edward long

Association of Old Crows


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What are the top three most influencial lies in history?

Before you read the linked article share, ever so briefly, your top 3 choices for lies which have had the greatest impact.


Closing Statement from edward long

The results:
Advertising beginning with, “Studies have shown. . . “
All Muslims are from the Middle East and speak Arabic.
American Treaties written before 1869.
Avoidance of nuclear destruction by nuclear deterrent.
Check is in the mail.
December 25th birth of Jesus + Santa Claus hoax.
Everybody is the same.
Everything is relative.
God/Religion: (7).
Gave Man dominion over the Earth.
Heaven and Hell
Pope as vicar of Christ
Authorized European colonialism.
I talk to Him and here’s what He wants you to do.
“In God We Trust”
Government knows best how to spend your money.
Hitler/Chamberlain Appeasement Talk.
Manifest Destiny.
Mao’s Great Leap Forward.
Money makes you happy
“No, those pants don’t make you look fat.”
Population control does not exist.
Self deception; “I know this to be true.”
The end justifies the means.
The Great Man Theory (we need a superior man to guide us through difficult times).
The Invisible Hand.
Women are inferior to men (2).
WMD in Iraq (2)
“You are inferior” propaganda
“You are so strong and clever.”
I guess technically the "winner" is God/ religion with seven nominations. Hey, maybe that's the most influential lie, that religion is bogus! Thanks for contributing everyone, and don't be influenced by lies!

  • W T

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    Jan 28 2012: OK....here I go:

    "In God We Trust"....on US coins

    "Women are inferior to men"....taken out of context from the Bible....used and abused to mistreat women.

    The third one......I don't think I can say...it would be my #1, but for fear of getting deleted, I will plead the fifth.

    Great question Edward....I'll go to the link now.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thanks Mary. I will post the results upon closing.
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    Jan 28 2012: In the order they appeared;
    1: The concept of heaven and hell
    2: Women are the weaker sex
    3: The invisible hand.
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      Jan 28 2012: Thanks Joanne. In the order they appeared where? And, what is the invisible hand?
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        Jan 29 2012: question one, in human society, question two: better not to ask.
      • W T

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        Jan 29 2012: Edward, leave well enough alone, or you could be directly responsible for what you recently called: "a textual cacophony."

        Continue to enjoy this "bucolic environment"
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          Jan 29 2012: Oh dear! I looked it up. What is so mysterious, nefarious even?
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          Jan 29 2012: Listen to Mary Ed!
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    Jan 28 2012: The Great Man theory.

    The idea we require someone who is in someway superior to guide and shepherd us through "trying" times.

    (That's two, if we don't count the, you know "real" ones in my first post.)
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      Jan 28 2012: Gads man! Are you Ayn Rand reincarnated? Since I don't dislike you a lot I will record your FIFTH nominee.
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        Jan 28 2012: Very kind of you.
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        Feb 2 2012: You now Mr Long, I have never read Ms Rand. I bought one of her books a few months ago and have yet to get around to reading it. I have read some of her estranged disciple, Nathaniel Brandon's, work but it was "post-split" and he did not mention her - and, at the time, I had never heard of her ... it was about 30 years ago or so.
    • Feb 2 2012: Thomas,

      Wouldn't the Great Man Theory be better cross-categorized as a social phenomenon and meme? Not that memes or innate social behavior is 'true', per se, but that the Great Man Theory can not be adequately analyzed in terms of persuasion solely. Or do you think the Theory IS largely a result of propaganda, and that it owes its perpetuity (seen in early societies as well as now) to the incessant ambition of some jockeying for position?


      *I learn something everyday here on TED. I had no idea that Manifest Destiny or the Great Man Theory were lies until now. And the check is in the mail...right?
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        Feb 2 2012: Hey Seth,

        One of my previously cited "influential lies" was self-deception.

        Recently, I was watching a DVD of the TV show "The West Wing" - about the fictional presidency of Josiah Bartlett in America. The relationship people had with him, their expectations, admiration and disappointments made it evident we have, as a part of our mythos, the image of someone who will guide us, someone who will, for reasons we do not fully comprehend, navigate the complexities of life; and he or she will not only do so better better than we can, but better than anyone in the general populace can.

        This is a "great lie" and it is on this lie we build ideologies of all kinds, including religion, social and political models and so on. Even "democracy" is defined, in practice, as "let's pick the people who will rule us."

        Even in business, we think a great company is usually built on (or by) a great leader. They (usually) aren't. The truly "great leader" is the leader who sees him- or herself as one participant in a collective process. We become great by working together, not by following a "great man." (Or woman.)
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    Jan 28 2012: 1. God gave man dominion over the earth.

    2. Manifest destiny

    3. ANY American treaty written before 1869

    The heading was culture > history > north America > American history

    Hmm none of mine were on the list. I wonder why....
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      Jan 28 2012: Thanks Linda. None of mine are on the linked list either.
    • Feb 2 2012: What was untrue about Manifest Destiny?

      Even a self fulfilling prophecy is true.
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        Feb 2 2012: America had a divine obligation to stretch the boundaries of their noble republic to the Pacific Ocean. Divine obligation is the lie.
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    Jan 28 2012: All Muslims are from the Middle East and speak Arabic

    There were WMD's in Iraq

    There is no such thing as population control
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      Jan 28 2012: Who promotes the lie that there is no such thing as population control, and what do they say? Thanks Mr. Chavez.
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    Jan 27 2012: the end justifies the means
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    Jan 27 2012: I think this is summarized quite well in a song:- All things bright and beautiful...verse 2
    The rich man in his castle The poor man at his gateHe made them High or LowlyAnd ordered their estate.
    The rich are rich because God wants it that way...the poor are poor because God wants it that way...And to want to change that would be to go against God's will.
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    Jan 27 2012: - The cheque is in the mail.

    - You're so strong, and clever.

    - No, those pants don't make your butt look fat.
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      Jan 27 2012: Thomas you are so clever.
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        Jan 28 2012: Why, thank you, Edward.

        Do these pants make my butt look fat?
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          Jan 28 2012: Oh heaven's no, and I know this to be true.
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    Jan 26 2012: Top 3 influential lies in all of history:
    1) That the Pope (and by extension, the Catholic Church), is the one way to God.
    2) That European nations had a God-given right to colonize the world.
    3) Frankly, I can't type the third one, because I'm afraid that a significant portion of the world population would try to kill me if I did.

    God is not a lie (as David suggests); God is Truth and Light and Life. The three biggest lies in history have been perpretrated by humans who misuse the name of God to lie, cheat, kill, subjugate, and disseminate hatred throughout the world.

    . . . and if I had to throw in a fourth, I'd say American Exceptionalism is a pretty bald-faced lie as well . . . or would that be considered simply a self-deception from a population of 300 million people?
    • W T

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      Jan 28 2012: Verble, I liked your list....I'm on the edge of my seat wondering what #3 is....and, I like your new picture. Nice.....
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        Jan 28 2012: QUOTE: " ... wondering what #3 is..."

        • W T

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          Jan 28 2012: Now Thomas, aren't you being a bit presumptuous?

          I am attempting to sabotage one of your other conversations....see if you can figure it out.
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          Jan 28 2012: Actually, Mr. Jones was not presumptuous in the slightest. And before anybody thinks me a bigger coward than I am, I was trying to cloak it in a bit of satire.

          You see, Salmon Rushdie was not able to attend a recent literary conference in India because of this authorship of the Satanic Verses, as he received assassination threats. He was going to speak to the conference over video link, but there were outcries from India's muslim population and threats of destruction, so they cancelled that plan.

          This is indicative of an influential lie: the lie that a creator diety has given one segment of a human population the right to impose their will through violence on other segments of the population. This applies to Christianity, an incorrect reading of the old testament, Manifest Destiny, European imperialism, many ethic African conflicts, Islam, etc.

          However, it is important to state that I am not singling out religion as a means through which to edify, educate, and promote peace and harmony. I am merely stating that the most influential lies throughout all of human history is the lie that, "God thinks I'm better than you, here's a bullet in your head."
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      Jan 28 2012: Well, I could have written:


      But I figure if I'm wrong (and I might be - "but, you know, I'm not"*) Verble will make the correction.


      You are attempting to sabotage one of my other conversations....and you would like me to see if I can figure it out?

      I'm sorry, I am not following you.**


      * To quote the fictional character, Adrian Monk.


      ** Are you referencing the conversation, "Was the universe created by God, or by the Big Bang Theory?"
      • W T

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        Jan 28 2012: I'm sure you'll figure it out soon enough....because remember:

        Life has two rules (ok there are more than 2 rules, but for the sake of a quote)

        Life has two rules: number 1, Never quit!: number 2, Always remember rule number 1.
        Duke Ellington

        Hey, we love to watch Monk.....the kids and I sing the opening song a capella all the time....each time an event occurs proving that "it's a jungle out there...." we break out in song.
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          Jan 28 2012: I found it!

          [Edward......delete your comment, stop the madness....couldn't help myself.]


          Ah, The Duke!

          Have you heard his "Three Suites?" It's great!

          (If you haven't, listen to it three times before you make up your mind.)
      • W T

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        Jan 28 2012: I didn't think you'd find it so fast.....well Omedeeto Gozaimasu...Congratulations!!! Too bad Edward is probably just deleting all his TED e-mails from that talk.....thinking none are intended for him.
        I can't wait to see what happens...hee hee hee.

        "Three Suites"....I'll have to look it up. Maybe I know it, but not by name. Three times....I don't know, well, I'll try. I'm not promising anything....
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          Jan 28 2012: That conversation went ballistic in a hurry! I disavow any knowledge of that textual cacophony. You will find me in a more bucolic environment, like this. I do not think of myself as cowardly, but more as a quick-to-relocate type person.
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    Jan 30 2012: Tobacco Companies promote their product, but it's really a form of population control. Thousands of people die from tobacco every year. I believe it's a form of pop. control. I wouldn't be surprised if news ever came out that some forms of cancer were man made and designed to keep populations lowered. Maybe just a abstract thought that is ridiculous, but what if it were true? I mean the stuff does cause cancer yet it's legal to buy, while marijuana has less harmful effects and it is illegal to purchase. What do you think Mr Long?
    Be well buddy!
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      Jan 30 2012: I think the massive health care cost burden associated with tobacco related illness rules it out as a government sponsored population control method.
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    Jan 29 2012: Great topic, Edward! At the risk of being too general, here are my three nominations:
    (1) Infallibility
    (2) Utopianism
    (3) Entitlement
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      Jan 29 2012: Thanks Tony. You are the first to mention each one of those.
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    Jan 28 2012: After giving this some thought, I think there is a single lie that has been, by far, the most influential in history, it is the lie we tell ourselves: Self deception.

    It is insidious.

    We may recognize it by the sentiment, "I know this to be true," followed by some doctrine or another.

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      Jan 28 2012: Thomas, which of your recorded three do you wish to replace with this?
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        Jan 28 2012: Take your pick.
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          Jan 28 2012: OK, fine. I grant you a special dispensation and will record your fourth nominee.
      • W T

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        Jan 28 2012: I want a special dispensation too....especially since I did not state my 3rd choice.

        My daughter suggests that telling kids that December 25 is the day Christ was born, and then celebrating Christmas....and to add insult to injury, convincing children that a fictional character who lives in the North Pole visits every kid in the entire world overnight and gives them gifts is a major, major lie.... and should be included on your list.
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    Jan 28 2012: Everybody is unique - not so much a lie as a distraction from the reality that we are all the same.

    Democracy - again, not so much a 'lie' as a wonderful concept that does not match reality.

    Any sales pitch that begins "Studies have shown..."
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      Jan 28 2012: Failure to match reality constitutes lying, doesn't it? Thanks Mr. Armstrong.
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        Jan 28 2012: Obviously, theory doesn't always match reality, but when the concept is touted and the reality ignored, then it becomes a falsehood through neglect.

        Democracy is not a lie but it needs a serious overhaul. Like many things in government, the processes have not kept pace with advances in communication tools.

        Each election, we get bombarded with how important it is to "have your say". You only get the one choice every 4 years and the choices are very limited.

        Then, as has been the experience in my country over the past 4-5 years, the voting public are ignored until the next election when the politicians come out of their hilltop hideouts and go through the motions of shaking an old person's hand, chucking a baby on the chin and whispering political nothings into the camera lens.
        • W T

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          Jan 28 2012: "Everybody is unique - not so much a lie as a distraction from the reality that we are all the same."

          Your entry above, reminded me of this quote:

          "You were born an original, don't die a copy"
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          Jan 28 2012: Thank you Scott for pointing-out the important distinction between theories and lies. Only when a theory is taught, disseminated or represented as actual truth is it lying. I think we can easily find mingled-in with what we embrace as truth some, perhaps many, teachings which are actually theory. Do you agree?
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        Jan 29 2012: I would agree with that statement.

        There is no utter truth and there is no utter falsehood. If nothing else, life is infinitely complex and we pick up on the signs we need to get where we're going.

        Ultimately, these differences between the ideal and reality stem from the fact that none of us are perfect, which, I predict, in the digital years to come, will be our greatest trait.
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          Jan 29 2012: QUOTE: "This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections." (St. Augustine).
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    Jan 27 2012: Hitler / Chamberlin appeasement agreement - led to WW2

    Mao's Great Leap Forward - led to the death of millions and proved to be a great leap backwards

    A nuclear deterrent will keep us safe - led to nuclear escalation (North korea - Iran)
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      Jan 27 2012: This question is a painful look at human history. Thanks for your insight Ms. White.
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      Jan 28 2012: Sadly, Mao's Great Leap Forward was simply one part of a much larger lie.

      Here in China there is a saying that goes something like this:

      "If Mao had died in 1956, he would have been immortalized. If he had died in 1966, he would have been a hero. He died in 1976."

      Interestingly, now, it is hard to find copies of his books in book stores. It took me almost two years to find a store that had an English version of his "Little Red Book."
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    Jan 27 2012: If I could choose?
    None. The 3 mentioned earlier had devastating consequences.

    The latter one, written in a solemn text such the US Declaration of Independence, inspired by Hobbes in his Leviathan, had a positive effect but I consider a lie, for pretty basic reasons such as access to water or food and the right to an education (and not to work) when you're a kid.

    Anyway, the rank or oder doesn't matter, we should try for this saying to become true for more people.
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      Jan 27 2012: All rightey then, your original three stand as stated. Thanks again.
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    Jan 27 2012: Then the biggest "positive" lie ever said: All men are created equal.

    For many centuries, a dangerous idea but which eventually started to find its way in society...
    Utopia for me is synonymous with a yet-unfulfilled dream.

    It proved George Orwell wrong, that "all men (animals) are created equal, but some are more equal than others"...
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      Jan 27 2012: Hello Mr. Carre. Which of your three already recorded suggestions do you wish to replace with Thomas Jefferson's seminal expression that all men are created equal?
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    Jan 27 2012: Edward,
    I like that you mention in your question the lies "with the greatest impact". But which one? Positive or harmful?
    The link refers to mostly negative impacts, like #1, Hitler's ideas, or Madoff's scheme.

    So, IMHO, historical lies:
    1. "You are inferior"
    As in the nazi's propaganda about races
    As in the (Medieval European Catholic) Church saying you can't have knowledge, we're the only ones to know what's good for you".
    As in the (Medieval European Catholic) Church saying "if you give us money, we can assure you that you'll go to Heaven"

    2. Money will make you happy
    Billions try to get rich, very few succeed only to realize afterwards that being the richest guy in the cemetery means nothing.

    3. There are weapons of mass destruction in Irak.
    Not a lie with the biggest impact (body count) compared to other horrors in history, but it sure triggered hatred between two worlds, and that's a very dangerous and disastrous impact.
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      Jan 27 2012: I guess positive results from a lie are less likely than negative. I'm interested in both.
      Thanks for your humble opinion Mr. Carre.
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    Jan 26 2012: God, Relativity, and Socialism.

    God has the highest body count.

    Socialism comes in a close second for body count, and almost always devolves into institutional slavery, as I believe it was designed to.

    Relativity, personally, I disagree with entirely. I think the math works, but the descriptions of why, doesn't make logical sense.... Ignoring that however, simply because I may just be wrong... Relativity destroyed many sciences by being applied to things it had nothing to do with. Post modernism is an outcrop of relativity... So is the idea that there is no objective reality...

    Controversial enough?
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      Jan 26 2012: "Controversial enough?"-- Are you suggesting a fourth quality should be added to the TED Conversation guidelines that posts, in addition to being Crisp; Candid; Provocative and Relevant, should be Controversial?
      A lie is something which has been proven to be untrue. Do you think any, or all, of the three topics you suggest have been proven to be untrue? Thanks for sharing your opinion Mr. Hamilton.
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        Jan 26 2012: Actually that's not a horrible idea... but, no, I was merely pointing out that the 3 lies I chose, are all still incredibly popular.I think all three topics have been proven untrue, or had a preponderance of evidence suggest that they are untrue...

        God, would be the least proven wrong. In fact, I don't even think the concept of god is a lie, but I mean the word to mean, each holy book written about god, was a lie. They may have been well intentioned, but each book has had at least one aspect of it proven wrong. They were written by men, to convince people of a belief system, that is likely worth believing in, but the lies, and exaggerations have certainly been incredibly harmful to humanity.

        Socialism, to be fair, hasn't had many experiments... but every one so far that tried pure socialism... failed, miserably... and led to an incredibly poor standard of living. So, the lie is that socialism brings prosperity. Competition brings prosperity.

        Relativity... Has practically been proven correct... but, moral relativism, and various tangents of relativity are just a nightmare of misinformation constantly being proven wrong.

        Admittedly, some of this may be opinion influenced... but I believe there is evidence to support my views.
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      Jan 27 2012: David,
      You mean "communism", in the historical sense of the word?
      Because I live in a socialist democracy (not in the historical sense of the word but economic sense) and although I do not especially enjoy paying 55% of taxes, I do enjoy the medical care (75% paid back) and the fact that going to a (good) college costs 1000 dollar/year instead of 100K, or that a mother can spend months with her newborn and being paid without fearing for her job, among other things.
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        Jan 27 2012: Actually... no. I mean socialism, that's why I said it was so controversial. Belgium happens to be doing pretty well, but it doesn't really matter as long as you stay on the Euro. America is socialist now as well (and not because of Obama or any of that nonsense, we've been doing this at least as far back as Nixon). As an American I can get a two year degree for 400 dollars in tuition a year, about 4000 dollars will get me the second two for my 4 year... it's only about 3k Euros... It's really not that bad, and it's heavily subsidized. 8800 dollars, equivalent to 6500 or so Euros, so, our tuition is about 500 dollars a year more, ehh.

        I will admit that a Masters degree, and a doctorate are far too expensive here... but they also have phenomenal loan programs for people who qualify for grad school, and people who go to grad school, make a boat load more money here than they do in other countries. We're all spiralling into debt though.

        The EU, Canada, America, the Aussies, and the Kiwi's... we all chose socialism, and now, we're all broke. The experiment isn't over yet though... So, technically, you could argue the results of socialisms failure, have yet to be published. Honestly though... It's just a matter of time. All of us are over taxed, and none of us want to pay the taxes that our retirement benefit would actually cost, if it was solvent. If we found an expensive cure for cancer next year, the entire concept of socialism would become insolvent.

        As a writer though, I think I poorly worded my 3 biggest lies, so here we go

        #1 "I just talked to god, and this is what he wants everyone to do"

        #2 "The government knows how to spend your money, better than you do"

        #3 "Everything's relative"
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          Jan 27 2012: I think we'll have to agree to disagree on what "socialism" means... ;)
          I didn't know that people can get a good degree in the states for so little money, my bad..

          On the countries being broke, I believe that de-regulation of the financial rules led to countries being broke, one big reason being that they had to buy back the debts of too-big-to-fail banks who had bought crappy financial products created by dishonest people and wrongly rated "AAA". The dishonesty of some and incompetence of others led to the financial crisis.

          But I won't start a 20-comment debate because I'm no political or financial expert and I still believe that some regulations made by government is a good thing. And believe me, I'm a lot angrier than you when my money isn't well spent, because I work to give money to the government from January until June before seeing the fruit of my work come to my bank account!
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          Jan 27 2012: Thank you for a concise reponse to the question. Your answer is valuable, relatively speaking.
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        Jan 27 2012: Fair enough... I should clarify however, that I am not a pure laisse faire capitalist, I'm okay with regulation, I'm just not okay with government directed production. I think a democracy can vote for the government to perform services, I don't think we can vote our way to more production. So "taking over" health insurance, is okay by me, "taking over" the drug companies, and hospitals, is not.

        My only direct critique of what you say... Is that "too big to fail", is a socialist concept. Capitalism loves failure.

        I'm no fan of Edison, but I like the quote "I didn't fail, I just found a thousand ways not to make a lightbulb". A capitalist economy, would have let the banks, who deregulated themselves by lobbying, fail... and new banks, would have been started, by random rich people who thought they could do it better.

        This would have been an incredibly sharp correction that dramatically decreased available credit... but, it would have fixed the cause of the problem, rather than treating the symptoms. The only other critique I feel is truly valid, is that retirement benefits not being matched to increases in life expectancy, are what's really bankrupting us all. The people, won't vote to correct this...

        To give credit to your point though, I didn't say you can get a good education that cheap, but you can get an education. If you're a hard working and motivated learner, you can use that education to succeed, but I will admit our respected universities, do cost closer to the 100 k you suggest.
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      Jan 26 2012: Unless you intentionally typed the Morse Code characters for the letter "o", there appears to be some sort of digital malfunction with your post. Try again Mr. Hrdlovic?