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The Carbon Flame War
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Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 03:25:41 MDT Print View

Interesting the deafening silence among those here who love their countries and the benefits they give them as much as the Americans here love their country.

It seems to me that maybe sombunall (some but not all)of the residents in many other countries possibly find the concept of professing your country to be the best in the world slightly absurd.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Who'd pay for National Parks on 10/15/2010 04:07:43 MDT Print View

If we're working on a user pays system, who would pay for national parks?

I'm guessing there'd be plenty of customers who would pay more than backpackers to use them.

Maybe a golf course in the river valley, after it gets clear felled.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 05:52:12 MDT Print View

It seems to me that maybe sombunall (some but not all)of the residents in many other countries possibly find the concept of professing your country to be the best in the world slightly absurd.

I certainly hope my words expressed just that! There's always a knotty, delicately stunned, twitch-of-the-left-eyebrow kind of astonishment whenever I hear someone announce that their country is the best in the world.

Imagine if I strode into a party full of all you dear BPL members and declared, while striking my chest and sounding a bugle, that I, Miguel Arboleda, am the best man ever to have lived! My life is an example to you all and no other life has ever achieved or is able to achieve, what I, Miguel Arboleda, have done until now. And no other man is worthy to contest my declaration! I, Miguel Arboleda, have achieved (I didn't say I had the broadest vocabulary in the world), if not perfect, at least close to perfect, perfection! Gaze upon me, Miguel Arboleda the Great, the Righteous, the Mover of Happiness, Liberty, and Justice! Gaze upon me, Miguel Arboleda, and weep!

I don't know, maybe I've missed my calling, but I suspect most of you (might there be a few who wouldn't?) would consider me slightly, if not seriously, daft. I suspect someone (an Australian perhaps, or possibly a sympathetic North Korean) would pull me aside and offer me a drink, "You need this more than I do." And as the party winds on and everyone gets properly sloshed, then slowly, inevitably, and with utmost certainty the truth will come out: the best man in the world, without a doubt, is... Doug! Doug and his dog! Doug and his office chair! Doug and his... does he have a Duomid? Can't remember...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 08:15:56 MDT Print View

Interesting the deafening silence among those here who love their countries and the benefits they give them as much as the Americans here love their country.

It seems to me that maybe sombunall (some but not all)of the residents in many other countries possibly find the concept of professing your country to be the best in the world slightly absurd.
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In case no one has noticed, I have been extremely critical of the Government and some of the people in the US. And although flawed, IMO it is the best country to live in because of the freedoms,liberties, and opportunities we enjoy. My standard of living is better than probably 99% of the world. I started out with nothing, other than the opportunities this country affords, and any successes I have achieved were the result of my efforts in a system that rewarded those efforts. Many people from around the world must agree, because so many immigrate here.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 08:22:52 MDT Print View

"quoting karl marx? Really?"

Funny, I feel the same about all the conservative/libertarian nonsense being spewed here. I just cannot get it, it is a completely alien way of thinking for me.

As for Marxism killing more people than cigarettes...A cute quote, but are we really that blind to historical (and current) economic and military conquests of markets? How about the wholesale subjugation and destruction of entire peoples/cultures in the name of making a buck and increasing share values?

It becomes more and more apparent to me that this is not about politics or minor philosophical differences. It is about fundamental differences in how we perceive the very world we live in, how we frame reality, and how we relate to others.

I suspect we will make as much progress talking to a wall as trying to influence each others thinking here. It's a matter of internal wiring.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Who'd pay for National Parks on 10/15/2010 08:43:54 MDT Print View

If we're working on a user pays system, who would pay for national parks?

I'm guessing there'd be plenty of customers who would pay more than backpackers to use them.

Maybe a golf course in the river valley, after it gets clear felled.

-----------------------------------------------------------

I am an advocate of private property. But if the people (we are the government) determine that we should hold public lands in order to protect them, then the users should pay for any services. If we want to declare wilderness areas, and if those wilderness areas need such things as trail maintenance, then the users of those trails should pay for it... not the rest of the population. If there are not enough users to pay for trail maintenance, then the trails will revert back to their natural state, which is a good idea in my mind.

The Nature Conservancy does a good job within a system that respects private property. They buy the land to conserve it, and rehabilitate it as needed. For many years I was a member of the NC, but stopped when they started accepting government grants, got involved with some questionable land dealings with several government agencies, used scare tactics to force land owners to sell, among other questionable activities including the loss of significant monies through poor investments. However the NC has shown that the private sector can preserve lands in a capitalistic economy.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 08:52:22 MDT Print View

I'd like to clarify one of the major differences in thinking that I see playing out here:

In my mind:
In order for capitalism to appear just and fair, the system completely hinges on the idea that all players have equal opportunity and a level playing field and the belief that we financially succeed due entirely to our own merits, hard work, and abilities.

I don't believe this for a minute. I know some people do, but I think it's crazy.

In light of history, I find it a completely insane proposition that certain groups are not on top due to direct or indirect racism, exploitation of others, sexism, and a myriad of other historical (and current) injustices that continue to play themselves out on a daily basis. The ripples of these historical (and current) injustices are still spreading.

In order to justify it's gross inequities, capitalism relies on the myth of the self-made man. Power comes not from a historical legacy of privilege, handed from generation to generation in one form or another (be it skin color, land inheritance, gender, but from "hard work" and one's own merit.

I think this attitude is a complete denial of the history of power relations/inequities on this planet.

At the very least, if this is the system we're to practice, don't pretend it's just.
_________________________________________________
While I can entertain the other side for the sake of argument, my gut and heart cannot really see it any other way. It's in my makeup.

Edited by xnomanx on 10/15/2010 08:56:10 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 09:20:30 MDT Print View

Many people from around the world must agree, because so many immigrate here.

No one is saying that the U.S. doesn't have a lot to offer. It does. There certainly are some great advantages to living in the States. But talk to a lot of those people who move to the States and ask them if they think the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. If they are able to get past being guarded about answering a loaded question, they will very often tell you that they miss a lot of things from back "home" that you just can't find in the States. Most reasons to come to the States are purely financial. Usually not much more than that. Oh yes, there are those who are escaping persecution and displacement, but those aren't the majority, and even they will tell you how much they miss their home coutnries. Most people just want to have more money.

As to great numbers of immigrants? More people try to get into the EU than into the United States. Far more. Australia does a fair job, proportionately, of taking lots of people in, too. So does Canada. And Brazil. In fact, most of Latin America is made up of immigrants. My wife is a second generation Japanese immigrant to Brazil, one of over 2 million in Sao Paulo alone. She loves Brazil in spite of all its problems and would NEVER consider moving to the States. What did she do? She came to Japan, of all places (Japan's immigration policy hardly allows anyone at all in, and their attitude toward non-Japanese is abysmal) to make money, not because she loves Japan (she dislikes it intensely). My Filipino grandfather immigrated to the States in the 1910's because of the grinding poverty back home (caused in great part by the American, and earlier the Spanish, occupation of the Philippines) and lived in America all his life, became an American citizen, served in the American navy, but all his life he venerated the Philippines and tried to find a way to get back home without causing hardship for his family.

The stories about success and what people get for their hard work are not as simple and straightforward or rooted in patriotism as a lot of people would have us believe. Life is never that simple. Most people, in spite of working like dogs all their lives (like all my grandparents did... my German grandparents... factory workers who lived through the worst of the Wars and the Great Depression... ended up with much better care and benefits than my American grandparents ever came close to) never get close to getting out of the rat holes. And anyone here who suggests that a non-white person, especially up until twenty years ago, had the same opportunities as a white person, needs to seriously take some time learning about what the lives of non-white people are like, especially in places like America. A white person simply has no concept of the reality of being non-white. Period. You don't get stopped by the police for walking in a white neighborhood. You don't subtly get asked to take the enlistment test again (like my father was) because you did too well on it the first time. You don't have people at parties ask you to fetch them another drink. You don't walk into a job interview and never get asked a single relevant question because your name is Spanish and you look Latino. You don't have employers lean across to you and, in all seriousness, ask you how much your sister costs and how great Filipinas are for sex tours. You don't have women leave a bar in disgust, calling you a F***ing Iranian. You don't get subjected to constant airport security searches, having everything you carry strewn about the table, while not a single other passenger, all white, even gets asked to stop. You don't have white doctors, working in a research facility where you are working part-time as a glass washer, refuse to sit next to you in the lunch room, because, to them, you are just a lowly immigrant (I had a Master's in Architecture), or white Harvard Medical School graduates at a party take one glance at you and turn to another person to talk. My father, an extremely intelligent man who could probably out debate anyone here in these forums, had to leave the States in the 60's in order to be able to go beyond the restraints of being Filipino/African-American and achieve the success in the publishing industry that he dreamed of. He found it here in Japan, reaching the United Nations, where he became head of one branch. He never left Japan because he feels he would never have been given the time of day in the States. Just imagine that... a country as prejudiced as Japan gave him opportunities that he would never have been able to get in the States.

Sorry... I have to strongly disagree that everyone, anyone at all, has the same opportunities in the States. That is simply bull pocky.

Edited by butuki on 10/15/2010 09:40:02 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 11:02:38 MDT Print View

Craig,

Each of us must explore our world and develop our own full philosophic system that enables us live a consistent life. It is a complex journey. To me a philosophical system must include politics, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology.

Regarding Marx, who said, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." A noble idea, but in reality it enslaves the producers to the state, and benefits the non-producers. Eventually the producers no longer want to work for the non-producers, and join the non-producers. Instead of bounty, they end up with little.

Marx, among others, advocate that people live for the state, not themselves. The State becomes the religion of the country. Religion is not tolerated, because it is contrary to the goals of the State. There is no place for individualism in these collective, statist governments. Religion, Statist Governments, and even Capitalistic governments have all killed more people than cigarettes!!

As mentioned earlier, my choice is for a system to live under is laissez-faire capitalism. This is not the capitalism of America. This is a system where:

"transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies." (quote from Wikipedia)

This type of capitalism views "power" as evil. It is also tolerant of religion, but does not endorse it. These kind of capitalists believe that man cannot initiate physical force against another individual. They do allow retaliatory force in the hands of government (police and military) only to the extent to protect its citizens within the objective laws created to protect the individual rights of its citizens.

In America, Religion and Government must be separate. But individuals have the right to worship any religion they choose. Lets look at the controversial Islamic center near ground zero. I disdain Islam. But they have the right to worship in this country. And private property rights gives them the right to build a mosque on any property they own. The government cannot take this right away. And lets look at the whole WTC thing. A lot of the land is owned by the government (NY Port Authority). It should be sold to a private owner. What I would like to see is private ownership of the site, and hopefully the new owner will rebuild it from the ashes (phoenix), and make it even taller. That would be a more fitting monument than what is planned.

Capitalism is not about power, or any group being on top. It is about individuals. And each having the freedom to do what they want, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of other individuals. Pure capitalism does not tolerate racism, sexism, or any other form of discrimination. The business owner wants to hire the best person available to do the job, and pay enough money to keep that employee. And should that employee save enough money to become a business owner or tycoon, that is a good thing.

Minorities in America do have opportunity, and I agree it is not always a level playing field. I bet Oprah Winfrey (child of unmarried teenage parents and grew up in poverty) and Robert L Johnson (9th of 10 children born in Mississippi) think there is opportunity in America. Research Oprah's biography... if ever there was a poor start in live, Oprah lived it.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 11:40:28 MDT Print View

"my choice is for a system to live under is laissez-faire capitalism."

Laissez-faire is just the same as Marxism in that both are unrealistic, non-existant utopias.

Capitalism needs restrictive regulations. Among the most important are enforcement of contracts. If government doesn't enforce a contract than the law that is left is power and greed. That's not a utopia that is anarchy.

Other meddlesome governemnt regulations like prohibition against fraud make free exchange flow much more smoothly and patent laws preserve the value of innovation. Nick, do you believe we would be better off without these restrictive government regulations?

Once you need a government you need taxes and they must come from somewhere. Whether you tax investors or consumers or consumption all taxes have some negative economic impact. The key is to achieve a balance that preserves the incentive to invest and at that same time maintains strong consumer demand.

I live in silicone valley where every year billions are invested in new ventures. It makes it hard for me to believe that our system is so out of wack that investment is being destroyed. Nor do I believe restoring the upper income bracket to the same level as it was in the 90s when silicone valley startups exploded is the difference between capitalism and socialism.

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 11:57:36 MDT Print View

I'd love to see a separation of religion and state.

Too many fools worship a fictional capitalist system where hard work provides mobility and everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 13:28:36 MDT Print View

"Capitalism needs restrictive regulations. Among the most important are enforcement of contracts. If government doesn't enforce a contract than the law that is left is power and greed. That's not a utopia that is anarchy."
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Contracts are adjudicated in court. If you have inhibited or denied my right to life, liberty, property, or pursuit of happiness, I take you to court and you pay for the damage you caused me. You also pay for all the court costs.



"Other meddlesome governemnt regulations like prohibition against fraud make free exchange flow much more smoothly and patent laws preserve the value of innovation. Nick, do you believe we would be better off without these restrictive government regulations?"
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We do not need regulations. If I develop something, I own it. The problem with patent laws is that they expire. They should never expire.

If I develop a pill that cures cancer or a car that gets 5,000 miles to the gallon, I own the technology. Only I can sell or license it. Some would say it is my responsibility to give the technology to the world, or criticize me for charging too much. I would sell one pill for $1 and rake in billions of dollars. I would try to sell as many cars as cheaply as possible, so I have a great percentage of the world's automotive market. I profit handsomely, and society benefits from my profit by the eradication of cancer, and reducing the carbon footprint of the world.

Do we need to regulate industries or individuals like doctors and lawyers? No. If they infringe on anyone's rights, it goes to court just as above. And the best doctors, lawyers, etc. will focus on their reputation. The better their reputation the higher the demand for their services and the amount of money they can charge. Do companies worry about their reputation? You bet. Look at Toyota, they grew because of their reputation for affordable, reliable vehicles. This year's recalls and bad press have hurt them dearly, and they are working diligently to restore that reputation.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 13:32:03 MDT Print View

Deregulation is a major cause of our current crisis.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 13:47:37 MDT Print View

Deregulation is a major cause of our current crisis.
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No, it is a failed mixed economy, government intervention in the economy, and government agencies that are at the root cause level.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 13:59:38 MDT Print View

A white person simply has no concept of the reality of being non-white.

Sorry... I have to strongly disagree that everyone, anyone at all, has the same opportunities in the States. That is simply bull pocky.
-----------------------------------------------------------

Here is what Robert L Johnson (owner of B.E.T.) has to say about racism

"Treat racism like rain. Racism exists, but put up an {emotional} umbrella and go to work. Don't stand out there and get drenched in it {racism}. Certainly protect yourself legally, if need be, but don't define your life by filing a law suite every time someone says something racist. I liken it to playing in the NFL. You know you're going to get hit, so get up and keep on playing. Get on with your life and do what needs to be done."

I think a lot of humans suffer from what I call a "tribal mentality." They think their tribe is superior to all other people. We will never eliminate discrimination or racism by just passing laws. However a society that allows people to excel not matter what their color can eventually eradicate most of this. Race is a problem in the US, and it is not going to be easy to fix.

My wife and I are an inter-racial couple. And sometimes the racism is worse for us because of our marriage. We have been stopped by police because of a report of a prostitute in the area (they assumed she was a hooker), had difficulty getting served in restaurants, and a gauntlet of racial barriers. I often do not even see the barriers, but she does. When these things happen, I get mad and feel bad about her hurt feelings, but she takes it in stride and moves on. She tells me that no one can hurt her feelings, only she can. I don't think I could do as well if I were in her shoes. Not only does she have to deal with race discrimination, but sex discrimination also.

I am hesitant about discussing my wife, because she likes her privacy. But she fights racism one person at a time. She does it by being the best person she can be, and has the ability to get people to view her on her merits, not her color. She often has to work harder and perform at a higher than whites to earn respect and even her rights as an individual. She knows it is not fair, but she can control her destiny. She wins people over, one person at a time. She has actually changed the culture and minimized racism in entire organizations with her passion for life and a focus on who she is. She loves this country and hates the racism.

She has worked menial jobs, and eventually moves quickly through companies to positions of responsibility and excellent pay. In her present job, she started at the bottom as a temp worker. She just wanted the opportunity to work there, and became a key employee in a few years. I won't discuss her personal life, but she has encountered circumstances that most people would say that she had no chances of getting out of.

Here is a picture of me and my best friend (wife), a person who inspires everyone around her, because of the basic rights all of us are entitled to. She will probably not be thrilled that I share all of this, but I am so proud of her.

As Henry Ford said, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right."


cruise picture

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 13:59:41 MDT Print View

>...it is a failed mixed economy, government intervention in the economy, and government agencies that are at the root cause level.

I agree with you here. But the deregulation of banks and financial institutions fed the fires quite a bit as well.

Deregulation was a result of government intervention!

Edited by T.L. on 10/15/2010 14:02:28 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 14:05:04 MDT Print View

I agree with you here. But the deregulation of banks and financial institutions fed the fires quite a bit as well.

Deregulation was a result of government intervention!

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A lot of this would have been avoided if the government had not created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their desire to manipulate the money supply and provide home ownership to people who could not afford it.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 14:15:34 MDT Print View

>A lot of this would have been avoided if the government had not created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their desire to manipulate the money supply and provide home ownership to people who could not afford it.

Indeed, this is true.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 14:25:50 MDT Print View

Thanks Nick. That revelation about your private life made a big difference in how I see what you are talking about... the exposure you have to what non-whites go through can only help you see what is really happening, something you may not have even known existed were it not for your wife.

I agree with your evaluation of how non-whites (and women) have to get through their daily lives in order to survive and make something better of themselves. As a Filipino/ African-American/ German/ Danish who grew up in Japan there is little I can latch onto in terms of a tribe... I was stateless, too, until I was 21, because of an obscure law in the States that denied me citizenship, even though my father is a U.S. citizen, so even that aspect of what most people define themselves as doesn't exist for me. I've had to reinvent my own identity, and call it something outside the conventions... Race and nationality, and the patriotism that goes along with them, mean little to me, though they've all affected my choices and chances in life.

I do think that opportunities exist for most people in most of the world, though definitely not as a "level playing field". There are places where injustice, fear, and tyranny rule the day and no one is any better off, but I also think you sell a lot of places short. The vast majority of Japanese, for instance, have no interest whatsoever in living outside of Japan, anywhere. They are happy here and like the way things are here. They actually feel sorry for what Americans have to face everyday, like the danger of guns or not being able to trust that your children will be safe outside without supervision or the influence of drugs. People here rarely, if ever, worry about things like that. There are tradeoffs everywhere, even in the States.

Your photo of you and your wife is beautiful. Thanks for talking a little about her and her view of things.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 10/15/2010 14:30:50 MDT Print View

Nick, you're making a distinction between the courts and the government. This is false. The courts of part of the government. Congress makes the laws and the courts enforce them. Laws against fraud, contract law, etc. are government regulations.

You seem very supportive of patent laws. This is another government regulation. It is of benefit by rewarding innovation. But patent law stifles free market innovation which would otherwise seek to deliver the same product at lower cost. What is the real free market solution?

True laissez faire hasn't existed since the days of the cavemen and we are much better off now because of it.

Balance is needed. Finding the correct balance point is an ever changing, ever elusive task.

----

Nick, you've stated several times that Fannie and Freddie where the prime cause of the near collapse of the banking system. As far as I can tell this is a right wing talking point that has little actual support.

As far as I can tell Fannie/Freddie behaved exactly the same as the commercial banks and failed for the same reasons. This neither excuses them nor singles them out for blame.

It wasn't Fannie and Freddie that drove down loan requirements. It was the commercials. The commercial banks believed they could take a bunch of high risk loans and convert them into a low risk investment. They did this on their own and they were very wrong. Fannie and Freddie came late to the party as they were losing business and made many of the same stupid mistakes.

This neither absolves Fannie and Freddie nor supports their continued existence. But the fact is the commercial banks have proven time and again that they are perfectly able to create a banking crisis all on their own.

Edited by nschmald on 10/15/2010 14:39:10 MDT.