a child grasps that simple economic transactions are influenced by ever-extending external factors ranging from the psychological to the historical to the meteorological.

    It’s currently beyond the world’s most powerful supercomputers to perform even cursory macroeconomic exercises yet people wave wikipedia links around like they are gospel.

    So many Econ-warriors put their theories forward as if they were practical exercises as opposed to ideological tropes.

    I put it down to a very poor understanding of what the scientific method is all about.

  92. “This is simply due to an unwillingness to actually pursue it according to scientific principles”

    No, they most certainly do approach it as a science. The fact that it IS a “bendy social science” heavily influenced by human factors prevents it from being a hard science with absolute laws. Whenever the human will is involved, you’ll never write an absolute law to define it. (Asimov’s Foundation series is Science FICTION.) You can use statistics to generate predictions, but you can’t write a Law like the Law of Conservation of Energy that predicts an absolute result for a particular change, because one charismatic individual can cause the whole economy to spin in an unintended direction. (Hitler’s infectious confidence was at least partially responsible for Germany’s recovery.)

    “It’s currently beyond the world’s most powerful supercomputers to perform even cursory macroeconomic exercises yet people wave wikipedia links around like they are gospel.”

    Keynes is the only theory that has reliably exited recessions and depressions. Lots of things have been tried and shown to have failed, especially during the panic of the Depression. Discount Keynes if you want to, but the world will continue to turn to Keynes to exit recession. He has been implemented over and over by a variety of governments and that is a matter of record.

    “So many Econ-warriors put their theories forward as if they were practical exercises as opposed to ideological tropes.”

    We know the results of many theories, because someone, somewhere has tried them.

    Putting money creation in the hands of politicians, for instance. Good idea? One government in South America created enough money to give everyone three years pay and bought an election… and created 1000% inflation. Practical exercises are unfortunately all through the historical record, if you have the guts to look further than the US border and see what other governments try.

    “I put it down to a very poor understanding of what the scientific method is all about.”

    It would be really nice if we could create a lab with 300 million tiny people to run macroeconomic experiments on, but sadly, that’s not possible. And computers can’t simulate intelligence yet, so we can’t run accurate experiments there. All we can do is look to the historical record when someone tries a theory, and look to their results. Sadly, most are abject failures, which turns us back to Keynes over and over. So, I really don’t know how you expect an economic theory to be tested, to the standard you are setting. You’ll need to explain that, because it simply isn’t obvious.

    In other words, your standard of “scientific methodology” is not achievable. No one can run economic scientific experiments on a national level without putting an entire nations’ economy at risk. Experiments are, inherently, a test to prove what might be true or false, and inherently risky. Unlike medical experiments that we can perform on animals before humans, we don’t have anything else to run an experiment on except the one economy we have. And when so many people’s lives are dependent on that economy, a conservative approach is the only choice. Radical experiments can lead to disaster, so when that happens, the people will not be letting you try a second time. But, frankly, I haven’t seen a radical experiment proposed recently. Got something in mind that you want to test, that is actually legal and Constitutional?

  93. As I said, a poor understanding of the scientific method.

    Which as per form is shackled to ideological knuckle-dragging.

    You could have saved a lot of internet ink simply by agreeing with me rather than posting clear examples of your lack of understanding.

  94. If you could demonstrate what I don’t understand something, you would have done it. So, you can’t.

    And in case you missed it… I have copy-pasted the scientific method to this forum in the past. I have slammed other posters to the wall on how it works and can be applied. Using it daily in the workplace really goes a long way towards ensuring you are extremely familiar with its process.

    Yawn. Rhetoric bores me.

  95. ‘If you could demonstrate what I don’t understand something, you would have done it. So, you can’t.’

    Really?

    Any idiot knows that the multiplicity of factors involved in macroeconomic theory are not empirically measurable. So that’s Step 1 of the Scientific Method out the window.

    And are you going to insist that macroeconomic theory hypotheses are rigorously and objectively tested through non-biased experimental processes that provide an equitably relevant framework for their application to real world circumstances?

    Because they aren’t.

    Oh what’s that? We look to the historical record? Wow, now there’s objective data you can get your teeth into!

    Gosh, if you use the scientific method daily I sincerely hope your job doesn’t mean you are responsible for the safety of yourself or others?

    Economics is one of the flabbiest of the social sciences and any attempt to claim scientific validity is either:

    a) a grab for funding.

    or

    b) ideological claptrap.

    Still, I am impressed that with over ten thousand years of human history and achievement, you make a solid assertion that Keynesian economics is the only workable model.

    That’s weapons-grade crazy right there. You claim a single antiquated theory is the only thing the sum totality of humanity is capable of coming up with?

    You really ought to be paying attention to all the people in recent years who have been applying deep social/behavioural/ecological modelling to economics.

    Google it, your mind should be blown forward a few decades at least.

    Note I said ‘should’, I know it won’t since most of these models indicate straight off the bat that hyperconsumerist capitalism is fundamentally unsustainable.

    But hey, until the oil starts to run out we can still party like it’s 1954 😉

  96. @Cegorach – I don’t know if you’ll consider the foundational work of Professor John Nash and the multitudes who have since followed him, so much so that the way that stock brokers used to do business died in the 80’s to be replaced mostly by Nash’s works, to be scientific economic theory. Maybe it is or maybe I’ve become so cross-eyed and mentally bludgeoned by the mass of verbiage from Kriestor that I misread/misunderstood you.

    @Kriestor – You mentioned education as a counter to fear and greed … have you talked to many average Americans? Do you realize that by the definition of average (used to refer to the arithmetic mean) that 1/2 of the population is even stupider than that average American? And what’s even more disturbing is they like it that way.

    For almost 1/2 a century I’ve watched my countrymen embrace ignorance like a lost lover. God bless them all, and God bless the United States.

  97. Cegorach, are you seriously unable to distinguish that economics can have measurable cause and effect? Do you think that a government or Central Bank can’t change the economy, because we can’t measure the effects they cause? Because you’re suggesting that without the scientific method, causality will not occur.

    The scientific method is a way to determine the accuracy of a theory following a planned process. But if you make the same change in the economy without a planned process, the causality that you are trying to identify still exists. Making the change without an intent to prove a theory will have the same result as making the same change with that intent.

    For instance, Ron Paul claims that if we return to the gold standard, that we will never have another recession. Can we determine the accuracy of that theory without actually implementing the gold standard now? Why, yes we can. The USA was on the gold standard for all of the 1800’s, so if Ron Paul is right, then there would have been no recessions or depressions during the 1800’s. In fact, there were four depressions, including the one at the end of the Civil War. I leave it as an exercise t the reader to learn about the other three depressions of that time period.

    Ron Paul’s causality is false, and you don’t need the scientific method to test it: you only need a good history book. His experiment has already been run, so we don’t have to try it.

    So, no, your claims that History cannot teach us about economics is foolishly shortsighted. Many experiments have been tried over the decades, and the consequences are clearly identifiable and recorded. Only ignorance insists that we can not learn from the actions of others.

  98. @Robert There’s a lot of validity to Nash’s work in a broad brush sense but as economics are inextricably linked to so many unmeasurable variables (unmeasurable both in terms of scope and nature) it again becomes hard to use the term ‘scientific’ in the sense most people want to see it.

    @Kreistor

    What is this crazy now? Do I need to bring up the runaway success of King Ekafeman in 2200BC in implementing socialist economic models across the fertile crescent?

    How about the well documented communist revolution in 843AD that saw the endemic healthcare issues of the Tang Dynasty solved in one fell swoop?

    Since these things worked back then do we need to do them now? Like right now?

    Note that if your Wikipedia searching doesn’t turn up information on these events I might suggest you spend the time instead doing some research on the veracity of historical records and the obvious questions surrounding their use as a means for predicting future events and as a basis for decision making.

    In other words, if lazy generalised commentary is what you feel is the best *scientific* backing for your pet theories, you knock yourself out.

    In the meantime I will just be glad that you aren’t an economic arbiter of any nation I choose to inhabit.

  99. @Cegorach – I figured you’d consider Nash a little over-reaching and I agree regarding the complexity and multitude of non-linear differentials, but, in as much as there can be scientific method, he has to qualify. His theories are fundemental in defining decision points and methods to derive corresponding probability functions. We could continue to argue but you seem to have your hands full. 🙂

  100. @Robert

    ‘as much as there can be scientific method, he has to qualify’ – well, I can agree with that, as long as you insert ‘at this time’ in the middle 🙂

    There are plenty of new ways to look at economics, using our ever-advancing skills in modelling a wide range of factors. These models show time after time that correlation does not equal causation.

    Yet the talking heads (and those who spout their soundbites) still refer us to simplistic centuries-old theories and point at spurious historical ‘evidence’ as support for their ideological posturing.

    It’s fine to discuss that in a general sense but the minute you start taking it seriously you enter crazytown.

    I find it ever-bemusing that people like Kriestor can moan on and on about OWS not having ‘evidence’ to support their contentions yet they think bringing up five, ten, or even a hundred pieces of a ten-billion piece jigsaw lets them see the big picture.

    That’s just a bunch of trees, it’s not a forest. Trees that were probably planted by Gaia-loving SOCIALISTS by the way 😉

  101. *Yawns.*

    Wake me when you have something relevant to say. A retreat to constant insults only means you’ve got nothing left, and I won five messages ago.

  102. Kreistor, you *lost* ten messages ago (*won* – what are you, eight?), you just don’t understand the criticisms levelled at you 🙂

    You do realise you keep *winning* because your responses aren’t actually responding to the substance of what other people are saying, right?

    In other words you’re *winning* in your own mind and that’s the extent of it – but I hazard a guess that’s the extent of your aspiration anyway. You might want to get in touch with Charlie Sheen though, he could probably give you some tips.

    You also, for future reference, might want to take on board that ironic humour employed to make a reflective point only counts as ‘insults’ if you’re not able to understand the humour.

    But since we established that about you a long time ago, I am certainly the guilty party in employing it while you’re in the neighbourhood.

    You’ll just have to take it from me that for people who can understand the humour, I’d like to think it is both piquant and pertinent.

  103. *cracks open his eyes*

    Hunh? Let’s see… nope, it’s again all about my faults and nothing about the issue at hand. Quelle suprise. When you can’t win on the issues, attack personality.

    *Goes back to napping*

  104. I already won on the issues a while ago, if you weren’t napping you would know this 😉

    But at least you acknowledge your faults, I think we can at least say that we are making progress now.

    Anyway a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s half a Kreistor post or so that is relevant to the issues at hand:

    http://visually.visually.netdna-cdn.com/LobbyistsHowWeRunWashington_4f566784e3040.png

  105. Not relevant to me. Lobbying in the American style is completely illegal here. Our Parties are “whipped” which means you vote the Party line, or get turfed to Independent, so we don’t even have the Vote trading you see. Some independents are popular enough to get re-elected, but it’s usually no more than one or two per year, so that really is a serious threat to a political career here.

    Up here, being a Conservative means you are a Conservative, and a Liberal is a Liberal and a New Democrat is a New Democrat. You guys could take half the Republicans and half the Democrats, switch their party, and you wouldn’t change anything.

    Frankly, you guys are idiots for letting Lobbying go on. I am not saying “whipped” parties are better, but vote trading and Lobbying is not representing the voters. That is something that needs to change. Doesn’t take a lot of effort, just an organized effort to create a party with that goal.

    But I’d start with Lawyers and civil suits. Take your Representatives to court for voting against the will of the Voters (you’d need a signature campaign to demonstrate a deviation between vote and will). Sure, it’s nuisance and will fail, but it’s something you can attack and get press time that does NOT get you disrespected by the people.

    Protests have never been terribly effective. For the one success (ending the Vietnam War) there have been dozens of abject failures.

  106. I’ve been fascinated by the back and forth in this comment thread and even learned a few things. The ideas, even those I may not agree with have been interesting and thought provoking.

    What I never get is why, especially in the interwebs, folks find it needful to *win*. Assuming people aren’t making personal attacks and are simply putting forth their own beliefs and the reasons for them why can’t it simply be just that? If someone has a completely different view of the world than I do I have no expectation that I am going to change their mind with my brilliant insights. The best I can do is offer the forum my own POV, respond to any questions and let it go.

    The bottom line about Occupy is lots of people are unhappy and with good reason. I agree that in order for real change to be made some of these groups need to find ways to channel that frustration into real work towards making the world a better and more equitable place.

    Switching gears:

    I have two children, ages 17 and 13. They read a lot ( an aside, both came into our lives through adoption, so as near as I can tell compulsive reading is not genetic but contagious) and much of what they read are dystopias. To be fair, there are a lot of dystopias being written right now, still, I am fascinated and somewhat disturbed by the assumption on my kids and their peers part that their future may well be looking like anyone of these near future scenarios they read about.

    My daughter is planning for college and her discussions with us about ” what do you want to do/be” all include a desire to have skills and a career that can help others and be sustainable. My youngest mostly wants to create fictional worlds that people can get lost in as an antidote to reality ( in his case, to be fair, he has spent the last couple of years dealing with very serious illness and much if his life is spent in hospitals and doctors offices). They both, and listening to their peers this doesn’t seem to be just them, believe firmly that the comforts they have today will not last and likely will become scarce or non existent within their life times.

    At their age, I often had concerns about where we were headed as a species but I also felt that with political and social involvement there was a chance we could turn things around. I had very clear ideas of who I *blamed* for the state of the planet or country. What I see in my own kids is complete disinterest in placing blame and more interest in having the skills they need to survive and help others survive what they see as an inevitable future.

    I am not sure if that worries me or seems like a practical way to move forward in an increasingly unstable society.

  107. Has “blame” ever made things better? If you can punish someone for all things bad in your life, does your life improve?

    “Blame” didn’t end the Vietnam War. No one got punished for starting it. No one got punsihed for the massacre of Hue. But the marches, the clear statements of large numbers of Americans that the War was wrong helped end the war.

    Change doesn’t need blame. It needs solutions. It needs clearly identifiable problems, with clearly identifiable, legal, constitutional, economical solutions.

    Blame makes you look like a lynch mob. It isn’t a solution: it’s a distraction from the fact you don’t have a solution. When you lay blame, you create an enemy that will resist. You deny negotiation and diplomacy, for the sake of punishment.

  108. Kreistor: This why I questioned my gut response to be concerned that they don’t seem interested in how things got so messed up so much as how to deal with whatever they perceive needs dealing with.

    I agree that on the micro or macro level “blame” for its own sake is rarely useful. That said, I think that it is useful to have some concept of how things got to be the way they did if for no other reason than to avoid it in the future.

  109. “Got to be the way they did”? That implies they were significantly different once. And, frankly, it has never been different. Well, except for the prejudice, slavery (literal and economic), and lack of power in the people. There’s stil prejudice, but we’ve nailed most of it out of the government. There are some people in tragic circumstances, but enslavement to the company store is illegal. And the Tea Party has demonstrated that change can be forced from within the system, even if you don’t like the changes they’re making.

    Look, I don’t know what your specific complaint is, so I can’t tell you who is responsible. But blaming anyone for actions that have been going on for 200 years is simply scapegoating. We blame for actions, not thoughts, and if our representatives were stupid enough to allow certain actions, then the blame lies in us, for choosing the wrong representatives.

    I can’t speak to your kids. But I’ll remind you that rebellion against parents is typical of teens, and they may be disinterested in your position, simply because they are rebelling, even if only on a subconscious level. They’re in transition, from children to adults, but in a world where information floods them on a scale we didn’t have to deal with. They may be abandoning conviction simply because of uncertainty about who is right, and you can’t tell them what is.

  110. @Amysue – I win! Our politicians, groups of athletes (teams), actors, and those who exploit the stupid and helpless ALL win.

    The truth is if you’re not winning then you’re a loser or a quitter, like me. I think I quit right around 1971. For the past 40+ years I’ve sat back and watched the ‘winners’ prance and celebrate while all that they’ve won heads down the shit chute.

    I too have a child aged 17. He’s disappointed that I won’t ‘go make a difference’. I tell him to deal with it and go make his own difference.

    You can blast on me if you like but I’m you. I’m everyone who didn’t do anything when there was still time to act. Now? Why bother?

  111. If it helps you can all “win”.

    I decided long ago that aside from supporting people and organizations that had the same ideals and values as I did (or came close) my energy was better spent working for change with in my own community. I’m proud of that.

    My clearly poorly articulated comment meant to communicate two things.

    That the internet breeds arguments where no one ever is ok stating what they believe-they have to trash everyone who disagrees with them and “prove” that they are right as well. I just don’t as worked up.

    My point about my kids was that I’m proud that they choose social action and social justice first, and find it interesting that they see a problem (hunger, illiteracy, bullying etc) and then go and try to fix it rather than spend a lot of time bemoaning the evil overlords who got them
    there.

    You need people to look at the bigger picture and you need people willing to actual feed the hungry. Everyone has their own skill sets.

    It doesn’t all have to be acrimonious.

  112. Amy, you can’t “win” an argument, and I’m fully aware of that: but there are things you can win… but I never even bothered with that here, for reasons I won’t go into. If you go back to that comment where I talked to Cegorach about “winning” and carefully re-read it, it didn’t say that I think I won. It’s very subtle. I said something slightly different.

    I hope you haven’t been thinking I was trying to start an argument with you. I’m a mimic, so I tend to respond in the style of whomever is speaking to me (with exceptions). You’ve been posting fact and observation, so I have been doing the same. Others around here have opened with vicious attacks, so I attack viciously back.

    You’re right: it doesn’t have to be acrimonious. But as with War, it only takes one to dance that tune.

  113. Does it really surprise you, Amy, that in an anonymous format that ego trumps all? I mean, let’s be honest, if I had some of the conversations I’ve observed in person, face to face, the other party would spit teeth. It’s not because I’m a tough guy, far from it. I just have a slight sociopathic proclivity for violence and I don’t care about jail.

    Do you think that makes me a bad person? I’d care about your opinion if my sociopathy would just mind its own business. Oh well … I guess you win.

  114. “If you go back to that comment where I talked to Cegorach about “winning” and carefully re-read it, it didn’t say that I think I won. It’s very subtle. I said something slightly different.”

    “A retreat to constant insults only means you’ve got nothing left, and I won five messages ago.”

    Do you not wonder why people write you off as being a mentalist?

    Of course not!

  115. Nope, it means that by retreating to insults, you had admitted that I “won”. It was predicated on your actions, not my claim. It means you admit to have nothing left on any issues, or are unwilling to present issues for discussion. YOU are saying you failed on the issues, and the only way you can get your Ego fix is to try to get a rise out of me through direct insults. How’s that working out for you, by the way?

    Like I said, it’s subtle. And the additional attack against me in that message? Priceless. Pure win.

  116. No Kreistor, that is not how reality works.

    I admit, admitted and will ever admit nothing of the sort.

    Therefore the only assertion made is in your own mind.

    As with pretty much everything else you come out with 🙂

    Do you enjoy lying to yourself? You, me and everyone else knows full well your primary goal for your online diatribes is ‘winning’ in your own mind. We have a small trilogy of novels comprised of your comments to prove this.

    Yet you claim this isn’t the case, that you’re not an ego-driven, axe-grinding internet warrior with a poor grasp of subtle humour.

    The evidence is clear – and I KNOW you know it. I know that as you read these words, you know it, as does everyone else.

    But in your brain, a marvel of chemistry is taking place that somehow changes your access to consensus reality.

    Electrical signals speed back and forth across the lemon-scented void, gently tweaking a recollection there, stoking a justification here.

    Voila! In a nan0-second, although you have the evidence of your monstrous ego laid out before you, suddenly in your mind you are Brother Kreistor, humble friend to bird and beast, gentle guide of the uneducated.

    Hang on, it’s Saturday? Does that mean you’re Colour-Sergeant Kreistor, tough yet unassuming champion of intellectual warfare, dodging Socialist slings and arrows to keep the flame of Liberty alight?

    Or is it Elven Princess Kreistor, protecting the fragile garden of internet truth and freedom from the vile rampaging hordes of Socialist Orcs?

    I sincerely hope the actual crazy in your head is as entertaining as that.

    If it’s just the bog-standard white male Libertarian/Authoritarian fantasy nonsense, that would be extremely disappointing 🙁

  117. Sign me up as the rampaging Socialist Orc whose sole storyline purpose is to piss on the Flame of Liberty, extinguishing it until the next mythical epoch.

  118. Reminds me of Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius.

  119. INTERESTING. Sometimes its wonderful to read weeks of comments before you put your two cents in. So, my compliments to all on this thread for some very varied abd interesting thoughts and insights.

    Okay on the orginal question, i was less than impressed with the Occupy movement. And why is that,pray tell, i hear you ask. First of all i went right to the source to see what is was all about, the various occupy web sites, tweets, blogs etc. I noticed a lot of whining, screaming and yelling that “IT” is not fair, it was defined as corporations, goverment, the financial structure,having to pay for a college education, work for living at something you dont like, and a long list of other things most of which came down to access to money and stuff you
    did not have to work for or pay for. Now that i have pissed everyone off let me say this: The way our current society is built is appaling on many levels, corporations, goverments, financial systems, lack of clarity around food supplies, energy supplies and wages are a reflection of all of us. Collectivly we have exactly what we deserve. Now with that being said that does not mean all of us have to settle for that but if you thin demanding regulations from goverment to force people to share wealth will solve the problem then you areither hopelessly naive or an idiot. Change if there to be any will first of all come from making goverment smaller not larger. Now one other comment about occupy and its a question.

    If occupy is about changing the culture of greed and bullying we have all created, why is George Soros so supportive and what would he or did get out of it?

    Please excuse any typos etc was doing this on android tablet

  120. ravenquilsi said, “Change if there to be any will first of all come from making goverment smaller not larger.”

    Reaganomics? Didn’t we just prove that was myopic? Deregulation just created one recession. Deregulating further only removes the roadblocks that prevented other stupidities. How can you reduce corporate greed without forcing them to not perform actions you find greedy? You want them to be more moral, but you permit them to do more immoral actions legally?

    Want to remove the regulation that prevents borrowing for the purpose of buying stocks? That created a Depression. Regulations are normally put in place because something bad happened, so before removing one, you must review why it was put in place in the first place.

    Hasn’t Mike Holmes proven that the lack of regulations in the construction industry destroys lives? Regular people, Steven’s Working Class, taken to the cleaners by shysters in the Construction industry. You’re not going to solve that without regulating the industry further.

  121. I love it when people delibratley put polotics in your comments when you dont. Did i say anything about reganomics no i did not. Frankly to me smaller goverment does not mean a total lack of regulation it means understanding that people dont collectivly act as greedy corporations, they act like people and in general most people do what selfishly benefits them. When i say smaller goverment i mean truly smaller. Not deregulation, which if you bothered to reallr research just means re regulation with more confusing rules that can be circumvented or as i call it the corporate attorneys full employment act.

    Right now there are well over 14 federal agencies and sub agencies that deal with various enviromental rules and regulations they have no targeted mandate but what they have managed to accomplish is to make the rules so complex and byzantine that large entitie can pollute with inpunity , oh and one other thing they create wonderful 36 thousand word documents on the health and safety of cauliflower.

    So before you judje me for wanting smaller goverment make sure you actually understand what i wrote. Because what i am actually asking you to do is to challenge everything you believe in and the system of over large goverment that got us here.

    Both are broken. Both require change in the way we look at things and both require that we put our humanity back into the mix not create a human grinder called big goverment.

    And one last thing for every new regulation or de regulation effort made under the current system you get five new lawyers and ten new accountants. Looks a lot like fascism to me.

    I would also like somone to answer the George Soros question.

  122. Well, from my understanding, the term “small government” in modern usage was first used in a speech by Ronald Reagan, and a fundamental aspect of Reaganomics. Could be wrong, of course.

    “Frankly to me smaller goverment does not mean a total lack of regulation it means understanding that people dont collectivly act as greedy corporations, they act like people and in general most people do what selfishly benefits them.”

    I’m pretty certain that’s not the common definition. Small government means less government interference in people’s activities, which translates directly to a removal of regulation and the enforcement of regulation.

    “When i say smaller goverment i mean truly smaller. Not deregulation, which if you bothered to reallr research just means re regulation with more confusing rules”

    Fundamentally false. The 2008 recession began because of the removal of regulations concerning the amount of risk allowed for a mortgage, not a loophole that got exploited by fancy lawyering. It wasn’t more confusing or permissive of loopholes. It was simple: you could loan money to people that didn’t qualify before, which was the intent of the deregulation. The “small government” theorists expected the financial institutions to self-regulate, since they would know too much would lead to downfall.

    “that can be circumvented or as i call it the corporate attorneys full employment act.”

    Not what happened. The mortgage companies knew that high risk also meant higher chance of failure, but they fell back on another principle that had been implemented in the 1930’s. Because the Depression basically began when a number of banks went Red due to bad loans for risky stock purchases, this caused a domino effect where the bad banks went under, but people now distrusted all banks, and many good banks got dragged down in the panic. All economic policies since have focused on preventing banks from going bankrupt and staving off Depression because of unjustifiable panic. The mortgage companies simply said, “If the mortgages work out, we’ll make a ton of money. If not, the Fed will bail us out as they must.”

    Simple selfishness. Simple greed. It would have worked… if only a couple had done it. But they all did because competition forces you to do what your competitors are doing, and all came crashing down at the same time.

    You can’t have reduced government presence without reduced government regulation. That’s what the vast majority of government does: regulate industries to ensure safety for workers, users, passersby. You are calling smaller government fewer government employees, and you hope that combining agencies like this will decrease the bureaucracy. But it doesn’t decrease the number of regulation enforcers… the same number of sites need to be examined. Does it reduce the number of people looking into new poisons? They may be sharing info on that already, so maybe… and maybe not. Does it end the “cauliflower Report”? No… the impact of various products on the soil and environment is vital to a farmer that needs to know when to rotate a new crop in, or drain too many nutrients of one type out of the ground… or add too much toxin from a plant that leeches something into the soil. It’s cauliflower, so it sounds uselless to you… but it’s not to the cauliflower farmer. Will growing cauliflower for three years straight prevent corn from growing the next year?

    “Right now there are well over 14 federal agencies and sub agencies that deal with various enviromental rules and regulations ”

    Is there a reason for that? A lot of what government does is due to things like Privacy regulations. To you, from the outside, it looks inefficient, but t may be unavoidable according to the Constitution and protection of the Rights enshrined in it. Government structure is regulated by the documents created by your forefathers more than 200 years ago. Your “pursuit of happiness” may be directly responsible for those rules and regulations coming from disparate agencies.

    But if you combine all of them, do you achieve the result you want? It occurs to me that two agencies with environmental regulations will cover construction (disposal of paints, etc.) and farming (pesticides, herbicides). Both have environmental rules. So what happens if you combine them under one environmental umbrella? The construction worker now has regulations from the construction oversight agency and the environmental agency… two agencies where once he dealt with one. Same for the farmer. By combining their mandate, you made things more complex for the workers, and the contrustion site is disrupted by two investigators, instead of one.

    Be careful of superficialities. Affecting change on regulating branches of the government doesn’t necessarily lead to simpler processes.

    “So before you judje me for wanting smaller goverment make sure you actually understand what i wrote.”

    I can’t read your mind. When you use a term with a different definition than standard, I can’t know unless you tell me. Your view of “small government” is not what is generally meant by the term, and the call for it has not had the result you want. Instead, it is leading to deregulation and prior poor practices.

  123. Kriestor, meet Ravenquillsi. Ravenquillsi, meet The Troll.

  124. Kreistor: Well, from my understanding, the term “small government” in modern usage was first used in a speech by Ronald Reagan, and a fundamental aspect of Reaganomics. Could be wrong, of course.

    Me: Well, you’re half right.

  125. I’m pretty certain that’s not the common definition. Small government means less government interference in people’s activities, which translates directly to a removal of regulation and the enforcement of regulation.

    Interesting comment, when looking at both of my postings it should be apparent bur perhaps overly subtle to understand that I am saying that in order to have any meaningful change or conversation about change, we need to separate ourselves from common political usage and language, instead of allowing a term like “smaller government” to be read only in the context of Reaganomics which by the way I considered to be about as beneficial as witchcraft and far less likely to work;. In so many words a government that has people in it that think through the consequences of regulation.

    How about the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandating maximum wattage requirements for incandescent lamps these regulations never went into law because they were overwritten by another part of the act…now to cut to the chase the final result was that incandescent light bulbs were to be phased out and replaced with CFL by January of 2012 but recently that was changed to October 2012. Now the way the press reported this was that we would replace these nasty environmentally unfriendly incandescent light bulbs with “green” “Energy efficient” CFL Light bulbs. Interestingly enough there has been an unintended consequence to this namely that less than five years ago most light bulbs were manufactured in the US today most CFL and even most other type’s light bulbs are manufactured in China. Another unintended consequence is that CFL’s contain Mercury Vapor which is why you are supposed to take them to a recycling center, I know most people still dispose of them the old way, unscrew the bulb, drop it in the trash…..This is a not an untypical result of regulations passed without taking any time to look at the long term consequences.

    Fundamentally false. The 2008 recession began because of the removal of regulations concerning the amount of risk allowed for a mortgage, not a loophole that got exploited by fancy lawyering. It wasn’t more confusing or permissive of loopholes. It was simple: you could loan money to people that didn’t qualify before, which was the intent of the deregulation. The “small government” theorists expected the financial institutions to self-regulate, since they would know too much would lead to downfall.

    The story starts long before 2008: Please read below: ( this is lengthy quote from another posting, which I have credited below to the proper author)
    In 1999, former Senator Phil Gramm (who is, incidentally, Senator John McCain’s economic adviser and cochairs his presidential campaign) set out to completely gut the Glass-Steagall Act, and did so successfully, replacing most of its components with the new Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act: allowing commercial banks, investment banks, and insurers to merge (which would have violated antitrust laws under Glass-Steagall). Sen. Gramm was the driving force behind the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, as he had received over $4.6 million from the FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate donations) over the previous decade, and once the Act passed, an influx of “megamergers” took place among banks and insurance and securities companies, as if they had been eagerly awaiting the passage of Gramm’s Act. Everything in between Glass-Steagall and Gramm-Leach-Bliley (i.e. Savings and Loan crisis/bust) was, in large part, the incubation period for what would take place over the nine years that would follow the passage of Gramm’s Act: an experiment in deregulation.

    Shortly after George W. Bush was elected president, Congress and President Clinton were trying to pass a $384 billion omnibus spending bill, and while the debates swirled around the passage of this bill, Senator Phil Gramm clandestinely slipped a 262-page amendment into the omnibus appropriations bill titled: Commodity Futures Modernization Act. It is likely that few senators read this bill, if any. The essence of the act was the deregulation of derivatives trading (financial instruments whose value changes in response to the changes in underlying variables; the main use of derivatives is to reduce risk for one party). The legislation contained a provision — lobbied for by Enron, a major campaign contributor to Gramm — that exempted energy trading from regulatory oversight. Basically, it gave way to the Enron debacle and ushered in the new era of unregulated securities. Interestingly enough, Gramm’s wife, Wendy, had been part of the Enron board, and her salary and stock income brought in between $900,000 and $1.8 million to the Gramm household, prior to the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
    In 2003, Gramm left the Senate to join UBS, which had acquired investment house PaineWebber due to his deregulation bill. At UBS, Gramm lobbied Congress, the Fed and the Treasury Department. During Gramm’s tenor at UBS and as a lobbyist, Congress passed the Responsible Lending Act, billed as an anti-predatory-lending measure, but was called the “Loan Shark Protection Act” by consumer advocates, as it was designed to preempt stronger state laws against anti-predatory lending. The Fed largely ignored the underlying and growing problems within the subprime mortgage/housing markets, as Bernanke famously acknowledged the housing market in April, 2007 as, “[showing] signs of softening,” but said that a “sharp slowdown,” is unlikely. Then, according to Mother Jones magazine, Henry Paulson became the Treasury Secretary in July, 2007, when, “In 2005, [at] Goldman [he] securitized $68 billion in residential mortgages and $23 billion in ‘other assets’ primarily related to CDOs,” (Mother Jones, August, 2008). With such self-interest, and a lack of the nation’s interest, we can see how this subprime mess was allowed to escalate to such great proportions.

    (quoted from The Subprime Mess and Phil Gramm: An Experiment in Deregulation)
    Paul Kiesel
    Posted by Paul Kiesel June 24, 2008 4:12 PM (http://losangeles.injuryboard.com/miscellaneous/the-subprime-mess-and-phil-gramm-an-experiment-in-deregulation.aspx)

    Now the point of this long winded cut and pasted article is this. If regulation solves the problem then why can’t our government pass such regulations? Frankly if left up to me Derivative trading would be outright illegal. And although I said lawyers and accountants in my original post, as someone who works with large corporations involved in the energy sector and who are involved in derivative trading all I can tell you, is that you should have been in some of the conferences I was in on when those laws and regulations were being passed; Because it was the lawyers and the accountants who were mostly telling us how to go out and make money from these kinds of rules.

    You can’t have reduced government presence without reduced government regulation. That’s what the vast majority of government does: regulate industries to ensure safety for workers, users, passersby. You are calling smaller government fewer government employees, and you hope that combining agencies like this will decrease the bureaucracy. But it doesn’t decrease the number of regulation enforcers… the same number of sites need to be examined. Does it reduce the number of people looking into new poisons? They may be sharing info on that already, so maybe… and maybe not. Does it end the “cauliflower Report”? No… the impact of various products on the soil and environment is vital to a farmer that needs to know when to rotate a new crop in, or drain too many nutrients of one type out of the ground… or add too much toxin from a plant that leeches something into the soil. It’s cauliflower, so it sounds uselless to you… but it’s not to the cauliflower farmer. Will growing cauliflower for three years straight prevent corn from growing the next year?

    First of all I have actually read the cauliflower and the broccoli report; they don’t actually say much of anything about how to grow it or when to grow they do say some things about how to ship it and supposedly how to clean it (although with the recent issues around vegetables and food borne diseases that does not seem to be doing much good.) I would point out to you that any farmer worth his salt and I live in an area with a lot of farmers, does not need the government to tell him or her how to grow crops or when to rotate them in terms of best practices most of them may go to the local AG Extension for some news on latest technology. I would also point out to you that you don’t grow vegetables in the same field you grow corn, Crop rotation is very well know and quite well practiced. Now in one area, again a failure of regulating the wrong things, we are actually in food supply trouble and that is because federal regulation encourages the use of specific kinds on non-heirloom seeds, so in so many words we have a government driven lack of genetic diversity in our current crops which means that in a worst case crop disease scenario we could lose more than 80% of a seasons corn crop. Again to make the same point there is far too much off the cuff regulation without long term thought.

    Is there a reason for that? A lot of what government does is due to things like Privacy regulations. To you, from the outside, it looks inefficient, but t may be unavoidable according to the Constitution and protection of the Rights enshrined in it. Government structure is regulated by the documents created by your forefathers more than 200 years ago. Your “pursuit of happiness” may be directly responsible for those rules and regulations coming from disparate agencies.
    Somehow I don’t think that is the case. The fact is that when you have disparate agencies making rules about the same things and most of the time not that same rules and often contradictory rules that is not “protecting my rights” as enshrined in the constitution. The way I view it can best be illustrated by a gentleman, a farmer actually who received a letter from EPA demanding that he undam a stream on his property because it was in violation of part of the clean water act for him to dam the stream and another letter from a different environmental agencies telling him that if he moved the beavers that had dammed the stream he would be in violation. I myself have received contradictory letters from government agencies that have left me with no answers, resulted in hours on the phone to try and figure out if I am in compliance and taking hours of time away from my business and therefore affecting my pursuit of happiness and my ability to earn a living. The other fascinating this is that as the size and number of these agencies has ballooned the actual number of inspectors in the field has dropped year after year. Obviously the current way of regulating our “Safety” “Health” “Pursuit of Happiness etc. is not working. So my overall concern is that while some people are demanding more regulation to stop the “Greedy Corporations” or the 1% or the guy who wants to go to bar and have a smoke with his beer, or the single adult male who may to take a solo walk in park (which in many places in now illegal because he might be a pedophile and we have to protect the children which means treating every male as a suspect who takes a walk through the park alone,) is that this is getting out of hand. WE need to STOP and start really looking at what we are doing, Every current regulation should be pulled out, re read, and if it isn’t being enforced rather than pass a new one we need to ask why and the either start enforcement or get rid of it. One last example for the road so to speak in 1969 we passed a gun control act in this country most of which we still do not enforce today and whenever certain politicians want to make hay they pass parts of it as new laws…..
    ( and yes I am a responsible gun owner, a smoker and I drink scotch…I am not rich but I work hard, I don’t like the government in my life and I recognize that I will be leaving the country soon because I will not ever allow an employer to have passwords to any social networking site I belong to. I will not quit smoking my cigarettes or cigars; I do not believe in built in breathalyzers for cars, in selling freedom for security, in being a part of nanny state or in kowtowing to paranoid parents or coddling their spoiled children. Bottom line on that one your child does not belong in bar therefore I should be able to smoke there. )

    But if you combine all of them, do you achieve the result you want? It occurs to me that two agencies with environmental regulations will cover construction (disposal of paints, etc.) and farming (pesticides, herbicides). Both have environmental rules. So what happens if you combine them under one environmental umbrella? The construction worker now has regulations from the construction oversight agency and the environmental agency… two agencies where once he dealt with one. Same for the farmer. By combining their mandate, you made things more complex for the workers, and the construction site is disrupted by two investigators, instead of one.

    Please see comments above about disparate rules from disparate agencies. You can’t do the combining by simply making it happen you have to look at the regulations and then sort them and rationalize them not just keep piling them up.

    Be careful of superficialities. Affecting change on regulating branches of the government doesn’t necessarily lead to simpler processes.

    It’s not always about simpler process it’s about rational processes and one other thing just as food for thought in this moment….. (You can view man as part of nature or as separate from nature, we evolved on this plant we can expect to live on it without changing the environment) However we can change some of our more destructive behaviors I just don’t and never will believe that government socially driven engineering will do the trick. There are no simple answers and even though this is fun intellectual exercise neither I nor anyone else should ever forget that we are talking about people, their future and freedom.

    I just have a sense that my ability to have this conversation in this society is not going to last much longer

    On slightly humorous side my suggestion for change is so damn radical it would never work. Hell at heart I can’t join a group. Even the anarchists are too caught in the current spin language of politics and business to impress me, and that is really scary.

    So thanks for the couple of day of dialogue it’s been good for the mind.

    Thanks for the Intro Robert 🙂

  126. rq: “Somehow I don’t think that is the case. The fact is that when you have disparate agencies making rules about the same things and most of the time not that same rules and often contradictory rules that is not “protecting my rights” as enshrined in the constitution.”

    But the problem is, they’re not disparate. Take the case of the agency monitoring construction doing the environmental laws for construction sites. In order to make the environmental rules for a construction site you need to:

    1) Understand the environmental problems of the chemicals
    2) Understand the construction industry

    If you reorganize all of the environmental issues under one umbrella, it still needs different divisions to integrate those issues into construction, farming, etc. But when you do it that way, you have the construction investigator and the environmental investigator, so while you might have eliminated some bureaucracy you have added enforcers, and doubled the interference on the construction site with two vistiors instead of one. If you’re going to have the environmental atgency dictate to the Construction Agency the environmental rules to reduce the enforcers to 1 again, you’re putting the bureaucracy back, since the construction agency has to have feedback to tell the Environmental agency it’s FoS.

    Simplifying government is a lot harder than it first appears. You can easily transfer the load onto the user, and only wind up moving around the “inefficiencies” you wanted to eliminate.

    “now to cut to the chase the final result was that incandescent light bulbs were to be phased out and replaced with CFL by January of 2012 but recently that was changed to October 2012.”

    In Australia, they banned incandescents, and went door-to-door to remove and replace them all, ensuring that everyone complied. Just an FYI. I’m 100% CFL.

    “even most other type’s light bulbs are manufactured in China.”

    You can’t hang onto manufacturing. It moves to where labour is cheap, and that’s not something you can legislate against and expect to have any export capacity at all. You can’t even do “Buy American” laws, until you extricate yourself from NAFTA, which makes it illegal to prioritize US products over Canadian. Every once in a while a US Representative tries to make that into Law, but signing that treaty ensured that you can’t enforce it against Canadian products. If you do, your nation is in for stiff penalties. We’re a lot less tolerant of the US breaking its word since the Softwood Lumber BS.

    “The story starts long before 2008:”

    I’m familiar. I was only describing the result of deregulation, not when and how it happened.

    Adding new regulations requires careful examination, but removing them takes more.

    “derivative trading”

    is gambling and should be enforcable under state gambling laws, IMNSHO.

    “does not need the government to tell him or her how to grow crops or when to rotate them”

    For crops he already knows, yes. But if you’re going to add a new crop, then you need to study it, especially if no other local farmers are trying it. Kiwi friut, for instance, isn’t native to North America, but it is being grown in Ohio (IIRC).

    “lack of genetic diversity in our current crops which means that in a worst case crop disease scenario we could lose more than 80% of a seasons corn crop.”

    I’m pretty certain corn is safe. Most corn is hybrid, so as a cross breed that does not breed with itself, it’s not genetically inferior. Peaches and cream, for instance, is a crossbreed… male from one and female from another. Since it doesn’t inbreed, it should be safer. The parent corns may be more susceptible, but I’d have to look up the specifics.

    Other crops are in more danger, so the principle is sound. I just know a little about corn, since I de-tasseled when I was a kid.

    “The way I view it can best be illustrated by a gentleman … demanding that he undam a stream on his property … if he moved the beavers that had dammed the stream he would be in violation.”

    That is unavoidable, no matter what you do, because:

    1) Nobody is able to know all the rules of all agencies
    2) No matter how you divvy up the regulations, multiple agencies covering similar fields are inevitable
    3) People make mistakes, including those working for the gov

    You can’t get rid of any of these.You can shuffle things around, and hope you minimize them, but these mistakes are unavoidable.

    “So my overall concern is that while some people are demanding more regulation to stop the “Greedy Corporations” or the 1% or the guy who wants to go to bar and have a smoke with his beer, or the single adult male who may to take a solo walk in park is that this is getting out of hand.”

    I completely disagree with the “smoking” comment. Smoking and secondhand smoking kills, and that has been proven beyond a doubt. You have the right to kill yourself slowly, but not to kill me, so if it takes a law to prevent you from murdering me slowly, then that’s what is going to happen. Your false belief that you’re not hurting me with that vile smoke is not enough to counter the vast information on lung cancer, asthma, et al.

    “Every current regulation should be pulled out, re read, and if it isn’t being enforced rather than pass a new one we need to ask why and the either start enforcement or get rid of it.”

    Unenforced regulations aren’t hurting you. Eventually they go up in front of a judge, he says, “Yeah, that’s BS,” and it gets trashed. Old, inexplicable by-laws get forgotten and wind up just being the subject of comics.

    Interestingly, sometimes it is the police that intentionally enforce an odd by-law in order to get it in front of a judge and expunged. It is legal for women to go topless in my province. Back a decade ago, a cop on a university campus noticed a girl had dropped her shirt, and cited her. She complained that just twenty meters away was a fat slob with no shirt that looked a lot worse than a pretty co-ed did. The cop just smiled and moved on. She fought it on that discriminatory basis, and the law was tossed. The number of cops that would have enforced indecency laws on a university campus is miniscule, so I have always suspected that he wanted the Law eliminated, so he did this to a good looking young woman specifically to make the case against the Law easy. Police don’t have a presence on most university campusses at all, so I think he had to go out of his way to put himself there.

    “One last example for the road so to speak in 1969 we passed a gun control act in this country most of which we still do not enforce today”

    The lack of gun control in the US has boggled my mind. The number of children killed by a parent’s gun compared to the number of home invasions prevented by a gun is simply absurd against owning a gun. The Law in Canada forces you to put a trigger guard on, and store the gun out of reach of children, with the Ammunition in another locked location. To protect yourself from a government gone bad, you don’t need your gun five feet away, loaded and ready to shoot. You’ll have months to see that coming.

    (BTW, I saw a thief talk about it on TV once. He said, “You never go in when someone’s home. When you do go in, you look for the gun first. It’s going to be in a drawer near the front door, the kitchen utensil drawer, or in the nighttable by the bed. It’s an easy 50 bucks.” A poll of the audience put something liek 75% of their handguns in those three locations.

    “I just have a sense that my ability to have this conversation in this society is not going to last much longer ”

    I greatly disagree. It is easier now to have a conversation like this than 30 years ago when the Internet didn’t exist. (1983. Before that it was Arpanet and others.) The computer and the intterconnections of the INternet has put more information at your fingertips, and allowed more and farther reaching conversations than ever before. Ho many people are listening to you and me talk about this? If you and I were in a bar talking about this in 1982, would even one person be listening?

    No, free speech is easier and harder to control than any other time in history. Even truly Authoritarian nations like China can’t keep it under control anymore. The idea the US or Can gov could achieve it is simply unimaginable.

    “You can’t do the combining by simply making it happen you have to look at the regulations and then sort them and rationalize them not just keep piling them up. ”

    Okay, that’s a more reasonable approach, but I think if you saw it happen, you’d find less waste than you currently think.

  127. Seems a bit late to jump into this discussion, but for what it’s worth, I walk by McPherson Square in DC about every other day, and it’s just a great big dirty park these days. It was closed for months last year or the year before to be resodded, and now it’s a big flat of mud and straw.

    It’s indicative of some amount of disrespect held by the individuals taking part in the movement, a lack of regard- that park doesn’t deserve to be trashed on because people are angry at the government. I can’t speak for their ideals; they interest but confuse me.

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