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Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 12:52 PM CST

Quote by: jgurner
Quote by: Rocha Malhada
[
Now all we have to do is figure out how to get everyone involved to behave according to some standard that isn't even written, set or etched in stone.



I propose uploading a program with standards of behavior into the alien microchips that the shadow government has implanted in all of our brains.

there's a thought

processor
Dadai.2
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Registered: 09/09/08
Posts: 1753
Location: Frisco, Texas 😎 USA
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 12:53 PM CST

And now for a little health care humor...




Take a listen >>> Texas Tango
chikoppi
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Registered: 04/02/04
Posts: 1971
Location: N/A
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 12:57 PM CST

Quote by: Calchas
Having said that, I wish only to add that I have a great deal of trouble with any and all talk of wealth being “distributed” and /or “redistributed.” (But then, I reject so-called “political science” as a superstition rooted in one or another of the clashing versions of the “progress” meta-narrative---a dysfunctional myth if there ever was one.)

No wealth has ever been distributed to me apart from gifts of individuals. Wealth is either earned, managed, mis-managed, or lost. Distribution has nothing to do with it. I’m dead certain of that. I’m also certain that any individual, organization, or government institution that attempts---for any reason whatsoever---to re-distribute my or anyone else’s earned wealth is a thief and a criminal.

This is a tad off the general thrust of this Forum, I know. Please forgive me for that. But as I read the many intelligent comments posted here on both sides of the debated issue...Well, nuff said.


I don't think its off-topic at all.

I'm actually not a big fan of entitlement programs - though I understand the purpose they are intended to serve. I think they are often rather clumsy attempts to address the question of "economic justice." That is, mitigating the economic influence of the wealthy to 1) further enriching themselves by limiting access others have to opportunity or, 2) controlling greater influence over the democratic process than other citizens. In this sense, I think many entitlement programs are conceived as "compensation for economic oppression," which is a bit like treating the symptom rather than the disease.

Of course, not all "entitlements" are the same. Consider the national highway system. Our ability to move freely and efficiently across the country acts as an economic multiplier that benefits all citizens - even those that don't drive. It is a "national asset."

Strictly speaking, the national highway system is an example of "redistribution of wealth." The wealthy pay more in taxes per capita to maintain it, even though they receive the same benefits as the poor.

The question of what does or does not qualify as a "national asset" is often a philosophic divide between the right and the left.

Is the power grid a national asset? Absolutely. Is our military? Sure. What about the standard of education for our population? That's certainly an economic multiplier (and the dominant one, by most accounts). Is it a national asset? What about the access of the population to affordable and effective health care for all citizens?

There is a credible argument on both sides.

Democracy is slippery. We have to be both a single nation and 305 million individuals at the same time. In order to pull off that trick we need to make sacrifices on both sides of the coin. Its a tough balance to maintain and generally half the population will think we've got it wrong at any one time.


“Ya, that idea is dildos.” Skwisgaar Skwigelf
GET SONG FEEDBACK --> MacJams Critics Circles
chikoppi
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Registered: 04/02/04
Posts: 1971
Location: N/A
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 01:04 PM CST

That was weird.

My last post appeared out of chronological order (about 5 posts back).

Post before: Friday, November 13 2009 @ 09:48 AM CST
My Post: Friday, November 13 2009 @ 12:57 PM CST
Post After: Friday, November 13 2009 @ 10:48 AM CST

It actually appears BEFORE the post that I quoted... which means I have the power to control time! Ha ha HA HA!!!

“Ya, that idea is dildos.” Skwisgaar Skwigelf
GET SONG FEEDBACK --> MacJams Critics Circles
guitapick
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Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 2031
Location: New York City, USA
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 01:21 PM CST

Quote by: Calchas

Wealth is either earned, managed, mis-managed, or lost. Distribution has nothing to do with it.



That's a matter of semantics, Micheal, imo. If you really see a distinction, though, then I'll have to respectfully disagree with you. The "lost" part is where the problem comes in to the picture. "Lost" can often equal "stolen"...and that's where the "re-distribution" comes in.

I live between the notes

CDBaby "Above the Surface" iTunes Store

Dadai.2
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Registered: 09/09/08
Posts: 1753
Location: Frisco, Texas 😎 USA
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 03:16 PM CST

as the forum title says- brace for impact? Underlaying and overlaying the health care debate is a greater problem. One, it could be said, that is woefully under-appreciated and seems willfully ignored by too many. The continued destruction of the dollar through planned policy inflation will eventually dwarf the health care problems in my view.

From the WSJ today: The Fed's Woody Allen Policy... here's the intro, the whole thing is worth reading.

By JUDY SHELTON

In the Woody Allen film "Annie Hall," the main character tries to explain irrational relationships by recounting an old joke. "This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'My brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken.' The doctor says, 'Well, why don't you turn him in?' And the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.'"

It takes similar reasoning to reconcile the elation felt across America every time the stock market rises—partially replenishing personal investment portfolios and 401(k) retirement plans—with the uneasy feeling that we are being set up for yet another big financial disappointment. We dare to hope that the economy is growing solidly once more, that the Federal Reserve has superior knowledge about providing liquidity, and that the U.S. Treasury knows what it's doing by guaranteeing money market-fund assets.

But what if the Fed's efforts to stoke a recovery are merely creating asset bubbles in equities and elsewhere? What if government guarantees—explicit and implicit—are encouraging high-risk investment behavior rather than restoring conditions for normal market returns? What if excess dollars produced here are being channeled by speculators into foreign stock and bond markets as part of a currency play?

Take a listen >>> Texas Tango
SmokeyVW
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Registered: 06/13/06
Posts: 7051
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Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 04:12 PM CST

Regarding the notion of redistribution of wealth:

Just recently, the town repaved our street. I'm glad it was done: the street was badly in need of it.

I can't imagine how the repaving project would have ever been accomplished if our neighbors had to get together and decide how to fund, plan and execute such a project.

The same could be said about a lot of other services. Fire and police come to mind. Trash collection and recycling.

The list goes on.

This stuff is all paid for by taxes.

The money flows from my town, my state, and my country to all those service providers. It pays some company that makes the asphalt, and to the highway department workers and managers.

Ditto for the police officers and dispatchers, fire personnel. The people that maintain all the equipment to enable these services.

I'm not wealthy, but every year a noticeable fraction of my money goes into property tax and income taxes. Isn't that redistribution of "wealth"?

It's way too easy to forget about all the stuff that works and instead focus on what seems broken. Sure stuff's broken, but most of it works just fine.

SmokeyVW
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Registered: 06/13/06
Posts: 7051
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Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 06:58 PM CST

Quote by: guitapick
... The money that's been "lost" on Wall Street went somewhere. Whether it's 'fake' or not...it's being used by somebody. ...

This is mostly off-topic, but Bob raised an interesting idea.

I don't know enough about economics to comment on this with any authority. But I have an opinion. Don't we all? Smile

I wrote the following about "you" - not really you you, but a stand-in hapless investor called "you" to make it easier to explain it and to put a face on it. Nothing at all personal intended Bob.

And this is way oversimplified I suspect. I'm sure the smart folks here will jump all over it. That's OK. Maybe I'll get learned up on economics.

Say you take your hard-won savings to buy some shares of stock for $1000. To be realistic, you also need to pay the "broker's fee" - let's say $5 - to buy the stock. You intend to hold on to the shares for a long while: for years. Your expectation is that in the long run, you will see a gain in value. The whole reason you bought that stock is because it beats the best interest rate you can find in a savings account or other things, and it's better than just stuffing the money in your mattress.

( An aside: Some people would say you've already gone wrong: you should have either used a mattress, or better yet, bought food, or ammunition, or some commodity such as silver or gold coins instead. Some folks will say you should simply have spent the money immediately and enjoyed yourself, perhaps because the future is uncertain, or maybe because the crash of civilization is imminent. Whatever. Let's just say you bought the stock. )

Unfortunately, the whole market comes tumbling down, and with it, the value of your shares of stock drops to $200. Yikes.

Due to the terrible economic circumstances, you begin to fear that your $200 might just drop to $20 or less. Or worse yet, you've lost your job and you need that $200 right now to buy food, or help pay the rent...

So you sell your stock at $200. Before you can even execute your "sell" it's already dropped to $180. You also must pay another $5 broker's fee to sell it. Thank goodness you got out before you "lost it all"...

You started with $1000 but now you have $175.

Where did the $825 go?

Overall, your broker got $10 in fees; you can gripe about that, but no one is going to do those transactions for free.

But where did the $825 go? Is it really "lost"? Who is using its value now?

In a very real sense, you gave it away to whomever bought the stock at $180.

( An aside: They are using its "$180" value. They might see its value dip down to $20. But if they don't sell it, and hang on long enough, it will most likely rise once again to $1000 and eventually grow beyond that value. Doomsayers will say that'll never happen. This is the end of the world after all... We'll see I guess. )

Of course, they also paid $5 to a broker, and someday when they sell that stock, another $5. So in this entire little tale, the broker made $20. Hmmm...



It is my opinion that a few mistakes were made by "you" the hapless investor in this little story.


1. The fear of "losing it all" is unfounded. Your shares dropped because the whole market dropped. Your shares will not become $0 (unless it's the end of the world!).

( Another aside: This is where I really oversimplified. Maybe I should have been telling my story about your 401K instead of "some shares of stock".

If only your shares dropped, not the whole market, that's a different matter. I guess that's why the experts say to "diversify" your holdings: if one company tanks, the others that didn't tank will hold up the value of your portfolio.

It quickly gets way past my comprehension here. Deciding when and how to adjust your holdings can be complex. And when they start fooling with derivatives to spread risk, it's gone beyond the pale. In fact, that's when things get very suspicious. But no one says you must invest in that rocket science stuff. I guess a lot of people did? But even then, you can see how the broker's fees add up when you sell and buy stocks over and over, never mind the fees for those experts. )


2. Giving in to fear and selling your stock. The stock still has value. Not $0. Not that temporary $180 value.

Your stock still has the value it had when you bought it. That is, it's a share of the various companies you bought shares of: their buildings, inventory, equipment, their reputation, their innovation, their way of doing business, etc.

Call it "fake" if you wish, it's still worth the value you dreamt it has. Not till the day you sell it does it change from "dream money" into actual cash dollars. Remember the plan was to hold the stock "for years". Don't give away your dream in fear.


3. Buying the stock if you can't afford to ignore it for a long time. My hunch is lots of people fell into this mistake. Why did you buy that $1000 of stock without having a buffer of cash in savings (or your mattress) for a *really* rainy day? Maybe you should have bought only $500 of stock. Maybe you should have waited till you saved up some more. You should not have to give away your dream out of necessity.

I think lots of middle class people max out their 401Ks but also live above their means and max out every bit of credit they can scrape up... One minor upset, never mind a big upset, and the house of cards comes tumbling down.


Again, nothing personal Bob. The "you" here is only a stand-in for the hapless stock investor.


TO SUMMARIZE this horrendously long post: I don't think the investor was robbed by Joe Fat Cat. No, the value was given away in fear or necessity directly by the scared investors themselves or the agents they trusted to manage their accounts.

Who was it that received this "given away" value? Joe Fat Cat of course. He had $180 to spend while the rest of us scrimped to pay our bills.

There's no need to conflate this into a paranoid nightmare. Joe Fat Cat doesn't have to cause the market to drop. He just needs to be around with some cash to buy up the bargains.

Enough already. Oh, by the way, I have NO COMMENTS about the healthcare discussion here.
guitapick
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Registered: 01/18/07
Posts: 2031
Location: New York City, USA
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 07:31 PM CST

I don't take it personally....there are lots of Bobs around, Smokey.

There are risks that are inherent to any investments and/or mortgages. That has to be accepted. I take issue with the concept of artificially created values. Bubbles. Areas that seem so "right" and then tank because they were going to tank to begin with and the people who set them up knew that. And they're not always so obvious. Parts of large portfolios presented by "respected" firms.

Your scenario, Smokey, paints a level playing field full of risks and advantages. I don't think that's what we're seeing, here. But maybe it IS that simple. I don't know. What I do know, though, is that the Savings and Loan scandal, Enron, and this latest granddaddy of them all have all been deliberately thought out and executed at the expense of a lot of people's savings and retirement dreams. Stolen. And the people involved with the schemes have had close ties to very influential public officials. That's not "playing cricket". Something's rotten in Denmark and it concerns me. I really do like Obama. Voted for him. But I've got to say that Mr. Nader has a point when he says the 2 party system's rigged.

We're talking about trillions of dollars of debt to fund a new healthcare system...designed by many of the same people who were "...to blame..." for our current problems. It's unsettling and I'm concerned. Yes: Obama made a campaign promise. So let's get it done NOW? Why? This is big stuff and deserves serious attention and debate. Not the fear mongering or rosy promises. I really don't know who to believe anymore.

I live between the notes

CDBaby "Above the Surface" iTunes Store

 
Moses
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Registered: 12/15/04
Posts: 58
Location: , Tennessee United States
 
Re:Brace for impact
Friday, November 13 2009 @ 07:44 PM CST

I did not read this entire thread, so forgive me if I repeat something that has already been said. But I wanted to comment on one common argument on this topic that I believe holds no merit. Many in favor of a public option argue that the private sector has generated a health care system that is too costly. Since the private sector is not operating up to par we should try a public system right? However, the system we now have is a mix of the private and public sectors. While private companies are able to run themselves, it is not without government legislation constraints. Here are a few ways the government has contributed to the problem -- 1) It is illegal for individuals to purchase insurance across state borders. This reduces competition between insurance companies dramatically, and in some cases perpetuates a kind of "regional monopoly". 2) Companies with payrolls over $500,000 are required by law to provide a health insurance option to employees. This allows insurance companies to take advantage of the fact that they have guarunteed business. Companies are required by law to purchase their service, which takes a out crucial part of the supply and demand equation. Combine this with problem #1, and these regional monopolies can charge more or less unchecked prices. 3) Medical practicioners must achieve certain schooling levels and credentials before legally allowed to practice medicine. This one is a much more difficult pill to swallow for most. I urge you to give this more thought than you initially may think it deserves. Think about what would happen if this were allowed. First of all, many of the daily medical procedures that go on do not require the amount of medical education that the law does. Simple procedures would be much cheaper since they could be provided by a high school graduate rather than a MD who spent 12 years and a few hundred thousand dollars on post secondary education. However, if you felt more comfortable with the MD giving a flu shot, that option would still be there, and likely cheaper than it is now since the MD would be competing with the much lower prices provided by the high school graduate. Now, as far as the more technical procedures like brain surgery, bypass surgery, etc., people would want the MD. Yet consider, if I know the chances of my survival are 5% with the high school graduate, and 95% with the MD, and I still want the services of the high school graduate, that is my decision is it not? If this third part is not clear, or if you think this would result in degradation of our health care, I would be happy to explain it more thoroughly to show you this is not the case.

So as you can see, the private system has not been allowed to operate without government constraints, and thus we cannot say that it doesn't work. One last problem I would like to address is regarding malpractice insurance and lawyers. Lawyers and those they represent have become increasingly trigger happy to the point that doctors have quite massive malpractice payments, which necessitates higher costs for medical services. Medicine is an imperfect practice, and unless a doctor is shown to have been clearly negligent or practicing medicine while impaired, the patient should either take full responsibility or at least share responsibility for mistakes. Patients should know ahead of time that mistakes happen, and should be thankful that due to the hard work and research of millions of people, the procedure they need is in existence!

If these issues are addressed, I believe we will see a drastically cheaper, as well as more efficient, health care system necessitated by the substantial increase in competition. As a result of increased competition, health care providers and insurance companies will be forced to lower prices and provide better services in order to stay profitable and survive. If people are able to spend less on health costs and more people are covered as a result of lower prices, individuals will have more money available for non profit donations, and perhaps we can consider public entitlements for the few who are still uninsured. Although, without the massive costs and legal risks for doctors currently, pro bono services will be offered much more. Many doctors want to help those who cannot pay for their services, but the legal risk, the career-ending risk, is simply not worth it. Anyway I'm done, interested to hear responses!

"When those who are honestly mistaken learn the truth, they will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest."