Questions for capitalists.
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01-11-2013, 03:22 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 02:17 PM)ridethespiral Wrote:  I'm never even brought up patents, all I was trying to say is that this notion that "standard oil was so good and kind and they would have kept selling their product at rock bottom prices" is bollocks.

So we're in agreement. Of course it has nothing to do with being good and kind. It's purely because of competition. That's the whole point of capitalism, not to depend on someone to be 'good and kind', but to have a system that compels participants to offer their customers a better product at a better price because it's a given that CEO's are NOT inherently good and kind, and that without competition, they'd rape and gouge their customers. The winners in this fierce competition is always the consumer, such as when Standard Oil continuously improved production and drove down prices.

Therefore, the REAL question, imo, with Standard Oil, is what eliminated the competition (the pressure) that was forcing them to do what was best for the public (ie drive down prices)? Every once in a while you get a case like DeBeers where they get a "natural monopoly" on their own. And it's true that in such cases government intervention would benefit the consumer by breaking up the monopoly. But, as Milton Friedman pointed out, 99 times out of 100, the government intervention is what CREATES the monopolies. Therefore, if you remove government intervention, you'll eliminate 99% of the monopolies. I'd rather have one or two "natural monopolies" in the world, than thousands of government-created monopolies. At least with the natural monopolies you have the choice of refusing to buy their product (ie use ruby's instead of DeBeer's diamonds in your engagement ring). But when it's a government-created monopoly, you generally cannot avoid it because you'll get shot and arrested if you try. This incredible power, imo, makes government-created monopolies much more dangerous.
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01-11-2013, 03:42 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 09:59 AM)frankksj Wrote:  
(01-11-2013 05:35 AM)Chas Wrote:  You conclude that patents are bad because some people are gaming the system?

No, the system is flawed, not the concept of patents.

We are in basic agreement. There is some merit to the concept of patents. I firmly believe in copyrights, for example. Why should one artist who paints be able to monetize his work, and another who sings starve to death because everybody is free to copy her work? In a modern age, intellectual property is property, just like physical property.

Patents are more gray because they cover ideas. It's the difference between Elvis Presley being able to copyright "Jailhouse rock" vs. him being able to patent the whole concept of rock 'n roll so that nobody else could expand the genre.

However, we are in agreement that the system, the implementation is terribly flawed. For starters, the patent system was based on a 'first to file', not a 'first to invent'. So if YOU invented something, and I was dimwit who happened to find your notes, I could patent your invention and steal it from you. Like Bell did with the phone. It's outrageous that Gray invented the phone on his own and did all the work, and someone else profited from it.

Also, in a capitalist society, one thing that is absolutely essential is competition. Without it, you get the kind of oppression I and I talks about, where the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few oppressors. Patents do limit competition, and this is very dangerous in a capitalist society.

But most of all it's just the sheer incompetence of the government bureaucrats running the system. They obviously have no competition, and have developed an attitude where they really don't give a fuck whose lives they destroy. I read on NPR, as I recall, that it's estimated that for every new invention there are generally 5 different patents issued for the same thing, and about 80% of patents issued are bogus. The PTO knows they're destroying innovation and driving business away, but they refuse to consider reform. They're lazy and more concerned with their own jobs. So, especially in the 90's, they just stamped 'approved' on every application that went through the office and figured they'd leave it to the private sector to battle it in the courts and sort out which patents were legit.

So it's very hard to separate the original "concept" from the actual "implementation". Same thing with Obamacare. For years the private sector has operated health insurance exchanges with no problem. Hundreds of them get built for a couple hundred thousand dollars, and the business get launched with a million or two in seed money, and they served lots of customers. I bought my last health insurance on such an exchange. Then the government tries to do the same thing. They spend $300 million on it, and they only got SIX people to actually enroll on the first day, and the site couldn't keep up, while the private sector sites can do 6 registrations a second with no problem for 1/1000th the operating costs. The "concept" of an insurance exchange had merits, just like the concept of patents, but government is just so inept at implementation that they both turned into a disaster.

Patents actually spur innovation. It is not up to government to inspire competition, that is the function of the marketplace.

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01-11-2013, 05:37 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 03:42 PM)Chas Wrote:  Patents actually spur innovation. It is not up to government to inspire competition, that is the function of the marketplace.

Chas, then you and are in total disagreement. Let's compare to see which one of us has based his opinions on facts. I'll lay down the 3rd party sources that I used to form my opinion. Please indicate what you've used to suggest it spurs innovation.

1.
The Foundation for Economic Education:


They do an analysis of innovation in the same areas before and after patents and conclude: "The second downside of the patent system is the devastating effect it has on incremental innovation"

2. Jaffe, Adam B.; Lerner, Joshua. Innovation and its discontents: how our broken patent system is endangering innovation and progress.

3. Washinton Post: Here’s why economists hate software patents

4. The American Economic Review: Patents, Potential Competition, and Technical Progress


5. Bill Gates, Microsoft:


Has repeatedly said patents hinder innovation, such as:

If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.



6. Larry Page, Sergey Brinn, Google:


Have been vocal opponents of the patent system.


7. Tim Cook, CEO, Apple:


"the patent system is broken"

Also, compare industries that have patents to those that don't. For example, fashion has no patents. Does that mean they simply don't innovate and make the same clothes year after year? To the contrary, without patents to rest on, they are forced to come up with new collections and styles every year. Imagine if Apple, for example, worked like the fashion industry. In 2006 they did a good job of refining a product to a new level (iPhone). Since then, the changes have been purely incremental, generally upgrades to the hardware as faster chips come out, and making the iPhone in different sizes (iPad, iPad mini, etc.). But, since 2006, they've spent many, many billions on patents and patent litigation. Some have argued Apple spends MORE on patents than on R&D. They spent (with MS) $4 billion to buy Nortel's patents, and are embroiled in multi-billion dollar lawsuits with Samsung and Google. Imagine if they spent that money on R&D actually inventing new products?

I'm really curious to see what industry sources you based your opinion on because, seriously, being in high tech myself, I don't one senior person in this space who doesn't say the patent system harms innovation.
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01-11-2013, 05:49 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 05:37 PM)frankksj Wrote:  
(01-11-2013 03:42 PM)Chas Wrote:  Patents actually spur innovation. It is not up to government to inspire competition, that is the function of the marketplace.

Chas, then you and are in total disagreement. Let's compare to see which one of us has based his opinions on facts. I'll lay down the 3rd party sources that I used to form my opinion. Please indicate what you've used to suggest it spurs innovation.

1.
The Foundation for Economic Education:


They do an analysis of innovation in the same areas before and after patents and conclude: "The second downside of the patent system is the devastating effect it has on incremental innovation"

2. Jaffe, Adam B.; Lerner, Joshua. Innovation and its discontents: how our broken patent system is endangering innovation and progress.

3. Washinton Post: Here’s why economists hate software patents

4. The American Economic Review: Patents, Potential Competition, and Technical Progress


5. Bill Gates, Microsoft:


Has repeatedly said patents hinder innovation, such as:

If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.



6. Larry Page, Sergey Brinn, Google:


Have been vocal opponents of the patent system.


7. Tim Cook, CEO, Apple:


"the patent system is broken"

Also, compare industries that have patents to those that don't. For example, fashion has no patents. Does that mean they simply don't innovate and make the same clothes year after year? To the contrary, without patents to rest on, they are forced to come up with new collections and styles every year. Imagine if Apple, for example, worked like the fashion industry. In 2006 they did a good job of refining a product to a new level (iPhone). Since then, the changes have been purely incremental, generally upgrades to the hardware as faster chips come out, and making the iPhone in different sizes (iPad, iPad mini, etc.). But, since 2006, they've spent many, many billions on patents and patent litigation. Some have argued Apple spends MORE on patents than on R&D. They spent (with MS) $4 billion to buy Nortel's patents, and are embroiled in multi-billion dollar lawsuits with Samsung and Google. Imagine if they spent that money on R&D actually inventing new products?

I'm really curious to see what industry sources you based your opinion on because, seriously, being in high tech myself, I don't one senior person in this space who doesn't say the patent system harms innovation.

Let's not confuse the poor implementation with the concept.

Without patent protection, there is less incentive to create as the fruits of innovation can simply be stolen.

With patent protection, the competition must innovate to stay viable.

I have no argument that the current system is deeply flawed. I, however, will continue to file patents for my software.

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01-11-2013, 06:49 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 05:49 PM)Chas Wrote:  Without patent protection, there is less incentive to create as the fruits of innovation can simply be stolen.

With patent protection, the competition must innovate to stay viable.

Chas, I asked you to specify what 3rd party research you were using to form that opinion. I referred to academic studies doing empirical analysis of countries before and after the introduction of the patent system, and the rate of innovation for each sector pre- and post-. The reports I've read all say the same thing. Patents hinder innovation, because once someone gets a patent, he has no need to innovate any more and tends to sit on it, and other would-be competitors stay out of the market. Have you based your opinions on any actual research? Or is it just a hunch?

Quote:I have no argument that the current system is deeply flawed. I, however, will continue to file patents for my software.

In my previous company I was developing software an open-source (GPL) model. As you probably know, most people in the open-source world HATE patents, and I refused to file them because I considered them unethical. However, when venture capitalists invested and setup a management team, I was overruled and they filed a bunch of patents with me listed as the inventor, assigned to the company, of course. I sold it, and with this new business, I simply stay out of the US altogether because of the patent system. Even when I come up with some new feature that is innovative and has never been done before, there's always SOME troll out there knocking at my door with his hand out insisting his patent is so broad and general that it covers my invention. I've fought 3 such bogus patents. In all 3 cases, the trolls never invented shit. They never made a product at all. They just filed very obscure patents in the 90's when the PTO was approving everything, and, during negotiation, there strategy was NEVER "We invented something and you stole it", but rather "It will cost you millions of dollars and take several years to fight our patent and, best case, you succeed, and you'll end up with nothing, and will have lost millions. We'll license you the patent for a fraction of what it would cost to fight it, so you're better off." And, of course, they're right. But it's extortion no matter how you look at it. I'd rather give up my business and have less income than fund their racket and support those parasites who are costing the tech industry an estimated $30 billion/year. If I support the trolls and write them checks, then they'll use that money to aggressively pursue other innocent victims, and I'll be an accomplice to the problem. I respect that you may have a different viewpoint. But, as far as whether patents encourage or hinder innovation, this should be done based on research, not hunches.
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01-11-2013, 07:12 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 06:49 PM)frankksj Wrote:  
(01-11-2013 05:49 PM)Chas Wrote:  Without patent protection, there is less incentive to create as the fruits of innovation can simply be stolen.

With patent protection, the competition must innovate to stay viable.

Chas, I asked you to specify what 3rd party research you were using to form that opinion. I referred to academic studies doing empirical analysis of countries before and after the introduction of the patent system, and the rate of innovation for each sector pre- and post-. The reports I've read all say the same thing. Patents hinder innovation, because once someone gets a patent, he has no need to innovate any more and tends to sit on it, and other would-be competitors stay out of the market. Have you based your opinions on any actual research? Or is it just a hunch?

Quote:I have no argument that the current system is deeply flawed. I, however, will continue to file patents for my software.

In my previous company I was developing software an open-source (GPL) model. As you probably know, most people in the open-source world HATE patents, and I refused to file them because I considered them unethical. However, when venture capitalists invested and setup a management team, I was overruled and they filed a bunch of patents with me listed as the inventor, assigned to the company, of course. I sold it, and with this new business, I simply stay out of the US altogether because of the patent system. Even when I come up with some new feature that is innovative and has never been done before, there's always SOME troll out there knocking at my door with his hand out insisting his patent is so broad and general that it covers my invention. I've fought 3 such bogus patents. In all 3 cases, the trolls never invented shit. They never made a product at all. They just filed very obscure patents in the 90's when the PTO was approving everything, and, during negotiation, there strategy was NEVER "We invented something and you stole it", but rather "It will cost you millions of dollars and take several years to fight our patent and, best case, you succeed, and you'll end up with nothing, and will have lost millions. We'll license you the patent for a fraction of what it would cost to fight it, so you're better off." And, of course, they're right. But it's extortion no matter how you look at it. I'd rather give up my business and have less income than fund their racket and support those parasites who are costing the tech industry an estimated $30 billion/year. If I support the trolls and write them checks, then they'll use that money to aggressively pursue other innocent victims, and I'll be an accomplice to the problem. I respect that you may have a different viewpoint. But, as far as whether patents encourage or hinder innovation, this should be done based on research, not hunches.

Ideally we need some sort of patent system, I've heard some first hand accounts from electronics manufactures doing business in China who need to source all of their boards/components from different factories and assemble them in a very secretive and locked down facility to avoid design theft.

They make cheap knockoffs of nearly every car/instrument/electronic device they can. It's not like we are talking about cola, we are talking about products that have a higher design cost than manufacturing cost and it is theft. For us it would be the wild west and the market would be wildly unstable...for them it's an opportunity to exploit decades of Western research.... I don't blame them and yet already (now that they are nearly caught up) they are shifting toward enforcing patent law because they know it's necessary to compete internationally and drive R&D.


For the record I don't have a solid opinion on the specifics of patent reform ATM. I feel they are necessary, but I'm sure that the law could be better.

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01-11-2013, 08:07 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
Regardless of what people think about patents in general, almost everybody agrees with Chas that the way the US "poorly implemented" it and it is "deeply flawed".
So this leads to a bigger question... If we all agree that patents fall into the category of stuff the Federal government has implemented very poorly, what about the other things the Federal government has done?

EDUCATION: It's hard to remember that at one point the US had one of the highest rated education systems in the world. It's reversed course and been on a downward spiral ever since the Dept of Education (ED) took over. In fact, just 5 years after its forming, Milton Friedman talked about the sharp fall in internationally standardized test scores since the ED was formed, and warned that unless the ED was dismantled and control was again decentralized with the local districts the trend would continue. And it did. And now the US is middle of the road on education, and all the top countries, like Finland and Scandinavia, are places that took Friedman's advice and decentralized education.

TRANSPORTATION: I've discussed this many times. The innovation was fast and furious until the government took over in the 1920's, and has reversed course and we have worse public transport now than we did 100 years ago. Also, ever since the gov't took over roads and bridges, they've been falling apart. Also, independent tests of airport security show the TSA is no more effective than the old private screeners were, despite their draconian tactics and advances in technology.

SOCIAL SECURITY: While the left largely praises social security, the fact is that social security trust funds average rate of return since the 1950's is 2.4%. It hasn't even kept up with inflation. Most people, if they invested the same amount in a private investment fund as they pay in SS tax, would be multi-millionaires at retirement.

HEALTH CARE: See healthcare.gov. Nuff said.

POVERTY: Ever since the Fed was unleashed in 1971, the poor have been getting wiped out. And even liberals, like Al Gore, have conceded that HUD has been a disaster and doomed the urban poor.

DRUG POLICY: How's that war on drugs coming along? As far as prescription drugs, the only studies I've ever read that compare how many lives the FDA saves by holding back bad drugs vs. how many lives the FDA costs by preventing good ones, have all concluded the FDA does more harm than good and life expectency would go up if the FDA went away.

IMMIGRATION: The US had open borders until 1913 when the government took over. Now, the US gets very few skilled immigrants anymore, the majority come from poor Latin American countries performing manual labor, and there are an estimated 20 million undocumented immigrants stuck in legal limo.

LEGISLATION IN GENERAL: Look at Congress's approval ratings.

COMMUNICATION/INTERNET: While the FCC has done it's assigned job of reducing RF interference, they have also done a power grab and overstepped their mandate as engineers to instead censor. And the NSA was supposed to improve internet protcols with secure encryption, and we know now they've deliberately weakened the encryption so that banking and e-commerce transactions are no longer safe.

So _WHAT_ does the government do very well? Wars and spying (NSA/CIA stuff) come to mind. I can't think of much else. So why are you lefties always insisting we should turn MORE responsibility over to the Federal government and let them dictate even more aspects of our lives?
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01-11-2013, 09:28 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
Hadn't forgotten, just been lazy.

Quote:@earmuffs, thank you for a productive debate.

Your welcome.

Quote:I hope you're right. But I think history will tell you otherwise. 50 years in the future the people of NZ will have forgotten about how bad the pre-87 regulation was. As you said, the far left will be very vocal that whatever problems NZ is having 50 years from now, it's because there's no heavy regulation.

And as people become successful, they become complacent and disengaged. Remember the US had an unregulated economy from the 18th century until the 1920's. The transformation was incredible. We went from subsistence farming to having modern medicine, science, an industrial revolution and countless millions of people flocked here from all over the world to pursue a better life. But people forget the history. In the 1920's they did the exact opposite of what made them successful in the past. Government took over all sorts of industries, with disastrous results. Ask the American man on the street why the US is so far behind the rest of the developed world in public transport, and I can guarantee you that virtually everybody (except the handful of classic liberals) will say the problem is the government didn't get involved enough. Everybody forgets that we led the world in public transportation UNTIL the government took over. People forget history. And people also aren't willing to acknowledge when they're views caused the problems—today, when talking about our dependency on oil and lack of public transport, you won't ever find liberals who fess up and say “Yeap, we did that.”

Thus, your optimism that NZ learned its lesson and even 100 years from now will remember it and won't go back is, imo, naïve. I think that now, while the lesson is fresh in people's minds, you need to put in place a system to prevent repeating the same mistakes again.

The 1800's was unique in that it was a time period of invention and steam power. Machines, production lines, factories, bad living conditions, awesome cloths that I wish were still in fashion today but instead we get shitty jeans.. bring back the suit and top hat I say, but w/e.
But when you talk about going backwards and mention the government take over of the railway's it's a bit skew because I suspect that that wasn't going backwards.
Prior to the industry revolution I don't think there would have been very much regulation to begin with. Simply because there wouldn't have been a need for it.
You don't need to control working conditions, wages, pensions etc.. because the system didn't really work like it did during the industrial revolution. Everyone was a tradesmen of sorts or a farmer or something.
I mean don't get me wrong, the government grabbing up a whole lot of industries including the railways is/was obviously a bad move. But what I'm saying is that it's linear, not a circle. So rather than the government going back to regulation, it slowly increased regulation over the 1800's until it jumped off the proverbial ledge and acquired the railways etc.. The US was pretty internally focused, producing the majority of it's goods at home. As was much of the world at the time (around the times of the world wars), mostly due to poor transport (it wasn't really cost efficient for mass globalization), you had the two world wars which would have scared countries, made them not want to be so reliable on foreign countries for goods etc.. But eventually globalization has taken root and America probably more so than anyone else embraced it and now it has an economy almost as big as the entire EU combined.

The point being that America has gone through a period of slowly building up it's regulation over the 1800's early 1900's and than a period of opening up and trade. The later producing the economy it has today. And today there's no sign that the government wants to eat up major corporations (unless I'm not aware of something). The government is more or less happy with the system today. I mean yea they did tweeks here and there, but it's nothing major like acquiring the entire rail network.
This is why I'm not worried for NZ. We had our regulation period and in 87 we finally woke the fuck up and are now in our period of globalization and our economy is growing as a result and people's lives are better because of it.
Until something dramatic changes that, and it'd have to be something big, I don't see why people would want to mess with something that's growing and basically making everyone rich. Yes obviously they'll be tweeks here and there but ultimately it will be tiny in the grand scale and thus why I'm not worried about it.

Quote:The most strictly federalist government today is Switzerland—population 7 million, with the government power dispersed among 26 cantons (States). And, this system works just as well for them as it did for the US until it was abandoned in the 1920's. The Swiss today are highest in terms of household wealth (the average Swiss household has $700,000 in savings), and are among the top in terms of life expectancy, low crime, standard of living, and happiest citizens. A federalist system scales very well to both small and large countries imo.

We do have this system on a mini scale. Regions, which would be our equivalent of states can pass bylaws. But they're mostly to do with that region. ie: water regulation (in times of droughts) , alcohol regulation (no alcohol in the CBD for example), certain regulation in regards to events through the year (ie: small beach towns of like 3,000 people that swell to 60,000 people over new years) etc..
But that's really the only effect they have. Things like education, health etc.. is all done by the government.

Quote:Well keep in mind that if you're right, and if >50% of the local authorities think like that, then it's inevitable they WILL get the regulation passed at the national level anyway, and you'll be screwed. However, in a Federalist system, even if 70% of the local authorities do crazy shit, there's always a few authorities that do a better job and people start moving there, which forces the crazy places to shape up.

Fair point. The Taranaki would do well in this sort of system. They've invested very well in things like natural gas etc.. and are a farming region (which means they vote National, aka Central right).

Quote:Then you have state lines run through Auckland so that it's split into autonomous areas. Then North Auckland would be competing with South Auckland to provide the best live+work environment, and if the South Aucklanders passed laws that ruined their lives, you'd get blight and decay in the South as the people moved to north Auckland, forcing the Southerners to fix it. Small governments are so much more efficient, I'm always in favor of keeping it as small as possible. In Switzerland the average population of an autonomous region (ie canton/state) is 269,000, and they run SOOOO much more efficiently than bigger regions. Look at how much those small governments accomplish with so little tax revenue. It's considered a 'tax haven', yet they're able to provide for everyone so nobody is poor or hungry, everybody gets a great education, and the public infrastructure is the best I've seen in the world (and I've been to over 50 countries).

There's already blight and decay in South Auckland, it's a real shithole.

But I get where you're coming from and see your point and agree.

I'm going to Europe in 2015 for a year (and to hopefully just straight up live there, though my parents don't know that part of the plan yet, they'll find out at the end of 2015 soon enough). It'll be nice to see countries like Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, see how they do it first hand.

Quote:First, if you have power at the local level, you actually have MORE power to choose how things are run. If are voting in a jurisdiction with only 200,000 people, your vote has 20 times the weight it does in a national vote among 4 million. And you can choose to live in an area where people think like you so that it becomes much easier to get the 51% majority that is needed. At the national level, it's winner takes all, and if the winner is the 'idiots', then you lose. It's easy for you to say it's working now while NZ is doing fairly well. I'll bet that someday when the 'idiots' get back in power and destroy the economy and you're out of work and struggling, you'll probably wish the government had implemented a system to contain the 'idiots' and limit the damage, and that you had the ability to relocate to another area to escape their devastation.

Well I wont be living here for very long so by the time that happens I wont really care.
BUT if the idiots get into power here... oh dear god... because the idiots here are really really fucking stupid. The problem we have is that National are by far the biggest party, I mean look at last years election results 48% of the votes compared to the other major party Labor who got 22%, but they have so few selections for coalition parties. National, The Maori Party and The Greens (more towards the center than Labor and actually have a lot of good policies that are only loosely based around being green) are really the only three viable parties. The Greens always side with Labor (though it was up in the air last election so maybe not next election) and the Maori Party will side with whoever they feel is gonna win. ACT always sides with National but they're batshit crazy, they're a far far right wing party and only ever get into power because National lets them win an electoral seat so they get into parliament and can form a coalition with National. ACT is losing votes, nobody votes for them anymore (noone voted for them in the past, like 2% of the votes but it's even worse now) and come next election they wont be around.
So sure, National can get 48% of the votes, but if Labor get's 22% and forms a coalition with Greens, NZ First (run by one hell of a batshit crazy cunt who I would love to throatal. This party wants to bring NZ back to pre-87 times. AND they got 13% of the votes... They always get the grey power votes.), Mana (extreme Maori, anti-white, far left, run by a famous family with a long history dating back to British colonization) and get's 50% of the seats and thus forms a government (and wins) than this country is totally in the shitter.
The only good thing is that the Maori party are more central right than central left and so given a choice between Labor and National they'd side with National I think. The problem being that since Mana party split from the Maori party, the Maori party have not received the votes they use to get.
Next election a new party will be around though, the Conservative Party (christian party). It's fucking awful to think I have to put my faith in a fucking Christian party getting a decent percentage of the votes (without taking votes form national) to bring my party across the finish line...

Fuck, we really need to go to a federal/state system.

Quote:P.S. Do agree with Milton Friedman that government regulation creates, rather than prevents, monopolies? Can you find any examples of monopolies, besides DeBeers, that got to be monopolies without government privilege?

I think government regulation can certainly create monopolies. Especially if a certain market is controlled by a monopoly and is then regulated and protected by the government.
The telecommunications market comes to mind here. Telecom use to be a state owned enterprise. When it was sold off, because it owned all the telephone lines, it was extremely hard/impossible for a competitor to get into the market. Hell, Vodaphone and 2Degrees (the now other two major telecommunications companies) only came to be because of the cellphone market (Telecom doesn't own the airwaves).
BUT the government forced Telecom to "unbundle" the phone lines and allow competitors into the market. Now we're seeing heaps of small competing companies in the home phone and internet market. AND we're finally getting fiber cables (as opposed to copper) because the government is building a new line system because Telecom had no reason to upgrade it and no company could afford to build another one.

I guess what I'm saying is, yes the government can be a contributor to monopolies but I still think that governments play a key role in preventing them as well.



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02-11-2013, 01:42 AM (This post was last modified: 02-11-2013 01:53 AM by ridethespiral.)
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(01-11-2013 08:07 PM)frankksj Wrote:  Regardless of what people think about patents in general, almost everybody agrees with Chas that the way the US "poorly implemented" it and it is "deeply flawed".
So this leads to a bigger question... If we all agree that patents fall into the category of stuff the Federal government has implemented very poorly, what about the other things the Federal government has done?

EDUCATION: It's hard to remember that at one point the US had one of the highest rated education systems in the world. It's reversed course and been on a downward spiral ever since the Dept of Education (ED) took over. In fact, just 5 years after its forming, Milton Friedman talked about the sharp fall in internationally standardized test scores since the ED was formed, and warned that unless the ED was dismantled and control was again decentralized with the local districts the trend would continue. And it did. And now the US is middle of the road on education, and all the top countries, like Finland and Scandinavia, are places that took Friedman's advice and decentralized education.

TRANSPORTATION: I've discussed this many times. The innovation was fast and furious until the government took over in the 1920's, and has reversed course and we have worse public transport now than we did 100 years ago. Also, ever since the gov't took over roads and bridges, they've been falling apart. Also, independent tests of airport security show the TSA is no more effective than the old private screeners were, despite their draconian tactics and advances in technology.

SOCIAL SECURITY: While the left largely praises social security, the fact is that social security trust funds average rate of return since the 1950's is 2.4%. It hasn't even kept up with inflation. Most people, if they invested the same amount in a private investment fund as they pay in SS tax, would be multi-millionaires at retirement.

HEALTH CARE: See healthcare.gov. Nuff said.

POVERTY: Ever since the Fed was unleashed in 1971, the poor have been getting wiped out. And even liberals, like Al Gore, have conceded that HUD has been a disaster and doomed the urban poor.

DRUG POLICY: How's that war on drugs coming along? As far as prescription drugs, the only studies I've ever read that compare how many lives the FDA saves by holding back bad drugs vs. how many lives the FDA costs by preventing good ones, have all concluded the FDA does more harm than good and life expectency would go up if the FDA went away.

IMMIGRATION: The US had open borders until 1913 when the government took over. Now, the US gets very few skilled immigrants anymore, the majority come from poor Latin American countries performing manual labor, and there are an estimated 20 million undocumented immigrants stuck in legal limo.

LEGISLATION IN GENERAL: Look at Congress's approval ratings.

COMMUNICATION/INTERNET: While the FCC has done it's assigned job of reducing RF interference, they have also done a power grab and overstepped their mandate as engineers to instead censor. And the NSA was supposed to improve internet protcols with secure encryption, and we know now they've deliberately weakened the encryption so that banking and e-commerce transactions are no longer safe.

So _WHAT_ does the government do very well? Wars and spying (NSA/CIA stuff) come to mind. I can't think of much else. So why are you lefties always insisting we should turn MORE responsibility over to the Federal government and let them dictate even more aspects of our lives?

Frank what are you advocating? Divide and conquer at the state level? Complete and total anarchy? A leaner more efficient corpristocracy?

Government is not bad, corruption is bad. Yes eliminating the government would stop corruption... in the same way that surrendering to your enemy would bring peace.

We need reform but obstructionism, mindless cutting of beneficial programs over defense and corporate charity, and a tax policy straight out of 1920 is not the solution.

Open primaries, an end to filibuster abuse, campaign finance reform, actual prosecution of inside trading by comities, conflict of interest enforcement, term length extension, etc. are what it's going to take to fix the system. All this right wing throw the baby out with the bathwater stuff is pointless, if you win you have only succeeded in creating a power vacuum, and more likely your kind will just be dead weight on our journey to progress.

There are bi-partisan solutions to our problems, we can restore functioning democracy...but naw you go stick a snake on your bumper and keep on crusading to end government while DOW privatizes your water supply and the Kochs run a pipeline through your backyard or clearcut the country to make the TP business more profitable.

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02-11-2013, 09:48 AM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(02-11-2013 01:42 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  Frank what are you advocating? Divide and conquer at the state level? Complete and total anarchy? A leaner more efficient corpristocracy?

The Age of Enlightenment was when intellectuals sought to "reform society using reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange." (link)

By following this scientific method, and using logic and axioms, and suspending pre-conceived notions, it was possible to clearly identify the problems that had been holding mankind back for thousands of years.

One key thing they observed is that power had traditionally been heavily concentrated in a central ruling authority, and that this led to corruption and tyranny. The solution was to carefully divide and separate this power, both by role and geography, so that at every level you have 3 separate government branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) with their own distinct and non-overlapping role to provide checks and balances, and that the power be pushed to local jurisdictions so that it is dispersed and diluted, so that governments, just like private enterprises, had to compete vigorously for "customers". This created a self-correcting system with checks and balances.

If you look at the Timeline of historic inventions you'll see thousands of years passed with very little progress, and then a sudden explosion of progress the moment this system was implemented.

I've traveled to over 50 countries, and observed that in nearly all countries this system was gradually abandoned starting in the early 20th century, and had been slowly returning to the previous neanderthal system of heavily concentrated central power and "might makes right" that had existed since cavemen walked the earth and beat each other with clubs. Of all the Western countries that adopted this system of dispersed power, the only one I found that kept it through the 20th century was Switzerland. And having lived there for 10 years, I saw first-hand how much better government functioned with that system. They were the only country that eliminated poverty (ie where the poorest in society make at least half the median income), there was no homeless, no hungry, virtually no unemployment (<2%), the average household had $700,000 in savings, the government was lean and efficient and able to provide public services and safety nets of higher quality than Sweden, but with a lower tax burden than the US.

So, I simply advocate we stick to the constitution, like Switzerland did, with the power dispersed among state governments viciously competing with each other, and that we adhere to a strict separation of powers. This means the executive branch (President) must NOT be allowed to make laws (executive orders) or declare wars, since those powers are reserved for the legislative. And he must NOT have the power to summarily imprison or execute people (ie drones, military prisons, indefinite detainment), since those powers are reserved for the judicial. And the Federal government must stick to the carefully chosen list of enumerated powers, and the Supreme Court must do its duty and nullify as unconstitutional any laws that Congress passes which deviate from those powers, and Congress must do its duty and impeach Presidents who refuse to obey the rule of law.

Quote:Government is not bad, corruption is bad. Yes eliminating the government would stop corruption... in the same way that surrendering to your enemy would bring peace.

I'm not saying eliminate government. To the contrary, I'd say we libertarians are the ONLY advocates of government. Because what defines government? What is the blue print for how government should work? It's the Constitution. And we're the only group of people who advocate following the rule of law and obeying the Constitution. This is pro-government in my book. The ones are anti-government are the Democrats and Republicans who throw it in the trash, concentrate all the power in one man, and then viciously fight to get their man in office so that they can beat the other party into submission. To me, looking at the them, is like watching neanderthals beat each other with clubs.

Quote:We need reform but obstructionism, mindless cutting of beneficial programs over defense and corporate charity, and a tax policy straight out of 1920 is not the solution.

In my opinion, there will be no progress until we suspend faith, and use logic and reason. The problem is that few are willing to do that. Look at these posts and how many times I've posted challenges to guys to answer basic, black & white questions. Yet they refuse and run from those challenges. But rather than admitting that this proves there's a logic flaw in their thinking, they stick to their faith regardless. We must suspend our faith, and approach it using the scientific method. First look at the facts, look at the logic, and THEN formulate your opinions based on those. Don't start with opinions and then cherry-pick the facts that you think support your opinions, and ignore those that don't.

Quote:Open primaries, an end to filibuster abuse, campaign finance reform, actual prosecution of inside trading by comities, conflict of interest enforcement, term length extension, etc. are what it's going to take to fix the system. All this right wing throw the baby out with the bathwater stuff is pointless, if you win you have only succeeded in creating a power vacuum, and more likely your kind will just be dead weight on our journey to progress.

I'm not at all right wing, and I'm not suggesting throwing out the baby. I'm suggesting rooting out the problem. You advocate "term length extension"??? Be pragmatic and logical. Right now, what happens the moment a new President gets elected? It's all about posturing and preparing himself for re-election in 4 years. Remember Obama whispering to Putin that he can't do anything in his first 4 years until after he gets re-elected? If we were going to make a change, I would advocate the OPPOSITE, and have all Presidents and, maybe even legislators, serve ONE term max. Look at Nixon, for example. In his first term, he completely fucked the people, dooming the country and particularly poor people by unchaining the Fed's printing press. He knew it would have disastrous consequences long-term. But he also knew voters would love it short-term and that it would get him re-elected by a landslide (which it did). If he was limited to one term, imo, he'd have a much longer term view looking to build a legacy and leave the nation better, rather than looking to position himself for a re-election.

Quote:There are bi-partisan solutions to our problems, we can restore functioning democracy

Again, I think one big mistake the Founders made was having a 'winner takes all' voting process, which effectively means there can only be two parties. Bi-partisan solutions just concentrate that power even more, so the Republicrats can block 3rd parties. I feel a better solution is to end bi-partisanship altogether with more modern voting systems that would encourage a bunch of parties--not just two. Again, we want to go in opposite direction. You want bi-partisan, meaning both parties effectively act as one, and thus power is MORE concentrated, I want the power to be dispersed and separated among many parties--not just 2.

Quote:...but naw you go stick a snake on your bumper and keep on crusading to end government while DOW privatizes your water supply and the Kochs run a pipeline through your backyard or clearcut the country to make the TP business more profitable.

Again, what is the document that defines the government? Which of us advocates using it, and having the government follow the rule of law? I still believe I am pro-government, because dispersing power is not anti-government--it is anti-bad-government. You are advocating concentrating and centralizing the power even more, which, imo, is just going to keep making the problem worse.
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