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06/15/2008

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Thomas B.

"double taxation of savings [is] a problem"

Is a tax of 10% applied twice really somehow worse than a 30% tax applied once?

I'm for low taxes, but low in instances rather than rates?

Besides, isn't each dollar taxed ad infinitum? It's taxed when it's paid to me in salary, when I save it, then again when I spend it, then when that business uses it to buy more inputs, like paying a laborer, when that laborer saves or buys goods...

Anonymous

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Layedback

This is the best place I could think of to post this, and I am sorry that it is not quite germane to the subject at hand. I know that alot of people who both contribute to and comment on here are concerned with property rights. Perhaps the most egregious example of government's usurpation of such rights is the 2005 case of Kelo v. New London. To mark the anniversary of this loss and the subsequent gains made at the state level against eminent domain abuse, Susette Kelo is trying to garner 10,000 donations to The Institute for Justice (The firm which represented Kelo)this Monday 23 June, go to ij.org/keloday and pledge $5 or whatever you can afford. This a good cause, and one that, no matter your political bend,everyone can embrace.

H

"Not to over-Biblicize this, but Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can't all be wrong:"

I'm gonna object here on behalf of Richard Dawkins.

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bookmakers

corporations rule the world nowadays, its no big issue anymore...

jack

Thomas, while you're counting YOUR taxes multiple time (when they're paid TO the next guy those are his income taxes) but perhaps there's a good point and something to consider:

"Besides, isn't each dollar taxed ad infinitum? It's taxed when it's paid to me in salary, when I save it, then again when I spend it, then when that business uses it to buy more inputs, like paying a laborer, when that laborer saves or buys goods..."

........ When we pay a plumber or mechanic $100/hr it seems "too expensive" though they are unlikely to get home with half that much with taxes being a good chunk of the difference. Unlike business, for the most part we can not individually deduct the $100 while a business can and profitable concerns are paying $67 or less for the same service after taxes.

..... In some sense I suppose "all is well" however the high transaction costs tend to make us a nation of do it yourself plumbers etc. thus much of our work is done, most likely, inefficiently by amateurs.

...... an improvement, especially in these times? Shift some of the income tax onto taxes on non-renewable resources with the "two birds" being an improvement in efficiency as regular folk find it easier to employ tradesmen, and, of course, an incentive to waste fewer non-renewables.

neilehat

H, You know what I find amusing about Atheists, beyond their crime of Impiety (which may be the underlying root cause of the problem in question), is that their one and only proof results in the reverse of what they have set out to prove. In Advanced Logic, specfically the Predicate and Sentential Calculii this is known as a Reverse Proof and they aren't even sharp enough to figure it out. Which in my mind clearly calls into question their Rationalism.

As for Science itself, the details and techniques of the Scientific Method work only on phenomena on the Physical Plane, but fail miserably as a rational technique when applied to phenomena on the Transcendent Plane. Any good scientist understands this and limits the use of the Scientific Method to those phenomena at the physical level. This is basic science. And so much for R.D's take on the issue.

RJKahn

I found Sascha O. Becker and Ludger Woessmann argued quite convincingly in their paper "Was Weber Right? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History" that protestantism does correlate with economic growth, but only because Martin Luther emphasized literacy (so that one could understand the bible for oneself, rather than relying on a priest). Using data from 19th century Prussia, namely an 1871 census, they did a regression, and found that while protestantism was a good predictor of development (represented using both an income-proxy and an estimated sectoral structure).

Greg Clark also discusses "values" relationship to development in his book "A Farewell to Alms" (which I found decidedly less convincing). He argues that there is a "capitalist" gene, which encourages accumulation and frugality, and institutions in certain countries effectively naturally selected for it. The argument is complex, unusual, and to be honest a bit beyond my abilities to completely understand or explain, but well researched, and definitely worthwhile for anyone interested in Weber and Brooks.

RJKahn

that while protestantism was a good predictor of development... literacy was a better fit, sorry.

neilehat

Rj, Actually, it's, "Everyman his own Priest" coupled with "Justification through faith and faith alone". Which is the ladder out of the abyss.

Jack

Neil, I wonder if you divide your atheists into two categories? One would be those who claim to have proof of their position be it "reverse" or other. This group we would put into a room with those who claim to have a proof of the existence of god or gods and serve them mediocre food and cheap wine.

The other atheists would be those who choose their belief much as do those believing that a god exists; their feelings or blind faith. For their humility and uncertainty we'd treat them better than the first group.

I'm not familiar with your reverse proof. But if we came upon a box and opened it and using all of our senses along with state of the art science and found nothing in the box, we'd still be a bit shy of proving it empty, shrug our shoulders and head for the lounge named for a famous agnostic.

But! surely if some of our observers were to claim that something WAS surely in the box but was just beyond our powers of perception it would seem they'd have the heaviest burden of proof as compared to those reporting that they saw nothing and had little reason to believe anything was in the box. Somewhat curiously this latter group is the most numerous so they'll have to be given hospitality as well.

Then are are those who are not only smack sure THEIR god exists but know exactly what He or She is thinking, will rant about it for hours, but put up no resistance to even the most irrational of wars and social injustices. They too appear to be well-fed though one surely wonders why.

neilehat

Jack, The "proof" is really quite simple. You see, that in order to negate the existence, one must first posit an existence before one can negate it. Hence there is existence. Or if one posits a negated existence then negates it, one comes up with a double negation which is a positive. Hence there is an existence. Then there is the case where one starts with a negation and then tries to prove the negation as a positve (but it's impossible to prove a negative). That's logic.

As for the analogy used, you're trying to stuff the transcendent into a physical box and then analyze it using assorted psychological tools. The Transcendent cannot be forced into various physical categories such as time, space, quantity, quality, etc.; that is why it is transcendent. But Kant covers this in detail in his epistemology.

As for the categories you have created, Athiest, Agnostic, Believers, the breakdown is as follows:

Atheist: no existence
Agnostic: Maybe no existence, Maybe existence (I'm so confused because I'm trying to hold onto a contradiction)
Believer: Existence

All of this points to something beyond existence premissis and logic. Which is, "free will" which is part and parcel of the mystery.

Jack

Neil thanks for the explanation, however it strikes me as the double talk of philosophers too long in the Sun or having fallen off the head of a pin.

Being of the lazy and practical sort I don't take the bait of positing anything. As for stuffing or otherwise dealing with the transcendent, once I've latched onto that balloon I've left the land of proofs and can only drift with the winds of that which I choose to "believe in" ..unconfirmed miracles, free will and all.

Ha! perhaps I need a refresher trip to the Orient where I found folks often content to hold two contradictory ideas or "beliefs" at once. On the other hand, perhaps there is no need to travel!

H

Well, I should have known mentioning Dawkins would distract from the topic at hand. Neil, thanks for the usual non-overlapping magisteria. Leave the physical world to science, the world beyond to religion. Aye, if only the latter didn't mess with so much in the physical world...

Anyway, yay commercial society. Let's get back on topic.

Pandoemonium

Having majored in economics, I have great sympathy for Posner's counter to Brook's argument. That said, my post graduate school experience has led me to the conclusion that actual humans are no where near as rational as the homo economicus you read about in textbooks.

While I do not claim to take a definitive position in the debate, even the most educated of us will make suboptimal and irrational choices under the wrong conditions, and marketers are increasingly adept at generating those conditions. Even without active and somewhat malign action by marketers, it is now well known that we as a species are very bad at dealing with low probability events and intertemporal discounting.

To take the latter first, and in brief, take rebate coupons. It's been shown in the literature that rebates do affect the decisions people make to purchase products, and yet a large number of buyers swayed by the rebate never mail in the coupon. The reason seems to be that we underestimate the hassle of filling out and mailing in the coupon, so we don't. While there's nothing wrong with that, if we were truly rational, we would simply ignore the rebate entirely as having no value to us. That's not how our minds work. It seems that we tend to discount the future more than discounted utility theory would have us do.

As for probabilities, the problem has always confused me. In certain instances, people vastly overstate the likelihood of a low probability event (such as someone who is afraid to fly on commercial airliners, who'd nonetheless not afraid to drive in a car) and yet there are instances where people greatly underestimate the true likelihood of events occurring. From the literature, it seems the former is more common than the latter, but I've seen both in the real world.

As such, I am not convinced that the greatly increased levels of household debt are in fact a sign of rational decision making in the face of a more varied and sophisticated array of credit options.

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