Berkeley CSUA MOTD:2008:August:12 Tuesday <Monday, Wednesday>
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2008/8/12-14 [Politics/Domestic/Election] UID:50851 Activity:low
8/11    Obama forgets that Russia is on the UN Security Council
        \_ Bzzt. Regardless of the fact that Russia would veto it, a proposed
           resolution calling for an immediate end to the violence would send
           a strong message that the international community does not condone
           Russia's actions.
           \_ ^international community^lackeys of the West
           \_ Why is that important?  The UN is worthless and always has been.
              What use is it when you had communist dictatorships on the
              "security council"?
              Sending a strong message is orthogonal to the UN.
              \_ You are diluting your OBAMAMA IS THE CRAZY AND WILL KILL
                 WHITEY message.  Please get back on track.
                 \_ You're getting drool on your sweatpants.
2008/8/12-18 [Finance/CC, Finance/Investment] UID:50852 Activity:high
8/11    Our Phony Economy
        \_ This is an outstanding article.  My hope for Obama is that
           he could become the first serious politician on either side
           of the aisle to challenge the assumption that GDP growth shoulds
           of the aisle to challenge the assumption that GDP growth should
           be our primary metric of success.  -tom
           \_ Success is how many countries we can free from TYRANTS
              and AXIS OF EVIL in this world.
           \_ Given the success of a $ measurement of "the economy", perhaps
              the fix is to provide $ values for the things that have been
              left out?  Estimates of the value of "health", "environment"
              and "resources"?
           \_ This article doesn't mention any concepts not taught in Econ 1.
              Every economist knows these things. I'm not sure what's so
              great about the article or how it really addresses what's
              wrong with measuring the growth of the economy via GDP. An
              $800 pair of shoes *does* contribute 40x more to the economy
              than a $20 pair of shoes.
              \_ Proving you don't know what you are talking about.  If I buy
                 an 800 dollar pair of shoes and wear them once or twice
                 less is added to the economy then if 40 people buy 20 dollar
                 shoes and use them to be more productive as people with shoes
                 can contribute more to the economy than people without shoes,
                 they can walk longer distances, are less likely to hurt
                 themselves, etc etc.  Big luxury items don't create as much
                 wealth as a simaler level of basic needs.  That's not to say
                 they don't contribute ANYTHING.
                 \_ You have it BACKWARDS. It's called Demand and
                    Supply (or it should have been). How are you going
                    to make those other people buy the 40 pairs of
                    shoes because you've given up the $800 pair?
                    People make their own decisions about what to buy,
                    which leads to demand, which is fulfilled by
                    supply.  Now if you think 40 x $20 shoes >> $800,
                    then you let us know when you come up with a new
                    mathematical model that is internally consistent,
                    which somehow awards bonus dollars for having been
                    bought by the noble and now magically more
                    productive.  Also, do you think people buy a $20
                    pair of shoes and then say, oh, I can be so much
                    more productive now. No, poor people without shoes
                    with an entrepreneurial bent decide to take a
                    chance and make some money, then realize they can
                    be more productive with shoes, and so buy a
                    pair. The whole theory is backwards.
                    \_ Why are you assuming people are attacking capatalism?
                       Noone is trying to say people shouldn't buy luxuries.
                       People are saying when the economy becomes too geared
                       towards buying and selling luxuries that do not
                       generate work in and of themselves that an economy
                       suffers, even if the GDP is still going up.
                       \_ This doesn't make sense. Nothing generates work in
                          and of themselves. "Real GDP" going up means there
                          is more overall value in the country, regardless of
                          what it was. The market is better at deciding value
                          than you are. A real problem that is mentioned in
                          the article is when "commons" damage is not accounted
                          \_ Please provide some proof that the market is
                             "better at deciding value than you are."  That's
                             merely an assertion.  -tom
                             \_ America = free market, the strongest nation
                                in the world. You're an idiot. Go back to
                                \_ America = democracy, the largst government
                                   in the world, therefore the most central
                                   control of spending.  I see you are totally
                                   incapable of arguing your point.  -tom
                             \_ Well, is it just a coincidence that market-
                                based economies outperform planned economies?
                                Were those planned economies just unfortunately
                                saddled with the wrong planners?
                                But let me put it another way: it's not so
                                important that the market is better at it.
                                It's that *I* am better at deciding what's
                                valuable *to me* than you are. And when we
                                all do that it's called a market.
                                \_ Is Bernake a market planner?  There
                                   are aspects of planning in all
                                   Western countries, and aspects of
                                   market economies in Cuba and China.
                                   Are we outperforming China right
                                   now?  By what metric?  It has already
                                   \_ China mysteriously has been doing
                                      *far* better since they reformed their
                                      system to incorporate market principles
                                      beginning in 1978.
                                      Chinese people are the biggest fans of
                                      the free market in the world.
                                   been proven that groups of individuals
                                   making "rational" decisions for them as
                                   individuals can produce negative results
                                   for the entire system.  And the use of
                                   GDP as a proxy for success has problems
                                   well beyond the problems of the commons
                                   or of incomplete information; the use of
                                   GDP as a proxy for success places a value
                                   judgement on monetary transactions--
                                   monetary transactions are inherently
                                   more valuable than non-monetary
                                   transactions.  Buying food is valued more
                                   highly than growing your own.  Paying
                                   $1000 for a cat is valued more highly
                                   than adopting a stray.  It is clear that
                                   dialog and politics in the US are
                                   beholden to these values, but it is not
                                   at all clear that they produce good results
                                   for the society.  -tom
                                   \_ If you have $1000 and you adopt a
                                      stray cat then you have $1000 to
                                      spend on something else. The $1000
                                      doesn't go away unless you stuff it
                                      in your mattress.
                               \_ All economies are planned, to a certain
                                  extent. The best performing economies over
                                  the long run are mixed economies, apparently
                                  ones with a bit more central planning than
                                  in the US. See Sweden vs. US long term median
                                  per capita salary growth. Even in per capita
                                  GDP they pretty much equal us, with a more
                                  evenly distributed income structure and
                                  less income volatility.
                                  \_ Sweden and the US still have roughly
                                     similar economic structures: market
                                     based democracy plus socialist programs.
                                     Sweden and the US have too many other
                                     differences... the US gets huge numbers
                                     of poor immigrants.
                                     \_ I don't really disagree, but then again
                                        the Democrats and Republicans don't
                                        really disagree either. What's 30% vs.
                                        40% state control of the economy?
                                        Mostly, a tempest in a teapot, but
                                        listening to FOX NEWS, you would think
                                        it was the difference between liberty
                                        and slavery.
                 \_ Who says what's more productive? That's USSR mentality.
                    If someone wants $800 shoes, why not? The money doesn't
                    disappear: the shoe makers profit and buy stuff from
                    others etc. and people are happier. That guy had to first
                    come up with the $800 somewhere too, probably doing
                    something productive somewhere in that chain.
                    \_ Do you have a problem with reading comprehension?
                       Noone said you shouldn't be able to buy 800 dollar
                       shoes.  But 800 dollar shoes do not help the economy
                       as much as 40 $20 shoes, assuming 40 $20 shoes are used
                       in the manner most people use them.  Just like buying
                       a 500k supercar doesn't help as much 30 people buying
                       middle of the road vehicles that let them be more
                       productive.  If you don't understand that you have
                       no bussiness saying the article writer doesn't know
                       what they are talking about.
                    \_ Can you prove that people are happier because they have
                       $800 shoes?  Because all the attempts to measure how
                       happy people are have found little or no correlation
                       between the number of luxury items someone has and
                       their level of happiness.  America has gotten
                       ridiculously wealthy in the past 60 years and has
                       not gotten any happier.  I think discussing what is
                       or isn't more "productive" is totally missing the point;
                       the purpose of our country isn't to produce as much
                       as it possibly can, the purpose is to promote the
                       general welfare of the people.  The assumption built
                       into much of our discussion is that growing the GDP is
                       equivalent to promoting the general welfare, but there
                       is really no evidence that the two are equivalent or
                       even correlated.  -tom
                       \_ Says Comrade Tom
                          \_ You have no substance.  -tom
                                            ,. ^_^ .,  <-------- tom
                                         _ .'         '. _
                                        /\)             (/\
                                       / /               \ \
                                      ( Y)               (Y )
                       \_ The point is people buy what they want. Whether they
                          are happy or not is beside the point. It might be
                          found that slaves were happier as slaves than free
                          \_ Actually, whether we are happy is exactly the
                             point.  Would you prefer a large and growing
                             economy where everyone is unhappy, or a static
                             economy where everyone is happy?  Getting rid
                             of weekends would do a great job of growing
                             the economy, but it would not be of societal
                             benefit.  The point is that growth of the
                             economy is not equivalent to improvement of the
                             country.  -tom
                             \_ Getting rid of weekends would be a planned
                                totalitarian move, not a market action.
                                Would it really grow the economy, I'm not
                                so sure... people need days off for errands,
                                shopping, and recreation which generates a lot
                                of GDP.
                                Of course it's better if we're happy.  Maybe
                                we should put antidepressant drugs in municipal
                                water supplies?
                                You can't make everyone happy though.  Which
                                country is so ideal in this regard?
                                This country has a highly stressed cultural
                                fabric.  We have many different races and
                                cultures which contributes to isolation and
                                lack of unity.  This is just the nature of
                                our nation and has little to do with markets.
                                Anyway, people seem pretty happy to me.
                                \_ You know that the "free market" didn't
                                   invent the weekend, right?  -tom
                  \_ Huh? That $800 already exists in the pocket of someone.
                     Whichever way they spend it is going to put $800 in
                     the pocket of the shoe company (for sake of argument
                     let's say the same company makes $800 snakeskin boots
                     and $20 rubber shoes) which will be used to pay wages and
                     investors who will then spend the money as they see fit.
                     It doesn't really matter what they buy with that $800 as
                     long as they spend it instead of saving it. In fact, since
                     luxury items have a higher markup you might argue that
                     luxury items have an environmental benefit because it's
                     less harm to the environment to make one pair of snakeskin
                     boots versus 40 pairs of rubber shoes. Same with your
                     car example. One supercar is better for the environment.
                     \_ Wealthy people spend money on vehicles that pollute
                        more. Look at Larry and Sergey. They got 2 Prii
                        but decided to get a modified 757 instead of
                        LearJet/CitationX which are more efficient. Also
                        jets carrying 2-4 people have horrible mileage
                        compared to automobiles, yet, they choose to fly
                        frequently. $$$ = more usage = more waste =
                        more pollution.
                        \_ side note: it is fucking stupid to pluralize
                           "prius" as "prii".  -tom
                           \_ Priusen
                     \_ But shoes have value.  If you take a man with no
                        shoes and give him a pair of cheap shoes he is better
                        equiped to create wealth.  Probably more wealth than
                        those shoes cost in the first place.  Luxury goods,
                        on the other hand, don't add as much beyond their
                        purchase price.  You know the whole concept that money
                        makes money?  It's not as productive if all that money
                        is being spent on is luxuries.
                     That millionaire is going to spend his $$$ on something
                     and 30 middle-of-the-road vehicle is not as efficient.
                     He's not going to give the $500K to someone else, which is
                     an assumption you seem to make. However, the $500K ends up
                     in the economy in either case where it gets spent on
                     other goods and services, perhaps on middle-of-the-road
                     vehicles purchased by the people who made the supercar.
                        \_ Sure it is, because it ends up in the same place
                           either way - in the pockets of the people who made
                           the goods. How does a millionaire buying 40
                           pairs of $20 shoes contribute more to the
                           economy than the same millionaire buying one
                           pair of $800 shoes? It doesn't.
                           \_ Generally utilitarian items are used more
                              productivly than luxuries.  Are you really this
                              stupid?  Items used friviously have less
                              benefit to an economy than items used
                              productivly.  Expensive luxuries are much more
                              likely to be used friviously.  And that's a
                              problem in economies where the wealth is
                              concentrated among a small portion.  Yes,
                              they will spend money.  Yes that money will
                              go to people who spend money.  But most of
                              the money stays in the small percentage it
                              will be spent on luxuries it won't be as
                              beneficial to the economy as a whole creating
                              less wealth than if the money was being spent
                              \_ Virtually all shoes are luxuries. You can
                                 buy sturdy utilitarian shoes for $10 on
                                 sale or $20 new. People choose fashionable
                                 ones as luxuries. Luxuries make people's
                                 lives happier. This is good: we're not
                                 all working for the glory of the fatherland.
                                 Demand for luxuries creates demand for
                                 productive stuff to make those luxuries and
                                 people jobs.  We're far past the point of
                                 struggling for really basic stuff like
                                 a pair of shoes (most of us anyway). It's
                                 all about improving quality of life now.
                                 Wealth concentration is a separate issue
                                 from whether GDP growth in luxuries is
                                 somehow bad for the economy.
                                 Trade imbalances are bad, wealth
                                 concentration is bad. Economic activity good.
                                 \_ You have a hard time with reading
                                        \_ No, this person is apparently
                                           just missing the point..
                                           Hey you!  Another, hopefully clearer,
                                           analogy:  is $10k of medicine which
                                           keeps a scientist alive, who makes
                                           a key breakthrough that makes
                                           cars 10% more efficient MORE or LESS
                                           "economically beneficial" than some
                                           rich doofus spending $10k on designer
                                           toilet paper?  Which is the better
                                           Hey you!  Another, hopefully
                                           clearer, analogy:  is $10k of
                                           medicine which keeps a scientist
                                           alive, who makes a key breakthrough
                                           that makes cars 10% more efficient
                                           MORE or LESS "economically
                                           beneficial" than some rich doofus
                                           spending $10k on designer toilet
                                           paper?  Which is the better
                                           allocation of the $10k resource?
                                           Which benefits society in general
                                           more?  Which individual is "happier"?
                                           YES, the $10k is given to someone
                                           either way, and is "recycled", but
                                           the HUMAN EFFORT required to earn
                                           the $10k is WASTED in one case and
                                           BENEFITS SOCIETY in the other.
                                           more?  Which individual is
                                           "happier"? YES, the $10k is given
                                           to someone either way, and is
                                           "recycled", but the HUMAN EFFORT
                                           required to earn the $10k is WASTED
                                           in one case and BENEFITS SOCIETY in
                                           the other.
                                           \_ This is fallacious. The $10k is
                                              not either spent on saving a
                                              scientist or someone's luxury.
                                              There are enough resources for
                                              both things to happen. You also
                                              \_ But there are not resources
                                                 enough for EVERYTHING to
                                                 happen.  The key point is
                                                 to maximize benefit of
                                                 resources expended.  $10k
                                                 designer toilet paper is
                                                 of less benefit than $10k
                                                 of beneficial preventative
                                                 immunizations, since you
                                                 apparently don't like
                                                 scientists.  Same with
                                                 $800 pair of luxury shoes
                                                 vs. 40 pair of $20 utility
                                                 shoes.  The market sometimes
                                                 does a very poor job of
                                                 maximizing benefit.
                                                 \_ The market does a better
                                                    job than any other method
                                                    can. It's not 100%
                                                    efficient, but as close to
                                                    it as one can get.
                                                    \_ Maybe, or maybe not,
                                                       but GDB does not measure
                                                       many economic goods with
                                                       value, as this article
                                                       points out.  It is broken.
                                                       points out.  It is
                                                    \_ Your theory says this.
                                                       But the reality is that
                                                       the market is better at
                                                       optimizing distribution
                                                       of some resources and
                                                       that community decision
                                                       making (democracy) is
                                                       better in other cases.
                                              don't know ahead of time whether
                                              medical spending will keep
                                              someone alive or that someone
                                              will do something good. Maybe
                                              scientist will actually go nuts
                                              and SHOOT everyone in his lab
                                              thereby HARMING SOCIETY. And at
                                              the end of the day, what do we
                                              get out of the efficient cars?
                                              Cars are luxuries too. They are
                                              mostly conveniences for people.
                                              Aren't we all supposed to move
                                              to the city and use mass transit?
                                              \_ Look, you don't know what you
                                                 talking about and you are
                                                 either trolling or stupid.
                                                 You also seem to think that
                                                 our point is that everyone
                                                 should live in a communist
                                                 society with no luxuries.
                                                 That's not what anyone is
                                                 saying.  So take off your
                                                 blinders and read the whole
                                                 thread again or just please
                                                \_ Here we go with ad hominem
                                                   SPLUTTERING. Nice job,
                                                   Your argument is totally
                                                   disingenuous. What you're
                                                   really getting at is wealth
                                                   equalization, and hinting
                                                   at some sort of eugenics-
                                                   based resource allocation.
                                                   The guy buying ridiculous
                                                   luxuries is doing that
                                                   because he's an EVIL RICH
                                                   \_ How did you ever pass
                                                      the reading comprehension
                                                      CAT tests?
                                    \_ Maybe you just don't get it.
                                       What is the point of all the "productive
                                       spending"? what is it all for? at the
                                       top of the food chain is luxury.
                                       You don't even make sense. "most of the
                                       money stays in the small percentage it
                                       will be spent on luxuries" What? speak
        \_ 30-40% of growth in healthcare doesn't have to mean we're getting
           more sick. It may mean we're just more and more focused on being
           \_ Or getting ripped off more and more by the insurance companies.
           \_ And this is the point of the article: GDP, by itself, with no
              analysis of where the money is going, is not itself an indicator
              of efficiency or success. A more meaningful figure would include
              an analysis of American health, and corruption and inefficiency
              in the healthcare industry.
              \_ That's a straw man argument. No one claimed GDP growth
                 measures efficiency, quality of life, or "success" (whatever
                 that means). However, a larger GDP almost by definition
                 means a larger economy and a larger economy means, again
                 almost by definition, more goods and services produced.
                 Think of it as "economic capacity" or "economic capability".
                 A larger GDP nation can outproduce a smaller one, whether
                 all those goods and services go to one individual
                 (dictatorship), everyone (communism), or are distributed
                 by the free market (capitalism).
                 \_ Read the article. The author argues that when the govt.
                    says that the economy is strong based solely on GDP, that
                    is a meaningless simplification. Yes, a _significantly_
                    higher GDP demonstrates the difference between a
                    modern industrialized nation and a third-world developing
                    nation. However, if the President says the economy is
                    strong because GDP has increased half a percent, what does
                    that mean? Does it mean people paid more money for the
                    same amount of gas (money that goes directly into the
                    pockets of the House of Saud)? Does it mean more people
                    are eating out? Does it mean that it was hotter this
                    summer so ice cream sales are on the rise? It might mean
                    any of the above or none at all. At small levels of
                    difference, it's a meaningless stat.
                    \_ But it's a straw man argument, because no one is
                       saying that GDP by itself is so incredibly meaningful.
                       This is mentioned in Econ 1, as are externalities.
                       Real GDP versus nominal GDP are also basic concepts.
                       So this genius author points out something every Econ 1
                       student learns - that there are limitations and
                       caveats when measuring economic output and that GDP
                       (even Real GDP) alone doesn't tell the whole story. BFD.
                       Even the Wikipedia article on GDP talks about its
                       limitations. There was nothing interesting or novel
                       in that article.
                       \_ Sweet mother of god, this guy is not talking about
                          people who've taken Econ 101, he's talking about
                          politicians who wave around a 1-point increase in
                          GDP as if it's the holy fucking grail.
                          \_ So you're damning a statistic and centuries of
                             economics on measuring econ output because Bush
                             and other policticians are abusing the term?
                             and other politicians are abusing the term?
                             \_ Did you read the article?
                                \_ I don't know if he did, but I did and
                                   it was full of crap like (coming full
                                   circle) the specious argument about $800
                                   shoes somehow contributing less than
                                   40 pairs of $20 shoes. He worries that
                                   "[t]he money in the big pot could be going
                                   to cancer treatments or casinos, violent
                                   video games or usurious credit-card rates."
                                   Yes, it could. So what? It's still economic
                                   output. Somehow "violent video games" are a
                                   lesser form of economic output or something?
                                   It sounds like he wants to characterize
                                   what is "good spending" and what is
                                   not. In fact, he goes so far as to say
                                   that people are not rational with their
                                   expenditures. Presumably they would be
                                   a lot happier if he made their expenditures
                                   for them? He speculates that marriage is a
                                   threat to GDP because there's no divorce
                                   spending? Is he on crack? The money that
                                   isn't spent on divorce will be spent on
                                   something else (or invested). It doesn't
                                   disappear and will be reflected in the
                                   GDP either way as the person who receives it
                                   will then make his own economic decisions.
                                   Economics is not about value judgements.
                                   His article boils down to: "People
                                   don't spend their money the way I think
                                   they should." No wonder Tom likes it.
                                   \_ His point was that touting an increase in
                                      the GDP as some sort of indicator of
                                      the health of the nation is overly
                                      simplistic and meaningless. We're
                                      measuring throughput while ignoring
                                      destination. We don't know if the end
                                      result is investment in our own
                                      economy (yay!) or pools full of diamonds
                                      in Riyadh (boo). He's saying that we
                                      \_ GDP includes an exports minus imports
                                         in the equation. Consumption isn't a
                                         one way street. To pay for diamonds in
                                         Riyadh requires spending money.
                                      need to assess more than just the amount
                                      of money that trades hands. That's not
                                      the same as a "planned economy" a la
                                      Stalin or Mao; it's arming the consumer
                                      with tools for making more informed
                                      choices. His point about divorce was an
                                      obvious exaggeration designed to show
                                      that an activity which increases money
                                      flowing from one set of hands to another
                                      is not necessarily an indicator of a
                                      a healthy economy; it's an indicator of
                                      nothing more than money moving. I don't
                                      see where you see this ominous shadow
                                      of socialism that seems to have you in
                                      a tizzy. I don't see anything anti-
                                      capitalism in wanting to know where the
                                      money's flowing; if anything, I think
                                      it's the basis for the purest capitalism.
                                      \_ Nothing wrong with knowing where
                                         the money is flowing, but what does it
                                         matter? His undertone is that it's not
                                         necessarily flowing where it should
                                         be. He can't make that call. Divorces
                                         make plenty of people happy. Recall
                                         the days before they were common.
                                         I can sell you a service and then you
                                         can sell me one back. It's not
                                         "nothing more than money moving". Two
                                         services were performed.
                                         \_ Do you think that having two
                                            parents working and paying a
                                            nanny to raise the kids is
                                            inherently better for the
                                            country than having one parent
                                            stay home?  -tom
                                            \_ No idea and, unlike you, I don't
                                               profess to know.  However, if
                                               parents are doing it then they
                                               must feel it benefits them and
                                               their family.
                                               \_ The problem is, because we
                                                  are measuring our success
                                                  by GDP, we create political,
                                                  economic, and social
                                                  incentives to make the
                                                  choice to outsource
                                                  parenting.  Prior to Keynes,
                                                  families with two working
                                                  parents were virtually
                                                  unheard of; now they are the
                                                  common case.  It's
                                                  fallacious to consider this
                                                  the result of the free
                                                  market, except insofar as
                                                  free market ideology values
                                                  monetary transactions and
                                                  thus encourages them.  You
                                                  get what you measure.  -tom
                                                 \_ Uh, that's not due to
                                                    measuring GDP. Those
                                                    incentives exist anyway.
                                                    Prior to Keynes women
                                                    couldn't even vote in
                                                    general and their
                                                    economic opportunities
                                                    were culturally limited.
                                                    How do you propose to
                                                    "get the women back in
                                                    the kitchen"?
                                                    \_ Look, it's simple;
                                                       the metric you use to
                                                       measure success has
                                                       effects on behavior.
                                                       This is self-evident.
                                                       The primary measure we
                                                       have used to measure
                                                       success of the country
                                                       in the past 60 years
                                                       has been GDP.  It is
                                                       not at all coincidental
                                                       that the society we
                                                       have built in that time
                                                       values consumption,
                                                       planned osbolescence,
                                                       and outsourcing.  Those
                                                       are predictable effects
                                                       of using GDP to measure
                                                       success.  The point is,
                                                       no one ever bothered to
                                                       prove that we'd be
                                                       better off with GDP
                                                       as our primary success
                                                       metric.  And it's not
                                                       clear that we are.  -tom
                                                       \_ Dude, you are way out
                                                          on a wobbly limb here.
                                                          The BEA uses GDP as
                                                          a measurement of
                                                          economic strength.
                                                          You'll have a hard
                                                          time proving that
                                                          individual purchasing
                                                          and business
                                                          decisions are
                                                          somehow tied to that
                                                          measuring stick.
                                                          Consumers and
                                                          corporations aren't
                                                          making decisions
                                                          based on how they
                                                          affect GDP. GDP
                                                          reflects the
                                                          decisions. It doesn't
                                                          drive them.
                                                          \_ The incentives
                                                             our society puts
                                                             in place are based
                                                             on how they affect
                                                             GDP.  Individual
                                                             decisions are
                                                             skewed based on
                                                             those incentives.
                                                             \_ I assume you are
                                                                referring to
                                                                interest rates
                                                                when you say
                                                                I think your
                                                                position is
                                                                Rates are
                                                                by a lot more
                                                                than just GDP
                                                                and it's not
                                                                clear to what
                                                                extent monetary
                                                                policy affects
                                                                the economy.
                                                                (See Japan's 0%
                                                                rates and yet
                                                                You are
                                        Why would you assume I'm
                                        referring to interest rates?
                                        I'm referring to an enormous
                                        number of decisions around
                                        taxation, subsidy, and policy.
                                        For example, farm subsidies
                                        for factory farms.  "Get big
                                        or get out."  Subsidy for the
                                        road system, while passenger
                                        rail is starved.  Oil
                                        subsidies.  The military-
                                        industrial complex.  Allowing
                                        obnoxious advertising
                                        virtually everywhere.  Christ,
                                        the week after 9/11 there were
                                        press conferences that weren't
                                        about terrorism or security,
                                        they were about "America: Open
                                        For Business!"  All these
                                        things are in support of the
                                        idea that more consumption is
                                        better.  You can't go through
                                        an election cycle without
                                        hearing virtually every
                                        politician talk about "growing
                                        the economy" and "creating
                                        jobs"; no one even suggests
                                        that growing the economy might
                                        not be the right goal.  -tom
                                       \_ Please provide proof that any of
                                          these are tied to a large extent to
                                          the way that GDP is measured. I
                                           mean, seriously, how does the
                                           way GDP is measured lead to the
                                           decision (if it's even true,
                                           which is its own argument) to
                                           subsidize roads versus rail?
                                           How would you change the way
                                           GDP is measured in order to get
                                           the "correct" result?
                                          mean, seriously, how does the way
                                          GDP is measured lead to the decision
                                          (if it's even true, which is its own
                                          discussion) to subsidize roads
                                          versus rail? How would you change
                                          the way GDP is measured in order to
                                          get  the "correct" result?
                                          \_ hi dim!
                                          \_ I'm not talking about changing the
                                             way GDP is measured, I'm talking
                                             about changing the way *success*
                                             is measured.  Success is measured
                                             in the US by GDP growth, therefore
                                             politicians make decisions which
                                             encourage GDP growth.  An
                                             auto-based culture has many more
                                             transactions than a transit-based
                                             culture; its inefficiency
                                             "creates jobs" and therefore is
                                             good if you're measuring success
                                             by GDP.   -tom
                                             good if y
                                             good if you measure success by
                                             GDP.  -tom
                                             \_ What you are missing, just like
                                                before, is that *if* a
                                                mass-transit-based culture has
                                                fewer transactions and/or
                                                smaller transactions (not
                                                necessarily true) then that
                                                leaves more resources to
                                                spend on other projects,
                                                which makes the GDP pretty
                                                much unchanged as compared
                                                to auto-based. These are not
                                                decisions that affect the size
                                                of GDP. These are distribution
                                                decisions: how do we spend the
                                                GDP that we are capable of
                                                \_ What *you* are missing is
                                                   that GDP is the result of
                                                   labor, and that the US
                                                   systematically encourages
                                                   choices which result in
                                                   increased labor.  For
                                                   example, if someone stays
                                                   home with the kids, that
                                                   family will have less
                                                   income and spend less money.
                                                   If someone decides to take
                                                   a lower-paying job so he
                                                   doesn't have to commute
                                                   an hour each way, the family
                                                   will have less income.
                                                   If someone decides to work
                                                   a part-time job because he
                                                   really enjoys working in
                                                   the garden, and is able
                                                   to provide a good percentage
                                                   of the food the family
                                                   consumes, the family will
                                                   have less income.  In all
                                                   these scenarios, the family
                                                   spends less and thus
                                                   contributes less to GDP.
                                                   It's not a zero-sum game.
                                                   Why should Americans work
                                                   more hours and have less
                                                   vacation than Europeans?
                                                   Shouldn't our excees
                                                   capacity be used at least
                                                   partly to give people more
                                                   leisure time?  -tom
                                                   \_ That's not some official
                                                      policy. That's just
                                                      economics. Yes, choosing
                                                      to work less results in
                                                      less output. If you work
                                                      a good job you can afford
                                                      to have lots of free time
                                                      if you want. Maybe our
                                                      capacity isn't as excess
                                                      as it seems... tons of
                                                      people are in debt. Maybe
                                                      it's a function of our
                                                      banking industry which
                                                      idolizes debt. Debt
                                                      pushes up money supply
                                                      and inflates everything.
                                                      We have to go into debt
                                                      to compete for resources
                                                      against everyone else who
                                                      is in debt, working off
                                                      their monthly payments.
                                                      We're all indentured to
                                                      people are in debt.
                                                      Americans don't like to
                                                      "do without".
                                                      \_ Our use of GDP as a
                                                         measure for success
                                                         is not merely an
                                                         official policy; it
                                                         is deeply ingrained
                                                         in our culture.  The
                                                         idea that more is
                                                         always better has been
                                                         so effectively sold to
                                                         us that most Americans
                                                         accept the idea as
                                                         axiomatic.  It's not.
                                                         There is no reason
                                                         why Americans need
                                                         to use 2-3 times more
                                                         resources per capita
                                                         than Europeans; we
                                                         just assume that the
                                                         ways we do things are
                                                         the best ways, because
                                                         that's the way we've
                                                         "always" done it. -tom
                                                        \_ It's not just us.
                                                           Immigrants who come
                                                           here lap it up. And
                                                           they all use GDP to
                                                           measure their econs.
                                                           \_ GDP is a decent
                                                              measurement of
                                                              the size of an
                                                              economy.  It's
                                                              not clear it's
                                                              a good
                                                              measurement of
                                                              the *success*
                                                              of an economy.
                                \_ You are just wrong about there being
                                   centuries of measuring economic statistics.
                                   This stuff was practically invented by FDR
                                   and his economists. Keynes is considered
                                   the father of Macroeconomics.
2008/8/12-17 [Reference/History/WW2/Japan] UID:50853 Activity:nil
8/12    Tojo argued to keep fighting, even after the atomic bombs
        \_ cf. Herbert Bix's "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan"
2008/8/12-17 [Transportation/Car] UID:50854 Activity:kinda low
8/12    I've had AAA for over 15 years. It's $47 + $27(additional) per
        year. Thanks to the internet, Google maps, GPS, iPhone, and
        Travelocity and other wonderful sites, I no longer use AAA maps
        and AAA routing anymore. The only thing I need these days would
        be the towing service. I just found out that I could pay $6/year
        to my auto insurance for towing service up to $70. In contrast,
        AAA offers 7 miles of free towing. Does it make any sense to
        keep AAA? How many miles can you tow for $70 these days?
        \_ I was debating this very thing just recently. I opted to keep
           AAA for two reasons:
           1) It's nice to be able to perform DMV transactions w/o going
              to the DMV.
           2) I tend to take advantage of the discounts using my AAA card
              for things like hotels and rental cars plus even at some
              retailers. I am not sure I break even each year, but it's close.
           P.S. AAA also provides other services like a locksmith if you
                lock your key in your car, which you might use if you have an
                older car that still uses keys. I used it a couple times
                over the last 15 years.
        \_ The best reason for using AAA instead of another emergency towing
           service is that AAA negotiates with the individual towing companies
           for higher priority, and has contracts with more towing companies
           to provide a better density of coverage.  In other words, if you
           break down at the side of a road, the towtruck AAA dispatches will
           get to you faster than the towtruck dispatched by your insurance
           company.  To me, that's worth the money.  Also, AAA covers *you*,
           not *your car*, so you can use it on a friend's car if needed.
        \_ I have AAA membership, as well as insurances for 2 auto, home owner,
           rental property, umbrella, and 2 life.
           \_ Shit, you would probably be rich by now if you had invested all
              that money instead of giving it to insurance companies.
              \_ I don't even have earthquake or ID theft insurance.  Not sure
                 if AAA offer the latter.  -- PP
2008/8/12-21 [Uncategorized/Multicategory] UID:50855 Activity:moderate
8/12    How does an liberal athlete like Michael Phelps, who doens't have a
        job because he swims/trains all day long, make an income?
        (I'm assuming national/international swimming competitions
        don't pay monetary rewards for first place). thanks.
        \_ He's a gigalo at night. Haven't you heard all the ladies
           going gah gah at him?
           \_ After having seen what he looks like, I don't get this.
              I'm not much of a connoseur (sp?) of male beauty, but
              in my opinion, he's not a great example.  Perhaps
              I'm not qualified to judge, as I'm not female or gay,
              but I do not aspire to look like him.  I'd rather look
              like Jean Claude Van Dam, or that guy from Bourne Identity.
              \_ He has kind of a dopey face, but a very nice body like
                 most swimmers do. You could do a lot worse.
                 \_ But his body ratios are werid, with long arms and short
                    legs.  Reminds me of a pinguin (which is a great swimmer,
                    of course.)  Do women like that?
                 \_ I wasn't even referring to his face, just his body.
                    His body is pretty scrawny, I think, with barely any
                    large muscle.  He looks more like an endurance athlete
                    than someone who is strong but not an obsessive
                    weightlifter.  Not what I aspire to look like, which
                    is powerful, proportionally muscled, lean-ish, and
                    balanced.  Is Phelps really the female's ideal man
                    look?  Have I been barking up the wrong tree with my
                    \_ Every woman is different, but in my experience, most
                       women prefer lean and cut to really huge. He shaves,
                       which lots of women like, too.
                       \_ Does shaving help or hurt getting laid?  -virgin
                          \_ I dunno, do your prospective paramours see you
                             with your shirt off?
        \_ Going pro/full time usually means sponsorship.
           \_ Maybe Speedo pays him millions.
              \_ Speedo does pay him. He'll also get a $1M bonus if
                 he wins 8 gold medals.
           \_ And with the fame that goes with medals comes much
              wealth.  You can do product endorsements.  From what
              I have heard about women raving about Phelp's body,
              he could probably make millions as a model as well.
              \_ Supposedly his body is actually kind of weirdly deformed,
                 but in a way that's good for swimming. E.g., very long
                 arms and torso, short legs. I think I may have read this in
                 the latest issue of the Cal Alumni magazine. I recall the
                 writer saying that his arms hang down to his knees, but I
                 didn't see this when I caught him on TV for a couple minutes
                 last night. *shrugs*
                 \_ Last night a Korean lady refered to him as "The American
                    Fish Monster."
                 \_ Yeah I think he has a 6 foot "wingspan" and giant hands
                    and feet. And long torso/short legs.
                    \_ It's true!  Here's a full-body non-wide-angle shot (so
                       that ratios are not distorted):
                       And Phelps says it himself:
                       (BTW, his fingers look long too.  I wonder if he plays
                       the piano.)
                       \_ Who is the blonde girl? Yummy!
        \_ Sponsorships.  I read some article somewhere recently about how
           pro runners make money.  The running eq. people fund them because
           it gets mediocre runners to participate in marathons and buy running
           eq. and pay entry fees into marathons.  There might be something
           similar for swimming.
           \_ Yeah, you used to not be able to do this and maintain amature
              status, but now even the pro basketball players are in the
              Olympics, so I guess they gave up on the whole amature thing
              a long time ago.
        \_ Phelps is voting for Obama, he is probably funded by Al Qaeda or
        \_ Anyone beloved and worshipped in Germany won't get my vote for
           sure.   We've already been down that road 63 years ago.
           \_ Phelps == Hitler?
Berkeley CSUA MOTD:2008:August:12 Tuesday <Monday, Wednesday>