JohnRoberts

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #80 on: October 16, 2011, 11:08:18 PM »
I would like fairness and a return to sanity too.

One obvious problem is that different people have wildly different views of what is fair and what isn't, while they all seem to  claim that the protestors are angry about their pet screed.

I try not to lose sleep wondering how big my neighbors bank account is compared to mine... Im too busy working, and trying to figure out how to make more money for myself.

If I had to take a wild guess about the protesters, perhaps some are angry because they're unemployed. If they aren't unemployed, what are they doing camping in the park in October during the work day? 

I'm afraid I don't have any simple single answer but there is a pretty long list of things I'm angry about, maybe some of them feel my pain.  8)

JR


Don't only half-ass tune your drums. Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.


kato

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #81 on: October 17, 2011, 03:39:33 PM »


sodderboy

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #82 on: October 20, 2011, 11:17:37 AM »
This is what the people are protesting:

That chart is basically a chart of the stock market compared to median income.  Who is the source?  What are their sources?  It is like a Monopoly game that starts with everyone equal in '48 or so and everyone who bought the market had an increase in "income".  You can see the malaise suffered during the 70's and the tech boom of the 90's, 00 decline, 9-11 crash, recovery, decline again.  It is a mirror of the S&P.  Which is more reason to DCA into that action and not look to a bunch of power hungry DC bozos and their lobbyists for salvation.  If you look at the top 35%, the majority of income tax payers, you will see close to parity.  That's not what Scam Jones wants you to see.  It's not 1% but 35.

The chart reminds me of the MMGW charts.  Lets look at the same "Monopoly game" starting in 1880 or 1780.  You would see that the median income is much closer to the "1%" now than in previous centuries.  The 1900's did more to challenge old money power than any other century.  People like Bill Gates and Bill Hewlett started from almost nothing and created empires.  Now they are the new philanthropists.  Speaking of philanthropy, look at all the 1900 "robber baron" money that has been in Foundations and directed by progressive boards; money that is actually going towards funding the protests via Tides and other launderers.

This is all baloney class warfare funded and organized by a bunch of thugs that want the government to somehow create "equality".  Pelosi?  Shumer?  Rangel?  McConnel?  These millionaire politicians are supposed to do something?  They won't.  Biz as usual for them.  The billions have to be removed from DC and directed back locally.  At least you can petition your local mayor.  Try that with your congressman!

These people are backwards.  You cannot find your financial salvation by reducing someone else's, or in a government bent on increasing it's power.  The Tea Party has it correct that the money needs to be removed from DC.

Mike

JohnRoberts

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #83 on: October 20, 2011, 12:13:57 PM »
+1...  The irony is all this is that the progressive effort ends up hurting the people who need the help.

There is more political arm waving at the moment to get China to float the yuan, but guess what that will do to the cost of all the chinese product that we ALL buy? So this might  help a few workers in selective jobs, and cost all the rest of us in much higher cost of living, not to mention a possible trade war with China (our banker), that could get very nasty.

The solution is not to drag down the top earners, but raise the tide for all, by reducing government friction in the free market. We don't need more regulation, but the regulation we do need, should actually work.. Instead of adding layers of new regulation, lets focus on getting the important regulatory functions that already exist to DO THIER JOB.

Lastly this class welfare is compatible with one side's election campaign, where smearing all businessmen coincidentally applies to several candidates. This year will involve more mud slinging than normal, because the goal is to deflect from inspecting the administrations actual record. The heath care bill is already crumbling under the burden of reality.   

I expect a a very public dog and pony show when our president signs the trade bills (after years of foot dragging) any day now. Rather than an atta-boy, I am inclined to ask, why did it take so long when we needed the jobs, years ago?

But atta-boy nonetheless since this is the first and only concrete thing I've seen that can actually help employment.

Of course opinions vary

JR
Don't only half-ass tune your drums. Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

living sounds

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #84 on: October 20, 2011, 08:13:22 PM »
From the link I provided above:

"The uneven distribution of economic gains in recent years continues a longer-term trend that began in the late 1970s. In the generation following World War II, robust economic gains were shared widely, with the incomes of the bottom 90 percent actually increasing more rapidly in percentage terms, on average, than the incomes of the top 1 percent. But since the late 1970s, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of households have essentially stagnated while the incomes of the top 1 percent have soared. (See Figure 3.)

In fact, the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90 percent of households is almost $900 below what it was in 1979, while the average pre-tax income for the top 1 percent is over $700,000 above its 1979 level."


I'm two-thirds through reading Michael Lewis' latest book, which compares different countries and their cultures in regards to the financial crisis. From this and a lot of other information it's pretty clear to me that the problem lies in American culture. The whole idea of hyper-competitiveness and all checks-and-balances means everyone can free themselves of responsibility and just relentlessly follow their own goals. The idea is that it will ultimately result in stability, since everyone gets controlled by everyone else. In theory. But in reality it means the most ruthless and irresponsible get a free pass, whether in politics or in business, the workplace or even religion. Value success above all else, and you give the ***holes the best excuse to ruin it for everyone.
And I'm not at all implying that Americans are by nature any worse than any other people, it's just that the culture makes it so much easier to get this kind of behaviour. The means justify the end if you can convince yourself that ultimately your bad behaviour is for the "greater good".
The adversarial court system reflects this as well, where even in a criminal trial objective reality doesn't matter. And most politicians in the US are lawyers, so they're used to present a completely one-sided picture in favour of whoever pays their bills. And then at the blink of an eye use the revolving door to get out of politics and make money. Because financial success - after all - is the most important thing.

Now the consequence is that everyone assume's that everyone else's motives are not moral but financial. Unions, businesspeople, politicians, even environmentalists just want to get rich, right? In a country where starting a church is often a promising business-venture with a prospect for serious money that's a natural thing, ain't it? Obama? His goals are not to lift poor people out of poverty, he just wants to take from others and give to his own, doesn't he? Global warming? A scam to extract taxpayer money, isn't it?

Truth and integrity become immaterial in this lopsided materialist ideology. Think about that.


As for Bill Gates, he was an upper-middle class kid who had the - at the time - scarce chance to use a computer because his and other parents had bought it for the school. Is he a gifted person? Sure enough, but really - how many others at the time had the same opportunities? All the chips fell into place for him. He was the right man at the right place at the right time. This is almost universally the case for people like him, it's not superhuman ability, but a lucky chain of events. It's an easily made fallacy to look in hindsight at the few sucessfull cases and just marvel at their genius. But it's not really so.
What should be deduced from this policy-wise is to make sure children get the best possible environment to learn. It costs serious money, but many election cycles later this will translate into superior productivity and innovation. Over here, remarkably, even the conservatives understand that. Maggie was wrong, we're all in it together.

JohnRoberts

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #85 on: October 21, 2011, 01:04:00 PM »
From the link I provided above:

"The uneven distribution of economic gains in recent years continues a longer-term trend that began in the late 1970s. In the generation following World War II, robust economic gains were shared widely, with the incomes of the bottom 90 percent actually increasing more rapidly in percentage terms, on average, than the incomes of the top 1 percent. But since the late 1970s, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of households have essentially stagnated while the incomes of the top 1 percent have soared. (See Figure 3.)

In fact, the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90 percent of households is almost $900 below what it was in 1979, while the average pre-tax income for the top 1 percent is over $700,000 above its 1979 level."
Bummer...  haven't we discussed this before.

There are several apparent factors at play in addition to globalization. the middle east oil cartel has generated a huge transfer of wealth between western consumers and oil exporting states.

While I don't think the wealthy should be punished for their success, with new taxes on just them, but we need to get the effective rate we collect up closer to the nominal rate we are supposed to get by closing loop holes. Even Warren Buffet who goes on record saying the wealthy should pay more, personally has an effective rate lower than the long term capital gains rate, so he found millions of dollars of deductions somewhere.   
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I'm two-thirds through reading Michael Lewis' latest book, which compares different countries and their cultures in regards to the financial crisis. From this and a lot of other information it's pretty clear to me that the problem lies in American culture. The whole idea of hyper-competitiveness and all checks-and-balances means everyone can free themselves of responsibility and just relentlessly follow their own goals. The idea is that it will ultimately result in stability, since everyone gets controlled by everyone else. In theory. But in reality it means the most ruthless and irresponsible get a free pass, whether in politics or in business, the workplace or even religion. Value success above all else, and you give the ***holes the best excuse to ruin it for everyone.
I haven't read the book, but it is an interesting topic. From just following news events, it is clear the derivative fueled credit bubble affected different nations differently. Surely this is partially cultural, but it also reflects the laws and regulatory environment of the different nations.  Canada which had more conservative home lending rules, hardly noticed the bubble, while some of the new to capitalism counties in the old soviet bloc, shared housing bubbles and mortgage issues like here. Iceland went bonkers, with fishermen overnight, convincing themselves that they were now investment bankers, and they did good on paper until the music stopped.

If you want to blame this on American culture you are free to, while I don't agree. IMO this was a regulatory failure, and the inherent nature of capitalism to pursue more wealth. There was also a failure of critical judgement by multiple business leaders, who either didn't understand the nuts and bolts of their own business, or did understand but looked the other way, since the questionable behavior was so profitable.

There is clearly too much crony capitalism going on (here), and while every candidate for high office claims he will be different and run a clean ship. The current administration is as bad as if not worse than past. Big business already has too many natural advantages to need government support on top of that, but they manage to get all that they pay for.

I am somewhat encouraged by some new discussion of dramatically altering the tax structure, to simplify and broaden the base. I don't see congress agreeing to give up tax writing policy easily, as it is a cash cow for them to trade on. But eliminating tax advantages for large companies will somewhat level the playing field for small business and that will be a good thing for the economy (IMO). 
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And I'm not at all implying that Americans are by nature any worse than any other people, it's just that the culture makes it so much easier to get this kind of behaviour. The means justify the end if you can convince yourself that ultimately your bad behaviour is for the "greater good".
Thanks for trying to explain. I don't get the same sense of American culture that you do, but I have only lived here 63 years. "The means justify the end"?? Wha? The ends justifying the means, is widely discredited, and not a tenet of American culture IMO. That sounds more like the justification for socialism or communism, where forfeiting personal choice is for the greater good. The American culture is all about hope and opportunity for anybody and everybody... not some guaranteed job, doing government make work. We all have opportunity, but we still must work for it (not just show up, but work, and think, and create).   
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The adversarial court system reflects this as well, where even in a criminal trial objective reality doesn't matter. And most politicians in the US are lawyers, so they're used to present a completely one-sided picture in favour of whoever pays their bills. And then at the blink of an eye use the revolving door to get out of politics and make money. Because financial success - after all - is the most important thing.
Once again huh?? Criminal trials, or all trials for that matter are pretty much about provable objective facts vis a vis the law(s).  Only up at the Supreme court is there some subjective discussion about founder's intent and letter of the laws.
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Now the consequence is that everyone assume's that everyone else's motives are not moral but financial. Unions, businesspeople, politicians, even environmentalists just want to get rich, right?
The hierarchy of what motivates people is well studied and characterized. Self interest is usually centered on shelter, food, and security either personally or for a whole family if the bread winner. Since money generally satisfies these top interests, the bread winner is usually motivated by winning bread. 
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 In a country where starting a church is often a promising business-venture with a prospect for serious money that's a natural thing, ain't it?
I hear the Ground Zero Mosque is going condo, because he is having trouble raising the money for a mosque. Maybe the money for starting some churches is getting harder to get?
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Obama? His goals are not to lift poor people out of poverty, he just wants to take from others and give to his own, doesn't he?
Like I said a couple years ago, he plays basketball so ignore his head fakes, and watch his feet. His actions don't seem to agree with his words. High energy costs hurt the poor much more than the wealthy. The only group helped by high energy prices are alternate energy firms, the new winners hand picked by this administration (but even they are struggling with Europe reducing subsidies). Unfortunately for them to win, we all have to lose and pay more than the fair price for energy. Despite the administrations foot dragging and adverse policy we are finding new oil and gas reserves in the continental US that could even make us energy independent. This is far more likely than solar cells and wind farms to deliver the BTUs we need to prosper.
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Global warming? A scam to extract taxpayer money, isn't it?
There is a definite aspect to this by people trying to gain control. Climate is chaotic and opinions even from experts remains mixed. I find Al Gore entirely unconvincing. I am far more concerned about mercury and other toxins in coal exhaust than CO2. I'm repeating myself but the second Freakonomics book gives a good economic treatment of practical remedies for global temperature. The favored strategy from progressives seems heavy on control on light on results.
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Truth and integrity become immaterial in this lopsided materialist ideology. Think about that.
I don't need to think about it, but I would add "personal responsibility and accountability" as also being important.
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As for Bill Gates, he was an upper-middle class kid who had the - at the time - scarce chance to use a computer because his and other parents had bought it for the school. Is he a gifted person? Sure enough, but really - how many others at the time had the same opportunities? All the chips fell into place for him. He was the right man at the right place at the right time. This is almost universally the case for people like him, it's not superhuman ability, but a lucky chain of events. It's an easily made fallacy to look in hindsight at the few sucessfull cases and just marvel at their genius. But it's not really so.
If you really believe this, it explains a lot. Do you think you could build a Microsoft, or an Apple, if you just were in the same. place and same time as Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs? Or all the many nameless millionaires and billionaires, who have created massive wealth, from there skills, ingenuity, and force of will.

I recall attending a nascent computer show in Atlantic City, back in the early 70's, long before Atlantic city became a gambling destination, and personal computers became personal computers. Bill was there also, it turns out. I don't recall seeing him, but he was probably just barely out of HS and a nobody like everybody else there. The personal computer wasn't an industry, it was an electronic curiosity. Bill has been accused of several less than honorable business dealings with his peers, but he undeniably helped build an industry.  Jobs and Wozniak too. While they may have offered the right product at the right time, to a receptive market, it was not handed to them on a silver spoon, it came out of small garage in Ca.. not unlike HP and other entrepreneur success stories. 
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What should be deduced from this policy-wise is to make sure children get the best possible environment to learn. It costs serious money, but many election cycles later this will translate into superior productivity and innovation. Over here, remarkably, even the conservatives understand that. Maggie was wrong, we're all in it together.

I have not been silent on this either. We spend a ton of money on education, and do not get the results our children deserve. According to No Child Left behind legislation, by 2012 the schools were supposed to have students performing up to their grade level... Nothing spectacular, just having 7th graders performing at 7th grade level. The trajectory of past and recent testing suggests they won't make it. One democratic senator has proposed repealing the requirement. The problem is not as simple as throwing money at it, we've tried that. The heavily unionized teachers, have so far resisted strong management based on the test results. While opinions vary with lots of excuses, this seems like simple management 101. Measure, adjust, measure adjust, measure.... if the teachers can't teach effectively, get them out of the classrooms and replace them with someone who can.  A good education is part of the American culture, that I received, and I fear we have dropped the ball on delivering to recent generations. Kids today are being promoted for just showing up and not causing trouble. How can they perform in the workplace if that is their model for success. In any job they must create value or they won't be paid.  Note: This isn't just as simple as firing a few teachers, the parents seem to have taken their eye off the ball too... I don't know how to get parents more involved, but they need to be.

I'm sure opinions vary about all this... mine certainly varies from yours, but thats business as usual.

JR
Don't only half-ass tune your drums. Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

living sounds

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #86 on: October 21, 2011, 04:16:03 PM »
Thanks for trying to explain. I don't get the same sense of American culture that you do, but I have only lived here 63 years. "The means justify the end"?? Wha? The ends justifying the means, is widely discredited, and not a tenet of American culture IMO. That sounds more like the justification for socialism or communism, where forfeiting personal choice is for the greater good. The American culture is all about hope and opportunity for anybody and everybody... not some guaranteed job, doing government make work. We all have opportunity, but we still must work for it (not just show up, but work, and think, and create).   

This was probably exaggerated, from personal experience I know this is not how everyone thinks. Yea, mixed up that idiom, but I wasn't all sober when I typed it. ;-) But I think selfish behaviour is not seen as negative as in other cultures. For example, over here taking a position in government for a few years to subsequently move on and make money off it in the private (or semi-private = government contractors) sector is widely regarded as - at the very least - disloyal. When our former chancellor Schröder went on to work for russian gas giant Gazprom the move was almost unilaterally condemned. On the whole I think it's still a rare occurence here. Career politicians are, of course, the opposite negative example...

Maybe the overall success the US has enjoyed for so long now has created a widespread feeling of entitlement. I probably tend to see this more, for example, in the bonuses for ultimately parasitic speculative traders, you do, for example, in unionized government workers whose huge and early pensions ruin state finances. Lewis talks about how everyone in the US is absorbed with preserving their status quo at any cost. Some of the examples in the book of, e.g., police officers in a city in California who after 5 years of service get a lifelong pension exceeding their original salary are just outragous. And again, the salary negotiations follow a strongly adversarial procedure, even "binary" in that it's either the worker's proposal or the one of the government that will be followed, but no way to compromise. Now the opposite move, to abolish regulations or ban collective bargaining is equally extreme. I think this polar thinking (reflected very much in the two-party system, too) combined with the heavily competivtive and individual streak has serious unintended negative consequences. California is bankrupt because almost everyone believes they deserve a lot from the government, but almost nobody is actually willing to pay for it...
What gets cut first is not the outragous salaries or unnessessary subsedies, but essential infrastructure and public services, often the ones the next generation needs...

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Once again huh?? Criminal trials, or all trials for that matter are pretty much about provable objective facts vis a vis the law(s).  Only up at the Supreme court is there some subjective discussion about founder's intent and letter of the laws.

What I meant is the following: In the US criminial justice system the prosecuter isn't bound by objective truth, he's very much biased and his job is to present a one-sided picture, to make a case. He even gets elected and is rated on his success in terms of convictions (the latter holds true for the police as well). The incentive structure rewards success, not honesty and adherance to facts. The result is a lot of wrongful convictions.

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I hear the Ground Zero Mosque is going condo, because he is having trouble raising the money for a mosque. Maybe the money for starting some churches is getting harder to get?

Come one, it's not even a mosque. And a complete non-sequitor in this context.

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There is a definite aspect to this by people trying to gain control. Climate is chaotic and opinions even from experts remains mixed. I find Al Gore entirely unconvincing. I am far more concerned about mercury and other toxins in coal exhaust than CO2. I'm repeating myself but the second Freakonomics book gives a good economic treatment of practical remedies for global temperature. The favored strategy from progressives seems heavy on control on light on results.

Even though I like these books a lot I think I read that they had to backpedal on their claims as far as global warming is concerned. The scientific consensus is well-established in this field. But I wouldn't go to Gore for my science either.

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If you really believe this, it explains a lot. Do you think you could build a Microsoft, or an Apple, if you just were in the same. place and same time as Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs? Or all the many nameless millionaires and billionaires, who have created massive wealth, from there skills, ingenuity, and force of will.


Nah, I don't believe I could or would do what they did. I've got a pretty creative brain, am aware that most people haven't, but this requires marketing skills, an interest in selling stuff and a pretty unusual drive. Steve Jobs arguably wasn't even the inventor, innovator, but rather really good at marketing. That's a completely different mind- and skillset IMO. Many scientists are content with finding stuff out and have their name attached to it, and it's very similar for a lot of highly creative people in the arts as well in my experience. They usually don't want to be bothered at all with economic stuff.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have pushed for and made availible actual innovation, even if other people did a lot of the actual "inventing". But Warren Buffett, the Koch brothers, Donald Trump? And would Bill Gates not have done what he did if his fortunes were "only" - say - 500 million instead of the 60 billion (I'm not at all sure on that number, and I know about their foundation)? But my point was that both Jobs and Gates grew up in precisely the right environment to enable them to have this kind of success. They owed a lot to the infrastructure they had access to that made it possible. Drive and intellect alone aren't nearly enough. I believe there would be a lot more innovation if we used more resources to level the playing field and opened up opportunities to more people. And tweaked the incentives more to get more productive outcome and less overhead. And this ultimately means to cut away from the 1% profiteers, of whom many are parasitic in many ways.

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I have not been silent on this either. We spend a ton of money on education, and do not get the results our children deserve. According to No Child Left behind legislation, by 2012 the schools were supposed to have students performing up to their grade level... Nothing spectacular, just having 7th graders performing at 7th grade level. The trajectory of past and recent testing suggests they won't make it. One democratic senator has proposed repealing the requirement. The problem is not as simple as throwing money at it, we've tried that. The heavily unionized teachers, have so far resisted strong management based on the test results. While opinions vary with lots of excuses, this seems like simple management 101. Measure, adjust, measure adjust, measure.... if the teachers can't teach effectively, get them out of the classrooms and replace them with someone who can.  A good education is part of the American culture, that I received, and I fear we have dropped the ball on delivering to recent generations. Kids today are being promoted for just showing up and not causing trouble. How can they perform in the workplace if that is their model for success. In any job they must create value or they won't be paid.  Note: This isn't just as simple as firing a few teachers, the parents seem to have taken their eye off the ball too... I don't know how to get parents more involved, but they need to be.

I'm sure opinions vary about all this... mine certainly varies from yours, but thats business as usual.

Blaming and simply requiring teachers to have their students perform better looks exactly like the dreaded "central planning" to me, and sounds a lot like requiring all car manufacturers to produce and market inexpensive battery powered cars with lot's of range by tomorrow. Since you mentioned the Freakonomics book (I've read and enjoyed both), they make a convincing argument that teachers got worse because highly intelligent women nowadays choose other jobs, whereas half a century or more ago teaching was more or less the only profession open for them, so the cleverest women were mostly teachers. Besides that, the media, relentless marketing, self-esteem BS, poverty, vastly different living conditions and values as a whole play a huge role. I've watched all seaons of "The Wire", arguably the best fictional TV show ever made and hyper-realistic, it's crystal clear that even the best teachers don't stand a chance with these kids. Even the failied "war on drugs" plays a role, so do all the economic hardship middle class and below families in the US had to go through in the last decades.
Also, neuroscience shows that information overload is detrimental to learning, and in this day and age information overload is the norm. In all honesty, I don't see a convincing solution there either.

JohnRoberts

Re: What are these London riots really about?
« Reply #87 on: October 21, 2011, 07:12:57 PM »
Thanks for trying to explain. I don't get the same sense of American culture that you do, but I have only lived here 63 years. "The means justify the end"?? Wha? The ends justifying the means, is widely discredited, and not a tenet of American culture IMO. That sounds more like the justification for socialism or communism, where forfeiting personal choice is for the greater good. The American culture is all about hope and opportunity for anybody and everybody... not some guaranteed job, doing government make work. We all have opportunity, but we still must work for it (not just show up, but work, and think, and create).   

This was probably exaggerated, from personal experience I know this is not how everyone thinks. Yea, mixed up that idiom, but I wasn't all sober when I typed it. ;-) But I think selfish behaviour is not seen as negative as in other cultures. For example, over here taking a position in government for a few years to subsequently move on and make money off it in the private (or semi-private = government contractors) sector is widely regarded as - at the very least - disloyal. When our former chancellor Schröder went on to work for russian gas giant Gazprom the move was almost unilaterally condemned. On the whole I think it's still a rare occurence here. Career politicians are, of course, the opposite negative example...
I was drinking when I first read it and that didn't help... the post made me angry, but reading it sober the next day was better.

In my judgement, back when government work, was lower paid than the private sector, people did it either for sense of service, or for job security, with the promise of no heavy lifting, manual or mental. Jumping from public service to the private sector to capitalize on experience about the system, and contacts is generally frowned upon, but so common it isn't widely reported. In some areas it is explicitly prohibited (like jumping to military contractors after working in the Pentagon. But there are many similar career paths that aren't explicitly illegal, like ex-congressmen becoming high paid lobbyists so they can keep their fingers in the slop trough, with a lower public profile. Ex senator Dodd is now the top lobbyist for hollywood, from my state Trent Lott who resigned under the shadow of possible involvement with a local judge bribery case, has earned $16M lobbying with another ex-Senator for La.  If the lobbyists earn that kind of money, how much is the handle on tax dollars they are helping secure for clients?      :-[  yes, not only should this be stopped, but it isn't even illegal for congress to trade in the stock market based on inside information they know about pending legislation... crooks in suits.
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Maybe the overall success the US has enjoyed for so long now has created a widespread feeling of entitlement. I probably tend to see this more, for example, in the bonuses for ultimately parasitic speculative traders, you do, for example, in unionized government workers whose huge and early pensions ruin state finances. Lewis talks about how everyone in the US is absorbed with preserving their status quo at any cost. Some of the examples in the book of, e.g., police officers in a city in California who after 5 years of service get a lifelong pension exceeding their original salary are just outragous. And again, the salary negotiations follow a strongly adversarial procedure, even "binary" in that it's either the worker's proposal or the one of the government that will be followed, but no way to compromise. Now the opposite move, to abolish regulations or ban collective bargaining is equally extreme. I think this polar thinking (reflected very much in the two-party system, too) combined with the heavily competivtive and individual streak has serious unintended negative consequences. California is bankrupt because almost everyone believes they deserve a lot from the government, but almost nobody is actually willing to pay for it...
California is our version of Greece.. They are bankrupt but don't realize it yet.

Unionized government workers are even more conflicted as a quid pro quo can exist between contract largess and election support. Chicago is a poster boy for union excesses.. (three workers to change a street light bulb.).
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What gets cut first is not the outragous salaries or unnessessary subsedies, but essential infrastructure and public services, often the ones the next generation needs...

This is true of all bureaucracies, where the self interest of the bureaucracy is survival of the bureaucracy... that's why we are always forming new government agencies but never closing old ones.
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Once again huh?? Criminal trials, or all trials for that matter are pretty much about provable objective facts vis a vis the law(s).  Only up at the Supreme court is there some subjective discussion about founder's intent and letter of the laws.

What I meant is the following: In the US criminial justice system the prosecuter isn't bound by objective truth, he's very much biased and his job is to present a one-sided picture, to make a case. He even gets elected and is rated on his success in terms of convictions (the latter holds true for the police as well). The incentive structure rewards success, not honesty and adherance to facts. The result is a lot of wrongful convictions.
This cuts both ways as the defendant is entitled to the same degree of advocacy. While the prosecutor may pursue an innocent man he believes is guilty, and the defense can likewise defend a guilty defendant who has the presumption of innocence in our system. The judge and/or jury determine who is guilty, the lawyer's job is advocacy for one side or the other, all within the law.

While either side may present objective true facts in such a fashion to present an untrue impression, the prosecution can not (legally) withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense (so if they know he is innocent they must share that information with the defense), and lying under oath is perjury (a crime by itself). Lots of people end up in jail for that rather than the real crime they were investigated for (ask Martha Stewart about lying to the feds).

While no doubt there is plenty of overzealous prosecutions (Elliot Spitzer), and guilty criminals go free. Our system is biased toward guilty going free to avoid innocent citizens being wrongly convicted, but no doubt stuff happens. 

The last jury trial I served on, i had some reasonable doubt about how convincing the case evidence that we were allowed to see was. I held out for a while, then finally capitulated to agree with the rest of the jury (I am not one angry man). Coincidentally I ran into the same police officer who was involved in the case about a month later when he stopped me for speeding (who me?). After we were finished with that little piece of business I asked him about the case, and about the rest of the evidence we weren't allowed to see. The perp had dumped some drugs from his pockets into the back seat of the police car, and his lawyer had that information suppressed due to a technicality. So the sucker was guilty as hell, while his lawyer argued well and effectively for his defense (he had me doubting for a while).   
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There is a definite aspect to this by people trying to gain control. Climate is chaotic and opinions even from experts remains mixed. I find Al Gore entirely unconvincing. I am far more concerned about mercury and other toxins in coal exhaust than CO2. I'm repeating myself but the second Freakonomics book gives a good economic treatment of practical remedies for global temperature. The favored strategy from progressives seems heavy on control on light on results.

Even though I like these books a lot I think I read that they had to backpedal on their claims as far as global warming is concerned. The scientific consensus is well-established in this field. But I wouldn't go to Gore for my science either.
I have followed this all pretty closely for decades, even back when it was warnings about a global winter, not melting ice caps.  ;D..  Some new research suggests that cosmic rays from the solar wind have an impact on cloud formation which is another variable in not so conclusive science.  The scientific consensus was that the earth was flat at one time. 

I know that I'm not smart enough to figure this out from simple observation, and the science is not conclusive from where I sit.  I hear some scientists speak on the subject that seem credible, and others that are selling their book... This is not different than lots of established science where there is a party line, and outliers.
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If you really believe this, it explains a lot. Do you think you could build a Microsoft, or an Apple, if you just were in the same. place and same time as Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs? Or all the many nameless millionaires and billionaires, who have created massive wealth, from there skills, ingenuity, and force of will.


Nah, I don't believe I could or would do what they did. I've got a pretty creative brain, am aware that most people haven't, but this requires marketing skills, an interest in selling stuff and a pretty unusual drive. Steve Jobs arguably wasn't even the inventor, innovator, but rather really good at marketing. That's a completely different mind- and skillset IMO. Many scientists are content with finding stuff out and have their name attached to it, and it's very similar for a lot of highly creative people in the arts as well in my experience. They usually don't want to be bothered at all with economic stuff.
It's not just marketing, but indeed all the recent fawning over the late Steve Jobs suggest that he can do everything short of walk on water. Woz was the engineer, Steve was the salesman, but more than that, he had a vision of what the product should look like and what it should do, and Woz make it so. Of course even they did not envision the thousands of new applications people would put this affordable small business tool into use accomplishing.
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Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have pushed for and made availible actual innovation, even if other people did a lot of the actual "inventing". But Warren Buffett, the Koch brothers, Donald Trump? And would Bill Gates not have done what he did if his fortunes were "only" - say - 500 million instead of the 60 billion (I'm not at all sure on that number, and I know about their foundation)? But my point was that both Jobs and Gates grew up in precisely the right environment to enable them to have this kind of success. They owed a lot to the infrastructure they had access to that made it possible. Drive and intellect alone aren't nearly enough.
Again i repeat myself, but the infrastructure needed by small business, is property rights (so they can keep enough of what they make to justify the effort and reinvest), rule of law (so big companies can not simply squash them before they stand up), and risk capital rules (where investors can invest in common stock of a company like a partial owner and share the capital appreciation of the business without being held responsible for all the businesses liability should it fail as so many do. After that, indifference from government is more productive than picking winners and losers.
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I believe there would be a lot more innovation if we used more resources to level the playing field and opened up opportunities to more people. And tweaked the incentives more to get more productive outcome and less overhead. And this ultimately means to cut away from the 1% profiteers, of whom many are parasitic in many ways.
You need to be more specific. I hear lots of progressive claims about how government programs are the source of major innovation, and while no doubt some comes from military and space spending. In my experience invention is a solitary exercise. usually the result of a single person looking at old problems in new ways. there is no way to formalize this into a recipe or government program to get more of it. Educate people and set them free to operate in their own self interest and they will invent stuff.

if I was unemployed for two years, i would have started two businesses by now, and if they failed I 'd start another. 

I started an operated small businesses back in the 70s/80, and more recently... Now is far easier, mostly thanks to advances in computer technology and software driven by the free market. No thanks to government.
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I have not been silent on this either. We spend a ton of money on education, and do not get the results our children deserve. According to No Child Left behind legislation, by 2012 the schools were supposed to have students performing up to their grade level... Nothing spectacular, just having 7th graders performing at 7th grade level. The trajectory of past and recent testing suggests they won't make it. One democratic senator has proposed repealing the requirement. The problem is not as simple as throwing money at it, we've tried that. The heavily unionized teachers, have so far resisted strong management based on the test results. While opinions vary with lots of excuses, this seems like simple management 101. Measure, adjust, measure adjust, measure.... if the teachers can't teach effectively, get them out of the classrooms and replace them with someone who can.  A good education is part of the American culture, that I received, and I fear we have dropped the ball on delivering to recent generations. Kids today are being promoted for just showing up and not causing trouble. How can they perform in the workplace if that is their model for success. In any job they must create value or they won't be paid.  Note: This isn't just as simple as firing a few teachers, the parents seem to have taken their eye off the ball too... I don't know how to get parents more involved, but they need to be.

I'm sure opinions vary about all this... mine certainly varies from yours, but thats business as usual.

Blaming and simply requiring teachers to have their students perform better looks exactly like the dreaded "central planning" to me, and sounds a lot like requiring all car manufacturers to produce and market inexpensive battery powered cars with lot's of range by tomorrow. Since you mentioned the Freakonomics book (I've read and enjoyed both), they make a convincing argument that teachers got worse because highly intelligent women nowadays choose other jobs, whereas half a century or more ago teaching was more or less the only profession open for them, so the cleverest women were mostly teachers.
No doubt that was a factor, while there were other gender receptive jobs where smart women could use their brains, but rarely ever got credit. Many executive secretaries did far more than their job description. Many nurses did more than change bandages and bedpans.
 
Back when teachers were poorly paid, they likely did it for better reasons than people teach today. I am not talking about central planning telling teacher how to teach. Just applying some management 101. Measure the results and if the results aren't right figure out why. It is not the job of legislators in DC to tell local schools who to fire, but by definition if 7th graders are not performing at 7th grade level, we need to figure out why. This has been a several year program, so it was not a recent surprise they weren't successful. Perhaps educators see failure as acceptable, in business failure once or twice can be a learning experience, failure every time is evidence that the task is impossible or the person is not capable. Since it is not impossible to teach 7th graders to perform at 7th grade level, something else is the problem. if not the teacher than the system. How many years should we spend trying to figure out which?   

I don't pretend this is trivial, and I find the parents are complicit in this deterioration of education. But this is too important to fail our children the way we are doing. Business has a stake in the success of school system, since business needs educated workers. Perhaps some cooperative effort where local businesses get more involved in local school systems.
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Besides that, the media, relentless marketing, self-esteem BS, poverty, vastly different living conditions and values as a whole play a huge role. I've watched all seaons of "The Wire", arguably the best fictional TV show ever made and hyper-realistic, it's crystal clear that even the best teachers don't stand a chance with these kids. Even the failied "war on drugs" plays a role, so do all the economic hardship middle class and below families in the US had to go through in the last decades.
Sorry I missed those,,, I guess our taste in entertainment run in different channels.

If the kids are unteachable, we don't need to pay teacher more. Maybe we need to arm them.
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Also, neuroscience shows that information overload is detrimental to learning, and in this day and age information overload is the norm. In all honesty, I don't see a convincing solution there either.

Lots of things are detrimental to learning. Human's adapt and children are far better than their parents at dealing with all the additional information that is pushed at us. I can't remember the last time I saw a TV picture where there wasn't multiple unrelated things scrolling across the bottom. popping up to promote something, and generally supplying more input on top of the regular program to keep our attention engaged. 

Interesting new data tidbit about education...  scientists have discovered that teenage IQ can change up or down something like 20% during mid teen years. This is dramatically different than the old understanding of IQ. While they don't know why the IQ changes, this suggests perhaps even more importance to nurture over nature.

Of course i could be all wrong.

JR
Don't only half-ass tune your drums. Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.


 

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