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Remember, first of all, that the American system of government was intentionally designed to frustrate attempts at radical, wholesale change.

I would have said that after the credit crunch, change will be forced upon us. And if the system is designed not to be adaptable, it will break. Economic Darwinism, Lesson One.

What exactly, is even so bad about a socialism? Look at Norway - the cost of living there is so high, but many middle-class people make over a thousand kroner (about 160 USD) a day that they, after they pay taxes, still have quite a healthy sum in the bank on which to spend money on luxury items, and have to save for less time to buy expensive foreign items or go on vacations.

There's a bunch of reasons why Norway is #1 on the HDI.


Oh boy politics this should get interesting.

“And if the system is designed not to be adaptable, it will break. Economic Darwinism, Lesson One.”

If the system is not designed to be in line with spiritual laws and lacks understanding of human nature it will self-destruct. Universal law 101. Ok maybe Universal law 701

We are presently in a condition called “Can’t see the forest for the trees” phenomenon.

Nationalism, patriotism, political ideologies, religious beliefs, societal and parental conditioning can overwhelm the rational mind. Granted they may be needed at this stage of our human evolutionary process but this does not mean they do not have interesting side effects.

Here is a web site that allows the reader to read in English what other countries are saying about the USA. I find much of the reading interesting.

http://watchingamerica.com/News/#newssources

The recent SNL skit was political humor at its best at least I found it humorous. I have watched it four times and managed to laugh out loud all four times. Since these “debates” began I have heard SNL ratings have really improved.

http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/vp-debate-open-palin-biden/727421/

"There's a bunch of reasons why Norway is #1 on the HDI."

Yes Ost, but isn't that partly because Norway is culturally homogenous and universally well educated?

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you ...

How amusing! I've just read on Robert Peston's BBC Blog:

"If you are keeping your head while all about you are losing theirs;
you probably haven't grasped the seriousness of the situation!"

What a game this is!

Hi Ben

I like Robert Peston's blog as Business Editor for the BBC.

On the BBC news he comes across as very articulate and knowledgeable.

He seems to be ahead of the field when it comes to 'Breaking News' on the economic situation.

He seems to be ahead of the field when it comes to 'Breaking News' on the economic situation.

He does, Zerdini; I think he must have very good contacts. But is he as far ahead of the field as off-gridders like Michael H who must have seen all this coming a while back?

Another thing to keep in mind that the Clinton taxes and healthcare plan are what caused the Democrats to lose control of Congress in 1994.

So if Obama tries to go hard left, we can look at a similar result in 2010. The current congress already enjoys record-low approval ratings of 9% or so.

>> I'm a political conservative who agrees with Thomas Paine's famous prescription "That government is best which governs least.".

I'm that kind of conservative, too, MP. So, for sure not all your readers are political liberals, although perhaps we ars not so vocals.

We may disagree on who we're voting for, but I'm in total agreement with what you said about the doomsday bloggers on both left and right. As long as we keep our system of checks and balances everything eventually runs to the center.

I'm not familiar with Peston, but Jon Marman's columns at MSN over the past year appear pretty prescient at the moment. Especially http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/SuperModels/AreWeHeadedForAnEpicBearMarket.aspx>this piece from September of '07, in which he shared the observations of Australian credit derivatives expert Satyajit Das:

Das is pretty droll for a math whiz, but his message is dead serious. He thinks we're on the verge of a bear market of epic proportions.

The cause: Massive levels of debt underlying the world economy system are about to unwind in a profound and persistent way.

Rather than joining the crowd that blames the mess on American slobs who took on more mortgage debt than they could afford and have endangered the world by stiffing lenders, he points a finger at three parties: regulators who stood by as U.S. banks developed ingenious but dangerous ways of shifting trillions of dollars of credit risk off their balance sheets and into the hands of unsophisticated foreign investors; hedge and pension fund managers who gorged on high-yield debt instruments they didn't understand; and financial engineers who built towers of "securitized" debt with math models that were fundamentally flawed.

"Defaulting middle-class U.S. homeowners are blamed, but they are merely a pawn in the game," he says. "Those loans were invented so that hedge funds would have high-yield debt to buy."

This is all off-topic, though. MP's point is that the sky will not fall if Obama wins the presidency. I agree, and have also read several articles in traditionally conservative rags that actually think that Obama might be a positive choice.

I'm also wary of a single party controlling the executive and congressional branches of the government, but I have a suspicion that those most disappointed with an Obama administration will be the leftists who envision massive federal expansion. If he wins, I'd expect a much more centrist approach than Pelosi and Reid envision.

That's a big "if", though. I don't like to make this observation, but I don't trust any polling in this election at all. There are significant numbers of voters here who will not vote for Obama under any circumstances. The race issue is very real.

With the McCain camp about to embark on 30 days of increasingly personal attacks, and the real economic consequences of the ongoing financial meltdown still months away, I won't be surprised at all to see a McCain victory in the Electoral College, while Obama wins the overall popular vote due to overwhelming routs in states like New York and California.

Time will tell, but I doubt that either outcome will result in the broad, sweeping, catastrophic consequences the respective opponents imagine. People freak themselves out with their own ideas, and rarely notice when their fears don't materialize.

A friend of mine works for Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor, in a fairly high capacity. She is a Christian Democrats, the right of center party in Germany. I asked him if the Christian Democrats were a US political party, where they would fit in. His answer? To the left of the Democratic Party.

Yes, to the left.

My point is that American politics is skewed vastly to the right and is out of touch with most of our Western Industrialized allies. Can Obama changes that? Does he even want to? I doubt it.

But if he did, what would we be "sacrificing"? Our Western Industrialized Allies, with fewer resources at their disposal, have on average longer lives, higher literacy, less crime. Yes, they pay higher taxes - but in return for that, they do NOT go bankrupt in their old age paying for medical bills. They DO get more vacation time and longer leave after pregnancies. They do NOT get murdered at the rate we do. The list could go on...

The "freedoms" we are protecting enable a few people to get super wealthy - leaving the majority of us at risk, living a balancing act where an illness or the need to pay for college or a dozen other different exposures can send us into financial despair.

Is this a reasonable trade off? I'm sure you can guess my opinion...

“The "freedoms" we are protecting enable a few people to get super wealthy - leaving the majority of us at risk, living a balancing act where an illness or the need to pay for college or a dozen other different exposures can send us into financial despair.”

I remember reading somewhere that 50% of the bankruptcies filed last year were due to major medical costs. This occurs in no other industrialized country that I know of. I suspect that most of those people were very conservative in their views about universal health care until it hit them in their pocket book and put them in financial despair. It appears most humans have to personally experience the results of their decisions to fully understand the impact of them.

The really sad part of a privatized system is that insurance companies can put a clause in your contract that will not pay for pre existing conditions the very reason one needs insurance. From my point of view a privatized health care system will bankrupt a country. Wait and see.

Also I wonder about those so-called freedoms that allow one per cent of the population to have more wealth than the bottom 90% of its citizens. If our privatized health care system was ranked number one in the world that may be a sound debate, but ranked behind every other industrialized country with health care for its citizens.

One-sixth of a country’s citizens without health care reveals a lot about the spiritual maturity of a country.

Well said, Tony M. Why is there such a fear of social democracy? Are people afraid some of the poor may get a fair crack of the whip?

Okey this really requires some comments from somebody living in Europe in Belgium, one of those apparently scary social-welfare states.

Michael said:
"It's also worth noting that even Europe seems to have realized that the heyday of the social-welfare state is over. Both France and Germany have elected relatively conservative leaders who advocate major reforms aimed at reining in excessive government regulation and paring back the sometimes smothering social safety net."

I think you should read newspapers from europe these days, it is full with the following things: "the hyper capitalistic, unlimited free market thinking, clearly failed as the recent credit crisis shows. This is the FINAL blow to the americanisation of our economic and social system." It is true there was a trend to Americanisation for the last decade and I was quite surprised but pretty happy myself to read this in almost every newspaper and see it on tv. The free market system caused this crisis because of a lack of governmental control. If you let greed play and expect the market system to take care of everything magically you create this mess! If people still defend the blind profit hunger and over competitiveness which sacrifices basic social standards than I don't know what kind of a crisis, not to mention the effects on third world countries, to see that it just doesn't work exept for a few. So economic analysts, government people, the media in Europe are all saying that Americanisation of our economy is not the way and the unrestricted free market system created this crisis. So you could put this the other way Michael. "Maybe the USA is realising that the heyday of an unregulated free market system that brings its own ethics through an invisible hand is an illusion and urgently calls for something else if we want to prevent a crisis like this in the future."

It is so obvious that there is truth in the american way: individualism but also in the old soviet way: collectivism.
Europe tries to provide a middle way. Mixing individual freedom with collective protection.

I'm really amazed at: "Darkly pessimistic comments crop up on those blog threads - comments made by conservatives who fear that Obama, in concert with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, will remake America as a European-style social democracy"
So darkly pessimistic, so scary, what is so scary about all people having health insurance, having higher minimum wages, don't need 3 jobs to be able to pay for a basic life, free education, a strong social security behind you. What is so scary about the government taking care of that. I just don't get the resistance towards it except for reasons of greed and fear of personal loss which isn't very world centric.
And a middle way is really possible, it doesn't imply all people not working and just profiting from the welfare system.

Communism blew itself up a few decades ago and now the hyper capitalist system of the USA blows itself up because of its greed and its inability to manage itself which is normal, there are people, human beings, behind the financial system that are led by profit, as fast as possible, a government could put rules with a focus on people or with more of a focus on people. Not blind profit but profit with a social dimension. The financial system needs regulation, that's one thing that this crisis shows.

Taxes aren't necessarily, inherently bad, they can really be used for good things. You already use taxes for many things, wars, roads, but oh my god if it would be used to help all people in the country to miminum social standards. This doesn't mean red communists at your door limiting your personal freedom or press coverage. For europeans this is a basic idea, it's not even considered extreme left! What you call left is for us center right! So republicans can lighten up, you're very far from a European system and apparently a lot of people would like to keep it that way.

greets,
Filip

Michael Prescott wrote:

> In a global economy, no nation can afford to be uncompetitive. Regardless of who is running the government of the United States, certain realities will have to be faced if the country is to remain a player in world markets. Excessively high taxation, smothering regulation, and counterproductive social-welfare policies are luxuries that even France and Germany have begun to realize they cannot afford. It is highly doubtful that America will adopt such policies at the very time when Europe is beginning to shrug them off.

This statement seems higly contradictive. You're saying that the most competitive economy in the world, that of the U.S., needs to get even more competitive in order to avoid yet another crisis, when this one was brought about by its system's very competitiveness??

Also I can't understand your comments about the imperfectnesses of the European economies, when it is the American system that has gone haywire! Also remember what William pointed out, that the social benefits of the U.S. economy is limited to a small minority, the rest facing serious troubles in getting decent helathcare and living, whereas in most other Western countries as well as Japan, the welfare is more evenly spread across the population.

I have some questions for the dualists


If brain function could be shown to precede the manifestation of mind then that would support the brain causing mind and refute the transmitter hypothesis.


It is quite simple. If a predictable brain activity always precedes the same predictable mental activity, it is plain and clear that either brain activity IS mental activity, or brain activity CAUSES mental activity. There is no way around it. If I have a bicycle and every time I push the pedals the wheels turn, you can tell me what you want, but the fact is that my pedaling turns the wheels. Cause and effect.


Let's suppose the dualist's are right, and the brain is just a receiver for the mind. Then we would expect the following sequence of events to happen in the following order:
1) The mind is aware of having taken a decision
2) The mind transmits the decision to the brain
3) Brain activity is registered by the fMRI

But that is not what happens. What we see instead is
1) Brain activity, which is registered by the fMRI
2) Subject consciously aware of the decision

This is consistent with the brain being the cause (initiating the activity) and the mind going for a ride (being the product of that activity), not the way around.


Brain activity preceded the conscious perception of the subject about those thoughts. What else would it mean? If you detect current running through a light bulb, and shortly after the light bulb turns on, and this chain of events is always the same (current first, light after).

Matt so far the only thing neurological science has done is showing that certain brain activity arises with certain mental activity.
But correlation does not mean causation! You say it precedes it, well this isn't proven. Causation is one thing that has not been shown or else the consciousness problem wouldn't be such a big problem.

There is a problem with trying to grab a pure subjective state through objective means.
A fmri scan will never show a sad thought just like introspection will never show you a brain scan. Irreducible mind and the taboo of subjectivity are 2 very nice books about this subject. And in the end, with the available evidence the materialist hypothesis and the dualist hypothesis are both possible.

greets,
Filip

Another thing, isn't it such hypocrisy that the free market system which stands on its no intervention from the government idea, that it will fix itself without problems, that letting the free market play its own rules will fix everything, that system is in trouble now and runs to the government to fix everything cause they made a mess out of things.
That just shows how silly and how unstable it is and how a bunch of hypocrisy this ideological system is about.
Things go bad, the despised government is needed.

The flaw of citing any European country as an example of successful Socialism is the simple fact that American Capitalism is the foundation for their experiments.

American taxpayers have paid for European defense for many decades, not to mention all kinds of foreign aid.

And as Socialism continues to take hold in the U.S., that support will continue to erode.

I'm of the Thomas Paine persuasion as well...

Why must America adopt a Europe-style system?

If a person has a strong preference for a Europe-style or American-style system, they are always free to move to a country that more closely matches their ideals if they don't like the one they are living in.

Also the current crisis was not caused purely by free-market approaches. The government had plenty to do with it.

The GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) were the largest players in the US mortgage market. They were created by the US govt, but acted as though they were private entities. They guaranteed the loans they sold so the buyers believed them to be less risky then they truly were. It was also believed that there was an implicit guarantee by the US govt to keep the GSEs solvent (which there was, see the recent nationalization of these entities)

In a purely free-market, it would have been much harder to sell many of those mortgages b/c the kind of guarantee Fannie/Freddy offered would not exist, and therefore those loans wouldn't have been written.

Mark,

I agree, if the US drastically reduced its defense spending, Europe would have to pick up the slack, especially given re-emergant threats from the likes of Russia and other troubled areas of the world. This would likely cause the funding of many of the Euro-social programs to be slashed.

If brain function could be shown to precede the manifestation of mind then that would support the brain causing mind and refute the transmitter hypothesis

I disagree. That comment implies that precedence is the same that causality. But they aren't the same. In school, I consistently arrived to it 1 hour before my friend Andrea: Does it implies that I caused Andrea's arriving 1 hour after me?

Neurological studies have demostrated that conscious decision is preceded by brain function. But it doens't imply that brain function is previous to other mental functions (e.g. unconscious functioning). Not all the mental functioning consists in conscious decisions. And many mental factors (like memories, prejudices, etc.) are previous, but determine or influence, concious decisions.

If a predictable brain activity always precedes the same predictable mental activity, it is plain and clear that either brain activity IS mental activity, or brain activity CAUSES mental activity

I think it's a non sequitur: 1)If a brain activity precedes a mental activity, it doens't follow that a brain activity IS mental activity (because how could the same thing precedes itself?)

2)"Or brain causes mental activity". It don't follow either, because causation isn't an observavle phenomena, but a theoretical concept.

A previous brain activation is also consistent with the idea that brain permits the consciousness manifest itself. A window needs to open before air can pass through it, but it doens't entail that windows produces air. It only produce or cause its pass through it.

Let's suppose the dualist's are right, and the brain is just a receiver for the mind. Then we would expect the following sequence of events to happen in the following order:
1) The mind is aware of having taken a decision
2) The mind transmits the decision to the brain
3) Brain activity is registered by the fMRI

It doesn't neccesarily follows from a dualist perspective.

Regarding 1: the mind isn't limited to taking decisions. Before you take a concious decision, there are other non-conscious mental actitivity that are correlative and even previous to brain process.

For example, my childhood experiences, prejudices and academic learning can determine, in part, my actual decision. Brain activation precedes that specific conscious decision, but my personal previous experiences, memories and education (all of them factors to my actual decision) are previous to that brain activation (and to my decision).

Regarding 2: many dualists don't claims that conciousness trasmits decisions to the brain. What's trasmitted is conciousness as a whole (and it include both conscious and unconscious mental processes)

But that is not what happens. What we see instead is
1) Brain activity, which is registered by the fMRI
2) Subject consciously aware of the decision

Yes, but you're leaving out other manifestations of consciousness previous to brain activity preceding decicions (e.g. old memories, unconscious processes, etc.)

This is consistent with the brain being the cause (initiating the activity) and the mind going for a ride (being the product of that activity), not the way around

Only if you decide to leave out unconscious process and memory (that also are previous to conscious decisions).You're limiting the mind only to conscious decisions.

I agree with you that standard neurological evidence is consistent with materialism. Also it's consistent with dualism.

But afterlife evidence is consistent with dualism, but not with materialism. And if afterlife evidence is true, materialism is false.

Sorry for if my english a little bit broken.

ZC


ZC wrote: "And if afterlife evidence is true, materialism is false."

It IS true therefore materialism is false.

QED

Very cool post. I am a huge Obama supporter, but I think if we all came to the civility and clear headed nature of your post, there would be a lot less stress on both sides.

The free market system caused this crisis because of a lack of governmental control. If you let greed play and expect the market system to take care of everything magically you create this mess!

I can't understand your comments about the imperfectnesses of the European economies, when it is the American system that has gone haywire!

Blaming Wall Street greed may sell newspapers, but it ignores the question of exactly who it was that was chasing the profits promised by securitized debt instruments (that maybe less than ten people in the global financial community even understand), and then decided that it was a good idea to leverage up further to maximize margins. The majority of the buyers in this game were exhibiting greed alright, but the greed is global , not concentrated in the US or Europe. Where do people think the mountains of cash generated over the past decade in China and India were invested? And it's not as if the US banks were in this game alone, as evidenced by the recent banking train wrecks in Europe. It will almost certainly spread from there. This is a global issue.

One of the few who do appear to understand the derivatives market is Das. On page two of my earlier link is this observation:

When you add it all up, according to Das' research, a single dollar of "real" capital supports $20 to $30 of loans. This spiral of borrowing on an increasingly thin base of real assets, writ large and in nearly infinite variety, ultimately created a world in which derivatives outstanding earlier this year stood at $485 trillion -- or eight times total global gross domestic product of $60 trillion.

To put this into perspective, it's as if someone who owns a $200,000 home has borrowed $1.6 million against that home, (in some instances as much as $8 million). They managed to find a tenant who was making their loan payment and providing a rate of return to boot, but now the tenant has moved out.

Oops. There's still a loan payment to make, but no new tenants to be found. Anywhere. And every homeowner on the global block is in the same predicament.

I'm probably oversimplifying, but it seems to me that the only way out of this involves returning to a focus on increasing the production of real capital. (It's pretty clear at this point that highly leverage instruments that rely on math models to project paper profits have nothing to do with real capital). And which economic system has historically been the most efficient at creating real capital?

It may be less than spiritually satisfying to acknowledge, but human beings tend to be motivated more by their own self-interest than by having a gun held to their heads.

By the way, Tony S, the Times had an interesting http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/business/05fannie.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=fannie%20mae&st=cse&oref=slogin>piece this Sunday on the role Congress played in encouraging Freddie and Fannie to assume riskier loans. The road to hell is paved with good intentions - in this case the idea was to expand homeownership in lower income demographics.

“If a person has a strong preference for a Europe-style or American-style system, they are always free to move to a country that more closely matches their ideals if they don't like the one they are living in.”

Your way or the highway; right Tony. Heard those views during the Vietnam War and went something like this. “America love it or leave it”. Hearing those same views today but in a different format.

As citizens of a republic with a constitution that supports those citizens right to voice and vote for those representatives that support their views and their best interest. Which usually means their pocket book.

The universe has an interesting way of providing feedback to a country if it benefits the few at the expense of the many.

With communism man exploits man with capitalism it is the other way around. Finding that delicate balance between these two ideologies or the middle road appears to be a challenge for any country. It appears that some do it better than others.

Mark Alexander wrote:

> The flaw of citing any European country as an example of successful Socialism is the simple fact that American Capitalism is the foundation for their experiments.

> American taxpayers have paid for European defense for many decades, not to mention all kinds of foreign aid.

You're contradicting yourself:

"American _capitalism_ is the foundation for their experiments"

"American _taxpayers_ have paid for European defense for many decades"

How can [I]capitalism[/I] be the foundation for socialistic experiments if the foundation upon which these experiments are done is based on [I]governmental activities[/I]?!

I tend to be agnostic regarding political ideologies, but I've studied a little bit the philosophy of Austrian economics (that support libertarianism).

One of the key figures of that group is Ludwig von Mises. In the 20s, he wrote an article arguing that economic calculus in socialism is impossible. As consequence, socialism (as a method of social organization based on public property of means of production) can't work efficiently. According to Mises, it's the basic weakness of any socialist system.

You can read his paper here:

http://mises.org/pdf/econcalc.pdf

That paper caused a lot of scientific controversy between marxists and non-marxists. Some marxists left their position, and agreed with Mises. Other marxists accept partially the thesis of Mises, but even embraced some form of socialism.

Many marxists and socialists today ignore Mises' economic argument; but I think a good socialist should know it and address it, because it could (in case of being sound) destroy the economic possibility of socialism.

Currently, I'm reading a a book by Franz Himkelammert, a german scholar of socialism (who teach in Mexico), and who's one of the best current critics of libertarianism.

I hope to decide, in a few months, who won the theoretical battle... if Mises or Himkelammert.

ZC

Sorry, I may have been guilty of a misunderstanding in my last post. You may argue that a capitalistic nation is able to defend itself precisely because it can spend tax money on the army and let the free market handle the social issues. However, is it really necessary to "defend" yourself by invading oil producing nations?

If Bush spent 10% of the Iraq money on social issues, would that have made American "defense" globally impossible?

Zetetic Chick: Isn't Mises's critique aimed at pure socialism (i.e. communism), rather than social democracy, which is what is in use in large parts of Europe?

Yes, Larry Boy. Mises' critique is aimed at pure socialism or communism. However, some latin america countries (Bolivia, etc.) are embracing a progressive neo-communist system (very different of social democracy of Europe)

In this sense, Mises' thesis is pertinent today (even if less pertinent than when he wrote his thesis).

The criticism of Mises against social democracy and mixed economies is contained in a book of him titled "Interventionism".

ZC

Yes, Larry Boy. Mises' critique is aimed at pure socialism or communism. However, some latin america countries (Bolivia, etc.) are embracing a progressive neo-communist system (very different of social democracy of Europe)

In this sense, Mises' thesis is pertinent today (even if less pertinent than when he wrote his thesis).

The criticism of Mises against social democracy and mixed economies is contained in a book of him titled "Interventionism".

ZC

Yes, Larry Boy. Mises' critique is aimed at pure socialism or communism. However, some latin america countries (Bolivia, etc.) are embracing a progressive neo-communist system (very different of social democracy of Europe)

In this sense, Mises' thesis is pertinent today (even if less pertinent than when he wrote his thesis).

The criticism of Mises against social democracy and mixed economies is contained in a book of him titled "Interventionism".

ZC

Sorry for the involuntary repetition... I had a problem with my pc.

Michael,

Thanks for a nicely balanced post. I have found myself getting a bit wrapped up in the hysteria over the prospects of an Obama victory. Some of it is motivated by my indignation for the free pass he has received from the main stream media who obviously are doing what they can to help elect him. But after witnessing the market melt down over Bush's "bailout" plan it's hard to imagine Obama doing even more damage! I'm hoping what is left of the American individualist sense of life will help temper whatever he and his cohorts try to foist upon us.

Zetetic

Regarding 1: the mind isn't limited to taking decisions. Before you take a concious decision, there are other non-conscious mental actitivity that are correlative and even previous to brain process.

For example, my childhood experiences, prejudices and academic learning can determine, in part, my actual decision. Brain activation precedes that specific conscious decision, but my personal previous experiences, memories and education (all of them factors to my actual decision) are previous to that brain activation (and to my decision).
Ok so you are saying that something like this happens:
1) I am asked to take a decision
2) The mind interrogates the brain for data needed to make the decision, which causes the brain activity we see in the fMRI
3) The brain sends the data back to the mind, which makes its decision, causing the subject to be aware of having taken the decision.

Matt- Well, that's an interesting concept, and I thank you for presenting it. But I do see a problem with this. If the brain activity we see is just the mind accessing the brain for information that it will use to make a decision, then we wouldn't be able to tell what the decision will be. I mean, think of the experiment we are talking about, where given 2 numbers, you need to decide to add or subtract them. I can see the mind accessing the brain to check what "adding" and "subtracting" mean, or "the last time, did I add them or subtract them?". But if this was all, we wouldn't be able to tell the decision just from the brain activity. Except, we can!! So what we see isn't just accessory activity, it is the decision itself!

Quote:
Regarding 2: many dualists don't claims that conciousness trasmits decisions to the brain. What's trasmitted is conciousness as a whole (and it include both conscious and unconscious mental processes)
How does this differ from the above? It sounds like the mind is "wearing" the brain like a costume or something? In this scenario, what does the brain activity represent?

Quote:
Only if you decide to leave out unconscious process and memory (that also are previous to conscious decisions).You're limiting the mind only to conscious decisions.


Matt- I am not limiting it, I am trying to understand. There seems to be a very fine line between what the brain does and what the mind does, and sometimes I need to make sure where that line is.

"What exactly, is even so bad about a socialism? Look at Norway - the cost of living there is so high, but many middle-class people make over a thousand kroner (about 160 USD) a day ..."

Norway has massive oil income, which enables it to afford lots of goodies. It is too atypical to cite as an argument for socialism.

I propose a win/win solution that will please all Americans: Devolve all the "general welfare" powers of the national government, plus the scope of the Supreme Court in most matters, back to those states that choose to de-couple themselves from Washington on those topics and chart their own course. (As regards Social Security, health care, firearms, 55 mph speed limit, abortion, etc., etc.)

In practice, this would be rolled out a few states at a time, paired by their left/right leanings. E.g., certain states would in effect become free to enact an unbridled "blue state" agenda, and certain states would enact a red state agenda. An agency would be set up to facilitate the logistics of swapping out-of-state would-be immigrants with in-state would-be emigrants. After five or ten years no resident would feel that he is living in an un-simpatico madhouse. No one would be a victim, no one would be an oppressor. And each camp would provide oodles of entertainment and object lessons for the other.

PS: Conservatives adopted the wrong policy when they fell in line with W.F. Buckley's mission statement that the duty of conservatism is to stand athwart history shouting Stop. The mentor they should have listened to was Joseph DeMaistre, whose advice regarding the forces of Progress was the exact opposite: "Let them have everything." That's judo-istic--and allowing the blue-staters to do their thing is what is needed to discredit them and their policies.

Regarding our ongoing credit catastrophe: James Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, has been critiquing Greenspan's easy-money policies, and warning of the dangers of derivatives, for about ten years. You won't find his periodical at your nearby checkout stand, but he's collected his columns into a $15 book that's just been issued,
Mr. Market Miscalculates: The Bubble Years and Beyond. Here's the Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Market-Miscalculates-Bubble-Beyond/dp/1604190086/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223429502&sr=1-1

I am a devotee of your weblog, but I fear you underestimate the destructive potential of an Obamanation Administration. There is a real, creepy totalitarian strain in him, his louche allies (Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, Pfleger, Rezko), and his pathetic, delusional minions. The entire Obama campaign shows a myoclonic reflex toward shutting up anyone who disagrees with them, as well as clandestine funding for all sorts of shady agitators and organized scam outfits, such as the evil ACORN. An Obamanation Administration would have us looking back to the days of Jimmy Carter with fond nostalgia. One of the first things he will do on his America-bustin' mission will be essentially to throw open the borders, legalize all illegals, invite in their family members, etc. You know what a minority-white American country is called? It's called Brazil. His administration cannot be other than an utter disaster, but once he has "supplemented" the population with another 50 million third-worlders, it will not be possible to vote him out of office. We will have Obama-like Democrats forever. This is an historical hinge moment like 1933 in Germany, and anyone who feels no sense of the most profound crisis just isn't paying enough attention.

"Norway has massive oil income, which enables it to afford lots of goodies. It is too atypical to cite as an argument for socialism."

Mixed economy has worked well in countries without excessive incomes from natural resources as well, notably Japan.

Hi Shrewsbury, would you care to back up your comments with some evidence or actual quotes?

You know what a minority-white American country is called? It's called Brazil.

Have you heard of the experiment in Curitiba, Brazil which transformed a third world city into a first world one - it was probably the best ever modern experiment in social democracy. Proof of its success came from a survey in the 1990s, when over 90% of the inhabitants said they wouldn't want to live anywhere else (as against 40% in New York). Check it out.

I'm from Sweden. I do not feel like a prisoner.

There are investigations about perceived "happiness" or "quality-of-life" and Denmark uses to "win" thes. USA are way down the list.

It seem to me your freedom-principles comes first and human beings second.

If that's so (I might be wrong) - what are they good for? The euphoria of the winning few?

“Which economic system has historically been the most efficient at creating real capital?” –Michael H

“The genius of contemporary capitalism is not simply that it gives consumers what they want but that it makes them want what it has to give. It's that core logic of ever-expanding desires that is unsustainable on a global scale.” -Timothy Garton Ash

We should be thankful for this reality check. It gives us pause for thought. And if it brings in Obama, who is at least aware of this (I don’t think McCain is), then how can that be bad?

Another question:

"The metaphysical" is quite a lot about inter-connectivity and inter-dependency. No man is an island, we are branches to the same tree etc.

My impression of the republican or right-wing philosophy is the contrary: Every man for himself, we are all individuals and some (the stronger ones) are more individuals than others. Every man is an island. It's about your own ego and nothing beyond that - oh yes, I forgot a certain kind of inflated collective ego, the flag and all that. As long as it is a part of the great "ME".

One thing Albert Einstein said: To be mature is to realise that other beings needs are as real to them as my needs are real to me.

I simply do not understand how someone open to the fundamental interconnectivity of things can belong to the right wing of politics.

“Which economic system has historically been the most efficient at creating real capital?” –Michael H

Japan, with a markedly mixed economy, and practically no natural resources at all, has had bigger annual growth than the U.S. for long periods. Americans like to think of their economy as unique or something, but that's just arrogant.

> Japan, with a markedly mixed economy, and
> practically no natural resources at all,
> has had bigger annual growth than the U.S.
> for long periods. Americans like to think
> of their economy as unique or something,
> but that's just arrogant.

And a recent decade-long period of economic stagnation in Japan. Don't forget that aspect.

I simply do not understand how someone open to the fundamental interconnectivity of things can belong to the right wing of politics. -Teabinge.

I'm not right wing, but the answer that supporters of the capitalist ethic give is: Wealth-creation means the greatest good for the greatest number. The argument is that otherwise, we would have medieval economies, no modern medicines and comforts and luxuries, etc, etc. Historically this has been true, but always at the expense of Natural Resources. As Teri says, this growth and expansion thinking is not a long-term option. I suggest you try reincarnating in a hundred years or so to discover the new solution.

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