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3176  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Media outlets strike deal with Republican operatives for dirt on Clinton on: April 23, 2015, 01:08:59 pm
So, this is a book connecting dates of random events to each other without any witnesses or concrete proof. What. The. F_ck. This is the definition of a conspiracy theory.

The NY Times might as well run articles from 9/11 Truthers concerning the Clinton Administration.

New York Times insufficiently progressive for this "blue avatar"?
3177  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Media outlets strike deal with Republican operatives for dirt on Clinton on: April 23, 2015, 08:02:59 am
Lol, "the [mainstream] media!"
3178  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 (The Official Campaign Thread) on: April 23, 2015, 03:09:16 am
I imagine those that do care very strongly about this are rather unlikely to be Labour voters anyway.

That's what I thought.
3179  General Politics / Economics / Re: People: Market liberalism's achilles heel? on: April 22, 2015, 05:51:32 pm
Another example: saving for retirement. Just the other day I was talking with DC al Fine about Social Security, and proposed a mandatory savings scheme like they do in Singapore. He said the proposed contribution levels were too high, and if one were to save such an amount for their working life, they'd wind up with an annual pension higher than their working income (and tax free)- hence no need for such a scheme. The problem is, of course, most people are terrible at saving, and most people's retirement savings are grossly underfunded. If people were able to save then, yes, sure, there'd be no need, but in general they've demonstrated a complete inability to do so.

Simfan, I didn't say your scheme was unnecessary, just that the contributions were set too high and produced more income than was necessary. I'd be perfectly happy with a version of your scheme that required 10-15% contributions instead of 20%.

Oh no, I was saying that if people saved and invest their retirement savings the way you suggested, there'd be no need for any kind of program like that (except help for low income earners, I suppose).
3180  General Politics / Economics / People: Market liberalism's achilles heel? on: April 22, 2015, 04:29:10 pm
As some of you may have noticed, I've long joked that "heterodoxy is heresy" and that the validity of neoclassical economics is essentially beyond dispute. I must however admit that I'm increasingly wondering if this really the case- perhaps not so much the classical liberal foundations, but the inerrancy of markets and the wisdom of assuming that a "market solution" is invariably going to be better than an intervention.

Part of this is from having recently reading more of the historical and theoretical literature on development, and not just contemporary or more quantitative work- books, not just papers, to put it otherwise. Now, let's be clear, there's an immense amount of nonsense out there. For one thing, I read Chang's Kicking Away the Ladder, and it did nothing to change my opinion that he's absolutely daft. But I'll discuss my thoughts on that in another thread since it's not particularly relevant.

But the other part comes from perhaps what is an even more firmly held belief- that, to put it mildly, most people are not well-informed, nor are they particularly rational, which underlies essentially all of my political beliefs (which you probably all know) Now, obviously we have seen that markets, even with that handicap, have invariably outperformed planned economies run by experts. But it seems to me that many times- and perhaps increasingly so in this country- the (financial) markets incentivise behavior that is not always in the best interests of firms, and beyond that people behave in a way that encourages firms to make decisions that are neither in their interest nor in the consumer's interest.

Let's take the airline industry. A panoply of surveys and other such rankings have, for the past several years, deemed Virgin America to be the most-liked airline in the United States, while at the same time it operated for a loss at several years and is now only barely making a profit. Conversely, these surveys- and complaints to the FAA- have just as regularly shown Spirit Airlines to be the the least liked airline in the country... while being its most profitable. Now, this seems bizarre, yet comprehensible.

The problem is, that's not the end of the story. The reason people hate Spirit and other carriers is because of all the fees they tack on. However, they fly it all the same because it is cheap- except that's not actually true. When people crunch the numbers, accounting for the extra fees, Spirit ends up more expensive than other airlines! One analysis showed that when adding on all the required fees and the lowest carry-on fee (paying at booking) available to a regular passenger, it was the cheapest airline a mere 31% of the time. This went down to 17% if you- say, a person who had never heard of such ridiculous thing like a "carry on fee"- were to pay at the airport. So, in short, it is more often than not more expensive.

So why do people not act accordingly, even if they are regularly exposed to media reports about how we all hate Spirit's fees? Because they haven't bothered to do the research, even if it's easy for anyone to do. Their ignorance, in effect, is rewarding the terrible quality they claim to despise- and forcing a race to the bottom as investors demand airlines produce similarly inflated profit margins by cutting service and adding fees. The CEO of JetBlue once rather astutely said that he wasn't going to listen to people who said that they needed to follow the lead of the legacy carriers by adding fees, since, after all, they had gone bankrupt a few years ago. Yet even they caved in and will start charging for checked luggage. The market is being distorted by the inability of consumers to account for fees- and thanks to them (and the unions as well, of course), our airlines are now so terrible and uncompetitive that they have to beg the government to keep the Gulf carriers out.

Another example: saving for retirement. Just the other day I was talking with DC al Fine about Social Security, and proposed a mandatory savings scheme like they do in Singapore. He said the proposed contribution levels were too high, and if one were to save such an amount for their working life, they'd wind up with an annual pension higher than their working income (and tax free)- hence no need for such a scheme. The problem is, of course, most people are terrible at saving, and most people's retirement savings are grossly underfunded. If people were able to save then, yes, sure, there'd be no need, but in general they've demonstrated a complete inability to do so.

Hence the confusion and need for a kind of paternalistic approach to things- people don't know what they're doing.
3181  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: UK General Election - May 7th 2015 (The Official Campaign Thread) on: April 22, 2015, 10:48:44 am
Question: is there any indication that there are people in England whose primary issue is Scotland, that is, preserving the Union? If so, what kind of people would they be? I'd imagine they'd be "one nation Tory" types but perhaps I'm projecting- at this point it'd probably be my main concern going into the election.

Would people be willing to vote strategically on this issue- vote for the party that's most likely to keep the SNP out?
3182  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Banzilla #2 - The Ban Boy Returns - Petition to ban Solarstorm on: April 22, 2015, 08:49:48 am
Where is the threat in that?

Subtlety is both a method and a purpose of bullying.

Whoever doesn't see a threat in that doesn't want to see a threat in that.

Again, stop posting and seek help.
3183  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Banzilla #2 - The Ban Boy Returns - Petition to ban Solarstorm on: April 22, 2015, 08:45:55 am
Where is the threat in that?
3184  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: A stylized transcript of a "discussion"... on: April 22, 2015, 08:33:54 am
Seek help. (with apologies to Al)

I know I shouldn't ask, but what is an AI?

Al is a poster. I was quoting a little phrase of his.
3185  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Banzilla #2 - The Ban Boy Returns - Petition to ban Solarstorm on: April 22, 2015, 08:20:07 am
A person, why did you take the time to decapitalise J-Mann's sentences?

i didn't, it's a browser extension :p

wtf lol Tongue
3186  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: A stylized transcript of a "discussion"... on: April 22, 2015, 08:15:35 am
Seek help. (with apologies to Al)
3187  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Banzilla #2 - The Ban Boy Returns - Petition to ban Solarstorm on: April 22, 2015, 08:12:04 am
A person, why did you take the time to decapitalise J-Mann's sentences?
3188  About this Site / The Atlas / Re: Banzilla #2 - The Ban Boy Returns - Petition to ban Solarstorm on: April 21, 2015, 11:45:04 pm
How/why is this forum your "life"? It is just the internet. It is not that important, and if it is to you, revaluate your priorities.
3189  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Chafee: Clintons "have a long history of gray areas on ethics" on: April 21, 2015, 11:41:03 pm
They are politicians.
3190  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: What is the silliest thing... on: April 21, 2015, 10:51:09 pm
As for my opinion - the silliest thing of all is that despite all this silliness... I'm still here, alive and kicking!
3191  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Atlas Fantasy Elections / Re: What is the silliest thing... on: April 21, 2015, 10:50:34 pm
just to correct the sentence: because they like MLP

The word like. I used a MLP image as illustration in a campaign. I can't say if I like the show, I have never seen it. I googled to know a little what it was.

An very important development. You should let this be known in court.!
3192  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: The new Atlas forum: is this really acceptable now? on: April 21, 2015, 10:31:06 pm
The people whining about oakvale and Xahar are infinitely worse, as a general rule, than either of them.

Well of course you'd agree. Tongue
3193  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Regions of New Jersey on: April 21, 2015, 05:25:57 pm
There's a Trenton-Princeton-Perth Amboy axis that kind of does its own thing, but otherwise the state is divided into a New York half and a Philly half.

I wonder what would the state would look like if Perth Amboy, Trenton, or somewhere in between was a major city (at least 250k+). Like if what happened in Newark had taken place at the mouth of the Raritan. I doubt Staten Island would have ever been incorporated into NYC. Fascinating.
3194  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Which group of posters is more insufferable? on: April 21, 2015, 04:54:16 pm
TEH BAN BOYS
3195  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you know what country your grandparents were born in? on: April 20, 2015, 08:58:41 pm
Yes. Britain and, uh, er, ick- Italy.

Obviously I'm not serious about the Italy part. Tongue
3196  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Are you an anthropocentric fundamentalist? on: April 20, 2015, 08:56:20 pm
No (Normal)
Obviously in general a human's life is more valuable than an animal's life, but that's not the question here.
The question is: is a human's life always more valuable than an animal's? The answer to that clearly no.
To give a somewhat silly example of why: Would you sacrifice your pet dog's life to save the life of, say, a serial killer?

Is that because of the intrinsic value of the dog or because of your feelings for the dog relative to that of the serial killer?
3197  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Former Senator Larry Pressler (R/I-SD) now a Mormon. on: April 20, 2015, 08:53:07 pm
Clayton Christensen, eh? His daughter was the president of our college group here.

But this is something I imagine that best happens out of office. And with Reid retiring. I imagine it would have raised questions.
3198  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Muslims on refugee boat throw Christians overboard for being non-Muslims on: April 20, 2015, 06:25:16 pm
The migrants from Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, etc, should be sent back. There's no fundamental reason for them to have to flee to Europe. It's economic migration, i.e. immigration, not refugees. Syrian, Libyans, Eritreans and so forth are another story.

Great difference there between Ethiopia and Eritrea!

Only one of them is called "the North Korea of Africa"- while actually having less press freedom than North Korea.

Yes, the other one is, merely, Africa's Cambodia (but with a lot less democracy and no king).

That is a bit much. Or do you mean modern Cambodia? In that case it is a bit generous.
3199  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Muslims on refugee boat throw Christians overboard for being non-Muslims on: April 20, 2015, 05:37:09 pm
The migrants from Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, etc, should be sent back. There's no fundamental reason for them to have to flee to Europe. It's economic migration, i.e. immigration, not refugees. Syrian, Libyans, Eritreans and so forth are another story.

Great difference there between Ethiopia and Eritrea!

Only one of them is called "the North Korea of Africa"- while actually having less press freedom than North Korea.
3200  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Muslims on refugee boat throw Christians overboard for being non-Muslims on: April 20, 2015, 05:28:30 pm
The migrants from Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, etc, should be sent back. There's no fundamental reason for them to have to flee to Europe. It's economic migration, i.e. immigration, not refugees. Syrian, Libyans, Eritreans and so forth are another story.
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