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Archive for February, 2012

Jeff: “me & Katey & Peter & Kristin went to go see “Inside Job,” which you’ve probably seen but if you haven’t then you should definitely see it.”

Jack:  “I have not seen Inside Job, but I’m taking macroeconomics, so I know the deal.”

 

Jeff: “You should definitely see Inside Job, everybody should see it.  Especially
for you to relate it to your classes, because there’s some stuff about the
way economics are taught in the US.”

Jack: sure sure, But I have a pretty liberal economics professor.
Right now we’re doing the classical/orthodox method which is the basic
Laissezfaire idea that most conservatives subscribe to and have
convince most poor americans to do this as well against their
interests.


Then we’ll finish with the Keynesian model with some Marxist model.


Did they talk in the movie about how the government got rid of the
Glass-Stegal act in 1999 (under Clinton) this was an FDR policy that
regulated banks and prevented them from investing in the stock market
themselves.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_Steagall_Act

Also, I saw an interesting interview with Bill Moyers and Bill Bartlett. Barlett had some smart stuff to say about people in general.

http://billmoyers.com/video/

1. People think if government is more powerful, people will be less powerful
2. People don’t know how their taxes are being spent (this is based on
surveys, but I’m not sure if it was just a  survey of Tea Party people
or not.).
They think gov spends %20 on foreign aid, it is really %1. They think
they are being taxed at a higher rate then they are. (they think %50,
when it’s around 20-30%)
The government should break it down for everyone simple, total % a
year (state/federal)- + what it’s spent on % wise.

Jeff: Jack, you say:

“The government should break it down for everyone simple, total % a
year (state/federal)- + what it’s spent on % wise.”

I absolutely agree.  I started writing you back but it expanded so much that I also decided to post it on the OJ board.
Here’s my thought:

I’ve been saying this for a little while and I wonder why it isn’t said more.
Maybe somebody can point out flaws in this idea that I haven’t considered yet.

Why not have more REAL democracy by allowing every citizen, on his or her tax return each year, to decide where they want their tax money to go to?
Each year the IRS should provide a pie chart, or similar graph, to show how Americans’ tax money was spent in the preceding year (or years).  People could check off a box that says “let the elected government officials decide how to allocate my tax payments this year” but they would ALSO have the option to create a pie chart or other graph of how they want THEIR OWN tax contribution to be divided up in the coming year, among a list of existing categories:  funding for education, military spending, arts programs, infrastructure, scientific research into sustainable energy, etc etc.

This could begin as merely a survey, without changing the current system of tax funds being allocated via elected (or appointed) officials, just to see how different the will of the tax paying public is from the decisions that are being made in their name.

Ultimately if implemented it would be true financial democracy, and society would benefit or fail based on its actual democratic decisions, removed from any threat of elected/appointed officials’ self-interest/ideology or other distortions of democracy which are inherent in a republic form of government.

The government could still oversee the process via the usual departments, and there could still be some form of electoral college to balance out the results of popular vote results vs. electoral vote results, to avoid high-populated areas/states receiving too much representation in budget decisions. For example this would be important if a low-population state (such as Maine) might still be very rich in resources (such as wood), and might be uncomfortable with a high population state (such as California) having too much influence over how to allocate Maine’s resources; other such situations would exist too, which would require some balancing between electoral and popular votes regarding tax money allocation, just as the current system attempts to balance such issues (for example each state gets 2 senators regardless of population, plus a number of representatives proportional to state population, seemingly an effective compromise).  America is already used to the flexibility involved in juggling representation between federal and state interests; if this is a point of contention regarding the allocation of tax resources via democracy, that’s no different than any other federal vs. state issue that goes on in America all the time (like the Civil War for example).

Anyway, like our “republic” system of democratically elected representatives, I believe that the current tax system was a system formed based on the technological realities of the day in 1776, at which point only representational democracy rather than actual democracy would have been technologically practical.  But the world is very different today.

Everybody knows that power corrupts – that’s one of the great arguments for democracy in the first place, the de-centralization of power, a process that has made slow (but definite and progressive) headway against countless millennia of centralized/arbitrary power systems.

The argument against democracy is also millennia old: the people are too uneducated as a mass for majority-rule to effectively steer society in and of itself.  But this seems an awfully self-serving argument when made by an existing power structure.  How many individuals would, if given the choice, prefer the decisions affecting them to be made by somebody else?  Probably very few, at least according to the values of democracy/freedom/self-determination that we Americans have been pumped full of since birth.  And perhaps these values are inherent in all humanity, perhaps even in most life forms.  That may or may not be true.  In any case, a democratic tax system – why not??  Do you believe in democracy or don’t you??

Jack: you’re plan is a little to radical and unrealistic.
I simple want some tax code reform which I think is more realistic goal.
Oregon is a broke state,
but they could help that by imposing a %1 sales tax on none essential
goods (not on food etc). But it seems impossible to get this done.

During the New deal, anyone making over 5 million was taxed at about a
75% tax rate.
this continued until Reagan. It’s now below %20 because of tax loop holes.
(Mitt   %15, Warren Buffet taxed less than his secretary)

You’re idea doesn’t really work because people do need to contribute
to an anonymous collective whole, but they would never do that given
the choice.
Sure it’d be interesting if this was done every year as a survey
hypothetically and the categories were chosen for people

Military
state (local education, infrastructure, public officials etc)
fed (education, infrastructure etc)

etc etc

Jeff: “You say
“Did they talk in the movie about how the government got rid of the
Glass-Stegal act in 1999 (under Clinton) this was an FDR policy that
regulated banks and prevented them from investing in the stock market
themselves.”

Yes, it did talk about this.  But the movie only said this allowed savings banks to merge with investment banks, and the movie didn’t mention what I thought was an important part of this decision, based on what I’ve read on Wikipedia:  the original Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Stegal Act) also established the FDIC, which was a way to prevent a “run on the bank” from occurring like what used to happen in the wild west and before the great depression.  The FDIC was/is government insurance for everybody who had their money in a regular savings bank, up to a certain amount  (it was originally something like $2,500 in 1933).  In other words, if you were just a normal person putting money in a bank, not somebody making an investment hoping to make a profit, then no matter what happened to that savings bank, if the bank went out of business, or everybody pulled their money out of the savings bank at the exact same time (a “run on the bank”), the government would make sure that every person would get the amount of money they had put into that savings bank (up to a certain amount).  If the bank really didn’t have the money to pay everybody, the government would cover the rest of the loss, from tax payers’ money.  That’s why there was a limit on how much each person’s bank investment could be covered, and that limit of course rose over the years, until I think the FDIC currently insures each citizen up to $250,000 of what they put into a savings bank.  This was also a big reason for the original Glass-Stegal 1933 provision that savings banks HAD to be completely separate from investment banks – because investment banks are much riskier, so the government refuses to ensure THAT risky money with an FDIC guarantee.  (The same as how you might pay your car insurance company to insure your normal, safe car, but that insurance doesn’t also cover the 300-mile-an-hour race car that you drive on race tracks on weekends – it’s a much riskier vehicle so the insurance is unwilling to cover it under the same policy.)  SO when the Glass-Stegal act was overturned in 1999, the fact that investment banks could merge with savings banks wasn’t just bad because it allowed for bigger corporations, verging on monopolies, with increased money and power: the overturning of Glass-Stegal in 1999 also meant that NOW the government/FDIC/tax payers’ money IS in fact still left responsible to cover savings banks’ losses, even though the savings banks can now be playing with your savings money in much higher-risk investment scenarios/gambles purely for their own benefit, and when the high-risk scenarios/gambles pay off for the banks, the winnings are kept by the bank company.  But when the high-risk gambles lose, the banks have no worries because the government is still responsible to insure people.  A totally fucked up situation, and nobody seemed to fight it much while the banks were winning their gambles, but of course gamblers don’t win all the time, and the big gambles eventually lost big, and cost the tax payers hundreds of billions.  The fact that the banks now knew they’d be protected by the government (and deemed “too big to fail”) probably psychologically even made the banks gamble bigger than they knew was smart – what did they care?  If they won, they kept the money, and if/when they eventually lost, the public would pay.
At least that’s my understanding of it based on some Wikipedia pages.  This FDIC aspect wasn’t discussed in Inside Job, and I may be wrong about my current understanding.”

… More to come

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My brother asked for this game when we were little. Maybe he was 14 and I was 9? I don’t know. I’ll have to ask him. Why did he want this one. Where did he play it before?

It was one of maybe 3 games we had for NES. We played it a lot and beat it a lot. One of the best parts was the music to level 8.

There was an arcade version of this at the time, but it wasn’t as fun as the home version.

Brother Jeff says: ”

I think it was the first Nintendo game we got – and we didn’t get many Nintendo games, they were very expensive to buy (like $50-$70 each), maybe we’d get one a year as a birthday or christmas gift.  Mostly borrowed or rented games.  What other Nintendo games did we even own??
I think I originally wanted Bionic Commando because I must have played it at somebody else’s house – certainly I wasn’t familiar with the arcade version, I didn’t see that till we already knew the Nintendo version inside and out.  And 99% of the time those experiences were disappointing, whenever there was a great arcade game that was released in Nintendo version, the home versions were so much crummier and totally different from the arcade.  Like Shinobi, which I worshipped as an arcade game, I made the mistake of being excited for the Nintendo version which of course was lame.
But I do remember being surprised and sort of disappointed that Bionic Commando was so easy to beat.  It was such a fancy and exciting gift to get, I thought it would provide months of challenge like Super Mario before finally beating it, but I think I beat it in about one day of playing.  Sort of guilty and horrifying, I think I assumed that all Nintendo games were guarantees of weeks or months of challenging fun.  But some were beatable in one day, and other were frustratingly nigh-impossible to beat.  It was a very rare game that provided just the exact right amount of challenge, like the Super Mario games.
 I don’t remember where I first saw Bionic Commando though.  Maybe Elan’s house or something like that.  Maybe Abe had it.  That sort of thing.”

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I’ve wanted to try to keep a record of all the hikes and various trips I’ve done around Portland. I figure it’ll come in handy when friends visit and I’m thinking of something to do. And if the internet still exists in 40 years, I can look at it when I’m old.


Eagle Creek is one of my favorite hiking spots near Portland. It’s beautiful and not very hard.


It’s basically a one way hike. You could hike in 15 miles or more and loop around, but I’ve never done that. I’ve gone there 4-5 times. Hiked to punch bowl falls a few times and one time hiked in 6 miles with Marci, just past tunnel falls and camped out. The water falls and views can really take my breath away.This past weekend was a day hike to high bridge with Pinata co-founder Mike Dempsey. Other folks I’ve hiked this with I think include: Marci, Dave, Jeremy, Molly and kids from Garfield House + others?

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