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When I talk with people about the futility of excessive government spending, explosive medicare costs, and socialism in general – some people point to the Scandinavian countries and their apparent prosperity despite universal healthcare and high taxes. I don’t have a good response to this, in fact I don’t know much about these countries except that I have the same impression: Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are basically socialist with near 60% taxes, yet are still some of the richest and most stable countries in the world, complete with some of the highest standards of living.
So which is wrong, my belief that these countries are prospering, or my belief that free market economies are the best and only way a society can prosper? [/quote]
I think the answer to your question is what you believe prospering is. If it to accumulate wealth and goods then the free market–which is not really free–provides more opportunities.
I have not been to Sweden or studied their system so this is just speculation. A 60% tax rate effectively lessens income inequality and lessens competitive incentives thus reducing the consumer mentality to acquire wealth and more goods. A large portion of taxes are for shared values like health and education. With less emphasis on goods people make better choices in what they purchase and with less work competition are better able to enjoy family and friends. I think we get hung up with our prejudices, i.e. socialism is bad, free market capitalism is good. But how good is capitalism that enables less than 1% to accumulate 2/3 of the wealth? To me Sweden appears to be a mix of socialism and capitalism, there are tradeoffs but it works for them, due to other factors it may not work for other countries. Ocuppywallstreet is questioning some of fundamental beliefs and prejudices about capitalism.
Disclaimer, I am not advocating a 60% tax rate.
We need a paradigm shift away from a growth and exploitation based economy to a more cooperative, community-based, and egalitarian model. That’s really the only way to avoid chaos and bloodshed in the decades ahead.[/quote]
Right, we need a paradigm shift. I have stated it a slightly different than you, we need to put people and nature above goods, in other words in the egalitarian world you speak of our consumer society must be reduced to a minor role and replaced by gifting, coops and the commons taken back from the 1%. I don’t think we will be able to avoid chaos in the decades ahead, my hope is that it will be limited.
The LA Times is feeling left out and is attempting to push THEIR own agenda. I get the distinct impression that mainstream media is desperate to get noticed and to pigeon hole the movement in order to slant public opinion to the benefit of their corporate bosses. Good luck with that. Compare the LA article to the above 1st hand account and that of Matt Stoller:
#OccupyWallStreet Is a Church of Dissent, Not a Protest.[quote]You can tell this is a somewhat different animal than other politicized gatherings. No one knows what to expect. There are no explicit demands. It’s not very large. And yet, celebrities are heading to Zuccotti Park. Wall Street traders are sneering and angry. The people there are getting press, but aren’t dominated by it. People are there just to be there, because it feels meaningful. The camp is clean and well-organized, and it feels relevant and topical rather than a therapy space for frustrated radicals. Just a block away is the New York Fed, a large, scary, and imposing building with heavy iron doors, video cameras, and a police presence that scream “go away”.[/quote][quote]The protesters are what you’d expect, a kind of hippie dippie group of students, anti-globalization activists, and antiwar movement actors. There are backrub circles, innumerable pizzas (“the food of revolutions”), but these people do not think of themselves as fringe in any sense. They believe themselves to represent all Americans who are frustrated by politics and finance. Whether or not this is true, what is happening is that there is a belief that their actions matter, that they themselves are moral beings who have dignity and power simply by the very act of self-expression. This is rare in radical activism, most of it is so infused with cynicism that self-marginalization, deadly irony, and mau mau’ing by professional liberals works to persuade protesters to believe themselves a sort of libertarian nihilists. Not so here. There are people wearing tape over their mouths, grandmothers for peace, signs about new death penalty icon Troy Davis, and signs with coherent messages about debt, the Fed, and various wars. Many of the organizers were inspired by Wisconsin and Egypt, by attacks on teachers, by corruption on Wall Street, by money in politics, and are just happy to be out in the streets after a long period of absence of formal protest.[/quote][quote]Many of the angry establishment liberals are frustrated that this protest has no top-down messaging strategy (this tweet from Dave Roberts of Grist in which he calls the protests “horrific” and “designed to discredit leftie protest” is representative). But these people, who represent the rump of support for Obama, are not part of the conversation here. The conversation is global. And you can sort of tell that this protest really bothers the community on Wall Street, stirring up deep existential questions for the people that work there, many of whom know there is a spectacle going on in the streets below.[/quote]
Thanks for posting the Henry Rollins clip. Exercising our freedom of speech is exactly what the protest movement is about.
[quote=rhare]…If we didn’t have an energy and resource problem right now I think his economics are right on. However, without acknowledging the energy situation we will find ourselves in, it means you miss the problem that we probably won’t see growth like the past.
However, I don’t believe that negates the economics – we need sound money and currency, so that we can allocate scarce resources where they are needed/desired most. However, since we don’t have an accurate measuring stick we will continue to poor money into malinvestments. [/quote]
The major problem with all modern economic theories is that they do not recognize the costs of nature’s capital such as energy. Economic theory does just the opposite and encourages faster draw down of limited resources under the assumption there will be always be a substitute. How smart is it to give oil companies a depletion allowance for extraction of non-renewable energy sources? Sound money is needed but money will not be a substitute for non-renewable resources.
Jay Haley’s writings and NPL by Bandler and Grinder come to mind.
[/quote]Just for those who may want to research more, it’s NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) rather than NPL.[/quote]
Thanks for the correction.
The main event will be when everyone stops obsessing on Europe and starts looking at America. We are in terrible shape – it is scary bad. We have way to much debt. The class of dependance has grown to half the country. It is a disaster. There is no way we can pay back what we owe now and there is no way we are going to be able to pay for what we have promised people in the future. There is simply no way to do it and that is all there is to it – period. We are borrowing between 40 and 50 percent of the money the fed gov is spending now. There is no way to continue that and there is no way to pay for what we have already spent. The inbound revenue stream to the fed gov is about 2.4 trillion. We are over spending by 1.6 trillion this year and it is scheduled to increase dramatically over the next 20 years. There is no way the world is going to loan us that kind of money. And as it becomes more and more obvious that we can no longer control spending the world will get scared and the purchasing of our debt by foreign countries will be reduced – this process has already started. The fed res is holding down interest rates to basically zero right now and plans to continue this for the next few years. That is totally unprecedented and should give fair warning to everyone that a very serious situation has developed. I’m not sure they will be able to continue to do that forever. If interest rates go up there will be an unprecedented blood bath in the treasuries market.
One thing is for sure. CM is dead on right. The next 20 years are not going to be very good for America and really large bad things are going to happen.[/quote]
I am 100% agreement that foreign countries will stop buying US debt. My question is what will they buy? There is only so much PMs and commodities. I think commodities outside of food, energy and water will decline too because when debt stops no one will be able to purchase goods and services outside of necessities.
The next 20 years will not be good for America but will not be good for most if not all countries due to the death of consumerism.
Mish is correct if you look at PMs as industrial commodities only, but when currency cryses are added into the mix, I think longterm ppl will go for something familiar and broken trust in dollar preserving purchasing power will drive PMs monetary recognition.[/quote]
I don’t think that Mish disagrees with the longterm trend of higher and higher PMs. His take was on the short term rout in PMs.
With all due respect, I think I’d pass on the "therapeutic touch" and "laying-on-of-hands" courses. This stuff has been around a long time and, truthfully, I don’t know anyone who is making a living offf of it nor making great changes on an enduring basis. It is pleasant and soothing (as is lying out on a hammock in the sunshine with a pleasant breeze and the birds chirping) but effectively and lastingly treating pain requires both a specificity and a comprehensiveness that is sorely lacking in these approaches. Also, psychological health professionals are usually not licensed to touch so you start entering some dicey "gray" medicolegal areas unless one has credentialing that legitimizes touching a patient therapeuticially. There are a lot of individuals who claim to treat pain nowadays and many of them, quite frankly, just aren’t up to their claims, to be polite. I’m thinking of someone I just discharged who was pain free after 4 visits after having seen someone else for over 7 months of regular treatment with no relief. Hypnosis, on the other hand, offers a great deal of potential and is generally under utilized. A talented Ericksonian hypnotist could be of enormous benefit to a great many people.[/quote]
I agree with a lot of what you are saying. The point though is that things are changing rapidly and what we consider productive work today will not be available in the future. My post was a meager attempt to look at how we might translate skills we already have to future work. And yes, there are many quakes in the medical field some of which are highly credentialed practitioners. Many of the numerous ads for pain alleviation are simply pain pill mills –a talented Ericksonian hypnotist would be a great improvement. BTW I attended several of Dr. Erickson’s seminars before he passed away and highly recommend his techniques. Jay Haley’s writings and NPL by Bandler and Grinder come to mind.
It may sound counter intuitive but as prices decline OPEC supply may increase in the short term. Many of these countries including KSA and Iran need steady oil income to keep their populations from rioting. This will not prevent OPEC from voting to decrease but it will only be a bluff. We will see decreases when OPEC doesn’t have the oil to extract and/or when more of what they extract is needed for internal consumption.