Derek McGowan

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Everything posted by Derek McGowan

  1. Thank you everyone for the welcome No, I do not think that capitalism and freedom are equal... perhaps close, but I agree with this: and I plan to write my opinion on " why capitalism is not as free as I would like" very soon
  2. We should clarify... Many times when people describe government vs private business, they state that business is more efficient/ government is inefficient. I think that that is too broad a claim. I feel that as a people who value reason primarily, I think our argument should be more nuanced. What do I mean? Am I saying that I disagree about the waste that government produces? Not at all, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, but can (and many times does) give the impression that business is more efficient as a principle. The listener can come away with a idealistic notion that business, as a monolithic group = efficiency automatically as if some universal law is continuously upheld. What many of you already know (but many times is not explicitly stated) is that business only becomes efficient through competition. Well.... that's not always true either. Government produces waste and business produces waste. Neither one, as a monolithic group, are efficient. A few examples of government waste: Paying many MANY individuals 100,000 per year who do 5 hours or less worth of work per week. Paying 600+ million for a website. Paying multiple contractors WAY more then the project costs. IRS and other departments taking employees on trips costing the tax, etc. But of course there are many examples of business waste: AIG paying employees 200 million in bonuses during 2009 bailout period. Any business (which is many of them) who still print multiple paper copies of records even while saving them onto hard drives. Trucking companies that allow thousands of trucks to idle for hours per day, burning off precious fuel. Any business with excessive decoration, such as water fountains, paintings and live flowers (this is only called for in restaurants, for the ambiance and for personal investment firms, as they need to project an image of wealth to their clients), etc. The fact is that as a monolithic whole, business is pretty bad on the efficiency scale. With half of all businesses failing in the first year, and with incompetency being the main reason, business AS A MONOLITHIC whole is at least as wasteful as government. Think of all the dot com sites that blew up despite 100s of millions of dollars of investment. The big difference is that business is financed by people who voluntarily either invest, or buy the company's products or services, so that if/when that business fails it is not taking dollars with it that came from the average citizen that would never have financed any portion of the project. Also, that business can fail, thereby opening up a slot for another competitor to have an earnest go at it. The government (almost) cannot be shut down now matter how poorly it does, and that is the problem. BUT we must keep in mind that their are businesses that we consider successful that were/ are saddled with (proportionally) as much debt as the government. Amazon was not profitable for 6 years, Facebook for the same. Tesla Motors for 10 years, etc. Then there are government projects that are/were efficient. One example would be Social Security, which was solvent for decades. Leaving aside the fact that it was an involuntary tax, leaving aside the many times that officials raided its coffers, the point is that Social Security was set up in a very efficient, well planned way. Was it sustainable in the very long run, no but neither was Montgomery Ward, Circuit City, Bear Stearns, hell even Apple went down hard in the 80s. I think we could first look at each side of the coin as distinct parts and not as monolithic wholes and second when explaining the difference between the two, we should simply add a line or two and address the realities of the failures of business and the reason why it is still preferable to government. Again, as folks who value reason, we should be open and honest with the facts when presenting our case. Thank you ps. another statement about business in need of clarification to come
  3. I made this painting of my daughter as a display. I hope to drum up some business in schools and this size and composition (head and shoulders) allows for the lowest price point
  4. Be sure to check out Traditional Oil Painting Comprehensive instructional manual http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Oil-Painting-Techniques-Renaissance/dp/0823030660/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382884195&sr=1-6 and The Society Portrait: From David to Warhol Beautiful book of portraiture http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0865651833/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  5. I'm glad you brought that up jts because it is the basis for my book in which we get rid of all use of money. The novel takes 150 years but in the end, the inhabitants of the world all have household replicators and access to unlimited and free fusion power. Then it becomes a choice as to if a society wants to give up money, as scarcity (when it comes to items needed for survival) has been eliminated But without those advances, I still don't see how your initial points work. I'm having a hard time envisioning how everyone would have twice the amount of food and how it would be almost impossible to be poor? I don't see how opportunities would be increased to that extent
  6. JTS Im sorry I have to disagree with your last statement only because computers are usually the object brought forward to show how prices go down while features/abilities/sophistication goes up. But from where I stand (retail for 18+ years) computers are the one of the few, if not the only thing that seems to follow that trend. Everything else seems to be made more cheaply (not the cost of production but the quality of the finished product) yet priced higher. I'll see if I can throw out ten wide ranging examples real quick 1. Candy- Whatever happened to penny candy, now it's 7 cents apiece. Thats a 700% increase in price over the past 12-15 years. 2. Soda- same story as above and there is no way that the cost has somehow gone up as dramatically as the price. The margin on soda is so high, friends who worked in fast food told me that the margin from a large drink will cover the cost of an additional burger. 3. houses- we are aware of the fact that houses cost more now (even with inflation factored in) then they did 100 years ago but that's not all the house I live in was built in 1910. it is a row-house with three floors. The ceilings are fifteen feet high, ornate wood floors throughout, 6 marble fireplaces, marble steps, two sets of entrance french doors, marble use in the back yard, ornate and wide moulding around all ceilings, and hand applied plaster walls. Forget inflation, how much would it costs to get a house built today to those specifications?!!! 4. Cars- and Im talking about base models here. No more then 8-9 years ago you could get a brand new Hyundai accent off the dealer floor for $5000. Now you cant find a new car for under 12-14,000 and 12,000 is for a two door Smart car : ( 5. Cable- I don't know about you but I'm of the opinion that the quality of TV has gone way down since we've been swamped with reality shows and countless carbon copies of cop and hospital shows, yet the price of cable continues to rise. 6. Plane tickets- price goes up, seats get smaller and smaller. Nuff said. 7. Broadway- Prices have gone through the roof and there has been no noticeable increase in quality (not saying it has gone down) and I've been to see 17 major shows. 8. Fairs/Carnivals- the food is getting worse and worse over the years, the rides are more an more ricketety but the entrance fee keeps going up. 9. Movie Tickets- there is nothing to justify the price of a movie ticket these days with most of the explosive increase coming in the past 5-7 years. 10. Halloween Costumes- I've seen prices double in the past 10 years and the quality is down to- "a sheet with a few cotton balls and glitter partially glued on. 11. Why can I not get a lunch for 5 dollars anymore? And why are salads so expensive? They literally should be the cheapest meal out there. I mean really, a head of lettuce and some tomatoes costs 7 dollars? 12. Tennis shoes- are they more durable then they used to be? I honestly dont remember but they definitely haven't gotten any better. And if you have sweat shops set up, why are some sneakers still priced at 100 or more? 13. Cutlery/Plates?Cups- the pack used to cost X and come in quantities of X. Now the quantity has gone down and the price has gone up. Example from my job- the box of assorted plastic forks, knives, spoons. Used to be 7.99 for 300 pieces. Now its 12.99 for 240 count. Same with bags of balloons. I'm going to blame the increase in prices on the credit system that we currently employ because it artificially creates extra buying power in the market which allows prices to go up. Why many items are made more cheaply, I chalk up to business doing what it was made to do- find more and more profits. But what ever the reasons why, justified or not, that prices go up and quality goes down, clearly the progression in the business environment has NOT always helped the consumer. Im not even saying that they should help the consumer, I just think people should stop saying that businesses do, the better we all do since they past down savings and progress to us. Hell, many tech companies don't innovate beyond adding a camera and steadily increasing it's pixel count. On the positive, I will say that bicycles HAVE benefited from the continuous research and technology passed down from the top tier bikes down to the bottom bracket pedalers.
  7. Hey Mike, thanks for your ongoing feedback. Just a clarification, I never said that government should be in charge of the environment, my statement was suppose implicitly (and then my follow up question was explicit) ask the the question how do you protect the environment without government and the lengthy regulations that come with it. In no way am I saying that the government is the answer, Im just saying that the government's standard answer IS lengthy regulations and I am seeking a logical way to avoid that. But since you mentioned the fact that BP had to drill far out.... this brings to mind the question of who should (and how should they) come to own parts of the ocean. If the government rightly owns (and Im not saying they should) the shoreline and up to 500 miles out, then it should be well within its property rights to say where and if a third party can dig. If a country's government does not rightfully own the surrounding ocean, then who should and how do they come to own it?
  8. Thanks JTS, I watched the video. My only issue with the video is when the speaker said that there is no incentive for someone to build a refinery near housing, and by him using the phrase "No incentive" he is able to simply throw out the idea that people do attempt to do things on their property all the time that doesn't fit with the surrounding area. In fact we have a very common phrase- "not in my backyard" which can attest to the many many times that things have been attempted in areas that from a perspective of incentive don't make sense. I personally have seen people attempt to open strip clubs in the middle of residential neighborhoods. I think that he was right on to bring Houston into the discussion though in order to prove that zoning is not exactly necessary.example, but I dont think he specifically answered my concern about the building (in a properly zoned area) of something that the construction itself may cause collateral damage. I suppose my question could also fit into environmental regulations, impact studies, etc, as well. Thank you Mike for bringing up the fact that business would be held liable in court for damage to my property or person. I hadn't thought of so simple an answer and it makes much more sense now. The problem of not being able to get insurance on your project may also prevent some of the more dangerous job sites. I guess that wouldn't work for protecting the environment though without lengthy regulations. So how do we protect the environment?
  9. My problem with posts like the doctors above, is that there is no 1. statements about the downfalls of the current (before ObamaCare) healthcare system and 2. there are no statements about the good that other systems provide. Whatever, and I mean WHATEVER the discussion is about, if you can not see, and be honest, about the problems (current or future possible) with your personal belief and you cannot see not a single benefit of the other side's argument, then you are not participating in a debate. You are too close minded to to serve any role in a debate and you have no room for growth. The doctors statement was entirely too one sided and he makes the other countries' system seem like they are on the point of collapse while ours (his idealized version of ours) is the bees knees. All systems, when dealing with people, will have problems and it is dishonest to assume that any that you come up with will be perfect. After all you can't accuse liberals of living in Utopian dreamworlds and at the same time promote your own. Also I have no idea why he would advocate against information on doctors being made public. In a free market the buyers are not just dependent but "strapped to" information. His reasoning against the transparency is not up to snuff I think. Then he says that bad reviews of government plans should be public... I just think that regardless of the topic, whether I agree with the proponent, we should all be honest with ourselves and accept that other people have SOME good ideas too. Their full plan may not be feasible but there is something in there that is good, and we should state that. And SOME of our ideas are that great either, we should state that as well. There is two sides to every story and the story of the human race is a complex one.
  10. Hello all, I'm quite certain you guys have discussed zoning rights so you may have already discussed this but I skimmed the topics on the first three pages of this politics forum and I didn't see zoning in any of the subject lines. Anyway how should this situation be handled http://baltimorestory.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/proposed-harbor-point-tower-on-chromium-site-could-make-baltimore-an-environmental-crash-test-dummy-with-real-lives-at-stake/ Basically currently where I live in Baltimore there is a site that is planned for redevelopment. It is on the site of a Chromium factory that existed for 150 years. The contamination runs deep into the ground and it was sealed off with a cap years ago. The new development may cause a release of chemicals into the air and into the harbor. In a limited governmental structure, would discussions on safety even need to be broached? Does the developer have any obligation to concern themselves with the possibilities of contamination or with the concern of neighbors? I'm sure there is a way this would be handled, I'd just like some enlightenment on the method. Thanks
  11. Hello friends I'm Derek. Artist - derekofbaltimore.com, First time Author (just last month). Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead fan. I have them on audio book and listened to them while I painted. Also it was Atlas Shrugged that inspired me to write my book. Agnostic when concerning a (general) creator, atheist when concerning the specific Christian faith that is taught today. Brimming with questions and curiosity as too how Mrs Rand's system would hold up in the real world. Trekkie and general sci-fi fan. Reader before watcher. Lastly (and I think this is most important as it will color my topics or responses on this forum) not a supporter of capitalism but a supporter of Freedom.
  12. I thought that I was responding to the idea that you "deserve" whatever you get in life. I thought some people were saying that that is not always the case and that their are things that happen to you that are outside of your control. I was agreeing with them. But if thats not what everyone was talking about then.... maybe I shouldn't be on this forum cause clearly the conversation is beyond me!
  13. I like you guys already, I see I'll have to post a full introduction in the very near future. My response to the ongoing debate over being responsible for everything that happens to you... This reminds me of my days as a Spades (cards for those who dont know, a four player-two team card game) player. After me and my partner would humiliate the opposition they would always begin to complain to one another, "Why didn't you do this? Didin't you see what I was trying to do? etc. My partner and I would then step in to end the bickering, "Don't blame each other," we would say, "Blame US!" My point being that, we do not operate in a vacuum. You guys examples were of natural disasters or physical accidents which would prove hard to "blame" someone for, but I suggest we can use examples based in the economy. If we can agree that there are sentient, creative minds operating outside of our own then we also have to give some credit to others when we are defeated. A few real world examples Suppose you are a successful small time business owner, but then Walmart moves in and you go out of business. It cannot be blamed on you because you couldn't compete. Unfortunately Walmart is A. too skilled (as in an ability to dominate an industry) and B. the decision makers are far to removed from you for you to be able to negotiate with them. Suppose you are a successful small business owner in a small town where a major factory employees 50% of the working population. You don't work for them but you supply them, or feed the employees etc. They decide to move to another state or they go out of business. Your business collapses in no way due to fault of your own. Suppose you have a sibling that is a big time author, movie star, Senator, or something and the family name gets you plenty of clients (and I dont mean through cronyism) but then your sibling does something stupid. Through no fault of your own the family name is now a liability and your business fails. I guess you could then say well its still your fault that you didnt have a fall back plan, but it becomes unrealistic if you truly follow that line of thought. Because that line of thought would fault you if you didnt have a 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th.... fall back plans in case the others failed. Also your plans have to be substantial because if you have a certain lifestyle with certain family obligations, you cant simply say, "If this great business fails then I still have my bachelors degree from the liberal arts college"
  14. Man, I step away for two days and you guys have jumped all over my question. Thats a good thing, I just wish I could have made it through everything that Frediano was saying because I'm sure it was good : ) BUt at one point he said that if an individual decided to follow my plot then the net effect would be zero... I don't think I understand that. I could understand that if the savings accumulated over decades (deflation of prices, increased value of my gold) then entered into the market all at once (inflation of prices, decrease in value of my gold) but thats not what Im thinking they would do. I thought they would introduce it back in slowly and just reap the benefits of a hyper valued pile of cash that would last for centuries. Anyway, some are still discussing credit systems and I just.... I happen to think that credit is the (physical) reason why capitalism is not stable in the long run. I was hoping that the gold standard could take us away from credit, that was/is my primary reason for backing the standard. If credit is involved then it doesn't matter what the currency is, the real currency, as someone said above, will become the debt. That's not good in the long run. Please tell me that we are not stuck with credit systems
  15. Thanks for the answer moralist, but I thought that within the gold standard we would have no use for credit or debt? I thought we only needed credit to satisfy (and create) inflation. I assumed that using gold, we would get away from arbitrary inflation. Savings are never static unless you have no use for the wealth. Historically, in the Dark Ages after the contraction of Rome, warlords had treasure vaults of gold and silver goods, sitting idle. They had no active use for the wealth, no investment needs: they were warlords. Hey Mike M, thanks for the welcome, I didnt think they would live meagerly, I was just saving that if you spend less then you make, you will begin to accumulate. Then I supposed there would be a new way of thinking, a mentality that says that my gold isn't sitting idly, it is actually increasing in value merely by the fact that less of it is in the system. I.E. the more savings occurs, the more the savings accounts are worth because there is only so much gold added per year and the population growth could outstrip that. Pulling money out through savings could (possibly, though I do like the idea of gold from space) physically cause liquidity to ... become less liquid (?) Individuals would then almost create a stagflation with prices continuously falling as more money is pulled out and (speculated- invested through the mere act of holding) Now that I think about it, that could become a bubble in itself.... Ahh its so complicated... Thanks for the help though, I will, as you have stated, take this on other boards as well, could you recommend one, I'm new around here : )
  16. Hey peoples, I haven't read any of Ms Rand's non-fiction (I'm a noobie) but I did read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It appeared that she favored the gold standard. I listened to a four hour presentation by Ron Paul on the gold standard and it makes sense to me in a lot of ways 1. the costs of products and services cannot be inflated inflated and inflated because there is a limited amount of currency in the system and businesses cannot charge what the market cannot bear. 2. gold itself is a wonderful currency because of all its properties of divisibility, rarity and non volatility. But what I dont understand, and I was hoping you could enlighten me, is what would keep the top 5-10% of individuals or businesses from pulling large amounts of currency out of circulation. Gold is only being added in at a certain rate but certain individuals will be making much more then they spend so they would save. What if some decide to save, not for retirement or a rainy day fund, not for capital improvements or investments but simply because as they take money out, the money itself becomes more valuable. You take money out and hold it for 20 years and the value of your holdings increases multiple fold through supply and demand. Now I realize that prices will stay low because as the population has less to utilize, prices will fall in conjunction will less purchasing power, but..... Im at a loss. Its so complicated. The wealth gap can grow to the largest it has ever been and then what happens once no more gold comes out of the ground but certain individuals hold (literally) 80-90% of the workable currency?