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Old 05-10-2011, 02:53 PM   #41
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now it all makes sense:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...s-by-2050.html

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According to the report, “cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU master plan to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent over the next 40 years.” It states further that “Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.”

the NWO at work.
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Old 05-10-2011, 03:05 PM   #42
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Right. Except these rich masterminds will still be able to drive their cars as they can afford to. So pollution is ok as long as you can pay for it.
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Old 05-10-2011, 03:12 PM   #43
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But it helped the middle class?


meanwhile: 47% of Detroiters are “functionally illiterate.” That means about one out of every two people in Detroit can’t “fill out basic forms, for getting a job, …[read] a prescription [to know] what’s on the bottle [or] how many [pills] you should take.” In short, they can’t read well enough to do “basic everyday tasks.”
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Old 05-10-2011, 03:42 PM   #44
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Maybe I'm just a werido, but I don't personally have a need for excessive consumption. I have no debt of any kind, and I tend to just stockpile money away rather than spending it. I have an old car, and old TV set, live in a modest (relatively speaking) apartment, and I'm actually quite comfortable with this lifestyle.
Let's be clear, however -- your personal ability to live within your means and be emotionally satisfied doing so does not solve the ultimate economic problem, which is scarcity. People have always, and will always, individually want more than they can have, and collectively want more than there is to be had.

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No, it doesn't. What matters to the dude on the bicycle is what the buying power of his children and grandchildren will be.

We, my generation, are the children of business leaders who decided to mortgage our future in exchange for instant gratification and conspicuous consumption 30 years ago. And we don't seem to know anything but how to continue down that same path.
I'm having trouble reconciling these two claims -- you're telling me that your generation is fixated on immediate gratification at the expense of future stability and wealth, and simultaneously claiming that the guy on the bike's greatest concern is the future buying power of his children and grandchildren?
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:57 PM   #45
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Let's be clear, however -- your personal ability to live within your means and be emotionally satisfied doing so does not solve the ultimate economic problem, which is scarcity.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, it most certainly would "solve the ultimate economic problem" if everyone were like me. From a purely monetary standpoint (eg: assuming that money is functionally equivalent to productivity, which is of course not entirely true, but is close enough for this argument), I produce far more than I consume, so the result is a net surplus.

Surplus is the opposite of scarcity.


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People have always, and will always, individually want more than they can have, and collectively want more than there is to be had.
And that's not a bad thing. If everybody were just completely satisfied with the status quo all the time, we'd still be living in caves.

But there's a difference between aspiring to have more and then working toward that end, and simply being greedy and impatient.

At an individual level, the former results in hard work and productivity, while the latter results in credit card debt and mortgage foreclosure.

At a national level, the former results in economic growth and an increase in GDP, while the latter results in both internal national debt and external trade deficit.


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I'm having trouble reconciling these two claims -- you're telling me that your generation is fixated on immediate gratification at the expense of future stability and wealth, and simultaneously claiming that the guy on the bike's greatest concern is the future buying power of his children and grandchildren?
Yes, with the assumption that I am an American (or Canadian, or Brit, etc) whereas the guy on the bike is German (or Chinese, etc).
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:00 PM   #46
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So, the EU wants to eliminate gasoline-powered cars from operating inside major city centers 40 years from now.

This sounds unreasonable to you?
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:33 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
At the risk of sounding arrogant, it most certainly would "solve the ultimate economic problem" if everyone were like me. From a purely monetary standpoint (eg: assuming that money is functionally equivalent to productivity, which is of course not entirely true, but is close enough for this argument), I produce far more than I consume, so the result is a net surplus.

Surplus is the opposite of scarcity.
Again, you are adjusting your desires to fit the current scarcity of a given resource. It's a surplus derived from self-imposed limitations on your desires. And that does not solve the economic problem -- because there's no ultimate solution to scarcity, only trade-offs. You've made the decision that not carrying debt and making do with what you have gives you greater satisfaction than mortgaging your future wealth for passing pleasures right now -- but the fact that you have chosen one form of self-limitation (in the present, for future gain) instead of another form of self-limitation (in the future, for present pleasure) does not mean you still aren't operating within a market of scarce resources.

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And that's not a bad thing. If everybody were just completely satisfied with the status quo all the time, we'd still be living in caves.

But there's a difference between aspiring to have more and then working toward that end, and simply being greedy and impatient.

At an individual level, the former results in hard work and productivity, while the latter results in credit card debt and mortgage foreclosure.

At a national level, the former results in economic growth and an increase in GDP, while the latter results in both internal national debt and external trade deficit.
Sure, but it's not as black and white as you make it sound. If my ambition is to own a house, the ideal would be to save and purchase in cash, delaying the gratification for a more advantageous financial situation. The most risky choice would be to put no money down, which would put me in the house immediately but cost me a lot more in the long run. But there's a whole host of options in between those two extremes that are just trade-offs. The traditional 20% down is a somewhat arbitrary number -- it works, but would anyone be surprised if 19% or 21% was proven statistically to be a more important tipping point between immediate gratification and financial security?

I'll nitpick a bit with you about GDP -- it can be increased (temporarily) by mortgaging the future, just as we've seen successive market bubbles boost the American GDP through over-leveraged market sectors only to finally burst, revealing that no real wealth was actually being created (or, at least, not nearly as much as the GDP indicated). But if you simply referenced GDP as a shorthand for the overall national economic health (which I'm assuming you did, since you paired it conceptually with "economic growth"), then sure, I'd agree with your sentiment.

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Yes, with the assumption that I am an American (or Canadian, or Brit, etc) whereas the guy on the bike is German (or Chinese, etc).
I see what you mean here. And yes, you are correct, at least according to the bits of information I looked up -- the German household's debt to income ratio has stayed relatively level over the last 60 or 70 years, whereas the UK and the USA have risen sharply.
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:42 PM   #48
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So, the EU wants to eliminate gasoline-powered cars from operating inside major city centers 40 years from now.

This sounds unreasonable to you?

no, because they want you to use their public transportation system and high speed rail and make you dependent on the state.
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:43 PM   #49
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We should have been working harder to rid ourselves of the internal combustion engine a long time ago.

Who doesn't look sexy on an electric scooter???
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:59 PM   #50
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and if the govt didnt monopolize the railway system, we'd probably have high speed rails by now.
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:19 PM   #51
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no, because they want you to use their public transportation system and high speed rail and make you dependent on the state.
That's one possible interpretation.

Another would be to posit that by the year 2050 (when the proposed legislation would go into effect) it's entirely practical to expect that cars which operate on a form of energy other than petroleum will be the dominant form of transportation anyway, and these vehicles would not be prohibited, thus making that portion of the law effectively meaningless.

Just look at what's happened over the past decade. Putting aside the GM EV1, which was a colossal failure for many reasons, we've gone from 100% dependency on gasoline / diesel to having both pure EVs (Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i MiEV, Renault Fluence, etc) as well as extended-range plugin hybrids (Chevy Volt, Prius w/ conversion, etc) which are starting to become genuinely practical primary cars, and at a cost premium which declines towards parity over time.
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:59 PM   #52
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I want a Z06.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:07 PM   #53
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I'm tired of mingling with the poor people. I need a helicopter.

A countrywide MagLev system would be nice, but how much would a ticket cost. I'm sure it would never come close to being profitable because the US is too big, making construction cost too prohibitive.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:10 PM   #54
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Again, you are adjusting your desires to fit the current scarcity of a given resource. It's a surplus derived from self-imposed limitations on your desires. And that does not solve the economic problem -- because there's no ultimate solution to scarcity, only trade-offs.
By your definition, all resources are scare, as no resource is infinite in supply.

This is technically correct. However, as with many theoretical observations, it is no more applicable to the real world than is the observation that the earth's orbit will ultimately decay until it falls into the sun. Yes, it's true that in this sense, even time is a scare resource. However the supply of time available until the end of the world is sufficiently large as to not impact our day-to-day decisions. It is, from a practical standpoint, not a scarce resource.


Consider, for instance, the stereotypical flashy billionaire tycoon who owns two private jets, a large yacht, eight Lamborghinis, and four homes, one of which is on an island which he also owns.

Why, we might ask ourselves, does he not own a third jet, a fifth home or a ninth Lamborghini? What trade-off is he making? It is certainly within his means to purchase any of these things without incurring debt or significantly depleting his assets to the point where his future security or happiness would be in jeopardy. And there is no scarcity of Lamborghinis, summer homes or Learjets relative to his means to acquire them.


It is the same for me. I could easily afford to purchase a 70" LCD TV or a late 90's / early '00s vintage Porsche 911 Carrera or an apartment-full of stylish, name brand furniture. Buying these things would not significantly impact me financially; quite to the contrary, I wouldn't even need to verify the balance in my checking account beforehand.

So why don't I? I guess it's just not in my character. I don't need these things, and owning them would not significantly increase my happiness.


You can apply whatever terms you want to describe this "self-limiting" behavior, and I won't be able to intelligently rebut your argument. I damn near failed macroeconomics in college, and that was over 15 years ago. It's not really a subject which interests me.


I guess it's just something in my character which separates me from the stereotypical American consumer. Some people derive pleasure from the act of purchasing things which is separate from any pleasure they might gain from actually possessing them. My maternal grandmother was very much this way- right up until the day she died, her many closets was full of clothes which she had never worn. She enjoyed the act of going to the store, selecting clothes, and purchasing them. That was an end unto itself for her. I think my sister has an element of that in her as well- there are way too many damned mail order catalogs in her bathroom. She doesn't use debt to finance her spending, but people like her keep Hammacher Schlemmer in business.


Other people seem to feel a need to possess things. For some, it's competitive. The old story about keeping up with the Joneses, where you can't let your neighbor upstage you by owning a newer car or a fancier robotic lawnmower- what kind of image would that project?

For others it seems to be purely internal. They feel that if they own this One Specific Thing then they will be happy, and perhaps they are, right up until Specific Thing 2.0 is announced, followed by another company taking preorders for Other Specific Thing, both of which they must now also own, etc. A good friend of mine from high school drive himself straight into foreclosure doing this. (I must admit, however, that he owns an impressive collection of obsolete phones, laptops, DVD/HDDVD/Bluray players, GPS navigators, videogame consoles, tablets, wristwatches, etc.)


Whatever the reason, I just don't seem to suffer from these phenomenon. I genuinely do not care about owning an iPad2 or a 2012 Hondasaki Stradabusa, or a device which ensures that my toast is cooked to within an evenness of of 0.5% across all surfaces including the edge in under six seconds.

It just does not matter.


So why, precisely, do 84% of African-American households and 54% of white households in the US feel the need to spend more money than they make (source), with the amount of credit card debt per family tending to sharply increase with income (source)?

It's not because of scarcity of resources.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 05-10-2011 at 10:20 PM. Reason: schpelling
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:45 PM   #55
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Meh, we're at an impasse. You say it's not because of scarcity; I say scarcity is always the underlying primary economic problem that forces people to either deny themselves their every desire, or to mortgage their future (to the point of bankruptcy) in order to satisfy their desires. Or some combination or trade-off in between those two extremes.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:52 PM   #56
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I would jump off a bridge if Obama asked me to.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:57 PM   #57
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This might explain a little more clearly how I'm using the term "scarcity."

Thomas Sowell:

Quote:
A distinguished British economist named Lionel Robbins gave the classic definition of economics:

"Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses."

What does "scarce" mean? It means that people want more than there is. This may seem like a simple thing, but its implications are often grossly misunderstood, even by highly educated people.

For example, a feature article in the New York Times of August 1, 1999 laid out the economic woes and worries of middle-class Americans—one of the most affluent groups of human being ever to inhabit this planet. Although the story includes a picture of a middle-class family in their own swimming pool, the main headline says: "The American Middle: Just Getting By." Other headings in the article include:

Wishes Deferred and Plans Unmet

Goals That Remain Just Out of Sight

Dogged Saving and Some Luxuries

In short, middle-class Americans’ desires exceed what they can comfortably afford, even though what they already have would be considered unbelievable prosperity by people in many other countries around the world—or even by earlier generations of Americans. Yet both they and the reporter regard them as "just getting by" and a Harvard sociologist spoke of "how budget-constrained these people are." However, it is not something as man-made as a budget which constrains them: Reality constrains them. There has never been enough to satisfy everyone completely. That is what scarcity means.

Although per-capita real income increased 50 percent in just one generation, these middle-class families, "have had to work for their modest gains," according to a Fordham professor quoted in the same article. What a shame they could not get manna from heaven! As for the modesty of their gains, this suggests that people not only adjust their expectations upward with growing prosperity, but also adjust their rhetoric as to what it means to be "just getting by." The New York Times reporter wrote of one of these middle-class families:

Quote:
After getting over their heads in credit card spending years ago, their finances are now in order. "But if we make a wrong move," Geraldine Frazier said, "the pressure we had from the bills will come back, and that is painful."
To all these people—from academia and journalism, as well as the middle-class people themselves—it apparently seems strange somehow that there should be such a thing as scarcity and that this should imply a need for both productive efforts on their part and personal responsibility in spending. Yet nothing has been more pervasive in the history of the human race than scarcity and all the requirements for economizing that go with scarcity.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:47 PM   #58
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I think that I really do understand the tenet of what you're saying. I even agree with the underlying logic in some, but not all cases.

I'm not 100% certain, however, that I've adequately conveyed the actual simplicity of what I'm trying to get across as it relates to my own life in particular. So I'll try to do that here.


If I'm reading you correctly, then your point is that I make a conscious decision not to buy certain things which I might want, as a result of having weighed the opportunity cost of spending that money now vs. saving the money for future use.

Now, I'm not going to deny that I do tend to be conscious of the future, but there's more to it than that. Where we differ is that your argument presupposes that we are all hard-wired to want / spend as much as possible, being constrained only (and not even always) by the possible negative consequences of such consumption to our own future. This is the only possible interpretation of the idea that scarcity of something is the "underlying primary economic problem" behind all purchase / not-purchase decisions. The article that you posted to even spelled it out: "people want more than there is"


But it just isn't true. At least, not universally.


I understand, and am sympathetic to, the notion of scarcity. Right now, for instance, there is a tremendous scarcity of Panasonic 18650 LiMn batteries, and I very much want about a dozen of them. But this sort of thing does not control my life. I will wait until the factory in Sendai, Japan resumes production, or until Samsung gets off their *** and starts shipping them from the plant in Korea, or whatever. It's not driving me crazy, or making me feel inadequate about my life. It is simply the way that things are right now. I don't mean to sound like some hippie Zen jerkoff, it's just how I work.

Yeah, the idea of owning a 911 sounds cool, but the reality is that it'd just be another car to have lying around, and I'd get bored with it quickly. A larger, newer TV isn't actually going to make all of my Divx-encoded video look any better than the 11 year old rear-projection set I have now. And what the hell am I going to do with a bunch of designer furniture? I can only sit on one thing at a time, and my ancient sofa (which I actually stole out of a college dormitory many years ago) is about the most comfortable sitting implement that I can possibly imagine owning, despite the fact that it has a few tears and is, quite literally, the color of diarrhea.


And that's really the point I'm trying to express. It's not so much that I find myself having to consciously choose not to buy a bunch of crap I don't need- I do buy needlessly expensive beer rather frequently, in fact. It's quite simply that I don't actually want all that crap that most people seem to buy in the first place. I am, for lack of a better word, content with what I have, neither wanting much else nor having to feel that I am deprived of more.


Why is this? And why does it apparently make me totally unique amongst Americans? I have utterly no idea. I'm sure that there's some deep explanation which posits that it must be the result of upbringing or social conditioning, although my catalog-addicted sister was raised in the same house I was.

Any why is it that, as you pointed out earlier, members of some highly wealthy and industrialized nations (eg: Germany) have not, over the course of entire post-WWII period, exhibited a tendency towards greater excess consumption (as measured by household debt to income ratio) while members of other, similarly wealthy and industrialized nations (eg: the US and UK) have?

I expect that it must be social conditioning to some extent. In some cultures, there is a deep-rooted sense of honesty and personal responsibility- witness the difference in looting rates and other property crimes in post-Katrina N'Orleans vs. post-Tōhoku Japan. I posit that some people simply don't suffer from perpetual want, and thus, the notion of economic scarcity is simply not relevant to them.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:39 AM   #59
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I want a Z06.
America **** Yeah!
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:47 AM   #60
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That's one possible interpretation.

Another would be to posit that by the year 2050 (when the proposed legislation would go into effect) it's entirely practical to expect that cars which operate on a form of energy other than petroleum will be the dominant form of transportation anyway, and these vehicles would not be prohibited, thus making that portion of the law effectively meaningless.

Just look at what's happened over the past decade. Putting aside the GM EV1, which was a colossal failure for many reasons, we've gone from 100% dependency on gasoline / diesel to having both pure EVs (Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i MiEV, Renault Fluence, etc) as well as extended-range plugin hybrids (Chevy Volt, Prius w/ conversion, etc) which are starting to become genuinely practical primary cars, and at a cost premium which declines towards parity over time.

That's like requiring me to get digital cable. Remember the good ol days when you could plug a TV in the wall, get a few channels and flip through them instantly? Now I need a tracking device just to watch Conan late at night in my bedroom and I have to wait 15 minutes everytime I want to flip a channel. I really REALLY hate the digital TV law.

Why not let old technology phase out on its own...It worked for the Blue Ray, it worked for the DVD, it worked for the VHS, it worked for the Beta Max, etc.

The Gov't shouldn't force innovation, our forgien counterparts researched and developed innovations that their customers were looking for. GM has a long standing history of ignoring them, so they ask our gov't for the research money to keep up.

The trend is already starting to go towards alternative methods, so why force it, why ban the old stuff? I realize it's 40 years out, but there are people that can't afford a brand new alternative fueled car, why force them out of the city, why force them onto the gov't monopolized rail? What is the local gas station owner going to do? What is going to happen to all the old cars? Why does something have to be banned, and who has the right to say it should be?
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