Smart people saying smart things

Warren Buffett on Gold

Gold, however, has two significant shortcomings, being neither of much use nor procreative. True, gold has some industrial and decorative utility, but the demand for these purposes is both limited and incapable of soaking up new production. Meanwhile, if you own one ounce of gold for an eternity, you will still own one ounce at its end.

What motivates most gold purchasers is their belief that the ranks of the fearful will grow. During the past decade that belief has proved correct. Beyond that, the rising price has on its own generated additional buying enthusiasm, attracting purchasers who see the rise as validating an investment thesis. As “bandwagon” investors join any party, they create their own truth — for a while.

Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations

Is this improvement in the circumstances of the lower ranks of the people to be regarded as an advantage or as an inconvenience to the society? The answer seems at first sight abundantly plain. Servants, laborers, and workmen of different kinds, make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconvenience to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.

The liberal reward of labor, as it encourages the propagation, so it increases the industry of the common people. The wages of labor are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives. A plentiful subsistence increases the bodily strength of the laborer, and the comfortable hope of bettering his condition, and of ending his days perhaps in ease and plenty, animates him to exert that strength to the utmost. Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious than where they are low.

Alisa Harris: “No, Kathryn Joyce Is Not Attacking Good Christian Parents”

Nowhere does Joyce claim that the extreme cases, particularly those involving child abuse, are representative of evangelical adoptions. She is consistently at pains, in both the book and her interviews, to stress that the people she’s writing about are almost all good people with admirable intentions. She does point to a well-documented trend, that spans from fundamentalist evangelical groups all the way to major organizations like Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention, in evangelicals advocating international adoption as a kind of acceptable social charity work that doesn’t compromise fundamentalist positions on sexual ethics. It changes nothing that Merritt has never heard of some of the adoption organizations involved; anyone who has actually been through the process certainly has. In both her book and her Mother Jones story, Joyce charts the history of this rising phenomenon without overstating its size or influence.

As is often the case when mainstream reporters present portraits of evangelical behavior that cut through their own self-justifications, Merritt tries to sidetrack the story with detailed assessments of the exact size and influence of certain books and organizations Joyce mentions and claim she has attributed some sort of outsize influence to them. The goal seem so be help evangelicals circle the wagons, not to consider that some in their tent — almost all very good people — are participating in what has become a global network of child trafficking to serve the desires of Western parents.

The Rev. Phil Jackson: “God is pissed off and so am I”

There is a passage in Luke 7:11-16 in which Jesus stops a funeral and heals a child from death, brings him back to life, and gives him back to his mother. How I dream of that moment. But, I also believe I can work to stop the funerals in the first place and bring our young men and women back to Christ, back to their families, and back to their communities. This means working for personal transformation of young people’s lives. But it also means looking at the structures we live in and asking how they can change to make our streets a safer place to grow up.

Steve Benen: “Senate easily approves fix for flight delays”

When the sequester started kicking children out of pre-K, Congress did nothing. When this stupid policy denied low-income seniors the benefits of Meals on Wheels, Congress barely noticed. When sequestration cuts put new burdens on cancer patients and cut housing aid to struggling families, most of Congress shrugged its shoulders.

But when business travelers ran into flight delays on Monday, a unanimous Senate approved a fix without breaking a sweat on Thursday.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “The major asset in this category is gold, currently a huge favorite of investors who fear almost all other assets, especially paper money (of whose value, as noted, they are right to be fearful).”

    from that article

    He’s correct that millions of acres of farmland will yield much more interesting results and will in fact GROW into something larger. That is true, gold will not expand into something else. It’s a different sort of investment and one that would make little sense in Berkshire Hathaways portfolio of preferred stock of A list companies.

    The rush to buy gold generally returns to Nixons decision to close the gold window. Once gold was no longer nailed to 35 dollars an ounce it was inevitable that it would move and move up.

  • Mark Z.

    The U.S. dollar is a commodity, and gold has always moved up relative to other commodities. Trying to nail it to anything else just leads to gold speculators robbing you blind.

  • Lorehead

    That’s silly. A gold standard is wildly inappropriate monetary policy, so if we’d formally stayed on one for reasons of superstition, we’d have devalued by raising the dollar price of gold repeatedly by now.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Gee, I remember when gold was over $800 in 1981! Then it went down, down, down. Now, it’s up again. [yawn]

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    lorehead- We had it for most of our country’s existence and the entire world was effectively under it and appears to be heading back to it.

    ohio- under a gold standard it would never move at all. and didn’t. it was 20 dollars then 35 dollars an ounce for decades

  • Lorehead

    Oh, keep your crackpot theories of economics straight. Silver was “The Dollar of our Daddies!” You shall not press down upon the brow of labor a crown of thorns! You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Bryant was also a big prohibition advocate.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    he was! who downvoted that

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    OMG

  • BaseDeltaZero

    That… is completely irrelevant to the gold standard.

  • Chris Hadrick

    He was similarly misguided on monetary issues. A silver standard would be Constitutional though.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Au contraire, mon communiste! Ayn Rand proved that gold is the only thing that can objectively represent value because shiny!

  • JustoneK

    srsly? Rand liked the gold standard thing?

  • Magic_Cracker
  • general_apathy

    Hm, I think that explains why the Wikipedia article for “Objectivity” has a little note saying “not to be confused with Objectivism“.

  • Magic_Cracker

    The entry on Objectivist poets has a similar note.

  • arcseconds

    I always rather liked the note in the Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy about Ayn Rand:

    “An American writer of Russian origin, whose so-called philosophy of Objectivism extols selfishness and condemns altruism”

  • general_apathy

    Ahaha, that’s beautiful. Someone was justifiably bitter.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    First. this article isn’t about the gold standard it’s about investments and why Berkshire Hathaway, who buys large amounts if shares of very good companies wouldn’t purchase it.

    Second, gold has been used as the backing of the currency in the US long before the arrival of Ayn Rand. Democratic president Grover Cleveland was a great supporter of it.

    My point re: that was it became a speculative asset only when Nixon took the US off the gold standard, which he did in order to get re elected. It was not a proud moment for this country. It’s appreciated from 35 dollars an ounce to 1400 or so now.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Chris, you value capitalism, yes?

    Gold is a finite resource. Capitalism requires constant growth. How was sticking to the gold standard going to do anything but kill capitalism?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    The gold standard doesn’t kill capitalism, leaving it kills it as we are currently witnessing.

    and again, we didn’t leave the gold standard because it was somehow strangling the money supply or something. We left it because Nixon wanted to spend more to insure employment was strong for his re election and he didn’t want to raise taxes to do it, so he printed more money and left the GS when other nations attempted to call him on it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_Shock

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, what’s killing capitalism now is the fact that capitalism cannot stop growing without dying and resources are finite, and the fact that
    money grows best when spread out and right now it’s mostly not.

  • Fusina

    Dolly Levi on money.

    “Money is like manure. It needs to be spread out, encouraging little things to grow.”

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Fusina, Ellie – google economies of scale. The important resources aren’t finite.

    the Bretton Woods system existed all throught the 50’s and 60’s till nixon took us off GS in 73. It did not interfere with any income redistribution either by the government itself or the marketplace.

    I agree money is being concentrated. Especially in Washington DC, who surrounding counties are the very richest in the entire nation via taxpayer $$

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/09/21/dc_metro_area_is_super_rich_7_of_the_10_ten_counties_are_in_the_dc_suburbs_.html

    Also is it me or are people a little trigger happy with the votes? My initial post was utterly nondescript and I got the number of downvotes a nazi skinhead would get

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    I would like to think that a vocal Nazi Skinhead would get more than two downvotes (the number at the time of this writing).

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oil is infinite? Land is infinite? The hell do you mean by ‘important resources’?

  • phantomreader42

    By “important resources”, he means his own delusions. Nothing else could possibly matter to him.

  • ngotts

    My guess: free-market bullshit.

  • ngotts

    The important resources aren’t finite.

    Srsly? The visible universe is finite. The ability of the environment to absorb our wastes without undermining the conditions of our existence as a civilization is so finite we’re likely to reach its limits within the lifetime of many now living.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh is that where it came from? I always heard the formulation that money is also like manure because, piled up, it stinks.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    oil and land are virtually infinite but those aren’t the resources i was referring to. human ingenuinity

  • Fusina

    Um, no. Oil and land are literally finite. They can be measured, they can run out. Unless you have some system for increasing the mass and dry land areas of the planet. (I’ve heard about the oil shitting algae, thank you.)

  • phantomreader42

    Chris Hadrick babbled:

    oil and land are virtually infinite

    If by “virtually” you mean “not at all”, then yeah. Of course, that’s not what the word actually means, but since when have you cared about reality?
    There is a finite, and currently fixed, amount of land on this planet. There is as yet no feasible method to create more, and no other planet with suitable land readily accessible by our current technology. To claim that land is “virtually infinite” is idiotic.
    There is a finite, and rapidly decreasing, amount of oil on this planet. Oil forms very slowly, and is being used at a rate significantly faster than it is being replaced. There is no known alternate source of oil, as there are no other life-bearing planets that we know of, and even if there were they are not readily accessible by our current technology. Advances in technology to allow accessing other life-bearing planets would most likely require alternative energy sources, which would render oil irrelevant. To claim that oil is “virtually infinite” is incredibly idiotic.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    There are gigantic areas, such as in the middle of Russia, that are uninhabited. Yes I guess oil isn’t virtually infinite but there is a lot of it

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, and there’s a reason nobody lives there.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    It’s marginal now but if we run out of land as you fear it will be used.

  • phantomreader42

    Add “virtually” and “infinite” to the ever-growing list of words Chris Hadrick does not know the meaning of, and refuses to even consider learning.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    oil and land are virtually infinite

    Which is why no one ever fights wars over them.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    touche

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Oil can be composted from most organic materials, sure, but at a much lower rate than it can be extracted (extractible oil being a very much a limited resource).

    Land is ‘virtually infinite’ only if you’re hiding an FTL drive somewhere. Even if you’re going to expand into Russia or drain the whole damn ocean, it’s limited.

    Furthermore, this is ignoring the fact that just because you *can* do something doesn’t mean you *should*. A system that *requires* growth results in an ever-growing resource demand, which gets harder and harder to fulfil. It is the very definition of unsustainable. Technology *might* keep pace with the demand, but not necessarily universally, and the distribution probably won’t. You can already see this happening – resources that are practically available are running out, so the growth that hid the basic inequalities of puritanical capitalism is diminishing, resulting in the capital becoming more and more concentrated (in laissez-faire capitalism, capital tends to flow towards capital… but, under ideal conditions, it grows so quickly that this is compensated for by the growth at the bottom – the rising tide really does lift all boats, but it starts with the dinghies). If that growth stops, the flow nevertheless continues, resulting in widespread deprivation, and, ultimately, collapse into total kleptocracy and/or feudalism).

    Advances in technology to allow accessing other life-bearing planets would most likely require alternative energy sources, which would render oil irrelevant.

    Fuel is not the only interesting use for hydrocarbons – plastics, pharmaceuticals, a staggering variety of chemicals…

  • ngotts

    Here’s someone who’s scarcely on nodding acquaintance with reality.

  • NarcissusThespiae

    “”The public’s going to be furious when they find out that this could have been
    prevented,” Republican Senator Dan Coats complained to the [Wall Street Journal]. Exactly. And it was only then that they would have had the moral standing to judge the rest of the sequester.”

    But…

    “So why did Democrats go along? Because they were just looking to solve this problem quickly, and this was the path of least resistance.”

    This is the system. The aggregate sum of all our choices. Without a change to the system. Expect more of the same.

  • Carstonio

    “the troubling theology that God has ordained another family to suffer the loss of a child so that you can adopt one” – I wouldn’t have guessed that such a belief was common. I know someone who was pressured by her family to give up her baby for adoption, and many years later, she still believes that the loss was punishment from her god for the sin of getting pregnant while unmarried. But I had thought that beliefs like hers were relatively rare.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Reminds me of someone I know. Her son died inexplicably (SIDS) and she now rationalizes it as “God took my son so that I could have a daughter instead.”

    She keeps a family photo album with a blank space for every photo she would have taken of him if he were at the chronologically-categorized events. That… does not speak to me of having accepted the theological explanation for SIDS.

  • Monala

    Adam Smith is such a contrast to many of today’s right-wing. Imagine arguing that well-being, rather than deprivation, is the encouragement that the poor and working class need to be productive.

  • Carstonio

    How silly of Smith to imagine that economies exist to benefit people and not the other way around. Deprivation as encouragement is the mentality of oligarchy.

  • Magic_Cracker

    What Adam Smith clearly didn’t understand is that only the already-rich are motivated by reward (even when they fail), and the currently-poor can only be motivated by privation.

  • ngotts

    Indeed. Seldom was an honest person so traduced by those claiming to be their followers.

  • flat

    I do know that a pile of gold is just a pile of yellow colored metal, and I agree with Buffet’s opinion of the value of it.

    So I wouldn’t say that it would safeguard my future against everything.
    But I will admit that having a huge pile of gold hidden somewhere might be useful to me some day as long as I keep it as one of my back-up plans for later if something unexpected happens.

    (I also make sure I have other options than only a huge pile of gold)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    would you rather have a big pile of German Marks, French Francs, or gold?

  • GDwarf

    would you rather have a big pile of German Marks, French Francs, or gold?

    The “paper” currencies, definitely. Paper/cotton can be composted to grow stuff, it can be treated and woven into useful materials, it burns if I need heat or light, it makes a good insulator, it can be sewn together to make a shelter, sail, clothing, etc. Gold is useless outside of some very specific electrical uses, where silver is almost as good and copper is good enough for almost any use.

    One thing that I don’t get about all these cries against fiat currency in favour of gold: gold is only valuable by fiat. If people didn’t agree it had value, then it wouldn’t. Outside of its conductivity it’s the most useless metal there is, and even in the jobs it is useful for its extreme ductability means you need almost none of it. Why’s that matter? Because it means that gold has no innate value. It’s no more trustworthy than paper money.

    The standard example proving the worthlessness of gold is what happens if civilization collapses? Then gold is just as worthless as any other currency, while copper becomes immensely valuable (you can actually make worth-while things out of copper, especially if you’ve got tin to make bronze). So, given that, why does no one ever campaign to put us on the copper standard?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    To be fair, it’s the only metal that doesn’t tarnish. So if you really, really need something not to oxidize, gold’s your metal.

    But yeah, copper is generally more useful.

  • phantomreader42

    I think Titanium is also pretty resistant to corrosion. And if that’s due to being unreactive, then it would also likely be hypo-allergenic.

  • aim2misbehave

    Totally agree. There’s a common idea that “gold doesn’t lose its value” and therefore will be useful in a post-apocalyptic world. But, why would any person who can think critically give up something useful for a shiny hunk of metal? Sure, it’s good for a few electronic purposes, but unless you’re Tony Stark, you’re not going to be building anything that would require more than a little gold – and if there’s a lot of people who’ve got a lot of gold that they can’t use, getting enough for such purposes shouldn’t be difficult.

    Most of those people would probably be better off stockpiling loose change, both Canadian and American. (Where I came from, Canadian change was considered one of the most annoying things on earth: It had all the inconvenience of loose change, coupled with the fact that you couldn’t put it in parking meters or buses, but only offload it when you bought things with cash)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    If you had a stockpile of german marks they would be worthless other than any metal they contained. if you had changed those into gold before the Euro formed you’d be rich now.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Rich because I could turn the gold into dollars. Or Euros. Otherwise it’s just a shiny metal. Can’t eat it. I suppose if I had enough of it, I could build an igloo.

    You just don’t seem to get that the values of gold and any currency are equally arbitrary. We are in a gold “bubble” and gold is wildly overpriced. Whether you are rich or not is entirely dependent on the exchange rate between gold and some other currency (or possibly some other goods). You might as well talk about being on the “cowrie shell standard”.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    ohio – right but you admit you couldn’t turn the marks or francs in to similar amount of currently used currencies. dollars and euros may fall out of favor and if you had the gold you could use that to buy whatever the new thing is.

    As people often say an ounce of gold tends to buy the same amount of a thing perpetually. I think the analogy is a suit but I’ve never liked that one.

  • aim2misbehave

    That’s true, but the formation of the Euro hardly can be described as “apocalyptic”. I’m talking about the concept of hoarding gold in preparation for a situation where all governments and banks and centralized economic institutions are all defunct if not entirely obliterated.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I was talking about right now, today . If you had a drawerful of gold you would be fine. If you had a drawerful of German marks you could’t do anything with them.

    This guys answer

    “The “paper” currencies, definitely. Paper/cotton can be composted to grow stuff, it can be treated and woven into useful materials, it burns if I need heat or light, it makes a good insulator, it can be sewn together to make a shelter, sail, clothing, etc.”

    is what I was mostly responding to. His was more of an answer for which would you rather have on a desert island or something.

    oil was a good currency in Road Warrior maybe that’s the way to go.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also, diamonds are a more portable store of wealth than gold is. They don’t clink together like gold coins would, so if you’re walking around $STOCK_DANGEROUS_POST_APOCALYPTIC_AREA, the last thing you want to do is make unnecessary noise.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    diamonds are too expensive though. it’s thousands of dollars for a tiny one and you need an expert to cut it up etc.

  • aim2misbehave

    Eh, my problem with diamonds as a store of wealth is that their monetary value is inflated because De Beers and everyone holds back the majority of them – if they were to all enter the market at once, the value would collapse.

    Still, diamonds are good for making really, really sharp things that don’t wear down easily, so I think that they’d probably be more useful than gold.

    Now, Mylar on the other hand… the space-agency-grade stuff is super expensive as it is (long story, but I’ve actually got a few pieces of it), but whoever’s got a lot of that stuff could buy whatever they wanted because keeping warm and/or cool would be a huge priority.

  • phantomreader42

    aim2misbehave asked

    Totally agree. There’s a common idea that “gold doesn’t lose its value” and therefore will be useful in a post-apocalyptic world. But, why would any person who can think critically give up something useful for a shiny hunk of metal?

    Remember, the people promoting gold for this purpose are not trying to sell to people who can think critically, and in fact tend to avoid such people at all costs. There’s a reason Goldline ads are so much more common on Fox News than anywhere else.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    ” If people didn’t agree it had value, then it wouldn’t.” that’s the only reason anything has value. Gold has been valued as a medium of exchange since time immorium however you spell it for a number of mundane reasons. it is relatively scarce, it’s transportable, it can’t be watered down blah blah blah unlike say a horse or something. In practice with paper money it kept the government in line because they couldn’t run the printing presses for their own purposes, a problem that has plagued money for as long as it has existed.

    Also re the first question: marks and francs are useless. the gold can be used to buy other currencies. a government can’t discontinue it. If I gave you a million marks you would have a historical relic and a bunch of paper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    “” If people didn’t agree it had value, then it wouldn’t.” that’s the only reason anything has value.”

    That’s obviously untrue on its face. You are confusing intrinsic value with economic value, and arguing from a position of extreme ignorance.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    because you say so?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    If you’re going to attempt a rebuttal, it usually goes better when you form a complete sentence.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    You didn’t make a point. You just said it’s obviously untrue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    Well yes. Because it’s obviously untrue. That you don’t understand the difference between intrinsic value (the ability for something to *do* something — grow food, do work, provide power, heal the sick, etc) and economic value (generally, the monetary value of something) doesn’t mean that I’m not making a point.

    Gold has a very low intrinsic value (it can do almost nothing) but a very high economic value. In fact, gold’s low intrinsic value is a large part of the reason that it was chosen as a form of currency to begin with; you couldn’t actually *do* much of anything with it, meaning that it makes perfect sense as a form of coinage.

    Intrinsic value is relative, of course; a loaf of bred has higher intrinsic value to a starving person than one who has just eaten. This is the reason that coinage arose as a foundation of economics. It provided a means by which to level out the extreme inconsistencies in the relative value of a product. Bread isn’t transferrable — it’s not always worth two chickens or a sheep and a goat. Sometimes it’s not worth any chickens, and sometimes it’s worth four. The barter system didn’t allow for markets to scale beyond a small village, whereas coinage did, and that’s why it won. Gold itself is tangential to that fact, beyond the historical oddity that it was the metal that was sufficiently malleable and otherwise generally useless to be easy to mint into standardized coins.

    This is all basic economic history. The kind of stuff you’d learn in an entry-level High School Economics class. It should be obvious to anyone who’s passed the Ninth Grade.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Um, which society started out with barter, again? Because I read Debt: The First 5,000 Years, which assures me that there wasn’t any such society. Credit predated coinage and sometimes replaced coinage (even though credit was usually, as today it is, measured in terms of coinage); barter basically only occurred between people who didn’t have coins and didn’t expect ever to see each other again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    I’ve not read Graeber, so I can’t comment on what his book claims. I have just now tried to read a few summaries and I don’t know that his work is necessarily as ground breaking as has been suggested. Anthropologically, there’s evidence suggesting that the first usages of commodity money stretch back as far as 17,000 BCE, whereas Debt necessarily limits itself to 3,500 BCE due to the fact that we can’t establish much of an economic record prior to that point. Graeber’s work is certainly revolutionary, but it doesn’t seem to refute or even touch the barter -> commodity money transition that likely happened between 18,000 – 6,000 BCE.

    You are correct to criticize my conflation of commodity money and coinage. That was bad mojo on my part, especially considering the fact that coinage was likely invented a dozen millennia or more after commodity money. My apologies on that front.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    where would cavemen have gotten coins?

  • EllieMurasaki

    *takes copy of David Graeber, whaps Chris Hadrick upside the head with it* Book. Read. Educate yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    violence is never the answer

  • EllieMurasaki

    BOOK. READ. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

    …wait those are bad words to you. My sincerest apologies.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I’m reading David Stockman’s The Great Deformation now and you,I’m guessing, haven’t. Therefore whatever i say is true and whatever you say is false! that’s your argument, basically

  • EllieMurasaki

    What’s the book about? Has anyone else here read it? In what way will reading it educate me?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    it’s pretty awesome actually but it’s 700+ pages. The first section was about how AIG bailout was bogus. There was never a “systemic risk”. The second was about how bad Reagan was budget wise. Stockman was on Reagans team so he outta know. Caspar Weiberger gets a lot of the blame for the pointless, totally unrelated to the Soviet threat military buildup and in Reagan gets blamed for pay undue deference to him. and the deficits and so forth. It bashes Reagan and the Reagan myth.

    The next part which I’m on now is about Nixon ending Bretton Woods system, ending the gold standard. It was shameful not because of the gold standard itself but the cynical short term thinking of Nixon with no regard for anything but his next election.

    My point wasn’t about that though. It was that you can’t just say some book and tell someone to read it as an answer. You have to explain it a little bit at least

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, but if I tried explaining Graeber’s point without including Graeber’s anthropological research, we’d still be here next month, and I don’t feel like quoting the whole book at you.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Barter probably parallelled currency, in the sense that sometimes it was easier to trade straight-across two horses for two donkeys, while other times it was easier to sell two horses for units of currency (carved stone, salt, metallic coins, etc) and then later go buy two donkeys.

    I expect that as societies got more complex the monetary system won out due to the sheer simplicity of a medium of exchange rather than inefficient barter transactions.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I would guess barter came before mediums of exchange. probably the more people moved about the more they needed something portable and exchangeable.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    ” In fact, gold’s low intrinsic value is a large part of the reason that it was chosen as a form of currency to begin with;”

    you just made that up .

    “Gold itself is tangential to that fact, beyond the historical oddity that it was the metal that was sufficiently malleable and otherwise generally useless to be easy to mint into standardized coins.”

    Yeah that’s why there are no gold coins anywhere in the world! (There are tons of them literally.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The more useful something is, the more its value is based on its utility. The last thing you want for a stable medium of exchange is for something to be worth more or less based on the intersection of physically what it is and how much you need it at the moment. Gold is a better medium of exchange than wheat because how much wheat is worth to me is a function of how much I personally already have. It’s the same damned reason that the real estate bubble couldn’t last: it is not a good idea to conflate your investments with the thing you live in.

    Wheat bad. Gold better. Fiat currencies best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericrboersma Eric Boersma

    “you just made that up .”

    Not at all, actually. It doesn’t take a lot of looking to quickly see that this is an accepted historical fact pretty much anywhere. Even amongst websites who’s primary goal is to sell you gold.

    “Yeah that’s why there are no gold coins anywhere in the world! (There are tons of them literally.)”

    The fact that there are so many gold coins is proof of what I’m saying: That gold isn’t useful. If Gold was useful, its primary activity after being mined from the ground wouldn’t be to spend all of its time sitting in bar or coin form. People would actually, you know, do something with it.

  • Chris Hadrick

    It was used as conductors in mainframe computers. people out it in their teeth and wore it as jewelry. If it were as commonplace as other metals it could be used for many more things.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    > since time immorium however you spell it

    The cliché you’re nodding in the direction of here is “since time immemorial.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.kopycinski Randy Kopycinski

    Right, I get you. Horses, unlike gold, are difficult to transport – because horses only have legs, while gold can be used to build teleporters that work on itself. Also, horses, unlike gold, can be watered down or diltued – say, mixing a unit of horse with several units of horse-substitute, mixing it together, and doling out several diluted, inferior pseudo-horses.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    To be fair, in some regards gold is better than horses as a value holder. Does does not expire or reproduce, nor does it require resource inputs to maintain like food and water. The value of horses can fluctuate based on how many horses are in the market and how many people already own horses. Gold on the other hand tends to enter the market only in a trickle, so in theory its value tends to be fairly high due to a limited supply.

    Which means that since the supply is fairly fixed, the only way to effectively adjust pricing of gold is by influencing demand. Hence you get a lot of charlatans hawking gold coins and the like on infomercials in order to drive up demand from the easily duped. Then they sell the gold to them at inflated prices, and the bubble bursts when the market starts realizing that you can only keep making money off selling gold if the demand keeps going up.

    Then the price deflates and the cycle starts all over again…

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    a horse standard would have other problems. That’s fairly obvious.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You do know that horses and other draft animals were a prized item for transactions as recorded in things like the Bible, don’t you?

    On second thought, don’t answer that.

  • ngotts

    You’re just a neigh-sayer.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I am rubber and you are glue~

  • GDwarf

    that’s the only reason anything has value.

    Not at all: As I said, should society collapse one can use copper to do all sorts of useful things, the Metro series of games posit a post-apocalyptic world where ammunition is the unit of exchange, etc. The market value and the intrinsic value of an object are not the same thing, and while neither are constants the former is far more prone to large fluctuations, making intrinsic value a better in-case-of-disaster investment.

    Gold has been valued as a
    medium of exchange since time immorium however you spell it for a number
    of mundane reasons. it is relatively scarce, it’s transportable, it
    can’t be watered down blah blah blah

    Many things have those properties, though: Copper, mercury, tin, aluminum, many other elements, knowledge, gems, labour, salt, etc. The main reason gold seems to have been chosen is because it’s shiny and doesn’t tarnish, neither of which seem like a sound basis for a currency.

    unlike say a horse or something. In
    practice with paper money it kept the government in line because they
    couldn’t run the printing presses for their own purposes, a problem that
    has plagued money for as long as it has existed.

    But gold currencies were adulterated all the time. Effectively zero governments handed out actual coins made of pure gold, so what, exactly, was tying them to any given value, other than the government’s say-so?

    Further, what are these nefarious purposes that governments would cause inflation for? Governments are, traditionally, made up of the rich and powerful, who benefit from low inflation rates more than any other group. Obviously some governments do cause massive inflation, but they could do that on the gold standard, too. Rome, for example, had persistent problems with inflation, especially in the provinces.

    The gold standard means one of two things:
    Number one: It’s just another fiat currency, as was the case with almost all “gold standard” economies in history.

    Number two: It prevents the government from setting its own fiscal policy. The currency is no less fiat, it’s just based on the whims of other countries, rather than the one printing the money. We’ve all seen how well that’s worked out for Greece, haven’t we?

    Also re the first question: marks and francs are useless. the gold
    can be used to buy other currencies. a government can’t discontinue it.
    If I gave you a million marks you would have a historical relic and a
    bunch of paper.

    I listed a bunch of potential uses.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “The main reason gold seems to have been chosen is because it’s shiny and doesn’t tarnish,”

    that’s not why it was chosen. and even if it was it WAS CHOSEN and the others weren’t. Someone at some point accepted gold as a medium of exchange, copper did not meet the qualifications people from all walks of life desired.

    Greece isn’t on the gold standard and it’s problems are related to it’s own actions, not those of other countries. There economy is in shambles because it’s virtually impossible to start a business there and the government is corrupt to the gills.

    ” The market value and the intrinsic value of an object are not the same thing,”

    intrinsic value is subjective, market value isn’t.

    “Further, what are these nefarious purposes that governments would cause inflation for?”

    Nixon wanted to keep unemployment temporarily super low so he cold get re elected.

  • Fusina

    “that’s not why it was chosen.” — regarding gold

    Okay…now I’m curious. Why was it chosen then?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    fusina – http://gizmodo.com/5696149/why-is-gold-the-perfect-element-for-money

    ^this is an interesting modern take on the question. I agree with the author that using a gas as a medium of exhange would be problematic.

  • Fusina

    Shells have been used as money, not all ancient money is gold, they used silver, copper, brass, and now are using nickel etc… Again, why gold and not, say, seashells or pretty rocks?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    yes cowrie shells were used in middle east and Africa. There have been lots and lots of different things that have been used as medium of exchange.

    Also, there is a difference between what the coin is made of and what it represents. the pieces of paper in a strict gold standard represent, say, 1 / 20th of an ounce of gold.

    So a coin made of nickel is different than a coin made of nickel backed by gold.

    This sort of thing became a big problem when they attempted “bi metalism” . You had a gold dollar and a silver dollar and the government said they were worth the same. As you can imagine,. people horded the gold ones and passed the silver ones along because you can’t just say something has the same value as something else. They ended that and went back to just the gold. Grover Cleveland I think it was.

  • EllieMurasaki

    you can’t just say something has the same value as something else
    Chris Hadrick has just proven that markets cannot exist. Everybody else go home.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    the market determines the value. if Obama said “gold is now worthless” it would mean nothing. it’s worth whatever someone is willing to buy it for.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Either one can say that one paperback book is equivalent to two gallons of gas because both cost seven dollars, or one cannot. You just said one cannot.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    you can try but what happens is something called Gresham’s law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham%27s_law Technically gold and silver coins were both one dollar but people horded the gold coins because they new the new rule was not the match of the old law.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So one paperback book is not worth seven dollars and neither are two gallons of gas, no matter what anybody says on the matter. Chris Hadrick has just disproved markets, everybody go home.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Also, there is a difference between what the coin is made of and what it
    represents. the pieces of paper in a strict gold standard represent,
    say, 1 / 20th of an ounce of gold.

    You think that. But that’s because you are stupid.

    The piece of paper doesn’t represent 1/20th of an ounce of gold. One twentieth of an ounce of gold represents the piece of paper.

    You know why? Because the only reason the gold has value is because you can exchange it for goods and services. And how much goods and services can you buy with your twentieth of an ounce of gold?

    That would be one dollar’s worth.

    (And next Thursday when someone notices that there’s a liquidity problem because we’ve got 50% more goods and services than we did a while ago, and therefore need more dollars to buy it up, do you know what you do? You declare by fiat that those dollars are now equivalent to one thirtieth of an ounce of gold each and print more. )

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    then I would exchange my dollars for gold because you broke the pact. That’s the beauty of it

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The point people are making is that even a “gold standard” is relative. By devaluing gold, you effectively cause a fall in the value of money, which is equivalent to a rise in prices.

  • Chris Hadrick

    How does the gold standard devalue gold?

  • GDwarf

    that’s not why it was chosen. and even if it was it WAS CHOSEN and the
    others weren’t. Someone at some point accepted gold as a medium of
    exchange, copper did not meet the qualifications people from all walks
    of life desired.

    Yes, and now every country in the world is off the gold standard, which means that everyone has chosen not to use it.

    Greece has many causes for its problems, but its economic situation has been significantly worsened because it has no control over its currency. It’s the exact same problem that the US faced during the world wars and the depression: If you can’t control your currency then it will fluctuate wildly (it’s a myth that gold-backed currencies were “stable”, the US dollar has seen far less fluctuation since it was decoupled from gold than it ever saw while on the standard (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/why-the-gold-standard-is-the-worlds-worst-economic-idea-in-2-charts/261552/ )) and those fluctuations will tend to make bubbles and depressions much, much worse.

    intrinsic value is subjective, market value isn’t.

    They’re both subjective. Take, for example, the value of stocks: Back when Palm was the big company in mobile computing you could buy stocks in Palm, or in its parent company. Every stock you bought in the parent company also came with 2/3rds of a stock in Palm (I’m grossly simplifying here, but that was roughly how it worked out) due to how the companies were structured. Palm’s stocks went for over three times as much as stock in the parent company. How does that make any sense if the market value is even remotely objective?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “Yes, and now every country in the world is off the gold standard, which means that everyone has chosen not to use it.”

    no their governments have chosen. If I was offered dollars backed by gold and dollars not backed by gold I’d take the gold backed ones.

    and countries still have massive gold reserves which figure in to their currencies value.

    re Palm that is a strange split they did there did but subsidaries can overcome parent companies. Who was the parent company? I’m not a tech guy

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Dutch guilders. :P

  • Baby_Raptor

    Mr. Jackson is worried about gun violence in his neighborhood…So he wants to convert people to Jesus. A God that, no offense meant to all here who worship him, takes a “sit back and do nothing” approach to actually helping his beloved creation. No. No, no no. That’s not going to help at all.

    Fix the problems the kids are facing. Fix education, make sure the families have enough money to live on, sort out the crime issues, make sure they all have health insurance, give the younger ones reliable child care and the older ones jobs…

    Create a stable environment for them. Give them a hope for a decent future. Once they actually have their feet on the ground, and have some security…THEN worry about racking up soul points!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I think his motivation is more like “Real True Christians never do evil, so if everyone were a Real True Christian, there would be no evil!”

    Makes me wonder what he’s going to do with that pile of discarded Scotsmen.

  • JustoneK

    convert them to merican christianity.

  • Christy

    Actually, if you read his whole article, his point is that he wants
    better gun control laws, and he makes some specific suggestions for what he would like to see happen – all of which I agree with. (and yes, he
    also wants to convert people to Jesus.) I used to live in Phil Jackson’s neighborhood, and I used to know the guy (although not terribly well), and while he is most certainly into Jesus, he is also into working on all of the other issues you name.

    While a number of black churches have unfortunately abandoned working
    for tangible social change for a “Love God and He’ll give you lots of
    money” approach, there is still a deep social justice tradition in black churches and many of them are doing excellent work in their communities, working for both systemic and local change. Anyone who is really interested in tackling the problems that black and Latino youth face in low-income urban areas would be wise to have churches be a part of the equation. They can be a powerful force in community organizing – but they’re not going to tack on the faith stuff later. Activism and faith is a package deal.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I did click over to Mrs. Evans’ site and read the entire article. I made sure to do so before posting my comment.

    I fully admit that I may have missed something, but I didn’t see anything about addressing the issues that make the area he lives in as bad as it is. I saw him bemoaning burying children (which I’m not saying is bad,) and talking about how he wants to bring Jesus to the area *to bring people to the church* first an foremost…He only mentions the communities and the families afterward.

    I don’t doubt that he feels he has the best of intentions, I just don’t see anything there that will bring about his claimed ultimate goal.

  • Fusina

    Gold. Oooh, shiny. Like paper money though, you can’t eat it, you can’t, except in some circumstances, wear it (as clothing, not jewelry. Cloth of gold anyone? Stuff is bloody heavy and not terribly comfy). Except for jewelry and electronics, oh, okay, and some really pretty embroidery threads, not terribly useful. And what is the deal with putting gold flakes in otherwise meh liquor and on brownies?

    I will admit that I do have some real gold wrapped thread and sequins, but quite frankly, the gold colored mylar sequins look just as pretty and are much less expensive to stitch with. And they make fake gold wrapped thread that is likewise. It is like the lab created gemstones, or even cut glass beads. I am just as happy with “fake” bling as with the real thing. And, I can afford to really glitter stuff up with the fakes, for a lot less.

    Sometimes I think that the desire for the hard to get and rare can be a very bad thing. And, I’m not sorry about this opinion, but I like to read the fashion pages to see just how stupid the designers actually think rich people are.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Unlike with paper money, you can use gold to disable a Cyberman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    Not any more. They upgraded themselves to have a defense against that last Saturday.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Sure, those particular Cybermen in that particular time and place, but don’t forget: timeywhimey.

  • JustoneK

    so the next cybermen will get rid of the handlehead?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Considering what we saw one Cyberman do in Nightmare in Silver, those handles could be useful.

  • Sixwing

    If you can’t disable a Cyberman with paper money, maybe you just need a different way to use it. Paper’s awful on precise joints and delicate surfaces.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    But you can use paper gold.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    ” I am just as happy with “fake” bling as with the real thing. ” said no ones wife ever

  • EllieMurasaki

    Said EllieMurasaki, you mean. I wouldn’t say ‘fake’, but pewter is just as pretty as silver and costs a shitpot less.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    So If I proposed to you with a diamelle thing you’d say yes? If so i wouldn’t propose to you

  • EllieMurasaki

    In the event that I considered you a potential long-term romantic partner (in your dreams, bub), and you proposed with something inexpensive, that wouldn’t count against you. Proposing with something priced at two months pay would. I’d be forever afraid of losing the thing and also imagine its opportunity cost.

  • Maniraptor

    Aye. Anybody giving me a diamond ring had better be prepared for me to pawn it and buy an equivalent amount of yarn, which would be way more fun.

    I proposed with a tungsten ring. I’d rather pick something that we both like and which will last than something based solely on tradition. (I don’t see any problem with not having rings at all, or the diamond-and-gold if that’s what someone likes and can afford, but a little bit of semi-practical symbolism was important to me.)

    Somehow I suspect Chris has no idea how long-term relationships should actually work if this is a reasonable reaction in his mind.

  • Fusina

    Okay, I have actually thought about that (I would probably get beads and embroidery supplies though). But he liked it, and he bought it, so any pawning or reselling will be his responsibility. I guess I don’t think of it as my ring, just the one I wear because I love him. I would have been happy with CZ, myself.

  • Maniraptor

    This is totally reasonable! I would probably (hopefully!) do the same if given a ring that fancy by someone who could afford it and genuinely liked it (as opposed to feeling obligated or just hadn’t asked me how I feel about things). I suppose I would probably feel different if I had been given the ring rather than buying it.

    I’ve had some bad experiences with people buying me fancy things that I don’t actually want in place of actually liking me, so a bit of that may be underlying this. Chris set off a bit of my “silly ladies, you don’t know what you really want” radar I think. I do not actually universally endorse being a jerk when people give you nice things ;)

  • VMink

    I was always fond of the iridium engagement rings, sans diamonds. “My love for you is stronger than dinosaurs!’ That being said, iridium rings are kind of epensive.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Color me totally unsurprised to hear yet another shallow, thoughtless thing pass your electronic lips.

    I would be happier to be proposed to with a piece of painted wood, if it was from someone I loved.

  • Mark Z.

    If the composition of the ring has anything to do with how you’d answer a marriage proposal, you damn well better answer “no”.

  • Anton_Mates

    haha, watch out hypothetical Chris-interested ladies, he won’t buy you if you insult him with an excessively low bride-price

  • christopher_y

    My wife and I don’t wear rings, because we discussed it and agreed that it would be a stupid waste of money we could usefully spend on something else. If she did want one, I’d have to get it made of silver, because she hates gold and has none at all.

    (OK,if somebody gave her an original Lalique jardiniere, I’m sure she’d make an exception, but nobody’s going to, so.)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Mr. ShifterCat and I went with silver for our wedding rings, because both of us prefer it. And also because we happened to find beautiful Celtic knotwork/claddagh rings in that metal.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m like your wife. I hate yellow gold; much prefer silver or white gold. (Always wondered why they call it white, though.)

    Not a huge fan of diamonds, either. The ring I’m currently wearing is white gold and a pink sapphire with tiny diamond chips.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Actually if someone proposed to me with an authentic sample of something kind of unusual I’d be amused and surprised :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Tiara set with real fossilized fairy fewmets!

    (“I suppose you’re not going to tell them what fewmets are.” “What, and spoil the fun?”)

    (sorry)

  • Fusina

    Snigger…fewmets…snigger. I’ll have to tell you a story about fairy fewmets sometime…

  • Monala

    This comment illustrates perfectly why most of us on Slacktivist have very different values from you, and why our values are beyond your comprehension.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    According to the Aperture Science Gift Buying Guide, “Women love diamonds for their wide range of industrial applications.”

  • Lori

    If you proposed clearly the ring would not be the reason for saying no.

    Also, the fact that you would reject a woman for not being bling-blind doesn’t mean that all women are bling-blind. You know even less about women than you do about everything else you post about here. I didn’t think that was possible.

  • aim2misbehave

    I feel similarly! I mean, if you’re getting me some kind of precision cutting/engraving tools as an engagement gift then by all means get me stuff made with diamonds, but sparkly stuff to wear on my hand? I’m just not aesthetically into the whole gold-and-diamond thing. Gold doesn’t suit my skin tone, and I’m not a particularly huge fan of clear stones – I’d rather that a future fiance got me something that looked nice on me (probably with a lot of blues) or something pretty and unique (like an opal) or something that totally appeals to our nerdy sides (like something tungsten carbide, or inlaid with meteorite rock) than something expensive.

    (ETA: Besides, isn’t the whole “cost of the ring” thing about the man demonstrating his earning power? Because it’s actually likely that I’d out-earn my future husband at least early in the relationship, so gender roles would kind of be different. And I’d probably end up buying him a nice claddagh ring or something as an engagement present, too)

  • Jamoche

    I wonder how much the “two months salary” thing is just more of the diamond industry’s push to create a tradition where one didn’t exist before, and is cynically aimed at people on the lower end of the salary range to encourage them to pay more than they can really afford? Especially when they’re at a stage in their life when it’s unlikely they have that much in available cash that couldn’t be better spent elsewhere. Accumulating two months salary when I was in my 20s would’ve taken a major effort and still wouldn’t have gotten anything nice enough that 20 years later I’d consider it a cherished heirloom.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The “two months salary” thing is 100% an invention by the diamond industry. Miss Manners has much to say on the subject, all of it scathing toward the diamond industry. Also, to be extra-traditional, the woman and man are supposed to pick out the engagement ring together unless he has a special ring in his family to give to her that she would enjoy wearing. (And he’s not supposed to get her parents’ permission until AFTER she’s said yes, btw.)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Chris, I am someone’s wife. So I’d say I have more authority on this subject than you do, and I am telling you: you’re full of shit.

    (Again. Or is that “still”?)

    I have zero interest in blingy status symbols. If I like an item, it’s because of the artistry or practicality of that item, not because of the scarcity of its materials. My husband knows this, and shops accordingly.

    Oh, and we didn’t bother with engagement rings.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    (Trigger Warning: Shameless Sales Plug)

    Speaking of artistry and practicality, Angelwear Creations has just created a new line of earrings and necklaces which have layered gears which actually spin in place under your fingertips. It is like shiny toys that you can wear!

    (Sorry for the lack of pictures, we just completed several of them today and do not have the photos online yet.)

    Also, keep an eye on our new Etsy store for a selection of our items.

  • Fusina

    Those…those are awesome!

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Ooooh.

  • Cathy W

    Oooh. I just favorited the Etsy store… my kind of style, and I can actually wear earrings with sterling wires.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    While you can wear earrings with sterling wires, we also offer our jewelry with goldfill, niobium, or titanium hooks instead of sterling ones for those who have a reaction to them. Any of our sterling items can have the hooks customized quickly to match the customer’s needs if we are given a little heads-up first.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Well there are 2 questions here: do you prefer real diamonds to fake ones and are real diamonds BETTER than fake ones in any way.

    if fake diamonds were exactly as good as real ones there would be no diamond trade. no one would spend the money to dig them out of the ground if they could be created in a lab. So clearly there is a reason there is demand for actual as opposed to fake diamonds. They are denser, shinier, whatever

    gold is similar. they can make fools gold, but they tried for centuries and could not create real gold via alchemy processes.

    “I have zero interest in blingy status symbols”

    Well, We don’t NEED fake diamonds either. We need water more than gold, diamonds or anything else but it comes free out of water fountains, while other far less useful things cost millions.

    That’s just….the way it is

  • Fusina

    “We need water more than gold, diamonds or anything else but it comes
    free out of water fountains, while other far less useful things cost
    millions.”

    Um, no it doesn’t. It is a lot cheaper than diamonds are, but it isn’t free.

    And no, we don’t need sparkly crap, but it is nice. Diamonds would be a lot cheaper if De Beers et al didn’t keep the supply artificially low and keep major control on said supply, and they spend millions every year to find ways to prove that man made diamond is not as real as “real” diamonds are. I heard one ad where lab created diamonds were disparaged for the lack of flaws in them… Um. Yeah.

    Another consideration for me is that what with the various ways diamonds get to market, there is too good a chance that somewhere along the line they were passed through dubious hands. I’d rather have a CZ that isn’t valuable enough for someone to kill someone else over, to be honest. And I’m sorry, but rubies are pretty but not as pretty as some of the red crystal beads. Likewise with a lot of other gemstones. Humans have gotten quite good at making imitations of things that look more like the real thing than the thing itself. In some cases, even prettier than the thing itself.

    Humans seem to need ornamentation–I started looking into beads, and some of the earliest gravesites (where bodies were buried rather than left to lay) and beads have been found in a lot of them. Sometimes wood, sometimes seeds, shells, small rocks–I call it our ubiquitous predilection for adornment. People like to make pretty things. Why? Hell if I know. But I do. Why do people paint pictures? Make jewelry? Design pretty clothes? Grow silk worms and make thread and dye it in pretty colors, likewise sheep for wool, cotton, flax for linen, etc… It still is clothing if it hasn’t been dyed. I think it is a need the reason for which is buried so deep in our psyche that we don’t even realize we have it–well, some of us.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Well there are 2 questions here: do you prefer real diamonds to fake ones…

    Diamonds are not my thing, so I’m the wrong person to ask. I like pearls, though, and I don’t care whether they’re cultured or “natural”. I even like fake pearls as long as they’re well-made enough that the nacre coating won’t peel off.

    …and are real diamonds BETTER than fake ones in any way.

    I’m not a jeweler, so I’ll refer to Fusina’s answer. But also, fake diamonds have the advantage of not being the product of Third-World exploitation. That’s pretty important to me.

    if fake diamonds were exactly as good as real ones there would be no diamond trade.

    Yeah, because it’s not like DeBeers and other companies have any reason to cultivate demand.

    Listen, I worked in ladies’ fashion for some years, so I know something about cultivated demand. Purse with a Prada or Gucci label? Thousands of dollars. Identical purse without the brand label? A fraction of that price. Status symbols are an idiot’s game.

    We need water more than gold, diamonds or anything else but it comes free out of water fountains

    It’s not free. The reason we can have clean, plentiful water to use and even to waste is because it’s paid for with tax money. Not everyone can take water for granted the way we do.

    That’s just….the way it is

    Asserting it doesn’t make it so.

  • Fusina

    Oooh, pearls. I have lots that I make jewelry with, both real and fake. They have some fakes out that look like bubbles, with the iridescent shimmer over them. I have some with a black base color–they are yummy.

    I don’t tend to get designer stuff–and got disgusted when one designer was doing a purse a few years back that was a patchwork of other purses, and selling it for something in the vicinity of $20,000. It was ugly, and people were getting in line to buy it.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Some people refuse to believe me when I list things I wouldn’t do even if I were rich enough. One of those things is buying designer crap.

  • ohiolibrarian

    I try to avoid being a walking billboard for some company. If I were rich, I would want to get things individually designed for me, not stuff that has someone else’s name all over it.

  • Lori

    If I had the money I’d be willing to spend a lot more than I currently do on some things—-high quality versions of items intended to last for years and years. However, even if I woke up tomorrow richer than god I wouldn’t pay designer prices just to get a certain name on a very basic item or for a fad. That just seems completely dumb to me.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Seconded.

    If anybody’s wondering, comments to and from C. Hadrick are now being deleted before they hit my inbox.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I decided a long time ago that if I ever became rich, I was going to use my money at both charity and personal levels to improve the lives of others. I have few needs beyond having my bills paid. If I had $100 left over at the end of a month after assorted necessities, I’d consider myself rich.

    It makes the existence of the ultra rich that much more offense to me. How much does any person really need beyond their individual creature comforts? I mean, someone like Lliira, yes, of course she needs more than I do in order to be comfortable, but every adjusting for special needs, how much extra money does a person need to have on hand at all times? Enough to cover an emergency, perhaps, but ideally that’d be folded into necessities as decent insurance…

  • Lori

    Everyone has to make their own choices, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to have more than just what one needs. Most human accomplishment is the result of wanting more. For me there’s just a huge difference between investing in quality because it lasts longer* as well as improves the experience of the thing and “Look at me!!! Won’t someone please look at how special I am because i have the name of the moment.” I don’t think that’s the worst aspect of consumer culture**, but it’s the one that makes me feel like a sucker and I’m not a fan of that feeling.

    *One thing that poverty has made very clear to me is how expensive cheap can be.

    **I’d give that award to the commodification of discontent and having an ecomony largely driven by making people feel like crap so that they’ll be willing to pay to for whatever garbage you promise will make them feel better

  • Jamoche

    One thing that poverty has made very clear to me is how expensive cheap can be.

    http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/index.php/Sam_Vimes_Theory_of_Economic_Injustice aka the “Boots Theory”

  • Lori

    Yup. That’s a theory only until you’re really poor and then you get it in a way that goes far beyond theory.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I wrap that up into the necessities category too. I’ve lived minimalist (I had a place once that was smaller than most studio apartments — a single room and a shared bathroom) and a starvation diet, and while I know it’s possible, in theory, to live on about as much (with a better diet, probably), that’s not what I mean.

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to put a line between “living comfortably” and “living in luxury,” but what’s comfortable should include reliability, health, a certain degree of preparation for disastrous future events — and some extra for things that are completely unnecessary, but nice to have.

    But value is subjective, so my “not necessary, but nice to have” doesn’t include things like, I dunno, a pony. And for people with children, that has to encompass a lot of things, not just the parents’ desires.

    Still, there’s got to be a practical limit somewhere. A person might need a budget as high as $200,000 a year, but we still have people with a budget ten times that who act as though if they don’t figure out a way to charge us for breathing oxygen, they’ll wither up and die.

  • aim2misbehave

    Some designer stuff is genuinely high quality, though. Like I used to be all “Who’d pay that much for clothes? Suckers!” but then I moved to a place near a Goodwill that was donated to by very, very rich neighborhoods… I get some of it. I go shopping at Goodwill by not looking at tags, but running my hands along the racks and feeling for quality things. Like, Target and Old Navy are perfectly fine places to get clothes, but those aren’t going to survive well – I have a $25 Target sundress that I got new, and a Marciano sundress that I picked up for $6 but was originally about $150-175, and the Target sundress is in worse condition six months after I bought it new than the Marciano sundress was over a year after I had bought it secondhand. If I was rich, yeah, I could see myself buying designer clothing.

    The designer purses, though, specifically are what I don’t get: I know more than a few people who have them. They’re high quality, but i don’t think $2500 high quality, not when you’re carrying around something with a name on it.

  • Lori

    Some designer stuff is genuinely high quality, though.

    Absolutely, which is why I’d buy it if I could for things I would wear/use for a long time. I would never pay $150 for a sundress though, no matter how high the quality, because I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to wear a sundress enough times to make it worth it. (Obviously I’d be thrilled to get $150 sundress for $6. Go you.)

    Shoes are another story. I am hard on shoes, so cheap ones are practically disposables for me. More importantly cheap shoes hurt my feet. If I had the money I’d happily pay hundreds of dollars for well made shoes in classic styles that I’d wear again and again. I would not pay mid-4 figures for a pair of ugly ass platform pumps that look like stripper shoes just because they have a red sole.

  • Maniraptor

    Ooh, where do you get the bubble fakes (or do you have a shop online I could frequent, as it’s not like I know how to make jewelry anyway)? I do love me some shinies, so to speak. Shinies that are the product of human ingenuity are often pretty great too.

  • Fusina

    You can email me at fusina at verizon dot net and we can work out something as I do make jewelry to sell, or you can go to ebay and look for shell pearls. The vendor I got the black shinies from is http://www.ebay.com/itm/8PE01345a-12MM-AAA-Rainbow-Sea-Shell-Pearl-Bead-15-5-/230978788144?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35c7689b30

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    my point wasn’t that water is free. Obviously if you use a water fountain someone paid for that fountain. The point was we NEED water more than diamonds but diamonds cost much much more than water. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement.

  • Fusina

    Yes, diamonds cost more than water. But I’ll bet that I’ve paid more money for water over my lifetime than I’ve paid for diamonds. And probably enjoyed it more, especially the kind that comes in swimming pools.

    Um, possibly not for my other sparklies, but hey, I could line up the sparklies I’ve gotten for the same amount as my diamond, and gotta tell you, the pile of sparklies would be bigger and prettier than the diamond. And if you piled up diamonds to the size of my sparklie pile, I would still take the sparklies.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I’m not trying to diss WATER or fake diamonds. water is cheaper in no small part because it is very plentiful. diamonds are not

  • Fusina

    Water is indeed very plentiful. Potable water on the other hand is considerably less so, and considerably more valuable than diamonds. And I’m done with this. You slide around without answering, give other people’s work instead of doing your own, and are not worth any more of my time.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I can buy a bottle of potable water for a dollar. I can’t buy a bottle of diamonds for a dollar.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You won’t die without the diamonds, either. No water for long enough, you’re toast.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie – that was the original point: we need water more than we need diamonds, but diamonds are more expensive. So you can’t ascribe value (monetary value ) to things based on their “intrinsic”, I don’t like that word, value

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    If shit hits the fan, you’ll find yourself handing over diamonds to the water trader, who will smile patiently (if you’re lucky) and ask if you have anything valuable to trade.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What you’re saying sounds a hell of a lot like ‘diamonds are more valuable than water is because diamonds cost more per ounce’.

    That is bullshit.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- again this is the point of the thing: we need water far far more than we want diamonds. No one disagrees with that. Water is much more “valuable” in THAT sense. However, despite the fact that water is more important to us in many obvious measurable ways and there is virtually no one who NEEDS a diamond, they cost more.

    Why doesn’t water cost more than diamonds? That’s the point. Not water is somehow not as good as a diamond.

    Like Water for chocolate remember that movie. Can I propose to a woman with a glass of water instead of a ring?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    It’s been pointed out before that you don’t have to propose with anything.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I know I COULD but it wouldn’t be very romantic. it would be like water for diamond

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Water is plentiful.

    Fresh water is less plentiful.

    Clean fresh water is significantly less plentiful in nature.

    Clean fresh water away from lakes and streams is even harder to come by.

    If shit hits the fan, water’s going to stop coming out of water fountains as the mechanisms which pump water shut down and start breaking without maintenance. Trash is going to start piling up in lakes and rivers. You’re going to start having minor issues with things like raw sewage in water supplies. Places like Las Vegas will quickly revert to a desert state, and you’re going to discover that all those stories about third world countries where people have dysentery all the time are just a hair from coming to pass in first world countries as well.

    It won’t take a great many years before living to be 50 is an accomplishment. We’ve been there before, and it wasn’t all that long ago.

  • Lori

    Diamonds are far more plentiful than most people realize. Even ones high in all 4 of the 4 Cs aren’t actually all that rare. The perceived rarity, and therefore high price, is mostly the result of market manipulation by the de Beers cartel.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The only time something would be a “fake” diamond is if someone is, say, selling cut crystal glass and claiming it is diamond. This can be discerned by a careful enough studied eye.

    However, there is a such thing as a synthetic diamond, created in pressure chambers as opposed to natural diamonds created by pressures in the Earth over time. Synthetic diamonds are actually quite widely produced and consumed, just not typically as jewelry. The specific strength of carbon lattices is very useful in industrial applications, like saws and drills or anything else where extreme hardness is necessary.

    Incidentally, DeBeers no long has the stranglehold on the natural diamond market like they use to. A few of the big mines decided it was no longer profitable to sell to DeBeers exclusively, and started forging other agreements. As a result of this, the price of diamonds is gradually dropping and leveling off since they can no longer artificially limit the supply like they used to. You will find that diamonds will become less attractive for conspicuous consumption over time as they no longer are as symbolic of wealth as they used to be.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I wonder what the cost of the synthetic diamonds are per diamond. diamonds are shiny, people like that, who knows why. They are beautiful I suppose

  • EllieMurasaki

    So clearly there is a reason there is demand for actual as opposed to fake diamonds. They are denser, shinier, whatever

    [citation needed]

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Water… doesn’t come out of water fountains. It comes out of a complex reaction between earth and its atmosphere (which is a gross oversimplification). Did you not have any science classes, ever, at all?

  • Carstonio

    No, it’s the misguided concept of natural law merged with the equally misguided concept of a just market, like if Rand had studied Aquinas. You’re already peddling the repulsive notion that women are merely comsumer goods to be bought with expensive trinkets. Not surprising that someone who deities the market would reduce marriage and relationships to mere consumerism.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    nothing is objectively better than anything else, the market say real diamonds are a status symbol and fake ones are bought off tv

  • Carstonio

    I mean that if humans didn’t exist, diamonds and gold wouldn’t have any value. “The market says”? It’s not a sentient entity dispensing justice like a god or a judge. If a certain commodity has a certain value in a marketplace, that shouldn’t be confused with a judgment that the commodity should have that value.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    of course it should. if gold could be made in a lab it wouldn’t be 1400 dollars an ounce it would be a nickel an ounce or whatever it cost to make it.

  • Carstonio

    The central question is whether the value that a market assigns to a commodity is beneficial or harmful to society. Or how much the value is driven by social and cultural values that are beneficial or harmful.

    Using diamonds as an example, their value is inflated by ugly social norms about gender. Too many women are socialized to think of themselves as property to be purchased, where the man treats both her and the ring on her hand as symbols of his status. The diamond marketers use this to prey upon male insecurities, coming close to touting their products as carnal bribes.

    Diamonds would have much lower value if society stopped worshipping the false gods of wealth and status and stopped pushing artificial roles onto the sexes. Treating the market value of diamonds as inherently good or just amounts to papering over those attitudes.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    If people came to those sorts of realizations that would probably bring the price down yes I agree. Fur is I think less popular than it once was but probably still pretty expensive though so who knows

  • christopher_y

    We need water more than gold, diamonds or anything else but it comes free out of water fountains

    Oh well done! The poet Pindar got there 2600 years ago, of course, but it’s nice to see you catching up.

    Ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, ὁ δὲ χρυσὸς αἰθόμενον πῦρ ἅτε διαπρέπει
    νυκτὶ μεγάνορος ἔξοχα πλούτου.

    (Pindar doesn’t despise gold, but he definitely rates it second.)

  • Fusina

    Except, I am a wife, and I just said it. And the only real jewelry I have been given was a Tiffany engagement ring (his choice, for the “investment”) which, yes, I wear, but along with it I wear CZ, rhinestone and fake opal rings. And no one can tell the difference between the CZ and the diamond. If it is invisible to the casual viewer, I say it doesn’t matter. A roof over my head, food in the pot to eat, clothes to wear and respect are all far more important than something that will totally lose its value in the zombie apocalypse. Oh, and beading and embroidery supplies. Those are pretty valuable too. I just sold one of my beaded bracelets for a pretty good return on the money I invested in it.

  • Fusina

    There was a sapphire bracelet I really, really wanted, but I managed to craft one out of crystal cubes and seed beads. I have taught the class twice, and sold several of the bracelets and sets of instructions. I am as happy with my hand crafted bracelet as I would be with the real thing–happier, actually, because if someone wanted to steal the thing, I would slip it off my wrist and give it to them. The real one? Not so much. I probably wouldn’t even wear it much.

    I like what Rita Rudner said about jewelry. “I never want anything around my neck that is worth* more than my head.”

    I am presuming that she meant to someone else there.

  • AnonaMiss

    Get the fuck out of my sight.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    no

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Bzzt. Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong all the time about everything?

    I’m happier with cubic zirconia than with diamond, thank you very much. And yes, that is what my husband proposed to me with. It’s lovely. Also, our wedding rings are titanium.

  • Lori

    Generally speaking I think internet diagnosis is a bad idea, but my working hypothesis about Chris Hadrick is that he’s some kind of masochist. IOW yes, he does enjoy being wrong about everything. Or at least being chastised for being wrong about everything.

    Why else would someone say something so obviously sexist and stupid on a forum frequented by smart people who know better?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Meh, I’m not too happy when I see people using masochist as a way to describe a behavior that is as negative as Chris’s. Masochism is a very different thing than just wanting pain/people to be mean to you. I think Chris Hadrick just likes attention, any attention at all.

  • Lori

    At least here, he seems to display a rather strong preference for negative attention.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yes, and that’s definitely A Thing. I dunno what to call it, though. Trollism?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I enjoy talking to people with different ideas and perspectives than my own. I ignore the insults.

  • AnonaMiss

    If you enjoyed talking to people I would think you would generally try to avoid insulting them.

    Your comment was the sexist equivalent of “Rice is better than bread, because otherwise chinks wouldn’t love it so much.”

    Now get the fuck out.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I didn’t insult anyone and will not get the fuck out.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The fuck you didn’t. You insulted half the human race, give or take a percentage point, when you said no one would prefer “fake” jewels to “real” jewels. You insulted me, personally and to my face, with that crack about diamelle engagement rings.

    Get the fuck out.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Uh, that’s ‘no woman’, not ‘no one’, sorry.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I understood what you meant

  • EllieMurasaki

    Who said I was apologizing to you? I expect an apology for the insult you gave me personally, by the way.

    By which I mean if you want me to believe you’re a decent human being, apologize, but I really don’t think you are, so I really don’t think you will.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I don’t feel you are owed an apology. It would cheapen real apologies to give you one.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thank you for proving my point.

  • Fusina

    I’d say ignore him at this point. I have a sister who does not think she owes me an apology. This would be why we are no longer speaking.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, giving serious consideration to filtering him out of my inbox along with E. Harding and G. Bain Allen.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You did not just say that. OMFG that is about the stupidest, silliest attempt at rhetorical judo I’ve ever seen.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Ooh ooh I’m not an “anyone” then? Every wife in the world does not rate as “anyone”? Seth MacFarlane, is that you?

    I still don’t know if you’re pure troll or if you actually believe the things you write. Even if you believe the things you write, you are obviously only here for the attention. I will say that I’m in the mood to poke trolls with sticks, and this time you’re not disrupting other conversation, so uh, thanks for playing I guess.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    It’s more like you ignore the results. A perfect example is your comment upthread about “no wife ever” — not only is this incredibly insulting, it’s also demonstrably untrue.

    The decent thing to do when someone points out that you’ve just said something insulting and untrue is to acknowledge it, apologize, and make an effort not to repeat your mistakes in the future.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The decent thing to do

    You could have stopped there; he’s not likely to pay attention to anything following.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    get over it

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sexist ignorant piece of SHIT.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    And now we see how Chris Hadrick works. First it’s “I didn’t say anything insulting and I’m not wrong”. Then it’s, “So I was wrong and insulting. Too bad.”

    And then you wonder why people aren’t nice to you.

    If you don’t want to get called an ignorant, reality-denying shitbag, stop acting like one.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    My remark about “no wife would want” wasn’t about the exact number of wives who would accept a diamond substitute. it was about diamonds having a role as a measure of commitment, ones love etc The 2 months salary thing. If women these days don’t prefer real diamonds to fake ones it was a bad analogy not an insult.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    First of all, intent is not magic. Second, if you’d meant “diamonds are considered material proof of a man’s love for a woman by sexist, consumerist society”, then that’s what you should have said. But that’s not what you said. You’re trying to blow smoke up our collective ass and avoid behaving like a decent person.

  • Fusina

    Meh. Just ignore him. I like a good argument as much as the next person, but the qualifier there is good. This started out okay, could have been good, but one of the arguers refuses to play by the rules. So I quit.

    Besides, I just got a bunch of triangle shape crystals in four different colors set in sew-on settings to make pretties with, and also several colors of a navette shape and some octagons. Gotta run, sparklies are calling my name…

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Oh, I don’t expect anything productive. But I don’t like to leave bullshit un-called, and at least I’m getting some amusement.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I don’t consider society to be sexist or consumerist though so I wouldn’t have said that. At any rate,buying a diamond for your future wife is a normal activity that people recognize as such.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Lots of things are considered “normal” — that doesn’t mean they’re not wrong or damaging in some way.

    And clearly you’re more interested in bullshitting and moving goalposts than you are in behaving like a grown-up, so I’m out. This is no longer amusing.

  • Fusina

    He doesn’t consider society to be sexist or consumerist. . ,

    I dunno, it just got interesting. See, I got my first lesson in the sexism of society from my parents. My Dad paid my brother and me to mow the lawn. The agreed on amount was 3.50. Then, one day, I found that my brother was being paid 5.00. And had been for a while. No, I didn’t get retroactive back fees. But I wouldn’t work for less than he did. Um, so the inequality of pay thing is a very sore spot for me. I also get annoyed when I am treated like “the little woman”. I have a brain, I have been tested and found genius (and, considering they tested me because they thought I was mentally retarded, I find that amusing), so do not disrespect me. I know Shakespearean insults and I’m not afraid to use them.

  • Fusina

    Well, that argument I can understand. Hee. Do go on, I am getting amusement from reading this. I just didn’t want anyone else to get bored. Considering it was my fake bling statement that started all this, of course I have to read everything. ;-)

  • Jenny Islander

    Another wife chiming in: You say a lot of really stupid things.

    Beauty in jewelry is as much about artistic composition and craftsmanship as it is about materials, if not more so. My most becoming necklace is made almost entirely of plastic beads. I always get compliments when I wear it.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    If women don’t want diamonds that’s FANTASTIC. If something else, perhaps kale, is now a girls best friend, that’s wonderful. My point was the diamond industry exists because there is a demand for them so SOMEONE out there is buying diamonds or they would not be so expensive. engagement rings are a common way diamonds are sold.

    Shifter cat- That was insensitive of me, sorry

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    “Girls” do not share a hive mind. We like different things. Do you like exactly the same things as FearlessSon? No? Then why would you expect me to like exactly the same things as Jenny Islander? Dumbass.

    Maybe you will pay attention when a man says it: http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp05142013.shtml

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    “Make new mistakes” is one of my mantras.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    my point is about the market for diamonds which happens to generally be aimed at women for WHATEVER reason.

  • AnonaMiss

    So we’re supposed to ignore the crack about how we’re all materialistic and irrationally concerned with whether or not our jewelry was generated naturally or synthetically. You won’t apologize for it because calling a significant fraction of the human race materialistic and shallow “isn’t an insult” and would cheapen the act of apologizing.

    Because the point you were trying to make was that natural diamonds are arbitrarily priced higher than synthetic ones. Clearly that masterful insight into the status-commodity market completely overshadows and renders forgivable your asshattery.

  • Chris Hadrick

    “So we’re supposed to ignore the crack about how we’re all materialistic and irrationally concerned with whether or not our jewelry was generated naturally or synthetically”

    Yes

    “Because the point you were trying to make was that natural diamonds are arbitrarily priced higher than synthetic ones. ”

    No, they are priced higher for a good reason: they are quite shiny.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Do you have some kind of rare disorder that makes it impossible for you to apologize and admit you were wrong?

  • AnonaMiss

    Rare?

  • AnonaMiss
  • AnonaMiss

    And in case you were using “shiny” to mean “radiant” instead of “lustrous”, high-quality synthetic diamonds are indistinguishable from mined diamonds.

    Your point is invalid and all we’re left with is you insulting us and refusing to apologize, because you’re an asshole.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I ‘m not an expert on diamonds nor did I claim to be. I know that diamonds are more expensive then Cubic Zirconia because people have willingly paid more for them and are impressed enough with the seemingly slight differences to do so.

    I don’t understand what you are arguing here. If they can make diamonds in a lab and they replace real diamonds that would be fine. Unless they cost significantly less though it won’t be much of an innovation.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    At Angelwear, we tend to do most of our casting and forging in sterling silver, since it is at a nice mid point between being valuable enough to give it a certain “bling gravitas” while still being inexpensive enough to be reasonably priced for most consumers. We very rarely use 14k gold (anything higher caret has an astronomic material cost and is rarely available on the market anyway) in anything because that quickly escalates the price of the item, restricting it to very wealthy customers with a lot of disposable income, and frankly it is just not very cost effective to run a small business with it as the primary material.

    However, we do make a limited use of goldfill, which is brass with gold alloyed into it at about a 1/20 ratio. It gives it a more “golden” appearance and we often use it to provide a bit of contrasting color in the metal (for example a piece might involve a ribbon of silver and a ribbon of goldfill intertwined together.) It is more expensive than silver, but only marginally so, so we feel more confident buying it as a raw material than a more pure gold with the expectation that we will be able to keep the price affordable (and thus be able to turn our investment back around into a sale more predictably.)

    If you really want to get crazy with colored metals though, we do some “shocking” things with niobium.

  • Fusina

    Mmmm, Niobium. I make and sell jewelry too, mostly to date at craft fairs. Started an Etsy shop, and as soon as I remember the stupid password, I’ll try to update it. Deranged Magpie, although I don’t know that there is currently anything listed for sale.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    What are the earring wires made of? I’m annoyingly sensitive to all sorts of metals.

    There is one thing about gold that makes it excellent for jewelry: I don’t think anyone is ever allergic to it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In the above attached picture, the hooks and chains are goldfill. As described above, goldfill is brass (alloyed copper and zinc) which is further alloyed with a small amount of gold (about 5% gold by volume.) The brass itself has a gold-like appearance already, and the small amount of gold mixed into it enhances this while being small enough to not substantially affect the price. The high copper content also gives it an anti-microbial quality, which is why it does not trigger a reaction with human skin the way silver does in some people (the reaction being mostly due to the bacterial microbes that build up on the metal rather than to the metal itself.) This anti-microbial quality in the copper is also why brass is popular for things like water pipes, handles, and doorknobs, as it helps the surface stay sanitary.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m allergic to copper in jewelry :(. The only thing worse is nickel.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    If you are allergic to copper and nickel, then you are not out of luck yet! We also offer titanium and niobium options for both ear hooks and decoration. Just about the only thing they are reactive with is air, and even then that just forms an inert outer shell a molecule thick.

    And as you can see by the strips in the above photo, we can actually control the process of the oxygen atoms bonding to the surface in such a way that it reflects different colors of light, allowing us a rainbow’s worth of options when it comes to coloring them (which can be done to your preferences at request or we can leave the surface uncolored if that is what you prefer.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Thanks for the info! Bookmarking the site :)

  • guest

    Smith has got an undeserved bad rap as the philosopher of the neoliberal Right. Here are a few more quotes from Wealth of Nations:

    ‘those exertions of the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society, are, and ought to be, restrained by the laws of all governments; of the most free, as well as or the most despotical.’

    ‘Our merchants…complain of the extravagant gain of other people; but they say nothing of their own.’

    ‘In consequence of the representations of Columbus, the council of Castile determined to take possession of the countries of which the inhabitants were plainly incapable of defending themselves. The pious purpose of converting them to Christianity sanctified the injustice of the project.’

    ‘It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.’

    The actual 18th century root of the ‘greed is good, fuck the poor’ school of economic thought is Edmund Burke, whose Thoughts and Details on Scarcity could have been written by Gingrich or Romney.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Adam Smith is a lot like the Bible – the people who talk about him the loudest generally don’t know what he actually said.

  • mouseodoom

    “The wages of labor are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives.”

    This is an excellent example of elenchus that isn’t true. Human motivation is more complicated than “offer them more things and they will do more things”. Offering compensation for certain tasks – such as digging ditches quickly does work. The same compensation does not work with motivating programmers (or other producers of creative materials). Offer too little money and they won’t want to produce, offer too much and their products will be sparse and of a poor quality.

    Creatives need autonomy, mastery and purpose in order to be motivated. Too little money will demotivate them, but so will too much.

  • P J Evans

    Wages don’t have to be all money. Vacation is compensation, too.

  • Monala

    “industry… improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives.” This is a true statement. Compensation, however, is only one form of encouragement for industry – you mention others, such as autonomy, mastery and purpose.

    However, without compensation, most people won’t be very productive simply because they can’t afford to live. This goes back to Fred’s recent post noting that money isn’t sufficient for happiness, but it is necessary to prevent many significant forms of unhappiness.

  • mouseodoom

    I agree that minimum remuneration is desirable to encourage “industry”. I don’t like that word. The video linked by Hidden_urchin shows the nuance here.

    For some tasks fiduciary remuneration has a direct relationship to the work produced. Most of these tasks are of the physical form: dig a hole, build a house, sink X balls in baskets for a year.

    For other tasks, the relationship between compensation and production is not as clear and is not a direct one. In effect, the relationship becomes an inverse one for a large enough reward. These tasks tend to be of a certain form: creative tasks, problem solving tasks, etc.

    Some research has shown that in order to maximize production you must pay your problem solver “enough” money (that varies depending on circumstances) but not so much that they focus on the money instead of the product. After that, you have to supply autonomy, mastery and purpose.

  • Monala

    I’m curious about the research. Computer programming certainly isn’t a poorly-paid profession, and I imagine that other incentives contribute to increased productivity in all sorts of professions. Retail workers may be more productive when they are given more responsibility and they have considerate bosses, for example. I certainly don’t think compensation is the be all and end all of productivity, no matter what the job.

    But I’m skeptical that paying “too much” reduces productivity, unless other forms of incentives are non-existent. Think about creative people who sometimes become hugely successful in our society – writers, filmmakers, and musicians, for example. Does becoming rich mean they automatically become less productive? Or that their work automatically declines in quality?

  • mouseodoom

    I should have made my point more clearly, sorry.

    This is a statistical tendency. Researchers found (see the youtube link, I am not familiar with the body of literature on this subject, but the presenter in that video claims to be) that if you paid a problem solving worker too much or too little, their production suffered. Surely, some workers had a lower limit before their labor suffered while others had a higher limit. I imagine that some workers’ limits were not found by the study, but I am only guessing. In other words, wealthy creatives in the West are not a representative sample – Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large are composed almost entirely of outliers. The study was not asking questions about motivating their production, but rather about production in India and of “regular” workers in the West.

    Think of it this way: (be aware that this is a model the researchers presented as one account for why this tendency emerged. This is a myth, not a history.)

    An artist (or programmer, problem solver, etc) will have trouble producing content if they are worried about where their next meal will come from. Does that mean this artist cannot produce beautiful works while hungry, no. But if they were not hungry, they would produce more work of a higher quality.

    Symmetrically, if you pay that artist too much, the money consumes their focus. Their work suffers because they are worried about losing their compensation. So instead of being risky and creative, they produce in such a way as to keep the pay cheques coming.

    Your point about “other forms of incentives being non-existent” is addressed by the video’s producers.

    There is a way, independent of compensation*, to motivate workers. Give them autonomy, mastery and purpose.

    *You have to pay people enough that they don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from.

    The main point of my post is that we conceive of motivation as a simple formula: more compensation == more work.

    That formula is over simplistic and blind adherence to it could actually degrade the amount and quality of work a problem-solving-type professional produced. Are we (in the west) likely to ever pay a programmer so much money that they produce fewer lines of code? Maybe, maybe not. That’s more of an economic question than a motivational one.

    I was skeptical too, but the way that the research was framed in this video is very compelling to me.

  • Jamoche

    Software engineer here: after a certain point, increased salary doesn’t really mean much to the good programmers – what we really want is recognition that they know we are that good, and money’s just one way of saying that.

    What it does do is cause the sort of thing we saw during the last big Internet startup boom – people without any particular talent going into computers because they want the big salaries. That leads to the kinds of startups we saw during the boom – lots of money, maybe a few ideas floating around, but no actual useful output. So the percentage of bad programmers at the top of the salary range goes up, but only because the total number of programmers has gone up.

    @mouseodoom:disqus : Symmetrically, if you pay that artist too much, the money consumes their focus. Their work suffers because they are worried about losing their compensation.

    Not that I’ve ever seen, but then the demand for really good programmers always outstrips supply – if one Silicon Valley company thinks you’re worth $X, then odds are another half-dozen are willing to pay $X+Y, even during bust times. I’d imagine it’s different in industries where employees are more easily replaced.

  • hidden_urchin

    Have you seen this video?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

    It is entirely worth the ten minutes and, IMHO, should be required viewing for anyone who supervises other people in the workplace.

  • Jeff

    “Nowhere does Joyce claim that the extreme cases, particularly those involving child abuse, are representative of evangelical adoptions.”
    Of course she does; Joyce chose the conduct of an adoptive family that behaved egregiously as the example par excellence of evangelical adoptions for her Mother Jones article. She wouldn’t have done that if she was genuinely concerned to provide a balanced, careful view.
    Jacobs, in her article, at least, is conflating several issues: bad behavior on the part of adoptive parents, bad behavior on the part of adoption agencies, and bad behavior on the part of local organizations and governments in the countries in which adoptions are taking place. These three issues are quite separate and separable, and need to be treated as such. And more importantly, the question needs to be asked as to how /pervasive/ such bad behavior is at each level in the system. Harris appears not to know, which, to me, makes her article irresponsible. You must not know either, if you’ve linked to her article, in which case you’re not really helping get to the bottom of these troubling questions.

  • David S.

    So any story that studies the bad cases is irresponsible? I haven’t seen any sources that go on about the good contributions of Chechens to our society recently.

  • Jeff

    No, David, and that’s clearly not what I said. But look at the title of Joyce’s book and some of her articles. The Mother Jones article in question is entitled “Orphan Fever: The Evangelical Movement’s Adoption Obsession”. (Yes, I know she may not have chosen the title, but many of her articles, and her book itself, have titles like that). She’s implying that the bad behavior she documents is /representative/.

  • Lori

    She’s implying that the bad behavior she documents is /representative/.

    No, she’s not. She’s saying that the evangelical movement is pushing international adoption and one of the inevitable outcomes of that push is that some people adopt who should not have.

    Predictable bad outcome =/= representative

    I suspect you’d have an easier time seeing that if your defenses weren’t up so high.

  • Jeff

    “No, she’s not.”

    Yes, she absolutely is, Lori. I’m sorry that you’re choosing not to see it that way, but if she wasn’t, then she would have written her article in an entirely different way.

    To your charge that my defenses are up too high, I ask, why are yours set so low? You should be reacting as negatively as I am; Joyce’s writings cast aspersions on people that may not actually deserve it (again, we don’t really know), and it should not be ok with you when a group, even one you disagree with, is unfairly maligned. But you, like Fred, embrace with enthusiasm anything that makes evangelicals look bad, and that’s about the only “predictable” thing in this discussion.

  • Lori

    Yes, she absolutely is, Lori.

    Your assertions aren’t facts Jeff, no matter how baldly (and I might add rudely) you state them.

    I ask, why are yours set so low?

    I have no reason to be defensive on this issue. I’m an adoptee myself. My only real interest in this issue is the children.

    Joyce’s writings cast aspersions on people that may not actually deserve it

    She casts aspersions on people who absolutely deserve it– abusers and people who recklessly push international adoption. She raises questions about the entire evangelical push for adoption, and that is also deserved. It doesn’t matter how loving a family is, if they’re adopting from shady sources and viewing children as mission work and/or proof of their “pro-life” bona fides then they need to be questioned, because that’s flat wrong on both counts.

    And no, the evangelical community is not the only group that should or has been questioned about international adoption. Unless you’ve been living in a cave you must have seen the coverage of stars adopting from foreign countries. If you have then you must surely have seen questions being raised about the practice.

    In short, climb down off the cross, somebody needs the wood.

  • Jeff

    “Your assertions aren’t facts Jeff, no matter how baldly (and I might add rudely) you state them.”

    Well, we can’t all be Suzy Sunshine like you, Lori. I’m not stating an assertion, I am stating my opinion, and my interpretation. You are contradicting me with your own opinion and your own interpretation; I fail to see how that’s “factual”.

    “It doesn’t matter how loving a family is, if they’re adopting from shady sources and viewing children as mission work and/or proof of their “pro-life” bona fides then they need to be questioned, because that’s flat wrong on both counts.”

    Agreed; but is that /representative/ of why most people adopt? She doesn’t say, and you should NOT be defending her hasty generalization given the lack of a definitive answer to this crucial question.

  • Lori

    Well, we can’t all be Suzy Sunshine like you, Lori.

    What is it with a certain type of “Christian” troll and using people’s first names in an overly familiar, incredibly rude way? You’re the latest in a long line to come through here doing that. Is there some “Christian” troll school were they teach you to smarm people who point out the weaknesses in your arguments?

    Agreed; but is that /representative/ of why most people adopt? She
    doesn’t say, and you should NOT be defending her hasty generalization
    given the lack of a definitive answer to this crucial question.

    Joyce is not talking about most people who adopt, nor is she claiming to. She’s shining a light on the involvement of a particular subculture in international adoption. That subculture pushes adoption as mission work and an extension of anti-choice views. That’s not representative of all people who adopt, but it’s quite representative of the subculture that Joyce is discussing.

    This is not obscure or difficult to grasp when one’s defensive shields aren’t set to 11.

  • Monala

    I’ll just add the emphasis to this point: the problem with the subculture pushing adoption as mission work is that it is fueling the shady side of the industry. Because more and more people Christians want to adopt internationally and are willing to put money behind it, more and more shady operators are getting involved in order to cash in. The adoption-as-mission motivation – however well-intentioned it may start out – is turning into the driving force for what often becomes an unsavory industry.

    Some of your questions are good ones: how prevalent is this issue? for example. But saying that many or even most people involved are well-intentioned is meaningless if the process overall is corrupt. A better reaction would be to examine how to address the problems to prevent good intentions leading to bad outcomes.

  • Monala

    One more point: some of the comments to Joyce’s book on Amazon were insightful. One woman, an evangelical Christian, agrees with Joyce’s conclusions based on what she has observed in the Christian adoption industry. She cites an incident in which one adoptive mother talks about meeting the biological mother of her adopted child and talking about how the poor woman just didn’t have enough to care for her child. Her response: So you spent $30,000 on this adoption, when you could have used that money instead to help the entire family stay together?

    Another commenter posed this question, in response to Bethany adoption agency’s rebuttal of Joyce’s book (which included the argument that adopting the kids out to American families is better than leaving them in destitution with their birth families): imagine a large American evangelical family that falls on hard times – dad loses his job, house is foreclosed, mom is having a difficult pregnancy. Would they appreciate a wealthy secular couple offering to “help” them by taking some of their children off their hands and adopting them?

  • Jeff

    “But saying that many or even most people involved are well-intentioned is meaningless if the process overall is corrupt.”

    I agree with you. But see my response to Lori above; what I want to know is whether the process overall is actually corrupt or not.

    “So you spent $30,000 on this adoption, when you could have used that money instead to help the entire family stay together?”

    I agree, looking for other solutions to address extreme poverty is entirely appropriate and desirable. Adoption isn’t the right solution in all cases and adoption certainly isn’t a good move for all prospective adoptive families. I don’t know if transferring funds directly to a family is exactly a helpful solution either, but the basic point is well-taken, that we should seek a comprehensive solution that addresses root causes but also responds to the immediate needs of particular children in particular situations.

    And, it must be acknowledged that in this view, there are differences between children who are economically orphaned and genuinely orphaned, e.g. due to abandonment, death of a parent, etc. But I don’t hear Ms. Joyce, Ms. Harris, Fred, or Lori saying that adopting a child in that circumstance is a good thing; maybe it’s just an oversight on their part. But if such adoptions represent a significant fraction of the overall number of international adoptions, then it’s a glaring omission from the discussion.

  • Jeff

    I will admit that the “Suzy Sunshine” remark was insulting (although I’d probably characterize it as “snarky”, which is a more-or-less socially acceptable form of internet rudeness, at least around these parts, apparently…)

    However, if you want to know what genuinely insulting
    behavior looks like, it is this: to repeatedly allege or insinuate that your opponent holds his position due to some intellectual, moral, or emotional defect, and to treat that defect as the/a basis for dismissal. In addition to insulting, this approach is also logically fallacious – it commits the /ad hominem/ in the true sense, and has overtones of the complex question. In nearly every response to me in this discussion, you have continually (wrongly) asserted that I argue as I do because I’m being “defensive”. Your insulting behavior doesn’t really bother me that much, but if you’re going to appoint yourself the insult police, then, officer, arrest thyself!

    Now, to the actual substance:

    “She’s shining a light on the involvement of a particular
    subculture in international adoption. That subculture pushes adoption as mission work and an extension of anti-choice views.”

    It’s one thing to “shine a light”, and it’s another to say that
    that “subculture” is complicit in child trafficking. That’s a very serious allegation, and should not be made unless
    you’ve connected all of the dots. All I’m saying is, Joyce does not appear to be anywhere close to having
    connected the dots, at least from what I’ve seen.

    Look, in any enterprise, charitable or for-profit, in which
    money changes hands, bad actors are going to show up and try to get a piece of the action, sometimes in extremely despicable ways. The bad behavior of bad actors deserves to be brought to light. But the conduct of those bad actors does not /necessarily/ indict everyone involved in the enterprise.

    To see this, change the subject in question from evangelical adoption to something that you do support, like abortion or welfare or carbon credits. Does the bad behavior of a Gosnell, or a Solyndra, or a person who commits welfare fraud, mean that everyone involved at every level of the system is complicit in the bad behavior
    of the individual? It’s not a rhetorical question; I think a thoughtful answer is really called for as to why this case is different.

  • Lori

    However, if you want to know what genuinely insulting behavior looks
    like, it is this: to repeatedly allege or insinuate that your opponent
    holds his position due to some intellectual, moral, or emotional defect,
    and to treat that defect as the/a basis for dismissal.

    You mean like suggesting that Fred only posted the link because he found “the possibility of evangelicals being involved in child trafficking is simply too delicious to ignore” and that my understanding of Joyce’s point comes from the same motive?

    In addition to insulting, this approach is also logically fallacious – it commits the /ad hominem/ in the true sense, and has overtones of the complex question. .

    No it doesn’t. Does this blog have a sign on it that’s only visible to drive-bys, trolls and single-issues pains in the ass that says “Welcome people who do not know what ad hominem means”?

    Ad hominem:

    Jeff is a defensive jerk, therefore his argument is false.

    What I said:

    Jeff’s argument is false and he’s being really defensive about it. I wonder if those things are connected?

    See how those aren’t the same?

    All I’m saying is, Joyce does not appear to be anywhere close to having connected the dots, at least from what I’ve seen.

    Did you actually look at the numbers she provided? Joyce connected more than enough of the dots to justify the questions that she raised.

  • Jeff

    “You mean like suggesting that Fred only posted the link because he found “the possibility of evangelicals being involved in child trafficking is simply too delicious to ignore” and that my understanding of Joyce’s point comes from the same motive?”

    Tu quoque fallacy, Lori. You’re on a roll!

    But yes, I will acknowledge that my comment about Fred is an example of the very same flavor of rudeness that you have so capably and consistently demonstrated.

    “Did you actually look at the numbers she provided? Joyce connected more than enough of the dots to justify the questions that she raised.”
    Lori, you’re changing the subject again. Her research certainly justifies the /questions/ that she raises. What’s in dispute is whether the /conclusion/ she draws (that international evangelical adoption is complicit in child trafficking) is warranted. And no, the numbers in the Mother Jones article do not justify that conclusion, to me. Which numbers of hers do you think support that conclusion.
    Again, a serious question: does the Gosnell conviction indict the entire abortion “industry”? If not, why is that different?

  • Lori

    Tu quoque fallacy, Lori. You’re on a roll!

    You’re smarming again, and also continuing to misidentify fallacies in order to make yourself seem like a victim. You should stop doing that.

    What’s in dispute is whether the /conclusion/ she draws (that international evangelical adoption is complicit in child trafficking) is warranted. And no, the numbers in the Mother Jones article do not justify that conclusion, to me.

    Yes, it’s clear it doesn’t warrant that to you.

    Again, a serious question: does the Gosnell conviction indict the entire abortion “industry”? If not, why is that different?

    Is there some fancy name for trying to run a huge distraction when your argument is weak? Oh well, no matter.

    No, the Gosnell case doesn’t indict all abortion providers. It does make some important points about the conditions anti-choicers have created and want to perpetuate.

  • Omnicrom

    Is there some fancy name for trying to run a huge distraction when your argument is weak? Oh well, no matter.

    I’d say it’s an example of Moving the Goalposts. In some cases after the person making an argument finds that they are in serious danger of of having their point answered they drop the original topic lest their opponent scores a goal and spins the debate into a new direction forcing their opponent to chase after the new goal line.

  • Jeff

    That’s not really accurate in this case, Omni. In this case, the argument that Lori et al are advancing is that, for a given system A, if some subset of participants in that system A behave badly, then all participants in system A bear some degree of culpability, because their participation in the system gives rise to the opportunity for the bad actors to behave badly. I am asking, what is the limiting principle for this line of analysis? Can it be generalized to other situations, and if not, why not?

    I don’t think that moves the goalposts, but I am open to correction.

  • Lori

    In this case, the argument that Lori et al are advancing is that, for a
    given system A, if some subset of participants in that system A behave
    badly, then all participants in system A bear some degree of
    culpability, because their participation in the system gives rise to the
    opportunity for the bad actors to behave badly.

    You haven’t understood the arguments here any better than you’ve understood Joyce’s argument.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Doesn’t the motivation of “mission work” and “pro-life” tend to make this type of adoption at least a little problematic anyway? It seems like one of those motivations that often Do. Not. End. Well. because they can sometimes lead to regarding the adopted child as instrumental to some other goal rather than, you know, as a person in his or her own right. What if the kid doesn’t follow the ‘script’?

  • Jeff

    “Doesn’t the motivation of “mission work” and “pro-life” tend to make this type of adoption at least a little problematic anyway?”

    I think it’s too strong to say that those are “motivations”; I would say rather that these are “orientations” — evangelicals are oriented towards evangelism, and they are oriented towards life.

    (There is perhaps a sense in which evangelicals feel responsive to the charge of some on the left that, to paraphrase, “if you don’t want women to abort, are you going to step up and adopt the unwanted babies?” That those very same people are the ones decrying evangelical adoption just shows that you can’t win with some people).

    Anyway, I’d strongly suspect that for most adoptive families, the overwhelming /motivation/ is compassion. They just want to help some kids who are in need — of love, of help, of a family, whatever. There absolutely needs to be the acknowledgement that adoption isn’t always the best way to help a particular child, and adoption isn’t always a good fit for some families, however noble their aspirations. It just depends on the specifics of the situation.

  • Lori

    International adoptions from parents who want their children but who are too poor to provide for them =/= adopting unwanted children, so your little anti-choice aside is rather a FAIL.

    Anyway, I’d strongly suspect that for most adoptive families, the overwhelming /motivation/ is compassion.

    First of all, you suspect, but you don’t know. You’ve been slamming Kathryn Joyce for a far, far stronger argument than you’re making. One would almost think that you demand a supposedly high standard of evidence only when the argument is something you don’t want to hear.

    Second, even if your suspicion is correct and the evangelical families who engage in international adoption* are primarily motivated by compassion there’s still a strong element of self-focus and cultural blindness in that compassion and that’s a problem.

    *Again, this is not a discussion about adoptive families in general. Joyce is writing about one particular kind of adoptive family—members of the evangelical subculture.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Tu quoque more like to poop

    Yes this is a post of no redeemable value and is purely with the intent of a low-grade mocking

  • Jeff

    I hope you feel better now.

  • Carstonio

    That’s exactly the wagon-circling that Harris is criticizing. Whatever the merits or flaws of Joyce’s reporting, it shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an attack on evangelicalism.

  • Carstonio

    That’s exactly the wagon-circling that Harris is criticizing. Whatever the merits or flaws of Joyce’s reporting, it shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an attack on evangelicalism.

  • Jeff

    You’re wrong. I want to see bad behavior come to light as much as anyone else. The question is whether these isolated incidents that Joyce documents add up to, as Harris says, “a global network of child trafficking to serve the desires of Western parents”, or are they isolated instances of bad behavior? (And the reason the question matters is because the answer influences how we should respond).
    Harris, and Joyce, appear to be insinuating that it’s more like the former than the latter, and that /is/ an attack on evangelicism (or at least, evangelical international adoption). If there is indeed a larger pattern, then this attack is justified; if not, then it’s scurrilous. Again, my impression is that Ms. Harris doesn’t know either way, and that Fred is probably just linking to the story because the possibility of evangelicals being involved in child trafficking is simply too delicious to ignore.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You…do realize that Fred is an evangelical.

  • Jeff

    Yes, Ellie.

  • Carstonio

    Delicious? Fred is an evangelical himself, so it’s very unlikely he sees Harris as attacking evangelicalism.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    It can be a global network without being an attack on evangelicals. Al Qaeda is a global terrorist network. Reporting on it is not necessarily an attack on Islam (or even fundamentalist Islam).

  • LoneWolf343

    So, are you saying that she should have just ignored the problem?

  • Jeff

    No, that is quite obviously not what I’m saying, as even a cursory reading of my 3 replies in this thread would show.

  • Lori

    The question is whether these isolated incidents that Joyce documents
    add up to, as Harris says, “a global network of child trafficking to
    serve the desires of Western parents”

    This actually isn’t the question and framing the issue this way is part of the problem. Perfectly nice, well-meaning people can and are party to child trafficking. They don’t set out purposefully to do that, but it still happens. Talking as if there are “isolated incidents” and trafficking on one side and good people on the other is at best wishful thinking and at worst exactly the kind of dishonest wagon-circling that Harris was pointing out in her article.

    The push for adoption in the evangelical community is a major driver of a system with a lot of problems. Refusing to own that and examine it doesn’t reflect well on that community, or on you for that matter.

  • Jeff

    “This actually isn’t the question and framing the issue this way is part of the problem.”

    It is the question, or at least, the one that matters with respect to how we react and how we respond. If it turns out that some isolated bad actors are engaging in ethically problematic conduct — misleading parents to give their kids up for adoption, inadequately vetting prospective adoptive kids to make sure they are legitimately adoptable, paying off local governments or bad actors to look the other way or streamline the process or provide a ready supply of orphans, etc — then the response is to make sure one is dealing with a reputable agency that deals ethically and forthrightly on the ground; the solution would NOT necessarily be to shut down all international adoption, and the conclusion would NOT be that all international adoption fosters trafficking.

    BUT, if, on the other, these bad behaviors are systemic, and it turns out that the biggest agencies, or the majority of agencies, engage in one or more of these ethically problematic behaviors, then the charge could be sustained, and major, sweeping reforms would be needed.

    Do you see the difference? No one is refusing to examine the motivations for adoption and the details of how it’s implemented (again, that’s just a fiction that you concoct to, as usual, try to malign your opponent), but what /type/ of scrutiny is needed, and in which direction should it be applied? Is there a problem with the root or the branches? If it’s the latter, or if we’re not sure, saying the whole tree is diseased is dishonest at best, and more likely, malevolent and harmful.

  • Lori

    You are willfully missing the point in an attempt to justify your defensiveness and then accusing me of not understand the issue. This doesn’t make me particularly inclined to think that there’s any point in discussing this with you further.

  • Monala

    I sympathize with what you’re saying somewhat. As an African-American, I am sometimes disturbed by the prevalence of negative stories about dysfunction in the Black community that are so common in our media – it’s to the extent that many people don’t realize that a sizable majority of African-Americans are not poor, not on welfare, not on drugs, not in and out of jail. And when I see yet another of such stories, I feel like shouting, “But what about all the good things going on in our community?”

    However, Ms. Joyce is addressing a problem, that of abuse and corruption in international adoptions, a lot of it fed by the pressures to adopt that evangelical Christians are putting on the system. This isn’t a story that has gotten a lot of play before now, hence the strong buzz the story is generating. To complain about a legitimate story getting attention, rather than seeing it as a call to action to reform a situation so that the good aspects of adoption can remain, is counterproductive. A comparable situation would be complaints by African-Americans about the stories that exposed the spread of HIV/AIDs in straight black women back in the ’90s, rather than responding to those stories as a call to action.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There is that. I’ve seen statistics that show that over half of African Americans are now in what would be considered middle class. :-D

  • Baby_Raptor

    She chose the stories about abusive situations because she was writing about abusive situations. It wouldn’t have made any sense to be writing an article about the dark side of a trend and only pick the shiniest, most prettyfull example, would it?

    And, I have to disagree with your second point. The issues aren’t totally separate. Each step in the chain enables the next one. The adoption agencies using shady methods to get children creates the “pool” (for lack of a more humane sounding word) of kids that need adopted. The agencies not adequately vetting the childrens’ or the parents’ circumstances sets up the situations.

  • Lori

    She chose the stories about abusive situations because she was writing
    about abusive situations. It wouldn’t have made any sense to be writing
    an article about the dark side of a trend and only pick the shiniest,
    most prettyfull example, would it?

    I’m actually not 100% sure about this. A story about abusive situations is necessary and, let’s be honest, an easier sell, but I think there would also be great value in highlighting really good placements and then talking honestly about the fact that they were only possible as the end result of a chain of horrible abuses.

    It’s natural for people to do exactly what Jeff is doing—to set the abusive situations off to the side as “isolated incidents”, separate and apart from the good, loving people who adopt. In a sense they are, but in another very real sense they aren’t. The good and the bad adoptive parents are all of a piece when they’re all driven by ethically dubious motivations to become part of the cycle of a very shady industry.

  • Jeff

    “The good and the bad adoptive parents are all of a piece when they’re all driven by ethically dubious motivations to become part of the cycle of a very shady industry.”

    This is the very kind of smear that Joyce is engaging in. Who says that all adoptive parents have ethically dubious motivations? Who says there’s an “industry” or that it’s “shady”? Joyce lays out a lot of dots, but without more /evidence/ that connects them, it’s irresponsible to act as though they are, in fact, connected. Bad behavior should be brought to light, but calling good behavior bad behavior is incredibly destructive to any good that Joyce’s work could otherwise have done.

  • Lori

    It’s not a smear, it’s an observation.

    Adopting as a form of mission work is, IMO, far worse than ethically dubious. I was being nice.

    Adoption is a business, a very large multi-faceted business with a lot of players. It’s not some sort of stretch to call it an industry and clearly many of the actors in it are shady. Joyce is not the first person to find dishonest tactics and financial irregularities. She’s not making this up to get your undies in a bunch.

    Your level of defensiveness is raising a lot of questions for me. Are you personally involved in this issue in some way? If so honesty dictates that you should disclose your motivations while you’re questioning other people’s.

  • MaryKaye

    It really worries and disturbs me that so much of our economy is based on empty air: on doing things that do not produce anything, whether material or immaterial, but simply move money around. There was a story on the airport monitors (I don’t know the source–CNN, maybe?) about mechanized stock market trading that can take advantage of fluctuations in prices lasting for, literally, a couple of seconds. Catch those fluctuations right, you make money. Huge amounts of hardware and software are dedicated to this. But it produces nothing.

    Contrast that with the cropland Buffett wrote about. Farmers don’t make so much money (though Monsanto does, somehow). But they are making something and it’s genuinely useful. I’m not trying to praise tangibles here, either–the people who wrote _Halo_ also made something genuinely useful, in that it has made a lot of players happy.

    I feel that at some point we need to rearrange society to kill incentives for non-productive work. But I don’t know where you’d begin. The stock market started, as best as I understand it, as a means to raise capital for businesses. How could it have been prevented from becoming, as it increasingly is, a pure money-moving exercise?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not sure how well this would work, but:

    In any transaction involving ABC Company’s stock, ABC Company must be involved. If one is buying ABC stock, it’s from ABC; if one is selling ABC stock, it’s to ABC. The only way to get ABC stock from Alex to Chris is if Alex dies owning ABC stock and Chris is the heir.

  • Monala

    Wouldn’t that eliminate mutual funds, which most people’s 401ks are, and therefore prevent the average person from being able to invest?

  • EllieMurasaki

    You assume the average person cannot buy individual shares from individual companies. I suspect this of being a false assumption.

    Though since 401(k)s are basically a means of moving money from the middle-class and fortunate poor to the wealthy, making them vanish doesn’t sound, on first hearing, like a bad idea.

  • Monala

    The idea behind mutual funds is keeping a balance of different types of investments together so that the overall fund grows, even if an individual stock drops. Most people don’t have the time or inclination to research all the various stocks and bonds to develop a similar portfolio (it’s not that most people cannot, but most people are unlikely to do so because of the time and effort it takes).

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that the people who are doing so as a career are doing so ethically. But that’s a reason why socially responsible mutual funds exist.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, fair.

    So why would requiring the company whose stock it is to be party to all stock transactions do away with mutual funds? I may just not understand mutual funds very well, but if the fund owns the stock, why would it be unable to buy from and sell to the company whose stock it is?

  • VMink

    It’s a complicated thing. It took me ages before I really understood just what it is that’s being shuffled around in the NYSE. The answer is: Perception.

    A share of stock is one-one-millionth (or one ten-millionth, or one of however many shares the company released in it’s initial public offering) ownership of the company. It has no value in and of itself. But it is a quasi-tangible thing. The entire stock market is based on the concept that these shares can be sold to another person,that this one-infinitesmalth ownership in a company can be traded. And that’s not a necessarilly wrong or bad concept. Businesses are sold and bought all the time, including the mom-and-pop shops.

    But here’s the thing: When one buys or sells a share of stock, the price isn’t based on the assets and revenue of the corporation. It’s based entirely on a perception of how much more or less that share is going to be worth in the future. In other words, a share is worth as much as it is going to be expected to make the owner money when it’s sold. It’s temporally recursive, and not in a fun The Five Doctors kind of way.)

    Honestly, while I get the gist of it, I look at that and wonder what kind of twisted perversion of causality leads someone to think this is a good idea. Then I realize: It’s made a lot (but not A LOT a lot) of people a lot (and definitely A LOT) of money. All based on this weird sort of perceptive investment, where the worth of something is based entirely, not of what it means to you, but rather what you will get for it when you sell it.

    Making it illegal or unlawful for stock to be bought and sold between actors not involved with the corporation might untangle this horrible mess, but as I said, these trades aren’t inherently bad or good. I don’t see them as necessarilly bad, so long as they exist in their own little sandbox. What IS problematic, though, is the way so much stuff that is important, even critical, to peoples’ livelihoods is tied up with a system that can be gamed so blatantly, that relies on something that’s pretty much the opposite of deterministic, and is tied to perception rather than reality.

    Any time someone trots out Saint Reagan, i want to tell them that the fact Grandma is eating catfood and is being evicted next month is because the hand shoved up his bum to move his mouth made him say that it would be a dandy idea to tie retirement funds to the stock market. This is a gross (in more ways than one) exaggeration, but I think it’s a reasonable summary. The stock market part, anyway. The hand part, not so certain.

    TL;DR: I sort of agree that it would clean up the mess a bit, but stock trading itself isn’t inherently bad. That retirement funds are tied into it, though, IS inherently bad.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    New share issues are 0.5% on average of the total annual trading volume of Canadian and US stock markets. The other 99.5% is just computers and people pushing money and paper around and round and round and round, except when a company announces a share buyback.

    The extent to which the company in question named on the share certificates is actually involved in the stock market transaction is, on the balance of probabilities, a minuscule part of the total transaction volume noted above.

  • Mark Z.

    The average mutual fund investor doesn’t own any of the underlying stock or other assets; they own shares in the fund, which is basically a corporation whose assets consist of stock in other companies. (And they buy these shares from the fund, and sell them back to the fund, so it complies with the restriction EllieMurasaki is talking about.)

    In fact, if we had that restriction, I’d expect mutual-fund-like entities to be a pretty common way around it: instead of Microsoft selling 1000 shares of stock, which are then non-tradeable except to sell them back to Microsoft, they’d create a shell corporation that owns 1000 shares, and then sell the entire shell corporation. If I buy that, then I’m the sole owner and can sell it to anyone else without Microsoft’s involvement (since the legal owner of the shares doesn’t change).

    The only way to prevent dodges like this would be to prohibit corporations from owning stock in other corporations, and even that leaves open the possibility of using foreign corporations, or other maneuvers like having a specific real person own the stock and then a transferable contract restricting their resale of it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Dammit. It was a thought.

  • Mark Z.

    The loopholes aren’t impossible to fix. But if we don’t allow corporations to own stock or anything equivalent to stock, then we really do lose mutual funds, and also other useful institutions like venture capital firms.

    For cutting off the kind of unproductive money-laundering that we’ve been talking about here, a financial transaction tax is a more suitable tool.

  • EllieMurasaki

    *nodnod*

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Interestingly enough, this kind of thing happened in EVE Online when it first came out. People bought up all the productive factory facilities in the game not to use them to churn out materials for other players to buy, but to speculate and hope that someone else wanted to buy it from them for much more money than the initial investor paid for it. It ended up making a lot of players fabulously wealth in-game, while leaving anyone who did not get in very, very early with an uphill economic battle that they could not win.

    One of the former devs shares here how they solved it by adding a tax to squatting on factory facilities so it only becomes cost-effective to own them if one is actually producing with them. The whole thing was kind of like the economic crash in microcosm.

  • Fusina

    I live near a town where a lot of the retail buildings stand empty because it is more cost effective to use them as a tax write-off than to rent them out.

    I have wondered about the feasibility of making an abandonment clause–you get to squat for five years, but after that the property is considered abandoned, and is confiscated and resold. Taxing unused property is much less onerous, and less likely to be abused. Maybe.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I live near a town where a lot of the retail buildings stand empty
    because it is more cost effective to use them as a tax write-off than to
    rent them out.

    We have a lot of new luxury apartments that have gone unrented that I’ve always wondered about. They may be doing the same thing. They built apartments above malls and retail centers and then tried to rent them starting at 2400/mo, but it turned out that the Venn circles of people who made that much money and people who wanted to live above shopping malls didn’t overlap that much. Rather than lower the prices, they’ve just let them go unrented for years, and I can’t fathom how that’s cost effective. Must be some sort of write-off.

  • VMink

    Having gotten back into EVE Online after a long absence, I found that article — and the solution — rather fascinating.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I am less interested in playing EVE Online myself than I am in observing it. I is almost like a grand social experiment.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    In the internet sense of the term “Social Experiment”? :D

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In the internet sense of the term “Social Experiment”? :D

    In the case of Goonswarm? Yes, yes I do. How does the population of people playing the game seriously react to a group of people who have no interest in long term domination or character advancement, and are only interested in wrecking as much of the experience as possible?

    Griefing? Yes they are. But the nature of the simulation (an already “anything goes” type of dog-eat-dog environment where all inhabit in a shared universe with a complex economic and progression model with little intentional gameplay balance) makes this kind of a special case.

  • VMink

    I’ve gotten back into EVE because of the pretty ships and the pretty ‘splosions, and mostly because a friend and some other CoH refugees are playing. I can do without the manufactured drama (#2 in-game commodity!) (#1 is smacktalk) but if I’m careful I can forget I’m in a game that’s more or less built around, and rewards, being (as one NPC put it, and I am not making this up) “murderous liars with god complexes.”

  • Cathy W

    Those fluctuations you talk about result in institutions buying and holding large numbers of shares of stock for fractions of a second before selling them again. It’s been suggested that a financial transaction tax of 0.1% would make that behavior unprofitable without the average investor even noticing it.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    They’d be better off just outlawing the practice.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I appreciate the moral outrage at abuse of a system, but enforcing a prohibition on it would be more trouble than it is worth. A restriction on profitable activity will incentivise a company to find a way around the prohibition, encouraging them to buy changes to the laws with political lobbying or just find loopholes to exploit or oversight bodies to de-fang.

    Nah, I think that the tax on transactions would be a better solution. Taxation is not simply the forced transfer of wealth between agents in a market and the government, rather it can be effectively leveraged as a kind of incentive in its own to change market pressures in subtle ways to discourage unethical behavior. The problems we run into is when tax laws are structured to incentivise unethical behavior instead.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    or it could give advantage to traders who can afford the fee at the expense of ones who can’t. It might well be worth it to restrict competition if I could have an advantage over smaller traders.

    I’m glad we can acknowledge that the purposes of taxation is to prevent an activity from happening which makes me wonder why we would ever want an income tax!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Not necessarily. The fee need not be especially onerous. The idea is to put the incentive on holding stock, instead of rapidly trading it.

    The idea is more to prevent a lot of little tiny transactions that individually make little profit but collectively make tons when done hundreds of times a minute with automation. We can tax it such that these transactions cease being profitable.

    Buying stock and holding stock builds value and can be used as a reliable investment. But when stock is more volatile being bought and sold so rapidly, the market becomes unstable. I recall a few weeks ago that there was a very brief market crash, followed by a just as quick recovery, when someone published a fake news report that sometime dire happened. The computers which comb news sites for this kind of thing and base purchases and sales off of keywords caused a surge in sales, followed by a surge in buying as other news came up and drowned out the lone fabrication. But think about what a tech-savvy terrorist organization could do with a concerted effort? Several fake news reports, ones that the mass media picks up before they verify, could cause tremendous market damage before any human judgement can step in and overrule the computers.

    And taxation is not to prevent activity, but to incentivise activity. The whole reason we have income tax and tax deductions for charitable contributions is it incentivse those making the most money to put that money back into circulation instead of hording it. The reason we have things like tax-free retirement accounts is to encourage people to save money so they can keep putting it back into the economy once they leave the job market (evening out their contribution to the economic growth across the course of their lifetime.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hell, back in 1998 or so? Nortel stock gyrated and a Vice-President got fired all because he accidentally gave a wrong value for expected earnings next quarter.

    The paper economy is ridiculous.

  • phantomreader42

    I’m glad Chris Hadrick can acknowledge that he’s a pathological liar and nothing he says should be taken seriously. It’s nice for him to FINALLY admit that he’s never had the slightest interest in anything remotely resembling honest discussion. Saves some time.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Traders who rearrange their stock portfolio ten times a decade (like we want to encourage) won’t be hit with the transaction tax nearly as hard as traders who rearrange their stock portfolio ten times a minute (like we want to discourage).

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    like “we” want to encourage? Who is we?

  • phantomreader42

    Chris, the word “we” is the first-person plural pronoun. It refers to a group of which the speaker is a member. I realize this is a foreign concept to you, as you’ve never encountered anyone who agreed with your bizarre delusions aside from the voices in your head, but it’s really not that hard to understand.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    If it weren’t for day traders and short sellers Enron would probably be in business. forcing everyone to trade less will not help matters. the super high speed machine trades is a another issue though. That goes beyond day trading into things I would unethical.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So what’s your proposal to reduce super-high-speed trading, since you inexplicably believe that a tenth-percentage-point tax on each stock transaction will hurt the once-a-year traders as badly as the once-a-second traders?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    no it will hurt less wealthy day traders at the expense of more wealthy ones. If you outlawed high speed computer based trading I don’t think people would walk away from the Dow. If you outlawed other stuff they may. it’s like they can’t have hair pulling in the UFC but they can’t not have kicking or something. it’s a balance.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I really give a shit about the welfare of people who can afford to gamble with stocks all day. What’s your proposal to reduce super-high-speed trading?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    day trading is a regular job that some people have, sometimes in addition to regular jobs. DO you think only rich people watch Mad Money? It wouldn’t have any ratings.

    I wouldn’t reduce high speed trading I would ban algorithmic computer trading.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Enron would never have even tried treating electricity as a casino-like tradeable property with speculative value if it wasn’t for the tendency of Western society to be governed by materialism and the idea that you can find a greater fool to sell something to and haul down a lot of cash without a hint of a sense of shame about the way you’re doing it*.

    The day traders and short sellers you mention are in large part both a symptom and an exacerbation to the fundamental problem with capitalism that it isn’t just assigning a value to everything around you, it’s making sure they fluctuate rapidly too. The greater the fluctuations the more money you can make.

    This is why derivatives are so appetizing to speculators. If you bet right, you can make millions or even billions. Bet wrong, and you get Long Term Capital Management and the US government having to quickly hide the true extent of the damage you could have done to the world economy.

    It’s as absurd as the Libertarian idea that you can create tradeable units of paper to establish property rights over air, for God’s sake.

    —-

    * Have you seen the recorded conversations and emails that have come out after every major crisis since ~2000? In almost every case the comments made by the people involved are uniquely unflattering to anyone outside the in-group.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I agree which is why its important that the market correct this via short sellers who have a vested interest in discovering fraud. derivatives and short sellers/ day traders have nothing in common other than they are things in the world

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh, please. Shortsellers have nothing in their interest except their pocketbooks. Even fake news causing the value of a stock to fall is welcome in their books.

  • Chris Hadrick

    many traders are short some things and long others. none of them have anything in their interest except their pocketbooks, or wallets as is more often the case.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And any year I earn enough to pay more income tax than I get in income tax refund is a GOOD FUCKING YEAR.

  • rizzo

    Haha yeah like the free market boosters would listen to this Adam Smith guy…he wasn’t even Murican, how’s he know anything about freedom!

  • Lorehead

    There actually is a reason demand has increased lately: by tradition, the only form of wealth women in India were allowed to personally control was their jewelry.

    Ordinarily, if some mostly useless commodity became trendy, particularly among a subculture with a history of being a little gullible, we’d call that a bubble. But gold is the one magical substance that can never, ever be overvalued! Therefore, investor behavior identical to a bubble really means that inflation is right around the corner, any day now, and proves that gold is a great investment.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    it generally tracks pretty close to the money supply which has spiked quite a bit. if Bernanke raised interest rates gold would slam down as it did under Volcker.

  • Lorehead

    That graph is silly, the entire left half of it shows no such relationship at all, and the right edge shows that the price was above the putative fundamental. I’m not going to give investment advice, but if I were, it would not be to buy gold.

    As for the money supply, QE3 has improved growth without raising inflation, which is as good a result as could possibly have been hoped for.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What is probably far more meaningful would be the derivatives of each of the graphs.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    the correlation is pretty obvious. gold was actually overvalued more when it was 300 dollars an ounce than it is now.

    QE3 has been great for bankers and the very rich. anyone here experiencing any growth?

  • Lorehead
  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I haven’t gotten a raise because of QE3. If I owned tons of shares of the big dow stocks I would be happy though.

  • Lorehead

    Sorry to hear that, but going on a gold standard would still be a horrible idea.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    there’s a lot of room between a gold standard and the current Fed approach

  • Lorehead

    The current Fed approach is working. It’s producing robust job growth and low inflation. Sacrificing that job growth to eliminate even our historically low inflation would be foolish and immoral.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Yeah it’s working famously. We are in like the 5 th year of this recession gimmee a break. raise interest rates I say., past time for that

  • Lorehead

    What are you talking about? You raise interest rates to reduce inflation at the cost of short-term growth. But inflation is already below-target, and growth needs to be higher. Why would you raise rates now? That’s utterly senseless.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    No your raise interest rates to save the society from entering a Japan like lost several decades. If inflation was the answer the 70’s would have been great. There’s no rule saying you inflate in this situation and contract in that. Keynes is pseudo science money should always have the same value and any return to that is welcome.

  • Lorehead

    You are deeply, deeply confused.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    stagflation

  • Lorehead

    You’re using the Internet, so you must be aware on some level that not everything is the same as it was in 1979.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    How do you accomplish “money should always have the same value” without inflation? If there’s still X amount of gold, but there’s now 2X as much stuff to buy, then your choices are “X amount of gold now buys 2X as much stuff” or “X amount of gold still buys X amount of stuff, but the other X of stuff can’t be bought by anyone because we’re out of money.”

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    No, the money supply increases under gold standard. like 2 percent a year or something. They buy more gold.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    basically: a well run fiat system resembles a gold standard in terms of money supply growth. The difference is during bad times, fiat allows you to inflate more, rather than make painful corrections. Unfortunately 1. corrections are called that for a reason, they need to happen and 2. politicians like , say, Nixon get a hold of the printing presses via stuff like “The President’s Working Group on the economy” aka the Plunge Protection team and use it for their own ends.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You don’t get it, do you? QE1, 2, and 3 haven’t been done for the benefit of you, the ordinary worker. They’ve been done for the benefit of the banking sector. By helping banks push bad assets off their balance sheets, Bernanke and his successor will, they hope, persuade banks to begin lending again and in doing so, restart the US economy.

    Given that the SGS alternate unemployment rate is still around 20%, you can tell how effective that idea has actually been.

  • Chris Hadrick

    “They’ve been done for the benefit of the banking sector.” we agree on something!

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    speaking of trying to define quality, does anyone remember “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    why would someone down vote that?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Because it’s a total nonsense question. What the crap does motorcycle maintenance have to do with anything Fred linked?

  • Chris Hadrick

    No, it was a popular book in the 70’s. In it, the author tried to define what exactly quality was. he was a guy who wrote motorcycle maintenance instructions. It’s boring

  • Jenny Islander

    The problem with stockpiling gold to live on in the Hobbesian wasteland after TEOTWAWKI is that Hobbesian wastelands after TEWOTWAWKI have no use for gold. If your neighbors were down so far that they couldn’t rig up some kind of medium of exchange that was more accessible to more people than gold,* then they wouldn’t have any use for any medium of exchange. At that level you would have to produce a surplus of something immediately useful and hope that your neighbors had managed to produce a surplus of something you needed more of.

    The one sensible piece of advice I read in the midst of the fearmongering leading up to Y2K was this: If you’re seriously worried about TEOTWAWKI, get to know your neighbors now. Get a feel for the possible level of the local economy if the infrastructure went down the dumper. Then learn a skill that might be useful in trade. The writer suggested bicycle repair, use and maintenance of manual typewriters (because rapid data storage would still be useful), and paramedic certification. IIRC she also pointed out that really basic stuff like cooking on a woodstove and having a child-safe living room could be very important because your most saleable skill might be taking care of the basics so that people with more muscle power than you could get the crops in.

    *Nudollars. Salt. Black powder and alcohol (kudos to anybody who knows this reference). Gasoline siphoned from the tanks of cars that belonged to plague victims. Whatever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    When the states and cities fall, when your back’s against the wall: black powder and alcohol!
    :-)

  • Chris Hadrick

    as if on cue: Berkshire Hathaway downgraded to AA


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