The Money Markets. - Page 6
Old 08-10-2011, 04:36 PM   #101 (permalink)
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who is proposing tax increases in canada?
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Old 08-10-2011, 04:47 PM   #102 (permalink)
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thanks for the contribution jeff.
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Old 08-10-2011, 05:36 PM   #103 (permalink)
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In other news equities once again got beaten up today after yst's bear rally following the Fed's comments





There are rumors that George Soros bet on a downgrade of US debt on July 21st by betting on higher yields on 10 year Treasury futures: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=45408

Interesting site: http://sadguysontradingfloors.tumblr.com/


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Old 08-10-2011, 07:08 PM   #104 (permalink)
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I wish I had more to contribute but I feel like a lot of the terrain has already been covered. I'll do my best to say something worthwhile now...

First, does anyone here actually have any expertise in economics, philosophy of economics, or history of economics? Or is everyone just talking out of their ass?

Second, can we trace the success of the US (or the demise of the USSR) back to a particular economic system? I would say absolutely not because of the sheer number of moving parts in these questions. On top of that, I would also deny that you can extrapolate from such limited cases to speak on socialism and capitalism at large.

An earlier comment suggested that the US isn't failing to advance; it's that the other countries are catching up. I disagree with that statement (starting, at the very least, from a perspective that the US is more focused on BS financial instruments now than they are on production and innovation). I also find it interesting that you have just acknowledged that there must be other ways of achieving a successful economy; otherwise, how have these countries caught up to the US? You can't say it's because they have employed a US-style view of Capitalism and the role of government, because typically they have not.



I guess what burns me the most out of everything is those who are absolutely certain that a welfare state, whether expansive or not, is superfluous or damaging in some way. I believe that is a value statement and not at all something demonstrated empirically. It might be the case, but I just wonder where your moral compass is at when everyone who fails is considered a loser, or lazy, or mentally incompetent. I feel that reflects a very naive view of sociology, psychology and, more importantly, causality as a whole.

If your goal is to take care of yourself only, then we are having a very different discussion. However, I'm after how to produce a broadly "happy" and co-operative populace, and it's not clear that throwing all the blame at the foot of a person who is but a single cog in the system is the way to go about that.

Part of this also is about what you think can make a person happy. I think we have seen pretty convincingly that the sort of consumer goods that capitalism can produce don't do a damned thing to make people happy. This goes back to the question earlier about having a bigger house. I honestly could give two shits about what size my house is, and I have no problem questioning the moral integrity of any person who does care beyond its bare utility. When you look at all the suffering in the world, how can you sleep at night knowing that you just bought a 60" LED screen to watch tonight's episode of Big Brother.

Some will reply: "How is that any of your business?" to which I reply, again: "No man is on an island. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Whether you care to acknowledge it or not, we are all bound together, at least loosely, and I absolutely have a right to consider you a moral monster if you allow others to suffer under the assumption that you and they deserve your respective 'just desserts.'"





Lastly, drop Nietzsche. Maybe that's your problem: you read too much from an insufficiently rigorous egomaniac who couldn't for a moment empathize with "the common man."
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:25 PM   #105 (permalink)
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as usual ligeia, your post was a good one. to answer your first question, i am no expert, but i do have a political science graduate degree that encompasses, at least in part, that area of inquiry - especially the history and philosophy aspects. that said, i am not in the field and i do talk out of my ass.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:41 PM   #106 (permalink)
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We are all probably talking out of our ass, but I think it's important that we acknowledge that. Perhaps I am coming off high and mighty, as I do that quite often despite my best efforts, typically to my detriment. Regardless, certainty and dogmatism have historically gotten us into a lot of trouble and will continue to do so if we don't acknowledge the doubts that any thinking person should have.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:45 PM   #107 (permalink)
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i just take it as a given that all of us are laymen in most topics on rf. if someone truly is an expert they tend to either make that clear by the depth of their response or they ignore the topic because it isn't worth their time.

and most of us here aren't necessarily searching for truth. i know most of the time i just want to throw my 2 cents in because someone has said something i think is nonsensical. there's not a lot of trouble to get in when you're just shooting the shit. i hope people can take something away from what i write, but i'm pretty sure we're not here changing people's minds very often.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:47 PM   #108 (permalink)
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I devoted some of my graduate school experience to the US History of Economics during the Cold War.

The shortsighted comment here earlier made me laugh, as to break down the collapse of the Soviet Union on simple economics is completely ignoring larger social and political maneuverings that were far in place ahead of Gorbachev. However, it has become, sadly, the popular convention here in the West and in some Eastern European countries.

The US system has been broken for quite some time. Doing a historical analysis (and in depth analysis of the economics and looking at various sources etc.) would show that US economics have (for lack of a better term) been on weak footing since the 1980s (and as one colleague has mentioned to me, Reagan's "voodoo economics") and I'd make an argument since 1968-1969 there were some trouble signs that were being ignored.

Anyways, I don't have the time, nor the patience to detail all of this. There's been enough, empirically (and from other schools of thought as well, the marxists make me laugh) that to educate yourself, just google scholar the subject matter and read.
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:16 PM   #109 (permalink)
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Ligea,

I think a few people here are familiar with basic economic principles. For my B.A. I majored in Political Science and Economics, and minored in International Relations. I passed my Level I CFA but failed Level II earlier this summer (tough test). In late August I will pursue a MBA education in Finance (I’ve heard this degree may actually make me dumber, arrogant and overconfident in theory and clueless of its real-world application).

To your point, the problem with economics, as with any social science, is that there are no universal laws as there would be in the hard sciences. If water reaches 0 Celsius it will freeze, if it reaches 100 Celsius it will boil. Economic theories are not so perfect but people have intuitive ideas of good or bad economic principles (e.g. too much debt will likely result in bankruptcy). I admit I’m no economic “expert” but I trust my intuition. I don’t think anyone can really apply scientific rigor to evaluate ideologies such as capitalism and socialism for the following reasons: lack of data (e.g. economic statistics) and subjectivity of the terms.

What countries have been the most successful? I would claim that ALL (aside South Korea it’s and planned economy) operate mainly under a capitalist financial system, including China. Now with regards to socialism, as I define as greater social safety nets and substantial government economic planning, seems to stunt economic growth. It’s too burdensome on society. It happened to Japan and Germany. The US is heading in the same direction. Look what happened to Iceland during the financial crisis of 2008. The recent economic miracles mainly became so because of raw capitalist principles… privatization, free markets, private property, low taxes, less government involvement… more vaguely liberalism. I can’t use statistics and it would be too complex to make this argument “scientific” but I think it’s clear that the vast majority of economic success originate with capitalism. When they become increasingly socialist is when great powers begin to crumble.

You like philosophy, so I’ll spew an elementary Karl Popper idea (as long as a soft science qualifies as scientific): Just because something cannot be falsified or disproven doesn’t mean it’s true. For this reason I can’t discredit socialism. Maybe it’s the next step in evolution after capitalism. Marx himself pledged that communism (not to associate socialism + communism although they are closely related) must arise from an already industrialized nation. Perhaps communism failed in the Soviet Union and China (Mao’s central planning resulted in the Great Leap killing millions and only when it accepted capitalist principles did it begin to thrive) for this reason. More to the point, socialism is too burdensome on the state. On the economic side of socialism and any notion of a planned economy, Hayek made the best point when he said that planned economies fail because it’s impossible for a small group of humans/planners to predict how to allocate future resources. Free markets do a better job. Most economic growth is experienced in countries that liberalize their economies. Socialism hinders progress.

There’s no need to bash Nietzsche. He’s not the only person with an ego… I’ve heard Michael Jordan had quite an ego too. Nietzsche’s central message (perhaps most popularized one) is for everyone to be their best and to enhance humanity to another level.

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Old 08-10-2011, 11:41 PM   #110 (permalink)
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Socialism hinders progress.



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Old 08-11-2011, 09:18 AM   #111 (permalink)
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You like philosophy, so I’ll spew an elementary Karl Popper idea (as long as a soft science qualifies as scientific): Just because something cannot be falsified or disproven doesn’t mean it’s true. For this reason I can’t discredit socialism. Maybe it’s the next step in evolution after capitalism. Marx himself pledged that communism (not to associate socialism + communism although they are closely related) must arise from an already industrialized nation. Perhaps communism failed in the Soviet Union and China (Mao’s central planning resulted in the Great Leap killing millions and only when it accepted capitalist principles did it begin to thrive) for this reason. More to the point, socialism is too burdensome on the state. On the economic side of socialism and any notion of a planned economy, Hayek made the best point when he said that planned economies fail because it’s impossible for a small group of humans/planners to predict how to allocate future resources. Free markets do a better job. Most economic growth is experienced in countries that liberalize their economies. Socialism hinders progress.

There’s no need to bash Nietzsche. He’s not the only person with an ego… I’ve heard Michael Jordan had quite an ego too. Nietzsche’s central message (perhaps most popularized one) is for everyone to be their best and to enhance humanity to another level.
1.a) it is a fallacy to assume there is some kind of teleological evolution in human affairs. there is change, and things do evolve, but there are no necessary next steps, there is no necessary progress, and no continual movement from worse to better. there is simply change. marx was looking at a certain set of circumstances and trying to make sense of what came next. he did some valuable work, but fell victim to precisely this kind of talk about teleology. and that same fallacy is carried by the right in guys like fukuyama. there is no gradual climb towards the better, and there is no perfection.

1.b) given that the global system is mostly capitalist (with the more collectivist components generally resisted by power brokers), it is no surprise that capitalist systems have thrived in planned national economies.

2. this notion that free market economies do a better job is focused on an infintessimally small notion of what a 'good job' is. if it is simply to allocate resources to generate the most wealth or the greatest opportunity that one individual can generate extreme wealth, then you and hayek may be right. but if 'good' is defined, as ligeia has mentioned, by creating a broad sense of happiness or by caring for vulnerable people, or by improving a widespread standard of living or by eradicating poverty/starvation/diseases, etc, then free markets have proven themselves time and time again to be a failure. the notion that socialism hinders progress is only vaguely true if progress is narrowly defined, and if you assume that fallacy that i mentioned in 1.a. by shifting the lens it is just as easy to paint capitalism as a bust as well.

and there is no reason to throw away neitszche, but there is considerable reason to criticize his 'philosophy', such as it is. i don't see how you can say that his central message was for everyone to do their best to improve humanity if he was ready to throw pretty much all of humanity under the bus in favour of the ubermensch. it is an astonishingly simple reading of neitszche to come away with the idea that if we all do our best humaniity will improve in some kind of boy scout manner - dyb dyb dyb dob dob dob. in fact i would argue that to him, in the grand scheme of things, the average person was almost completely irrelevant and it was only through world historical figures and heroes that humanity managed to accomplish anything. i'm sure michael jordan thinks similarly. but then again, mj wasn't primarily concerned with improving the lot of humanity. he was interested in winning.

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Old 08-11-2011, 10:32 AM   #112 (permalink)
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Ok, this is why it is so difficult to debate capitalism vs. socialism... neither can be disproven. Of course we can cherry pick examples and fill the next few pages in this thread. I still contend that the economies that experienced the most success did so when they liberalized and became raw free markets with little government intervention. These would later (if you view government as an organism seems natural that it intends to grow) shift towards socialist policies, and at this point, at the cost of economic growth.

Anyway, to approach it from a different angle, we just can't afford socialism. I've argued that socialist policies retards the growth of economies. Secondly, socialism is just too expensive and burdensome for the state. Someone has to pay for the social nets for societies losers. Should governments go into debt to pay for these benefits for its citizens? Is going increasingly into debt a viable long-term solution? Here's the world by current account balances... red means the country is indebted and green means it has a surplus:



The only non-Asian and a select few European ones surplus countries are essentially oil nations. Is the world going to continue to subsidize the laggards? If countries such as Norway or Venezuela weren't so fortunate to have large oil reserves do you think they would be able to pursue socialist policies?

In theory socialist policies sound all nice and ethical but we just cannot afford them. If the state taxes 40% of my income it also gives me less incentive to contribute to the economy. Benzo mentioned how he may be equally well off if he received less income. How's that good for the state? Not to sound too blunt but I'm going to guess that a handful of you that support socialist policies and redistribution of wealth probably do so because you're young and have a low income or just do not operate your own businesses. When I was in college I also had the "save the world" mentality but the real world is not so simple.

You can't just print money to pay for social programs without experiencing inflation and destruction of real wealth. If the US had a current accounts surplus then fine, support social programs as long as we maintain a surplus. If the vast majority of countries that are introducing socialist policies are heavily indebted then obviously it's not a viable long-term solution. There are only a finite supply of resources and governments are behaving like binge drinkers.

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Old 08-11-2011, 10:59 AM   #113 (permalink)
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you have defined capitalistic success only by capitalistic principles, so of course it comes out positive. you have expounded well on the most narrow definition of 'good', and reinforced it with the continued talk of societal 'losers' (and implied 'winners'). you have completely failed to give any credence to a wider or different conception of 'good'.

by the same logical exercise i could say that good rests in promoting equity and in preventing suffering in vulnerable people, and then conclude that capitalism is a complete failure on a global scale.

would it not be more effective to start from a debate over goals before we proclaim the success or failure of a system?
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Old 08-11-2011, 11:17 AM   #114 (permalink)
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Would "standard of living" increases portray what is good? If you evaluate modern society it is reasonable to claim that standards of living increased mainly because of technological advances. Under what system did these technological advances occur? I'd say largely under pure capitalism...

Equality is a utopian idea that will never become true. There will always be alphas, winners and losers... that's nature. I have to introduce Nietzsche again... do you know his argument against Christianity? He despises it because its a philosophy that supports the weak of society. Of course "poor" people tend to be more religious and believers in Christianity because it justifies their existence and motivates them to continue.

It is possible that if I was poor and a loser of the system then I would support socialism because it would help my situation. If I was a winner in the system, regardless of what system, then I would just support the status quo. The "success" of the system is thus largely dependent on one's perspective... I don't think we can debate it without admitting this point.

To the original point, what constitutes as "good" is subjective. Standards of livings increases, globalization, etc. are good for the majority of the earth's human populations. This "good" was probably not "good" for indigenous populations who lost their cultures as well as for other species and the environment. Too philosophical, yes, but you have to view the world as winners, losers, neutrals.

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Old 08-11-2011, 11:55 AM   #115 (permalink)
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i completely disagree. my argument is that there is more to be achieved when you view the world as a collective responsibility as opposed to reducing it to individuals who might win or lose (and to oblivion with the losers). i think a strong ethical argument (from evidence, not from faith) can be given as to why we are better off (both individually as humans and globally as an earth-bound system) if we eliminate suffering than if we compete to produce winners and losers.

i'd really like to know why you think the majority of the word's populations have had a standard of living increase due to global capitalism, and how you would separate the parts that are due to scientific and medical advances (which are quite often funded through wealth redistribution) from the parts that are due to pure capitalism. not to mention a longer-term outlook that may in fact be deeply problematic to the majority of the world in terms of environmental degradation and the legacy of finance-backed colonialism.

great dispair, alienation, depression and strife are some of the demonstrated outcomes of encouraging the philosophy of winning vs defeat. surely these are not elements of an increased standard of living, widely construed? of all the arguments against christianity (and i have made many points about not being a theist on this site), the opposition to charity is the most absurd. on this matter neitzsche was demonstrating his indifference to 'people' in favour of the world historical figure argument. (you really seem to be flip-flopping on your neitzsche). the idea of alphas in nature is also misplaced. we do not live in a natural environment, nor a natural social organisation. we live, deeply ingrained, in an artificial human construct. we absolutely have the chance to strive towards equity.

the other point worth mentioning is that capitalism, and especially finance capitalism, were the products of a particular historical context. north american capitalism owes its success largely to domination of humans and nature (indigenous populations, slaves, natural resource exploitation) that is no longer possible. without those elements it is tough to argue that success would have been the same. similarly, it is tough to argue that a collectivist approach, given the same starting point, would not have had a similar level of success, albeit in a different direction.

i would also argue that most of the happiness that is felt by rich humans (or 'winners') is blind to the suffering that it creates. if people had to bump up against the suffering that they are contributing to they would be less happy. by keeping our winners and losers as separate as possible, people can ignore the problems and feel better about themselves. we all fall prey to this. the psychological impacts of winning and losing are not to be ignored.

when you make the point that losers support socialism and winners free markets, you ignore a key element, namely the idea that humans might derive personal happiness and satisfaction from helping as opposed to from selfishness. many 'winners' have turned back to support the vulnerable rather than maintaining the status quo. liberal and bourgeois intellectualism has been very much about that, as has been much of north american activism and european socialism. in addition, the malaise of modernity, as taylor put it in his massey lecture, or the alienation that marx and also the post-structuralists have talked about, or the basic sense in many successful working people that there must be something more to life than what they have been achieving is a very real psychological thing. and arguments can and have been made that people find happiness in charity, in collectivity, and in 'helping' that they can't find simply in winning.

again, if you define success in capitalistic terms, and then base an argument on a natural order that favours alphas you ignore the human constructs in which we live and you ignore the enormous potential of the collective to achieve different sorts of goals. i am not arguing that under a system of global finance capital we need to restore communism - hell, i am a capitalist of sorts. what i am arguing is that any huiman endeavour needs a much broader persepctive than market forces can ever hope to achieve precisely because there are other, critical, ways to promote happiness and it is entirely within the grasp of human potential and human social organisation to move past the simplistic winner-loser mentality.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:09 AM   #116 (permalink)
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The problem with Ron Paul is more fundamental. If you look at the issues that really matter to him (like drug legalization, reducing Imperialistic impulses, change of monetary policy), he has hardly made even the tiniest bit of headway. Whether he is right or not, he obviously cannot convince the people that matter. On top of that, you have almost 3 decades of failed Presidency attempts and someone who occasionally shows signs of seriously conservative social justice (like if you've ever heard him talk about sensitive race issues or abortion), which are arguably the least tenable sorts of things to be conservative about (unlike, say, economics).

Bachmann and Palin will not win the Rep nomination because neither has the slightest chance in hell of winning the election. Although he has some problems with the Republican base (on medicare and climate change, in particular), I still think Romney is their best shot at winning.

Regardless of who wins the Presidential race, you can expect that much of the focus will be on cutting spending from a centralized (ie. Federal) government, which is the antithesis of Western European government (and herein I include essentially all countries that put a strong focus on combining capitalist enterprise with socialist welfare like public education, health care, employment insurance, etc).
I'm a bit late, but please forgive me if what I say has already been addressed. I haven't the time yet to fully read this thread, but I feel strongly enough to contribute here.

I actually love Ron Paul's resume of the past three decades. You point it out as failure, but I believe it's more indicative of him never being involved in 'politics as usual' over the course of 30+ years. And while that's one of the prime slogans Obama used to get elected in '08 (and used Biden, who like Ron Paul also was a true outsider to politricks, to gain cred in that area), Ron Paul has decades of proof of it. OTOH, Obama, having no proof to show he's not involved in 'politics as usual,' proved within his first month in office that he's not at all what he campaigned he is, breaking campaign promises in his first month in office in giving tax breaks to the wealthy and letting the CEO's mainly responsible for the '08 financial collapse get off w/juss a 'slap on the wrist.' He has also since proved in the 2.5yrs in office that he's truly juss another head in 'politics as usual' - of course, a more driven & deceptive one. We were all juss duped b/c the Bush Admin was THAT bad and Obama appeared (and campaigned) to be THAT different; America & the world being so desperate for someone not like Bush (which McCain was campaigning like) that they didn't look into Obama backing up his claim of being different........when Ron Paul had that resume all along.

W/all that in mind, I sincerely hope & pray that Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination, and then wins the 2012 bid for President of USA. This is the 1st time in my life that I genuinely want a Republican to win office (though to be fair, I wasn't at all alive when Eisenhower was in office ). I really feel he has the financial mind, social mind (as in understanding various cultures within the population), and resolve (character) to get things done - getting America's economy on the way up for real. After studying him since 2008, I feel he's head and shoulders above the rest.
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:28 AM   #117 (permalink)
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Billionaire Warren Buffett urged U.S. lawmakers to raise taxes on the country’s super-rich to help cut the budget deficit, saying such a move will not hurt investments.

“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice,” The 80-year-old “Oracle of Omaha” wrote in an opinion article in The New York Times.
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“Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness,” Mr. Buffett said.

Mr. Buffett said higher taxes for the rich will not discourage investment.

“I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone - not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 per cent in 1976-77 - shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain,” he said

“People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.”
Stop coddling the super-rich: Buffett
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:12 PM   #118 (permalink)
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The financial sector owns congress. The tea party members were bought and paid for, and before that the bulk of legislation related to finance and insurance was written by lobbyists themselves. I don't see much hope for sanity until they hit rock bottom. I just hope that at that point a whole new way of looking at economic progress can be put into place without too much turmoil. But my overriding sense is that we're pretty fucked, and the richest .1 percent will look to colonize space.
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:20 PM   #119 (permalink)
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:37 PM   #120 (permalink)
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Yeah, LX, I saw that a few weeks ago.

My question is, why isn't anyone actually angry about this? It's a question I've been pondering for about a week right now and I don't see any anger. I see no one willing to stand up and yell, "enough!"
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