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  1. I guess this is the nature of online discussion, but we should try to maintain civility here. Yes, I have thought about it. And as I said in the prior post, when 50% of the population of the richest country in human history does not have any savings, by and large, the individuals themselves are to blame. I'm just repeating myself. Consequently, the solution is for them to start taking ownership over their own lives. I don't know if it's because they spent it on iPhones, or if it's because they live in houses that are too expensive, or drive cars that are too nice, or attend colleges that are too expensive, or where precisely the money went. If someone lives beyond their means and pays the price, that is justice- getting what you deserve. My solution is to stop bailing out irresponsibility and institute a free society where actions have consequences. Not to further insulate the irresponsible from causality. I think it's wrong to refer to redistributive schemes as insurance. My social security tax is not going into an insurance fund, it's going straight into someone else's pocket. There is a problem now in that promises have been made to people, and I'm not sure what the most just way is to unwind an injustice, but I would start with allowing people to opt out. There is such a thing as more or less consistency in the application of a principle, in this case the principles of communism. As far as the wonders of Cuban health care, my aunt is currently volunteering there and they have trouble acquiring soap. I have a hard time accepting that as a good system. My point with respect to the French diet is not that we should adopt it but that the life expectancy statistic makes no effort to adjust for ANY personal choices. That could be anything from diet to how much we drive. This is merely a statistical point- let's be honest and clear about what the statistic that we're using represents. I have no idea what you're saying here, and I tried to understand. I don't know of any regressive distribution system for health care here. I'm against redistribution at all. Let's begin the trend of intellectual honesty with the acknowledgement that the WHO ranking you presented does not represent what you advertised it to represent. Let's acknowledge the statistical issues with life expectancy unadjusted for personal choices as a measure for a health care system. The great thing about being on the right side of the truth is that intellectual honesty works in your favor. With that in mind, let's look at how my position was represented: I think the quoted part pretty much summaries his argument. These are caricatures of freedom and caricatures of what I said. I recognize that human beings are often incredibly valuable to one another. But not all relationships are good for the involved parties and that's why I believe that when a relationship isn't working out for an individual, they should be allowed to go their own way. That is, human interaction should be voluntary. Socialized medicine is not voluntary. If it's not the system you want, too bad. You pay up or you go to jail. In a free society, if someone asks me for help, I might help them and I might not. It depends on whether they deserve it and also their relative importance to me. If you lived outside of your means and now want my help, that's too bad. Or, if I have to save for retirement or pay for school etc, I might not give it to you. That isn't "screwing them over". I did nothing to create their situation. But for that person to believe that I owe them help, that they are entitled to my labor without pay, and that my life is theirs to dispose of, is completely wrong. One side of this argument says that the political system should ignore your values and regard your life as property to be sacrificed or distributed. If you want to use your money for something besides welfare payments, what you want is not important. Your values are secondary to the needs of someone else. Your life doesn't belong to you, it belongs to the state, or your neighbor, or some other entity that isn't you. My side of the argument is that individuals do exist, they do have values that are important to them, and their lives do belong to them. Which side of this argument "cares about people?" Which side regards people as unique individuals and protects the sanctity of their lives in the fullest sense of the concept of life, and which side regards people as cogs in a collective machine to be sacrificed? In a very important sense, socialized medicine does not recognize the existence of people, only resources and burdens.
  2. LOL, look at American healthcare costs compared to countries with single payer systems--America has the same outcomes but is way more expensive. On the other hand, I can see your point.... Why bother examining evidence if it doesn't support your ideology? ::) I haven't verified that but I still don't see the relevance of where the price increases are coming from. If the government introduces a bunch of customers into a market and under pays for them, freedom takes the blame because the private side is forced to pick up the cost? The market was utterly distorted by government spending. Price goes down and quality goes up in industries that the government stays out of, yet the opposite occurs in industries the government subsidizes. When the government starts introducing tons of demand to a market, as it is in education, it makes sense that the rise in prices is untenable over the long term and requires either more government intervention to control prices or a reversal of the policy. That doesn't contradict anything I said, contrary to Richard's claims. We saw the same phenomenon when the government started to make an active effort to increase the home ownership rate. Home prices inflated. Did you read the article? The author himself is middle to upper middle class and one of the people who doesn't have $400. It's entirely his fault. Reduce your standard of living slightly and save something. Don't empty your 401k for your daughter's wedding. People came (and many still come) to this country with nothing yet build lives for themselves. Certainly there can be reasons for an individual to not have savings that are out of their control, but when the proportion of people with no savings reaches 1/2 the population, the people themselves are to blame. And why would you choose to not buy the latest cell phone and save instead when the government will pay for your education, your medical care, will buy you food, will give you housing, and will provide for your retirement? Over half of babies in the US receive welfare assistance from the WIC. We are the richest country in the history of mankind. Is life really one big hospital? I don't mean to be a pest Richard cause I know your heart is in the right place. But small correction. America is more expensive but the outcomes are not the same. Last time (in 2000) the WHO ranked the worldwide healthcare systems the US came in at 15th in terms of outcomes and 1st in cost earning a global rank of 37. There have been many other studies of healthcare systems since then. The US routinely comes in at the bottom of the developed countries based on outcomes despite being by far the most expensive system. Have you looked at the WHO rankings and the methodology? The PDF is 215 pages, and I admit I did not read it cover to cover, but take a look at it. The first hint that something funny is going on is the fact that Cuba is two below the United States at #39. The American health care system is more than 15X closer to Cuban health care than to the number one system? Cuba, a couple years prior to the date of this study, experienced shortages of basic medicine like aspirin, let alone less common drugs. You had to buy medicine on the black market. There were "many hospitals where there was often no running water, the toilets did not flush, and the risk of infections - by the hospital's own admission - was extremely high." I have personally heard reports in more recent years of soap shortages. This alone indicates to me that the report's conclusions can be tossed in the trash, but I decided to look at the methodology a little closer because I find the utter corruption of these things fascinating. 25% of the ranking is determined by life expectancy in each country. This would be a great number if we were trying to rank the health of each country's population- not the health care system. It makes no adjustment for the choices people make. If America and France have the exact same health care system but Americans choose to eat fast food every day and the French eat a healthy balanced diet, then the American health care system is regarded as inferior. Given what we know about lifestyle differences it is ridiculous to not adjust for them. 25% of the ranking is determined by fairness of financial contribution, "fairness" meaning "that the risks each household faces due to the costs of the health system are distributed according to ability to pay rather than to the risk of illness." In essence, from each according to their ability. Another 25% of the ranking is determined by "fair" distribution of life expectancy, fairness in distribution of health itself defined as: "the smallest feasible differences among individuals and groups". In order to achieve equal health, health care must be distributed to the neediest first. In essence, to each according to their need. Half of the ranking is determined by how communistic the system is. The more communistic the better. Leaving aside the immorality of what's being touted as fairness, you have to recognize the circularity of an argument that says we should socialize our health care system because it's low in a ranking of how socialist it is. It appears that only 25% of the ranking weight is actually a measure of the quality of health care- and half of that 25% is suspect, but I didn't bother digging into it because it's not worth the time. All of that gets you to our rank at 15, which is utterly meaningless. Adjusting that for what we spend gets us to rank 37. I didn't bother investigating the source of the adjustment because to paraphrase Bruce Greenwald, bad information plus good information = bad information. There's also the issue of all of the other countries using technology our inflated costs paid to develop. Probably what's most important to note about all of this is the real difference- the philosophical difference- in what is regarded as fair, just, and moral. Richard can say he's non-ideological, but there's no such thing unless you're a robot. There are only those who identify what they believe and those that don't. The WHO apparently regards it as fair to penalize people who take care of their own lives because they took care of their own lives, while simultaneously rewarding those who acted irresponsibly because they acted irresponsibly. That's not merely a different code of justice than I hold but the exact inversion of it. It's popular to think communism is good in theory but bad in practice. It's actually evil in theory and a disaster in practice. People shouldn't be regarded as sacrificial animals, which is what socialized medicine does. It tells you that your values don't matter. You want to start a business with that money? You want to buy your kid a birthday present? You want to save it for retirement? You want to buy a wedding ring and get married? Sorry, your values just aren't of primary importance. Your life doesn't belong to you.
  3. Perhaps it is and Obama doesn't recognize it. You realize that Obama's foreign policy neatly lines up with Donald Trump's worldview especially when it comes to relations with allies? Is that supposed to be a favorable fact for Trump or an indictment of Obama? +1 The demography that has most directly been "freed" from jobs / companies that they did not want to work in or the employers wanted to push out is the 55 plus group. There is an epidemic of early retirement going on, check out forums where this is discussed. There are whole threads on how to get ACA, help to those trying to navigate it (some gaming as well). And those with pre-existing illnesses who could not simply find coverage before. Don't have the stats but there is likely a large overlap of these two. America is / was simply unkind to both. Any "repeal" being considered by the next guv will have to get past this group. That'll be one more giant group to piss off. And we'll all become 55 and sick one day, ha. Pre-ACA, the government was also spending $0.50 of every dollar in health care. I'm not sure what you'd expect to happen to the price of health care. We see the same thing with the exploding cost of education. If the government spent $0.50 of every dollar spent on hammers, I think we can guess what would happen to the price of hammers. I assume we'd also see calls for the government to nationalize the hammer industry because the 'free market' in hammers just isn't working for Americans. And I don't personally regard it as kindness to force some individuals to sacrifice pieces of their lives to subsidize other people's lives. We used to live in a country that regarded the individual life as sacrosanct. Now it regards your life- your values- as a resource to be bled dry. On the topic of Obama's economic legacy, I read today that according to a Federal Reserve survey, 47% of Americans don't have $400 of savings. It's unclear to me to what extent Obama's policies are to blame, but I suspect the "closing the insecurity gap" nanny state plays a large role: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-shame/476415/
  4. Perhaps it is and Obama doesn't recognize it. With regards to the actual topic of this post, Sorkin's claims that Obama reduced the deficit by 3/4 is factually accurate but drops all the context of why it was so large when he came into office. The statistical unemployment number is again factually correct. Yet when looking at the full context you see the labor force participation rate is back down to where it was in the late 1970s, ignoring other factors like underemployment or the quality of jobs. As acknowledged, the argument is essentially: the economy would be worse without me. Bush's stimulus didn't work, but instead of questioning the theory, Obama tries a bigger stimulus. That didn't work, should we question the theory yet? No, spending one and half AAPLs simply wasn't big enough either! The solution to economic stagnation is not to take more wealth from the private sector and redirect it according to political whim (the nicest description of the stimulus boondoggle I could think of). The idea that the economy is doing well but those republicans have (somehow?) convinced everyone of the opposite is bizarre, perhaps rivaled only by the notion that adding another massive entitlement in the form of the ACA is going to be great for the economy in the long run "because it actually is closing a key part of the insecurity gap." Unfortunately, when social security benefits are cut, many Americans will be forced to come to terms with the real meaning of government provided security. One issue of importance that's barely mentioned is the introduction of thousands and thousands of new regulations under Obama. What effect did that have on growth? The best thing Obama could have done for the economy is stayed out of the way of people actually trying to create wealth, to say nothing of the immorality of routinely violating the individual rights of Americans.
  5. It seems to me that America has never been less respected in the eyes of the world as we are today- both with respect to our allies who feel we have abandoned them and with respect to our enemies who feel emboldened enough to threaten us regularly. I would not call that superb statesmanship. Really? You think the US is less respected now than when GWB was the laughing stock of the world? Living in an ally country I can tell you that the US is looked upon much more favorably than in the dark years of 2000-2008... I'm interested to hear your experience. What country are you from? As far as appearances go, I assumed most people would conclude that GWB was much more likely to advance American interests than BHO. I bet there are also large differences between the opinions of allies that face an existential threat, like Israel, and allies that don't.
  6. It seems to me that America has never been less respected in the eyes of the world as we are today- both with respect to our allies who feel we have abandoned them and with respect to our enemies who feel emboldened enough to threaten us regularly. I would not call that superb statesmanship.
  7. The market should be privatized not nationalized. The government restricts competition by providing licenses, and then it provides a captive market by requiring firms to use these licensees through an array of statutes and regulations. It doesn't matter whether rating agencies are subscriber pay or issuer pay. A natural duopoly plus government restricted competition and a forced customer base is going to have serious problems. Not to be adversarial (I have no opinion really, just curious) but why is a government restricted duopoly different from a natural one? Doesn't the government face the same pressure to do something to reign in the natural duopoly as it does to unrestrict the license induced one? Sure, the difference between a natural duopoly and a government restricted duopoly is the difference between voluntary interactions and physical coercion. If you want to compete with a natural duopoly, you open up shop and provide a better product. In the case of rating agencies, which have substantial competitive moats, your product needs to be much much better. If you want to compete with a government restricted duopoly, your product doesn't matter- nothing matters- because you are prevented from competing by threat of force.
  8. When an innocent person is killed in war, who bears moral responsibility? The free country acting to protect its citizens from slaughter or the people who made such action necessary?
  9. The market should be privatized not nationalized. The government restricts competition by providing licenses, and then it provides a captive market by requiring firms to use these licensees through an array of statutes and regulations. It doesn't matter whether rating agencies are subscriber pay or issuer pay. A natural duopoly plus government restricted competition and a forced customer base is going to have serious problems.
  10. Investing is a zero sum game. Its not a socially useful activity (with the exception of VC and IPOs). We are parasites. Its quite possible to make a lot of money investing without adding any value. I would say that if Buffet had never existed, the world would be more or less the same. Investing is much broader than the secondary market and it is ridiculous to call it zero-sum. Warren Buffett's existence has been beneficial to just about every human on the planet. He has created tremendous value by allocating capital to the highest valued use in both private investments and public investments. A secondary market that accurately reflects the intrinsic values of the underlying enterprises is extremely valuable for many reasons, one of which is the facilitation of a healthy primary market through the introduction of liquidity at a fair price.
  11. Isn't this one of the oldest economic fallacies in the book? How are humans using more machines than at any point in human history with more people employed than at any point in human history? There isn't a finite amount of work to do. If a machine replaces a human, the human is then freed to create values higher up the chain- values that were previously not considered important enough on a relative scale. It's already possible to only work 25% of the time while maintaining a higher standard of living than was available to people throughout 99% of human history.
  12. I think the interesting question is, why? The pro-free market side has been under the illusion that we merely have to explain the economic arguments better, and if people just understood the economic arguments, they'd all be on the side of freedom and capitalism. The fact is, capitalists won the economic argument decades ago. China has merely started to allow economic freedom and more people have risen out of poverty in the last 30 years than in the history of the world. The disagreement is about morality which is far more fundamental. Just look at the Jurgis's post, it has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with what is moral: In other words, there are employees who NEED something and as business owners who HAVE something, it is shareholder's moral obligation to sacrifice for the needy. Everyone knows that sacrifice to others is the essence of morality, right? Look at the enlightenment period. There is a reintroduction of reason and Aristotelian eudaemonism (the ethics of individual happiness/flourishing) through Aquinas which culminates in the founding of America. The declaration of independence doesn't say, everyone has a right to pursue the good of the community, or to pursue their brother's health care. It says everyone has a right to the pursuit of their own life- which means their own values- and a right to the pursuit of their own happiness. Contrast that with, from each according to their abilities to each according to their need. State control systems like communism and fascism are built on the idea that sacrifice of the individual is virtuous. Sacrifice to the proletariat or sacrifice to the fuehrer or sacrifice to your neighbor, etc. Statism and freedom come from two totally different moral systems.
  13. I don't think you made an honest attempt to understand what I am saying given that I was clearly not talking about a marriage where there is a contract in place nor was I talking about employment where there is a contract in place. Breaking a contract requires mediation such that there is a just outcome. Employment is absolutely a relationship of equals in that there is a negotiation between employee and employer in order to come to a win-win agreement. Both parties have an equal right to disassociate themselves from the other. Employers need employees just as much as employees need employers. Why else would they pay them? No, there seems to be a misunderstanding here. The options aren't, hurt yourself for others or hurt others for yourself. Where does a person who trades fit in? A win-win DOES help others and doesn't come at the expense of either party. That is the proper way to engage in human relationships- neither party sacrificing for the other. Again, having a bunch of people sacrificing themselves for you isn't a path to happiness. Do you think criminals sit down and say, 'I'm going to live 80 years, what's the best way to live a full, happy life? I know, I'll lie cheat and steal.'? No, the correct way is to trade with others to the benefit of both parties.
  14. This is generally the pro-free market response to challenges like this, and you can see how it is ineffective because it rests on the premise that the end goal of business is the well-being of everyone else. And so you get responses like this: In reality, everyone in a market is pursuing the betterment of their own lives, from consumers buying an iPhone to employees working for a living to 3G firing workers. In Aristotle's view this is a completely moral activity because the end goal of morality for an individual is not to sacrifice for others but to achieve flourishing and happiness. And it's no surprise that when you leave people free to pursue their life and happiness, you get a lot of happiness. IMO, the way to approach the workers is to tell them that this is no longer a win-win transaction. If they have any decency they won't regard shareholders as their servants. They should recognize that it is in their own interest to remove themselves from a lose-win situation, and for the sake of their own self-esteem, they should look to move into a situation where they are taking care of and supporting their own life at the expense of no one else. I don't see any difference between this and a personal relationship. If you find out your significant other is no longer receiving value from your relationship, it's fine to be upset. But it's not fine to claim a right to their love and chain them to you. A win-lose business relationship doesn't make any more sense for either party than a win-lose personal relationship does.
  15. Imo a very good paper about activist investors. Cheers, Gio Good stuff gio. 3G's philosophy is one of the ultimate value creator at the expense of the workers. What does "at the expense of" mean? 3G doesn't take anything from anyone. A job isn't owned by an employee anymore than an employee is a slave owned by a company. Employment is entered into as a win-win trade just like any other market transaction. If anyone is guilty of getting something at the expense of others, it's the workers who are receiving more in compensation than they create in value- ie. the people 3G fires.
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