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Forum Post: Comprehensive Economic Models: Why Not ?

Posted 12 years ago on Jan. 6, 2012, 9:07 p.m. EST by Rico (3027)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I was pondering the other day whether we should cut the official workweek from 40 hours to something like 36 hours, and it dawned on me we should have a comprehensive economic model we can use to model various economic strategies. I've never heard of one, and I'm wondering if anyone else has.

We have huge supercomputers being used to forecast weather, analyze nuclear interactions, and so forth. Why can't we have one for economic modeling? It sure seems like having one would help decide a lot of issues.

I'm an engineering, and I'm perfectly aware of the difficulties in modeling social systems. That does not, however, mean we should start. All models are imperfect initially, but we keep tuning them over time and eventually get them pretty close.

Remember, folks said we'd never model the weather, but we do it today with pretty good accuracy. Why can't we do it with economics so we can evaluate different tax schemes, working hours, minimum wage, etc ? Why don't we at least start on such a model as a large federal program ? It may not be useful in 2012, but maybe by 2050 we could have a model that would replace much of the opinioneering we do today with multiple statistical outcasts of outcomes.

Thoughts ?



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[-] 5 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

The economic models that are being run - and followed - are about maximizing private profit. Economics is not a science, it is a false construct used to benefit a select few at the expense of the vast majority.

Here are two "economic" ideas that you will never see propagated by government / media:

Lower the retirement age (creating job opportunities for young workers).

Raise social security benefits (eliminating poverty among the retired, and boosting the economy with their spending).

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

To which models do you refer ?

As for your ideas..

Lower the retirement age: Sure, but how do we pay for this ? Thanks to medicine, we keep extending the human lifespan, and it takes a lot of assets to support yourself (or someone else) for the time required. I know, I'm in retirement planning now.

Raise social security benefits: Sure, but how to we pay for that ? As it stands, the inverted pyramid with Baby Boomers at the top being supported by young folks at the bottom is already unsustainable.

With a good model, I could better tell you whether your ideas might be workable ;o)

[-] 4 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

Recipe for a golden age:

1) Restore a true progressive tax system with top rates of 90%. Eliminate the cap on FICA (currently $106k). This is the tax system that paid off WWII debt (120% of GDP), built a nationwide infrastructure and fueled the unprecedented post war boom and long lost thriving middle class.

2) End all wars and foreign occupations, reduce the military budget 50% (to start). We now spend 10 times as much as China, and we only have 1/5 of their population.

3) Medicare for all. The US already insures 100,000,000 people (Medicare, Medicaid and VA). Eliminating the cost of profit and "overhead" of private insurance (>30%) would provide enough savings to cover the uninsured. Also enact a Right to Death that ends legal restrictions on doctors aiding death. Allow death with dignity and eliminate the costs associated with marginally extending the lives of the terminally ill.

3a) Eliminate corporate welfare and tax breaks. 35% straight corporate tax rate with no deductions. Eliminate the foreign investment tax credit and hiding profits overseas. Businesses and corporations would benefit from a direct and substantial cost reduction by not having to provide health insurance for their employees. Most of Europe works this way quite successfully.

4) Means test Social Security. If you have millions in the bank, you should not be collecting it.

5) Raising social security benefits will directly stimulate the economy. This is not money that will be squirreled away in some off-shore tax haven, but cash in the hands of people who need it to live. They will spend it all, putting it right back into the economy, which will create jobs and tax revenue.

6) End so-called "free trade" agreements (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.) and the ridiculous idea of floating currency values and set fixed exchange rates to control trade imbalances. These are now used to manipulate and concentrate wealth on a global scale. If the yuan was set on parity with the dollar, Chinese imports would disappear and US manufacturing and employment would flourish.

Energy, transportation, agriculture, government, etc. all present tremendous opportunities if looked at with a similar philosophy, which is not based on profit but on building sustainable economies in which all citizens can productively participate.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Iwish I had a comprehensive model to try out your ideas. Some comments...

  • 1) Be careful in assuming the post war period from 1945 to 1970 was representative. All our competitors had been bombed to bits, we had all the money, there was near unlimited demand for goods from our manufacturers (the only ones left), and the world was spending zillions of rebuilding. Our rich had nowhere else to go and, lacking any competition, we could afford high wages, and high taxes.

  • 2) Somewhat agree, but unlike China, we export security services for much of the world. We contained the Soviets until she got infected with Capitalist Democracy, and we're now containing China until she's fully infected as well. We will be the world policeman role for a few years to come, but it should slow down once China is fully integrated and the Middle East is transformed. Africa should be comparatively easy.

    • 3) I think your data may be flawed. Per the chart at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Income_Taxes_By_Country.svg , we have the highest corporate tax rate but one of the lower individual rates. Corporate profits and values are already taxed in the form of capital gains and taxes on dividends. I've long favored raising the capital gains rate and lengthening the period to slow investment mania and decouple our business from the short term focus of the stock market. I also advocate a huge tax on any commodity trade occurring before delivery date to slow speculation there. I can't say if any of these work without my comprehensive model ;o)

    • 4) Yep. I agree. I should not qualify for benefits. I don't need them.

    • 5) Yes, raising SS payments has the same effect as a tax cut, and I prefer tax cuts over stimulus programs. The politicians love stimulus because it lets them decide where the money in injected into the economy, and they benefit politically. Unfortunately, however, we can't move stimulus dollars very quickly because they all have to move through contracts offices. A tax cut, on the other hand, hits the economy immediately, but doesn't provide the extra boost of political benefit of stimulus programs. Obama's reduction of the SS tax is a fine example. On the other hand, all these tax cuts do have to be paid for someday, so we have to be somewhat judicious in their use.

    • 6) Free trade is part of our policy of reducing income inequality across nations. It hurts us in the short run as we integrate all the world's labor into the system, but once all the other economies are mature, labor rates should stabilize. It's seductive to think we can dictate the value of another's currency, but they generally don't agree with us ;o) Instead, we manipulate ours. China refused to adjust after decades of warning regarding the unsustainability of the trade gap, so we finally just stepped out there and started reducing the value of our currency. Same thing.

I agree with your last paragraph. I'm opposed to stimulus for stimulus sake, but when there is real work to be done it's not stimulus but investment. The difference between the two is a financial analysis showing the investments have a non-negative return. Folks go back and forth with the stimulus/investment language, but anyone saying "investment" should present a reasonable financial case. I think this can easily be done in many of the areas you mention.

[-] 2 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago
  1. Trade and foreign policy should be used to protect a sustainable US economy. There is plenty of opportunity for growth at home in infrastructure, energy, etc.

  2. Exporting "security" is a practice that needs to end. We did not contain the USSR, we provoked them into a cold war that bankrupted their economy through indirect economic attrition. Nobody noticed that this had largely the same effect upon us.

  3. The 35% tax rate is rarely if ever collected and many of the largest and most profitable corporations pay no tax and get US subsidies. Regardless, corrections to trade policy would protect US business from price-based overseas competition, which would eliminate any imaginary "need" to reduce corporate taxes.

It used to be that corporations paid a much larger percentage of government revenue, and citizens less. This has now been reversed, to the detriment of citizens. Interest and dividends must not be taxed at rates that devalue labor. Why invest in labor when you pay less tax on investment in money?

  1. Thank you.

  2. Tax cuts DO NOT stimulate the economy. Reagan's one tax cut did not stimulate the economy. His 11 tax increases and wild deficit spending (he tripled the national debt) did.

  3. The yuan is fixed by China at about $.16. We could fix it at $1. "Free trade" is just a code word for no taxes.

[-] 0 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I think we've debated some of this before, so we're unlikely to change each other's views in some of these areas. It's perfectly OK to respectfully agree to disagree when objective truth can't be ascertained. Thanks for keeping a respectful tone.

I know "exporting security" is a real hot button for many, especially those in these forums, but I think it is our moral imperative and it improves the world. There have been some pretty big bullies on the playground, and we're the only kid big enough to stop them. Walking away while saying "it's none of my business" is a selfish abrogation of the moral responsibility that came with our dominant position in the world after WW II. Stalin was not "just another guy," his crimes against humanity were large, and both he and those who came immediately after him were expansionist. I don't worry so much about China, she hasn't been all that expansionist since Chin, but we do need to keep the south China sea open for other nations. About the only remaining post-WWII issue that remains open is Iran, and they'll be a responsible citizen of the world community very soon. We're almost done. Go back and look at the history of Man before and after WW II. You'll see there has been an astonishing reduction in war between the large nation states. We've done a reasonably good job. Not perfect, but not too bad.

I agree regarding taxation of corporate profits in general. In my prior response, I simply said I think it's better to tax the capital gains and dividends than the corporations per se because that would also help dampen speculation.

I can't believe you argue on one hand that tax cuts don't stimulate but increasing social security payments would. Both are deficit spending. Perhaps what you are objecting to is who receives the tax cuts. I agree it should not be the rich.

[-] 3 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

A selfish abrogation of moral responsibility is going into Iraq for oil, Afghanistan for a pipeline (trans-Afghanistan Pipeline), etc. and ignoring Somalia, Darfur, Rawanda, and so on.

By your argument we had a moral responsibility to remove Stalin. Instead we provoked and used the USSR as an excuse to further expand global militarism (the bomber gap, the missile gap, etc.). Stalin was a monster, no doubt. So was Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, P.W. Botha, Francois and Jean Claude Duvalier, Pinochet, Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos, King Fahd bin'Abdul-'Aziz and most of our "friends" in the Middle East, etc.

We've supported more dictators and overthrown more democratically elected governments than anyone. The US military is not the world police, it is the security arm of the global corporate financial complex.

Don't forget that in 1958 we overthrew the democratically elected prime minister and parliment in Iraq when they nationalized oil. This is why that nation is now controlled by anti-US religious fanatics.

Tax cuts stimulate spending when they go to the poor and working class, who spend every cent they earn. They do not stimulate spending when they go to the rich, who just invest the extra money with no return to the economy.

Neither a tax cut nor increased social security payments are deficit spending IF there is sufficient revenue to pay for them.

[-] -1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

There's the old oil story again. People really need to stop locking onto old issues without updating their facts. Oil was a very big player in policy back when they cut us off. We are not nearly so dependent on the middle east now. If oil was king in policy, why didn't we just take it when we had boots on the ground in Iraq ? Why did the Russian and Chinese get all the service contracts the Iraqi's just awarded.

Ditto for American Imperialism. Folks need to update their knowledge base with current information. Our WW II generation was very guilty of acting like an Imperial Power. Their kids are most notably not interested in being an imperial power. We are currently supporting uprisings by the people of the Middle East so they can throw off their dictators, probably because terrorism made us realize our old policies were turning people against us and were ineffective.

I already agreed that tax cuts should not go to the rich.

Agreed. Neither tax cuts or social security increases are deficit spending if the revenue is available. You seem to be coming around to the somewhat obvious notion that tax cuts can in fact stimulate the economy. The issue is who gets them and whether they are deficit spending or funded spending.

[-] 3 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

Close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and US imperialism will cease to exist. The "old oil story" is being played out globally every single day by corporate energy giants, the corporate-financial complex and various speculators, with the US military providing security and enforcement.

We're losing the battle for control because we have lost (actually, we never had) the hearts and minds of the Iraqis (or Iranians, Venezuelans, etc.). Remember Rumsfeld, "the war will be paid for with Iraqi oil revenue" and Cheney "we'll be greeted as liberators". Meanwhile China is going into oil-rich countries and setting up industry, social infrastructure, etc. You can't cut the MIC out of business even though all they do is fuck it up.

Tax cuts do not stimulate the economy, they do exactly the opposite. The working class has such a tiny fraction of the nation's wealth and pays so little income tax (while paying 40% of all federal revenue through FICA) that a tax cut for them will have an insignificant effect on the economy.

Tax increases on the rich would provide the revenue necessary to fund vital national projects like infrastructure and energy, which would provide massive employment in the private sector through government contracts.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

We're both using a lot of "will" statements. We both have strong opinions, but neither of us know which way things will turn out. Only the perspective of history will tell us where the Middle East or America for that matter will be in 10 years. We'll just have to wait and see if either of us are right.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I think that at least some of the people who disagree with the US security exporting policy have it in their mind that we should fix our shit here at home before we do anything else, or otherwise, we'll just be copying our unfixed ideas to somewhere else.

[-] 0 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

The world doesn't work that way. No nation has the luxury of saying "let's ignore everything foreign and just focus on domestic policy. We'll get to foreign policy later." I agree our budgets need to be adjusted, but we can't just stop providing world security. We signed up for the role, and the world depends on us. We can scale back and urge greater contribution by our allies, but we can't stop.

Did you notice that even the Europeans/NATO needed the USA to knock down the door in Libya. Libya ! Hardly a substantial power, yet we had to do the up-front work. Most folks don't realize how wide the gap between the US and our 'partners' is when it comes time to project power in the world.

[-] 3 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

And if Libya didn't have any oil we wouldn't have bothered.

[-] 0 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I'm not so sure about that. We were getting Libyan oil just fine before the attack. We were supporting the people's overthrow of a dictator, perhaps to help undo some of our own meddling in the past.

[-] 3 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

It's not about getting the oil for our use, it's about controlling who gets the oil. If we control the oil, we can throttle China (among others).

[-] -1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

LOL ! First people declare that our government's objective is to move all our industry offshore to China so the 1% can oppress us, then they argue our policy is driven by a desire to cut of her oil. Which is it ?

[-] 2 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

Do not put words in my mouth or pretend to speak for me

Please point out where I declared "our government's objective".

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Fair enough. Sorry for lumping you in with "people."

Nevertheless, you do understand how much American business depends on keeping those factors in China working, correct ?

[-] 1 points by nucleus (3291) 12 years ago

American society depends on changing the corporate business model and getting those jobs back.

[-] 2 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

That would actually be a good idea. Although, all of the variables are really hard to track, and I don't believe we've still pinned down the way the economy works. I believe I remember somewhere that the Department of Defense had started a program called SEAS, which is designed to collect as much data on the world to predict how people would react if a disaster or terrorist threat had happened. The idea isn't impossible.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Yea. It seems like we should have a wealth of data we could use for post-diction, and given enough people, their behavior should be statistically predictable (at least if there really is any "science" behind economic theory).

P.S. If you've read Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, you might remember the "Psycho-History Computer."

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Unfortunately I haven't read the Foundation trilogy, even though I should. I have a favorite quote from Stats class: "Randomness is defined by that which seems unpatterned in the short term, but in the very, very long term, emerges a pattern." As to whether there is a science behind economics- I believe there is, but we just use the wrong one right now. There is a better one (imo), that you may be interested in. It's called Social Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit Sorry if I am plugging. Just delete it if I am doing so :/

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I'm now jazzed about Social Credit and plan to read more.

See my post at http://occupywallst.org/forum/the-rise-of-the-machines/ and my comment at http://occupywallst.org/forum/the-rise-of-the-machines/#comment-505338 to understand why I'm jazzed by what I read at your link.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I've got to say, I swear, I really do, that I have seen this post before... perhaps on another website. Have you posted this somewhere else? It seems it might have been about a year ago.

[-] 0 points by Thrasymaque (-2138) 12 years ago

Google is your friend. Use it.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I can understand the dilemma- "We make more and more and more just so we can keep people employed- it's useless! But they can't survive in any other fashion!" and this seems to effectively solve that dilemma. It seems to be the best combination of socialism and capitalism that has been thought of, and I like the idea of heritage- that we receive the benefits that our predecessors have worked towards. Given, it's not directly given to us (people still need to run the machines and there are some service sectors that can't really be replaced) but, in our industrial society, we have reached (or surpassed) the point in production where everyone is able to live comfortably, without having to work themselves. And then, maybe then, when everyone is getting enough sleep, wakes up out of the daze of rushing, and figures out that there is a world out there, maybe then we could start really fixing everything. Granted, if this system was put in place, many people may start to not work, simply because of the fact they receive money for doing nothing except what they want, essentially. I can't say for sure if farmers would still farm, and engineers would still run around doing things. But I do remember from a video I saw that in a society such as that "people would gladly volunteer their time to contribute to a system where everyone benefits." Idealistic, perhaps, but, you never know. That problem can be dealt with as it happens. I wonder how much production is actually needed- I remember reading in Sociology class that 75% of all people are employed in the service sector. Things like cashiers, cooks, accountants, lawyers, doctors, etc.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

In some of the discussions under my "Rise of the Machines" post, people said "well good, then people can spend all those hours improving themselves, practicing art, etc." While I share this hope, the evidence suggests that many people will not pursue self-actualization but will simply spend more time watching the Kardashians on TV.

Be careful about your assumptions regarding the service economy. Read my "Rise of the Machines" post. We are already replacing humans with machines all over the place; computerized self-check lanes, ATM machines, click-to-shipping-pallete shopping at Amazon, etc.

I think we have a socio-economic tsunami coming in regards the definition of labor and the work ethic. If we could count on people using all the extra time productively, I wouldn't be so worried.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I did read it. It's a good point, and I've been conscious of machines replacing humans and the problem this raises in our society. I'm also aware of the fact that a lot of people would just sit on their asses. But why not tell them, then, to go do something? Fund a government program(s) to have people go volunteer, spread information about things people would like doing. I mean, only if everyone agreed we needed to be told to get off our asses. But I guess if no one cares, then, I guess we can just sit on our asses and be the Americans we always wanted to be, lol.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I agree with your observations. Note that my "Rise of the Machine" post simply argues that we should be thinking about the ramifications rather than simply wait for them to be upon us. It will be a long time coming, and there are a lot of things to do in this world for those less fortunate. Maybe we will tax machine labor and pay people to work in a super Peace-Corps or something !

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Actually, we already tax the machines; we reap all of their profit, since they are (should) be our tools (unless they have free will... till then!). I think the ramifications are present today. The force that has been saved from laboring today is un- or under- employed today. And indeed, there are many things that there are to do in the world, and with all the free time on our hands we could certainly try to do so. Or we could make ourselves happy- whatever we wish. In any case we should be thinking about it. Sadly there might be a bit of vested interest against the idea- bankers that control the economy. But, if the people will it, it will be done. And that's why I posited the Social Credit idea here- if any one is going to do it, it'll be these people.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Yeah, I got really excited when I first grasped hold of the idea too. Actually, I became aware of it through Heinlein's For Us, the Living, which, in my opinion, has many good ideas; too bad it wasn't published in 1939, and instead in 2000 or so.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

LOL ! If you read my "Rise of the Machines" post, it's pretty much on track with what Vonnegut described in "Player Piano" back in the 50's ;o)

Now I have to read "For Us, the Living" too !

Isn't it amazing how prescient these sci-fi guys were ?

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I know. I think it was Asimov who first mentioned a waterbed in his writing, and that's how it actually came into existence. As for Player Piano, well, I hope things don't become as degraded as it did there. People will invent enough things for themselves to do; people can't sit still, heh. One of the incredible ideas I like in For Us, the Living is that soldiers, not Congress, should vote on whether war should be declared on a nation, and the soldiers who vote yes are the first to go.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Interesting. I've already put it on my reading list. I thought I'd already read most of Heinlein, but apparently not. Maybe it will come back to me once I start reading.

I am ex-military and my daughter is active duty today. We both volunteered. We both think that the American military is, on balance, a force for good in the world, and it offered us both an opportunity to participate in good works on a grand scale.

We're both Christians, so the idea of dying doesn't scare us. What's worse than dying to us is cowering in fear while evil is practiced on others.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

You probably didn't read it because it was his first book, but it was posthumously published, so in a way it became his last book. But it is good, albeit it's more of a story designed to posit ideas rather than create a story, a bit like Atlas Shrugged. I believe that the military should be only for defense, really. Service corps would be a separate thing. But that doesn't mean that the way things are don't facilitate good or bad things, and I'm glad that you had the chance to do something good for the world as you saw fit. I believe evil almost never comes intentionally. It only comes from weakness, that people don't know how to handle or solve. It's a tough issue, but it can be solved. Just requires the right thought and action, individual to each case. If you are strong, and see fit that to help the weak is good, then so be it; it is good.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I'm looking forward to the read. I have read Atlas Shrugged probably 10 times at least. In my youth, I subscribed to the ideas there more than called for. In my old age, I've come to realize things aren't as simple as Ayn Rand would like.

As for the role of the military, you may find my comment at http://occupywallst.org/forum/us-troops-going-to-israel/#comment-569521 interesting, or you may hate me for it. It is what it is.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I really do have to say, I feel like I have met you somewhere else before. The name Rico, the way you talk, the fact that you are an advanced engineer... It seems way too familiar. I ask again, did you post that Rise of the Machines, or something similar, to another website?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I post over at themultitudes.org and I used to have a site with OWS shopping guidelines that had some of the same tone, but the provider declared a "terms of service violation" and took it down after they started getting a couple of thousand hits.

My Internet footprint is pretty small. I like it that way.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Hmm. I guess it must have been another engineer who discussed the coming obsolescence of human workers and the problems that that would cause, who sounded like you, heh. Must be common in that field to recognize that.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

*shrug I really can't say what my opinion is. I have too little experience of the world to say, and it'd be foolish to say if I know that America is doing right by interfering in other cultures or not. I am against lack of freedom, and for freedom, but I can not rightly decide if America's actions in the Middle East help or hurt that cause, or both, and to what degree. I would leave it up to the majority to decide, but not Congress. The best thing to do would be to improve the economy, create wealth, in my opinion, and adjust the system (to Social Credit or Social Credit based philosophy) so that it actually /works/. And yeah, Atlas Shrugged is rather idealistic, better to make one think, than to actually apply its concepts. It raises thought about independence, the value of freedom, etc. And again, this is all American culture. I want to distill what would be best for the spread of all- and in my opinion, that is usually A. a better standard of living and B. more freedom to do what one wants (of which A is usually a part). I have a phrase I like- "Everything is subjective."

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Ha ! A difference emerges !

I think some things are absolute !

I don't buy into moral relativism, for example; some things are wrong no matter who you are, no matter where you're from, and no matter the time you live in.

Standard of Living is indeed persistent in our history. Rome and Greece never "fell;" they improved the standard of living and they live in the west as a result. Nevertheless, Standard of Living appeals primarily to our animal natures, and we remain to this day encumbered by a lack of morality, fairness, and equality. This are matters of Mind rather than Animal, and we have made little progress through history.

I believe in God. Why? Because I choose to. Beyond human knowledge is the unknown, and that is the realm of God. We can either choose to believe we are mere byproducts of random chance, or we can choose to believe life has purpose and meaning. Both are equally valid from a factual perspective, but belief in meaning soothes one's soul and empowers one to do what it right. I am continually baffled as to why, faced with this choice, people choose a meaningless life.

With meaning, life gains purpose. With meaning and purpose, we elevate ourselves above our internal Animal and find Mind. Within Mind resides considerations beyond mere comfort. Hope, Compassion, Understanding, and Fairness are the natural byproducts of Faith. I don't mean "faith" per organized religion, I mean Faith as in we are more than Animal. more than Standard of Living.

The world has too many Men who are Animals, and too few with Mind.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

The unknown can cause the absolute to appear to exist. But that is perfectly alright; how can we know if it is absolute or subjective? Thus is the second degree subjectivity we are all enthralled to (as of yet!). I agree that there should be more to life than existence; indeed, life is living. Not too many people can really live, really, be alive. It is a rare phenomenon: to be fully using your mind, to be perfectly aware of your body, your existence, your consciousness, your ego, to be /you/. That is the secret of life, or at least, something related to it. To think that people are infinitely manipulable certainly makes me afraid, and to believe in a God that is righteous and would do the right thing to ensure that not all hope is ever lost is... Well, hell if I know. I am on that searching way in my own way. But that knowledge is a long way off : /.
But I believe I understand what you mean by faith. It is that thing that philosophers have tried to chase down and throttle by the neck, such as Ayn Rand's example of the independent, thinking man. There is more to life than existence... there is life. I have a friend who, when asked what is the meaning of life, said, "The meaning of life is to give life meaning." Such is that, and believing in God is such your mode of expressing that. I respect that. I am searching for a different method that is more definitive, in some aspects, at least.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I don't disagree with your friend.

I also resonate with the perfect man, but Ayn Rand wrapped isolated him too far from his fellow man in my opinion, I prefer the "Self Actuated" man of Maslow (which I think Ayn lifted from) who is not so isolated from his fellow man.

The Gift of Life is imperfection. All of the universe is imperfect and unbalanced. Particles and anti-particles, charges, potentials, emission and absorption are all evidence of Creation trying to return to balance, a null state in which all forces are reconciled. Perfection never changes, and change defines time. It is the imperfection of the universe and the imbalanced forces within that create time.

Imperfection is also manifest in human existence. Without hate there is no love, without sorrow no joy, without pain no pleasure, and without failure no success. This imperfection is the gift of a perfect God remembering His own origins, yet it remains alien to Him. Only through his experience as Man does he remember Life as we know it, and only through that experience does he understand our imperfection.

Forgive me for my Judeo-Christian terminology; I am a product of my culture. Hopefully, however, you feel the Yin-Yang, the Tao of it all, below my choice of words. To further borrow from my culture, remember that God cast us apart at Babel as we were become as Gods like the Serpent promised, and He gave his word to each tribe according to their culture. There are many paths to God.

No matter the path, God is essential to the perfect Man. We are born insecure into this world, and we cannot be fully realized until we answer the eternal question of "Why?" It is only upon answering this question that we are fully empowered to live and unafraid to die.

Do you see the connections or have I failed miserably in my attempts to capture the ethereal in words ?

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

You didn't fail.

I agree that Rand did make her man too... egotistically consumed of himself. But a self-actuated man sounds like a better ideal. I might look into it.

That's a remarkable expression of the idea of God. It's worth thinking about. :)

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I suppose if that makes me a weak fop, so be it, heh. I'm too sleepy to really cook up a reason for or against, while still maintaining a respectful attitude.

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

you know - I really haven't analyzed each sentence grammatically -

but it really does look like you are having a conversation with yourself.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

You mean, that me and Rico are the same users? Now, how do I go about disproving that? I know that I am not, unless I am knocking myself out and signing in as him... which would be strange. Unless you mean that the fashion in which my single comments themselves arrange themselves to be self-replying.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Nope. "Homey don' play dat."

I don't see the sense of multiple screen names or any form of on-line deception. All the games folks play just seem like a colossal waste of time and effort with no particular objective but egoism.

I may not be fully self-actualized yet, but I'm getting darned close, and I don't play games with people. What's the point ?

It appears I have simply stumbled across that most delightful and dangerous person, someone with whom I agree. Dangerous ? Yes. Because people who agree with one another often end up in a self-delusional circle jerk.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

And thus the need for difference in thought and reasonable restraint is expressed. Unfortunately I might not have this facility as fully developed as I wish, to prevent the creation of a self-fulfilling, albeit false, reality. I'm still a young person.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Well, you seem to be on the right path young padawan ;o)

Keep growing and pushing yourself, the future needs you.

[-] 1 points by opensociety4us (914) from Norwalk, CT 12 years ago

Probably not, because economics is really just politics in disguise. Essentially what you're asking is "Comprehensive Political Models: Why Not?

[-] 1 points by opensociety4us (914) from Norwalk, CT 12 years ago

If you haven't already, see Nassim Taleb beginning with Gladwell article, then Fooled by Randomness, then the Black Swan. And of course, all of his essays and commentary in between. From there you can go to his technical works.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Looks interesting, thanks ! Not sure when I'll get to them... my reading list is getting pretty long !

[-] 1 points by opensociety4us (914) from Norwalk, CT 12 years ago

read him first. you will not regret it. he is the real thing - intellectual/practitioner. let me know what you think in private message.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 12 years ago

Why not?

Because there are too many interests vested in the Keynesian and Austrian models.

Mosley and Mitchell have been proposing MMT (modern monetary theory), for a while now, but it gets little press.

One of it's basic tenants, is that a nation with sovereign currency, NEVER has to worry about it's debt level.

In the end, it's all a matter of perception.

This is dense reading that goes far beyond a few courses in economics, but if you have it in you, give it a try.

As far as macro economics go, it's revolutionary.


[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Your post is the perfect example of why I want a comprehensive economic model.

If you browse this thread and around the forums in general, you'll find all sorts of different economic theories and "fixes" promoted. The mere existence of so many conflicting theories from credible sources suggests none of them can be definitively declared the "right" theory.

With a comprehensive economic model, we should be able to first discover whether there really is any science behind economics and, if there is, what the general impact of various "fixes" and economic theories would be.

In other words, I seek an economic model simply so we can make decisions based on reason and data rather than which economic theory happens to resonate with our own local world view. It may take us 50 years to get a reasonably good model, but that shouldn't stop us from starting. Fusion's been on the table for nearly as long, and it has no more significance to society than this model.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 12 years ago

You don't really expect me to believe you've absorbed MMT already?

Here's a little Q&A with Bill Mitchell.

Hope this helps, as I think this is the best theory out there.


[-] 2 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I stopped just as soon as I saw the old "fiat currency" language that underlies so many of these popular new theories.

The negative tone with which Mitchell says "the currency has no intrinsic value" bothers me. I agree currency has no intrinsic value, but I don't care. The purpose of currency is to provide a temporary store of value which enables multi-lateral trade; Under barter, if I have milk and want cheese, I have to find someone who has cheese and wants milk. With currency, and can "sell" my milk to anyone who wants it then "buy" my cheese from anyone who has it. What is the "value" of the currency in this exchange? Is it some quantity of milk or cheese or even some more unrelated quantity of another commodity like gold ? No. It is the relative value of milk and cheese defined by the production cost, supply, and demand of each.

The 99% tend to live below the pay-check-to-paycheck level; they have debt. They have little currency and tend to store value in that currency for only a short period of time. The 1%, on the other hand, have most of the currency and tend to store value in that currency for a long time; they hold the debt of the 99% and have piles of money they hold for a good while. If the currency supply were static, the 99% wouldn't have any and commerce would halt (deflation). With a flexible currency, we simply print more to ensure sufficient quantities are available for commerce, and this has the effect of redistributing wealth from the 1% to the 99% who are able to pay off debt using "cheap" dollars. Printing money has the same effect on our foreign debt holders; the value of Chinese debt is falling, the cost of their products in our markets is rising, the value of our products in their markets is falling, and the trade balance is correcting.

There may come a day when it's smart for us to return to some fixed standard against which we peg the dollar, but I doubt it will be anytime soon. We are in debt at the personal, local, state, federal, and international level, so inflation is a necessary and valuable tool of national monetary policy. Even with our current debt levels, we remain the dominant reserve currency, and that gives us a lot of power. It's simply silly to assume that we would sacrifice our power in the world by giving up our ability to manipulate markets to our benefit.

I don't buy your theory because it is predicated on the idea that an elastic money supply is evil. I think an elastic money supply is a powerful tool that is especially useful given our current level of debt. In fact, I don't see how else we would have any money at all !

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 12 years ago

If you quit early, there's not much more to say.

It doesn't describe how to change the system, it describes how it works.

How, misunderstanding the system, is the cause of it's basic failure.

Therein lies it's revolutionary aspect.

Besides, it drives the Austrians nuts.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Try looking at Social Credit. What do you think? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 12 years ago

I really like this idea. I don't have any technical experience to add much to a discussion about it, but I can see the potential usefulness of economic modeling.

It sounds like it would be a complicated beast to parlay into reality, but imagine if it kept us from blindly rambling down the worst of roads because a majority of the models predicted a bad outcome down that road, yeah, it would be worth it.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Probably worth a lot more than a lot of the other things we spend so much money researching, no ?

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 12 years ago

No doubt about it, the potential payoff on investing in economic modeling would be well worth the cost of R&D.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I know that this is certainly off topic, but I feel it also has important applications. I had my brother, who is a power plant engineer and very well organized in thought, look over one of the motors here (the Charles Flynn motor, which in my opinion is one of the easiest ones to understand). He reviewed it, and after careful scrutiny and much criticism of the author's use of language, as well as the model itself, could answer only "I'm certain there's something wrong with it." That is, in relation to the appearance of the motor to literally break the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He said it may be an abuse of instantaneous energy transfer. http://www.free-energy-info.com/ The particular motor I referenced is in Chapter 1. What the author uses to explain it working may be very well botch or popularized science, but I've tried thought experimenting, and I can not think of a way it would not work. Thought experiments are useless, of course, but I wished to see what you thought of it.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Let's start with the introductory statements at the site you linked to...

"So, why don't electrons run out of energy and just slow down to a standstill?" This statement reflects an erroneous view that electrons are little bits of matter flying around the nucleus. Electrons are standing waves of probability who's position/velocity cannot be simultaneously known.

"The Law of Conservation of Energy is undoubtedly correct when it shows that more energy cannot be taken out of any system than is put into that system. However, that does not mean that we cannot get more energy out of a system than we put into it." Correct. This eliminates perpetual motion and moves the discussion to whether their are sources of energy around us that might be tapped." Fair enough. I agree we can probably tap existing sources of energy and may even figure out how to tap some really fundamental ones like the quantum foam (aka Cashmere).

Your specific example, however, involves magnets.

People tend to overlook the fact that it takes as much energy to move one magnet away from another as they provide in attracting one another. In this sense, a magnet based machine is a lot like a pendulum operating according to gravity; assuming frictionless bearings, it will run forever. The potential energy invested to swing it up is converted to kinetic energy and momentum that carries it just as high as it was lifted and the process starts again. In a similar vein, when we pull a magnet away from another, we invest it with potential energy, When we release it, it gains kinetic energy and momentum that causes to to swing past the other magnet then stop and swing back.

Unfortunately,both the pendulum and magnets produce zero net energy. No matter how fancy our arrangement of magnets or pendulums, we simply can't get past the fact that there is no net gain in energy, and friction causes a net loss. We could change this if we had a low-energy way to turn off gravity or a magnetic field, but we can't. It's the nature of the beast.

The "invention" you're referencing complicates the situation with a lot of electronics. No amount of electronics can overcome the basic limitation of magnets, and they introduce additional inefficiencies in the form of electric currents, conversion efficiencies of kinetic to electrical energy, resistance, and heat. The more complex we make the mechanism, the more loss it imposes. All the extra gadgetry simply obscures the fundamental simplicity and limitations inherent to the magnet problem.

The "invention" you mention may be a very efficient electric motor; I can't tell from the materials provided. Personally, I doubt it simply because there's a lot of effort being invested to improve electric motor efficiency, and I haven't seen the design you mentioned in any of the newer motors. I could be wrong here, maybe the guy has licensed the design to someone and I just didn't recognize it. In any case, it certainly is not a "free energy" device. No system of magnets or pendulums is.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

The author describes the reason these would work is because magnets themselves are using zero point energy, in that magnets themselves disturb that and polarize it. I think he attempts to explain it in the introduction. It itself is also rather poorly worded, but it's his explanation of it.

[-] 1 points by ronimacarroni (1089) 12 years ago

Modeling social system is impossible you stubborn math people.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

If economics is dominated by human personality, then it's not the science it purports to be. That in and of itself is worth knowing.

Don't tell me it's impossible. Humans aren't as unpredictable as we all like to assume. That's why marketing works.

[-] 1 points by ronimacarroni (1089) 12 years ago

Marketing is an art.

Also what you're suggesting is nothing new. Economist have attempted to do it plenty of times but they always come across that pesky little thing called free will.

[-] 0 points by ediblescape (235) 12 years ago

A proposal for governance: The financial system http://wlcentral.org/node/2411




[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I would argue all of this condescending, splitting BS about "What do we do about the poor and unemployed??" would go away if a form of Social Credit were used.


[-] -1 points by smartcapitalist (143) 12 years ago

You really need to study 3 subjects before writing such hair brained posts

  1. Micro and Macro econonics
  2. Mathematics (and lots of it)
  3. Parallel computing

Now, do I have any experience in the above subjects? Well, I am a Wall Street trader who has a BS in Computer Sc and I had worked with a very well known company on their HPC cluster management software (some code I have written runs on stuff like the Blue Gene)

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I have a 30+ year interest in economics, psychology, and sociology, and I happen to be an engineer that builds machines with peta-flops of computing horsepower for a living. These machines I build run DSP algorithms of my own design (for which I have a patent), and I am reasonably skilled at math. I am a system architect at a Fortune 100 engineering firm, have an annual R&D budget exceeding $20 million, and I have literally hundreds of engineers with Masters degrees and higher working on developing my products and ideas.

I know full well the difficulty in what I am proposing, and I thought I was clear about that in my post. I think your "hair-brained" comment is both inappropriate as a first response given how little you know about me and disrespectful in any response.

Even if I did not have the experience I do and had no idea of the complexity involved, a more constructive response would have been educational rather than insulting.

[-] -1 points by smartcapitalist (143) 12 years ago

Well then you should have known that it is virtually impossible to make a system with that many variable and equations that could predict the interactions among millions of people. Say even if u tried u can may be use heuristics in which you will be feeding the system with your own assumptions and that defeats the purpose. Or the system could give propabilities of individual outcome but when you combine a million (or billion) probabilities upwards, the results become increasingly statistically non significant.

You want to make a model of not just the behavior of a single person (which in itself is very complex) but you want to model interactions across these people and all of them will have different personality to boot.

Don't you see the utter absurdity of it?

[-] 2 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago


We don't have to model all aspects of human behavior, only the statistical probabilities of a very large number of humans in response to economic stimuli. What is uniform at the individual level drives toward gaussian in the population. Personality falls out. This must be true if economics is a science.

We have unprecedented amounts of data on corporations and businesses due to our social security, tax, and regulatory systems. Corporations, in particular, tend to be gaussian due to the social nature of consensus decision making. We should be able to use all our data to post-dict until the model starts "predicting" economic cycles in the past.

I'm not saying it's easy, I'm saying we should try. If there is truly any science behind economics, it should emerge from the immense flows of data we have available. We have the data, we have the computing horsepower, all we need is a large effort to pull them together and start working the problem.

In the end, it may turn out there is no science behind economics. I doubt this will be the case, but even if that's the only result we obtain, we'll at least put to rest all the theories people use to justify decisions. If there is science, then we should be able, over time, to refine it and develop a more reasoned basis for economic decisions regarding taxes, work hours, minimum wage, etc.

[-] 0 points by smartcapitalist (143) 12 years ago

Firstly, I am sorry for that 'hair brained' remark. I didnt realize it was your post. Hope we can bury the hatchet.

See, the thing on an aggregate level, you can sure make assumptions about the data and that's what economists do. They also look up past data to derive conclusions from those. So all of that is already being done. But in each case, the variables are limited. Not only because it would otherwise be impossible to model it, but also because if we had a gazillion variables, the economist themselves, or any humans, wouldn't be able to make any sense of the final model. It would then be just a computer model. And not only do we not know what the variables are, we dont even know what the equations are. Yes, we can use regression techniques to find out but even then you would need a complete new set of equations for different data sets.

There is some science behind economics, but it is by and large a social science. Even trading, where so much data and mathematical models are used, has to account for human behavior, hence the whole subject of behavioral finance.

Economic theories emerge not from lab experiments but by studying the past, say events like the Great Depression etc. The conclusions are fairly sound. But they come with caveats. Is it always right? Not necessarily. At least not exactly right.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

No problem as far as I'm concerned, but I urge you to treat even the new poster with more respect. I often find inspiration in even the "hair brained" comments from my team. The idea they actually present may be off base, but it inspires thinking down new avenues. I never dismiss those inputs out of hand. There's often a pony buried under all the sh*t !

I understand all the issues you raise, but I'm still left with the question as to what might be accomplished if the economists had access to the full data set that's out there and the kind of computing power we currently reserve only for weather and defense work. The conclusions don't have to be exactly right. Approximate will do. Imagine if we could actually run a 10 year simulation on Obama's economic stimulus plan, the various tax plans, etc. It would be simply wonderful to have a number of runs showing general trends like we get for hurricane tracks today to substantiate our decisions even if in only general terms.

My job is to spot cases where something we think is impossible may have become possible given advances in technology. Unless someone can point me to a model with full access to the data and the same computing power as we employ in our government, I will wonder whether it's possible. That's how I work. There may be a pony in there, and Lord knows there are few efforts that would have greater impact on our society. I think we should try (if we haven't already), and I acknowledge it may not be ready for prime time until 2020. That's OK. Better late then never.

[-] 0 points by smartcapitalist (143) 12 years ago

Well I am not much of an AI person but I would say that there are far more number of variables in a whole economic system than say the launch of a missile or the simulation of a chemical reaction.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

How about a nuclear explosion or the weather ? Both were once deemed impossible.

For economic simulations, we don't have to model every single different person in the world. We only need to model statistical behavior in response to economic stimuli. We have a wealth of data on companies and corporations as well as employment through our tax and regulatory systems. Combining all this data with the emerging technology, who knows what might be possible by 2020 ?

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_distributed_computing_projects for a list of distributed processing efforts currently underway, and consider the fact that the forward march of computing horsepower continues. The 20 nm ARM processor has already been taped out at TSMC, and the research folks have already shown 15 nm CMOS. The current processes are considered workable down to 10 nm, and beyond that, we have graphine and spin-tronics coming.

My question basically boils down to whether anyone has ever considered giving leading economists all the data we have and one of the super-computers we build for weather and defense work.

Nothing in analytics is impossible until we prove to be so.

[-] 0 points by smartcapitalist (143) 12 years ago

I checked out the DARPA project. Pretty interesting. If that succeeds then may be we can even build an economic model.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

It would be wonderful if we had an alternate universe where we could study a copy of our society for a thousand years. Otherwise there's not going to be a way to really make it a science.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I might mention the project being undertaken by the Department of Defense, and dang if I can not remember what it is called right now. I suppose doing some rooting around on Google would turn it up, but it essentially is a project to take in data from every business, organization, and other ways of measuring local population characteristics, and predicting how they would respond in response to certain events, perhaps propaganda, perhaps a terrorist attack, perhaps a staged coup in a foreign country. I believe it was this same Department of Defense that decided linking up two computers via a cable across a large space and having them communicate, starting in the 60's, which gave birth to the system which we today call the Internet. If DOD says it may be possible, maybe, it is possible.

[-] 0 points by smartcapitalist (143) 12 years ago

Links please.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I seem to recall something like that too. I'll see if I can find some info tomorrow. All the DARPA projects (LOL! at least all the ones we're allowed to know about), are public record and can be viewed on their web-site. There's some fascinating stuff there. The mere fact that they are trying something doesn't mean it will work, however. As I understand it, they are in the business of exploring "what ifs." In that regard they're alot like me... I work advanced R&D for new scanners (MRI, CAT, etc) trying to push the state of the art ever further, and a good number of our ideas don't pan out. It's our job to try, and a "No, it can't be done" result is valuable in and of itself. As I understand it, that's the same spirit DARPA has.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/23/sentient_worlds/ It may not be entirely what I made it out to be, but here it is.

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

My thought is that there is a high probability that such a thing already exists.

We are currently conducting research into all kinds of complex systems - the economy is just one such system, one that is related to others.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Can you identify such a system ? I'm just curious whether we're at least trying to get a better handle on the impact of various economic options. I'm not a conspiracy theory guy, but I wonder if the Banker's Bank, the Bank for International Settlements (www.bis.org) has one and uses it to plan policy ?

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

Are you kidding? Me? Identify such a system?

Don't be silly. No one would let me near any kind of super computer - terrified that in a fit of paranoia and compelled by imaginary phantoms I might unplug the damn thing.

You might check with IBM - they did after all, just win some television game show with their little AI upgrade to the script that beat Kasparov . . .

Kasparov . . . .

Chess Champion, raving lunatic, and super computers . . . .

kinda makes you wonder . . .

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

LOL ! I build such systems, so they don't intimidate me. I just haven't seen one used for economic modeling on the grand scale as I hoped.

That little "upgrade" to the Kasparov code IBM showed with Watson, the Jeopardy champion, was substantial. With that system, they showed they could work through the ambiguities of human speech and puns in real-time. They didn't spend zillions on it to win Jeopardy; they're already selling it to the tech-support folks in India, and they're marketing it as a diagnostic aid for doctors in the US.

I don't "wonder" about conspiracies. I keep figuring out how to explain things without them. Self-organizing systems are remarkable. Consider, for example, the wonderful coordination of drivers across the roads of the world. It's as if there's a "hidden hand" coordinating all that traffic so we don't run into one another. In reality, the "hidden hand" is mutual self interest. It creates a self-organizing system that appears to be coordinated when in fact it is not. It's just people doing what's best for themselves.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Your last paragraph is an idea I really agree with.

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

so . . . you are an engineer . . .

no doubt you have heard of human engineering?

Are you familiar with the very first edition of Psychology of Everyday Things?

And the War on Drugs? In itself a measure of the depths that conspiracy has in fact permeated every facet of society today?

Rico Laws?

There is a branch of human engineering that I refer to as

  • accidental engineering

and in the United States there often is a hidden hand coordinating all of that traffic - it's called a stop light. Programmable, timed.

  • Interactive . . . .
[-] 2 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

It's almost to much to go into here, but I'll try.

We humans have both a strength and a weakness in our compulsive desire to identify patterns and find causation behind them. This natural tendency created the Greek pantheon of Olympic gods to explain everything before we knew more; there were hidden actors pursuing a secret plan behind much of what we didn't understand. We must use reason to moderate our tendency to find causation in correlation.

In physics, any time we inject energy into a constrained system, we see the emergence of patterns. Human life is like that energy, and it is constrained by a multitude of common factors. Self interest and self preservation are two factors that give rise to patterns that have no more relation than the fact that humans are involved. It's really easy to find "conspiracy" when, in fact, there's nothing but a common underlying constant of self-interest.

The stop light only defines our behavior when we're at an intersection. In my example, I was referring to the natural order that emerges on the open road. We check before changing lanes, we avoid abrupt stops, we stay on our side of the road, etc. From 50,000 feet these flow of traffic looks coordinated as if by some plan when in reality, it's just mutual self interest.

By adopting common constructs such as Capitalism, we create constraining and motivating forces that guide human behavior. 100 different bankers, for example, may well appear to be working together in a coordinated fashion when, in fact, they are operating independently according to the motivating forces of Capitalism. It is often the construct within which people operate that creates the appearance of coordination, not the actual efforts of the individual players to consciously cooperate.

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

I see your denial runs fairly deep, doesn't it. Thrashy must be a student of yours.

Were humans not designed to look for underlying causation we never would have learned not to bury the bodies next to the drinking water . . . .

We have the habit of quantifying everything

including the various stimuli or inputs into the human machine . . .

In physics we learn that indeed, the act of observation is not simply observation, it is interacting . . .

Never the less, what you say is, to an extent, true. We cannot, for example, witness the most inexplicable of events, and just suddenly assume perhaps aliens might be to blame. The notion is absurd.

it's a tee shirt.

ON the other hand, armed with the principles of manufacturing consent it might be possible to arrange a significant number of repeliKans to fly at a single time on a single airline . . .

and using ntsb data I am confident a pattern could emerge whereby a small change in procedure - such as an oil change - could result in

  • catastrophic failure

of that most elegant of complex machines today - modern transportation.

Ah . . .


such reverie - and a tumescent glow . . .

bwa hahaha

bwa hahaha

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

LOL ! Seriously, I laughed out loud.

Your a nut case Zen, a certifiable nut-case !

I'd love to spend time more time talking, but the fact is, I already have the models I mentioned, and I have to complete the simulation of my plan to take over the world before Monday or my Illuminati masters are going to be very pissed. Have you ever seen an angry Illuminati ? They're a real pain.

I only made this post to see if anyone was on to us yet, and it appears not. My work continues (shhhh... it's supposed to be secret).

Muhahahaha !

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I find people with different viewpoints than mine interesting. It's what makes the world worth watching. I wonder, then, how does ZenDog's mind work, what his life story is, that would create the response that is set here. No offense is meant. I am not saying you are inferior; you are different, and I want to know why, and thus increase my knowledge of the world.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

Don't bother. He's a nut-case.

My God man, he has a freakin' beard and writes poetry !

Need I say more ? ;o)

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

Lol, I understand. But, if I truly wanted to invest the resources, I could spend the time with him to understand just how that came about, what his past was, his life story, etc. I don't particularly want to spend the resources even though knowing his story would create an interesting diversion. That's only hypothetical. But it's one thing that keeps me from discriminating fully against him; he may have a point in some form or fashion that may matter, but what that is I certainly can't see, and don't really care to see, heh. Maybe I'm just too waffly, lol.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I just wanted to add something to clarify.

Remember the old story about how three different men, each viewing an elephant through a different hole in a fence, report seeing a different animal based on the portion of the elephant they saw ? It's a good story.

We could view the different hole each man looks through as his own life story. Our stories tend to shape our perspectives. While the different animal each man sees may reflect his own local truth, the different perspectives of each man do not change the truth of the elephant.

When we seek truth on complex matters, we engage in discourse with others so we can see it from their perspective. Once we know what many have seen and from what perspective they viewed, we can determine the absolute truth of the elephant.

You may have gathered from my other comments that I read religion and philosophy from many different sources and merge it with my understanding of physics. This was required to find truth. I do the same here in regards other matters to bet of my abilities.

Whether or not I find truth is a matter completely separate from it's existence. It is there, and it is absolute.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

The story of people is always interesting. The worse their life, the more interesting in my experience. Our stories, however, do not define truth, they only explain why we may have looked for it in a certain place. In my opinion anyway.

[-] 1 points by EtinEckwack (40) 12 years ago

I agree and understand. I can't think of much else to say.

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

I never have seen an Illuminati

I have seen parades of bald guys though,

and strangely enough, one walked up and called me Sir . . .

not sure what that means really -

any more than I understand the statement:

she went shopping

and she one!

I mean, I'm not a she, honest. And I hate shopping - it gives me such a headache.

Have you heard of the Leap of Observation?

The Leap of Execution?

Terms used by Donald Norman, Psychology of Everyday Things, in ref to users of complex systems they do not quite understand . . .

I saw on TV a few weeks ago - a wing nut - you know what a wing nut is?

yes, a wing nut -

one who plans - or planned - to leap from a rock, on New Year's I believe, in the hope of saving the planet.

Leaping . . .

here, 'ave a poem

ah, but actually, you may appreciate this one, just a bit more:


[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I do resonate with the "users of complex systems they do not quite understand" statement, so now I'll have to put "Psychology of Everyday Things" on my reading list as well (how the heck am I supposed to find time to takeover the world?). As the architect behind new advanced technology products folks won't see until 2013 or so (new scanners like MRI, CAT, etc). I have noticed we're creating a society dependent on magic they don't understand. My father understood and could repair anything we owned. No so today. Now we do clever things to perpetuate warm and comfy pardigms for the masses even though the underlying mechanization is completely unrelated. You look old enough to know where all those symbols we use for "Play," "Pause," "Fast Forward," and "Reverse" come from, so you'll know what I mean. How many people understand the remarkable amount of science and technology they carry in their pockets ? Quantum physics created the semiconductor in our phones, and now we use computers to enable us to design ever better computers with feature sizes headed down into 10 nano-meters. We have coded Einstein's relativity into those same phones just so people would know where they are (GPS). Who'd a thunk it? I bet Einstein didn't !

OK Mr. D. Winter, you're a poet as well. Me too. I'll have to grace you with some of mine someday. I also do photography and music when I'm not plotting to take over the world.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 12 years ago

Rico: studies already exist. They are ongoing. Its called sociology.

These days especially, sociologists use complex computing to correlate data and eliminate noise in order to arrive at valid findings. While it is nothing like what you are describing, there exists a vast body of knowledge about economic systems and their impacts on well being, both for the individual and the larger social unit.

I would suggest delving into that field a bit, but it would take a lifetime's commitment, as computer science does, if you're to have any chance of valid findings. Perhaps you could partner with a respected researcher to explore the feasibility of your idea.

Just an idea.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 12 years ago

I do have some contacts. Maybe I'll run it by them to see if they're interested.

Compsci, by the way, is bread-and-butter for me as is math. Where I'm weak is in the state of the art of economics (hobbiest only), and it would be interesting to hear what one would say might be possible if we gave them all the data we hold and access to the supercomputers we currently reserve for weather and defense.

[+] -6 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 12 years ago

If you are going to read Psychology of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, I highly recommend the first edition. I haven't read the second edition, and only skimmed the third, but in skimming it the third edition appears to be quite a bit different from the first.