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09/18/2011

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Giovanna

I was less impressed. Sure, he seems human and inlntligeet and he spoke of restoring the lost art of negotiating. But his dance seemed disingenuous.He hinted everything's on the table, but refused absolutely to admit that meant rich-taxes were. I can see where he has to do that. But it's hardly bold.And Stewart nailed him re calling for the rhetoric of grownup conversation, then shotgunning nasty remarks at ObamaI'd consider him worth a look if:1. he actually came out shooting for the enlightenment (goldwater version)2. he were in the playground of a SPLIT sane version of the GOP3. I could feel sure that ANY GOP contender would not do what "maverick" McCain did in 2008... simply adopting whole the entire Bushite brain trust as his own.

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investor confidence in reaction to Obama's latest plan to reallocate assets from private industry to government control.

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DMac

I'd accept the central premise that government failure and market failure means that much more caution is needed with aspects of government intervention. Very few economists believe in rent control - or to be more exact, they believe the effects of rent control to be predictable and inefficent.

It's surely usual however to at least reference the idea that consumers may not be rational, and may not act rationally as a group. LED lights last ten years and use 11W of energy rather than 60W, but some of my relatives would still buy incandescent if they were able to, just out of habit, even if incandescent and LED bulbs were the same price, and had the same quality of light.

Personally, I would say that in the same way people want machines to be regulated to work well, they want a banking system to be regulated so that it's stable and won't lose their savings and where banks are too big to fail, transferring the risk of HUGE bailouts to the taxpayer. There are also questions about whether debt-based economies can be fundamentally financially unsustainable, which I think is partly an issue of moral hazard - if I can always go bankrupt without too much pain, I can always just ring up as much consumer debt as I want and am allowed. Businesses can become "externalising" machines - indeed it's the argument of some economists that this is their duty. And the first response of a political leader in the crisis of a Western country is to tell people to keep up their consumer spending - even if they are in really unwise levels of household debt.

Finally, whilst environmentalists have perhaps been persistently wrong in the short-term (from Malthus onwards), the concept of scientific environmental limits, or scientific entropy seems unassailable. I've heard that in a traditional oil well, you use 1 barrel of oil to extract ten barrels of oil. In the tar sands the ratio is more like one barrel of oil to extract three. So when the ratios change, we become permanently poorer, if alternatives are not researched or just simply not possible. That's before the issue that it may be necessary to leave some of the carbon in the ground, whilst oil companies are currently valued on known reserves. It's an empirical (measurable) question whether our economic activity is or is not sustainable (environmentally, which means is it sustainable *at all*?) but I'm not personally looking forward to finding out.

And from a fairness and equity point of view, is having the 85 richest people having the same amount of financial resources as the poorest half of the world's population fundamentally a good idea? Is a dollar really worth the same to someone living on a dollar a day as a multi-billionaire? Does it provide exactly the same level of utility to each?

Shivank Mehra

The very idea of "monopoly power" is flawed. Monopolies don't exist without legal mandate. Usually it is believed that monopoly power exists when a firm is able to raise its price above the so-called "perfect competitive" price. In a perfect competition, it is claimed, there will be a large number of suppliers with a relatively small share of the total market supply. Thus, it is claimed that under such conditions a lower price would be reached than what the firm with "unjust market power" can "administer". Let us analyse this claim. What would happen if there were many suppliers each with a small supply? The business would become not-so-profitable. Most suppliers would sell off their supplies to others or they might unite to form cartels. In either case, the dream of lower price would not be reached. That is to say, there is no "perfect price" to which "monopoly price" can be compared. The so-called "market failure" doesn't exist. As for welfare schemes, we all know they cause inflation. They reward under-productivity and punish productivity. Wealth has value because it is scarce. If all the income was equally redistributed, it would become equally worthless.

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