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Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

What I'm really looking for is a professional, authoritative explanation of a theory I saw someone expound in brief in a thread on this forum recently.

Basically, it was an argument about how the high cost of education loans, health care, and wall street financial charges, were due to what was essentially a "toll booth" effect; that certain parties were gatekeepers that could monopolize entry into the economy at large, and that by virtue of their position they were able to extract huge value from the economy in zero or negative-sum transactions, much like the robber barons of the Rhine in ancient germany.

It was a great persuasive argument that was really useful for explaining a lot of things, such as (for example) why the OWS folks don't hate Steve Jobs but do hate Lloyd Blankfein.

I'd like a clear, professional, non polemic, jargon-free explanation of that theory that I can show to facebook friends without looking like a maoist third worldist. For example, the phrase "rentier capitalism" shouldn't show up in it, ideally -- for the people I'd like to show this to, anything that makes them twig to the fact that I'm selling far-left socialist theory will be counterproductive.

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at Oct 18, 2011 around 20:21

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Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound


Not to bog this thread down in issue debates, but are people still talking about gun control? I thought the general consensus on this forum was that gun control was a red-herring issue that simply wasn't worth talking about, given the political cost & the fact that it's like the only civil rights issue the Republicans can still legitimately claim to be on the constitutional side of.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

internaut posted:

It might surprise you to learn not everyone is American and we tend to have different beliefs on gun control. If you have studies that show the huge gun homicide rate in the US compared to other countries is a "red herring issue" then post them. I'm not interested in getting into a debate in this thread but I would like to collect more studies and data to have a better informed opinion.

By "red herring issue" I was referencing the fact that the gun control issue is used (in the US) primarily as a way to motivate right-wing voters; I was referring to politics, not statistics. A better term might have been "wedge issue."

In interviews after the 2000 election, Bill Clinton admitted that one major reason Gore lost was that union voters consistently fell for right-wing anti-gun-control get out the vote propaganda and voted their guns over their unions. Similarly, there's data that gun control opponents tend to vote strongly based on that single issue, whereas gun control supporters tend to be lukewarm on the issue; it isn't decisive for them, whereas it is for right-wingers. The net result is that pushing gun control is just a losing issue for American democrats; it encourages Republicans to vote against them more than it encourages fellow lefties to vote for them.

I've looked just now for the source articles on this, but can't find them right now; perhaps someone else can help me out. I honestly thought the "forum consensus" on gun issues was essentially "don't bother with them" at this point, so I was surprised to see someone posting gun-control related data. Even bringing it up just hands ammunition (pun intended) to Republicans.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

Yeah, I wouldn't bother with an in-depth response to that kind of thing, just something like a one-line "Of course the rich pay more of the overall tax burden. Nobody else has any income to tax, because nobody else has a job, because the wealthiest one percent have hoovered up so much money that there isn't any left for anyone else." Then link to something like that businessinsider story that had 15+ graphs on the economic breakdown.

With discussions like that your target isn't the person you're arguing with, ti's everyone else who sees that facebook discussion. Your goal is to get all those other people to 1) realize that guy's full of poo poo, and 2) encourage those other people to research on their own.

Point by point refutations just make everyone's eyes glaze over and they dismiss you both as political eggheads.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

Zeitgueist posted:

Every time I talk about wages being stagnant over the past few decades, the counter-argument I get is "technology explains the disassociation of productivity from wage".

I'm embarrassed to say that I don't readily have a good counterargument to this.

The counterargument is "and those gains should be distributed more evenly instead of being siphoned off by the finance class."

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

Longanimitas posted:

Is there an authoritative source that outlines the benefits of legalizing weed and the problems created by not doing so?

http://www.economist.com/node/13237193

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

TwoQuestions posted:

How would you debate someone who agrees with Paul Ryan, that we need to make the poor's life harder by cutting welfare programs? As in even if it makes everyone poorer in the medium/long run, we should do it so we can punish the poor.

It's mostly atheists making this claim, so appealing to Jesus won't sway them.

The best thing to do might be to literally call them names. "Your mindset is out of Dickens, we rejected that method in the 1800's after Scrooge got visited by three ghosts and we realized workhouses weren't a social safety net."

My go-to response re: Paul Ryan is just to point out that under his plan, thousands of people would die when denied care under medicare/medicaid. Then they say "people can always go to emergency rooms" and I go to the 'yes, but they'll go broke or bankrupt if they do, and they can't get long term care that way, and because of the emergency rooms we already have socialized health care anyway so we're just arguing about what kind." Then they say something about poor people need to pay their own way or some other bullshit and then I point out that sixty percent of bankruptcies were for medical expenses, eighty percent of those people had medical insurance, and they themselves are one bad diagnosis or car accident away from living in one of those workhouses, and how the lack of a social safety net is destroying the middle class, not the rich or the poor.

Usually at that point they try to change the subject and I let them. There's no point in browbeating.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

The best recent explanation I've seen for white privilege is this one, basically because it deliberately avoids using the word "privilege":

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/...tting-there-is/

quote:

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Now, once you’ve selected the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, you still have to create a character, and how many points you get to start — and how they are apportioned — will make a difference. Initially the computer will tell you how many points you get and how they are divided up. If you start with 25 points, and your dump stat is wealth, well, then you may be kind of screwed. If you start with 250 points and your dump stat is charisma, well, then you’re probably fine. Be aware the computer makes it difficult to start with more than 30 points; people on higher difficulty settings generally start with even fewer than that.

As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up. If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

Likewise, it’s certainly possible someone playing at a higher difficulty setting is progressing more quickly than you are, because they had more points initially given to them by the computer and/or their highest stats are wealth, intelligence and constitution and/or simply because they play the game better than you do. It doesn’t change the fact you are still playing on the lowest difficulty setting.
You can lose playing on the lowest difficulty setting. The lowest difficulty setting is still the easiest setting to win on. The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

And maybe at this point you say, hey, I like a challenge, I want to change my difficulty setting! Well, here’s the thing: In The Real World, you don’t unlock any rewards or receive any benefit for playing on higher difficulty settings. The game is just harder, and potentially a lot less fun. And you say, okay, but what if I want to replay the game later on a higher difficulty setting, just to see what it’s like? Well, here’s the other thing about The Real World: You only get to play it once. So why make it more difficult than it has to be? Your goal is to win the game, not make it difficult.

Oh, and one other thing. Remember when I said that you could choose your difficulty setting in The Real World? Well, I lied. In fact, the computer chooses the difficulty setting for you. You don’t get a choice; you just get what gets given to you at the start of the game, and then you have to deal with it.

So that’s “Straight White Male” for you in The Real World (and also, in the real world): The lowest difficulty setting there is. All things being equal, and even when they are not, if the computer — or life — assigns you the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, then brother, you’ve caught a break.

On the whole though this is an issue that it's extremely difficult to shift people's minds on because it's a question of identity and self-worth; just like nobody ever admits they're wealthy, nobody ever admits they're privileged. We're all yorkshiremen.

The best strategy might be to approach the problem laterally; go out and do actual charity/service work in poor communities so he sees directly how the other half lives. That kind of personal experience can shift mindsets in a way no amount of reading can.

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at Jun 26, 2012 around 13:48

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

I think any anarchic system, capitalist or otherwise, is inherently pretty unstable. I'm only aware of one extant society that was anarchist in any meaningful sense over the long term -- saga-era Iceland -- and eventually it turned into such an ongoing bloodbath that everyone voted to up and join Sweden's monarchy just so they'd have some semblance of order.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

V. Illych L. posted:

...I think you might have the wrong Scandinavian monarchy here. Pretty sure you're talking about the Old Pact or whatever it's called in English which subsumed Iceland into Norway and later Denmark, and that was a bit more complicated than simply feudal anarchism collapsing.

In any event, libertarians seem to spot the problems of institutional oppression and then go on to solely attribute it to the state, instead of just using the same approach everywhere, which is my main problem with them.

That's likely, yeah, I get all you blonde wooden-shoe/windmill people confused. No hard feelings! I love your cocoa! Such pretty Fjords!

And yeah, it does get complicated. Still it's the closest thing I'm aware of to an actual anarchistic society "succeeding" over the long term.

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

Golbez posted:

Here's something this thread seems designed for:

Please tell us about "margin."

Just in the last few posts I see "marginalism", "marginal utility", "at the margin" and I have no clue what this means, in economic terms.

Well, in terms of (diminishing) marginal utility at least, the idea is that for each additional (thing) you have, each additional thing is less useful than the one before it. 'Marginal utility" refers to how much gain in usefulness ("utility") each additional (thing) gives you, after the first (thing).

Example: you're stranded on a desert island. A tooled-steel modern hammer washes up on shore. Suddenly you can build yourself shelter, you have a weapon you can kill prey with, you can dig and break open coconuts, so on and so forth; that hammer is incredibly useful.

The next day a second hammer washes up. Ok, now you can run around with a hammer in each hand, you have a spare in case you lose or break your hammer, still useful but not as useful.

The third day a third hammer washes up. You don't even bother picking it up, because what are you going to do with it that you couldn't already do with your first two hammers?

The fourth day a crate of ten thousand hammers washes up on shore. Joy. They're more useful for the wood content of their handles than as tools.


The same general principle extends to money. When you're dead broke, the first dollar you earn is incredibly useful: now you can eat! The first few hundred are also incredibly useful: you can get a bed for the night, or even the month! Maybe clothes to wear!

The more money you earn, the less directly useful to you each additional dollar is. Maybe you buy fancier shirts or better food or a better place to live, but the difference between a $1 hamburger at Wendy's and a 10$ hamburger at a sit-down restaurant isn't as big as the difference between starving and fed, and the difference between at $10 hamburger and a $100 hamburger at a five-star restaurant might be something you only notice if you're paying attention.

At the extreme end, once you get into Mitt Romney territory, it's hard for the rest of us to even figure out what you're possibly gaining by amassing such huge sums of wealth, other than some sort of abstract sense of competitive accomplishment.

This is part of why progressive taxation is morally justified and regressive taxation is evil. Someone making only $11000 per year suffers far more horribly from a 5% tax on their income than someone making $110,000,000 would suffer from a 95% tax. Take away a few hundred dollars from someone making $11,000 a year, they might literally starve. Take away a hundred million from someone making a hundred and ten million a year, they're still making ten million a year, the only way they're going to suffer is the pain they feel at seeing smaller numbers in their bank statement.

Hieronymous Alloy fucked around with this message at Aug 17, 2012 around 15:10

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

trollstormur posted:

Here's something I never got: if I stuff my meager savings into my bank, my bank lends that money out to people who want to take a chance on themselves. Do rich people have a separate kind of bank that just hoards?

Investments are not as stimulative as consumer spending. For every $100 Mitt spends, 100% of it may go to a Swiss brokerage account which then invests it in a Chinese mutual fund. Conversely, for every $100 a Poor Black Welfare Queen spends, %100 is spent in the local economy.

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Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!

Morbid Hound

CommieGIR posted:

I had posted this in the Freeper thread, but figured I'd find more help here...

I have a friend arguing that we should eliminate welfare/medicare/medicaid/social programs in favor of depending on charity because they come out of his taxes.

I know this is wrong, but cannot really generate a good argument against it. What should I say?

The simple response is that private charities are not enough and under his approach hundreds of thousands of people would die of starvation and preventable illness, just like they did before the new deal.

So his approach is, functionally, a genocide of the poor. But if he cares more about His Tax Dollars that,s his choice.

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