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Thread: Two great reads, one about Google and the other about the financial world

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post

    Actually, I don't think it's about $$ at all. It's about power and control. It always was.
    And where does power come from Saul? It comes from having money.

    Recentish example. Russia invade Georgia. USA impose trade restrictions (hitting them in the wallet....). Russia respond by banning imports of American chicken, a $1 Billion industry. 500,000 chicken industry workers are voters. Obama lifts the restrictions rather than lose the votes. And that's only $1 billion, imagine how much control the oil industry has.

    It's always about money Saul and the politicians are at the mercy of the people who have it. Child slavery, and a whole bunch of other stupid and ugly human behaviours happen because of money (and the greed for it and the power it brings) and where do those multinationals get their money from so that they can lobby and pressure politicians to keep those civil wars going?

    You.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    And where does power come from Saul? It comes from having money.

    Recentish example. Russia invade Georgia. USA impose trade restrictions (hitting them in the wallet....). Russia respond by banning imports of American chicken, a $1 Billion industry. 500,000 chicken industry workers are voters. Obama lifts the restrictions rather than lose the votes. And that's only $1 billion, imagine how much control the oil industry has.

    It's always about money Saul and the politicians are at the mercy of the people who have it. Child slavery, and a whole bunch of other stupid and ugly human behaviours happen because of money (and the greed for it and the power it brings) and where do those multinationals get their money from so that they can lobby and pressure politicians to keep those civil wars going?

    You.
    That's all upside down. Modern money is just government IOU. They can print all money they want (and they do) and render all of it worthless any moment. They control the money and everything that is controlled by it. You seem to be thinking money is still worth something as it was when the world was using gold and silver as money.

    It's all about power and power comes from force, not money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    No, it's not an assumption. If all other things are equal - quality and consistency of supply, consumer indifference, legality of source - the rational choice must be to buy from the cheapest supplier. It would be irrational to pay more than necessary for identical products.

    But do you believe that a manufacturing company (consumer) would not buy raw materials from a supplier that uses slave labour, even if they were the cheapest? If all other things are equal, then I don't see any rational basis to behave in that way.
    No. You assume a company is run by drones with no moral values. I assume it is being run by humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    There are many food products it wouldn't work with, for instance the ones containing nuts. It seems a bit drastic to force consumers to play Russian roulette with bakery or confectionery goods.
    You seem to have major distrust in humanity.

    That's a key moment right there and all arguments come down to this. You either believe people are inherently bad and will do bad things without supervision or you believe they aren't and won't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    I agree with everything you say here up to the second clause of your final sentence. The point is that it's not whether we consume, so much as what choices we make as consumers. So it's the quality of consumption rather than the quantity - although the quantity does tend to blind many consumers to provenance and other inconvenient questions like that. Talking about consumption as if it's a homogeneous concept is an oversimplification.
    True, but that still doesn't make it the root cause. Saying it's the root cause is an oversimplication, I would say.
    Last edited by Saul; 18 March 2012 at 8:11 am. Reason: to merge posts

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    Government doesn't operate in a vacuum, Saul. It's accountable to the people on whose behalf it governs. I'm not so naive as to believe that equates to accountability to the voters, barring the once every few years they get the chance to express an opinion (however ill-informed). But government has to listen to people who have economic power bases.

    Yes, in theory a government could devalue its currency by printing vast amounts. Germany tried it in 1923 as a protest against French occupation of the Ruhr industrial area and to demonstrate its inability to pay the exorbitant reparations imposed after World War I. The only people it really hurt was the German general public and SMEs; the larger German concerns weren't hit too hard by it. And ever since it was set up as an independent body after World War II the Deutsche Bundesbank (and now the European Central Bank, in which the Bundesbank has been the dominant force) has made low inflation its primary goal, regardless of how inconvenient that might be to the government of the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    It's all about power and power comes from force, not money.
    This is so vague as to be impossible to discuss. By "force", do you mean force of arms? In which case, who's buying the arms, from whom, and where do they get the money from? And who actually bears the arms once they've been bought?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    No. You assume a company is run by drones with no moral values. I assume it is being run by humans.
    Hang on a sec. You're talking about moral values now. Earlier you were appealing for rational argument. You've shifted your ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    You seem to have major distrust in humanity.
    That's a very sweeping statement. For what it's worth, I think the vast majority of human beings are generally pretty decent towards each other. But there are some bad buggers who are happy to make a fast buck if they think they can get away with it - putting brick dust in chilli powder, bulking out baby milk formula with melamine, that sort of thing. An untrammelled free market allows shysters to rip people off without redress. That's part of the reason why government's necessary and a truly free market is inefficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    That's a key moment right there and all arguments come down to this. You either believe people are inherently bad and will do bad things without supervision or you believe they aren't and won't.
    Your false dichotomy simplifies human nature to the point of absurdity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    True, but that still doesn't make it the root cause. Saying it's the root cause is an oversimplication, I would say.
    You've said that the problem with child slave labour is the slavers. How do you address the problem, if not through government?

    My answer would be that you choose to buy products which are verifiably produced by companies which don't rely, directly or indirectly, on child slave labour. If enough people took the trouble to question where the products they hankered after came from, and bought accordingly, then - by your own argument - presumably the companies that didn't take heed would buy elsewhere, and their suppliers would be forced to abandon slave labour. But again, we're talking about moral values here, rather than a purely rational analysis.
    Last edited by Dave McM; 18 March 2012 at 8:32 am. Reason: Cross-posting - reply to subsequent posting I hadn't seen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    It's all about power and power comes from force, not money.
    Without money, you have no means to project force. Weapons are expensive. You must even believe we live in an actual democracy and that our leaders are genuinely independent and beholden to no one. lol...

    However, that's the end of the discussion for me, if you truly believe that you can have power without money and that you're consumerism has nothing to do with any of it then really there's little I can say that's going to make any sense to you. My entire paradigm is built on the fact that money is what drives all this behaviour.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    You've said that the problem with child slave labour is the slavers. How do you address the problem, if not through government?
    Dave, governments are the reason it continues to exist and the reason why the consumer infrastructure that creates this ugliness exists. Our governments support and allow the arming of the very same warlords who's armies are filled with children and who enforce the slave labour because our government is owned by the companies that need those minerals to make and sell the latest hitech gadgets to you and I, we tacitly support it by buying their products.

    Oil companies may be the most powerful organisations on the planet, because we buy their product.

    It's not governments who have the power to stop it, it's us... the money in your pocket is the most powerful vote you'll ever have. Give it to the companies that you want to see owning the politicians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Government doesn't operate in a vacuum, Saul. It's accountable to the people on whose behalf it governs. I'm not so naive as to believe that equates to accountability to the voters, barring the once every few years they get the chance to express an opinion (however ill-informed). But government has to listen to people who have economic power bases.

    Yes, in theory a government could devalue its currency by printing vast amounts. Germany tried it in 1923 as a protest against French occupation of the Ruhr industrial area and to demonstrate its inability to pay the exorbitant reparations imposed after World War I. The only people it really hurt was the German general public and SMEs; the larger German concerns weren't hit too hard by it. And ever since it was set up as an independent body after World War II the Deutsche Bundesbank (and now the European Central Bank, in which the Bundesbank has been the dominant force) has made low inflation its primary goal, regardless of how inconvenient that might be to the government of the day.
    An independent body is just smoke and mirrors, effectivelly the government still controls it. Yes, the goverment has to listen to its people, but that still doesn't mean people have the power - they only have influence. You do not obtain power by getting coupons, for the lack of a better word, then sending some back. Yes, you can influence governemnt on a local level but not on a national, let alone global scale. You can work from there and change the government slowly from the ground up but you don't have such a big impact on global economy as you think. You can stop buying products of a certain company but then the government decides the company is too big to fail, bails it out with "your money" and there goes your power. That's just one example, by controlling money they control the economy, they control what money is worth, they control where it goes. It's easy to think that due to that much of control money is the source of power, but it's missing the point. Power must come first in order to create such a powerful tool.

    I am also not meaning to say that goverment is this evil thing that just wants to control us. In some cases that is true, but I think in most of the western world people who work in goverment have the best of intentions, however this system just can't work efficiently and does more harm than good. It enables greed to go unbalanced by fear of loss and it all goes downhill from there. That would not be the case in a free market.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    This is so vague as to be impossible to discuss. By "force", do you mean force of arms? In which case, who's buying the arms, from whom, and where do they get the money from? And who actually bears the arms once they've been bought?
    Not anymore vague than to say power comes from money. You can obain some of it through money because it is a tool of control. But my point is that money comes from power, not vice versa. Yes, if you have money you get to use some of that power, but you do not create it.

    Another part of the point is that you can seize any money or wealth by use of force. And you don't necessarilly have to buy weapons to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Hang on a sec. You're talking about moral values now. Earlier you were appealing for rational argument. You've shifted your ground.
    The argument of moral values is rational.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    An untrammelled free market allows shysters to rip people off without redress. That's part of the reason why government's necessary and a truly free market is inefficient.
    Shysters can rip people off but they last just so long before being caught in a free market. People aren't that stupid. Yet hidden in the maze of regulations and loopholes in legislation they can and do rip people off continuously. Big corporations become big and untouchable and can get away with anything not because of free market but because of the distortion of free market by goverment. That's a whole new discussion but I will say that in a free market people have the power, in a goverment controlled market government has the power.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Your false dichotomy simplifies human nature to the point of absurdity.
    Not really, perhaps I wasn't accurate enough. I meant only the arguments in this thread, the argument of greed being bad and people not acting nice without government intervention. And I meant to say it's at the root of our disagreement. I might be wrong as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    You've said that the problem with child slave labour is the slavers. How do you address the problem, if not through government?

    My answer would be that you choose to buy products which are verifiably produced by companies which don't rely, directly or indirectly, on child slave labour. If enough people took the trouble to question where the products they hankered after came from, and bought accordingly, then - by your own argument - presumably the companies that didn't take heed would buy elsewhere, and their suppliers would be forced to abandon slave labour. But again, we're talking about moral values here, rather than a purely rational analysis.
    And I would agree with that, execpt that it won't work if you leave the government in it. How can you expect them to help when most of what they've done so far has been ineffective to say the least and done more harm than good at worst.

    Call me a hopeless romantic but I think people can solve these problems by themselves if goverments stayed out of the way. And by people I mean people in the local communities, not someone in the west sitting on their couch and passing judgements (not directed to anyone personally and I include in that myself).

    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    Without money, you have no means to project force. Weapons are expensive. You must even believe we live in an actual democracy and that our leaders are genuinely independent and beholden to no one. lol...

    However, that's the end of the discussion for me, if you truly believe that you can have power without money and that you're consumerism has nothing to do with any of it then really there's little I can say that's going to make any sense to you. My entire paradigm is built on the fact that money is what drives all this behaviour.
    Yes! As I've elaborated on my point above, I totally agree with that. Money is the means to project control or even force. But it is a tool created by someone who already had the power. And that's an important distinction because of this:

    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    It's not governments who have the power to stop it, it's us... the money in your pocket is the most powerful vote you'll ever have. Give it to the companies that you want to see owning the politicians.
    This is the part I don't agree with. How can we have that power when the money in our pockets can be rendered worthless at any moment? If that money was gold and silver like it used to be, then yes, we would have that power. But we've lost it a while ago. We have to regain it first.
    Last edited by Saul; 18 March 2012 at 10:05 am. Reason: to merge posts

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post


    This is the part I don't agree with. How can we have that power when the money in our pockets can be rendered worthless at any moment? If that money was gold and silver like it used to be, then yes, we would have that power. But we've lost it a while ago. We have to regain it first.
    Deleted a massive post, think this is a simpler way to make the point -

    Imagine two companies, both making a ton of money selling the same product, both have several politicians in their pockets (they call it 'lobbying' apparently...), both influential and powerful organisations. Suddenly, everyone stops buying the products from company A and buy it instead from company B which is now making twice as much money. How does that affect the power balance and who made it happen?

    You think money comes from power but it's been the other way around for a long long time now. Don't confuse someone getting elected and making a few million for themselves and their buddies, with the real money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    not someone in the west sitting on their couch and passing judgements (not directed to anyone personally and I include in that myself).
    Or raising awareness..... you didn't know that when you bought your TV you might have been supporting child slavery, murder and rape and genocide in the Congo, now you're thinking about it.

    And that's the tip of the iceberg.
    Last edited by JJMcClure; 18 March 2012 at 10:43 am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMcClure View Post
    You think money comes from power but it's been the other way around for a long long time now. Don't confuse someone getting elected and making a few million for themselves and their buddies, with the real money.
    We need to define what is real money then. I thought you meant paper money.

    But it's a very good point. The real power may not be in the hands of the government, it may also be just a tool. And it is true that if we stopped consuming, those who provide us with the goods would lose their power (that is, unless they bully it out from us through government force). But you can't stop consuming food, energy and other necessities. You can cut down on other stuff but that gives you only so much power. You still have to live. And as long as you produce something yourself and there's a way to transfer that value, someone will be able to accumulate it and use to gain power. If we're talking about that kind of money then I agree that it is the source of power. But what are we supposed to do? Stop producing and do nothing? Give the value we create only to someone who we think is benevolent? How can we be sure they don't eventually turn rogue?

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    Top Contributor Dave McM is a Premium Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    An independent body is just smoke and mirrors, effectivelly the government still controls it. Yes, the goverment has to listen to its people, but that still doesn't mean people have the power - they only have influence. You do not obtain power by getting coupons, for the lack of a better word, then sending some back. Yes, you can influence governemnt on a local level but not on a national, let alone global scale. You can work from there and change the government slowly from the ground up but you don't have such a big impact on global economy as you think. You can stop buying products of a certain company but then the government decides the company is too big to fail, bails it out with "your money" and there goes your power. That's just one example, by controlling money they control the economy, they control what money is worth, they control where it goes. It's easy to think that due to that much of control money is the source of power, but it's missing the point. Power must come first in order to create such a powerful tool.

    I am also not meaning to say that goverment is this evil thing that just wants to control us. In some cases that is true, but I think in most of the western world people who work in goverment have the best of intentions, however this system just can't work efficiently and does more harm than good. It enables greed to go unbalanced by fear of loss and it all goes downhill from there. That would not be the case in a free market.
    You seem to be advocating anarchy. Are you, or do you see any benefit in any regulation at all?

    Anyway, governments don't control the economy. They may have more influence than most, but they aren't the only players. Large corporations have a good deal of say too.

    As for the "too big to fail" argument... is the government doing that for the benefit of the company, or to assuage the voters? Either way, they're doing it because they feel bound to, though who it is they feel responsible to is a matter for pure speculation. As I said earlier, governments don't operate in a vacuum - they're constrained by others who hold power.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    Another part of the point is that you can seize any money or wealth by use of force. And you don't necessarilly have to buy weapons to do that.
    Please explain how.


    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    The argument of moral values is rational.
    In that case, you should be able to explain your reasoning here, without any recourse to emotional arguments. Please do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    Shysters can rip people off but they last just so long before being caught in a free market. People aren't that stupid.
    You're ignoring monopoly power. Where's the recourse for the customer in a free market?


    Quote Originally Posted by Saul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Your false dichotomy simplifies human nature to the point of absurdity.
    Not really, perhaps I wasn't accurate enough. I meant only the arguments in this thread, the argument of greed being bad and people not acting nice without government intervention. And I meant to say it's at the root of our disagreement. I might be wrong as well.
    I believe that some people, at some times, will do things that benefit them to the detriment of others. They may regret it later, regardless of whether or not they've been punished for doing it. The same people may also, at some times, do things that benefit others to their own detriment. Where do they fit in with the two choices you've reduced the argument to?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul
    Call me a hopeless romantic but I think people can solve these problems by themselves if goverments stayed out of the way. And by people I mean people in the local communities, not someone in the west sitting on their couch and passing judgements (not directed to anyone personally and I include in that myself).
    That smacks of wishful thinking to me. It's reasonable to assume that the people in the local communities are poor and less well-armed than the slavers - and less well-trained too (remember, the slavers do this for a living). I struggle to see how they can solve the problem to their satisfaction without some support from somewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saul
    Money is the means to project control or even force. But it is a tool created by someone who already had the power. How can we have that power when the money in our pockets can be rendered worthless at any moment? If that money was gold and silver like it used to be, then yes, we would have that power. But we've lost it a while ago. We have to regain it first.
    Who exactly is "we" in your sentence? For the piffling amounts of money held by most individuals, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference whether a country is on the gold standard or not. And I frankly doubt whether it makes much difference to most companies, since governments aren't in the habit of writing off the value held by companies in banks by demonetising currency. And many governments have divested themselves of their gold holdings these days. The argument sounds like a red herring to me.
    Last edited by Dave McM; 18 March 2012 at 10:58 am. Reason: Typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul
    But you can't stop consuming food, energy and other necessities.
    No, you can't stop consuming food, but you can have a lot of say in what you consume and from what supplier. There's a big move in the food industry about provenance - knowing where your food comes from. And there's also a movement towards going local, not only to cut down on the air miles and the carbon footprint, but also in terms of knowing where your meat and veg were raised and by what means.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    You seem to be advocating anarchy. Are you, or do you see any benefit in any regulation at all?
    I'm advocating "anarchy" in the economy. We need government to protect our rights, there are some things that are easier done collectivelly, like roads, but that's just about it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Anyway, governments don't control the economy. They may have more influence than most, but they aren't the only players. Large corporations have a good deal of say too.

    As for the "too big to fail" argument... is the government doing that for the benefit of the company, or to assuage the voters? Either way, they're doing it because they feel bound to, though who it is they feel responsible to is a matter for pure speculation. As I said earlier, governments don't operate in a vacuum - they're constrained by others who hold power.
    How can you say they don't control it when they control the means of its existance - money?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Please explain how.
    By stealing, for example. Having money makes it much easier, of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    In that case, you should be able to explain your reasoning here, without any recourse to emotional arguments. Please do.
    Doing harm to others does no good to us in the long run, I think we've figured that out through thousands of years of our evolution. If you do something bad to your neighbour, expect some proper beating in return. That's at the core of our entire moral code, though it is distorted at some points. But I think it would still work with buying slave work all other things being equal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    You're ignoring monopoly power. Where's the recourse for the customer in a free market?
    It can't exist in a free market. Monopoly is a result of government regulation. You can make an argument that someone who has accumulated enough real money in free market can buy regulations (and they do) that enable them to eliminate the competition but that requires a goverment who has the power to regulate.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    I believe that some people, at some times, will do things that benefit them to the detriment of others. They may regret it later, regardless of whether or not they've been punished for doing it. The same people may also, at some times, do things that benefit others to their own detriment. Where do they fit in with the two choices you've reduced the argument to?
    Sh!t happens, nobody is perfect. Is the goverment some omniscient benevolent power that can prevent bad things to happen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    That smacks of wishful thinking to me. It's reasonable to assume that the people in the local communities are poor and less well-armed than the slavers - and less well-trained too (remember, the slavers do this for a living). I struggle to see how they can solve the problem to their satisfaction without some support from somewhere.
    Maybe so, that's why insist you call me a hopeless romantic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McM View Post
    Who exactly is "we" in your sentence? For the piffling amounts of money held by most individuals, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference whether a country is on the gold standard or not. And I frankly doubt whether it makes much difference to most companies, since governments aren't in the habit of writing off the value held by companies in banks by demonetising currency. And many governments have divested themselves of their gold holdings these days. The argument sounds like a a red herring to me.
    The same we that supposedly have power through money. The difference between paper money and gold is that you have it and you can lose it only if someone takes it from you by force. You can't lose it overnight and you can use it to gain real power. I don't mean a gold standard where you have paper backed by gold, although that's still better than fiat money, I mean real physical gold.

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