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RSS Hamandcheese

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10 most recent arguments.

He might be getting senile. He is at the right age. However Jimmy Carter isn't by himself in his view. Several senators have said the same thing, and Maureen Dowd just wrote an editorial in the NYtimes saying the exact words practically. You might think these people are grossly wrong but senile doesn't follow.

You have to understand what logic is capable of, and I am perfectly aware of all the self-referential, defeatist and absurd sentences that arise in an imperfect, archaic grammar. This is why logic is often explored using symbols and algebra, but we have to make due with the tools we have. And that is precisely what logic is: a tool. Logic cannot prove anything, nor can is discover anything new. It can merely show that something is inconsistent or contradictory. It's therefore a desirable thing to understand in abstract in order to evaluate internal consistency, but there is a point when it becomes pedantic.

I concede (though I never explicitly claimed otherwise) that many sentences are logically impossible or paradoxical. It would be foolish to deny that. But, like in the law, there is a useful distinction between the letter and the intent -- that is to say, even though "The local bookstore sells all classes of books" is literally nonsensical, it's counter-productive not to recognize what the person who said that meant, in that perhaps the bookstore contains many genres and types of books.

The deconstructionists have been post-modern opportunists by taking up the literalist, purist position of the logic inherent in language. They have pointed out that language itself makes it impossible to be not self-referential to some extent, and thus circular. Similarly I could quite easily "deconstruct" virtually anything you have said so far -- no matter how axiomatic -- into a contradictory trail-mix. Luckily I am not so nihilistic, and recognize that the subjectivity and limits of language and logic arise because of human psychology, and not because reality is ineffable.

I hope that answer is satisfactory. If we are going to continue might I suggest creating a new debate or area to debate because right now our discussion is buried.

I completely agree that teachers who are excellent at teaching deserve to earn more than teachers who are incompetent. This doesn't in any way conflict with scarcity. Indeed, it is somewhat the whole point of scarcity, or "replace-ability." Construction workers get paid little compared to a plumber, because virtually anyone can competently hold up a stop sign, and the people who tend to hold up stop signs don't have better, higher paying alternatives. Thus there is no incentive to pay construction workers exorbitantly because if they turn the job down virtually any one else is an effective candidate for replacement, or, in other words: potential construction workers are not scarce. Plumbers on the other hand, are more scarce and harder to replace because it requires a substantial amount of training, experience, and expertise. Scarcity pricing can occasionally create some perverse outcomes, like in Hollywood where famous actors get paid tens of millions to do relatively little work precisely because that particular actor or actress is irreplaceable, or scarce. There is, after all, only one Angeline Jolie.

Teachers, as I've already pointed out, are not scarce. Often there are several for any single teaching position. What is arguably scarce are effective teachers, and a legitimate argument could be made that they deserve higher pay relative to their colleagues because they are harder to replace.

Often, however, people can get muddle up with the notion of just prices, or the "just price fallacy". They resent that lawyers and accountants can make hundreds of thousands for fairly simple, intellectual work, where as other workers make much less for often (literally) back breaking labour. It's fundamentally a misunderstanding of the very valuable and desirable function of markets to price and allocate goods, services, and labour.

There are many examples of what happens when the above isn't followed that should lead anyone to the same conclusion. The Fair Trade movements thought that the price of a cup of coffee was too low for the poor people in Columbia and Ecuador picking the beans so naturally they thought "we should just pay them more for their coffee!" In many cities around the world mayors noticed the discrepancy between the income of the poor and the cost of rent within the city, so naturally they thought "we should just cap how much you can charge for rent!" Farmers and Agricultural Firms in America were struggling so naturally lawmakers thought "we should just subsidize them!"

These initiatives respectively have created massive stockpiles of unwanted coffee, huge shortages in housing, and suicidal Mexican farmers who can't compete with cheap US crops. In every case they have tended to harm those who were supposed to be helped.

Show me where I claimed that bankers wages were determined by their scarcity (or more accurately, their replace-ablility). I am no expert on why bankers and CEOs make so much, but that's irrelevant because I never claimed that they were paid based on replace-ability. More often I suspect they are highly paid because the institutions they run a) allow them to set their own wages or b) let them tie their wages/bonuses to other things, like share-value or profitability, which don't necessarily reflect their own ingenuity.

As for teachers, it is my position that teachers are highly over paid, which creates negative social costs on several levels.

First, to establish that they are overpaid. is a little one-sided but it gets the main empirical facts straight. Teachers are over-paid beause:

a) they make more, hourly, than many other important jobs including architecture and chemistry, and live quite comfortably

b) they have lengthy holidays which they could work during if they chose

c) they have great job security (it is virtually impossible to be fired as a teacher)

d) and most importantly, markets don't clear. There is a surplus of people looking for teaching jobs then jobs which are available. When the price of an object is based on scarcity (supply/demand) the market clears ie. 1 teacher for every 1 job. In Chicago, for ex., there are 12 for every 1 job. This is important for a variety of reasons. Not the least are all the prospective teachers who, after receiving their teaching degree, are in debt and can't find work. Now there is a group of people who are under paid.

Scarcity pricing is the only just and sustainable way to price things, including labor.

I'm baffled at how a sentence that barely contained two propositions could in anyway be logically inconsistent. At worst you could accuse me of tautology for the "to judge you need a fair trial" remark, but as useless as pointing that out would be, it even wouldn't be necessarily be true as trial is qualified, and at any rate the whole thing is self evident.

I will in-turn demonstrate your failure to reason.

I'm genuinely curious. If you so fancy yourself such an Aquinas, pray tell.

The methodology for inferring common descent has broken down. Proponents of neo-Darwinian evolution are forced into reasoning that similarity implies common ancestry...

You misunderstand the evidence. Similarities are important hints, but they aren't the whole of it. Consider ERVs. ERVs are dormant retroviruses that, like HIV, essentially locks itself in the DNA of its host. The difference with HIV is that ERVs by definition don't do anything. They're duds. However, once an animal gets an ERV the "marker" on its DNA will, along with the rest of its genes, get passed onto its offspring.

For example, suppose our common ancestor with chimps had, from its forebears, had within it 6 ERVs randomly placed along its DNA. ERVs can be removed by mutations but in general they don't because if they don't harm the species, removing it would not be favored or unfavored by natural selection. So after this ancestor splits off in its evolution, one branch becoming modern chimps, the other becoming modern humans, in theory both the chimps and the humans should retain these genetic markers, "ERVs" in the same spots along their DNA. Could it be a coincidence? Well, as we've all heard from our enthusiastic biology teachers, our genetic code is such that it could fill bookshelves with all the necessary volumes. There is, for anyone ERV, 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) bases it could integrate with -- and it does so randomly. The chances that there would even be ONE match up is extremely improbably, let alone a handful, let alone dozens, let alone hundreds.

This isn't just theory, nor is this just a potential. ERVs are very real, and humans and chimps share many more than 6. So do all related species, and it is just one irrefutable proof of common ancestry. There are many, some even more profound. Scientists aren't stupid.

Must Watch: ERVs

What is 'Capitalism' to you? I think you're confusing it with classical liberalism, which is merely one mode of capitalism. Keynes was a capitalist, you know. Sweden is sometimes falsely labeled by American commentators as socialist, mainly because it's highly unionized, progressively taxed, and boasts higher income equality than the former Soviet Union. But that's false. Sweden is a high growth capitalist economy, that to the chagrin of the old liberals happens to have embraced the welfare state. That has no contradiction with capitalism. It's just a different way to do things than what is taught in the U.S.A.

The way you frame capitalism does yourself no good. It sets up capitalism as an all or nothing system of unfettered exuberance and economic free-for-alls, and trivializes any moral qualms that people may have about it. Moore, thus, isn't criticizing "Capitalism," per-se. He is criticizing the specific mode of capitalism that the U.S. uses and claims to be the only model that counts. The American model, Moore would point out, is one that bails out failing incompetent bankers who's bonuses exceed profits; that rewards consumption, debt, and speculation over even modest saving; that is irrationally anti-government, anti-tax, and anti-democratic; stagnates wages, and cultivates job insecurity; that doesn't recognize moral hazard when its staring it in its face; and tends toward asymmetry and coercive, 'to big to fail' monopoly. It only creates more leftists if you convince people that the above is the only way of doing capitalism! And that is the point. There are different ways of doing things.

To give one very clear example: US economic inequality has been tending toward the unequal for decades. This, some leftists argue, is the very nature of capitalism! Capitalism, in order to create wealth, also happens to create massive, self re-enforcing economic and thus social inequalities. The leftists, you should know, are wrong. All other major capitalist economies have greater or equal growth levels while still having a comparatively equal distribution of those gains, and some of them rank higher in economic freedom to boot. America is the exception. So America is, in consensus terms, the outlier in the history of capital! By making that clear will relieve the dis-ease felt by those unlearned in what markets can be if given the right structure, and create more friends to capital than enemies.

Moore doesn't hate capitalism. The whole point of the movie is not to suggest that communism is the proper system, but to show the limits of capitalism to self regulate and the extent of corporate welfare. From what I understand, at his most radical all Moore ever supported was larger social safety nets and more corporate accountability.

No. The premiere reviews weren't spectacular so I'll probably just end up waiting until it's online.

Winning Position: Yes, it's a right.

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Biographical Information
Name: Samuel 
Gender: Male
Age: 14
Marital Status: In a Relationship
Political Party: Libertarian
Country: Canada
Religion: Atheist

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