Rakesh Kochhar

Executive coach & business consultant, CoachNme

This conversation is closed.

Is it good economics to provide subdized food grains or good politics?

Lets take the example of India. Can a country of 1.2 Billion people provide subsidzed / free foodgrains to nearly to 600 million persons near the poverty line in India. Food inflation is officially at 9.3% p.a while in reality its around 20%.p.a.
Then there are supply side constraints as agriculture growth rate over 10years average 2.7% p.a. only. Compare this to the population growth rate 1.4% p.a.Further India has recently been running large current account and fiscal deficits threatening its budget calculations.
Elections are going to be held in two years. The economy has decelerated to 6.5%p.a. growth rate from 10% p.a.over last 3 years.The rupee has fallen by over 20% against the dollar in last 2 months.The Sensex its at its lowest in last 2 years.
Other developing economies especially the PIGS are already being bailed out. Can India take this contrarian route?.
What about the fundamental rights of food and security for its citizens? Can this be overlooked because they don't have the buying power or employment opportunities to feed themselves?
Whose rights need to be protected? The economy or its Citizens? Is the proposed Food grain security bill a step in the right direction? Are there other alternatives?

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    Dec 25 2011: David:

    "So I would argue that what we call democratic socialism, is always, totalitarianism..."

    "A socialist society, is a society that believes it can vote it's way, into having more stuff."

    These are contradictory statements since the denotation of totalitarianism is having a central authoritarian government that represses it's people. I'm going to assume that what when we refer to socialism it is a government in which the people have the power, as you mentioned in your last post.

    Over the past 30 years corporate profits have soured while the middle class wages have stagnated. The people didn't want this. I agree that over consumption is a large problem in our society, but I don't think the people had that choice. From an economic perspective our country faces three main problems in: the Industrial sector(jobs), the financial sector (credit has frozen, housing market), and the daunting cost of medical cost.

    Right now I can think of two major turning point that have changed the past 40 years. First, we went off the gold standard despite resistance from the people, and two, corporations and our government started started to globalize. This generally happened with free trade agreements. The people had nothing to do with this, they were against it. This is class warfare.

    "I don't advocate for an economy run by the business sector, I advocate for an economy, where you pay others as you would have them pay you..."

    Are you talking about a free market? U.S has never had this. If there is no free market the above statement doesn't exist. Also the statement makes some sense if your a construction worker but if you are a single mom how much do you have them pay you?

    Should we start a new conversation (this one is timing out) or have you had enough?
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      Dec 26 2011: The statements are not contradictory... because of what you just explained... The people would never vote to enslave children in other countries... So they aren't given that choice. It's called a "free trade agreement" now. The United States has, had those in the past, but we rarely had them with totalitarian states, because the peopler are against them.

      Since we started doing that, and none of our politicians are running on that platform... Who's in charge? Certainly not the people. Neither of our choices represent our desires anymore. The last politician to argue for a change in this policy was Jimmy Carter... someone universally taught in schools as an incompetent politician "who just didn't understand what it took to get re elected".

      Why? Because he wanted to pay Chinese people better, and he wanted the countries that we buy oil from to give women the right to vote... All it took was 9 hostages and a media frenzy to destroy him. I am of course, probably one of the only self proclaimed capitalists, that will argue for Jimmy Carter, as one of the last decent human beings to run for office... but I'm proud of that stance, despite the fact that many would call it contradictory.

      Most people agree that Reagan was awesome... Reagan was the nail on our coffin... but it was because he loved trading with totalitarian states... Not because he was a capitalist.
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        Dec 26 2011: Yes I think I will start a new conversation once this one is finished.

        I agree with most of what you said until you started calling it socialism. I mean you say "Who's in charge? Certainly not the people." So why call it socialism.

        "The second a society believes it can vote its way into more stuff, and it's politicians don't correct them, it is both socialist, and totalitarian".

        To me it sounds like what you mean is that once the people have political power to change their economic position they will invariably choose to alter it's state into something that is not feasible for them. I would say the same but substitute the word people with a portion of the people, naturally the business sector (investors), thus creating disparity within the population and also provoking an ideology that does not consider holistic consequences of its action. And so consistently leading society in a position way beyond their means.

        Should one completely separate the government and it's economy. If so is that even possible. If not how much should the government intervene, subsidies and foreign policy.
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      Dec 26 2011: Feel free to respond if you're on tonight, if not start a new topic... Does trading with a totalitarian state, make you a totallitarian state?... Or The subtle art of keeping everything that's important to the people, "off the table", in a democratic state... Or whatever you fancy.

      I love talking about this stuff, because I have a very subtle and complex view on these topics, that is incredibly difficult for me to express clearly in a modern political climate. I think what I mean to say is "The second a society believes it can vote its way into more stuff, and it's politicians don't correct them, it is both socialist, and totalitarian".

      To be a democratically capitalist society, is to elect leaders that say "No, I'm not going to pay Chinese people five dollars a day... How bout we go back to making our violent criminals work? Why don't we print money to build solar farms, and take the hit as international inflation?"... And to remain a democratically capitalist society, we must revolt or rebel when leaders stop telling us the truth, vote in a patriot act, invade other nations in wars of agression... It's on us too. The people always go towards socialism and totalitarianism if you let them though. "Oh that a man's reach should exceed his grasp... For what is a heaven for?"
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    Dec 24 2011: as a short term or medium term measure, i think subsidized food is necessary. In last 2 months, i have interviewed (as part of my PhD research) women widowed due to conflict in Kashmir. Kashmir is not known for starvation deaths of malnutrition. I met poor women who have benefitted from the subsidy as they could then use rest of the money (whatever little) for something else at home or for children. For some of them, its the subsidy in food and edcuation system, that got thier children where they are (along with other kinds of support from community).

    They hope to see lesser struggles and much better days once thier children start earning. Thats when they may not need this subsidy. So yes, the parallel thing has to be employment opprtunities so that such subsidies are not needed in high numbers in future.

    Just the food subsidies will not secure a better future even though this subsidy is required as of now.
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      Dec 25 2011: The subsidies, however, destroy small farmers in India while supporting huge farms to sell them more cheaply. Subsidies can be good but they can have adverse effects if you subsidize the wrong sectors.
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    Dec 23 2011: David: "We start as monarchy, we get a constitution, we become more democratic, then slowly we turn to sociallism, and to maintain socialist ideas you need a millitary empire... This is how Rome collapsed. This is how Germany collapsed."

    I must disagree with you on this. What do you think socialism is? You do not need a military to maintain socialist ideas, you need a military in totalitarianism. In fact I would say the United States was more socialist 30 years ago than it is now contrary to what you said. One indicator of this is our public school system being privatized.
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      Dec 23 2011: I mean socialism in practice not theory. The problem with democratic socialism is that people will always vote to have more goods than they produce. In order to get more goods than you produce, you either need a millitary empire, or an abusive financial system... We have both now... We didn't 40 years ago. Democratic Capitalism, forces you to produce all of the things you want to have. That's where we used to be, we used to produce way more, than we consumed... Now that we don't, I would say we have become a practical socialist empire.

      This happened in both Rome, and Germany, though, they did occur in entirely different ways. They started out as incredibly productive people that were building amazing things for the world, and slowly, it wasn't enough for them. It's easier to take something by force, than work hard to produce it. The problem is that the narative of socialism is cooperative work, towards shared goals, the practice, is people expecting way more than they deserve.So I would argue that what we call democratic socialism, is always, totalitarianism... and I think history can back me up on that.

      Where Krisztian and I respectfully disagree, is that I believe a democratically capitalist society, is capable of making rational, long term investments, that do increase productivity... without being socialist, without simply "voting for more stuff". I respect him, because, he's right, it's either the hardest thing in the world to do, or it's impossible.
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        Dec 24 2011: Yes the Nazi party had the word socialist in it but it never resembled socialism. It was only refereed to socialism because of it's popularity in that time. It was effectively a totalitarian state. I would also say the same thing with Rome. The germans were quite satisfied before WWII especially economically speaking, I don't think they wanted more it was that it became increasingly authoritarian. But if you think that a the U.S was ever a democracy and that a democracy does not always go for more than it can (at least without robbing other countries) then the United States will be a perfect counter example from the day it began.

        ".So I would argue that what we call democratic socialism, is always, totalitarianism"

        I agree with this if you mean socialism in practice (by practice I mean the leaders using it as some sort of doctrine).Maybe it would be best to leave the title of a system and simply advocate your technical analysis ex. how big the public sector should be, private sector, regulation and how free the market should be (ounce we have determined where we stand we could put a name on it and locate the core philosophy behind it)

        With the last paragraph it is again hard to visualize what type of system it is "democratically capitalist society" do you mean a free market or a state subsidized economy, is the public sector present? How is the government (central or de-central) how are the corporation (central or de-central) In general the public sector focuses on innovation and long term planning and then having the private sector adopt these findings. If you look at the United States today it is almost impossible for a corporation to plan long term unless it also provides maximum gain for the next quarter, this is largely due to the fact that the CEO of a company doesn't usually have any power over the direction that the company will be going because of it's investors. In my eyes Corporations are basically tyrannical structures, this is not necessarily best.
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        Dec 24 2011: "In order to get more goods than you produce, you either need a millitary empire, or an abusive financial system... We have both now... We didn't 40 years ago."

        Our economy has always been based on domination (slaves for example helped us export) favorite weapon seems to establish fair trade agreements and then destroy local businesses. If we need a resource we usually invade with corporate america. Domestically americans aren't treated equally either, there has been a huge fight against the unions ever since the 1850's, just as internationally local businesses have been destroyed. It's true that we have more goods than we produce but that was still the case in the 70's. our deficit isn't as much a problem as it seems, the main reason for it is our healthcare system which if it was just adjusted a little so as to compare with comparable countries we would be enjoying a surplus over theses past years (we are the only country in which our government cannot negotiate drug prices).

        I agree It is a lot worse today than it was 40 years ago but I still would say it is largely due to everything being privatized with little regulation. I think the public sector should have it's space just as the private sector should, but to destroy the public sector and then without regulation is a disaster as we are experiencing right now.

        This brings me back to my last post. We should define what we mean by socialism with precision. Governance and its relation to the economy has a large spectrum and it is difficult to categorize it with a few titles especially if we could all be advocating the same thing but calling it something else.
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          Dec 24 2011: I think I made my definition relatively clear. A socialist society, is a society that believes it can vote it's way, into having more stuff. The second you think, that you can vote, and make food appear, or retirement benefits appear, or medical benefits appear, without actually working harder or producing more... You're socialist. We've been doing that in America, for just over one generation. From inception to 1960ish, America always produced more than it consumed, because it was a capitalist society, where if you wanted something of value, you had to trade something of value...

          Yes, we abused slavery... but that was not our economic powerhouse, it is very over rated in terms of it's relation to our productivity. Boston, New York, Chicago... They were not built by slaves... They were built by laborers that were paid, not well admittedly, but paid. The south has never been the driving force of the American economy, it has always been a money sink for the North, that happens to make our food.

          I believe there is a place for rational public investments in a democratically capitalist society. For example Kennedy, mentioned in several of his speeches, that he was personally responsible for raising taxes on American's approximately 40 cents per week, for NASA... That 40 cents, got us microwaves, tempurpedic mattresses, solar power, and bragging rights like a mofo, that was a rational investment. What did we spend the 14 trillion we're in debt now on? Who ran on raising taxes, while they raised spending?

          That's why we're socialist now. We think we can spend more money in the public sector, but we aren't willing to be taxed for it, so we are actually forcing our government to go steal or print money, to buy the things that it has decided to buy. So, now that we're democratic socialists, instead of democratic capitalists, what else has happened? We lost our bill of rights to the patriot act... Welcome to a totalitarian state, aka democratic socialism.
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        Dec 24 2011: "The problem with democratic socialism is that people will always vote to have more goods than they produce."

        The problem with a democracy that is run buy the business sector is that it sells more than the people can't afford.

        Norway (if you agree that it is a socialist country, I don't advocate it's government because there are a lot of things wrong with it that don't go at the heart of the problem(I wouldn't even say it's true socialism) has huge surplus of around 800 billion dollars, it is considered the least affected country by the economic meltdown and have no risk for it's future retirement funds and health funds.They have now decided to focus their attention on it's infrastructure. That was what the people wanted and it wasn't to have more than they want. I don't think people inherently grab more than they can. This is often shown in crowd sourcing and just in general when people come together and analyze their situation.
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          Dec 24 2011: That may be fair... I would argue that, you just have to give them time. Aren't they one of the countries that is currently plagued by the "professional student" problem? Most "socialist" EU economies, followed America right down the rabit hole over the last decade... Most of them need Middle Eastern oil, and cheap Chinese products, so if they expected the people that make their products, to be paid as well as they pay themselves... Their economy would collapse.

          I don't advocate for an economy run by the business sector, I advocate for an economy, where you pay others as you would have them pay you...
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    Dec 22 2011: David and Krisztian your passionate viewpoints did bring out fascinating aspects in this discussion. Krisztan the conversations were so intriguing and positions so well staked I apologize that it all got heated up.

    Going back to the discussion about political self interest, governance,leadership and citizens ability to influence and determine his best interest is proving more convoluted then current political systems are designed to handle.The obvious is not the correct thing to do when the final outcome is determined on whether I have (the politician) got reelected every 5 years and made a government of my own cohorts.
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    Dec 21 2011: I apologize for the extremely long tangent Rakesh. I've been a bit intrigued by Kristians economic views for awhile now, but at this point, it definately would have been more polite to move to another conversation. I think in essence we stuck to the principle of the argument... Can a democratic society invest in public health, food, or technology, in a way that actually benefits its citizens, more than private investment would naturally do the same thing?

    I think we can, but it's really, really, hard, and you need a well educated and active participatory society to accomplish this goal. In the example of food, I just wonder what poor and rural communities in India are trading for food security? Is there an educational, or cooperative work component to this bill? Are rural communities, going to be engaging in more productive work if this bill passes? If not, I would say it's good politics for bad economics, and long term, bad economics, is bad politics.
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    Dec 19 2011: it is not easy to think with the head of a poor man. if he chooses to send his son to school instead of eating enough food, we might raise a hand, and try to interfere. poor man has to get cheap food! we have to act! but there is the unseen. the side effects of every such measure is that the economy as a whole is held back. the poor now has a little more food, but they have a little less of everything else. they will have less jobs, less salary, more expensive clothing, medical services, schooling, less available water, electricity and all other goods that those people would most likely also want to get. and there will be less economic progress, less capital accumulation, less modernization which denies the poorest people a better future.

    remember the lesson of henry hazlitt. don't only look at the visible and at the short term. but also look at the invisible and the long term.

    or as the old sioux taught us: only the white man is stupid enough to cut the bottom of the blanket, saw it to the top of it, and hope to have a longer blanket.
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      Dec 20 2011: In general I find myself in agreement with you on most economic issues, but there's a social liberal in me, that always has a couple caviets or questions... Aren't you ignoring, that rich men, may choose, for their own safety, and self interest, to give the poor man food, but in exchange for that they may want to insure that poor man, learn to feed themselves? Couldn't the government be the rich man? And, couldn't we, as individuals, say, "that's a rational investment", and I'm happy to contribute to it?
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        Dec 20 2011: if something seems useful and beneficial, people will do it on their own. why we need a middleman who adds no value?
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          Dec 20 2011: Fascinating point... and totally fair... In general, I agree, that the middleman, provides no value... but, again... I would add a condition...

          The middle man provides no value, assuming that people pursue their "rational long term self interest", rather, than their "rational short term self interest". If a middleman, encourages a group of individuals, to invest in something they otherwise would not have, through a convincing rational argument for long term gain, rather than an appeal to emotion... Doesn't he/she actually provide value? Doesn't he/she earn their living, by intelligently investing the resources, that in our short term, often emotional thoughts, we otherwise would not have?
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          Dec 22 2011: Actually, I have thought about this point rather often (in a different context) and have concluded that the middle man mainly frees up time - a commodity in limited supply - and sometimes contributes a small measure of talent.

          Unfortunately, as a society we tend to massively over-pay the middle men.
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        Dec 20 2011: david, quite the opposite. the middleman usually adds value. that's why we make a deal with the middleman. it is better for us than contacting the service provider directly. but the government does all its job by force. they don't ask you whether you agree. they put you in jail if you don't comply.

        tell me why and how does the government excel in foreseeing? how do they excel in being rational? after all, the same people that you condemn for being shortsighted elect them. why would the government do anything other than servicing the people's most immediate wants?
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          Dec 20 2011: I love this response... because to me, it truly identifies the similarity, between the tea party, and OWS. Americans grew up, under the narrative, however false it may be, that we are a democracy, and the people decide what the government invests in, through the election of leaders.

          We, as a people, however naive we may be, truly believe, that we invested in the ideas that our leaders put forth. We picked them because they were going to invest the resources better than we would on our own... We made horrible choices over the last 40 years, and proved the fundamental flaw of democracy, that what is popular, isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular.

          That is our failing... Our leaders have not excelled in forseeing, and we elected them anyway... but we believe some people can excel in foreseeing... And, we believe that if someone was to come along that wanted to rationally invest our collective energy, we would vote for them, and they would succeed. We believe that one day, free people will choose to elect the individual that will best collectively invest our resources rationally.

          Anything other than that... seems to suggest, that all of humanity is stupid, and we are incapable of electing intelligent leaders... I would argue that we are not incapable as a species... Americans fucked up... for about 30 years straight... but to stop letting people have influence over who their leaders are, could not possibly improve our situation.

          To let leaders do whatever they want with our resources, with no regard for the people, and no elections to keep them in check, would be much worse. I also think that anarcho capitalism would be much worse, a complete lack of leadership... A complete lack of caring for what's popular, would be just as bad, because most people would be angry and violent.

          So I would suggest, that when people elect competent leaders, they deserve competent governance... until they do... They deserve what they get.
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          Dec 20 2011: "after all, the same people that you condemn for being shortsighted elect them. why would the government do anything other than servicing the people's most immediate wants?"

          Long term rational self interest, and ego... Leaders will emerge who want to change our shortsited approach, because they want to be the next Lincoln, or Kennedy... They want to be powerful, loved, respected, famous... So they find a way to make a rational narrative, that is capable of becoming popular.

          I would argue that the only skill, or value, that a politician can contribute to society, is to convince us to sacrifice short term comfort, for long term gains... Is it common? No, of course not... but in a democracy it is at least possible. Great speakers and leaders are capable of convincing people to think beyond the immediate, and that is their value...

          Do most politicians actually have this quality? No... but is it theoretically impossible for this value to exist? Of course not, several leaders have done exactly that. "We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy... but because they are hard."
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        Dec 21 2011: david, yeah, a politician can decide to inspire people to do good. however, a politician also can seek popularity in a much easier way. he has to find some widespread weakness, and re-frame it in a way that clouds the fact that it is a weakness. example: understand that people are envious, but they understand that they shouldn't be. devise a scheme to be able to envious without the guilt, like saying "the rich have to contribute more", and propose a forceful expropriation of some arbitrarily defined wealth. those who refuse it can be dismissed as antisocial. and lo, we successfully gathered a large mass of supporters who can now loot without feeling bad. what do you think? such a politician will be more popular, or your visionary one?

        (hint: kennedy was a media figure. lincoln was a shameless dictator who ignored law and moral.)
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          Dec 21 2011: Kennedy... was a great media figure... and his inspiration, did lead people to accept taxation, in order to accomplish one of the greatest things humanity has ever done. Lincoln ended slavery... Did they also have darkness in them? Did they also make horrible choices? Were they, in many ways, dropped into an interesting time in history, and forced to make do? Did they have handlers probably? Did they manipulate the masses?

          Yes, to all... but who didn't? I think one of the problems we have here is that we compare the most powerful person in the world to an ideal... but we only compare the second most powerful person in the world, to the first. This is what's happening when economists talk about China... They compare the Chinese economy to the American economy, but they compare the American economy, to some sort of noble utopian capitalist vision that no one will ever live up to.

          You're from Hungary... Do you really want to talk modern dictators with me? You compare Lincoln, and Kennedy to some imaginary vision of a perfect man, rather than comparing them to the people everyone else was electing at the time. The Czar of Russia had abolished serfdom, a weak form of slavery, and the south still wouldn't treat African Americans like human beings... Lincoln needed to do something, we were falling decades behind the world, because of the retarded south... The same thing I might add, that's happening to us now.

          You're also talking about leaders manipulating people as if the people don't have a say... As if human being don't have a bullshit meter, that we're supposed to take out when we listen to politicians talk. When a democracy is manipulated into stupid decisions, it is not the leaders fault, it's on us as citizens, we need to do a better job.

          Seriously though, what system of governance do you like? It seems like you're an anarchist... You seem to be suggesting that no one will ever choose to be a visionairy leader again... Are you just hopeless?
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        Dec 21 2011: no, david, i was NOT talking about manipulation at all. manipulation would be to make someone else do what you want. politicians make people do what they want, and only ask for power in return. a politician always sells what sells well. they want to lead, the direction does not concern them.
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          Dec 21 2011: So what do we do about it then? Again... Aside from the fact that "a politician always sells what sells well", is incredibly cynical, and false... given the fact, that human beings have free will, and we don't have to buy politicians nonsense, we could, choose to have self respect, and not simply elect leaders that tell us what we want to here..

          If we don't, that's our fault... but in a democracy, it's our job to fix our mistake... What is the alternative?
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          Dec 24 2011: "a politician always sells what sells well. "

          This is a little ambiguous to me. Yes a politician often says what the people "buy" but only does what buyers buy, in money.

          "politicians make people do what they want"

          I would disagree. The people of South Korea don't want a "Free Trade Agreement" with the U.S (which is anything but free) but they are still getting it. The politicians don't agree with the people. The Iraq war was protested before it was ever started (if I remember correctly that was the first time that happened in the U.S) but the people didn't want it. Politicians do what the owners of the country want.
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        Dec 21 2011: david, it is neither cynical nor false. politicians win with majority votes, not by inspiring a few. people happy to buy every kind of nonsense. they buy the venus project crap that is not even false. they buy homeopathy. they believe that interest rate causes inflation. they buy that nuclear power plants are not carbon neutral. people just eat up everything they find comfortable.

        the alternative, in this conversation, is to get the state out of the economy. do not provide anything, do not control anything, do not subsidize anything. but make sure any new ideas and any new businesses can find standing capital as easy and as quick as possible. get the heck out of the way already!
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          Dec 21 2011: So you are an anarcho capitalist... You're absolutely certain, that no country, or culture, will ever raise a majority of its children to not be retarded. That is your fundamental assumption, people will always be too stupid to govern themselves. You want McDonalds and Wal Mart to take over the world, because obviously people aren't stupid when it comes to purchasing decisions... only politics in your mind.

          This is nonsense... The corporations we have chosen to support over the years, are not any better than the politicians. People make just as stupid purchasing decisions as they do political ones. I refuse to believe, that humanity can't fix this problem through education, culture, and parenting. I refuse to put the blame on an inherent incapacity for intelligence, because that is a miserable, self defeating idea.

          You also seem to have this illusion, that there are all of these businessmen out there with brilliant ideas, that aren't implementing them because the government is in the way... What evidence do you have of that? What evidence do you have that if the government just let us keep all of our tax money, we wouldn't just buy flashier cars and get fatter, while quality of life for humanity degrades?

          I think in American history, in general, we have proven that we actually pick much better political leaders than we do corporations... Our political leaders invested in the internet... Our political leaders invested in nuclear power... Our political leaders invested in computers... Our private sector didn't. All of the worlds current modern progress is based in the American governments reasearch investment, not the private sector... The private sector doesn't do pure research, the private sector changes the packaging, makes it shiny, and then raises the price, and calls it "new and improved", they don't invest in R and D anymore.

          Yes, for twenty years at least we have failed our democratic obligations, but we will fix that. You should too.
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        Dec 21 2011: david, haven't you got lost somewhere? anarchism is the assumption that we don't need an overwatch to do things right. it is the assumption that people are capable of organizing their own lives without help.

        but it does not really matter. if people are too stupid to make decisions, they will elect the wrong leaders as well. and if they are smart enough to choose well, they can decide for themselves without a dedicated agent. in fact, it is harder to pick someone smart enough to command an entire country. the free market's invisible hand works well even with less than perfect agents.

        in an anarchist world, mcdonalds has no power over anything else than its own restaurants. it can not have a say in any other matter. so if you want to avoid them, all you need is to keep out of the restaurants. try that with the state, and see how far that gets you. if businesses do stupid things, they go bankrupt. if the state does stupid things, it grows even bigger.

        i can't prove that there are any specific men this day who could do something. but it is easy to see that in general, rules prevent people doing some stuff. can you come up with a neat school curriculum? do you have the money to open a private school to put it in practice? forget about it, the state is there to force its own curriculum down your throat.

        there are surveys showing that economic growth correlates to private funded RnD, but in no way correlates to publicly funded RnD. the free market is quite good at RnD, thank you very much.

        democracy's march to doom is ongoing for a good 150 years. i can't see any change in that. neither in the system, nor in the heads of people. we constantly "fix" things into the worse, we always miss when finding the causes and solutions. if things getting worse for that long time, it might be damn wise to change our ways.
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          Dec 21 2011: What world do you live in where we've been making things worse for 150 years? Really? No improvements have been made?

          Public investment in computers and the internet were a waste? Solar technology, is a waste? NASA is a waste? Should we have never gone to the moon? Should we just doom our children to only have products available to them that were already invented? We gave up a public investment in R and D 30 years ago, and since then democracy is collapsing.

          If America had spent 14 trillion too many dollars on NASA, no one would be upset now... Of course, we also wouldn't be 14 trillion dollars in debt, we'd be the richest most powerful, and technologically advanced country in the world. I would rather we start investing in NASA now... than give up on the idea of public investment entirely, because I want my children to have something to dream about... I want humanity to improve its station, as it did from 1900-1980, under a capitalist democracy.

          Anarchism is the principle, that what people naturally do without leadership, is inherently good... That's nonsense... without leaders, most white people, especially in the south would still think it was perfectly acceptable to own slaves. Intelligent leaders are necessary, for changing humanities pattern of short term thinking, and abuse. The first consequence, of an end to democracy will be a return to slavery. Your way of thinking is winning. Most people think democracy is evil now... Welcome to the Dark Ages... I think Rome was better than The Dark Ages.
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        Dec 21 2011: david, this conversation is getting out of civility. please cite where i have said that there is no progress in the USA. either you start to actually react to what i have said, or we are finished. almost all of your statements come from a gross misunderstanding or misrepresentation of my words. that is not good enough.
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          Dec 21 2011: "democracy's march to doom is ongoing for a good 150 years. i can't see any change in that. neither in the system, nor in the heads of people. we constantly "fix" things into the worse, we always miss when finding the causes and solutions. if things getting worse for that long time, it might be damn wise to change our ways."

          That's what you said... I understand your concerns about modern history, but I think you go back a hundred and twenty years too far. The death of democracy started 30 something years ago, when American workers decided that their manufacturers deserve ten dollars an hour, but it's perfectly legal for American companies to pay Chinese people 5 dollars a day.

          We gave up democracy thirty years ago, and we became a socialist empire, that is perfectly accepting of Communist ideas. What I don't understand, is how you don't see that as the entire pendulum swing of human civilization. We start as monarchy, we get a constitution, we become more democratic, then slowly we turn to sociallism, and to maintain socialist ideas you need a millitary empire... This is how Rome collapsed. This is how Germany collapsed.

          Humanity is constantly stuck in this cycle of giving up on democracy, because it has turned into sociallism... We need to break the cycle. When Rome collapsed the world became a much worse place to live in, where no one had aquaducts, and sewage... Public investment, from a democracy created almost everything that people love. Why do we want to give that up now?
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      Dec 22 2011: Subsidizing food is, to a degree, what got us here in the first place. If you look at the US you see that food shadows all the major issues and problems we face to today: economy, health, foreign policy, and energy/global warming. In the US the biggest health problem we face are chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Our government subsidizes major food such as: corn, cotton, soy with billions of dollars a year. In terms of foreign policy the United States uses these subsidized foods and sets up free trade agreements with other countries in order to destroy their economy (an informal term for this is called 'dumping', for example England selling impossibly cheap tea to one of its colonies and so provoking a revolution ergo the US). Some call it stability and others call it hegemony. Food is responsible for more green house gases than all of transportations put together, It is, in fact the largest contributor to green house gases. This in large is due to monocultures which deplete the the land of its nutrients and so the huge farms to pour huge quantities of fossil fuel on the land. In terms of the economy if you look at this with a holistic view of the state we see the the economy and other economies are at mercy with the inefficiency of the system.

      Sadly subsidies are not designed to help the poor although they could.

      When addressing governance free capitalism and the "invisible hand " (a quote from Adam Smith, does not refer to the economy working on its own but rather owners of corporations not outsourcing to other countries and so destroying an economy, this of course has already started to happen ). I hesitate to the notion that having everything privatized is the most effective and humane. Competition does not necessarily compete for advancement. Currently we like to privatize anything that is public, ex. technology from a university. Ultimately the deference is small for the word government should be interchangeable with the world people.
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        Dec 22 2011: "Sadly subsidies are not designed to help the poor although they could." I think that one line sums up almost our entire argument... I'm just really passionate about the "they could" part, and I hope we can make them.
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    Dec 19 2011: Was "the great leap forward" a good thing?

    Ewww... Danger! Will Robinson, Danger! Personally I tend to say no... The great leap forward, was a lazy mans way out... I think that most individuals, would be willing to volunteer a tax that subsidizes giving food to people while they learn skills to feed themselves.

    I think the problem is that no government is willing to try that, because it's bad politics. Grain subsidies are bad economics, if you're giving food to people with no conditions. If however, you were to create a farming collective in all the major cities, where people could get subsidized food, in exchange for learning to work the farm, or going to school, or any other activity, that would increase their earning power in the future.... It would be economically great, but the politics will call it "forced labor"...

    So I think the way grain subsidies have evolved, has been bad for both politics, and economics. I think the long term win, of "forced labor" or "mandatory education", would actually be political, and economic gold, but the short term politics are "you want us to all be slaves again".