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Ch. 3: Bullnomics: Its Favoritism and Fiction 
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American culture was absolutely saturated with the rich thinking morality. Did their finances get the better of them or were they quite capable of that themselves?

Quote:
"...'since markets express the will of the people, virtually any criticism of business could be described as an act of despicable contempt for the common man.' Once, the arrogance of the elite had involved an attempt to impose their values and sociology; now their arrogance was economic."


Phillips seems to be suggesting that the economy remained master. Perhaps the people have only recently become slaves to the particular system and have not had the time to see its immorality as it has been developing. That the common person has an unconscious striving to reach up into the higher class yet it is this striving that affects the class above? That the absolution of class thinking to a ubiquitous rich mentality upset some type of balance? Rationally the upper educated class should have seen through the thin veil and someone would have blown the warning whistle yet it did not come until much too late. How come? Perhaps Jung and Nietzsche had assumed that the slave and the master would have been better aware of the juxtaposition. Perhaps the master must realize that there are slaves to keep his home in order? A failure of the master mentality?

Quote:
"...support for a market democracy of "one dollar, one vote," insistence that workers had all become 'businesspeople," and belief that the late-nineties 'market consensus' represented the high point of Western civilization - seem ludicrous a decade later."


:book:



Last edited by Grim on Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Wed Jan 21, 2009 6:59 pm
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I don't agree there should be a limit to how far a man wants to progress - so long as progress means that he creates utility for man. He is free to create and prosper from what he makes. That prosperity shouldn't be ludicrous like it is today, though.

There is a lot to be said for relative wealth. If you asked someone what they would rather have - 100,000 a year or 200,000 a year - they would pick 200,000 a year. Then if you told them that, even though the value of their dollars wouldn't be effected, if they chose 200,000 they would be put in a world where everyone else made 250,000. But...if they chose 100,000, everyone else in the society would make 50,000 - Believe it or not, they would choose 100,000 more often than not.

It's about making more than the next man. Sometimes the divide gets tooooo ridiculous. As long as there IS a divide - I think we're in business.

Then look at bell charts. You have someone who is going to work for money - he'll work so much for so much money. He'll work more for more money. Then there will be a point in which he won't work anymore. He just won't... he has enough money and he values his time more than his money.... he would rather spend his time living than working...


These are things we need to consider.... after all, companies consider the absolute minimum they can pay us. We need to consider the absolute minimum they can make to keep them happy..... right??????? There are more of us isn't there? Why do we fight ourselves? Why do we validate their 'right' to keep us poor?


Anyway, as far as solutions - I'm sorry that I don't have any quite yet. The savings account is a good idea - but I think we need to shore up holes in the tax code first.

I'm all for baby steps. Gradual. Test the waters and move ever upwards.



Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:09 pm
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Unfortunately, I think it's unrealistically idealistic to hope to change the way people are, by a large margin at least. Whatever solutions we conjure must take into account the human ability to capitalize on even the smallest of oversights or loopholes. Epitomized by titles of books such as "Incorporate and Grow Rich", taking advantage of tax breaks.

We can only go so far in changing the way people think, if at all. Even if a beneficial economic perspective were to sweep our country, there's no way to enforce it to remain the stable perspective. Generations pass and people's attitudes will conform to the path of least resistance or greatest reward.

Any changes made must be of the system itself. Hoping for people to change is hoping in vain.

The truest allocation of owed debt to person would have a much more equal spread of wealth within the Microsoft corporation, rather than money pooling at the top. The system allows this to happen.



Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:25 pm
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Interbane wrote:
Unfortunately, I think it's unrealistically idealistic to hope to change the way people are, by a large margin at least. Whatever solutions we conjure must take into account the human ability to capitalize on even the smallest of oversights or loopholes. Epitomized by titles of books such as "Incorporate and Grow Rich", taking advantage of tax breaks.
We can only go so far in changing the way people think, if at all.
Any changes made must be of the system itself. Hoping for people to change is hoping in vain.

I agree, but Phillips says there is something about the Anglo-American approach to finance that encourages wilder speculative schemes than occur in, say, Germany and France. I wonder what accounts for this difference? Is it simply the regulatory environment that keeps the lid on in the non English-speaking countries? If so, what accounts for their having instituted that kind of environment? We get possibly into vague areas of national character here.
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The truest allocation of owed debt to person would have a much more equal spread of wealth within the Microsoft corporation, rather than money pooling at the top. The system allows this to happen.

I find you cryptic here. Could you restate for me?


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Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:49 am
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Each person puts forth a certain amount of effort in a days work, and are owed by someone(or many people) for that effort. Some people take a drastically larger cut than they are owed. What is the fundamental reasoning for why Bill Gates gets billions, while some of his programmers make a common salary? It's his company, his ideas, or whatever intangibles are his, but the bottom line is, what does he produce on a daily basis personally?

What if the laws governing corporations required them to give a certain percentage of profit as payment, instead of a fixed value? I guess that would punish people who are in a company managed by an idiot... Contingency pay perhaps, where you make $10 an hour, or 1% of profit, whichever is greater.



Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:48 pm
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Quote:
What if the laws governing corporations required them to give a certain percentage of profit as payment, instead of a fixed value?


There may not be laws to this effect but it is certainly a common practice to remunerate executives (and others) using profits or other financial performance measures as the basis. I would think that Bill Gates is a good example of this. This is driven by market based imperatives not laws and can lead to enormous incomes. The corporate income tax system reallocates wealth based on profit based calculations to the point that companies often complain that their success is being capped by an onerous tax burden.

I think many of us agree that we should reward, not penalize, success because we can all gain from this but sometimes success can become unbridled greed and this can bring some nasty consequences.



Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:50 pm
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Yeah, the reward/success thing is where I split from most people.

I think that success should definitely be rewarded. I just want to know - for most people - where does the motivation for $uccess end?

What is the amount of money that Bill Gates is willing to work for? Would he stop producing if he made a dollar less per day? Two dollars less? Would he even notice it? What amount would he start to take notice and what amount would he consider stop being productive?

Once this amount is known, it would be easy to tax Bill Gates accordingly. Leaving him with enough money to be successful, happy, and with enough motivation to continue to be productive.

I know that if I had 100 million dollars, I would produce absolutely nothing and be far less productive than I am today; I'd have no incentive to produce.

The flip side of that coin is - if I had some more time and made a little more money, I could tinker around with a lot of different projects, find out what I'm good at, and have the potential of making the world a better place. .... and, at the least, I'd have the time and means to invest into my own family.



Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:32 pm
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Quote:
"Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendancy are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, all that follows: incompetence, graft, and all other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from Washington."

"...we shall begin to glimpse something much greater than single acts of incompetence or obstruction. We shall see a vast machinery built for our protection re-engineered into a device for our exploitation. We shall behold the majestic workings of the free market its self, boring ever deeper into the tissues of the state. Ultimately, we shall gaze upon one of the true marvels of history: democracy buried beneath an avalanche of money."

- Thomas Frank, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule


:book:



Last edited by Grim on Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:50 pm
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There were two ways that relgion worked into this chapter, one minor and one major. Phillips speaks of the free market true believers as religiously devoted; he talks about their "deities" and cites books like "The Market As God" (or something like that). A while back, we were having a heated discussion about (what else) religion, and some people objected strongly to labelling anything that people show belief in or like a great deal as "just like a religion." That is just obfuscation, they said, an attempt to say that religion can't be any different than economics or following sports teams. I guess they had a point, but I also don't think it's that far-fetched to say that for some of these finance people, the market is/was a belief system.

Phillips recycles some of his ideas from American Theocracy in the chapter. He says that evangelicals and the religious right in general were friendly to finance and all too willing to incorporate new ways to wealth in their theology; whereas in a previous age, this segment of the citizenry would have been distrustful of any financial sleight of hand. Prosperity theology gained a lot of ground. The Mormons, also, had no inclination to call creative finance a sin.

Maybe we should encourage the Muslims. They supposedly have rules against usury.


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Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:41 pm
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I can't remember the movie... but there was a woman that yelled, "Money Changer!!!"

It reminds me of this. The fact is, we're a capitalist society that has let our quest for greater profits lead us into unregulated territory.

It's just a matter of tweaking the system - not of allowing the pendulum to swing to the other side. We went astray and now we should return to normalcy as quickly as possible. The greatest effort needs to be made to teach the American people WHY this has happened. The idea that the market always knows what's best needs to be replaced with something closer to the truth. That fair rules put in place by government protect everyone and promote our mutual growth under a free-market system.

The free-market isn't bad. Competition is awesome! It's what makes America so dynamic. Like every sport there needs to be rules to keep things fair. The shadow banks that were created seem to not share the same rules that normal banks are forced to abide by....

If you're not cheating, you're not trying - that's as good an American motto that I can think of.

Reading on into the next chapter, the author begins to describe how far out of reach these new financial systems were of the federal paddle of justice.



Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:04 pm
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Just off the top of my head, I can't recall Obama making a point of saying he'll use the federal paddle on finance fat cats. Has he specified changing banking rules as part of his reform package? We might now assume that the hedge funds are too wasted to be a threat, but as Arnold would say, "They'll b' back." Phillips stresses the strong ties to finance that the Democratic party now has. Just another point on which Obama needs to buck his own party.


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Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:12 pm
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Nope, I'm reading the current issue of The Economist and it hasn't said anything so far. It appears he's just pumping more money into the system as a whole. I think that's the only thing he can do right now to save the country from plunging into certain doom. It sucks but it would suck more if he didn't do it.

We'll see in the future what other plans he has in store - nothing has been said yet. I've heard he's had some pretty exclusive meetings with his advisers regarding the economy that he hasn't allowed the press in on at all.



Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:18 pm
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I've heard that every measure they are taking is not meant to prevent the country's economy from failing but rather to reduce the likelihood. Before the government $700billion bailout the odds of a complete economic Depression triggered by the failure of finance was like 80%, now the chance of absolute failure of the system, the great reset PC seems to advocate for some reason, is rounded up to an estimated 20% or so which helps many people feel secure that perhaps we will only see a continuation of a drawn out recession, still worrisome odds and options to be sure.

:book:



Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:35 pm
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Here is a quote that I think applies to the topic being discussed of power systems taking control despite their benevolent human conceptual nature.
Quote:
"To behold, use or perceive any extension of ourselves in technological form is necessarily to embrace it. To listen to radio or read the printed page is to accept these extensions of ourselves into our personal system and to undergo to 'closure' or displacement of perception that follows automatically. It is this continuous embrace of our own technology in daily use that puts us in the Narcissus role of subliminal awareness and numbness in relation to those images of ourselves. By continuously embracing technologies, we relate ourselves to them as servomechanisms. That is why we must, to use them at all, serve these objects, these extensions of ourselves, as gods or minor religions. An Indian is the servomechanism of his canoe, as the cowboy of his horse or the executive of his clock."
-Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man


We believe the economic systems must work because they are essentially as rational as human extensions can be, what we forget is that because they are merely a reflection of ourselves we have become numbed to their true content. This is explained by McLuhan through the theory of Narcissism, mythologized in the story of Narcissus. Were Narcissus does not recognize the face as anything other than that of another person he is essentially not realizing, to his own personal tragedy (and our own), that he is captivated in a mere extension of himself.

:book:



Last edited by Grim on Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:45 am
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That is a very interesting contribution, kind of a seduction theory regarding our technologies, and a reminder that finance can be seen as a technology. McLuhan was iconic in the 60s, famous for saying (if he indeed did), "the medium is the message." I heard his name often, but he seemed to fade and I never managed to read any of his work as far as I recall. (McLuhan has a cameo apperance in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall.")


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Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:16 am
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