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sjflynn

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About sjflynn

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  • Birthday 01/27/1986
  1. Definitely check out Inflation Targeting, it's one of Ben Bernanke's books. I just finished it, it was excellent. Gives you a great background into the concept of targeting, then examines the empirical results of several country's attempts at targeting, then comments a bit on the advantages/disadvantages of such a policy in the U.S. Before reading it, I only had limited knowledge of inflation fighting policies, and basically no knowledge of targeting specifically, but this book gave me a great understanding of the basic ideas underlying the concept of targeting. Check it out if you have time.
  2. Alex and I will argue LFAS good.
  3. I concur, lame account changing. And that topic is lame as well. Additionally, Schaefer would never advocate discussing something as stupid as that. Only Alex would use a turn of phrase like "sick cult" to describe something he doesn't understand.
  4. This thread has deteriorated into worthless tit-for-tat argument. I was just about to respond to your comments when I realized it would get us nowhere. I propose we pick up a new topic. You can pick it, or I will, or someone else.
  5. I want to add something else. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. I definitely agree with that, not better words were ever spoken in my opinion. However, I believe the overexamined life isn't worth living either. Questions, I stress again, are not an end. They are a means to an end.
  6. I am in no state to make a response right now, but I'll do it anyway. As usual, you take my extreme stances and think I actually believe it to the fullest extent. You should know by now it is absolutely absurd to take my line of argument to its limit, so don't do it. Don't imply I don't like living the examined life, don't imply that I am denying myself of philosophy, don't imply these things based on an extreme argument I am making for the OBVIOUS reason that I want to argue with you and nothing else. Don't kid yourself, you know the only reason I post is to argue. We don't disagree Alex, on many things, but I really enjoy pushing things to the limit in these conversations, advocating things I would never actually follow through with, flat out lying for the sake of argument. These forums are not meant to be taken seriously, if we wanted a serious argument, we would publish papers in a journal or something. So stop assuming I am ignorant or that I don't want to examine myself or something like that. It's nice you say that this is a juvenile way to live, because that is exactly how you are living. Last night you said the essence of my argument was "believing things other people tell me" or something to that. If you want to summarize it that way, then go ahead, limit it out completely. If you do, then EVERYONE to some extent accepts what others tell them without examining it or questioning it. You do this a lot, so do I. Do not accuse me of being ignorant or living the unexamined life simply because I accept what others tell me. I actively think about the standards I use, I don't just accept them. And of course you do as well. But don't tell me for a minute that you have actively questioned the fact that the 2+2=4. Of course not, you accepted it because someone told you it was true. You didn't go through a mathematical proof, you didn't examine it from thousands of angles, you accepted it. To some extent, everyone does this. You do it a lot with Rand, no matter how much you say you have come to disagree with some of her writings. Since the above two paragraphs didn't make sense, I will summarize the two reasons why I think it is good to accept standards others have set, or as you say, to believe what others tell me. I am beginning to see a fundamental difference in what we believe. I am probably off a bit, but I think you tend to value process more than results. You have said numerous times things like "resolution isn't important" or "it doesn't matter that we have't resolved the issue, the questions are more important than the answers" etc etc. To be sure, you value results in many contexts. But I think the good life for you is being in a perpetual state of questioning, never really knowing what the answers are, always ready to examine an issue further etc etc. I too, enjoy this. I love philosophizing and examining ideas and questioning (although you contend I do not). However, I have found that this ultimately does not bring me happiness. I want results, I want to find answers to things. If I do not have the answer to a question I wish to answer, I feel quite unfulfilled. I really value results over process. While it would be nice to sit around all day thinking, I want to do. Here is where my argument comes in. You are so stuck on questions and examination and whatnot that you lose sight of what the questions are for. The concept of question I believe presupposes the existence of an answer. I believe all questions have answers (they may not be entirely fulfilling answers for me, but they are answers nonetheless). When I confront questions, I expect answers, I don't enjoy living in an idealistic world where I can think all the time and at the end of the day have nothing to show for it except some more questions. This is why I use standards that others have developed. I DO enjoy questioning, and I DO NOT take these standards to be true. Quite frankly, your implication that I believe everything I hear is bullshit. I LOVE to relentlessly pursue truth and examine and question standards and I DO NOT accept them until I am ABSOLUTELY convinced that they are true to the best of MY OWN knowledge. But at the end of the day, when I have found a standard or answer I like, I use it. I stop the questioning and examination because this gets me NOTHING beyond a certain point. You have definitely done this, everyone does this. Everyone stops at a certain point and ACCEPTS WITHOUT QUESTION what others tell them. Don't tell me you don't, because I will come back with a thousand instances in which you have. Don't criticize my acceptance of a standard just because in your view I have not adequately examined it enough or questioned it enough, that is quite arrogant. I accept many standards brought forth by philosophers and scholars because I have examined them and found them to be true. Perhaps I haven't spent 4 years thinking about them as you think I should, but I don't want to live in a question forever. I want to look forward, to get beyond the questions and find the answers. I value results much more than process, because the ONLY reason process exists is as a MEANS to result. The only reason questions exist is because they induce thinking that is a MEANS to an answer. Don't treat the questions as ends, this will get you nowhere in life.
  7. Interesting argument, I'd like to see it in some literature first though.
  8. Perhaps I am, but probably not. The philosopher king argument has been an ongoing thought experiment for me. I would love to find some way for a benevolent dictator to exist because the more I think about it, the worse democracy is for economic growth. Not only does it promote immediate consumption, but it isn't conducive to property rights (if poor people are in the majority, they usually vote for redistributionist policies). Democracies are also far too vulnerable to rent-seeking interest groups (the "K Street Gangs," if you will), which means they tend to focus on short-term goals of pleasing narrow constituencies, rather than on long-term goals of promoting growth. A benevolent dictator would be insulated from such rent-seeking. That being said, I can't find a way to fit the dictator into system I like, because I always find that the dictator would probably be immoral. So yes, morality absolutely plays a role in my advocacy, that's why I can never fully accept the idea of a philosopher-king. I have a feeling it WOULDN'T be moral, but I always try to find a way for it to be moral. Also, don't conflate actual capitalism with Rand's Capitalism, you did that above. Real capitalism (the economic system) is definitely possible in a less-than-free society, i.e., any business-oriented society (think Japan or the ASEAN nations). However, Rand's Capitalism (the moral system) certainly isn't possible unless a society is very free. I like capitalism much more than Capitalism because I am a big fan of economic growth, I place it higher than complete individual liberty. Of course I am liberal in the sense that I love liberty, but not nearly as much as Rand. (And remember, the Classical Liberals you mention were not nearly as in love with negative liberty as Rand is.) I think if certain restraints are placed on liberty (restraints Jefferson and Paine probably wouldn't object to), the huge gains we get in economic growth outweigh the loss of negative freedom. I'll hit the rest later, I just had to take this part now.
  9. Good point here, you're right, I ran a bit afoul blaming the individual for lack of foresight, especially with the point you bring up about the savings/consumption tradeoff. This is the fault of democracy, an effect of which is to induce immediate consumption at the expense of savings. A good article to read here is Przeworski and Limongi's "Political Regimes and Economic Growth." They have some great evidence indicating that one of the problems with democracies is that they promote immediate consumption, and that dictatorships are much better suited for forcing savings to promote investment. (Don't quote me as saying democracy = bad for economic growth, because I am saying democracy = not associated with economic growth.) Because it is better for society in the long run if savings is higher. Higher savings = more growth = higher standard of living = more opportunities for enjoying leisure activites, etc etc. And don't contend that a higher standard of living is bad, because no one does that.
  10. And to clarify one thing about the standards debate way at the top. Yes, I am definitely saying that the subjective standards I use are better than Rand's subjectives standards (which she calls objective for some reason), because I use standards that are WIDELY accepted by scholars and the masses alike, and YES, I think this makes them better than the Rand standards which very few accept. I am a strong believer in the philosophy that acceptance by a diversity of scholars/academics/philosophers over a LONG period of time using the knowledge of the time to the FULLEST possible extent = legitimacy. And no, this doesn't mean race-based slavery or Keynesian economics or any of that shit was legitimate (like people always challenge me with when I make this argument) because they weren't accepted by a diverse array of scholars and not over a LONG period of time. And don't bring up things like "we thought the earth was flat" because that is a function of the knowledge of the time period. The only phenomenon we can be sure about to the fullest possible extent are those that are independently observable and quantifiable. Of course this doesn't mean that unobservable things don't exist, we just cannot be sure to the fullest extent possible. So we thought the earth was flat and scholars accepted it and whatnot for a long time and this was a function of the knowledge of the period, making it "true" for those people, but "false" to us. I don't know where I am going with this jumbled mess of shit, disregard it...
  11. I have a final tomorrow, so I'll respond to the top portion since that seems to be causing the most dispute. First, I want to begin by saying that I reject to a large extent the ability to determine whether objective standards exist. I am NOT contending that objective standards do not exist, but rather, that humans cannot perceive them or if they can, they run the risk of misperceiving them. Therefore, throughout the remainder of this argument, I will not attempt to put forth objective standards by which to judge the arguments I make. Obviously, standards do exist for my arguments, but they are inherently subjective (humans are subjects, not objects, therefore anything conceived by a human is subjective in nature). Many of the standards I could use are widely accepted, they have withstood the test of time and have been used by prominent philosophers and scholars. But they are still subjective. So when you ask the question you are no doubt bound to ask, which is, "what are you standards?" I will give you standards used and accepted by scholars. And when you follow with "who decides what the standards are?" I will answer: humans. And because humans decide, the standards are never objective (and you want me to give objective criteria). And if you ask "why should I accept these standards and not someone else's, since they are subjective and not objective?" I will answer: because scholars and philosophers who have more capacity for understanding these arguments than we will EVER have accept the standards. Therefore, you should accept them as well. I'll take that to mean that you believe I am advocating a Republic in the style of Plato, which I am not, but it's fine to make that contention. Also, it's interesting that you refer to it as a joke. I don't know what this means, is it one of your theories on Plato? Wrong. I am saying individual liberties do not extend as far as Rand/Emerson/Thoreau/others similar authors say they do. Yes I have, only I limit it much more than you do. You adhere to the libertarian theory of social contract, meaning the govt. protects against outside threats and internal unrest (military and police), in addition to establishing an apparatus for the enforcement of property rights. To some extent, the libertarian school also accepts limited govt. intervention in the market (to facilitate perfect information, to outlaw inefficiencies like monopolies, etc etc), and I am not sure where you are on these. You adhere to this based on the most important assumption for the libertarian contract school: humans are inherently moral/happy in a state of nature. Therefore, when the human enters into a contract with govt., the govt. has no need to promote positive liberty, only negative liberty. I adhere more to the republican theory of social contract, or even to a VERY limited extent the authoritarian interpretation. In the republican interpretation, humans are somewhat moral/happy in a state of nature, but it is a hedonistic, base type of happiness that derives from pleasures of the senses, not intellectual stimulation or interaction with other humans, etc etc. For the republican, humans contract much more than their safety to govt. A big part of the deal with govt. is that humans call on govt. to make them truly moral/happy through positive liberation. So in a republican state, the govt. makes decisions that are in the best interest of the humans, even though the humans may not think so. Often times, the humans won't want to make good decisions because they are happy with the base lifestyle they had in the state of nature. But govt. ensures that they become truly moral/happy, by enforcing certain norms of behavior, such as promoting civic involvement, making sure people take the good of society seriously, etc etc. I subscribe to the republican view. I think govt. exists to make people better, ie positive liberty. Therefore, the govt should enforce those societal norms that make people better. Your sphere of govt. is negative in nature, i.e., you are concerned the govt. will encroach too far. Mine is a positive concern, i.e., I am concerned that the govt. won't go far enough. The third view I mentioned is the authoritarian interpretation of social contract. In this view, man is inherently immoral in the state of nature. Therefore, man enters into the state of nature with the sole purpose of bettering himself through govt. Thus, the govt. necessarily encroaches on his negative liberty to give him positive liberty. To some extent, I like this approach, but only in certain instances. In conclusion, I believe VERY strongly in the Classical Liberal positions, which is a mix between the libertarian and republican views. I am not a liberal to the extent you are, because I don't mind some authoritarian social contract thrown in the mix, but in the vast majority of instances, I believe in a pretty healthy sphere of protection for the individual.
  12. I'll try to answer all of these, but I may miss a few, I am not quite as adept at quoting as some others on these forums are. Since there are so many questions, I'll just respond to those and not elaborate too much, save it for when we get all these questions answered. Also, when I refer to "self-interest," I do not mean rational self-interest. Humans aren't rational animals most of the time (if we were, we would be living in a utopian state of nature with fraternal love as our only bond). I am not grouping all humans together, and not saying that all humans always act irrationally, etc. The contention would be that most humans have the propensity to act irrationally, not do what's best for them, etc etc. I think the language of my last post may not have been good for where you want to take this conversation. The post was an excerpt from an essay in which I used unequivocal, superlative language to get my poiint across in a limited space. The language I would normally use is much less absolute and superlatives, and often tempered with qualifiers. Just keep that in mind. That being said, often times, humans know what is in their best interests, but my contention is that they many times do not. The contention is that humans are often too myopic to always know what is in their best interests, so it's good to temper their ability to pursue it. Take the federalist v. anti-federalist debate for example (one of my favorite examples). On the anti-federalist side, you have guys like Cato and Centinel arguing that each state should have unlimited freedom to pursue their interests, then you have guys like James Wilson arguing that the states' ability to self-serve should be greatly limited by the creation of a federal republic, etc etc. I think the Civil War is good proof of who was right in that debate. Some states simply did not know that the pursuit of things like slavery were not in their best interest, luckily a much stronger group was able to step in and ensure they didn't destroy themselves (economically, slavery was not viable in the long run, especially as the North developed much more efficient means of production). Ok, so that example was real shitty, but you get the point. Often, people don't know what is in their best interest. They are too focused on short-term goals and objectives, and never look far enough into the future, never step back to evaluate as many possibilities as they can. So they make choices that are bad for themselves. I think Rand's standard is fine here, so I'll say the ultimate standard is "is the action conducive to the continuation of one's physical existence." Of course I could think of other standards, but this will work for now. Happiness is a good one too, though. Also, I am a big fan of using societal welfare as a standard. I think it can definitely be used without destroying individual liberty. So if I am acting in my own self-interest (perhaps I am a CEO expropriating money from shareholders), but not in the interest of society, I should be punished. So the contention would be that if a person acts in their perceived self-interest, but not their actual self-interest, this is bad. Who decides? Good question. I have always been a fan of the philosopher kings you mention below. If only...anyhow, perhaps an ultra-intelligent aristocracy? Or maybe a council of elders? I am not sure. Again, I like the philosopher king, or perhaps an ultra-intelligent elite. Some entity that can look beyond the mundate detail of daily life and predit with the most accuracy what will be in the long-term interests of the individual, or society, etc. It is possible that I could be self-serving (perhaps by polluting a river with industrial waste), but this would not be in my long-term self-interest or the interest of society. As long as there is a body that can abstract out individual lifetimes and measure individuals as part of a larger goal. Or even abstract out certain choices in an individual'ss life and measure their impact on the life of an invidual. In that sense you could be totally focused on the individual (i.e. not society), but still make choices for that individual based on what you know and he does not. Again, see above. Perhaps it is the philosopher kings, or some ethereal body, or maybe not even a group at all, it could be a norm. Norms are great because they coerce, but only implicitly, so you don't even need a person or group to do it. Of course you need a group to decide what the norm will be and disseminate it at first, but after that, many norms are self-enforcing (religion is a great example). The benefit of a norm is that once in place, everything falls into line. Individuals monitor each other's actions to determine whether everyone is adhering to the norm. If someone doesn't, individuals can hold that person accountable. Complete individualism is still possible, because the norm enforces itself. The contention I make in the essay is that liberty is positive in nature, i.e., liberty is self-mastery, freedom from sinful desires, destructive passions, etc. Again, you can use the Randian standard, but it has to be evaluated in the very long-run. In the long-run, self-mastery, etc. are good for individuals, even though attaining it may require an individual or society (or norm) to abrogate the invidual's short-run negative liberty. Who decides what self-mastery is, etc? Again, I am tempted to say aristocracy, but norms are probably more effective. And if its norms, I would ideally like to have some badass philosopher kings creating the norms and disseminating them. Definitely, and if not society, then perhaps a regime of norms created by a society. There are so many countless instances in which individual human action proved detrimental to the liberty/happiness/etc of other humans. If even one of these instances can be prevented by the abrogation of the rights of all individuals, then I don't think anyone would have a problem. Even you tacitly agree with this, as you accept the social contract by living in society. The entire essence of social contract is the abrogation of negative natural rights for the attainment of positive civil/federal rights. If a society cannot to some extent dictate the actions of individuals, then please tell me how social contract can even exist. As long as humans live in contract with government, social goals will always supersed individual prerogatives at some basic level. Ok I have to go study for a final, but i'll respond to the rest later. And no, I am not indicting liberalism by arguing that the good of the whole should supersede the good of the individual. The most famous and undisputed classic Liberals (Thomas Paine, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Fisher Ames, James Wilson, the list goes on for miles) agree that on some basic level, social prerogatives much supersede those of the individual, even if it is as basic as paying taxes for military and police protection (which is the abrogation of negative liberty for the gain of society).
  13. Hmm, I am going to throw something out. I don't have time to comment in-depth on it now, but I hope to do so in a lengthy manner at some point. But for now, I'll get Alex's thoughts on this (it is an excerpt from an essay i just finished): "The Randian conception of man as a heroic being, an entity able to discern what is in his best interest, is among the greatest threats to liberty in the past 100 years. Man's self-interest is most often quite irrational and counterproductive to his own well-being. However, as a result of the idea that societal prerogatives are subordinate to individual interests (which comes mostly from Rand, Emerson, and Thoreau), we have this destructive and illogical idea that man is an end in and of himself. With this idea has come the destruction of properly understood liberty at the hands of licentious, self-serving behavior. Only when man understands that he is a means to an end (whether societal, political or other) can he truly be free."
  14. yeah yeah, we get it, so let's talk about something. let me see let me see, got it: Is China's currency undervalued? If so, is it hurting or helping the U.S? go.
  15. What does everyone think on this one? I went to a forum on future growth in China at the Cato Institute today, and it has piqued my interest.
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