WSJ article on N2

Posted by: Dave Horne

WSJ article on N2 - 03/30/13 12:14 PM

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323605404578384472502632956.html

Franz Liszt, who lived for years with his mother in a modest Paris apartment, might have welcomed a digital piano. The best models simulate the sound and feel of an acoustic instrument, yet take up less space. They also don’t require tuning, are impervious to the swings in humidity that wreak havoc on standard pianos, and can be played silently with the use of headphones.

“For students, a good digital piano is better than a mediocre upright,” said Andrea McAlister, associate professor of piano pedagogy at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where, as at most schools, students learn basic keyboarding skills on digital instruments.

Ms. McAlister recommends that beginners opt for a full-size 88-key model that has a “weighted action,” which simulates the feel of actual piano hammers. She also stresses the importance of a stand that keeps the instrument at the proper height, since good posture is essential to proper technique.

To find a worthy digital model, we enlisted the help of classical pianist and Sony recording artist Simone Dinnerstein, whose latest album, “Night,” was released earlier this month.

“I always scoffed at digital pianos, mainly because the ones I had tried in the past had a very unrefined sense of touch,” Ms. Dinnerstein said. “There wasn’t a connection between how I would press down on the key and the sound that would come out—there was no subtlety.”

She suspected, however, that technology had since advanced. And the prospect of being able to play with headphones appealed to her. “I don’t want people to hear me struggling when I practice!” she said.

According to many of the musicians and teachers we spoke with, Yamaha makes the most innovative digital pianos, so we asked Ms. Dinnerstein to meet at a dealer, Faust Harrison Pianos, on New York’s “Piano Row,” on West 58th Street.

Ms. Dinnerstein started by playing a few passages from the Goldberg Variations on models in Yamaha’s CLP and CVP line, which start at about $2,400. On one model, the resistance of the keys gave her pause. “It feels like I’m having to push through something to get to the sound,” she said. She switched to a Chopin Nocturne. “I can’t play it gently, so maybe it’s not teaching somebody to be as subtle as they could be.” She also found the sound to be electronic and fake.

Ms. Dinnerstein was pleased, however, with the Yamaha CLP-480 (). “The way it sustains is much more similar to a piano,” she said. “It has a lot of variety of touch and sound. I like this one.” Her only complaint: The keys were too stiff. “But you could say the same about an acoustic piano; some are a bit brutal in how they make you play,” she said.

Yamaha’s AvantGrand line is one of the more advanced (and expensive) on the market. The two top instruments in the range simulate the feel of string resonance by sending subtle vibrations to the keys as you play. And the sound reproduction is purportedly state of the art.

Ms. Dinnerstein started on the AvantGrand N2 (), an upright piano with the action and sound of a grand. “I think this is kind of amazing actually. I could probably be fooled that this was a real piano,” said Ms. Dinnerstein. “There’s something a little bit freaky about it—but I love it. I would definitely consider having one of these.” (She noted, though, that while the sound was “really close” to an acoustic piano, the timbre was markedly more electronic when she played with headphones.)

The higher priced model wasn’t necessarily better. The larger AvantGrand N3 () sounded and felt less realistic to Ms. Dinnerstein than the N2.

At Allegro Pianos, a dealer next door, she played a Kawai CA95 (). According to the manufacturer, the instrument has a spruce-wood soundboard that “faithfully reproduces the tonal ambience of an acoustic piano.” But Ms. Dinnerstein was not convinced. “It’s a certain kind of sound that is a bit brittle and a bit nasal,” she said. She was also unimpressed with the feel of the instrument.

Neither the Roland RG-F1 () nor the RG-3F () passed muster. “While the sound is nice,” she said, “it’s kind of thin and a little two dimensional.” The Yamaha AvantGrand N2 was more realistic to her ear, she said.

Ms. Dinnerstein also tested the Casio Privia PX-350 (), a portable keyboard at the lower end of the price range. Casio makes an optional stand and foot pedal ($150 for the bundle) that convert this 25-pound keyboard into an upright.

“The sound is quite synthetic, which is to be expected,” she said, but the piano would be good for novices. “The keys have a nice weight to them—similar to playing on a real piano. Beginners would benefit from this. The resistance in the keys would help strengthen their fingers.”

It might even suit a seasoned concert pianist: “I could easily imagine practicing on this myself in the middle of the night, when I didn’t want to wake anybody up.”


Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/30/13 01:57 PM

Thanks for posting this. It's always interesting to see what truly skilled and, shall I say, "renowned" artists think of the latest and greatest in the field of digital pianos. Having said that, I don't think Ms. Dinnerstein has said anything revelatory. It's sort of to be expected that N2 > CA-95 > Privia PX-350. And we all know that tastes in sound of a DP are as varied as people themselves.

The only thing worth mentioning (imo) is that she considers the N2 superior to N3.
Posted by: enzo.sandrolini

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/30/13 03:30 PM

Sorry but that is not my understanding about the CA95,
it is written "She was also unimpressed with the feel of the instrument."

for me, she seems to be not convinced about the "keyboard feeling"..
while she says good things about the "keyboard feeling" of the casio
Do I misunderstand ?
Posted by: toddy

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/30/13 03:45 PM

Well, it seems she likes the feel of the Casio keys (good weighting), but not so much the sound (though good for the low price).

She dislikes the Kawai CA95 sound (brittle & nasal) and she doesn't like the keyboard feel either - she doesn't specify why, though.

She doesn't like the Roland (SN) sound much - 'nice but 2-dimensional', but does not mention the (PHAIII) keyboard feel at all.

She seems to think Yamaha GH3 action is too heavy (Clavinovas), but really likes both the sound and feel of the Avante Grands - especially N2.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 06:31 AM

She has special needs and viewpoints than the broad mass of customer. She has lifelong been playing acoustic concert grands, probably even mostly with by her favoured actions, so her opinion should be regarded as very special and subjective too, despite her highest standing of pianistic eminence. She compared just to her expectation of that background and articulated her first impressions. While very valuable, it is very possible, that for the primary use of a DP and for another person just other preferences are relevant. (Lesser playing skill, older people, beginner, the very young, other genres or just the broader mass of the enthusiasts...) Comes to mind a weight lifting analogy:
No use for me to start exercising with the setting of the world champion (which I cannot lift even half an inch), I have to go with much lighter weights to get some benefits at all.

She probably didn't delved into internal technical details either. I get it with the casio action: it has all but a heavy touch, so when she found the keys weighted on the heavy site, maybe just could have felt only due the relatively (measured to the DPs, but objectively to measure) shorter keys (from the front of the keys to their pivot point, without the geometrical black key pivot shift to the back) - combined with her professional art of playing (using perhaps more the back part of the keys than a beginner).
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 06:49 AM

Too bad she didn't play a Roland V-Grand Piano with alive, responsive and organic modeled piano sound next to the N2 instead of the old RG models. That would have been an interesting comparison.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 09:19 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Too bad she didn't play a Roland V-Grand Piano with alive, responsive and organic modeled piano sound next to the N2 instead of the old RG models. That would have been an interesting comparison.


Classical concert pianists, when (if) they look at digitals, have one thing in mind: as a practice instrument to get the notes fluent under their fingers, which they can use late at night without disturbing anybody: not just neighbors, but also their own family - listening to even the greatest pianist repeating a 3-measure passage ad infinitum at very slow tempo would drive even their nearest and dearest (or their most ardent fans) up the wall. Quite unlike what jazz pianists do when they practice.

I had a long chat with a well-known concert pianist a few weeks ago, during which he enthused about his AvantGrand (not to mention his six acoustic pianos, most of them old and reconditioned grin). However, when I asked him what he used it for, he said that it was the one (and only) piano he could use after 10pm, and that was when he did his most productive practice, learning new pieces and getting them fluent under his fingers. And that also saved a lot of wear and tear on his concert grand, which he then used (during more social hours) to refine his interpretation. An acoustic that gets thumped hard repetitively for several hours a day requires a lot of maintenance........

When I told him I used a Roland V-Piano at home, he'd obviously never heard of it. And that's the other problem with Roland making inroads into the very conservative classical community - I know, I was one of them, until 2010 grin. Yamaha has widespread respect among classical musicians; to a lesser extent, Kawai also. Even die-hard acoustic classical fanatics can be persuaded to at least try out a Yamaha or Kawai digital. But Roland? (who make stage synthesizers and electronic drums for rock bands??) Roland was the last manufacturer (after Casio, and along with Nord, Kurzweil and Korg) whose digitals I looked at when shopping for my DP three years ago, and that was only because I couldn't find a Yamaha or Kawai that I could live with long-term.

Almost all my classical musician/enthusiast friends and acquaintances have played on Yamaha DPs at one time or another, and all thought that if they had to play on a digital, it had to be a Yamaha. It took a lot of persuasion to get them to at least try out my V: its looks was off-putting enough, let alone the name. But all were convinced - once they'd put it through its paces.

I think that even the V-Piano Grand, which actually looks somewhat like an acoustic, would struggle to gain acceptance among the classical fraternity when put alongside the AG, with the familiar Yamaha logo, and the 'grand piano action'. My situation is different to that of most classical pianists looking for a digital: I'm not a beginner; I don't just want a 'practice' piano - I want an acoustic replacement; I don't have regular access to an acoustic, but I want to keep learning more and more advanced pieces, which my instrument must be able to cope with and give me everything I want in terms of responsiveness - I need to be able to be able to do everything interpretatively on it: nothing worse than to spend a year learning a classical masterpiece, only to be disillusioned when you find you can't get a satisfying experience out of your piano.......
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 11:14 AM

Quote:
Franz Liszt, who lived for years with his mother in a modest Paris apartment, might have welcomed a digital piano.

Dude's dead, we can't know what he might or might not like. It's hard for me not to see this as a passive aggressive argument from authority, like AP players need the OK to go get themselves a DP or something.

Quote:
The best models simulate the sound and feel of an acoustic instrument...

I really don't think this is all that true yet.

Quote:
They also don’t require tuning, are impervious to the swings in humidity that wreak havoc on standard pianos...

Yes, no tuning needed, whatever. I know it's kind of important, but I get tired of people pointing it out like the DP designers had to go out of their way to accomplish this - it's an inherent feature and goes with the digital territory.

Quote:
... and can be played silently with the use of headphones.

This is the key use IMO.

Quote:
“For students, a good digital piano is better than a mediocre upright,” said Andrea McAlister

Highly debatable. I'm always shocked when anyone makes this sweeping statement, particularly so experienced AP players. Most APs, in whatever condition, are much more responsive and "alive" than almost any DP. And if you want to master the AP, even a top-end DP is not a 100% substitute.

Quote:
According to many of the musicians and teachers we spoke with, Yamaha makes the most innovative digital pianos...

Funneling more money into marketing than product development often pays off handsomely.

Quote:
Yamaha’s AvantGrand line is one of the more advanced (and expensive) on the market. The two top instruments in the range simulate the feel of string resonance by sending subtle vibrations to the keys as you play. And the sound reproduction is purportedly state of the art.

State of the art sound reproduction circa 1990.

Quote:
Ms. Dinnerstein started on the AvantGrand N2 (), an upright piano with the action and sound of a grand. “I think this is kind of amazing actually. I could probably be fooled that this was a real piano,” said Ms. Dinnerstein. “There’s something a little bit freaky about it—but I love it. I would definitely consider having one of these.”

Better listeners please. It's kind of ironic that professional AP players often make quite poor DP reviewers. Sure, the skill sets overlap, but they aren't equivalent.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 01:21 PM

Well said, every single comment I can agree with.

Still, I think she was genuinely expressing her own unbiased impressions. But a Newspaper editor has many other ways to produce such not quite well founded and not very unpartial reviews: pre-selecting the reviewer herself (by knowing her views and biases in advance); or you can let make 3 reviews and selecting the most appropriate from them afterwards, etc.

This kind of presence is the most effective promotion channel, it wan't be unused. The problem is - as with ads in general - these are just for dummies (in that special topic), who are buying after such information instead of building real understanding. I am afraid, they are the majority of buyers.

Posted by: Pedro_Henrique

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 10:15 PM

I would like to see another three or four classical pianists making reviews of the same pianos. But without knowing the specs previously. And then we would have more material. I doubt kawai have a bad action. Ok, Yamaha make good digital pianos, but come on, only the AvantGrand is a heck of digital piano on that list.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 03/31/13 11:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
This kind of presence is the most effective promotion channel, it wan't be unused.

I would love to be able to follow the money all the way back on these kinds of articles.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 12:41 AM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: Temperament
This kind of presence is the most effective promotion channel, it wan't be unused.

I would love to be able to follow the money all the way back on these kinds of articles.


Well, it is pretty easy to imagine this one. All of the Murdoch properties are hopelessly corrupt. The WSJ is Fox News for the business community.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 06:59 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: Temperament
This kind of presence is the most effective promotion channel, it wan't be unused.

I would love to be able to follow the money all the way back on these kinds of articles.


Well, it is pretty easy to imagine this one. All of the Murdoch properties are hopelessly corrupt. The WSJ is Fox News for the business community.


Arrant nonsense.
Posted by: peterws

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 07:53 AM

Why is it I don`t have such problems with my DP? I must be missing out on something here . . .Or the left part o` my brain`s not working right . . .or vice versa
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 07:58 AM

Or both?

Sorry, that was a low blow...had to get you back for that warranty nonsense in the other thread. wink
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 03:03 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: Temperament
This kind of presence is the most effective promotion channel, it wan't be unused.

I would love to be able to follow the money all the way back on these kinds of articles.


Well, it is pretty easy to imagine this one. All of the Murdoch properties are hopelessly corrupt. The WSJ is Fox News for the business community.


April fools?

If not, it's so untrue it's nonsensical. The WSJ is one of the most respected newspapers in the world--if not the most--and has been for the entire lifetime of everyone reading this.
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 03:22 PM

I was going to skip responding to this since I own an N2 and have been very adamant how much I like owning it but I love a good conspiracy theory.

So a famous classical pianist likes the AG so it must be some kind of payola scheme? Show me the proof. Maybe the Casio was her favorite before she got a hefty payout from Yamaha.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 03:40 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
...it's so untrue it's nonsensical. The WSJ is one of the most respected newspapers in the world--if not the most--and has been for the entire lifetime of everyone reading this.
Nobody stated the WSJ is not one of the most respected newspapers. But the moral is at least for me (corroborated by this), that You should not restrict yourself to newspapers, You should go deeper for reality.

I am living in small country, and what I could read about such a distant country was to say the least very superficial. (I count myself to the politically neutral outsider).
If the rest of the geographical world or other themes are presented in such depth, the most you can gain out of the "most respected newspaper" is to learn the common sense which governs the world but to a much lesser degree the world itself...
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 03:49 PM

Originally Posted By: 36251
So a famous classical pianist likes the AG so it must be some kind of payola scheme?

I think we've reached the point where we have to assume we are being marketed to 24/7 via every possible means. Innocence, coincidence, and unbiased opinions are largely things of the past, particularly if money making products are even peripherally involved. The system is being gamed so hard that the foundations of trust are breaking down.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 04:42 PM

We don't even have to think in conspiracy categories to get to the same conclusion (a bias towards biased reviews). Prestiged media will always have a tendency to favor best selling market leader products. Have to. To let products of the biggest companies come second would mean turning the market (their favorite playground) upside-down.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 11:12 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
The system is being gamed so hard that the foundations of trust are breaking down.



...and THAT is the rest of the story...

Good Day!
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/01/13 11:19 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Well, it is pretty easy to imagine this one. All of the Murdoch properties are hopelessly corrupt. The WSJ is Fox News for the business community.


April fools?

If not, it's so untrue it's nonsensical. The WSJ is one of the most respected newspapers in the world--if not the most--and has been for the entire lifetime of everyone reading this.


Time to wake up from your years long sleep.

The WSJ, just like biased, propaganda-spewing, democracy-mocking Fox News, is foreign-owned by the Murdochs' News Corp. The same Murdochs whose tightly-controlled companies have been found guilty of crimes of corruption in countries that still have a semblance of democracy and a working, credible, independent judiciary such as the UK.

Those who still respect the WSJ haven't taken the time to inform themselves.
Quote:

On May 2, 2007, News Corp. made an unsolicited takeover bid for Dow Jones, offering US$60 a share for stock that had been selling for US$33 a share. The Bancroft family, which controlled more than 60% of the voting stock, at first rejected the offer, but later reconsidered its position.[22]
Three months later, on August 1, 2007, News Corp. and Dow Jones entered into a definitive merger agreement.[23] The US$5 billion sale added The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's news empire, which already included Fox News Channel, financial network unit and London's The Times, and locally within New York, the New York Post, along with Fox flagship station WNYW (Channel 5) and MyNetworkTV flagship WWOR (Channel 9).[24]
On December 13, 2007, shareholders representing more than 60 percent of Dow Jones's voting stock approved the company's acquisition by News Corp.[25]
In an editorial page column, publisher L. Gordon Crovitz said the Bancrofts and News Corp. had agreed that the Journal's news and opinion sections would preserve their editorial independence from their new corporate parent:[26]
A special committee was established to oversee the Journal's editorial integrity. When the managing editor Marcus Brauchli resigned on April 22, 2008, the committee said that News Corporation had violated its agreement by not notifying the committee earlier. However, Brauchli said he believed that new owners should appoint their own editor.[27]
A 2007 Journal article quoted charges that Murdoch had made and broken similar promises in the past. One large shareholder commented that Murdoch has long "expressed his personal, political and business biases through his newspapers and television stations." Former Times assistant editor Fred Emery remembers an incident when "Mr. Murdoch called him into his office in March 1982 and said he was considering firing Times editor Harold Evans. Mr. Emery says he reminded Mr. Murdoch of his promise that editors couldn't be fired without the independent directors' approval. 'God, you don't take all that seriously, do you?' Mr. Murdoch answered, according to Mr. Emery." Murdoch eventually forced out Evans.[28] Coincidentally, 2007 was also the last year that the Wall Street Journal won any Pulitzer prizes.
In 2011, The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had artificially inflated its European sales numbers, by paying Executive Learning Partnership for purchasing 16% of European sales. These inflated sales numbers then enabled the Journal to charge similarly inflated advertising rates, as the advertisers would think that they reached more readers than they actually did. In addition, the Journal agreed to run "articles" featuring Executive Learning Partnership, presented as news, but effectively advertising

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wall_Street_Journal
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 05:41 AM

Q1: And how does this differ from the radical-left socialist, democracy-hating, propagandist MSNBC news?
A1: MSNBC is not owned by Murdoch.
I cannot trust or accept anything in the mass media. Anything lacking analysis and referenced sources is always suspect.
Originally Posted By: theJourney
The WSJ, just like biased, propaganda-spewing, democracy-mocking Fox News, is foreign-owned by the Murdochs' News Corp.
Q2: How is a WSJ article relevant here?
A2: It isn't. You might as well seek a cure for arthritis by reading People magazine, or seek home-decorating tips in Teen Beat.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 07:18 AM

Guys, you need to go outside a tad more.

I just passed on this news clipping since Google News automatically calls my attention to any article using the word AvantGrand.

When it comes to any piano, I always make my own judgment. I don't care who likes the piano or who doesn't, my opinion counts more to me. smile
Posted by: toddy

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 07:40 AM

I wish it were not so, but I fear dewster & the Journey are right - you must be suspicious of all news sources; even fine ones with an honourable heritage like the WSJ. Exactly the same goes for the Times and Sunday Times of London which have been owned by News Corps since the early 80's. The biases are subtle and difficult to define but they are there in the editorial stance.

But whether the above article is just somewhat ill informed reporting or something more sinister like tie in, it's difficult to say. It looks to me that what you see is what you get, and the pianist was giving a straightforward account of her experiences testing DPs for the first time. And, to the general public, Yamaha does indeed have by far the strongest reputation in electronics and music, doesn't it?

....if it was a placement feature for Yamaha, then heaven help us....but I doubt it.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 11:03 AM

Meh, The Journey's paranoia notwithstanding, there's nothing special about news corp in terms of political bias. All news sources are biased on way or another--they are written and edited by humans, all of whom have biases. If the particular direction of the bias isn't what you have, then you tend to get crazy with conspiracy theories.

But really none of that's relevant to the article on the N2 (or other popular press articles on digital pianos), which is politically neutral. The fact is that all publications writing about new technology have a bias toward making that technology look good. Positive reviews of new products are the norm in every media. There are two reasons for this. One is that those companies are advertisers and the media don't want to tick them off. I think the more important one is that people overall just aren't interested in reading that a new product on the market is only a very mild improvement over the previous generation. It's much more interesting to read about new and exciting technology.

If then new model is just a repainted version of the old model with some tiny tweaks, as most digital pianos are, it's not really news. Actually, what surprises me about this article is how many negative comments it makes about various digitals that were discussed. That is by no means common.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 12:44 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Positive reviews of new products are the norm in every media. There are two reasons for this. One is that those companies are advertisers and the media don't want to tick them off.

I agree.

I once read a book* on the tobacco industry. In it IIRC a fairly neutral seeming magazine was doing an article on health. Their largest advertiser was a cigarette company, who naturally had clout and therefore some editorial input. In a list of healthy things to do, the article had "stop smoking" at the top - which makes sense as it is statistically the single most health damaging behavior you can engage in. The cigarette company suggested they move it to second or third place and they did. It's subtle yet powerful cues like this allow a smoker's head play to mind games with itself and thus enable the addiction (and the deadly revenue stream) to continue.

It's one thing to mess with rather jaded adult heads, it's quite another to target young impressionable minds. If you haven't seen the documentary "Consuming Kids" I recommend it. It's a marketing free-for-all when it comes to our future generations.

The world doesn't have to be this way.

[EDIT]

*"Merchants of Death" by Larry C, White. The censorship described in the book is actually worse than I related above.

Fun fact: If you smoke cigarettes you are likely freebasing nicotine - no wonder the first one of the day is a headbuster, and no wonder you can't quit!
Posted by: Ishkabibble

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 01:23 PM

There is no doubt that advertising and promotion have crept into every form of media. Even so-called "news" programs have all kinds of news "stories" about charity events, police dictums about drunk driving and driving while distracted, events promoting everything from domestic tranquility to anti-bullying campaigns, etc. Then we have the "news" of the latest Apple device and the long lines of people at stores to buy them. One doesn't know if the produceers of this stuff are getting paid to run it or not, but I for one would sure like to. In short, in many ways, even news programming is degenerating into infomercials of one sort or another. (Not to mention the non-existent Iraqi WMDs and the run-up to the "war". Did anyone want to know the truth of the matter, let alone allow it to be broadcast? Did anyone have an agenda at that time? Do the controllers of the media have an agenda now?)

For a very short time I worked as a sales person in a piano retailer who sold, let's put it this way, the highest end pianos. The one thing I learned very early on is that the piano business is a very cutthroat, no-holds-barred business. So add this to the above deterioration of unbiased "news" reporting and it's easy to be skeptical of just about anything one reads or hears in "the media".

Finally to the WSK article.

First, it would be interesting to speculate on whether the article would have appeared at all if say Steinway was a big advertiser in the WSJ. I would imagine that acoustic piano manufacturers, or the people employed in the acoustic piano divisions of Yamaha or Kawai, were not too pleased with an article in such as "reputable" publication whose effect may be to reduce the number of acoustic instruments that will be sold in their increasingly-precarious future.

Second, I wish that the pianist had had the opportunity to play more of the top-of-the-line, all-in-one-box digital instruments, including the V-piano grand, CA65, etc.

Third, IMO, there should have been at least some attempt made to explore a pull-out-all-the-stops digital-piano "system", such as MP-10 stage piano with high-end sound amplification; a VPC1 with high-end "peripherals"; maybe even some of the all-in-ones with high end add-ons, etc. I mean, after all, these digital pianos are trying to "compete" with 9 and even 10 foot pianos with huge sound boards. That pianist should have been allowed to experience what digital pianos, tone generators and amplification/reproduction systems are ultimately capable of. If the producers of the article had really wanted to find out what "digital" is capable of, they should have hired someone to arrange for the pianist to experience that.

(After all, I understand that a 10-foot Fazioli is fairly expensive. Why would anyone pay such a price? I assume it's because it plays and sounds pretty good to the pianist, and just the latter for the audience. Now, just for the fun of it, let's spend the same amount of money on a digital system and see what we can come up with. How does that system compare with the Fazioli? After that we should find out what a system that costs 1/10th of the money can do. I believe that there is demand for such a high-end system, because at least some pianists are also audiophiles and audiophiles are willing to spend a big pile of money on their audio systems. Domestic and social tranquility are important, even to rich folks. Spouses and family members don't like hearing the same phrase played 10,00o times, even from a 10-foot Fazioli.)

Fourth, I'd like to know just a few things about the origin of the article. For example, the article appears in the "tech" section. Somebody had to originally decide the "need" of the piece and the public's likely interest in it, and likely somebody else had to approve of that idea. Were these people piano onwers who were so impressed with the advance in digital technology that they felt compelled to do that? Did a representative of any manufacturer or store contact the paper and propose such an "investigation" and article?

How many retail stores did the pianist visit, and is she (or was she made, or deliberately not made) aware of other models of digital pianos that may or may not be better replacements for an acoustic grand?

Was the pianist paid? If so, who paid her? Theoretially, at leaast, if she had thought that any of the pianos that she had played were actually "as good as" an acoustic grand, would she have felt free enough to say that?

Yes, one can see many angles and possible conspiracies with respect to the article, but I'm glad it was written, anyway. It's nice to be able to hear the impressions of a concert pianist.
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 02:35 PM

Just maybe WSJ is read by many non-musicians and hearing about how technology has changed owning an acoustic monolith is interesting reading.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 03:12 PM

Originally Posted By: 36251
Just maybe WSJ is read by many non-musicians and hearing about how technology has changed owning an acoustic monolith is interesting reading.


Now what kind of conspiracy theory can one gin out of THAT? C'mon... Work with us...

Whatever the sad state of the piano market today, it's clear that sales of tinfoil beanies remain brisk.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 05:12 PM

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you"

― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 05:28 PM


Quite to the contrary: while they are after you, they say you ARE paranoid!
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 05:54 PM

wow

If anyone needs me......

Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/02/13 07:08 PM

Looks good on the cat.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 12:41 AM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Whatever the sad state of the piano market today, it's clear that sales of tinfoil beanies remain brisk.


Ah yes, the last resort of those who can formulate no rational response to an argument, the ad hominem attack.

Observing reality, using one's head and thinking critically are not the same as being paranoid and seeing conspiracy theories. However, it is certainly easier to manipulate a passive and docile population, lulled into sleep to believe that everything in print from the classical canon of authority sources -- from the Bible to junior high school civics class indoctrination to the WSJ -- is to be accepted at face value as trusted fact.

There are some sad places in this world -- the closer you get to D.C. or into the Appalachian hills the more you tend to run into this -- where those who wish to apply the concept of critical thinking are actually mocked. Heck, the official 2012 (!) GOP political platform in Texas even went so far as to prohibit teaching critical thinking skills in public schools. Texas, you will of course remember, is the state that has a de facto role in determining the content of a majority of the textbooks used in American schools...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answ...NpFXW_blog.html
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 06:20 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Whatever the sad state of the piano market today, it's clear that sales of tinfoil beanies remain brisk.


Ah yes, the last resort of those who can formulate no rational response to an argument, the ad hominem attack.
OR, it's called humor.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 07:22 AM

The Journey needs a chill pill today. smile
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 08:01 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

Ah yes, the last resort of those who can formulate no rational response to an argument, the ad hominem attack.

Observing reality,blah blah blah blah


Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 09:30 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
The Journey needs a chill pill today. smile


I would like to thank TheJourney for the plenty of solid informations and insights he provided - I hope this helps to chill him.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 10:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Plinky88
wow

If anyone needs me......



The cat has the part nailed, but you need a little more method-acting to really join the team.

Imagine, for example, that you come from a neighborhood where everyone has been stoned non-stop since the late 'sixties (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course). That should get you in the zone.
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 11:21 AM

+1 for cat.
Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 11:50 AM

Originally Posted By: 36251
+1 for cat.


Make that +2. The look on the cat's face is priceless. laugh
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 12:23 PM

Imagine, for example, that you come from a country where everyone has been marketed to non-stop since the late 'sixties - to the point where you're not even aware of it and are openly hostile to anyone who anyone who merely broaches the subject. That should get you in the PW forum zone.
Posted by: lisztvsthalberg

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 12:51 PM

I doubt that Yamaha would want someone to endorse the N2 over the N3.

Interestingly, I've noticed that the two N3s I've played seemed to have a lighter touch than the two N2s I've tried (one of which I own). Never seen any information suggesting that there would be a difference in the action but this might partly explain the preference of Ms. Dinnerstein.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 01:34 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Imagine, for example, that you come from a country where everyone has been marketed to non-stop since the late 'sixties - to the point where you're not even aware of it and are openly hostile to anyone who anyone who merely broaches the subject. That should get you in the PW forum zone.


And is the idea that marketing in our cultures went unnoticed and unrecognized until, mirabile dictu, a couple of savants on this thread discovered it for the very first time and brought this wisdom to light for the benefit of the rest of the previously ignorant world?

I am grateful that, on the topic of marketing, a few here have shared with us some penetrating glimpses into the perfectly obvious. More so for Plinky's photo, though. That was good.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 01:57 PM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
The cat has the part nailed, but you need a little more method-acting to really join the team.

Imagine, for example, that you come from a neighborhood where everyone has been stoned non-stop since the late 'sixties (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course). That should get you in the zone.


The "stoned neighborhood" you allude to actually sounds a lot like great swaths of Baltimore or D.C. where generation upon generation of kids of the wrong color or wrong side of the tracks have turned to drugs in a desperate, dead-end attempt to escape the nefarious consequences of de facto apartheid.

The "everyone", however, sounds like hyperbole.

If you were insinuating that Amsterdam might be filled with stoners, you were only partially correct: there are indeed many, many stoners here at any one time. But, most of these stoners are tourists from North America and other countries briefly experiencing what freedom tastes like.

The Dutch themselves actually use dramatically less of almost any (illicit) drug you can name than Americans. This includes the, in comparison to alcohol, relatively harmless soft drug Cannabis which, for all practical purposes, has been completely non-criminalized for public purchase and consumption by adults 16 years or older during the past decades. If you are free to choose to drink and toke responsibly (or not) since your teenage years, then you learn how to be free and to be a responsible adult rather than to learn to be hypocritical, to lie and to be a drug abuser and a law breaker.

At the same time, nasty drugs such as Meth, which are abused by millions of hopeless Americans suffering from poverty, ignorance and the complete absence of hope for any kind of humane future, are virtually unknown here. Not to mention all the deaths from horribly addictive presecription drugs pushed by Big Pharma in the US where these officially sancitoned and franchised drug pushers may shamelessly propagandize the population through manipulative television advertising and corrupt pay-for-play pusher agreements with doctors, lead to tens and tens of thousands of tragic overdose deaths per year in the US. Another self-inflicted problem which is also virtually unknown here.

Funny thing about that...trust, education, culture, a focus on rationality and critical thinking, a healthy democracy of the people rather than corrupt clientelism purchased by the almighty dollar, regulated markets, an independent judiciary, an independent free press, broadly protected human rights, true freedom for individuals, protections for minorities and equality of opportunity...all these together always seems to lead to fewer problems, not more.

Something to keep in mind during the next time you "vote".

Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 03:34 PM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
And is the idea that marketing in our cultures went unnoticed and unrecognized until, mirabile dictu, a couple of savants on this thread discovered it for the very first time and brought this wisdom to light for the benefit of the rest of the previously ignorant world?

So you don't think a discussion of what motivates the creation of an article, or the people featured in said article, in a magazine that subsists almost solely on advertising money, is germane to this thread?
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 04:12 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

The "stoned neighborhood" you allude to actually sounds a lot like great swaths of Baltimore or D.C. where generation upon generation of kids of the wrong color blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah


Shouldn't you be on an A.M. radio station somewhere????
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: dewster
Imagine, for example, that you come from a country where everyone has been marketed to non-stop since the late 'sixties - to the point where you're not even aware of it and are openly hostile to anyone who anyone who merely broaches the subject. That should get you in the PW forum zone.


And is the idea that marketing in our cultures went unnoticed and unrecognized until, mirabile dictu, a couple of savants on this thread discovered it for the very first time and brought this wisdom to light for the benefit of the rest of the previously ignorant world?

I am grateful that, on the topic of marketing, a few here have shared with us some penetrating glimpses into the perfectly obvious.


Well, I myself used to belong to the previously ignorant world, for not that many years, getting informations solely out of the specs of manufacturers + ADs. Would such a discussions have opened up my eyes earlier, it could have saved much time and some money for me.

Interestingly, while some contributors here (including You) obstinately deny or defend the manipulative nature and power of marketing machinery, you are talking now from the "perfectly obvious".
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 04:39 PM

Amazing. A poster takes note of a piano review in the Wall Street Journal ... and the thread degenerates into a soapbox forum on marketing, politics, and drug use.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 04:59 PM


Do not forget about the cat please...
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 05:39 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Amazing. A poster takes note of a piano review in the Wall Street Journal ... and the thread degenerates into a soapbox forum on marketing, politics, and drug use.

I agree, it is amazing. In all these years no thread at PW has ever deviated even slightly from the OP subject.

Call the WSJ, someone on the internet is wrong!
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/03/13 06:41 PM

Well, I don't get what is this all about. By reading the article (btw quite superficial), I just see a concertist having a quick glance at some DPs, not very well selected if we attend to what is commonly spoken here, perhaps due to an even quicker and careless work of easy journalism.
This is very typical and should not cause such arguments. Hey, some of you are pissing out the flowerpot.
This is about pianos, remember?

And now a musicians joke: doublebass choruses are like lightnings; you never know where is it gonna strike, the much it will last and the damages it will cause. wink
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 12:17 AM

Originally Posted By: lisztvsthalberg
]I doubt that Yamaha would want someone to endorse the N2 over the N3.

Interestingly, I've noticed that the two N3s I've played seemed to have a lighter touch than the two N2s I've tried (one of which I own). Never seen any information suggesting that there would be a difference in the action but this might partly explain the preference of Ms. Dinnerstein.


I wouldn't be so sure about that. Manufacturers and retailers of consumer products often manage category and assortment structures using consumer decision making logic and according to the so-called "rule of three". The rule of three often provides a consumer with three choices: top of the line but expensive, cheap but with limitations and something in the middle which is often at a sweet spot in profitability. The real money in the AG line may be in selling as many N2s as possible. If Yamaha had first introduced the N1, then the N2 and finally the N3 they may have sold practically no N3s at all...
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 12:36 AM

Originally Posted By: mabraman
Well, I don't get what is this all about. By reading the article (btw quite superficial), I just see a concertist having a quick glance at some DPs, not very well selected if we attend to what is commonly spoken here, perhaps due to an even quicker and careless work of easy journalism.
This is very typical and should not cause such arguments. Hey, some of you are pissing out the flowerpot.
This is about pianos, remember?


Yes. I agree that is what it looks like: quick, casual, unofficial, believable, not-seriously-journalistic, personal and with an appeal to an apparently independent authority figure: all the things that a paid, display advertisement -- the kind that tend to get more and more ignored and less and less bought these days -- is not.

As an everyday example: global brand management at Heineken pays tens of millions of dollars for Heineken to feature "coincidentally" in blockbuster films such as the new James Bond franchise. At the end of the day you buy a $12 movie ticket to be marketed to for an hour and a half in one long product placement advertisement...
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 03:52 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: mabraman
Well, I don't get what is this all about. By reading the article (btw quite superficial), I just see a concertist having a quick glance at some DPs, not very well selected if we attend to what is commonly spoken here, perhaps due to an even quicker and careless work of easy journalism.
This is very typical and should not cause such arguments. Hey, some of you are pissing out the flowerpot.
This is about pianos, remember?


Yes. I agree that is what it looks like: quick, casual, unofficial, believable, not-seriously-journalistic, personal and with an appeal to an apparently independent authority figure: all the things that a paid, display advertisement -- the kind that tend to get more and more ignored and less and less bought these days -- is not.




Maybe you are right, I'm not into commercial tricks. Now, what I recall for some old psicophysical experiment on perception (about so called "phi" phenomenon):
Some people are looking to a STILL point of light projected on a black board. They are alone in the room. No matter their age, sex, race, ideology or whatever, they all see the point slightly moving as seconds go by. Seems that our brain can't conceive such still, or frameless, point, and then it "gives" it some slow motion (left or right, up or down)in order to "understand" it or, better said, give it some sense .
If this things happen when looking at a point of light, what could our brain do with a review!
Posted by: lisztvsthalberg

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 04:41 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Originally Posted By: lisztvsthalberg
]I doubt that Yamaha would want someone to endorse the N2 over the N3.

Interestingly, I've noticed that the two N3s I've played seemed to have a lighter touch than the two N2s I've tried (one of which I own). Never seen any information suggesting that there would be a difference in the action but this might partly explain the preference of Ms. Dinnerstein.


I wouldn't be so sure about that. Manufacturers and retailers of consumer products often manage category and assortment structures using consumer decision making logic and according to the so-called "rule of three". The rule of three often provides a consumer with three choices: top of the line but expensive, cheap but with limitations and something in the middle which is often at a sweet spot in profitability. The real money in the AG line may be in selling as many N2s as possible. If Yamaha had first introduced the N1, then the N2 and finally the N3 they may have sold practically no N3s at all...
Exactly; in the store where I bought my AG from the N2s were apparently already outselling the N3s by a significant margin. I assume that this could be the case elsewhere too and that Yamaha does not need help in market segmentation of these products given the different pricing / form factor between the models. All the more reason to doubt that Yamaha would seriously want (let alone pay) a professional pianist to say that the flagship model - with all the brand prestige associated with it - is inferior to the other models in the range. However, I do think the rationale behind her preference of the N2 is interesting regardless of the nature of the article.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 07:39 AM

I've said this several times, if Yamaha had introduced the N1 (or even the NU1) first, I would have probably bought two of them instead of buying the N3. (I do like the look of the N3 and since it is placed in my living room and not in a studio, looks do count for something.)

Fortunately, while I count my pennies, I'm not really poor, that plus what the dealer allowed me for my GranTouch 1 made the choice for me to trade up to the N3 a no brainer.

One drawback for the N2 is the speaker grill which is at the perfect height for my cat. smile
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 12:58 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
If you were insinuating that Amsterdam might be filled with stoners, you were only partially correct: there are indeed many, many stoners here at any one time. But, most of these stoners are tourists from North America and other countries briefly experiencing what freedom tastes like.


That's a laugh! No citizen of the European Union is free - we are all living in the quagmire of over-regulation and nanny state "social democracy" - currently being fashioned by the German Chancellor in fact (but this time with financial leverage, not military power).

We in the United Kingdom, who are denied the opportunity to vote on our membership of the most undemocratic, unaccountable institutions rife across the EU (because our leaders wouldn't like the result), gave up all our freedoms when we joined the whole sorry mess.

So don't lecture us all about the tragedies of (a fragment of) American life. No place is perfect, certainly not continental Europe. Ask the Spanish, the Irish, the Greeks and Cypriots how much they are enjoying their "European style" freedoms at the moment...
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 01:30 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: theJourney
If you were insinuating that Amsterdam might be filled with stoners, you were only partially correct: there are indeed many, many stoners here at any one time. But, most of these stoners are tourists from North America and other countries briefly experiencing what freedom tastes like.


That's a laugh! No citizen of the European Union is free - we are all living in the quagmire of over-regulation and nanny state "social democracy" - currently being fashioned by the German Chancellor in fact (but this time with financial leverage, not military power).

We in the United Kingdom, who are denied the opportunity to vote on our membership of the most undemocratic, unaccountable institutions rife across the EU (because our leaders wouldn't like the result), gave up all our freedoms when we joined the whole sorry mess.

So don't lecture us all about the tragedies of (a fragment of) American life. No place is perfect, certainly not continental Europe. Ask the Spanish, the Irish, the Greeks and Cypriots how much they are enjoying their "European style" freedoms at the moment...

If we could jettison the whole sorry lot of whinging Brits and let the UK buy itself out of the EU to become the next American state, I'm sure that everyone concerned would be quite happy. wink Certainly getting rid of one more den of thieves and having London & New York be merged into "one big bad bank city" would be good for world stability.
Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 01:46 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: theJourney
If you were insinuating that Amsterdam might be filled with stoners, you were only partially correct: there are indeed many, many stoners here at any one time. But, most of these stoners are tourists from North America and other countries briefly experiencing what freedom tastes like.


That's a laugh! No citizen of the European Union is free - we are all living in the quagmire of over-regulation and nanny state "social democracy" - currently being fashioned by the German Chancellor in fact (but this time with financial leverage, not military power).

We in the United Kingdom, who are denied the opportunity to vote on our membership of the most undemocratic, unaccountable institutions rife across the EU (because our leaders wouldn't like the result), gave up all our freedoms when we joined the whole sorry mess.

So don't lecture us all about the tragedies of (a fragment of) American life. No place is perfect, certainly not continental Europe. Ask the Spanish, the Irish, the Greeks and Cypriots how much they are enjoying their "European style" freedoms at the moment...


Well, the Greeks, Spanish etc. have the same rights and freedoms as every other nation that is a part of the EU. Yet, I have not seen German complain about being members of the EU -- maybe because they actually produce some values unlike, say, the Greek whose economy is (or rather was until it collapsed) one big joke. The worst thing was that they lied about it. Now the German have to bend over backwards to make up for that.

So yes, the EU is not perfect by any stretch of imagination and many of their regulations border on ridiculous. But don't talk like the nations you have mentioned have been put in their situation by the "evil" EU. They are solely responsible for that. I repeat: It's their OWN GODDAMN FAULT!
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 01:49 PM

You're right ...
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
No citizen of the European Union is free - we are all living in the quagmire of over-regulation and nanny state "social democracy" - currently being fashioned by the German Chancellor in fact (but this time with financial leverage, not military power).
Europe has swallowed socialism whole. And, unfortunately, the same is happening here in America. We used to be a nation of motivated individuals, industrious and independent. Now we're becoming slaves to the nanny state, dependent on government for everything.

Witness the fits over the budget politics surrounding sequestration. The socialists moan over a paltry $80 B cut (in a multi-trillion dollar budget) ... when we really need to cut a full trillion. But then, that would not satisfy the gimme-gimme-gimme crowd who live off the government. And all the while that same government wants to further raid my wallet by opening the borders to yet more gimme-gimme immigrants.

Socialism is the last gasp of a failed civilization, founded on losership. Most of Europe has already succumbed. And now America seeks to join them. It's disgusting.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 02:41 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
You're right ...
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
No citizen of the European Union is free - we are all living in the quagmire of over-regulation and nanny state "social democracy" - currently being fashioned by the German Chancellor in fact (but this time with financial leverage, not military power).
Europe has swallowed socialism whole. And, unfortunately, the same is happening here in America. We used to be a nation of motivated individuals, industrious and independent. Now we're becoming slaves to the nanny state, dependent on government for everything.

Witness the fits over the budget politics surrounding sequestration. The socialists moan over a paltry $80 B cut (in a multi-trillion dollar budget) ... when we really need to cut a full trillion. But then, that would not satisfy the gimme-gimme-gimme crowd who live off the government. And all the while that same government wants to further raid my wallet by opening the borders to yet more gimme-gimme immigrants.

Socialism is the last gasp of a failed civilization, founded on losership. Most of Europe has already succumbed. And now America seeks to join them. It's disgusting.


America doesn't have socialists, never really did. There is right wing, far right wing and predator capitalist. Obama is so far to the right of Nixon that he makes Nixon look like a Communist in comparison.

America has the lowest taxes in the developed world. Quite a feat when you consider that most of them go to the gimme-gimme crowd of investment bankers, corporate farmers and lobbyists together with the bottomless pit of military overreach to feed its unconstitutional standing army, spending more than the rest of the entire world combined on defense and weapons of mass destruction (and upwards of $8 trillion dollars on the fiasco defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq alone when when you count all the projected costs of the handout-demanding, crippled and brain-damaged veterans who expect to be supported by the "nanny state" for the rest of their lives for their tragic and worthless sacrifice).

What is killing America is not socialism. It is giving up " We the People " and self-government to become passive, consumer-serfs of global corporations that are the new voting citizens.
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 03:28 PM

Boys! Boys! Your gonna hurt someone!

These are very difficult matters to argue about properly, and it's very easy to talk rubbish (it seems the more you move to the west and beyond the ocean, the easier it is).
Both systems (neocons/false liberalism and socialdemocracy) have deceived people, and both have developed false explanations to justify their proceedings.
It's sad reading some people's prejudices about Europe and its socialdemocracy, that has done a lot of positive things before selling itself to corrupt bankers (if you'll forgive the repetition).
It's even sadder to hear once and again that old chat about freedom and individualism, the State as a mother and the inmigrants, all toghether.
Inmigrants! In America! How they dare? That rich and egalitarian, millenial people with strange names (Patrick, James,Joshua...), food (those exotic pork chops!) and religion (imagine? they were all christians!) was there since the ice melted! And then the poors came...to steal it all to them.
And what about that "liberalism" full of commercial guards so that american products get well protected against imports?

This so called crisis (which is the greatest robbery-in-the-face ever seen) has put them all in its place, whatever the mask they were wearing, as in the past happened to comunism.

One good thing (among many others) has America that we lack: some "Bowling for Columbine" or an "Inside job" would be much appreciated here.
We all (americans, greeks, spaniards, irish...) have what we deserve...and a good portion of what THEY (corrupt politicians, bankers) deserved.

Now, time will tell.
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 03:30 PM

Hey, this is a digital piano forum. I'd say this thread has become to political. I say we write the pianist who had opinions and find out if she was influenced by Yamaha. But if we examine the pianos she was comparing, the AG was probably going to win. Does anyone think she would end up saying that the Casio was the best for her?
Posted by: maurus

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 03:37 PM

Well if anything then this thread has become quite revealing about anyone's opinions, hasn't it? cool
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 03:40 PM

Huh??????!!!!!
Originally Posted By: theJourney
America doesn't have socialists, never really did. There is right wing, far right wing and predator capitalist. Obama is so far to the right of Nixon that he makes Nixon look like a Communist in comparison.
Obama is to the right of Nixon? What do they teach in the schools over there?

Nixon (and Reagan) were the last of the ardent anti-socialists.

Meanwhile Obama is most socialist of any President, ever. His entire life has been spent learning socialism and bringing it out in his politics. He admits it and basks in it.

Are you smoking something you can share with the rest of us? Or are you momentarily left/right dyslexic?

Or maybe you just watch too much TV? In America, television is so far left that people are blind to it. Is that true in Europe, too?
Posted by: maurus

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 04:10 PM

See what I mean? "In America, television is so far left that people are blind to it." Very interesting, and revealing about the one who writes it.

On the marketing issue that generated all these outbursts, one would really wish that someone with true, inside knowledge would contribute. But so far I don't think we have seen such a contribution to this thread.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 04:55 PM

Since I started this thread I feel I can take a little liberty in adding my two cents to this discussion which has turned decidedly political.

I'm probably in a unique situation here, more than most of the individuals in this thread, as I'm American and have lived in the Netherlands for the last 18 years. I also served 20 years in a very conservative organization, the US Army, (though as a professional musician).

I lived the first 44 years of my life in the US and for the last 18 years in the Netherlands. Even though I pay slightly more in taxes here (I'll provide several links at the end of this message), I have no intentions of ever moving back to the US. The standard of living is noticeably higher here, period.

We pay more in taxes though not considerably more than my fellow Americans in the US. The roads are excellent, the train system impressive, health care - well, the Dutch are the tallest people (by national average) on the planet which speaks volumes on the preventative approach to medicine as well as to the food supply and general education.

The Netherlands, a small country, twice the size of New Jersey, is number two in agricultural exports.

The Dutch speak English better than many of our own citizens (certainly better than our previous President) and typically speak German and a fair amount of French.

Policy here is typically formed by those expert in the field of question and not by politicians; health care policy is typically made by health care professionals and not by religious or political types if you catch my drift. This is a generalization I realize but basically accurate.

The religious belief or lack thereof of a politician is not an issue here. The Dutch are a proud people and justifiably so.

Here are a few links to ponder ...

NY Times article on what it's like to live in Holland

NationMaster - a great place to compare national statistics on just about any topic

Gasoline prices by country

Now, having posted all this ... can we keep this thread, the thread I started, on track. smile

Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 05:11 PM

Originally Posted By: maurus
On the marketing issue that generated all these outbursts, one would really wish that someone with true, inside knowledge would contribute. But so far I don't think we have seen such a contribution to this thread.

Nope, we are not in an economics marketing faculty absolvents forum. But seriously, I myself was previously involved a little in placing information about our own SW products most in local press and media and this thin experience is a good basis to imagine how it could work on the big scale.

I must confess, I found these whole shifting discussions very refreshing, the participants have only revealed, that so many contradicting affinities coexist with our common hobbies/profession. And some of us became just more flesh and blood personalities for me than before.

I also think, the professional side here is just much stronger represented than assumed, more silent or disguised, than the role of say KJ or MM or ATLPianos or DEL over there in the other fora is. This is perhaps why we don't find a Roland or Yamaha representative here. (At least I think to hear out some frustration due to the suppressed personality of the proponents.)

Why not, many professionals, dealers, etc. may and should retain their enthusiastic attitude along with their carrier.
Posted by: Virgo Cluster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 05:31 PM

Hi all,
Before I try to get the discussion back on topic, like Dave Horne I have lived both in the US and Europe (basically the first half of my life in the US and the second half in the UK). I do not feel any less 'free' here! And once you take the cost of private health insurance in the US into account, my salary and living standards are not discernibly different than those of my friends in the states. In the 90s, friends in the states simply could not believe that I could pay my bills by direct debit before they could, or that my supermarket had a system of self-scanning items before theirs. So I have no idea what this socialism rap is all about.

But back on topic, recently I saw a newspaper article unrelated to music or tech, where a DP was referred to as a 'Yamaha'. In other words, as a generic name, like Kleenex for facial tissue in America, Hoover for vacuum cleaner in Britain, or Xerox for photocopier. I can't recall, but it was something like a property article where a pianist was moving into an apartment, and the advice was to "buy a Yamaha" so as to not disturb the neighbours.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 05:39 PM

I am living in countries of the old K.u.K (Austrian - Hungarian) Monarchy (half to half in Vienna and Hungary), lived previously fast a decade in Germany, but for a short time I worked in Italy too). The many strong differences between these geographically neighbouring worlds I am confronting day for day taught me to be very tolerant towards different political views based mostly on illusions. Illusions by which we are only equipped to cope with the complexities of modern societies. Most interesting to see how different the political themes in different countries are, the answers to them is secondary.

...<DELETED>...

I also would say, I don't want to pay my Taxes in Texas.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 07:15 PM

I think calls to bring this thread back to the topic of piano are misplaced/futile. Such a large portion is now not piano related that it would be a waste if good piano discussion came up because those interested in it might be turned off by the unrelated political rhetoric.

I only called out the journey on the WSJ comment because it's patently crazy, but at least it was mostly on topic. At this point it's the most sane and on topic thing he has said in this thread. TheJourney, I don't know what your ties to America are (if any) but it's clear that you know nothing about it. No one who knows the definition of right and left would say Obama is left right of Nixon in any sense of the word. Obama and Biden were two of the most liberal senators (based on voting record) we had before they ran and Nixon was by no means liberal (if you can even compare political spectra over time).

It is a well-accepted fact that almost all media in the US are left of the mean. That can be verified by the fact that reporters, journalists, and editors are almost 100% democrat, which is our left-wing party. Where they are relative to Europeans is pretty much irrelevant. Politics across countries are not comparable. The issues are different and the people are different. Many people outside the US try to weigh in on one side of American politics for some reason, typically because they watch a lot of CNN or pick up cues from our movies, but they don't understand the issues and they confuse the main message of much of our media (that we should move to the left of where we are) with a very different message (that America is broken, or moving to the right, that republicans are sinister, or other such nonsense). Weighing in on stuff you only know about through hearsay (i.e., whatever media you have in the Netherlands) really just makes you look like a fool.

I just came back from spending some time in France and more than one person approached me and said "You are from America? Let me explain to you about the defining characteristic of America..." and then they would say the stupidest things imaginable (they weren't drunk at the time, by the way). You can't blame their ignorance, necessarily. They only know what they see in movies and TV. This conversation is eerily similar, though.

I'm sure there's lots of great stuff about the Netherlands and other socialist countries. Any differences are likely to have upsides and downsides--that's the way the world works. But it doesn't follow that the US should or wants to be the same way (or even that it could, feasibly). And it definitely doesn't follow that Europeans are in a good position to take a side in American politics or the state of business or journalism in America.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 07:41 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
No one who knows the definition of right and left would say Obama is left of Nixon in any sense of the word.


I believe you may have intended to write 'right of Nixon' there.

James
x
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 08:10 PM

Oopsie. Fixed.

Maybe that same thing is what happened earlier in the thread. Wouldn't it be funny if this whole thread-path was all a big typo and we are actually all in agreement?
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/04/13 10:42 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
America doesn't have socialists, never really did. There is right wing, far right wing and predator capitalist. Obama is so far to the right of Nixon that he makes Nixon look like a Communist in comparison.



Stick to wrting about your own country...
it's clear you have NO IDEA what you
are talking about. Jeez.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 01:20 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Huh??????!!!!!
Originally Posted By: theJourney
America doesn't have socialists, never really did. There is right wing, far right wing and predator capitalist. Obama is so far to the right of Nixon that he makes Nixon look like a Communist in comparison.
Obama is to the right of Nixon? What do they teach in the schools over there?

Nixon (and Reagan) were the last of the ardent anti-socialists.

Meanwhile Obama is most socialist of any President, ever. His entire life has been spent learning socialism and bringing it out in his politics. He admits it and basks in it.

Are you smoking something you can share with the rest of us? Or are you momentarily left/right dyslexic?

Or maybe you just watch too much TV? In America, television is so far left that people are blind to it. Is that true in Europe, too?


I don't watch television. I do read.

Perhaps you might read some quality newspapers and learn a little history rather than repeating what one hears on Faux News?

Not having lived in both Europe and the US and having no first hand experience of Europe is one thing, but not even knowing the (recent!) history of your own country is tragic.

Quote:

To hear Republicans on the campaign trail, the United States could not have elected a more left-wing president than Barack Obama, one more hostile to business or more eager to expand government power. Left-wing Democrats, I’m sure, would disagree. If they had their druthers, they would probably make a more liberal, more pro-big government choice. Somebody, perhaps, like Richard Nixon.

That’s right. The Nixon administration not only supported the Clean Air Act and affirmative action, it also gave us the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the agencies the business community most detests, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to police working conditions. Herbert Stein, chief economic adviser during the administrations of Nixon and Gerald Ford, once remarked: “Probably more new regulation was imposed on the economy during the Nixon administration than in any other presidency since the New Deal.”

Nixon bolstered Social Security benefits. He introduced a minimum tax on the wealthy and championed a guaranteed minimum income for the poor. He even proposed health reform that would require employers to buy health insurance for all their employees and subsidize those who couldn’t afford it. That failed because of Democratic opposition. Today, Republicans would probably shoot it down.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/busine...xon.html?_r=0#h[TrHSc,1]
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 01:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Virgo Cluster
Hi all,
Before I try to get the discussion back on topic, like Dave Horne I have lived both in the US and Europe (basically the first half of my life in the US and the second half in the UK). I do not feel any less 'free' here! And once you take the cost of private health insurance in the US into account, my salary and living standards are not discernibly different than those of my friends in the states. In the 90s, friends in the states simply could not believe that I could pay my bills by direct debit before they could, or that my supermarket had a system of self-scanning items before theirs. So I have no idea what this socialism rap is all about.


"Socialism" is a negative, knee-jerk, red-flag, manipulative code word used in political propaganda in the US, particularly from the right-most side of the aisle. It doens't really mean anything more than " bad guys! ".

When you line up 10 random Americans from the street and ask them to define " socialism " you get 10 different but wrong answers. blush

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVz4VweMqFE
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 02:53 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Weighing in on stuff you only know about through hearsay (i.e., whatever media you have in the Netherlands) really just makes you look like a fool.

Depending on how old you are I may have lived a good many more decades in the US than you have. Also, remember, not everyone has lived in only one country or is limited to having just one nationality.
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I'm sure there's lots of great stuff about the Netherlands and other socialist countries. Any differences are likely to have upsides and downsides--that's the way the world works. But it doesn't follow that the US should or wants to be the same way (or even that it could, feasibly). And it definitely doesn't follow that Europeans are in a good position to take a side in American politics or the state of business or journalism in America.


It is true that the Netherlands is more "social" than the US e.g.:
- violent crime is a fraction of that in the US and the prisons are empty and being shuttered in NL while it is a growth industry in the US which has a greater percentage of its population deprived of its freedom and locked up in prison of any country in the history of the world;
- childhood poverty is virtually unknown while 30% of American children grow up in poverty;
- everyone is fully covered for affordable health care and free to be an entrepreneur and open a business spend time raising their family properly in the Netherlands rather than being dependent on commuting to a dead-end job just for access to health insurance (or risking suffering or dying without);
- there is more social mobility and chance to be able to study and work hard to achieve the "American Dream" in the Netherlands than in the US where children increasingly cannot escape the social class of their parents.

Interestingly enough, on many of the measures that people traditionally associate with "socialism", the United States is substantially more socialist than the Netherlands:

- Markets in the Netherlands are more open and liberalized than in the US which uses Chinese-style protetionism in many industries;
- Health care is 100% privatized through private health insurance versus only 35% of the US health care spending not going through socialized programs of Medicare/Medicaid/VA/etc.;
- 70% of students attend private schools versus only 11% in the US;
- rather than grand socialist projects such as the America's interstate highway system, the users of Dutch roads pay the lion share of their cost through road and gasoline taxes;
- AND, particularly important for this forum: rather than sports, universal grade school music lessons, band and choir being socialized and provided and paid for in government-run, public schools such as historically in the US, parents in the Netherlands must enroll their children in private music schools and pay their own way if they want their children to have a music education.

It is interesting to note that so many of the things that made America great are the grand scope and success of her most socialist monuments such as universal education, the Land Grants, Hoover Dam, NASA, the great State Universities before they became profit centers to scam kids for big bucks rather than to educate them, etc. etc.

Whenever too much naive trust is placed in unregulated, private markets we get the Great Depressions, Bernie Madoffs and the rest of the banksters that made off with our economy and our tax dollars, etc.
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 04:27 AM

Yep, Holland is anything but socialist. It's a democratic kingdom, in fact, and maybe the cradle (one of them) for many of the good things that americans have (including genetics, which means gals)! And, I must say, a fantastic country where you can find the more polite people all across Europe (maybe because they are educated to be citizens, first of all). A little snooty compared to latins, but very friendly and kind compared to germans! Sadly, the hard right wing party has gained a lot of votes lately, but that's nothing strange if we attend to average age of hollanders, which is high, and how they feel about so-called melting pot, among other reasons, banksters included.
What I don't get is this kind of war between american and european, all of this anger.

About Yamaha as a metonymy for every DP: my teacher names "Clavinova" to every digital, no matter the actual make, and so others do, here. Maybe that pianist above shares the same prejudice.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 06:23 AM

theJourney, excellent posts!
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 07:41 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
theJourney, excellent posts!


If by "excellent" James you mean lecturing and holier-than-thou, I agree! And his posts are riddled with simplistic assumptions about the USA and rose-tinted nauseating rhetoric about the Netherlands. The anti-American snooty attitude of certain people really makes me quite angry.

And he labels me (and you) and all British people as "whinging Brits". The nation that is one of a tiny number of net contributors to the black hole of Europe where the EU institutions are completely undemocratic and unaccountable to the British mugs who are paying the bills. This is the Europe that pays farmers to grow crops no one eats - or pays them not to grow crops - and has artificially doubled the cost of food since Britain joined. And the Dutch have their snouts in the trough too with a vested interest in the continuation of the whole shebang, benefitting as they do by being the geographical host of many of those institutions.

Europe does look like a failing political experiment and the cost has been the huge withdrawal of personal freedoms, and that is my personal objection to it all. I make no comment about social provision or welfare or health-care in individual nation states other than to say there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is merit in different systems. But the political dogma that has driven all this change and the restrictions on national sovereignty and personal freedom is tragic.

Let's remember the EU was the brain child of Churchill among others, whose principle aim was to stop the Germans and French going to war again. A noble aim from a whinging Brit some would say. I see our 1000 years of unbroken continuity, history and heritage and proud status as an inventive and influential island nation state going down the toilet frankly. That's not all down to the EU, I know that - but it has played a significant part.
Posted by: spanishbuddha

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 07:42 AM

I'm learning a lot. Confused but still ... Maybe we should include North Korea somewhere. Wait, I just did.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:20 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
theJourney, excellent posts!


If by "excellent" James you mean lecturing and holier-than-thou, I agree! And his posts are riddled with simplistic assumptions about the USA and rose-tinted nauseating rhetoric about the Netherlands. The anti-American snooty attitude of certain people really makes me quite angry.

Correcting misconception and myths being thoughtlessly repeated on this thread by pointing to facts can hardly be called anti-American. If you pointed out your son's poor school performance on his report card would that make you "anti-child" or just a concerned parent?
Originally Posted By: EssBrace

And he labels me (and you) and all British people as "whinging Brits".

It wasn't a label, it was an observation of your behavior (and that of many of your countrymen, you are in good company). I don't see KJ doing any similar kind of whinging. To the contrary.
Originally Posted By: EssBrace

The nation that is one of a tiny number of net contributors to the black hole of Europe where the EU institutions are completely undemocratic and unaccountable to the British mugs who are paying the bills. This is the Europe that pays farmers to grow crops no one eats - or pays them not to grow crops - and has artificially doubled the cost of food since Britain joined. And the Dutch have their snouts in the trough too with a vested interest in the continuation of the whole shebang, benefitting as they do by being the geographical host of many of those institutions.

Tiny the Netherlands is also a net contributor to the EU and has consistenly punched above its weight for years.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/finan...t-is-spent.html
Quote:

The Netherlands: a net contributor
All the EU member states contribute to the EU budget, and they all receive payments from it. A member state’s balance of receipts minus contributions is called its ‘net position’. Some members states are net contributors, and some are net recipients. The Netherlands is a net contributor, and has been so since 1991. Along with Sweden, Germany and Austria, the Netherlands is one of the EU’s biggest net contributors. Per capita, the Dutch pay much more than other member states with a similar level of prosperity. The Netherlands is also one of the few countries to give the EU an annual statement explaining how it has spent EU money.

http://www.government.nl/issues/european...-european-union
Originally Posted By: EssBrace

Europe does look like a failing political experiment and the cost has been the huge withdrawal of personal freedoms,

confused Can you elaborate on which personal freedoms you have lost?
Originally Posted By: EssBrace

and that is my personal objection to it all. I make no comment about social provision or welfare or health-care in individual nation states other than to say there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is merit in different systems. But the political dogma that has driven all this change and the restrictions on national sovereignty and personal freedom is tragic.

Let's remember the EU was the brain child of Churchill among others, whose principle aim was to stop the Germans and French going to war again. A noble aim from a whinging Brit some would say. I see our 1000 years of unbroken continuity, history and heritage and proud status as an inventive and influential island nation state going down the toilet frankly. That's not all down to the EU, I know that - but it has played a significant part.


It is quite easy to claim that everything good about today's situation is because of the incomparable brilliance of the Brits but that the main reason why the UK has gone so much down the toilet is just because of the EU.

The world is a different place than it was just a few short decades ago. There are big blocks of mega-countries and economies that will determine the fate of their citizens. The liklihood that the UK, by going it alone, would become anything more than a has-been, cold island backwater, each year becoming more and more impoverished, is highly doubtful.
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
We in the United Kingdom, who are denied the opportunity to vote on our membership of the most undemocratic, unaccountable institutions rife across the EU (because our leaders wouldn't like the result), gave up all our freedoms when we joined the whole sorry mess.

If I recall, no one allowed you to vote for WWI or WWII either. Personally, I prefer the "tyranny" of being forced to clean up the environment, harmonize trade and treat everyone fairly rather than to face the consequences of WWIII.

Rather than passively whinging about how undemocratic your EU government is, why not become responsible and accountable and start actually taking personal action to make it better?
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:32 AM

@EssBrace

Lol, 1000 years of unbroken continuity, the things one has to read! Now, tell me it was unplanned and that irish, scotish or welsh were waiting for that Great Britain to happen with opened arms. There's no such thing as milenary countries. Modern nations (states) are completely different things, so keep that old illusory pride in its closet and throw the key.
Funny how some of you, as TJ pointed before, judge others not knowing your own history. And hey, I'm quite eurosceptical too and understand perfectly what you said about subventions (whose goal is very clever, but has developed a corrupt market)and about how they stoled the votes against being (partialy, don't forget)EU members.
Again, no system is superior to others, and we can argue without anger. Can´t we?


I don't think we are anti-american, or anti-british.Why to be here if it was the case? On the contrary, is the condescendent attitud of SOME britts and americans against everyone what is annoying, specially when you give lessons to the whole world but can't keep your house clean, or even know how many rooms it has. America and Brittain have their "B" side (we all have one) and everyone interested on it can find tones of information, music and literature. Is Tom Waits anti-american? Paul Auster? Carver? Is Hornby anti-brittish? Frears? Come on.
Have you ever been to Spain? I guess you have. Do you need me to say what is the (superficial) image that you britts give, here? Do you melt with spaniards, or buy in their shops, or drink in their bars? You usually don't. You have built "little Englands" wherever you go, as Germans did in Mallorca. Btw, when britts came here, germans and dutches moved. Noisy, rude, drunk...Do I go on saying topics?
So, who is against who?
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:38 AM

How does everyone feel about religion? cool
Posted by: MagicK

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:46 AM

I always find it astonishing, especially in a forum like this, where poeple from around the world are united by their love of music (violins in the background might be appropriate here :-) how small the drawers are, where every person of a country is put in.

One sentence i liked most here "A little snooty compared to latins, but very friendly and kind compared to germans". As a german i should be offended but it sadly shows only the inherent racism around us which most poeple won't even recognise as such. There is no "The German" as there is no "The American" or any other "The xxx".

You can say "Many Germans" or "Most Germans i had contact with". And if you would give it a chance you would see, that most of the time it's just the cultural misunderstanding, aequivalent to a dog wagging his tail to show he's friendly and a cat doing the same saying "get off, i'm angry".

So, continue to hack on foreign and domestic politics of different countries and give germany a bit heap of it, but don't think that every single person in a country is alike. That's just stupid.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:50 AM

Originally Posted By: mabraman
Have you ever been to Spain? I guess you have. Do you need me to say what is the (superficial) image that you britts give, here? Do you melt with spaniards, or buy in their shops, or drink in their bars? You usually don't. You have built "little Englands" wherever you go, as Germans did in Mallorca. Btw, when britts came here, germans and dutches moved. Noisy, rude, drunk...Do I go on saying topics?
So, who is against who?


I have been to Spain and no you don't need to elaborate about the behaviour of a particular kind of "Brit" as you and theJourney label us. That particular kind of Briton is almost always English and the yob/mob culture shows us (for I too am English but describe myself as British) in the worst possible light. The behaviour of the "English mob" abroad is often shocking and disgusting and frankly shameful. And I suppose I have to accept that in parts of Europe that is our image. Very sad and probably beyond changing now too.
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:57 AM

You are true. I just wanted to make a joke about labels, but evidently it was the bad one. I apologize.
But, hey, I'm not racist at all (as a mediterranean, I have hundreds of bloods), I even didn't know there was a "race of germans", and the last ones who said so...Well, let's forget it.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:59 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
If by "excellent" James you mean lecturing and holier-than-thou.


I was referring more to his examination of 'socialism' in Holland and the US, rather than the 'whinging Brits' post (which I somehow missed first time around).

However, while I am not terribly keen on theJourney's somewhat condescending posting style, I do believe he raises some very interesting points.

For example, the suggestion that Obama is more conservative than Nixon sounds ridiculous initially. However, when you consider some of the policies that his administration have enacted (or maintained), while also taking into account that of Nixon's, the argument suddenly becomes rather more valid.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/09/03/1013155/-Nixon-more-liberal-than-Obama
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/22/obama-nixon/
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2011/07/22/Barack-Obama-The-Democrats-Richard-Nixon.aspx

Originally Posted By: Bruce Bartlett, The Fiscal Times
Here are a few examples of Obama's effective conservatism:

  • His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
  • He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
  • He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
  • He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
  • And in the past few weeks he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans.


Unfortunately, Obama is not the liberal, progressive president that so many Democrats hoped he would be, and so many Republicans believe that he is.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: MagicK

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:00 AM

In my experience, the most annoying poeple i met, when on holiday, where germans. Whereas my encounters with "Brits" where all very nice.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:02 AM

Mabraman, no apology necessary! I'm sorry for the people that have to deal with drunk loutish English people abroad. They are a small minority but in parts of Spain it would be difficult to believe that they are a minority I would imagine.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
If by "excellent" James you mean lecturing and holier-than-thou.


I was referring more to his examination of 'socialism' in Holland and the US, rather than the 'whinging Brits' post (which I somehow missed first time around).

However, while I am not terribly keen on theJourney's somewhat condescending posting style, I do believe he raises some very interesting points.

The suggestion that Obama is more conservative than Nixon sounds ridiculous initially. However, when you consider some of the policies that his administration have enacted (or maintained), while also taking into account that of Nixon's the argument suddenly becomes rather more valid.


Yes, fair point. Someone else (was it gv?) said earlier that you can't impose understanding of one nation's politics onto another. The reality in the US when you have two houses, each with different political majorities and each with the ability to delay or frustrate the President's plans makes it difficult to draw parallels.

Another example would be foreign observers of business in the House of Commons with all the shouting and paper waving and apparent lack of respect. It would seem to be a circus but there is a kind of point to it....
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
If by "excellent" James you mean lecturing and holier-than-thou.


I was referring more to his examination of 'socialism' in Holland and the US, rather than the 'whinging Brits' post (which I somehow missed first time around).

However, while I am not terribly keen on theJourney's somewhat condescending posting style, I do believe he raises some very interesting points.

Must be all my German blood. wink
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:26 AM

Bump...

Originally Posted By: theJourney

Originally Posted By: EssBrace

Europe does look like a failing political experiment and the cost has been the huge withdrawal of personal freedoms,

confused Can you elaborate on which personal freedoms you have lost?
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:32 AM

One way to unite some cultures (I didn't know about this "fluid piano", did you?):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vblUFZOs6a0
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 10:15 AM

Our common hobbies or sometimes even destiny - music, instruments, interests in cultural history, in technology and yes even industry and global market - should teach us: there are more common in us throughout country boarders and continents than what separates us by our nationality or political views.

Similarly: no social class was prone of male chauvinism - but even the most ardent male chauvinist aristocrats in every society in history wouldn't deny that women in their own social class had much more in common with themselves than males in other classes.

This could settle some issues here.

There are issues which are just too complex to understand without a higher economical studium. Such a question is e.g. which country pulls more benefits out of the EU or from the Euro. Germany is a netto nominal contibutor, but generally regarded as a winner by their membership (EU and Euro zone). Had they the Deutsche Mark, it's value would be 2 EUR by now (at the beginning 1 EUR=2DM) and the German economy wouldn't suffer competetive pressure. (But how popular it would be.) Just the opposite is happening in the Meditterranain countries, they economies were in balance up to now, without todays crisis, could they have devaluated their currencies.

Justa classical other example: if You let people work longer, are than the older employees taking simply jobs from the young, or helping to generate new jobs? (Or with immigrants).

If You take democracy itself, it is perhaps the holy grail but not holy at all. Opinions for even basic questions and individual voter's decision are based on oversimplified lay answers - is that not what lastly all political elections and decisions governs?

Political scenery with much media hype and other political marketing is just what is before the curtain, what counts is the backstage. I couldn't imagine that they would ever succeed with such an unpopular Euro launch project (in almost all participating countries) ever would take place - but it was decided and pushed through and was running astonishingly smooth - until the last big economical crisis.

Our opinion is governed by the media, if You are in a specific country, than complete other issues are drawing your affinity and let you polarize your views.

I am better off, when I focus on my music and other deeper interests where I have the power of acting. Political issues deserve my activities only when I have the chance to participate in politics full time in a role of a real player. (Like in soccer: few player, many fans but who have much illusion about their importance.)
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 11:50 AM

Geez - is this Piano World or the
"The Daily Worker" - enuff of the
pinko commie crap - "Journey" has
been smoking WAAAY to much of his
own supply...
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 12:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Geez - is this Piano World or the
"The Daily Worker" - enuff of the
pinko commie crap - "Journey" has
been smoking WAAAY to much of his
own supply...

I hesitate to ask what kind of crowd you might move in, where the epithet "pinko commie" is still in active use. Last time I heard it IIRC was from Archie Bunker's mouth circa 1970.

Way to raise the level of discourse dude.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 12:22 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
I hesitate to ask what kind of crowd you might move in, where the epithet "pinko commie" is still in active use. Last time I heard it IIRC was from Archie Bunker's mouth circa 1970.

Way to raise the level of discourse dude.


Hey, dude, It's called sarcasm "dude".....what a rube.

And, Dude - how is the "dude" crowd any better than
the "Bunker" crowd, dude.

Wow, dude.

ps. Pinko Commie is a classic "Seinfeld" quote, Dude.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 12:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
For example, the suggestion that Obama is more conservative than Nixon sounds ridiculous initially. However, when you consider some of the policies that his administration have enacted (or maintained), while also taking into account that of Nixon's, the argument suddenly becomes rather more valid.


No, actually it doesn't. Nixon started with the situation as he had it at the time, which was very different than ours. If he made some decisions during his years that pushed the country to the left (among the many that he made the pushed it to the right), that can't easily be compared with today's situation because when he left office the country was far right of where it is today. We've had many liberal politicians push the country left since then, far beyond the US Nixon saw.

The question is this: if Nixon were president today would he be making as liberal (as we understand it today) decisions as Obama is? No, he would not. If Obama had been president back in Nixon's day, would he have made those same liberal decisions? Yes, and many more.

By the way, it's pretty much invalid to make comparisons across long periods of time, just as it is to make them across countries. The definition of liberal and conservative is by no means stable. It used to be that the south was the heart of the Democratic party. Then there was a long period of time when the east was liberal and the west was conservative (with California the conservative powerhouse). Today the coasts (at least, the urban areas) are liberal and the heartland is conservative. The people haven't changed all that much. The issues have. And those issues differ from those in Europe and other areas by so much that there is little point in using the same words to describe political leanings on two sides of the pond.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 12:40 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
It is a well-accepted fact that almost all media in the US are left of the mean. That can be verified by the fact that reporters, journalists, and editors are almost 100% democrat, which is our left-wing party.

How employees vote doesn't necessarily define how the institution that pays their checks leans politically. The media is as liberal as the multi-national corporations who own them, which is to say, very little. One of my right wing friends (PHD in politics and very active statistical researcher) explained this to me years ago.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Hey, dude, It's called sarcasm "dude".....what a rube.

Classic bully comeback - "I was just kidding! Watsamatter, you can't take a joke?"

When you can't address the merits of an argument, revert to preschool playground tactics. I guess it's true that everything we know we learned in kindergarden.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Hey, dude, It's called sarcasm "dude".....what a rube.

Classic bully comeback - "I was just kidding! Watsamatter, you can't take a joke?"

When you can't address the merits of an argument, revert to preschool playground tactics. I guess it's true that everything we know we learned in kindergarden.


How dare you call me a bully, you heartless monster!!!
You have sent me into a shame spiral and over the
Feel Bad Rainbow.

Wanna go to group with me, Dewey? I really think
we can make some progress.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 01:00 PM

Re: Dewster's comments about corporations setting the political tone of the news.

I guess I don't agree. Despite the vilification they receive, corporations are about maximizing profit, not pushing ideals, and that becomes more true the larger they are (which tends to lead to less concentration of ownership). On the other hand if you ask a reporter or editor why they went into their field there is a very good chance that they will respond that they wanted to "make a difference." Aggregated across the thousands of people working in that field, it's an all but unstoppable force.

Further, it's quite the myth that leaders of corporations tend to be on the far right politically. There's a wide dispersion, with many of the biggest companies in America (including those that own news outlets) being led by very liberal people.

It's a valid argument, though, so let's accept that liberal reporters and editors doesn't necessarily lead to liberal news (I still believe it does, in practice, obviously).

Perhaps the way to think about it, then, is to compare people's opinions of the media. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a conservative who did not agree that essentially all media is left of median. On the other side of the spectrum typical left-leaning people that I know (I am in a relatively liberal location and sphere) consider most news more-or-less fair and balanced (excluding fox). It's rare to find a liberal complaining about any news outlet besides fox.

(Btw I don't believe fox is particularly trying to push an ideal either--there's not a lot of money in ideals. They have just realized that everyone likes to hear news that validates their preconceived opinions and 50% of the country doesn't get that from other stations. So they are more actively fighting the natural tendency of their reporters in an effort to maximize profit.)

If we assume that the media is centered in the political spectrum, one is hard pressed to explain why half the country feels that the media is biased and the other half generally doesn't. Mass delusion doesn't count as a valid explanation, by the way. It's not true that there's a disparity in education, rationality, or intelligence between the sides of the political spectrum. Anything contrary to that is just rhetoric used by radicals on both sides to disparage the other.
Posted by: 36251

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 01:21 PM

TMI from some of folks.
Posted by: Ishkabibble

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 01:52 PM

It would be very helpful if there were a standard, widely accepted definition of what right and left or liberal and conservative "mean" nowadays. For example, is Pat Buchanan a liberal or conservative (left or right)?
http://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2013/04/04/is-war-with-north-korea-inevitable/

Is Ron Paul a liberal or conservative?

The reality is that those words don't matter one iota. Here's the reality of the situation in the US all in one simple cartoon.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 02:03 PM

ha ha ha - that's me under the left foot!
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 03:24 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Rather than passively whinging about how undemocratic your EU government is, why not become responsible and accountable and start actually taking personal action to make it better?
Could You give some examples for possible effective personal actions to be taken to make it better, beside voting or posting here and on other fora?
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
Could You give some examples for possible effective personal actions to be taken to make it better, beside voting or posting here and on other fora?



Posted by: patH

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 03:34 PM

Interesting discussion.

From discussing a WSJ article about the N2, to discussing whether the article was biased (marketing for Yamaha), to discussing media bias in general, to discussing politics in general. I like it. smile

This thread could very well have degenerated into a Yamaha-Kawai-Roland-Casio flame war. But it didn't. I guess it's because we all agree that we know a few things about pianos and music, and therefore concede that what some people like in keyboards, others don't.
But for some reason, some of us claim to have the answers on political questions. And I'm guessing most of us don't know more about politics or economy than about music. So we offer our opinions.

And with all this discussion, I don't even know if the WSJ is left-wing or right-wing. If it was one or the other, would this make Yamaha tend left or right as well? grin
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 03:41 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
And with all this discussion, I don't even know if the WSJ is left-wing or right-wing. If it was one or the other, would this make Yamaha tend left or right as well? grin


Lol. Well, Yamaha is a corporation, so I suspect a true socialist would define it as being on the side of evil (whichever side that is). Whether the guys in Japan consider themselves right or left is beyond me. I have no idea what politics are like there. smile
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 03:47 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Yamaha is a corporation


It's much, much, more sinister than that...
not only are they a corporation they
are a ..... GASP!!!!... conglomarate!!!!!


For Our Less Learned Friends
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Plinky88
It's much, much, more sinister than that...
not only are they a corporation they
are a ..... GASP!!!!... conglomarate!!!!!

Well, nobody of my young collegues, many of them techno freaks, did know, that the logo of their motocycle consists of 3 .... tuningforks!

As I bought a new DP, next day morning I told them: I have bought a YAMAHA !!!
(In reality it was a Kawai, but I rather needed this name to be manipulative - as this topic is mostly about. And we know it now, Yamaha = DP anyway)

The first questions were: What PS? How much cubic centimeter?

Yamaha Conglomerate on Wikipedia
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 04:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Rather than passively whinging about how undemocratic your EU government is, why not become responsible and accountable and start actually taking personal action to make it better?
Could You give some examples for possible effective personal actions to be taken to make it better, beside voting or posting here and on other fora?


Good question. Seeing as the EU institutions are completely undemocratic and disinterested in the needs of individuals within nation states. Their political agenda has nothing to do with my needs and aspirations and they are so remote from me I have no way of making my voice heard. So what's the point of doing anything? The European situation is one part of the reason people have become alienated by politics. People are apathetic and don't get involved like they used to because they just don't believe their views count anymore. No one is listening. No one in Europe cares just so long as we (the British) keep on pumping in billions and billions each year.

For the record I have no problem with cooperation and common markets and useful, friendly relationships between nations. But I don't want to be a citizen of "Europe". By Europe I mean a single political entity with law-making powers that take precedence over national sovereignty. Because certainly with the current structures it is essentially undemocratic. Unelected bureaucrats making decisions with wide-ranging effects on millions of individuals and those decision-makers are totally unaccountable. It's not right.

Millions of people lost their lives fighting for freedom and basic democratic rights - for themselves and on behalf of others. And now like lemmings we have apparently happily surrendered those hard-won rights and freedoms. And let's face facts - without the British and Americans (and others) continental Europe would have succumbed permanently to a tyrannical, cruel and genocidal dark age. So theJourney can look down his nose at whinging Brits and Americans all he likes but he owes his freedom to them both. Yes, that may be 70 years ago but history is there to teach us...
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
Well, nobody of my young collegues, many of them techno freaks, did know, that the logo of their motocycle consists of 3 .... pitchforks!


And here I thought those were tuning forks. crazy


History of the Yamaha Logo
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 05:20 PM

As long as we're talking Europe, I remember an article in Time magazine many, many years ago where someone started with say 1500 British pounds, travelled all through Europe exchanging currencies though 10 or so countries, and at the end of trip had not spent one cent and had very little money left over.

I for one when on vacation in Europe enjoy using a single currency. I like that member states have the same rules and regulations. I like that truck drivers from Poland have to sleep x number of hours per day, the same number of hours imposed on Dutch drivers.

The list goes on and on. It's not a perfect union but it's a civilized and intelligent start.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 05:23 PM

Originally Posted By: Plinky
And here I thought those were tuning forks. crazy
History of the Yamaha Logo

I just recently read "The Other" by Thomas Tryon, my typo was one other deep impact of that other tool. (Otherwise I don't use it very often on the fields...)
Posted by: patH

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 05:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
As I bought a new DP, next day morning I told them: I have bought a YAMAHA !!!
(In reality it was a Kawai, but I rather needed this name to be manipulative - as this topic is mostly about. And we know it now, Yamaha = DP anyway)

The first questions were: What PS? How much cubic centimeter?
laugh
Reminds me of last year, when I bought my Yamaha C2. I bought it on March 31st in Sindelfingen, which is also the headquarter of Mercedes-Benz. And Mercedes also has a C-class in their product range.
So the next day I called my parents and said: "I went to Sindelfingen and bought a C class. April's Fool or not?"

I don't even own a car, and if I bought one, it would most likely not be a Mercedes.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 06:01 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Millions of people lost their lives fighting for freedom and basic democratic rights - for themselves and on behalf of others. And now like lemmings we have apparently happily surrendered those hard-won rights and freedoms. And let's face facts - without the British and Americans (and others) continental Europe would have succumbed permanently to a tyrannical, cruel and genocidal dark age. So theJourney can look down his nose at whinging Brits and Americans all he likes but he owes his freedom to them both. Yes, that may be 70 years ago but history is there to teach us...

But not in Eastern Europe - here owed people their previous freedom to the Sowiets then? Or the Allies who trusted Stalin (but Churchill)? But seriously: between the 2 WWs there were just 2 decades. Since then 70 years. It all is history. Not much different than the influence of historical events in the past in centuries ago and in distant countries.
Otherwise You are right:
Quote:
people have become alienated by politics. People are apathetic and don't get involved like they used to because they just don't believe their views count anymore. No one is listening.
But this has another simple reason: You have a King/Queen. US have a President. But the EU has a Comittee. A complex distant structure, with very weak personal incarnation of power. Very abstract, distant thing, not suitable to integrate, to mobilize our atavistic evolutionary mind to participate, to trust or to criticize or to elect in person. Abstract structures of power are always suspect for the folk and target of conspiracy theories.
And the real benefits, obvious all-time conveniences of the EU which Dave correctly describes, wan't be attributed to the instances forged them or to distant countries paying for them. Nobody is aware of or grateful for contributions of people in other countries in my experience. But what I described is a common communication problem.
Posted by: patH

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 06:30 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Good question. Seeing as the EU institutions are completely undemocratic and disinterested in the needs of individuals within nation states. Their political agenda has nothing to do with my needs and aspirations and they are so remote from me I have no way of making my voice heard.

Ever heard of the European Parliament?

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
For the record I have no problem with cooperation and common markets and useful, friendly relationships between nations. But I don't want to be a citizen of "Europe". By Europe I mean a single political entity with law-making powers that take precedence over national sovereignty.

I do. I like thinking of myself as a citizen of Europe.

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Because certainly with the current structures it is essentially undemocratic. Unelected bureaucrats making decisions with wide-ranging effects on millions of individuals and those decision-makers are totally unaccountable. It's not right.
As opposed to the Queen in the UK who is elected, I suppose. Just as I would suppose that the Brits have consigned the Plurality voting system on the waste dump of history where it belongs.

For the record: The European commissioners are nominated by the national governments, which are all elected, as all states of the EU are democracies.

I concede that the system is not perfect. I would e.g. welcome more possibilities of direct votes (referendums), like in Switzerland. But leaving the EU?
Just because a good idea was not implemented perfectly at first doesn't mean that the idea in itself was bad. That would be like giving up the idea of a digital piano, just because the first models left a lot to be desired.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 06:38 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
Reminds me of last year, when I bought my Yamaha C2. I bought it on March 31st in Sindelfingen, which is also the headquarter of Mercedes-Benz. And Mercedes also has a C-class in their product range.
So the next day I called my parents and said: "I went to Sindelfingen and bought a C class. April's Fool or not?"


I think the prices are about the same, tho. laugh
Piano will be cheaper in the long run... and more
fun. C-class Mercedes... meh...
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 06:48 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
It's rare to find a liberal complaining about any news outlet besides fox.

I know terms like Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, etc. get redefined every so often and sometimes completely flip (we have always been at war with eastasia) but "right wing politics" seems fairly stable. From Wikipedia (insert standard disclaimer here):

In politics, right-wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social hierarchy or social inequality. Social hierarchy and social inequality is viewed by those affiliated with the Right as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, whether it arises through traditional social differences or from competition in market economies. It typically accepts or justifies this position on the basis of natural law or tradition.

Call me crazy, but the US news media strikes me as quite corporate and fairly well defined by the above - not exactly a loving peace circle of gentle hippies. Pushing the status quo isn't a politically neutral thing to do when the man is on top and most of the world lives in squalor.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 06:58 PM

Dewdrop:
I guess with Chris Christie going "left",
so goes the whole state. help

Really - if you think the US media is
"mostly right-wing" you are either a
DIED IN THE WOOL LIBERAL or have NO IDEA what
you are talking about.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 07:09 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
In politics, right-wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social hierarchy or social inequality. Social hierarchy and social inequality is viewed by those affiliated with the Right as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, whether it arises through traditional social differences or from competition in market economies. It typically accepts or justifies this position on the basis of natural law or tradition.

Call me crazy, but the US news media strikes me as quite corporate and fairly well defined by the above - not exactly a loving peace circle of gentle hippies. Pushing the status quo isn't a politically neutral thing to do when the man is on top and most of the world lives in squalor.


News media is mostly owned by corporations of one sort or another but it does anything but portray social inequality and social conventions as desirable or natural. On the contrary, from what I see it's constantly throwing a TheJourney and trying to make us feel bad about how things are and incite us to change...in almost every respect. Our news is hard-core pushy and preachy. Every story practically is crafted to push us to change or at least feel bad. Someone is poor somewhere? Must be time to institute widespread wealth transfers. Someone got shot somewhere? Let's redo our whole system of gun control. Someone got injured somewhere? Must be time to institute regulations that will make sure no one ever runs that risk again. Someone is sick? They should be entitled to the best health care that can be had at any price and the government should be in charge of it. Someone has been made to feel bad about their sexual preferences? There should be a law against that! You never see or read just a plain story...giving you the facts of what happened. I don't particularly blame them...stories with a message are more interesting. But in our news liberal guilt is the norm.

As far as the stability of the terms liberal and conservative, the best I find is that liberals want to change society in the direction that it's currently heading and conservatives want to protect society as it is now or go back to the way it used to be. That's one reason so many teens and college kids are liberal and so many old folks are conservative. Some day those teens will be old too and they will vote conservative.

But since "the way things are heading" is always changing, so do the actual things liberals and conservatives want. At the moment the US is slouching toward a more European way of doing things. Eventually we will get there and then liberalism and conservatism will have to mean something different.

Don't quote me on this but IIRC my friend from India tells me that the words mean the opposite thing there. Their history is more socialist so liberal there means in favor of deregulation and the loosening up of government control of commerce. I know very little about India...just repeating what he told me, but I thought it was interesting. I guess in America we'd call that libertarian.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 07:16 PM

I don't think people realize that
the corps are no longer exclusivly run by
the "Mr. Burns" archtype...

The libs are everywhere.


There is only one place I WANT liberalism and only
get conservatism: blush
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:15 PM

Wow. I've not heard so much misinformation in a long time.

Nixon liberal? Obama conservative? Astoundingly absurd, and beyond belief.

Nixon is no longer around to disagree. But Obama is. He's an extreme liberal, and he admits it (proudly).

Shall I wait for more historical revisionism? Perhaps someone will hold forth FDR as a conservative? Or Bush as a liberal? smile

If you folks want to support one side or another, that's a matter of opinion. But the left/right ratings assigned to these guys is not opinion. It's just wrong. Utterly wrong.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 08:29 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
If you folks want to support one side or another, that's a matter of opinion. But the left/right ratings assigned to these guys is not opinion. It's just wrong. Utterly wrong.


yes, yes and YES.
I can understand confusion from
someone from outside the country,
but for an American to get
confused over this.... whome

Mac - what part of Florida are you from?
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:11 PM

I am (was) from South Florida. Been there 31 years.
But I'm moving to North Carolina this weekend.
So I'll have to change my profile.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:20 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I am (was) from South Florida. Been there 31 years.
But I'm moving to North Carolina this weekend.
So I'll have to change my profile.


Sounds like a good move - get a little bit
of seasons instead of either hot, rain or
hot and rain. eek
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:31 PM

Exactly. I'm tired of having 8 months of summer. (This year ... 11 months. It was hot through Jan and Feb.)
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 09:58 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
[Obama is]... an extreme liberal, and he admits it (proudly).


Can you provide some examples, please? Or perhaps a quote or two of Obama proudly admitting his 'extreme liberal' beliefs?

If not, I'm afraid I may have to disagree with you.

If Obama was an 'extreme liberal', he would have:

- Increased taxes and spending
- Ended the drug war
- Broken up the 'too big to fail' banks
- Pulled troops out of Afghanistan
- Provided Medicare for all
- Halved the defence budget

Instead, he has:

- Extended Bush's warrantless wire-tapping programme
- Expanded the drone programme (both abroad and now domestically)
- Given up on domestic environmental and climate-change legislation
- Expanded off-shore drilling, while tripling loan guarantees to build nuclear power stations

If you do not believe that Obama is conservative, I urge you to read http://www.obamatheconservative.com , which provides an excellent summary of his administration's conservative policies.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 10:25 PM

[Edited]
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/05/13 11:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James

- Increased taxes and spending
- Ended the drug war
- Broken up the 'too big to fail' banks
- Pulled troops out of Afghanistan
- Provided Medicare for all
- Halved the defence budget


He's done plenty of increasing taxes and spending. Well, spending, mostly. He probably would do the other things if he could, but he can't. He has nowhere near that kind of political muscle. He's just the president, and not one with a congress that particularly supports him.

Quote:

- Extended Bush's warrantless wire-tapping programme
- Expanded the drone programme (both abroad and now domestically)
- Given up on domestic environmental and climate-change legislation
- Expanded off-shore drilling, while tripling loan guarantees to build nuclear power stations


Most of those those things have broad support (in some cases crossing party lines) that he can't possibly fight, especially as he was preparing for an election he just barely won. Most of them aren't particularly conservative or liberal.

Just because a president is liberal doesn't mean he can implement any hairbrained idea that might qualify as liberal in someone's mind.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 01:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Dewdrop:
I guess with Chris Christie going "left",
so goes the whole state. help

Really - if you think the US media is
"mostly right-wing" you are either a
DIED IN THE WOOL LIBERAL or have NO IDEA what
you are talking about.


It is interesting to observe first hand here (with one notable exception) that those Americans that stayed in America and are "arguing" from the right on this thread only use three techniques:

1. ad hominem, personally attacking their interlocutor;
2. expression of personal opinion "it is because I say it is";
3. passive-aggressive use of adolescent humor;

with no logical arguments or reference to facts to support their position.

That is of course one of the main reasons why dysfunctional politics has been bringing America to her knees during the past years: for vast swaths of the population rational discourse and critical thinking is not even on the radar screen. Historical fact and observable reality is not relevant: only personal opinion "I am free to believe what I want!" (which itself is often formed by the echo chambers of a failed educational system, highly concentrated, inward-looking and appallingly bad media focused on sound bites, entertainment and advertising rather than journalism, facebook and vapid internet bulletin boards of the like-minded).

Thank God only a tiny percentage of Americans actually bother to exercise their democratic right and duty to vote.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 01:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Rather than passively whinging about how undemocratic your EU government is, why not become responsible and accountable and start actually taking personal action to make it better?
Could You give some examples for possible effective personal actions to be taken to make it better, beside voting or posting here and on other fora?


Well, what action is appropriate certainly depends on your view of the EU and your position in it. If you believe that the EU has robbed you of objective personal freedoms and is depriving you of your human rights, then depending on which freedoms have been stolen from you, you could have a very specific course of action.

I would first like to understand excatly what EssBrace means so I can give a concrete example rather than only generalities.

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Bump...

Originally Posted By: theJourney

Originally Posted By: EssBrace

Europe does look like a failing political experiment and the cost has been the huge withdrawal of personal freedoms,

confused Can you elaborate on which personal freedoms you have lost?


EssBrace, certainly something as important as "the huge withdrawal of personal freedom" which seems to form your opinion of the EU and your strongly worded posts, deserves to be explained?
Posted by: theJourney

) - 04/06/13 01:50 AM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
It's rare to find a liberal complaining about any news outlet besides fox.

I know terms like Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, etc. get redefined every so often and sometimes completely flip (we have always been at war with eastasia) but "right wing politics" seems fairly stable. From Wikipedia (insert standard disclaimer here):

In politics, right-wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social hierarchy or social inequality. Social hierarchy and social inequality is viewed by those affiliated with the Right as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, whether it arises through traditional social differences or from competition in market economies. It typically accepts or justifies this position on the basis of natural law or tradition.

Call me crazy, but the US news media strikes me as quite corporate and fairly well defined by the above - not exactly a loving peace circle of gentle hippies. Pushing the status quo isn't a politically neutral thing to do when the man is on top and most of the world lives in squalor.


You are not crazy. You also understand that to have a discussion you have to use words that have been defined and that the definition is agreed to as opposed to the moving targets and personal definitions that are being used on this thread as if men on the streeet were being interviewed for a New Zealand television show.

One of the problems with US politics is that, due to faults in the electoral system, it can only be a winner takes all two party system -- that is just one political party shy of being a one party system such as the old USSR or Communist China -- rather than a country with many political parties that give true freedom of choice and stimulate working together and actually offer nuanced and differentiated positions to more than 300 million people. This results in artificial polarization and a characterization of the two parties as a caricature of "left" and "right" while they basically do the same thing, beholden to the same monied interests that "bought their government fair and square". At the end of the day, not a democracy and not so much different at all from the one party rule of the forementioned countries. Just a lot more money being spent (billions!) on years long lasting sham elections to give everyone the impression that there is a choice while the distracted masses scream at each other: " Socialist!" and " Right-wing Nut!"...
Posted by: maurus

Re: ) - 04/06/13 03:28 AM

I'm surprised to see how informative, and civilized, this discussion has developed in many posts. Thanks TheJourney, KawaiJames and dewster for your well-informed input.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: ) - 04/06/13 05:25 AM

theJourney, EssBrace, you may be interested in this episode of 'Intelligence Squared Debate'

Intelligence Squared Debate: Britain and the EU

(I'm watching it now on BBC World News).

James
x
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 05:52 AM

Originally Posted By: patH

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
But I don't want to be a citizen of "Europe". By Europe I mean a single political entity with law-making powers that take precedence over national sovereignty.

I do. I like thinking of myself as a citizen of Europe.

I concede that the system is not perfect. I would e.g. welcome more possibilities of direct votes (referendums), like in Switzerland. But leaving the EU?
Just because a good idea was not implemented perfectly at first doesn't mean that the idea in itself was bad. That would be like giving up the idea of a digital piano, just because the first models left a lot to be desired.

Thx. Very true + all our nations seem more civilized, even with the more publicly debated conflicts. At least no real war within the EU in its history. Recent wars just in the neighboring abroad (Balkan) should remind us how peace a real important acheivement is, not only an empty phrase!

Yes, I know that even individuals can bring their case to the EU instances. In todays development especially in Hungary we can see, how strong the role of the EU is to discipline some erratic politic ambitions. (On the other side the quality of some reactions and feedback of the EU are often inadequate, inappropriate, uninformed, week and erratic too.)

EU is far from being perfect and it needs some more crisis to enforce development of the system, I am afraid.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: ) - 04/06/13 05:58 AM

Maurus: You're giving credit to the ill-informed.

KJ:
- Obama HAS increased taxes and spending ... massively, and it hurts. He did so mostly in his first term while armed with a fully-leftist Congress.
- He has not ended the drug war. But this is not a left/right polarized issue. Neither side wants to end it.
- As you say, he did not break up the 'too big to fail' banks. But this is pure politics. Money talks to both sides of the aisle.
- He did not end involvement in Afghanistan, despite promises. But to end it would have been a mistake, regardless of his party. Afghanistan (and the small wars before it) are all about exerting power and influence in the world. That's what a powerful nation does. Many bemoan this ... but tough nuts to them. You can be on top, or you can sink.
- You say a lefist-Obama would have provided Medicare for all. That's true. But he was 40 years too late. Johnson already did that long ago.

You say he has ...
- Extended Bush's warrantless wire-tapping programme. This is not a left/right issue at all.
- Given up on domestic environmental and climate-change legislation. I've not paid this much heed lately. But it makes sense politically. In tough times, people care about their economic position, and snail-darters be damned. In times like these, the environment doesn't get votes.

Despite all of his harmful positions, Obama is a smart politician. There's no denying that.

As for the rest of the agenda, there's one massively leftist item you've not mentioned: Obama-care (aka Pelosi-care). Many see this as brilliant. I see this as a colossal mistake. You have a problem: health-care costs too much. The proper solution is to identify the root-causes of the problem and solve them.

But the left ignores the real problem, and inserts an artificial one: many people cannot afford health care. While this is a true statement, it is NOT the problem. It is the symptom and the outcome ... and you don't solve a problem by addressing the symptom.

America did not have this problem 50 years ago. No one had health-care coverage. You might have had hospitalization coverage, which is a true insurance covering the high-cost but less-common cases requiring hospital care.

But a doctor's visit? No coverage. Medicines? No coverage. Was there a problem? NO!!! And why is that? Because medical costs were low.
Examples from the 1950's:
Doctor visit: $2
House call: $6
In-hospital baby delivery: $140

Adjusting for inflation (using labor department figures), today those prices become:
Doctor visit: $16
House call: $48
Baby delivery: $1120

But wait! The doctor visit today is $85 to $100. And the baby delivery costs nearly $10,000. But why? When people have insurance, they don't care about the prices. Under these conditions, what happens to the price? smile

And that, friends, is the problem in America. The costs have been out of control. The left addresses it by inventing insurance for all. It makes no sense.

This country is descending into socialist losership. Meanwhile, China is taking the opposite tack. It has embraced capitalism. It is today very much like America was a century ago: capitalism in ascendancy. Smart move.
Posted by: dewster

Re: ) - 04/06/13 10:05 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
And that, friends, is the problem in America. The costs have been out of control. The left addresses it by inventing insurance for all. It makes no sense.

(I'm surprised that so far no one has declared Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist at Princeton, to be a socialist nutcase.):

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/

The bigger the pool of insured, the lower the administrative costs can be, and the more clout the pool has to rein in big pharma, for-profit hospitals, and other medical leeches. Throw everyone into the pool, and if it is done even halfway competently, costs will actually go down. Right now the US government (not even talking about what citizens pay on top of) spends much more per person on healthcare than any other nation in the world - and yet we still have many uninsured and rank way below the other industrialized nations with every single benchmark. This is a huge, huge scandal, and one we can't afford to bicker about / ignore / pay for any longer.

Why aren't fiscal conservatives screaming about the huge chunks of $ removed from their pay and forked over to inefficient-by-design markets, middlemen, and other assorted grifters and drains on the system? I thought they were the serious guys with all the answers, but the only answer they seem to know is "markets" even when the result is unending fail for as far as the eye can see.
Posted by: raikkU

Re: ) - 04/06/13 10:08 AM

Confused, what does the last page of posts have to do with the article?
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: ) - 04/06/13 10:26 AM

I really get tired of educating my fellow Americans on universal health care. (All of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, and Japan have universal health care, everyone is covered, everyone pays less than what Americans pay, and we all have a lower infant mortality rates and greater longevity rates. If anyone is interested I can provide links ... I've done this many times.)

raikkU, you're correct, many posts in this thread are off topic. smile
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 10:45 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
And all the while that same government wants to further raid my wallet by opening the borders to yet more gimme-gimme immigrants.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Posted by: toddy

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 12:38 PM

Quite so......the 'gimme-gimme immigrants' are requesting what exactly? A job I should imagine. Much like most other generations of newcomers to America, wouldn't it be?
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: ) - 04/06/13 12:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I really get tired of educating my fellow Americans on universal health care. (All of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, and Japan have universal health care, everyone is covered, everyone pays less than what Americans pay, and we all have a lower infant mortality rates and greater longevity rates. If anyone is interested I can provide links ... I've done this many times.)


But obamacare is not universal health care. There's no debate about whether to have universal healthcare in the US (in the sense that the government pays for it all). No one has seriously proposed it. Obamacare just imposes extra restrictions on people and forces them to rely yet more heavily on overpriced health insurance. Health insurance is super bad and expensive in the US primarily because we don't choose it, like we do our other types of insurance. Instead because of the government's intervention, it's provided by our companies. Since we don't get to choose whether to have insurance or which company to use, the insurance company has no incentive to treat us well.

In addition to forcing us into bad health insurance, the government also makes healthcare more expensive because it restricts the number of doctors we can have (via the AMA) so there's a massive shortage. It also decides what procedures cost by committee. That committee is made up of doctors and some specialties have lobbied it to death. For example, dermatologists make many times more than other doctors--they are super-millionares. Another example: the guy who puts in a pacemaker in 15 minutes in his office gets paid the same for those 15 minutes as the surgeon who performs a quadruple bypass gets paid for however long that operation takes---it's a lot more than 15 minutes. Prices are all messed up and the fault is the government's, primarily.

I can see an argument for universal health care, but it in no way resembles Obamacare. Rather Obamacare makes our woes with insurance companies worse. The only way to interpret Obamacare as pushing us toward universal health care is that it breaks the system even worse so eventually maybe we'll get sick enough of it and just let the government take over health care for real.

BTW we do have universal health care in the sense that if you go to a hospital they are obligated by law to treat you. They then bill you later and if you don't have insurance you are likely to just never pay and they write it off for tax purposes. So they jack up the prices for individuals relative to what they charge insurance companies to maximize this writeoff. This means if you actually intend to pay out of pocket you will pay many, many times more than is reasonable. Which means fewer people choose to do so. With uninsured people not paying their bills, rates for insurance companies go up. Then more people can't afford health insurance. Viscous cycle.
Posted by: dewster

Re: ) - 04/06/13 01:18 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
But obamacare is not universal health care. There's no debate about whether to have universal healthcare in the US. No one has seriously proposed it. Obamacare just imposes extra restrictions on people and forces them to rely yet more heavily on overpriced health insurance. Health insurance is super bad and expensive in the US primarily because we don't choose it, like we do our other types of insurance. Instead because of the government's intervention, it's provided by our companies. Since we don't get to choose whether to have insurance or which company to use, the insurance company has no incentive to treat us well.

Read the Krugman link above, you can't have a market for insurance like you do for bread, it just doesn't work. Children and old people generally can't afford it, those in the middle don't want to pay for it until they are old / sick, and insurance companies are basically in the business of not signing up the risky in the first place and denying claims after the fact.

Insurance companies run this country, that's the short answer as to why we don't have universal coverage. Lots of serious people proposed single payer as the only real and best solution, but their voices continue to be marginalized by our corporate press due to the Overton window being so far right.

So we have Obamacare as a bandaid on a bad bleed out, which the R's are doing their best to kill. From what I've read it seems like much of what we already have in NJ - no pre-existing conditions clauses or refusals, no dropping the sick just because they are sick, etc. IOW basic consumer protections anyone should expect in this or any rational country.
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 02:20 PM

[Edited]

Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 03:19 PM

Well, if anything, this thread clearly shows this forum needs an off-topic section. Oh, wait, it has one...
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 03:22 PM

Originally Posted By: pv88
Again, what does any of this OT discussion have to do with the original post by Dave?

Here is something far more useful to listen to with a score:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP1y-F0md7Q

Everything else here above is not relevant.



Johann Strauss?
You gotta be kiddin'
Gimme a break!
If there is anything that should be off topic on the Digital Piano forum (or the Pianist Corner for that matter) then it is J. Strauss! grin
Posted by: theJourney

Re: ) - 04/06/13 03:31 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
BTW we do have universal health care in the sense that if you go to a hospital they are obligated by law to treat you [EDIT: stabilize you and release you asap but not treating the underlying condition]. They then bill you later and if you don't have insurance you are likely [EDIT: to first lose your home, be forced to declare bankruptcy and then have your family put on the street] just never pay and they write it off for tax purposes. So they jack up the prices for individuals relative to what they charge insurance companies to maximize this writeoff. This means if you actually intend to pay out of pocket you will pay many, many times more than is reasonable. Which means fewer people choose to do so. With uninsured people not paying their bills, rates for insurance companies go up. Then more people can't afford health insurance. Viscous cycle.

Sounds like a dysfunctional, basket case, banana republic to me...it certainly has nothing to do with universal health care, but rather with universal profiteering off of others' pain, death and suffering.

And, the 45.000 yearly deaths of American men, women and children from this fiasco of having no meaningful access to health care is the equivalent to one 911 terrorist attack every 3 1/2 weeks, year in, year out.

Who is the enemy here?
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 03:59 PM

dewster: The problem isn't finding affordable health insurance. The problem is health insurance. I think it should be PROHIBITED. Eliminated. Banned.

After all, you don't have piano insurance to pay for your piano. Nor beer insurance to cover your tab at the pub. So why do you need health insurance? (Only because medicine costs too damn much. It didn't used to be that way. Health insurance CREATED the high-cost problem.)

As for the braggarts who gush over socialist health care in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere ... you can keep it. And keep every government program, too. Bar none.

I don't need government to dictate to me.
I don't need government to provide for me.
I don't need government to guide me.
I don't need government to provide a retirement income.
All of that is for losers. (So let them have it.)

I only need government to defend the nation. That's how this nation started. But that's not how it is anymore. It's a sad testament to ever-growing American losership.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 05:24 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney

Johann Strauss?
You gotta be kiddin'
Gimme a break!
If there is anything that should be off topic on the Digital Piano forum (or the Pianist Corner for that matter) then it is J. Strauss! grin


I disegree, protest. I particularly never liked the Wiener Saloon-style music (from the Monarchie, which was on parellel to Victiorian time) in particular and never listen to it. The music of the Strauss's was banned here in Hungary in musical education of my childhood. (We are not talking about Richard Strauss - he was only halfway banned and only for his alleged NS collaboration).

Today's popular genres as musicals or even some of Soul/Soft Jazz are functionally or regarding taste, cultural depth the same thing in many-many aspects as operette was in the past. They all were for entertaining broad consuming masses, the big difference is that operett music came from Vienna, todays musicals from the Broadway. As memes both similarly successfully penetrate the rest of the world.

And the common music language is undeniably other - but better?
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 06:52 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
dewster: The problem isn't finding affordable health insurance. The problem is health insurance. I think it should be PROHIBITED. Eliminated. Banned.

After all, you don't have piano insurance to pay for your piano. Nor beer insurance to cover your tab at the pub. So why do you need health insurance? (Only because medicine costs too damn much. It didn't used to be that way. Health insurance CREATED the high-cost problem.)

As for the braggarts who gush over socialist health care in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere ... you can keep it. And keep every government program, too. Bar none.

I don't need government to dictate to me.
I don't need government to provide for me.
I don't need government to guide me.
I don't need government to provide a retirement income.
All of that is for losers. (So let them have it.)

I only need government to defend the nation. That's how this nation started. But that's not how it is anymore. It's a sad testament to ever-growing American losership.


I was in Philadelphia two years ago for my 60th birthday. My brother is a retired Philadelphia fireman and while we were sightseeing in downtown Philadelphia we saw historic fire insurance markers on buildings.

You see, back in the beginning of our country individuals would subscribe to individual fire companies and a metal or wooden marker would be prominently displayed on the outside of their house to indicate which company they subscribed to. If your house were on fire and not insured, your house would burn down.

Now, because of societal maturity, if your house is on fire, your local fire department is tasked to put it out.

What is so f***ing difficult to understand about shared responsibility and shared risk?

Some folks call this socialism. Everyone 'chips in' and pays a local sales\real estate\property\school\whatever-you-want-to-call-it tax and whether you need it or not, your local police department, your local fire department, ... your local library is there ... just for you, when you need it, whether you want it or not.

Get over it, we are in this T O G E T H E R.

Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 07:36 PM

This is a great thread!
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 08:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
This is a great thread!

It's a great thread about a great country, you should visit sometime! But please respect our customs, which might seem a tad odd to a deviant socialist demon worshiper like yourself.

The people here are super helpful and friendly. Just be careful you don't stand in their way when they're going Galt - liable to get you run over.

And please don't help my dying grandma lying in the ditch - we don't bail out individuals for engaging in irresponsible behavior like aging at the expense of those like us (and by "us" I mean "me" and not "you") who prosper through hard work and personal responsibility.

Everyone here is so self-reliant they can and do perform brain surgery on themselves. No weaklings here, no sir.
Posted by: Ojustaboo

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 08:44 PM

Can I play

I was born and bought up and lived all my life in England.

I have numerous real life US friends and have been there 5 times.

I love a lot about the US, I love a lot about England.

I hate a lot about the US, I also hate a lot about England.

I live in Norfolk in the UK and am both glad and proud to be part of the EU. The EU does have problems, a lot of them stemming from different countries wanting different things out of Europe. But get 1000 UK citizens that say they want to vote to get out of the EU, you will be lucky if 2 of them have the slightest clue what they are talking about, most basing their opinions on what the fat bloke said down the pub or the scare stories the Daily Mail prints.

That is the danger of having a free vote. A free vote is fine when the majority take the time to get well informed, but when the majority haven't got a clue what they are talking about (I'm not meaning they disagree with me, I'm happy for people to have different opinions from me providing they are proper opinions based on fact), there's a real danger of people voting for something they don't understand (both for staying in the EU or for getting out of it)

Many many many small businesses would go bankrupt if we left the EU

Many of the stories in the press are pure fabrication such as bananas having to be a certain shape etc.

The US, I both love and hate it. I've worked for a US company (me based in England) and have met many US people over here. Those that travel around the world tend to be more aware of the reality of the world than those that have never ever left the US in their entire lives. A lot of people in the US are very insular in their thinking. Sort of set in the past, think that everything about the US is better than every where else in the world and believe a lot of the propaganda that is fed to them by their government and media.

I even had a comment from a couple of US people I was having dinner with about how they were shocked when they first started travelling as to how censored many books are in the US compared to the same book elsewhere.

The US is sadly looked on as a bully by most of the rest of the world, it's seen to cause more problems than it solves (the UK is far from innocent in this I should add). Often foreign police by the US (and the UK) has done more long term to cause terrorism to arise than anything else. Its easy for us to witness a terrorist attack and want our governments to fight back, but too often it's our governments past actions that caused these attacks in the first place and it's something we all should think hard about.

The US is probably the richest country on the planet (maybe one of the Arab small countries might be richer), it dictates to other countries how they should run their governments, cries out for other countries to be democratic etc. yet at the same time, it has more than the entire population of England living below the poverty line, families with kids etc sleeping in cars, without a proper roof over their heads and unable to get basic health care. The vast majority of the rest of the world simply cant fathom this.

I play a game called Lord of the Rings Online, I've been on the internet since it first became available, way before most people even had heard of it, in all that time I have never ever got any forum infractions etc until the past few months. I had to witness US politicians slag of the UKs NHS service, then on Lord of the rings Forum, the moderators started up a charity in order to pay for operations for US children who couldn't afford them, and awarding those that donated with unique in game items.

I've nothing against people doing things for charity, but I object to a company based in the richest country in the world, reaching out around the globe to its international players trying to get us to pay for their own children's operations and bribing us with items that we cant get in any other way, and I was escpecially annoyed as it was a couple of weeks after they slagged off my NHS.

So I politely (not as badly as I've quickly told them here) said what i thought and got my first and second reprimand/forum infraction ever.

There are a lot of things wrong with the NHS. I know a few people that have moved abroad to the likes of the US or Canada and their private health schemes have paid for tests etc that have found solutions to problems they've been suffering for years with in the UK. The UK being tax funded only has a finite amount of money so the latest and greatest expensive medicines and tests aren't readily available.

That brings up a whole new subject on how pharmaceutical companies can live with them selves getting rich off of peoples illnesses, but I haven't got time for that here.

But where the NHS excels is that regardless of ability to pay, anyone can see a doctor 24/7 without worrying about getting a bill, anyone can go to a hospital 24/7 without worrying about getting a bill and anyone can phone an ambulance in an emergency and receive first class treatment, again without worrying about having a bill. Our emergency care, intensive care units etc are first class and it's available to everyone at point of need. You would never see someone campaigning to pay for an operation for a child (or adult) in this country, unless it was for something that couldn't be done in this country (a new surgery that's only available abroad). Sure I've been waiting for an operation since October 2012 and I still don't have a date, but it's not a life threatening thing. Sure I'd like it quickly and my US friends cant understand why I wasn't given a date straight away, but I still have the option to take out private health over here if I choose, but part of my taxes will always go to the NHS and I am glad of that.

I was in Houston a few years ago talking to a guy with dwarfism. He has never ever been able to get medical insurance since the day he was born and has to rely totally on charity for his numerous medical problems he was suffering from.

That is the sort of thing the rest of the world sees and hears about on a daily basis and them we see people (often Christians and I say that as a Christian) arguing against a free health service for all of the US and it makes our minds explode, we simply cannot understand it.

We witness the suing culture that's sadly begun to weave its way into UK culture (but no where near as bad) in the US where it seems that anyone sues anyone else for anything and gets to be mega rich overnight by doing so, we see court cases on TV that are ludicrous, OJ Simpson for example there's no way one single member of that jury managed to follow that evidence, we see the death sentence being handed out yet crime not going down, we see prison sentences running into many times the average lifespan of a human given, we see people fined or jailed for a ludicrous amount of time for trying to feed their family or downloading a few music tracks, we see you exploit our extradition laws that were put in place for terrorism etc to try and get some idiot who as a teenager thought he was being clever by hacking into somewhere but is no real danger to anyone etc etc etc

And we look at your gun crime, we obviously were as upset by 9/11 as you are, (at the same time my home town was blown up by the IRA in the 70's and my grandmother thrown from her bed by an IRA bomb and it was all funded by people in the US) but then we look at how many people were killed by the gun in the US in the next few months and realised that more were than were killed in that fateful day, and something about your country just simply doesn't add up to the rest of the world.

And I'm pretty sure I know what it is that most gets us. I live in England, am proud to be British but I know the problems my country has, I know how imperfect my country is, I know the awful things we've done around the world over the centuries (including this one) and so do all the other Brits. 95% of US people I talk to seem totally oblivious to it and take discussions like this as me personally attacking their country and refuse to listen to anyone say anything against their country. I can imaging people at their screens wearing stars and stripes outfits screaming at me saying USA, USA, USA. OK that's an exaggeration but that is how you come across to the rest of the world.

I know how the UK comes across to most of the world, we are detested almost as much as you are (which is why we always get zero votes in the Euro-vision song contest), but the big difference is, most people in the UK know why and whether they agree or not, understand why people think this of us, where as most US people I talk to are oblivious.

Edit: just came across this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22028316






Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 10:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
What is so f***ing difficult to understand about shared responsibility and shared risk?
It's easy to understand. I'll pay for that insurance if I want to, otherwise not. But socialism FORCES my choice. I don't like government to tell me what I must do.
Quote:
Some folks call this socialism. Everyone 'chips in' and pays a local sales\real estate\property\school\whatever-you-want-to-call-it tax and whether you need it or not, your local police department, your local fire department, ... your local library is there ... just for you, when you need it, whether you want it or not.
That's exactly the problem. "Whether you want it or not." I prefer choice over dictatorship.
Quote:
Get over it, we are in this T O G E T H E R.
Not over it. Not at all. We are in everything by C H O I C E ... or should be. (How would you like it if I were to make all of your choices for you?)

It amazes me how liberals want to tell me what I want, what I need, what I must do ... and revel in government that does that bidding. But they MOAN and GROAN over government that does what I want ... which is: as little as possible.

I'd like government to defend the nation and a very few other things ... and leave EVERYTHING ELSE to the private sector. That leaves me choices. I'll buy what, when, and how I wish. I'll choose my vendor/provider. Freedom of choice.
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 11:45 PM

[Edited]
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/06/13 11:50 PM

Ojustaboo, thank you for your very thoughtful post.

You are not the only one who has been reprimanded or shunned online or labeled an "anti-American enemy" for daring to simply point out certain uncomfortable facts or point out that the emperor had no clothes.

Excellent article from the BBC discussing "insularity"...
I have family living in the US Midwest and it is interesting to observe that -- even when households all around them there spend an average of 5 (!) hours per day prone on their butts with 64 oz of sugar water and a bag of crisps watching television (or maybe because of this) -- most people have absolutely no integrated knowledge of life outside of their state, let alone their country.

Due perhaps to a combination of factors such as the failure of the school systems to teach more than guessing on true/false and multiple choice questions after rote learning, the size of the country, the extreme inward-looking-ness and self-focused-ness of the culture and a lack of intellectual curiosity, combined with "news" programs consisting of 40% of the time on advertisements where three people with face & breast lifts and perfect hair make jokes with each other and report mostly only on local police chases with meth dealers and high school
football scores.

Just like peasants in China or serfs in Russia or comrades in the old USSR, there is a functional ignorance among millions upon millions of US citizens of both the richness of the world and a complete absence of understanding of why they are personally in the (often precarious) position they find themselves in their very own country. When that is combined with the extreme contrary-to-both-common-sense-and-objective-fact propaganda that is force-fed through Cuban-style pledges of allegiances to the flag every day in grade school classes, absurd junior high civics classes based on cartoon-like, blatantly bellicose and anti-historical tomes such as "Triumph of the American Nation", and extraordinarily patriotic advertisements of " we are number 1", "only we are 'free'" etc. etc. ad nauseum one truly sees how easily creepy Orwellian visions are achieved.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 12:15 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
What is so f***ing difficult to understand about shared responsibility and shared risk?
It's easy to understand. I'll pay for that insurance if I want to, otherwise not. But socialism FORCES my choice. I don't like government to tell me what I must do.
Quote:
Some folks call this socialism. Everyone 'chips in' and pays a local sales\real estate\property\school\whatever-you-want-to-call-it tax and whether you need it or not, your local police department, your local fire department, ... your local library is there ... just for you, when you need it, whether you want it or not.
That's exactly the problem. "Whether you want it or not." I prefer choice over dictatorship.
Quote:
Get over it, we are in this T O G E T H E R.
Not over it. Not at all. We are in everything by C H O I C E ... or should be. (How would you like it if I were to make all of your choices for you?)

It amazes me how liberals want to tell me what I want, what I need, what I must do ... and revel in government that does that bidding. But they MOAN and GROAN over government that does what I want ... which is: as little as possible.

I'd like government to defend the nation and a very few other things ... and leave EVERYTHING ELSE to the private sector. That leaves me choices. I'll buy what, when, and how I wish. I'll choose my vendor/provider. Freedom of choice.


In other words: it is all about ME, ME, ME, MacMacMac. Everyone else be damned.

Did you choose to be born to your parents? Did you choose to be born in the USA or your home state versus another country? Did you choose to use public roads rather than only use your bare hands to wade through the wild Floridian Everglades every where you went? Did you choose for the US to be a republic with representative democracy depending on well-educated citizens who are responsible and accountable for self-government through the constitutionally instituted bodies rather than a failed state such as Somalia filled with Ayn Rand-styled "rugged individuals" choosing their self-interest as they axe each other to death? etc. etc.

People who are indoctrinated to think of everything as a personal "choice" and of themselves merely as consumers in "free" markets rather than responsible citizens and members of civilized society equate the world to being nothing more complicated than being left alone to choose Crest over Colgate toothpaste. Simplistic lies. Without having pulled together as a species and a society over the Millenia, toothpaste would never even have come into existence and we would still be fighting over tree branches with our Chimpanzee cousins.


There are two excellent books that give insight in how people can hold these kinds of unthinking, contrary and self-conflicting thoughts as quoted above that in most people raised under normal circumstances would cause a kind of extreme cognitive dissonance that would make their brains explode:

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
http://www.amazon.com/Deer-Hunting-Jesus-Dispatches-Americas/dp/0307339378
(this book even explains why MacMacMac might want to live in North Carolina)

and

What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Matter-Kansas-Conservatives-America/dp/080507774X

Happy Reading. And, remember, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 12:38 AM

[Edited]
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 12:42 AM

Oh, you might also consider this one as well while you are at it:

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Illusion-Literacy-Triumph-Spectacle/dp/1568586132/
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 12:50 AM

Originally Posted By: pv88
IMPORTANT - WATCH THIS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGAaPjqdbgQ

We have many choices in life.

Make the right ones!


Hey, surprise, surprise: more TV!

As this is a forum, could you please summarize in written words your summary of and conclusions from the 3 (three) videos you have referenced, why you believe they are credible, why you see this as an important issue, what our choices are and what free, personal choices and effective actions you are personally taking?

Thanks!
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 01:28 AM

[Edited]
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 03:35 AM

[Edited]
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 06:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Temperament
Originally Posted By: theJourney

Johann Strauss?
You gotta be kiddin'
Gimme a break!
If there is anything that should be off topic on the Digital Piano forum (or the Pianist Corner for that matter) then it is J. Strauss! grin


I disegree, protest. I particularly never liked the Wiener Saloon-style music (from the Monarchie, which was on parellel to Victiorian time) in particular and never listen to it. The music of the Strauss's was banned here in Hungary in musical education of my childhood. (We are not talking about Richard Strauss - he was only halfway banned and only for his alleged NS collaboration).

Today's popular genres as musicals or even some of Soul/Soft Jazz are functionally or regarding taste, cultural depth the same thing in many-many aspects as operette was in the past. They all were for entertaining broad consuming masses, the big difference is that operett music came from Vienna, todays musicals from the Broadway. As memes both similarly successfully penetrate the rest of the world.

And the common music language is undeniably other - but better?


Well, I do wonder how much of the music of today's Broadway musicals (not those from the 1930s & 1940s) will be worth listening to in 150 years. Probably every bit as little as the primarily insipid repertoire of operette that is actively performed today.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 07:12 AM

It's a tremendously thought-provoking thread. Reconciling one's rational thoughts with perhaps contradictory and sometimes pronounced emotional reactions to things can be very difficult.
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 07:25 AM

You can have a million dollar condo and you can't play an acoustic without complaints.

I play my digital and I wish I had a 48 weighted key
keyboard so I could practice where ever I go. Maybe someday they will make them that size.

I am not that fussy but when I have a note /chord that I have to hold over 2 measures/8 beats, it doesn't do it. It fades unlike an acoustic. If you use the sustain pedal it is not right - other than that I love the digital for what it is.

You can have a digital in a resthome, hospital - almost anywhere you have room for a bed. At $600 Canadian for a weighted key keyboard is awesome so
everyone can afford a piano and learn to play at any age anywhere.

I don't know if the word is replace, but the cost of making pianos will exceed the amount that most people can afford so digital will slowly replace acoustic pianos. If you go to a piano store, the acoustic section usually has nobody in there, but the digital part is full of people of all ages. Cars cost 50,000, houses cost a million and condos cost a half million for 500 sq ft and the cost of an acoustic 3 legged piano piano...... in most Canadian cities.
Posted by: patH

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 07:48 AM

Originally Posted By: pv88
1) If a microchip implant is made mandatory would you take it?
Yes.

Originally Posted By: pv88
2) Would you choose to die if micro-chipping is forced upon the public?
No.

Originally Posted By: pv88
3) Who will have the guts in the end to stand up against evil intentions?
What evil intentions?

Originally Posted By: pv88
If we choose to abide by the system and take the implant what does that mean for our futures?
Thinner wallets, because all the info that is stored on various plastic cards right now might be stored on a microchip.

According to German data protection laws, every citizen has the right to decide who gets access to his/her data. This would most likely not change with an RFID chip.

And if someone calls an RFID chip the "Mark of the beast" and uses references to Revelations, that's not going to increase their credibility in my eyes.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 08:34 AM

Studiologic VMK-149 was one with AT. Seems just have been discontinued, an Acuna could come out perhaps as replacement.
All Fatar keybeds, though, TP40 vs. TP100but the Acuna88 has got much better reviews (an Acuna73 should be available by now).
Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 09:19 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
It's a tremendously thought-provoking thread. ...


It is indeed. I'm not sure how good a grasp I have of the issues in various countries of the world discussed at length here but let me just chime in briefly on the issue of health insurance and accessibility in the Czech Republic.

I suppose everyone and their grandmas know that the Czech Republic is a post-communist country. It has been nearly 24 years since the velvet revolution took place. I was only eight by that time so I didn't understand much by then.

However, even though we are supposedly "democratic, capitalistic" country now (if something like that is possible after 24 years from a revolution that had ended another 40 years of heavy communism combined with occupation by the Soviet army), our system of health care stayed pretty much the same for almost all of that time. It is only now changing somewhat into what I guess you could see in countries with no history of communism (i.e. where patients are supposed to partly cover the expenses). What has remained the same is that every working individual is supposed to pay their own monthly health (& social) insurance fee.

The upside is that "higher-level" medical care is free (pretty much anything from simple appendectomy to brain surgery). What the patient has to pay for if they stay at the hospital is a fee of 100 CZK (~ $5) for every day of the stay + any additional charges if they chose some above-standard care, like recovery rooms with extra equipment or rooms that were designed in a special way (like more comfortable and such) etc. Note that people are also allowed to insure themselves for the possibility of having to stay at the hospital -- that can further lower the impact of these fees.

Patients are also supposed to pay 30 CZK (~ $1.5) for most of the usual kinds of clinical treatment at a doctor + additional 30 CZK for every prescription sheet. Apart from that, all basic health care is free. Also, most of the more expensive medicaments are fully covered by the insurance companies, only the cheaper medicaments and those available without prescription are partly or fully covered by the patient. Lastly, special purpose check-ups are usually fully covered by the patient but depending on the purpose, the patient might get their money back (for example in case of the employment entry check-up, the employer pays the full price of the check-up back to the employee).

Since the funds are essentially pooled/shared, that also means that the money is used for treatment of chronic or long-term illnesses. Personally, I have nothing against that. People get born with all kinds of problems and the treatment of, say, disseminated sclerosis is a really expensive thing. With that said, I feel ever so slightly uneasy at the thought that I also help finance the treatment of people who are willingly ruining their own health by smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. That I'd say is the downside of our health insurance system.

So as you can see, it's not perfect but it has to work somehow. In the past years, we have had several strikes by doctors and nurses over the height of their salaries and it has long since become clear that only funding the whole healthcare system from the insurance fees is not going to cut it, but the people are only slowly getting used to having to pay for tooth filling at their dentist, besides other things. It was the right-wing party that introduced the 30 CZK fee and since people had never seen such a thing in the past, there was some outcry about this. The left-wing party hurried in with their populistic promise to abolish this necessity after getting elected (as they usually do with such unpopular matters). It didn't take long, however, for them to acknowledge that the fee really is necessary and they quickly took that promise back.

My personal stance on this whole issue is that I rather welcome these measures. IMO, people will at least remember that there really is no such thing like free health care and if that helps them remember to take better care of their body and their well-being, I'm all for that. Having said that, I'm also glad our government was far-sighted enough so as to liberate people in dire social need from the necessity to pay the 30 CZK fee and other fees as well.

So, with my not-so-brief-after-all description of the Czech healthcare system I wanted to provide an insight for you guys so you can compare with what you have in your respective countries.

One last thing for MacMacMac -- would you please lay off the egocentric attitude a little? I don't want to be the bad prophet here, nor do I wish for anything bad for you but you never know what might await you in the future.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 11:31 AM

Do You know this excellent Book incidentally:

Bill Bryson's Notes from a Big Country - a good "review" US vs. UK

While very entertaining, it goes into depth on some issues also.

Originally Posted By: Ojustaboo
That brings up a whole new subject on how pharmaceutical companies can live with them selves getting rich off of peoples illnesses, but I haven't got time for that here.
Nor have I but I witnessed for some 25 ys. how a big pharmaceutical company bought up a license worldwide for a molecule, which was widely fabricated and was readily available and affordable. They ensured stopping production and marketing globally, cause they found a new illness as a target, applied for a new combination treatment FDA license, they got it and this special agent was marketed since then at a price of a multiple (about 30 times !) of the original prices. (The new indication was a disease with much higher prevalence then which the agen was invented for and marketed previously.)

They brilliantly managed to apply the same new prices worldwide.

I could buy a last cheap supply for a specific problem within the family, because it's production went on a while in Milosevic's Serbia, they resisted against economical influence from the US until they got taught to be more obedient by the international NATO bombing.

I have fear to name the Big Player and even the agent, I must confess...

But it is a good example how it works. Pharma companies have also the means to prevent or postpone developing new drugs even by other companies: they can make cooperation contracts through which they can easily share the profit of.
It is and easy to prove or disprove suspicion: If someone finds, that new the replacement cycle with launching generation of therapies/drugs strictly (in statistically significant manner) follows the time span of generic license protection, it is an easy proof then. I'll have to do some research....
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 11:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Clayman
... but let me just chime in briefly on the issue of health insurance and accessibility in the Czech Republic.

<snip>

It was the right-wing party that introduced the 30 CZK fee and since people had never seen such a thing in the past, there was some outcry about this. The left-wing party hurried in with their populistic promise to abolish this necessity after getting elected (as they usually do with such unpopular matters). It didn't take long, however, for them to acknowledge that the fee really is necessary and they quickly took that promise back.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think your left-wing was correct - this is a slippery slope your people should have nipped in the bud. I predict health care will become more and more an ideological / political football in your country, and used to divide the populace against itself. It works so well here that we have a sizable percentage of brainwashed people voting 180 degrees against their own (and therefore damaging everyone elses) self interests - I wouldn't have believed it possible if I didn't live in the middle of it. And if it can happen here it can and probably will happen elsewhere.

Why don't these people just go Galt already and leave societal resource pool they claim to loath so much to the rest of us unworthy sorts? It would be something of a win-win as I'm rather uncomfortable living around people with such questionable moral compasses. Many seem nice enough on the surface, but something deep down in their psyche has been monkey wrenched to the point where they seem eerily gleeful at the notion of others suffering.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 11:56 AM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Why don't these people just go Galt already and leave societal resource pool they claim to loath so much to the rest of us unworthy sorts? It would be something of a win-win as I'm rather uncomfortable living around people with such questionable moral compasses. Many seem nice enough on the surface, but something deep down in their psyche has been monkey wrenched to the point where they seem eerily gleeful at the notion of others suffering.


It's so weird though Dewster - you are obviously referring to Mac - but I quite often find those with what I would call the most right wing, laissez-faire, look-after-number-one attitudes about society and community and all that big stuff are often, on a more individual, personal level, the kindest most generous people. There are some high profile examples. Our Mrs Thatcher, the most divisive and in many ways hated prime minister we have had in the modern era, with a vicious and uncaring public image was capable (and many examples have surfaced over the years) of astonishingly kind and generous personal gestures, quite at odds with her public persona.

So it might not be wise to judge so harshly - although I completely take your point.

The question I would pose to Mac though, is...what would he say about those people who are unfortunate in life, or have disabilities or for whatever reason simply cannot support themselves? I mean cannot, not will not. The moment you put in place measures to give those people a decent, humane standard of living you have a kind of welfare state. Or alternatively, those people perish, or habitually commit crime through desperation. The "haves" will be in secure gated communities, constantly fearful of the actions of the "have-nots". In that case I would imagine that even the people most resentful of giving financial assistance to others through their taxes would baulk at the grim alternative?
Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 12:36 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster

I hope I'm wrong, but I think your left-wing was correct - this is a slippery slope your people should have nipped in the bud. I predict health care will become more and more an ideological / political football in your country, and used to divide the populace against itself. It works so well here that we have a sizable percentage of brainwashed people voting 180 degrees against their own (and therefore damaging everyone elses) self interests - I wouldn't have believed it possible if I didn't live in the middle of it. And if it can happen here it can and probably will happen elsewhere.

Why don't these people just go Galt already and leave societal resource pool they claim to loath so much to the rest of us unworthy sorts? It would be something of a win-win as I'm rather uncomfortable living around people with such questionable moral compasses. Many seem nice enough on the surface, but something deep down in their psyche has been monkey wrenched to the point where they seem eerily gleeful at the notion of others suffering.


You know, I don't think it's actually that bad. It may be just my wishful thinking now but I believe people have sort of understood that to maintain a reasonable level of quality of healthcare, their contribution is necessary. (Well, at the very least, there's not much talk about these things nowadays.)

As I have pointed out earlier, doctors and nurses have gone on at least two strikes in the past several years and rightfully so. Even though Czech doctors are well known for their high level of education and knowledge, the wages are subpar compared to those in neighboring countries and doctors/nurses often have to work long hours with very little compensation. I remember clearly that the doctors on strike were getting invited to work in German and Austrian hospitals though I'm not sure how many eventually decided to leave.

In the light of these events, I'm convinced that the previous 40 years of socialism are probably the worst that could have happened to us. The very idea that everyone's equal regardless of how hard each man works to put food on the table and that certain things are for free, healthcare included, is very deeply rooted in the minds of the people (especially the older part of the population). It will take many more years to make this right.

Having said all that, I think the saddest and most enraging part of our contemporary "capitalistic" history is the very high level of bribery -- it almost seems that whenever there is a state project that involves billions of crowns of budget, you constantly hear about someone demanding a bribe or heaps of money getting divided and disappearing in mysterious ways. If anything, this is the one thing that makes people long for the old times. I'd say things like that happen all the time, regardless of regime, it's just that with "free media" you get to hear about it more often. Unfortunately, men are only men and whenever there's a chance for profit, they will jump at it. It's just so annoying and discouraging to hear about it so often. frown
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 01:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Clayman
One last thing for MacMacMac -- would you please lay off the egocentric attitude a little? I don't want to be the bad prophet here, nor do I wish for anything bad for you but you never know what might await you in the future.


Liberty means not having the government manage your affairs (financial or otherwise). If you happen to like the way the government manages your affairs and don't care that they have taken that power from you, good for you. Go live in an authoritarian country. But loving liberty (and being willing to sacrifice a degree of security for it) is not the same thing as egocentrism. Liberty and personal property rights are the foundation of the society and economy that has defined modern mankind--especially America and places that pattern themselves after it. It's not the only way to live, but it's what Americans and many others want. The battle over whether to retain liberty or trade it for collectivism is the major issue in the US today and has been in one way or another for generations. As usual, neither side is objectively superior...it's just two different views on what it means to be a human adult.

Be a serf if you want, but don't try and make those who take a more individualistic view feel morally inferior about it.
Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 01:24 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns

Liberty means not having the government manage your affairs (financial or otherwise). If you happen to like the way the government manages your affairs and don't care that they have taken that power from you, good for you. Go live in an authoritarian country. But loving liberty (and being willing to sacrifice a degree of security for it) is not the same thing as egocentrism. Liberty and personal property rights are the foundation of the society and economy that has defined modern mankind--especially America and places that pattern themselves after it. It's not the only way to live, but it's what Americans and many others want. The battle over whether to retain liberty or trade it for collectivism is the major issue in the US today and has been in one way or another for generations. As usual, neither side is objectively superior...it's just two different views on what it means to be a human adult.

Be a serf if you want, but don't try and make those who take a more individualistic view feel morally inferior about it.


Fair enough. Just be ready to face the consequences when you get yourselves in a situation where your freedoms won't do squat for you but a little more security would.

Oh, and just for the record -- Czech Republic is not Belarus. Just because the government takes care of certain things does not mean I am a slave in any sense of the word.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 01:47 PM

I guess while I'm thinking about socialism and, shall we say, libertarianism, I guess I'll mention the two major issues with the socialism/collectivism that has been so highly recommended by the international community here.

1. Dead weight loss. If the government did a dollar worth of good for every dollar it took away from us, I'd be much more open to socialism. But it takes a tremendous amount of wealth from the people and wastes it in bureaucracy, ineptitude, cronyism, and corruption. This is not unique to any particular government...it's the nature of public goods and organizations. The more power you give the government improve the situation of the poorest, the greater the number of people pushed into poverty and dependence by that same government. I can look around and see many beneficial things provided by government but essentially every one I see is actually provided by state and local government, which is a very small part of our tax burden. The Feds take the lion share and do precious little good with it. This is not surprising: inefficiency increases with scale. That explains why sundry little countries can implement socialism with relatively few apparent harmful side effects but practically every step in that direction in the US brings untold misery, waste, and destruction.

It is not necessarily the case that conservatives in America always want to shrink the government in general, but it is almost always the case that true conservatives seek to shrink the FEDERAL government. Many of our states compare in size or GDP to the countries you guys are mentioning. Imagine how you would feel if in addition to your national taxes you had to pay an even larger portion of your wealth to an all-EU super-government, which promptly wasted it on projects that accomplish precious little.

2. Socialism decreases people's incentives. Contrary to the caricatures of the US abroad, the safety net here is extremely strong and constantly getting stronger. It's so easy to mooch off of the government in one way or another whether you really need it or not that tons of talented people choose to do so in place of developing and using their talents to produce something. And there are tons of people and organizations that could produce more, but are prevented by some regulation, tax, or other government disincentive. These issues were less of a problem in the past, when America was the poster boy of economic success. As we have gotten richer and richer, though, we've gotten lazier and more inclined to just move wealth from one person to another rather than improve ourselves as a nation and as individuals. American decline and American socialism go tightly hand in hand, which is why so many people oppose it despite the obvious theoretical benefits of having the government take care of anything you might worry about.

Parenthetically, it's also the case that when people outsource their good deeds to the government via what we've called liberalism, they no longer feel the need to do good themselves. This is why conservatives are overwhelmingly more charitable than liberals in the sense that they give voluntarily of their own wealth to people in need despite the fact that they both share the same tax burden. I assume that's true abroad as well.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 04:42 PM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
In other words: it is all about ME, ME, ME, MacMacMac. Everyone else be damned.
No, it's not. It's all about me choosing for me, and you choosing for you. What it's not about is: me choosing for you, and you choosing for me. Many people in this country (on both sides of the aisle) don't seem to understand that basic concept.
Quote:
Did you choose to be born to your parents? Did you choose to be born in the USA or your home state versus another country?
Irrelevant. No one but no one has any such choice.
Quote:
Did you choose to use public roads rather than only use your bare hands to wade through the wild Floridian Everglades every where you went?
Nope. I paid for that. Willingly.
Quote:
Did you choose for the US to be a republic with representative democracy ...
Nope. Others did that two centuries ago.
Quote:
... depending on well-educated citizens who are responsible and accountable for self-government ...
I wish there were more such people.

Quote:
... rather than a failed state such as Somalia filled with Ayn Rand-styled "rugged individuals" choosing their self-interest as they axe each other to death? etc. etc.
This country was built on rugged individualism. I can't say that this is uniquely American, but it seems a foreign concept elsewhere in the world.
Quote:
People who are indoctrinated to think of everything as a personal "choice" and of themselves merely as consumers in "free" markets rather than responsible citizens and members of civilized society equate the world to being nothing more complicated than being left alone to choose Crest over Colgate toothpaste. Simplistic lies.
Yes, marketing is filled with bullcrap. Shrug.
Quote:
... this book even explains why MacMacMac might want to live in North Carolina.
I don't know that author, nor he me. So how can he possibly know why I choose to move to NC? The real reason: Raleigh is a fast-growing city with abundant tech jobs. (I've not read your cited source, but am I to expect in it something about job growth in NC? More likely your conclusion is just your personal rant.)

So ... if you don't agree with my thinking, that's fine. I'm okay with that. But why must you criticize me? I've not criticized the other side. I'm perfectly willing to let each side have his own. But apparently you're not.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 05:17 PM

Sorry for the off-topic (!), but...

EssBrace: New CP1 listed in your sig, but where's the Nord?!

James
x
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 05:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Sorry for the off-topic (!), but...


Lol!
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 06:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Sorry for the off-topic (!), but...

EssBrace: New CP1 listed in your sig, but where's the Nord?!

James
x


Er, being swapped for CP1. I'm a lost cause I really am.

I don't think the CP1 has been successful, probably because it is overpriced. That said, the going rate in the UK is now £2600 against a list price of £4000+. With the CP5 at £1900+ I think the price differential now favours CP1. I think the CP1 is now actually (finally) worth its price. The EPs are just to die for James - and as far as AP sounds go I just have to accept I'm a Yamaha man at heart.

The Nord's action just gets on my nerves a bit to be honest so I've traded it against the CP. Great sounds and it's been a privilege to own the Nord but it had to go!

Anyway, enough of that piano rubbish - back to the topic at hand...
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 06:35 PM

This country was built on rugged individualism. I can't say that this is uniquely American, but it seems a foreign concept elsewhere in the world.

It's interesting that the imperialists romanticize the stealing of a land. smile

Our land was built using slave labor, let's not get carried away.
Posted by: Ojustaboo

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 06:49 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace


It's so weird though Dewster - you are obviously referring to Mac - but I quite often find those with what I would call the most right wing, laissez-faire, look-after-number-one attitudes about society and community and all that big stuff are often, on a more individual, personal level, the kindest most generous people. There are some high profile examples. Our Mrs Thatcher, the most divisive and in many ways hated prime minister we have had in the modern era, with a vicious and uncaring public image was capable (and many examples have surfaced over the years) of astonishingly kind and generous personal gestures, quite at odds with her public personua.

So it might not be wise to judge so harshly - although I completely take your point.


You can say exactly the same about almost anyone on the planet including Hitler.

For every one of her kind gestures, I can show you a whole community she ruined and the gravestones of those she drove to suicide. I am a very forgiving person who tries to see good in everyone, but thatcher is the one person I can think of where I shall openly rejoice the day she dies, and anyone that knows me in real life would know how out of character saying such a thing is, but I despise what she did to this country and how many lives she wrecked.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 07:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Ojustaboo
For every one of her kind gestures, I can show you a whole community she ruined and the gravestones of those she drove to suicide. I am a very forgiving person who tries to see good in everyone, but thatcher is the one person I can think of where I shall openly rejoice the day she dies, and anyone that knows me in real life would know how out of character saying such a thing is, but I despise what she did to this country and how many lives she wrecked.



Yes but what I was trying to say, and what gv said more explicitly (and more eloquently) is that the conservatives (those on the right politically) can tend to be, oh, I don't know, more generous, kinder if you like in the sense of giving to others. That's on a personal level I mean. I'm not affiliated to any political party - and I wouldn't vote Conservative while there's breath in my body by the way - but I have observed that characteristic.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 07:22 PM

EssBrace, well now we're really starting to show our truly colours aren't we?

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
I'm a Yamaha man at heart.

and

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
The Nord's action just gets on my nerves...it had to go!


Now, I can just about tolerate your views on Thatcher, but trading in that beautiful red Nord...for a Yamaha?!

Honestly, words fail me.

And you can count yourself crossed-off the Christmas card list too, by the way!

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/07/13 10:27 PM

gv: I have to agree with you on this:
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The more power you give the government improve the situation of the poorest, the greater the number of people pushed into poverty and dependence by that same government.
The 1960's era War on Poverty created this problem. Many of us can remember the shame associated with "living on the dole", as the British term it. But as each new generation of children grow up in such an environment, it becomes the norm, accepted as the standard (and only) way of life. The war on poverty has failed, and has only created a new dependent class. (And a ready source of votes for the pols who engendered it.)

And this:
Quote:
I can look around and see many beneficial things provided by government but essentially every one I see is actually provided by state and local government, which is a very small part of our tax burden. The Feds take the lion share and do precious little good with it.
City and county governments are in touch with the needs of the local population and with the cultural norms of the region. States a bit less so. And the federal government is utterly out of touch.

My complaints are largely leveled at the federal government. In post-war America the feds have usurped state and local powers by means of taxation. And when people are forced to pay the feds for state/local programs, they are no longer able to endure state/local taxation for those purposes. The feds win by trumping state/local powers. In public works. In education. In health care. In most everything.

You ask if we can ...
Quote:
... imagine how you would feel if in addition to your national taxes you had to pay an even larger portion of your wealth to an all-EU super-government, which promptly wasted it on projects that accomplish precious little.
In America, we don't have to imagine. We live with it constantly.

Your point here ...
Quote:
American decline and American socialism go tightly hand in hand, which is why so many people oppose it despite the obvious theoretical benefits of having the government take care of anything you might worry about.
... is central to mine. I call it losership. That term might seem inflamatory. But it's fact. And sad. And the key to our possible downfall. I'll not likely live to see the fall of America. But my children and grandson likely will. Nothing hurts me more.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 12:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
This country was built on rugged individualism. I can't say that this is uniquely American, but it seems a foreign concept elsewhere in the world.

It's interesting that the imperialists romanticize the stealing of a land. smile

Our land was built using slave labor, let's not get carried away.


Slave labor, certainly (continuing up to this day but carried out now instead of by black slaves by the 11 to 25 million abused & exploited hungry Latin American men, women & children who were actively recruited into the US with village to village tax-subsidized U.S. corporate marketing campaigns -- despite all the rhetoric to the contrary). Some have argued that the black slaves had it better than the new Latin American slaves today that keep America's meat, vegetables, restaurant meals, construction, lawncare, home-cleaning, etc. etc. artificially cheap by using the labor of fearful refugees denied their human rights.

However, don't forget the other grand pillar at the foundation of the American Nation: deliberate genocide (in the form of biological warfare, massacres and mass murder a.k.a. heinous crimes against humanity).

one small example:
Quote:

On June 29, 1763, a week after the siege began, Bouquet was preparing to lead an expedition to relieve Fort Pitt when he received a letter from Amherst making the following proposal: "Could it not be contrived to send the smallpox among the disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them." [1]
Bouquet agreed, writing back to Amherst on July 13, 1763: "I will try to inoculate the bastards with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself." Amherst responded favorably on July 16, 1763: "You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race."[2]
As it turned out, however, officers at the besieged Fort Pitt had already exposed the Indians in just the manner Amherst and Bouquet were discussing. During a parley at Fort Pitt on June 24, 1763, Captain Simeon Ecuyer gave representatives of the besieging Delawares two blankets and a handkerchief from the smallpox ward "out of regard to them" after the Delawares pledged to renew their friendship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Fort_Pitt
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 03:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
...but trading in that beautiful red Nord...for a Yamaha?!

Honestly, words fail me.

And you can count yourself crossed-off the Christmas card list too, by the way!


I know, I know. Sorry is an inadequate word in such circumstances. Perhaps a lifetime of regret would be appropriate punishment? Maybe that is my destiny? But at least I'll have an illuminated Yamaha logo to compensate! Good times!!
Posted by: ando

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 03:56 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
But at least I'll have an illuminated Yamaha logo to compensate! Good times!!


They illuminate the logo? They can do that?!
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 03:59 AM

Originally Posted By: ando
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
But at least I'll have an illuminated Yamaha logo to compensate! Good times!!


They illuminate the logo? They can do that?!


I know. Amazing. The piano sounds and action are so-so - but that logo - Wow! I dim the lights and dance in front of it. The neighbours join in. It's the biggest single advance in DP design in years.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 04:02 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
I dim the lights and dance in front of it. The neighbours join in.


Reminds me of this scene in 'Portlandia':



Cheers,
James
x

ps. Sorry for the off-topic, by the way...
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 04:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Originally Posted By: EssBrace
I dim the lights and dance in front of it. The neighbours join in.


Reminds me of this scene in 'Portlandia':



Cheers,
James
x

ps. Sorry for the off-topic, by the way...


Very funny! And yes, that could have been shot in front of a CP1 - at the end of the day there's very little difference between raging naked flames and Yamaha's phosphorescent display (three level adjustability and off). There's a primeval quality to both!
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 05:31 AM

A family member posted a question on FaceBook as a result of my response to another post of his. His views are probably more aligned with MacMacMac.

He asked the following question ... Everybody: I like to try something if you can help me out. I like to ask a question of all out there in Facebook land:

Q: Do you know/feel/believe you are living in a better country than Europeans? Please consider the health issues, the food, the banking system, the schools, the people, our form of government and importantly - the freedoms.


To date I am the only person to reply to his post. Here's what I wrote ...

As an America who has lived 44 years in the US and 18 years in the Netherlands, my vote goes to Europe, and more specifically, the Netherlands.

Health care ... Everyone in Western Europe (Scandinavia, Australia, Japan, and Canada) is covered by universal health care. As a result of that universal health care we enjoy a lower infant mortality rate and a greater longevity rate (when compared to the US). I use those rates to judge the overall health of a country. (These statistics can be found at our own CIA World Factbook ... or NationMaster.com ... I have them posted at my web site as well.) The cost of health care through my private health care provider here is about half of that in the US.

I think the entire world is aware that two thirds of the US population are overweight; one third of the US population is obese. (Obese is a having a BMI of greater than 30.)

Transportation - we have better roads in Holland than the US. The train system here in the Netherlands is excellent. When entering and exiting a bus, tram, or train one only has to flash a plastic card over a card reader and the amount of the trip is automatically deducted from your balance. I have my card set up so it is automatically 'filled up' when it gets below a certain limit.

If you like to get around by bike, there are bike paths everywhere. I own two bikes and prefer to use my bike instead of my car.

Banking - no one here uses checks. We pay with a debit card and most if not all bills are paid online. (Speaking of online, my village of 20,000+ inhabitants was recently completely wired up with optical fiber.)

Education - everyone can afford to go to university, everyone.

Freedoms - I can't imagine a more free country than the Netherlands. The Netherlands was either the first or second country in the world to legalize same sex marriage. We don't have just two political parties here, we have a collection of 12 or so. Compromise is not a foreign concept like in the US.

We can buy guns here in the Netherlands but not over the counter like in the US. You must first join a local gun club for one year and the club evaluates you while the government also does a background check. If you receive a 'clean bill of health' you may purchase a gun.

Everyone here enjoys the same freedoms as in the US. The overall standard of living is higher here than in the US ... and I've given more than several specific examples to back that claim up.

I like the fact that all telephone lines and computer cables, etc. are run underground and not strung on poles in plain sight.

If you really want to compare issues between countries, go to NationMaster.com and you can easily compare the percentage of a population in prison (the US is number one as a percentage\per capita), the literacy rate, education levels, agricultural exports, teenage pregnancy rates ... whatever.

I compare using statistics.
Posted by: Clayman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 05:51 AM

Very well put, Dave, I'm with you 100%. Still, some people will tell you they value their freedoms more than any of those benefits you have listed.

I'd say we can only agree to disagree at this point.
Posted by: Ojustaboo

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 06:03 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
The 1960's era War on Poverty created this problem. Many of us can remember the shame associated with "living on the dole", as the British term it. But as each new generation of children grow up in such an environment, it becomes the norm, accepted as the standard (and only) way of life. The war on poverty has failed, and has only created a new dependent class. (And a ready source of votes for the pols who engendered it.)


Personally I'm glad things have moved on enough so that people no longer feel shame if they are out of work through no fault of their own and have to claim back from a system they've been contributing to all the time they've been working.

Speak to my grandmother (no longer with us) she can remember a time when if a girl got pregnant out of wedlock in the UK she'd have a good chance of being placed (and forgotten about) in a mental institution, I am glad things move forwards.

I'm not saying there isn't a problem with SOME people but we get to hear about those plastered across the front pages of the UK tabloid press, implying everyone on welfare fall into this category when it simply isn't true.

A good friend of mine while at university became good friends with another guy. This guys parents, brothers and grandparents all lived their lives deliberately sponging off the state. My friend went back to this guys house and all his family were laughing at them both for being at Uni and for trying to work for a living.

However for every family like the above, there are 1000s of people in dire need that are not conning the system.

I know people born with severe disabilities both mental and physical stopping them ever from doing work in a normal working environment

A few charity/government schemes have been set up to give them a sense of self worth where they are working at the mercy of people donating or tax payers expense in that they aren't making a profit, but it is giving them self worth, but those seem to be being cut more and more lately.

Due to the minority of people conning the system and those being heavily publicised, people are scared to admit they are on welfare, not because of shame but because so many others now think they are pulling a fast one, they are deemed guilty without trial.

But, take any race of people from any country, any religious belief, any sexual preference, white, black, asian etc. You could spend the next year printing weekly headlines of someone from that race/gender/religion being a sponger, being violent, being a bully or whatever. But just because some are like that we don't presume all are.

If there's 1000 people claiming they are starving and 50 of them aren't, I would rather 1000 people get handouts and those 50 people live off other peoples generosity than no one gets it and 950 people go without food. And I view the whole of welfare with that mindset.

Sure in an ideal world the 50 would be found out but in an ideal world, those at the top would treat their workers fairly, wouldn't use loopholes not to pay tax etc.

over the years they try to weed out the cheats and scroungers but end up harming those in greatest need. I can give yo a few real life examples. I spent some time in care (children's home) as a teenager. I witnessed people reach 18/19. thrown out of the home with zero family to fall back on, zero help, if they didn't have a roof over their head, they couldn't go to their parents, relatives etc as many didn't have them.

About 80% of the people I was in care with were dead by the time I was 35.

My wife left home a couple of weeks before her 16 birthday with her brother who was a year older, due to their new step dad sexually abusing my wife. The authorities were informed but nothing could be proven. At 16 she started a hairdressing apprenticeship (and today, 31 years later, is happily self employed as a mobile hairdresser).

They were given housing benefit that allowed them to rent a one room tiny bedsit. They needed this, it allowed them to work, exist and get away from her stepdad.

Today her brother is a policeman, she is self employed, both hard working tax payers, but if another young girl found themselves in my wife's horrible position, due to the government clamping down on cheats and spongers, they would no longer get housing benefit as it's been stopped for people that age.

Which is what I mean by rules put in place to stop the spongers harming the people that really need help.

Trouble is, its very hard for the poor to be poor compared to 50+ years ago.

So many rules and regulations in place, illegal to beg in certain places, cost of housing (in England) off the scale compared to what it was like before Thatcher introduced the greed culture.

Look at some of the worlds greatest from history, they simply couldn't do what they did today. So many of them didn't fit into the school system, but weren't written off as thug's and louts, many of therm started work at 13-14 etc.

My son wanted to work when he was 15 in his school holidays, but no one would employ him, not because he isn't capable (studying systems engineering at uni) but because company policy wouldn't allow it due to health and safety/insurance etc.

When I was 19, I lived in Guildford in Surrey which is considered a very affluent part of the UK. I rented a one bedroomed flat (bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom) with my wife (then girlfriend) for £20 a week each. The rates were next to nothing as were the electricity bills.

My wife earned very little doing her apprenticeship and I worked in a small hardware shop which I loved but the pay wasn't very good. We could still easily afford to rent our flat, eat, and go out a few times a week to the pub etc.

The cost to buy an average 3 bed semi house in Guildford was around £20k when Thatcher came to power in 1979
Two years later in 1981 it had risen to £30k
Another two years and it was £34K
Another two years and it was £48K
Another two years in 1987 it was 72K
Another two years in 1989 and it has risen from £20k ten years ago to £95k

What it meant in reality is no one could do the sensible thing and save up for a deposit because the prices rose far faster than anyone could possibly save.

So the banks etc offered 100% mortgages (even higher in some cases).

Then greedy people realised they could take out a 100% mortgage, rent out their home for a year or two and sell it and make a fortune. This meant that loads of people started to buy to let. Which meant that they needed the rent to be enough to pay their mortgages, which meant the cost of renting went through the roof.

And it very soon became what is still the case today, many people didn't earn enough to qualify for a decent rate mortgage but the amount of rent they pay would easily cover the mortgage repayments.

The more people made, the more they bought, the greedier they got and the higher the house prices rose.

In the middle of all that is the poor person. They cant take a low wage job and afford to live now, it's simply impossible. They find employment, find their benefits stopped and find themselves worse off than when they weren't working. A catch 22 situation but still not their fault.

Then there's the fact that if between 1979 and 1989 house prices rose from 20K to 95K, the cost of welfare payments to pay for rent for those that need help, also went through the roof. The same house would cost around £270k now which would mean if wages rose by a similar amount, average salary for someone 18 - 25 would be something around £80k a year now rather than £15k to £20k

At the same time utilities have been privatised and the prices gone through the roof.

The local taxes that were rates and are now called council tax is off the scale compared to what it used to be in relations to someone earnings.

And all of that is why we are in the recession we are in now. Its the house price boom that has caused the mess, people had to turn to the sub prime market to get a roof over their heads, prices continued rising and rising and a 3 year old could tell it couldn't continue.

All that's happened is property developers and estate agents have got rich and everyone else is worse off with mortgage payments off the scale due to the cost of their houses.

Yet I guarantee you when house prices start rising our government will be happy.

And all most people want to do is an honest days work and be able to live.

At the same time companies have ignored their workers who help build their companies up, outsourced to cheap labour abroad meaning there isn't the jobs for those that do want to work, and those jobs that do exist are mainly minimum wage.

The greed of society is what's caused such a great need for welfare over the years and I cant see it getting any better.



Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 08:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Ojustaboo
thatcher is the one person I can think of where I shall openly rejoice the day she dies, and anyone that knows me in real life would know how out of character saying such a thing is, but I despise what she did to this country and how many lives she wrecked.



I don't know what kind of voodoo you use, but I for one plan to stay on your good side. shocked

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics...ke-aged-87.html
Posted by: Ojustaboo

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 08:19 AM

Yep, which means I now have to endure the next week or so of every news and chat program going on about great this evil woman was frown
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 08:27 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
I don't know what kind of voodoo you use, but I for one plan to stay on your good side. shocked


Best line of the thread!
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 08:49 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Our Mrs Thatcher, the most divisive and in many ways hated prime minister we have had in the modern era, with a vicious and uncaring public image was capable (and many examples have surfaced over the years) of astonishingly kind and generous personal gestures, quite at odds with her public persona.

I was going to say Hitler probably loved his dogs, but I didn't want to Godwin myself and someone beat me to it.

Instead, let's take a look at the Hare Psychopathology Checklist:

-Glibness/superficial charm
-Grandiose sense of self-worth
-Pathological lying
-Cunning/manipulative
-Lack of remorse or guilt
-Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
-Callousness; lack of empathy
-Failure to accept responsibility for his or her own actions

Some people I know are quite nice and very caring to those around them, but harbor surprisingly intense racist views / superior entitled feelings / misogyny which is usually directed towards those not so near. Every time I encounter this I'm flummoxed anew by how people can not only entertain, but integrate seemingly diametrically opposite principles into their world view. We are physically incapable of evaluating ourselves in a truly independent manner, and I can only suppose that this is what leads to blind spots and other malfunctioning defense mechanisms. Throw some power into the mix and things can get scary.

Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long time, you learn about the character of your friend. - Chinese Proverb
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 09:08 AM

Those on the right here seem to be talking a lot about liberty. I like liberty. Living in the US, how do I get more of it?

For instance, who do I vote for to keep the government off the backs of my female & LGBT friends and family? Not the Rs. Social conservatives here seem intent on controlling women's reproductive systems, and pretty much hate the gay. They aren't exactly pro-minority either.

Maybe I think the Fed is taking too much of my tax money and giving it to the military and "defense" contractors to kill people abroad. Who do I vote for to minimize this? Not the R's, they always want to expand the military (and in so doing ironically expand the wasteful Fed they claim to hate so much).

If I feel that the state should be completely secular and that the government should keep it's nose out of my religious affairs, who do I vote for? Not the R's, the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity are part of their platform.

Taking my life is the ultimate in lost liberty. Which party should I vote for so that my chances of being murdered by the state (for whatever reason) are diminished? Not the Rs, they fully embrace the death penalty. If it turns out I was innocent my rotting corpse can't exactly appeal from the grave.

So I don't get it. Is the word "liberty" just code for gun rights and sticking it to the poors? Why all the bitterness?
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 09:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Ojustaboo
Originally Posted By: EssBrace


It's so weird though Dewster - you are obviously referring to Mac - but I quite often find those with what I would call the most right wing, laissez-faire, look-after-number-one attitudes about society and community and all that big stuff are often, on a more individual, personal level, the kindest most generous people. There are some high profile examples. Our Mrs Thatcher, the most divisive and in many ways hated prime minister we have had in the modern era, with a vicious and uncaring public image was capable (and many examples have surfaced over the years) of astonishingly kind and generous personal gestures, quite at odds with her public personua.

So it might not be wise to judge so harshly - although I completely take your point.


You can say exactly the same about almost anyone on the planet including Hitler.

For every one of her kind gestures, I can show you a whole community she ruined and the gravestones of those she drove to suicide. I am a very forgiving person who tries to see good in everyone, but thatcher is the one person I can think of where I shall openly rejoice the day she dies, and anyone that knows me in real life would know how out of character saying such a thing is, but I despise what she did to this country and how many lives she wrecked.



I despise the fact that, in the decades before her, the economic foundations of the country were permitted to decline to such a low point that drastic measures were required. Had the economy she faced coming in not been made to deteriorate so badly before her, the cures would have been much less painful.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/08/13 02:14 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
For instance, who do I vote for to keep the government off the backs of my female & LGBT friends and family? Not the Rs. Social conservatives here seem intent on controlling women's reproductive systems, and pretty much hate the gay. They aren't exactly pro-minority either.


It's quite problematic that there isn't a coherent set of beliefs that divide conservative and liberal philosophies. Certainly economic and social conservatism are basically orthogonal. Your feelings about one have little power to predict your feelings about the other. And it's problematic that the political parties don't line up very cleanly on those either. Political parties are kind of like politicians. They have some kind of beliefs but for the most part they are just looking for votes, so the split up the electorate in some way that makes sense to them.

For most of this discussion we have been restricting ourselves to economic conservatism vs liberalism, and with good reason. Those ideas generalize a little better than social issues and they are also more fundamental/important in my opinion. I would argue that decisions like gay marriage and other social issues should be decided at the local or at least state level, where the group of people affected can be more-or-less in agreement and where people who feel strongly enough can move to a different locality. This again supports the generally conservative position that those issues shouldn't decided by the federal government and imposed on everyone. The nation was founded on the principle that different states have different needs and want different laws, but it's a principle that is contradicted all the time today. The feds bully states around (both for liberal and conservative causes) and it causes a lot of ire.

As for the military stuff, in principle conservatives should be arguing to limit spending on that to just what's needed (as they should in everything). In practice, when the parties split up the electorate, republicans took military personnel and those who support expanding military power. For the most part that's a hangover from the debate about how to handle the cold war--at the time the democrats took the other side in order to scoop up the pot-smoking hippies. But in the absence of the threat of communism, there's nothing particularly conservative (or liberal, in the usual sense of the word) about wanting to be the world police.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:50 AM

Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
...in the decades before her, the economic foundations of the country were permitted to decline to such a low point that drastic measures were required. Had the economy she faced coming in not been made to deteriorate so badly before her, the cures would have been much less painful.


Certainly the bold point should provide common ground where most of us can find agreement.

However, how drastic the measures needed were of "Milk Snatcher Thatcher", how they were taken and the deep implications of what their legacy has been have left the UK to enter into a much more sinister kind of decay of moral values and cultural decline -- precisely the same kind of decline of that the US is experiencing after having the country be taken over by plutocratic profiteers who have weakened & destroyed the democratic institutions, made a mockery of fairness and well-functioning markets (including labour markets) without respect for the rule of law and a level playing field of equal opportunity, leaving behind deep polarization and divisions among citizens with even bigger, more intractable permanent underclasses than before.

It should come as no surprise that the US and the UK are very much in the same sorry boat anno 2013. After all, "The government(=We the people) is the enemy"-Reaganism was an earnest copy of "Let's sell everything we've got for a song"-Thatcherism packaged and marketed by the boys at the Heritage Foundation using a B-actor as the front man to sell the idea of freely giving up ones' right to self-determination to Americans like so much toothpaste. Americans let America be taken over by a cruel British meme without so much as a fight, despite having more guns than people.

Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan were two demented sides of the same carnie huckster's two-headed coin used to flim flam their respective populations into participating in the biggest class warfare heist in their histories transferring wealth from the public into the hands of a tiny elite while transforming their economies into casino capitalism dependent on bubble after bubble of selling fraudulent insurance and financial instruments to each other.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:59 AM

theJourney, thanks for such a well balanced, reasoned and fair assessment.
Posted by: Ojustaboo

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 11:21 AM

TheJourney

Very well said I agree 100%

When Thatcher came to power many Unions were out of control, no ones saying things didn't need to change but there's change and there's annihilation.

Arthur Scargill was ridiculed in the press and many people still write him off as a joke today, but almost without exception, every single thing he warned about became 100% true.

When I started work in the early 80s everyone I knew got a 1 hr lunch break, everyone worked the hours they were paid, and most companies treated their staff with a bit of respect.

Roll on to today, unions have almost dissapeared, the amount of people who I know that don't have a lunch break is unbelievable, many are paid until 5 or 5:30 pm but are often there until gone 7pm, and are scared of loosing their jobs if they stand up for their rights.

A factory near me got their staff to vote away their lunch break for an extra hours pay, I spoke to a few workers, they said they needed the money. They had 12 hr shifts with just two 10 min tea breaks. New staff thought they were breaking the law, it turned out they weren't.

Unions were there for a reason. Some needed their wings clipped as they got too big for their boots, but the overall need was real.

We now have very few and people are working longer and longer hours, scared to stick up for their rights and most are completely stressed out which is doing no good for their long term health.

Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 11:24 AM

There is political partisanship and rhetoric, and there are the rants of the paranoid schizophrenic. To me it feels like you blur the line, TheJourney. Maybe I have just never met anyone as extreme as you are (or at least as you talk) so I'm caught off guard.

You very much get the direction of change wrong, though. Government size, influence, and power in our lives and our economy has been continuously increasing, with short pauses (Reagan) but without any setbacks for all of recent history. You would have to go back before the great depression to find a case of the opposite, if there are any. I know this is true of the US. I'm assuming the situation is similar in other parts of the world (perhaps former communist countries are the exception but they are under new governments, so I don't count them).

It is not the nature of government to shrink or to relinquish any power or influence it takes from the people. That's an unfortunate and inescapable reality.

Also note that the corporations you speak of as if they were bad guys are amoral entities that seek only profit by definition. There is no way of changing that and never will be--that's not their function. They are tools (legal fictions around which people form contracts), not bad guys or good guys. It's the government's job to create a situation which these fictions have incentives to do the right thing. If they don't, the blame is the government's ineptitude.

Perhaps we agree on that point, though. I just get tired of people anthropomorphizing firms and assigning moral blame to them. Firms have never, and will never, have a heart. That is to be expected. If you are set on finding one in them, you can expect to be frustrated forever and you will never find a solution to the ills you perceive to be caused by them.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 11:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Ojustaboo
Unions were there for a reason. Some needed their wings clipped as they got too big for their boots, but the overall need was real.


Correct me if the situation is different in the UK, but unions are in a major secular decline in the US and it has nothing whatsoever to do with government action--quite the contrary, the unions that are still around have incredible leverage over the government. Workers have simply stopped supporting unions of their own free will. In most cases it's because the unions do more harm then good (there are very few controls to keep them from becoming corrupt...far fewer than there are in government or business).

You can argue that there ought to be more unions, but at least in the US you can't blame anyone in politics for it. Workers just don't want to be in unions the way they used to. Unions are kind of an old-economy thing.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 03:02 PM

Some people talk from absolute, extreme positions. Nothing is as simple as theJourney or Ojustaboo suggest. In trying to present a more balanced view of Thatcher for instance I would come across as defending her, which is inconsistent with my view of her and her policies. So I'm not going to do that. But the Thatcher thing is very much more complex and nuanced than is being portrayed here.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:13 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Some people talk from absolute, extreme positions. Nothing is as simple as theJourney or Ojustaboo suggest. In trying to present a more balanced view of Thatcher for instance I would come across as defending her, which is inconsistent with my view of her and her policies. So I'm not going to do that. But the Thatcher thing is very much more complex and nuanced than is being portrayed here.

Just my own trouble. I feel myself in a left-wing company often as the right devil, and in right-wing circles as the liberal enemy.
And I can understand a lot - so perhaps 80% in both argumentations - and that is the problem, it is the question of perspective, which one should be able to freely move. Like in real life.
Posted by: ando

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:21 PM

The action in this thread is very heavy.
Posted by: spanishbuddha

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:35 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
The action in this thread is very heavy.

....and the tone varies a lot.
Posted by: Ojustaboo

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:41 PM

Deleted
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:50 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
You can argue that there ought to be more unions, but at least in the US you can't blame anyone in politics for it.

Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union personally. Which set a tone of intimidation, yadda, yadda.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Workers just don't want to be in unions the way they used to. Unions are kind of an old-economy thing.
<snip>
Workers have simply stopped supporting unions of their own free will.

The individual worker is almost powerless, so unless you want to end up virtual slave labor there is absolutely no substitute for collective bargaining. Countries do it when they enter into treaties with each other against other countries, companies do it when they form alliances, why is is it such a quaint thing in your eyes when workers do it?

Unions are the only reason we have basic human rights in the workplace anywhere, and the the demise of unions in the US probably has more to do with companies moving their manufacturing overseas where labor is non-unionized, and therefore cheaper and more easily exploitable. When I worked at a major telecom equipment manufacturer they got rid of all of the union jobs by getting rid of all US manufacturing. I suppose those workers were happy to see those decent paying union jobs go, relieved to no longer be yoked by the crushing oppression of the cruel, evil union.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
In most cases it's because the unions do more harm then good (there are very few controls to keep them from becoming corrupt...far fewer than there are in government or business).

Master! The barbarian union hoards are at the gate and they want you to pay me a living wage! Lordy, can't a good slave be free to be happily enslaved anymore?
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 05:56 PM

[Edited]
Posted by: maurus

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 06:29 PM

Originally Posted By: pv88
Question for all:

When you die where do you believe you are going?

Well, let's try. The things I leave behind, my writings, my love, the little of music I could say to have given to others, my possessions, the memories others keep of me, even the parts of my dead body - who knows where they will be going. Many places, I am sure. It's for others to decide. But I myself? Certainly: Nowhere. At least that is my conviction, and my hope.

Now that might inspire some music. Even on an Avant Grand...
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 07:08 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
There is political partisanship and rhetoric, and there are the rants of the paranoid schizophrenic. To me it feels like you blur the line, TheJourney. Maybe I have just never met anyone as extreme as you are (or at least as you talk) so I'm caught off guard.

I get the feeling the leftists you've been exposed to are of the milquetoast / straw man variety. Not your fault I suppose, flaming centrists in any almost other country are labeled hard left in the US. Anyone might be confused.

If you are open to new ideas you might try A People's history of the United States by Howard Zinn. Though I have to say that it's an eye popping, harrowing read, not exactly light bedtime fare, and I personally couldn't make it past the first 1/4 or so for health reasons.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
I just get tired of people anthropomorphizing firms and assigning moral blame to them. Firms have never, and will never, have a heart. That is to be expected. If you are set on finding one in them, you can expect to be frustrated forever and you will never find a solution to the ills you perceive to be caused by them.

But companies, like Soylent Green, is people! No anthropomorphizing necessary. When groups of people do evil things they aren't evil? Particularly when they're doing it for profit (evil^2)? I don't see how economic theory relieves anyone of the responsibility of their actions.

Which leads me to another notion: the most dangerous social construct mankind ever invented is the diffusion of responsibility. If one person does wrong we all pretty much agree that he should get the full blame. If ten people are equally guilty of a single wrong we start scratching our heads and do our best to single out an instigator. And when I put part of my savings in a bank that invests part of it in a company that exploits child labor in some far off land, I have so little blood on my hands that maybe I don't even notice it.

When some borderline paranoid schizophrenic points out the blood, people with all the comforts in the world, who live like pampered kings of old, get defensive and start rationalizing, saying things like "it's dog eat dog" "I earned that money fair and square" "the world as we know it would disappear without an investor class" "emerging economies have to start somewhere" "you gotta break a few eggs to make an omlette" "hard work builds character" "maybe those 5 year olds enjoy working 18 hours a day" "my great Uncle worked in the mines when he was 8 (before the unions)" etc.

Our psyches are chock full of defense mechanisms that tend to make us look better to ourselves than we really are. It's no wonder that many first worlders don't understand how complicit they are in most of the world's woes, they naturally avoid self educational opportunities that might make them feel the pain of guilt. Which we lefties seem to be shouldering the brunt of lately, there is no equivalent to "liberal guilt" on the right - indeed it is used as something of an epithet, a sign of weakness.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/09/13 08:15 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
But companies, like Soylent Green, is people! No anthropomorphizing necessary. When groups of people do evil things they aren't evil? Particularly when they're doing it for profit (evil^2)? I don't see how economic theory relieves anyone of the responsibility of their actions.


Point taken. Individually, some of those people are culpable, if they are breaking laws. But the organization doesn't have a mandate to be kind or provide for the needy or whatever. If the individuals in the company break no law and they maximize the company profit, they have done nothing wrong. If the outcome is not what we want, then the laws and property rights were not set up right. Employees work for companies of their own free will. People buy from companies of their own free will. There's not a lot of room for guilt.

Speaking of guilt and compulsion, I disagree with the idea that it's unions that keep us paid well, and so do the people dropping out of unions like so many autumn leaves. Companies pay employees according to their marginal productivity. If the company doesn't pay enough or doesn't provide enough benefits, the correct option is to leave. If there are no comparable outside options, it means you were overpaid. If we were as critical of companies for paying people whose productivity is far below their pay grade as we are for what we perceive to be the opposite, we would have far more negative feelings toward these companies. But it's not actually possible for a company to pay someone below their productivity unless they can effectively compel them to stay.

Back in the 1980's there were a few actual government actions against unions (and also many in favor). But they didn't make a difference. The big exodus from unions came later. Let me be clear, I don't think unions are useless. I can imagine circumstances when they can be useful (for example, if the employer is getting monopoly power or maybe in an industry at the bottom where people's marginal productivity is not enough to sustain life). I don't agree that unions require government support to stay alive where they are needed, and I don't believe a law that compels employees in an industry to join the union whether they want to or not is moral. Those are the laws many industries have now.

Unions and other government-sponsored productivity killers drive companies out of business or make them scale back. This decreases demand for employees and puts workers in a worse situation to negotiate a good salary. In that way unions can and often do harm workers in an industry more than they help.

Parenthetically, one reason people don't like unions is that they are horribly rife with corruption. Many union bosses make obscene money, skimmed from employees and the employer by compulsory means, and are neck deep in various types of crime. Sometimes that crime is a means to enforce their union agenda but other times it's just a way to enrich themselves. They put both executives and politicians to shame in terms of corruption. In the case of politicians, the corruption sometimes goes goes hand in hand, though. The politicians write laws that force people to pay the unions, the union bosses use employee money to donate to the politicians' campaigns, whether the employees want to or not.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 04:08 AM

Originally Posted By: ando
The action in this thread is very heavy.


Does that mean I'm entitled to a cut of the ad clicks? smile
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 07:01 AM

Unions come and unions go, and there are some common reasons:

1. Market factors. Union power rises when labor demand exceeds the supply.

2. Politics. Union power rises when labor leaders pay politicians to enact legislation favoring the union.

Which acting force do you prefer: market factors or politics?

I prefer market factors. These are honest and predictable, while politics is rife with corruption ... yet one more reason to keep government out of our lives.

Unions have declined in America because so much labor has been shifted offshore. A former boss of mine said, back in the 80's: "We're safe in our jobs because there will always be manufacturing." How very wrong!

Labor employment generally moves to the lowest cost source. Manufacturers demand lower costs. And so do we as consumers.

This is nothing new. And it involves no evil intent. It's just basic human nature.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 07:05 AM

Manufacturers demand lower costs. And so do we as consumers.

And stockholders demand greater returns and that also drives the businesses to cheap labor countries.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 12:33 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Parenthetically, one reason people don't like unions is that they are horribly rife with corruption. Many union bosses make obscene money, skimmed from employees and the employer by compulsory means, and are neck deep in various types of crime. Sometimes that crime is a means to enforce their union agenda but other times it's just a way to enrich themselves.

I would apply this more to corporations. You can make huge piles of cash being a CEO, complete with severance package that rewards you handsomely if you screw up really badly, forgiven "loans," etc. And when is the last time union misdeeds plunged the world into a global recession? Investment firms seem to do this at least once per decade, on purpose, for-profit, and en masse, which very negatively and very directly impacts a lot of people, and which usually gets "cleaned up" via a big dip into public funds.

Looking on-line I'm amazed at the number of anti-union sites, hawking their scare tactics. They report plenty of union crimes, which seem mostly embezzlement by treasurers. Not saying that's OK to do, but this is a problem wherever money pools and is by no means exclusive to unions. With the general fuss I was expecting more in the way of broken bones and buried bodies. What I can't find is statistics on union corruption, preferably with a comparison to corporate corruption. Lacking that, I wouldn't be surprised if this is another installment of the welfare queen ooga booga, where a few bad apples are conflated into systemic corruption so intractable that it has become necessary to burn the village in order to save it.

Lots of talk here about the evils of big government. The relationship between government and business I believe is this (correct me if I'm wrong): the SEC monitors markets and businesses (markets aren't all that magical as they don't seem to work very well without a lot of external oversight and policing - a function paid for with my tax dollars). There is a danger of any business getting so large that it dominates markets and starts bullying people around, and the SEC can employ antitrust laws to break up such companies. AT&T was broken up for this reason. Smaller government simply can't stand up to misbehaving large corporations, if nothing else they'll be outspent in court (yet another publicly incurred cost). I don't see any alternative to big government when it comes to keeping corporations from becoming "too big to fail". Hate big government all you want, but what other entity has the power to reign in and control the huge misdeeds large corporations commit on a fairly regular basis?

Also, I don't think the use of the term "state's rights" or the equivalent thereof is all that wise. It's a heavily loaded term linked to opposition of federally mandated racial desegregation in the 40's.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 01:34 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
I would apply this more to corporations. You can make huge piles of cash being a CEO, complete with severance package that rewards you handsomely if you screw up really badly, forgiven "loans," etc. And when is the last time union misdeeds plunged the world into a global recession? Investment firms seem to do this at least once per decade, on purpose, for-profit, and en masse, which very negatively and very directly impacts a lot of people, and which usually gets "cleaned up" via a big dip into public funds.


Corporations do indeed have poor governance at times--both in terms of the decisions the executives make and the compensation they take. In recent years this has become a bigger problem as the hurdles to takeovers have prevented the market-imposed discipline we saw in the 80's--and executive pay has gone up as a result. The LBO's of the 1980s were widely characterized by the ignorant as nefarious when in practice they were a way of freeing corporations from inept fatcats who had captured the executive suites and board of directory chairs. If the government actually wanted to change the income distribution and improve corporate governance, they would stop impeding takeovers and instead impose constraints on corporate charters so that the board of directors represented the stockholders and the CEO answered to the board of directors--executives are employees of the shareholders and should be paid their marginal productivity just like the other workers. Really if you just outlawed poison pills and dual-class shares you could just about get there. That may happen some day, actually. Politicians are pretty dumb but some of their aides are smart and there's no reason for one side to particularly oppose this type of action.

Let' be clear about the financial crisis we are in now, though. It was not caused by, nor did it enrich, investment bankers, brokers, or any other major group on wall street. It was the consequence of a housing bubble caused by government policies to try and push people into homes they can't afford. The guys in NY were given orders from the government (and financial incentive) to facilitate this. The very smart banks stayed out of it for the most part or at least didn't take positions in the resulting securities themselves (Goldman) the less smart banks got way into it, assuming the government would bail them out if need be, which it didn't (Lehman). Later the government did bail out some corporations, some of which are quasi-government agencies anyway. Stupid, stupid corporations. Of course, they had implicit guarantees that they would be bailed out and that always causes firms to take big risks.

Too big to fail is a problem caused by (and only by) implicit government guarantees, which come through arbitrarily some times and not others. It's actually an interesting economic problem because sometimes a bailout actually is worth it in the big scheme of things, but the promise of a bailout makes companies go crazy and take risky positions.

Without the government trying to regulate the market, there is no such thing as too big to fail and corporations/banks don't take insane risks similar to those that caused them to go under when the housing bubble popped*.

The government definitely causes many, many of the economic and social problems we have today. That isn't to say it's intentionally evil, but it is incredibly inept, has a proclivity to aid a small group at the expense of the whole, and is immune to market forces and laws that keep other organizations in check. In principle, voters should keep it in check but that requires more knowledge and motivation than voters have. For the most part voters are dogmatic, not rational, and respond to ads or inherit bias from the media (which leads us back to where we started).

* Ever since it popped, the government has been trying like crazy to get the bubble going again, presumably to enrich those who own houses (who tend to be more wealthy/old and vote a lot) at the expense of those who would like to buy (who tend to be more poor/young and don't vote).
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 02:07 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Also, I don't think the use of the term "state's rights" or the equivalent thereof is all that wise. It's a heavily loaded term linked to opposition of federally mandated racial desegregation in the 40's.


In my opinion, the fact that a correct principle was almost applied to keep something bad alive a couple of generations ago is not a valid reason avoid the principle or the language today.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Let' be clear about the financial crisis we are in now, though. It was not caused by, nor did it enrich, investment bankers, brokers, or any other major group on wall street.

Hmm. So these guys can wreak all kinds of havoc, leaving Fannie Mae and the public holding the bag, and we can't blame them? I fear that next you'll say Enron was squeaky clean (or at worst amoral).



My feeling is that this fiasco can be traced back to deregulation, not over regulation.

I must say, I'm very impressed with your ability to blame literally everything wrong in this world today on government. It's quite a skill.
Posted by: patH

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
I prefer market factors. These are honest and predictable

They would be; if humans were all of the type homo economicus.
But in my opinion the homo economicus is as real as the New Socialist Human, imagined by the leaders of the now defunct GDR.

The homo economicus is a model; but most humans don't just make rational decisions. Which is why the market is not predictable.

Anyway: As long as we can choose our pianos, society is not doomed.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 06:34 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Let' be clear about the financial crisis we are in now, though. It was not caused by, nor did it enrich, investment bankers, brokers, or any other major group on wall street.

Hmm. So these guys can wreak all kinds of havoc, leaving Fannie Mae and the public holding the bag


Fannie Mae and the government were the source of the problem. The investment bankers were at most accessories to the crime. If you can call it a crime to do what you are told by the government and not break any laws.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 06:38 PM

Originally Posted By: patH
The homo economicus is a model; but most humans don't just make rational decisions. Which is why the market is not predictable.


For the model to work, it's not a requirement that all humans make rational decisions, only that those who make irrational decisions suffer their own consequences. If rational agents are acting as well, they should be the marginal investors/sellers/purchasers, absent trading restrictions imposed by--you guessed it--the government. smile

Also jut a nit pick, predictability in the market is a consequence of a market break-down and irrational behavior. Unpredictability in the market means it's working great and constantly reflecting all available information. Probably you didn't mean it that way, but we might as well be correct in what we say.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 07:07 PM

I just watched that video and I have to say, if you came away with the idea that investment bankers are the bad guys, you looked at the pictures of fat people in ties too much and listened to the content too little.

As I watch that, I see two groups of people you can blame (though they aren't breaking the law per se):

1. The homeowners buy homes they can't afford or are not worth the money in an attempt to speculate and then walk away. Who's to blame? The speculators (i.e., home owners). Who gave them incentive to take that risk (by loan subsidization through tax breaks and low interest rates)? The government.

2. Investment managers took too great of risks on behalf of their clients. That's not a crime per se, but it wasn't smart. Of course, clients are supposed to understand risks they take with their money. If you lose money in your 401K because you bought something very risky, it's your fault.

It also omits a couple of relevant issues:

1. Mortgage securitization is almost 100% done by the government. They were the pioneers and they are the ones that do almost all of it. So if you think securitization itself is evil, the finger points at the government.

2. The video inexplicably indicates that bankers get caught in the middle as a matter of course. The actual problem was that they wanted a piece of the action as well, so they used their own money to buy up some of the securitized loans, and thus felt the pain at the same time as the investors. Bad idea, but they did suffer their own consequences (except the ones that got bailed out by the government. Thanks government.).

The crisis can actually be boiled down to a few things:

* Exuberant public speculating on rising housing prices as a get rich scheme or to have a house they can't afford.

* Government encouraging that speculation through various policies. Government loves nothing better than to increase home ownership among poor people housing, even if they can't afford it.

* Investment bankers playing the role the government, public, and banks require them to.

In the face of these facts, it's incredible that anyone can blame the bankers. I suppose it's walmart's fault if you max out your credit cards on a spending spree? Or maybe it's Visa's fault? Many liberals would say one of those two. Doesn't make it true.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 07:25 PM

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fannie_Mae (standard disclaimer)

Quote:
In 2000, because of a re-assessment of the housing market by HUD, anti-predatory lending rules were put into place that disallowed risky, high-cost loans from being credited toward affordable housing goals. In 2004, these rules were dropped and high-risk loans were again counted toward affordable housing goals.

The intent was that Fannie Mae's enforcement of the underwriting standards they maintained for standard conforming mortgages would also provide safe and stable means of lending to buyers who did not have prime credit. As Daniel Mudd, then President and CEO of Fannie Mae, testified in 2007, instead the agency's underwriting requirements drove business into the arms of the private mortgage industry who marketed aggressive products without regard to future consequences: "We also set conservative underwriting standards for loans we finance to ensure the homebuyers can afford their loans over the long term. We sought to bring the standards we apply to the prime space to the subprime market with our industry partners primarily to expand our services to underserved families.

"Unfortunately, Fannie Mae-quality, safe loans in the subprime market did not become the standard, and the lending market moved away from us. Borrowers were offered a range of loans that layered teaser rates, interest-only, negative amortization and payment options and low-documentation requirements on top of floating-rate loans. In early 2005 we began sounding our concerns about this "layered-risk" lending. For example, Tom Lund, the head of our single-family mortgage business, publicly stated, "One of the things we don't feel good about right now as we look into this marketplace is more homebuyers being put into programs that have more risk. Those products are for more sophisticated buyers. Does it make sense for borrowers to take on risk they may not be aware of? Are we setting them up for failure? As a result, we gave up significant market share to our competitors."

Quote:
Following their mission to meet federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing goals, GSEs such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) have striven to improve home ownership of low and middle income families, underserved areas, and generally through special affordable methods such as "the ability to obtain a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a low down payment... and the continuous availability of mortgage credit under a wide range of economic conditions." (HUD 2002 Annual Housing Activities Report) Then in 2003–2004, the subprime mortgage crisis began. The market shifted away from regulated GSE's and radically toward Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) issued by unregulated private-label securitization conduits, typically operated by investment banks.

As mortgage originators began to distribute more and more of their loans through private label MBS's, GSE's lost the ability to monitor and control mortgage originators. Competition between the GSEs and private securitizers for loans further undermined GSEs power and strengthened mortgage originators. This contributed to a decline in underwriting standards and was a major cause of the financial crisis.

Investment bank securitizers were more willing to securitize risky loans because they generally retained minimal risk. Whereas the GSE's guaranteed the performance of their MBS's, private securitizers generally did not, and might only retain a thin slice of risk.[34] Often, banks would offload this risk to insurance companies or other counterparties through credit default swaps, making their actual risk exposures extremely difficult for investors and creditors to discern.

From that it seems to me that the antics of private securitizers precipitated the fall. A market failure due to under regulation. Credit default swaps were part of the problem - when is insurance not insurance?

And say what you will about buyer beware, but when we bought our house there was so much going on and not going on at the closing that I pretty much had to trust the lawyer, who I didn't know from Adam. They could have easily pulled a fast one on me. Pushing ARMs, interest only loans, balloon payments, and other confusing instruments on the general public strikes me as pretty crooked. It really kills me that the poor got blamed for making bad decisions when it was the banks that were completely abdicating their role as loan originators, and generally preying upon the public by foisting overly complex loans they must have known had no chance of payback. Rich people took these loans too and walked away when they went underwater, but we don't hear about them much.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/10/13 07:37 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
And say what you will about buyer beware, but when we bought our house there was so much going on and not going on at the closing that I pretty much had to trust the lawyer, who I didn't know from Adam. They could have easily pulled a fast one on me. Pushing ARMs, interest only loans, balloon payments, and other confusing instruments on the general public strikes me as pretty crooked.


Put me down on the side of whoever dislikes lawyers and loan officers.

I'm just saying in the whole chain I don't see the investment bankers particularly bearing the blame. They had customers on one side wanting to put money into subprime loans and customers on the other side offering them. Loan officers and mortgage companies made the bad loans. Stupid money managers (whose job it is to understand risks and protect their clients) bought them. If the bankers hadn't facilitated the transaction, someone else would have. Probably the government.

Regarding regulation, I'm not altogether against it, but I think before deciding whether the government should have prohibited the situation, we should first ask whether the government shouldn't have encouraged it quite as enthusiastically as they did (and continue to do).
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/11/13 08:29 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Put me down on the side of whoever dislikes lawyers and loan officers.

I'm not saying this to be merely contrarian, but lawyers are generally OK by me. If it weren't for redress in the court system, private individuals would have quite a bit less power to change anything large corporations do. Which I imagine is why the powerful seem to hate the courts with a passion - it's one of the last semi-level playing fields left.

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
Regarding regulation, I'm not altogether against it, but I think before deciding whether the government should have prohibited the situation, we should first ask whether the government shouldn't have encouraged it quite as enthusiastically as they did (and continue to do).

Making the financing of housing affordable is a laudable goal, but I don't think home ownership is for everyone. It is usually the largest investment one makes, and the fairly non-liquid aspect can tie one to an area too long in the event of job loss, etc. And the market can obviously be heavily manipulated and crashed, impacting hapless owners through no fault of their own. But I do think home ownership can be a stabilizing influence on communities by giving the people living there a long-term and very real stake in an area.

What I don't understand is why banks and the like are still privately held. If anything is a public good it's our currency. Why do we pay middle men for the luxury of using our own monetary system? If value is actually created through interest, why not have that come back to all of us and help fund the system? I mean, who died and put bankers in charge? If I wasn't taught differently in school I might think I'm living in an oligarchy.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/11/13 08:57 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster


What I don't understand is why banks and the like are still privately held. If anything is a public good it's our currency. Why do we pay middle men for the luxury of using our own monetary system? If value is actually created through interest, why not have that come back to all of us and help fund the system? I mean, who died and put bankers in charge?



Read "The Creature from Jekyll Island", all your
questions are answered... in short it's what's
good for "them".....
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/11/13 11:05 PM

Our legal system cuts both ways. Some people and causes lose out because lawyers cost a lot, so it would seem that the rich benefit. At the same time any person or organization with assets will be subject to frivolous lawsuits right and left because the system is exceptionally (unreasonably) generous if you win and there's a lot of randomness in who wins. Certainly we need a legal system, but I don't know that I'd call it a level playing field for either side. Still, you can appreciate that we need a legal system and dislike lawyers as a group.

Originally Posted By: dewster
What I don't understand is why banks and the like are still privately held. If anything is a public good it's our currency. Why do we pay middle men for the luxury of using our own monetary system? If value is actually created through interest, why not have that come back to all of us and help fund the system? I mean, who died and put bankers in charge? If I wasn't taught differently in school I might think I'm living in an oligarchy.


I guess I can't understand what you are getting at. Only one bank really controls our currency, and it's a wholly owned subsidiary of the government (the fed). The other guys take deposits from people looking to save and lend it to people looking to borrow, giving the interest to the people who lent minus a commission. That's basically what you describe.

Investment banks do the same kind of thing, it's just that the people and organizations that want to save through them have such huge chunks of change that it's often more efficient for the bank to just pass ownership of the securities directly through to them without calling it a deposit.

Banks, whether commercial or investment, really do nothing more special than create an efficient place for people wanting to save to give money to people who want to borrow. They don't have any significant power over the currency or anything else of importance, regardless of how they are drawn in cartoons. That would be like saying the guy who runs the quicky mart down the street has power over the price of gas. He's just a retailer. In fact, if he unilaterally raised or lowered prices by just a few pennies, he'd be out of business. He has no power whatsoever. Bankers are basically in the same boat.

The only significantly sick thing in our banking system is the fact that the government willingly bears any risks they take. This makes the banks themselves want to take risky positions in the assets they handle instead of just doing their job as market makers. Bail outs are one mechanism for this, but FDIC insurance is the bigger one. All the surviving big investment banks have now converted into commercial banks in order to take advantage of this free money from heaven. On the other hand, lack of FDIC insurance caused even bigger problems in the past than we have now, so on this one you can't just chalk the problem up to stupidity on the part of the government. It's a pretty difficult problem--the government has a tiger by the tail.

As a nation, the US is the least bank-oriented of all developed nations: we use markets where many other countries use extremely large and versatile banks for financing. That's why US markets are so much more developed than they are in other nations. Markets are less efficient than banks for many types of transactions, but they put borrowers and lenders directly in contact with essentially no middle man so there's no one to blame. I suppose that's kind of the direction you'd like to see things go, and it's a reasonable one.

Certainly having the government facilitate financial transactions instead of markets and banks is the worst idea ever. I could easily imagine that knocking the world back to the stone age, causing mass poverty and even starvation across the globe. The government has no fear of risk whatsoever, doesn't respond to changes in the economy, doesn't care about the truth in the data, is highly inefficient, and is very easy for the unscrupulous to take advantage of. And believe me, if the government was in charge, you would see unscrupulous people come out of the woodwork to take advantage on a truly unprecedented scale.

If the government took over the work banks and markets do today, those of us who survived the associated apocalypse would never understand how anyone called anything previous a financial crisis.
Posted by: pv88

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 12:33 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
If the government took over the work banks and markets today, those of us who survived the associated apocalypse would never understand how anyone called anything previous a financial crisis.


This may very well play out in the near future sooner than we think as the truth concerning our existence hangs in the balance.

Other factors include:

1) One world government

2) One world currency

3) Slavery to system
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 06:47 AM

Glenda Jackson on Thatcherism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDtClJYJBj8
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 07:42 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Glenda Jackson on Thatcherism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDtClJYJBj8



Come on, get serious. She was a lone voice in parliament so you cite her as some sort of reference?
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 08:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Plinky88
Read "The Creature from Jekyll Island", all your
questions are answered... in short it's what's
good for "them".....

Hmm. The book looks interesting, but the first reviewer at Amazon says this:

"The biggest problem in modern banking, according to Griffin, is and has always been the creation of fiat money. Fiat money is money that is "declared" money by the government. It is not backed by anything but promises and deceit. All societies were sound financially when they used gold or silver to back their currency."

I don't have any issues with fiat money, and precious metal backing strikes me as fundamentally flawed - you don't want the value of your currency jumping around with the availability of some scarce resource. And you need the ability to print extra money at times in order to stimulate the economy. Not enough available money can create all kinds of havoc.

I have more trouble with how they distribute that extra printed money. For stimulus purposes it should probably be dropped from helicopters onto the general population, but instead it is given away essentially free to banks. Then we have to have complex government initiatives that attempt to direct it towards the public, with market-based shysters looking for every immoral, quasi-legal, not-yet-regulated-because-we-couldn't-have-anticipated-such-brazen-for-profit-behavior loophole to direct it their way instead.
Posted by: mabraman

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 09:02 AM

Amen
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 09:32 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The only significantly sick thing in our banking system is the fact that the government willingly bears any risks they take. This makes the banks themselves want to take risky positions in the assets they handle instead of just doing their job as market makers. Bail outs are one mechanism for this, but FDIC insurance is the bigger one. All the surviving big investment banks have now converted into commercial banks in order to take advantage of this free money from heaven. On the other hand, lack of FDIC insurance caused even bigger problems in the past than we have now, so on this one you can't just chalk the problem up to stupidity on the part of the government. It's a pretty difficult problem--the government has a tiger by the tail.

So banks don't seem to be able to exist in the private space without significant backing and strict regulation by the government. But this seems to carry with it its own, perhaps larger set of problems - the public's pile of cash is salivated over by every huckster in the system, and regulation can have unintended consequences due to this greed, among other things.

This arrangement repeatedly demonstrates how fundamentally flawed it is, but for some reason we choose the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of a different outcome) rather than the obvious solution of getting rid of the expensive middleman - which is somehow a nuclear option? We'd all be starving in the streets if some guys on Wall Street weren't writing programs that automatically bet on stocks at the speed of light? Can't they take their systems to Vegas or the dog track and leave my monetary system alone? I suppose their systems wouldn't work without odds constantly in their favor.

I've worked for several companies (one quite large) and in multiple capacities. If my experience can be generalized in the least I'd say the private sector doesn't have any monopoly on efficiency. All human organizations are plagued with pretty much the same issues, and privatization is no panacea.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 09:43 AM

Originally Posted By: dewster
rather than the obvious solution of getting rid of the expensive middleman - which is somehow a nuclear option? We'd all be starving in the streets if some guys on Wall Street weren't writing programs that automatically bet on stocks at the speed of light? Can't they take their systems to Vegas or the dog track and leave my monetary system alone? I suppose their systems wouldn't work without odds constantly in their favor.


I guess you have to be specific about who the expensive middleman is and in which scenario. Barring barriers to entry, there's no such thing as an expensive middleman--of course the SEC does provide some barriers to entry that raise the costs (thanks government!). Banks basically compete on price and are generally much cheaper than direct financing options for the things they do. Though for small projects there is a market on prosper.com and similar sites. Sadly, it's illegal in my state (thanks, government!).

The high frequency traders you mention have nothing to do with banks. They are investors like you and me, just more robotic. Their contribution to society is that they make the market more efficient, stable, and liquid (if you sell some stock, most likely one of them is buying it). They are replacing the old specialists/broker-dealers. Like short-sellers, they are a group of traders that tends to maintain the market and keep it healthy, but constantly gets blamed as if they were the cause of market volatility.

Some banks have proprietary trading desks that do this type of thing, though the government is on its way to making that illegal as well (they sometimes take big risks, which we have established is not what you want banks doing). If a bank has a prop desk, though, it really has nothing to do with the main operations or function of the bank. You could think of the prop desk as a separate company--probably some day they will be.

None of the above has anything to do with the money supply, of course.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 09:53 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The high frequency traders you mention have nothing to do with banks.

I know, but (right or wrong) the stock market is used as a direct indicator of economic health in the media. Maybe I'm way off base (IANAE - I am not an economist) but I don't like anything that volatile anywhere near my money supply. Sometimes individuals who claim to be Wall Street coders comment over at slashdot, the ones I've read are hair-raisingly, recklessly gonzo.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 09:58 AM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The high frequency traders you mention have nothing to do with banks.

I know, but (right or wrong) the stock market is used as a direct indicator of economic health in the media. Maybe I'm way off base (IANAE - I am not an economist) but I don't like anything that volatile anywhere near my money supply.


Typical HF traders are separate from banks and don't affect the money supply.

However, banks do collectively affect the money supply when they choose how much to lend out (at present, it's not much). So there are a number of a good arguments for them not having prop desks. I'm not sure there's a relationship between how much banks lend out and their prop operations, though.

Prop desks have not yet been a significant source of financial calamity. Doesn't mean they are a good idea, though.

By the way, about cutting out the middleman. I didn't mean to suggest that that's a nuclear option. Putting the government in charge would be. However, using direct financing where possible is kind of the American way. As a red-blooded American I'm in favor of that. Unfortunately, there are many situations where it's not cost-effective to do so. But over time it's becoming cheaper and cheaper. For example, google's (almost successful) IPO was an attempt to reduce the role of the middleman. If they had been a little smarter about it, it might have worked out.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 10:42 AM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Glenda Jackson on Thatcherism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDtClJYJBj8



Come on, get serious. She was a lone voice in parliament so you cite her as some sort of reference?


I simply posted the youtube video, the content of which speaks for itself.

That she was, as you say, "a lone voice in Parliament", does not detract from the historical truth nor poignancy of her observations. After all, it only takes one courageous voice standing up to the corrosive effect of group think or false piety to make a point. "The Truth" is often found in an inverse relationship to the number of rich, elite, white, yes-men covering their behinds and nodding their heads in unison like so many of those bobbing-head dog dolls one used to see in the back dash of car windows.

For example, the dramatic levels of endemic corruption and the brazen cover-up of war crimes exposed by the US diplomatic cables being made public are not made any less true or relevant by the simple fact that there was allegedly only one brave whistle-blowing patriot, Bradley Manning, who put the whole stinking mess out to air.

Having too many potential voices can even result in less action or no action being taken. As we know from the Kitty Genovese effect, in real life if there are any number of people watching a violent rape, there is always the risk that no one at all takes action. Similar to what has happened in the UK and the US on a much larger and dramatic scale during the past 30 some years.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 10:59 AM

Originally Posted By: theJourney
Glenda Jackson on Thatcherism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDtClJYJBj8



Lol. British parliament cracks me up. So much heckling! I guess it has to do with the fact that they speak in place without mics so we hear everyone grumbling when they don't agree.

I don't know much about British politics (we are seeing in this thread that Americans are talking about America, Europeans are talking about Europe). Doesn't seem like there was any content in her video, though. Just rhetoric. Certainly she has strong feelings, but feelings aren't facts. Maybe you guys were around back when library books had to be held together with spit and wallpaper, everyone slept in stores or in the street, and human kindness wasn't a thing, so this makes more sense to you. To me it sounds like the kind of thing anyone can say about any place at any time because they aren't facts that people can check.

It is the nature of humans to get emotional about agenda of the party, tribe, or whatever with which they identify. Great book (politically neutral, btw) on this subject: The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt. Everyone believes not only that they are right, but that their group is morally superior, but any arguments they have to support this feeling are ad hoc justifications, not universal truths.

I'm actually surprised someone living in the Netherlands has strong feelings (or even first-hand information) about a UK prime minister from the 80's, though. Have you spent more time in the UK than EssBrace, just as you have spent more time in the US than I have?
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 11:33 AM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
By the way, about cutting out the middleman. I didn't mean to suggest that that's a nuclear option. Putting the government in charge would be.

Just as markets aren't a remedy for all ills, government isn't a universal source of them. Government should theoretically be able to do anything. Sans profit it should be able to do it less expensively, more altruistically, and more responsibly. SS and Medicare are good examples of how this works well IMO.

If we firmly believe our government is too incompetent to handle anything serious, the people we pick to be in charge of things too inept or too crooked to trust, then something is fundamentally wrong with the way we organize and choose these people, and not necessarily with government per se running things.

Shrinking the government to get it off your back is like the term limits solution to ejecting lifers: it doesn't address the fundamental problem so it's not surprising when it doesn't work as expected or backfires.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 01:17 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Sans profit it should be able to do it less expensively, more altruistically, and more responsibly. SS and Medicare are good examples of how this works well IMO.


Yikes! Just because nothing gets classed as "profit" doesn't mean the processes is cheap or responsible. SS and Medicare are unbelievably wasteful. The amount of wealth going into these programs is far larger than the benefit coming out. Medicare is a good example to talk about because there is another program that is similar but administered by the states: Medicaid. Medicare spends far, far more per medical problem than medicaid does because they don't try and negotiate good prices or good healthcare practices and the hospitals take crazy advantage of them. Everyone gets brand name drugs instead of the generic (identical) version, so pharma marks up the prices on the brand name version many times over and bleeds the government dry. Medicare is actually the poster child for why government is a wasteful and expensive way to do things. The government would save untold billions just by running it the same way they run Medicaid, which isn't exactly efficient either. But there's a problem: old people benefit from Medicare and old people are an unstoppable voting block. Poor people, not so much.

Quote:
If we firmly believe our government is too incompetent to handle anything serious, the people we pick to be in charge of things too inept or too crooked to trust, then something is fundamentally wrong with the way we organize and choose these people, and not necessarily with government per se running things.


There are certain things only the government can do reasonably. National defense. Enforcement of contracts (i.e., the legal system). Police. Local roads. That kind of thing. Government solves a lot of problems, even if it does them inefficiently. It's just that over time we have added more and more things to the list of what the government is in charge of--things that we can do for ourselves much better--and so just about anything on the margin (that we are considering adding or removing) is likely to be something that should be removed.

Government likes to grow--it gives politicians and bureaucrats more power--so in order to maintain equilibrium, the people need to be constantly pressuring elected officials to leave them alone and stop consuming the GDP on projects that have alternative solutions or aren't worth the cost of solving. If we don't, what has happened over the last few decades happens: the government grows continually and entangles everything it touches until ultimately you are completely mired in a socialism.
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 01:56 PM

Originally Posted By: gvfarns
SS and Medicare are unbelievably wasteful. The amount of wealth going into these programs is far larger than the benefit coming out.

I suppose it depends on who you read regarding these things. Re Medicare, the Heritage Foundation will tell you the end is near, but centrists like Ezra Kline aren't exactly jumping up and down:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/07/administrative_costs_in_health.html

Not surprisingly, administrations costs seem to mostly come down to how large the insured pool is. And if Canada can control them, we can too.

My wife and I are privately insured at the moment and we're getting raked over the coals. I'm pretty sure all heck will break loose if we actually need to use any of the benefits we're paying so dearly for. I never thought I'd be in a position of actually wanting to be old and decrepit, but here I am.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 02:43 PM

No argument here. Private health insurance is at least as broken as medicare/medicaid in the US at the moment. If we can't go all the way to the right and allow some reasonable competition in the space, I'd prefer to be all the way socialized on health care. We may end up paying more for it and we would miss out on some of the high-end care and have longer waits, but at least we wouldn't have to put up with the insane crap private insurers give us in their attempts to not pay for stuff.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 04:59 PM

I would never hold up Social Security as an example of successful government. It's a shell game ... one that we're forced to play, and to lose.

I've paid over $250,000 into this program, and I expect to pay an additional $50,000 by the time I retire. And for that I can expect to receive $29,000 per year. Based on life expectancy, I'll get out what I put in.

Wow! Such a deal. I put in valuable money over a span of forty years, and I get the same quantity of deflated dollars thereafter. This is my worst "investment" ever. It's only possible value would be a small benefit to my wife had I died young. But I already had that in the form of life insurance ... at much lower cost.

Why must I endure such affliction at the hands of my own government? Social Security is a misnomer. And it should be eliminated.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 06:01 PM

And for that I can expect to receive $29,000 per year. Based on life expectancy, I'll get out what I put in.

I'm sorry to hear to hear this government program did not work out for you. Since you obviously don't need that money, you could simply reinvest it ... or donate it to charity. You are not taxed on your Social Security benefits.

I really wish my fellow Americans would travel a tad more. Social Security tax is a 6.2 percent I believe. Americans in general pay considerably less in taxes and yet always seem to complain the most.

I was in Denmark on vacation four years ago and the sales tax on every day items was 25 percent. The price of gasoline here in Europe is always more than twice what Americans pay, but to listen to my fellow Americans discuss taxes, you'd think they pay more than anyone ... thus my suggestion to travel a tad more to have a more accurate perspective.

Social Security, a socialized program ... God forbid, is a cash cow for the US government. It's only a shell game in that the money borrowed from Social Security will never be paid back. It is a cash cow.

You know I grew up in the 1960's and those of us who criticized our government's foreign policy were advised to 'love it or leave it'. Funny how I almost feel like spewing that same narrow minded bromide now. smile
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/12/13 10:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I'm sorry to hear to hear this government program did not work out for you. Since you obviously don't need that money, you could simply reinvest it ... or donate it to charity. You are not taxed on your Social Security benefits.


Actually you are taxed on social security benefits. The thing is that social security is kept alive because it's pitched as a retirement plan (it would be the worst such plan ever). In practice it is a form of welfare. But it's a very inefficient one because it gives money to rich people too. It was earlier described as a Ponzi scheme...a way for the "greatest generation" to steal from their children without calling it debt. They all retired with SS, real pensions, and also possibly 401k's without having contributed much to social security and are now spending it on cruises. Rational young Americans can expect to pay it their whole working lives but not have it available in a meaningful sense by the time we retire. It's pretty evil. Like most such programs it was started with a very myopic justification: to get people of a particular generation to retire earlier so the young generation would have jobs.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we can't just modify or stop this or other benefits that accrue to the elderly now because the elderly are an unstoppable voting block. Even if most of them don't need it, they aren't about to vote to stop social security (or even the payments that go to the rich) just to benefit the young.

Quote:
I really wish my fellow Americans would travel a tad more. Social Security tax is a 6.2 percent I believe. Americans in general pay considerably less in taxes and yet always seem to complain the most.


6.2 percent is only what we pay after our paycheck is cut, not the part deducted from our paycheck before we ever see how much we actually earn. Nor does it include the special tax to pay for medicare/medicaid, nor regular federal taxes, nor state taxes, nor local taxes, nor self-employment tax (if we are self-employed), sales tax, gas tax, property tax. There are tons of special taxes hidden all over too. Even then our tax burden may not be as high as some other countries but remember: we get very little in return. Government inefficiency increases with size, so our trillions of dollars don't produce a whole lot.

Plus as a nation we just haven't bought the whole socialist thing, so having not agreed to it makes a difference in how we feel about paying for it, especially when we reap very few of the benefits socialism has to offer. That's my take.

We would travel more, but it's pretty expensive to get to Europe or anywhere else from here. Not like taking a short train ride or hopping across the channel. I wish foreigners would quit assuming American's don't travel because we don't care. Traveling around America is a big deal, going overseas is a major expense, in many cases without good justification.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 04:40 AM

Social Security benefits taxed? ... it depends ...



Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

IRS Tax Tip 2011-26, February 07, 2011

The Social Security benefits you received in 2010 may be taxable. You should receive a Form SSA-1099 which will show the total amount of your benefits. The information provided on this statement along with the following seven facts from the IRS will help you determine whether or not your benefits are taxable.

How much – if any – of your Social Security benefits are taxable depends on your total income and marital status.

Generally, if Social Security benefits were your only income for 2010, your benefits are not taxable and you probably do not need to file a federal income tax return.

If you received income from other sources, your benefits will not be taxed unless your modified adjusted gross income is more than the base amount for your filing status.


.....


Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 06:40 AM

I couldn't respond to your entire post because I had to run out the door ...

Even then our tax burden may not be as high as some other countries but remember: we get very little in return. Government inefficiency increases with size, so our trillions of dollars don't produce a whole lot.

Well, we pay slightly more in taxes here, probably about 10 percent overall, but get much more in return.

I'll include a link to a NY Times article on what it's like to live in the Netherlands and is pretty accurate.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03european-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

I'll also include what I wrote on my FaceBook page this morning ...

My American conservative friends always state they want a smaller government, less government involvement in their lives.

Here in the Netherlands women over the age of 50 are _invited_ every two years to take part of a breast cancer screening exam. Sacha's results came back yesterday. She's in perfect health.

Is this an example of the unnecessary government intrusion that the conservatives are against? Just wondering.
Posted by: ando

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 06:46 AM

Boy, who would have thought a bunch of guys who normally talk about weighted keys and triple sensors had so many thoughts on the world?! Bet you didn't see that one coming for your thread, Dave? wink
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 06:58 AM

I'm surprised this thread hasn't been locked though to be honest almost all the posts have been respectful and thoughtful.

This could also be capitalism at work. Look at the number of views ... and consider that a small percentage might result in advertising clicks (revenue) for Frank. wink
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 10:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I'm surprised this thread hasn't been locked


There isn't a lot of moderation in this forum. I'm not sure I've ever seen a moderator take any action whatsoever. That's fine because for the most part people here are well-behaved.

One hears a lot of things about the Netherlands. There are tons of good things about socialism, as everyone should recognize. There are also very significant downsides. But having the government in control of more and more stuff works less and less well as the government and the country gets larger. We see this all the time when we compare state and national government.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 11:41 AM

I keep hearing that socialism is so bad and I always think of the following example.

If you own a house you pay some kind of real estate\property\school\whatever tax which is forcibly taken, right? You don't a have a choice in that, you are taxed, period. Your local government then distributes that revenue to your local police department\fire department\library\grounds\whatever department.

Now you may never need nor want those services but they are there just the same for the benefit of your local community. I look at that as socialism, everyone chipping in for the greater benefit of their community.

Also, I don't look at the Netherlands as a socialized state per se. The health care I am forced to purchase (just like the car insurance I am forced to purchase) is purchased from a private company, a private company that is highly regulated by the government. There are many private health care providers here and we can shop around for the best price.

The government determines what is covered in the basic package. If you want more coverage, you pay more, but you must purchase at least the basic package and you can change providers once a year and no provider can refuse you. If you are poor and can't afford the basic package (which I'm guessing is about €120\$150 per month), the government will subsidize part of that monthly premium.

It's all quite civilized and works very well. I know personally one person in the US who has more than $100,000 in debt owed to a hospital. If push came to shove she could be forced to sell her house. That situation could never exist here and my Dutch friends were always amazed when the 'Tea Party' types in the US types protested against universal health care.



Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I know personally one person in the US who has more than $100,000 in debt owed to a hospital. If push came to shove she could be forced to sell her house. That situation could never exist here and my Dutch friends were always amazed when the 'Tea Party' types in the US types protested against universal health care.

Health care costs cause 42% of bankruptcies in the US (the next largest cause is job loss at 22%). The rest of the developed world is starting to point, shake their heads, and seriously wonder about our sanity.

If I were king I'd sign up everyone to some kind of health care insurance stat and figure out how to pay for it after the fact. If it weren't for Canada right next door putting us to shame on a variety of social issues I don't think any real reform would be possible here. People might try vacationing there to get a different perspective on things if they can't afford a trip abroad.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 04:11 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
If I were king I'd sign up everyone to some kind of health care insurance stat and figure out how to pay for it after the fact.



Ummm.. pretty sure our "king" just did that..
And next time you are sick and need to wait
6 hours in a crowded waiting room full of
sick people and screaming kids to see a second
rate hack-quck......
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 06:51 PM

Plinky: You're right on the money with that. My neighbor is from Canada. Her mother still lives there ... and she travels to New York for medical care. The wait for medical care in Canada just doesn't suit. In the US, you get served quickly, and it's worth the drive over the border.

Dave Horne: Our social security tax is 6.15% to the employee, and another 6.15% to the employer. That's 12.3% of the first 90 or 100 thousand of income. I'd rather put that in my 401k (or in other investments) ... ones that produce a return on my money. But the government says NO! We know what's good for you! (Sorry, guv, you don't.)

Also, I can understand the requirement to carry auto liability insurance. If I (or anyone) has significant potential to cause harm and loss, then insurance (or a bond) should be required.

What I don't understand is a government that demands I obtain insurance for situation where I can incur no liability at all. But the current government doesn't agree. Our freedom is vanishing bit by bit, all the time.

Socialists here in the states are fond of telling me what to do, how and when to do it, without leaving me any choice. I think it's outside government's role to do so. I can make my own choices, but they won't let me.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/13/13 07:17 PM

All you need to know:

Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 03:35 AM

Plinky: You're right on the money with that. My neighbor is from Canada. Her mother still lives there ... and she travels to New York for medical care. The wait for medical care in Canada just doesn't suit. In the US, you get served quickly, and it's worth the drive over the border.

This wasn't addressed to me, but it wasn't stated what type of surgery it was, whether it was an urgent operation such as an organ transplant or heart operation, or a less serious procedure such as a hernia operation or cosmetic surgery.

I just look at longevity rates (and infant mortality rates) to judge the overall health and effectiveness of a country's health care system.

Longevity rates - Life expectancy at birth, years > Total population (most recent) by country


Also, I can understand the requirement to carry auto liability insurance. If I (or anyone) has significant potential to cause harm and loss, then insurance (or a bond) should be required.

What I don't understand is a government that demands I obtain insurance for situation where I can incur no liability at all. But the current government doesn't agree. Our freedom is vanishing bit by bit, all the time.


I don't have a degree in economics but I'll go out on a limb here and state that whether it is car insurance or health care insurance, the individuals who are covered are subsidizing (paying more for their insurance) to cover those who are not paying for insurance.


Socialists here in the states are fond of telling me what to do, how and when to do it, without leaving me any choice. I think it's outside government's role to do so. I can make my own choices, but they won't let me.

We live in a society and there are taxes to be paid and some agreed upon rules.

The speed limit in my neighborhood is 30 km per hour. I think that's too slow. I don't have to follow it but if I get caught speeding I am fined. I suppose if I felt very strongly about this infringement on my right to speed, I could either change the system from within, speed and pay the fine, or move to a country that has less restrictions on my driving.

I hear from my conservatives friends about freedoms being lost usually when the conversation is regarding universal health care. Having lived in Europe for the last 18 years and investigated health care costs, the US pays more than all countries (except the Marshall Islands smile ) as a percentage of GDP for their health care. Health expenditure, total (% of GDP) per country

I place common sense and practicality above ideology in this instance. I don't look at universal health care as a loss of freedom.

I'm curious to learn what freedoms you have that I don't have here in Europe. I have a conservative relative in the US who always mentions 'freedoms' but he's never specific enough for me.

If the loss of your perceived freedom is participating in universal health care, the various models already in place in Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Japan, and Canada are all less costly ... with measurable and tangible results - greater longevity and lower infant mortality rates.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 08:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I just look at longevity rates (and infant mortality rates) to judge the overall health and effectiveness of a country's health care system.
Longevity and mortality are also related to lifestyle, diet, and cultural/genetic factors.

Example: We have too many crack addicts and smokers and fast-food-eating fatties. I don't recall seeing many such when I visited Amsterdam two summers ago. Perhaps that makes a difference between these two nations.

The news media have been reporting for decades on such lifestyle factors. Don't these life choices bear heavily upon health and longevity?

If you judge longevity solely on health care, that's akin to this: The sun is hot and the sun is yellow. Therefore bananas must be hot because they're yellow.
Quote:
I don't have a degree in economics but I'll go out on a limb here and state that whether it is car insurance or health care insurance, the individuals who are covered are subsidizing (paying more for their insurance) to cover those who are not paying for insurance.
Quite likely. But let's dig deeper:

Auto insurance is required for reasons I think we'd agree upon. Those who don't carry insurance surely cause an increase in what the rest of us pay in premiums. The only holes in this system are that the uninsured are generally not caught, and when they are they are generally not held accountable.

But how does that apply to health insurance, or to any other personal choice? If a person chooses not to insure, how does that affect the rest of us? I can think of only one way: Social policy that forces you and me to pay for the foolish choices of others. The solution: cut the social policy and educate people about important life choices. After that, people can be accountable for (and responsible for) themselves.

Quote:
The speed limit in my neighborhood is 30 km per hour. I think that's too slow. I don't have to follow it but if I get caught speeding I am fined. I suppose if I felt very strongly about this infringement on my right to speed, I could either change the system from within, speed and pay the fine, or move to a country that has less restrictions on my driving.
Speed limits are meant to protect us from the misdeeds of others. In such cases, laws are appropriate.

When someone can harm others (by committing a crime, or by simple accident), there ought to be laws to protect the victims and hold the perpetrator accountable. But when someone makes a personal choice that does not harm others, the law ought not intervene.

That's the very principle invoked in gay rights. The American left insists that gays cause no harm to others, so let them be. I agree.

Yet they ignore that very 'live-and-let-live' approach when then trample on my rights to choose. Example: My religious beliefs are cast aside in all public affairs. Religion cannot even be mentioned in schools anymore.

To compensate, Bush-era legislation made monetary allowance for those who wished to send children to private schools rather than public ones ... and the left strongly objected.

"We can't let people make their own choices!" and "They're taking money away from public schools!"

Quote:
I hear from my conservatives friends about freedoms being lost usually when the conversation is regarding universal health care.
Health care is just the latest government intrusion. See above for the public school problem.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 09:27 AM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
But how does that apply to health insurance, or to any other personal choice? If a person chooses not to insure, how does that affect the rest of us? I can think of only one way: Social policy that forces you and me to pay for the foolish choices of others. The solution: cut the social policy and educate people about important life choices. After that, people can be accountable for (and responsible for) themselves.


In principle I understand what you are saying here Mac. I've been following the debate with interest. But this area is just one of those where someone has to play God - and there is no fair or equitable way around this problem.

Eating fatty food? Generally agreed to be bad for you. For some there is a relatively early and devastating effect on their health (diabetes, hard disease, some cancers). For others an almost negligible effect FROM EXACTLY THE SAME BEHAVIOUR. These things are not clear cut. Lifestyle is an important factor in health and wellbeing, but arguably genetics and hereditary factors are even more significant.

Public health policy encourages exercise and sports. Sports injuries cost billions per year to treat. The habitual runner will quite likely require joint replacement surgery and that costs thousand and thousands. In fact, skeletal/joint deterioration is very common among keen athletes. But the public message remains: it is a good thing to partake in these activities.

So who's going to play God when it comes to choosing who will get treated and who won't in an assessment of "lifestyle choices"? Each human being is a complex organism and the effects of lifestyle cannot be predicted for each individual. We all know people who have smoked for decades and enjoyed a relatively healthy, long life.

The problem with adopting a system that just assesses risk and charges an appropriate premium to an insurance purchaser (ie, patient), is that is is a very unsophisticated way of doing things and fails to take account of all the other variables.

In terms of health care I really think we have it better in the UK - yes, public health should be subject to benign manipulation. An example is that public policy has encouraged the consumption of at least five portions of fruit and/or vegetables a day. The result is that the British consume more fruit/vegetables than almost any other European country. That kind of encouragement to good health is positive but to withhold or restrict health care to others is playing God.

If we were to rely solely on an insurance company's assessment of risk then those who just happened to be born to parents/families with histories of any number of health problems would be discriminated against - you can't control who you are born to and what family medical history you have so why be held accountable by insurance companies? It's immoral in my opinion.

There is no perfect healthcare system. They are all expensive. And I take your point from several pages back about the cost of treatments having escalated over the decades. The medical profession is placed on a pedestal to an unreasonable degree by the general population, and as result doctors in particular are vastly over paid. A general practitioner in the UK, working solely for the National Health Service, can be earning up to £250,000 per year. That is completely ridiculous. That is double what our Chief Constable is paid and he is responsible for a very large geographical area and the peace and community safety of over 600,000 people and heads an organisation with over 2000 officers and staff and is controlling a budget of around £100,000,000. There are countless other examples that would underline the disparity between what doctors do (and get paid for doing), compared with other professions. I'm not anti-doctor by the way, I'm just illustrating one of the reasons health care costs so much!

But even with the faults and inefficiencies of a public health care system like we have in the UK I can't see a better model out there.
Posted by: Virgo Cluster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 09:59 AM

Yes, you cannot choose to not pay taxes. But the lack of choice happens long before the government becomes involved in your affairs.

First, the company you work for may profit immensely from your work and ideas. Your salary may not even remotely reflect that. So you are already taxed by the company you work for before even the gevernment taxes you. Could you choose to work for a different company? Perhaps, but they may be too far away from where you wish to live, or just not hire you, especially when jobs are scarce, or rip you off even more.

If you are privately employed, you still have to pay for materials and services provided by companies whose prices are inflated by the need to make profits and pay the CEO millions.

Then as a consumer, you again pay for huge profits (think of Apple) and CEO millions.
The market is not infinitely efficient - otherwise there would be an ipad clone just as good and costing a lot less from some start-up company with razor thin profits and a CEO on a modest salary.

So even in the private sector you pay the equivalent of tax without much real choice. But this is just fine - communism was terrible, so we need some sort of market economy.

Living in the UK, I pay approximately 40% of my salary in income tax, national insurance, property (council) tax, and VAT. But then I benefit from police, fire, health, national defence, street cleaning, flower beds in the parks, etc. In addition, an advanced society would not exist without universal education.

I figure half of my salary should be for me to spend as I choose, and half for society as a whole to choose. I am getting a very good deal by only paying 40% !
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 10:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I'm curious to learn what freedoms you have that I don't have here in Europe. I have a conservative relative in the US who always mentions 'freedoms' but he's never specific enough for me.

As I don't make it a habit to nap near body snatching pods from outer space, I can only speculate that they're talking about the freedom to go bankrupt and leave the rest of society holding the tab when they fancy themselves individualists so rugged that they rashly decide not to purchase health care insurance, and develop a mild cough and can't afford the medical bills. Regardless, freedom isn't free, something, something, I forget.

The waiting period issue is a red herring IMO. My personal experience is that I'm "free" to schedule an appointment to see my "gateway" GP (which can take upwards of a week) and "free" to convince said non-specialist that I need access to a specialist, then "free" to schedule an appointment with the specialist (which can take upwards of a month, if indeed they are in my plan and accepting new patients) and if all goes well an operation is scheduled (which can easily be months out if the issue isn't life threatening). After which, over the period of a year or so, I "freely" receive random bills in the mail from the anesthetist's cat's vet and the like that threaten to put me in the poor house, whereupon I'm "free" to spend literally days on the phone trying to get my for-profit insurance company to talk to my for-profit hospital and vice-versa because they can't seem to manage to do so on their own. It can be one long excruciatingly frustrating exercise in foot dragging and non-payment, one people rationally tend to avoid, so it's no wonder our life expectancy stats are in the toilet.

For some reason Obama is the new Hitler for making a weak, half-hearted, industry friendly, and extremely protracted attempt at improving this. I tells ya, it's a full-time job just batting down the FUD emanating from certain think tanks and media outlets, and trying to keep people from voting against their self-interests, much less pushing things forward around here.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 11:04 AM

I had a lengthy response prepared to address many of the issues raised in the last few posts. I did a CTRL A and deleted it.

I can't think of a better way to measure the health of any nation than to look at longevity rates and infant mortality rates.

How would you measure and compare the health of nations? This is not a rhetorical question. Some folks measure wealth by the number of cars or number of TV sets, I look first to health issues.

Europe tends to be more proactive regarding health care. Women over 50 here in the Netherlands are invited to have breast cancer screening done every two years provided by the government. I'm sure my conservative American friends would label that an intrusion into their personal lives by the nanny state.

I look at this as proactive, saving money and lives in the long run.

I'm reminded of a FaceBook friend in the US who is retired US Army (USMA Band). He collects a military pension, will collect Social Security when the time comes, has the privilege of shopping in government stores (PX and Commissary), pays nothing or very little for government health care ... and was going on and on about how he wants a smaller government all the while benefiting from that same government.

I could go on and on and on but to be honest, I'm tired of this discussion.
Posted by: Temperament

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 11:33 AM

Nice posts, Virgo Cluster, Dewster

It is a widespread illusion in all societies that we are owing all of our well-beeing and fortune solely to our own strengths, competences and assertiveness. We rely heavily on the performance on the public, our personal achievements are relative to that of the others, but rely on the national and global efforts and achievements of the present and of all of that past generations.

A Ferrari is no use if you don't have smooth roads (but both are the product of others skills and efforts).

We are more rich, than the richest Pharaohs was in ancient Aegypt. (They had no access to modern medicine, they had no televisions and internet and airplanes and....)

Just another but similar cultural and behavioral difference seems gun legislation. To bear a weapon I regard here as not a real contribution to my own security (at least here in Europe not where situations of personal threats when a proper response is only with a gun are negligible rare). The US must be either a much more insecure place to live or there must be much more people susceptible to symbolism: having a gun as the main source of ones invulnerability.

It is a highly deceptive feeling of freedom and security: the many guns in others hands are much more a threat than the response to them with a weapon protects against them. I prefer the freedom and comfort of not having to bear a gun.

Unlike in the US in European countries the right to possess a gun was never even a political issue - men who are require these freedom are mostly regarded as belonging to a split subculture ("macho", ending up in the French Legion or just infantile personalities).
Posted by: dewster

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 11:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I'm reminded of a FaceBook friend in the US who is retired US Army (USMA Band). He collects a military pension, will collect Social Security when the time comes, has the privilege of shopping in government stores (PX and Commissary), pays nothing or very little for government health care ... and was going on and on about how he wants a smaller government all the while benefiting from that same government.

For whatever reason many middle class people here who are firmly and undeniably on the dole seem to be the most vocal about the evils of socialism and government assistance. If nothing else this demands a level of hypocrisy that one wouldn't think humanly possible.
Posted by: KLSinCT

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 12:48 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
I'm reminded of a FaceBook friend in the US who is retired US Army (USMA Band). He collects a military pension, will collect Social Security when the time comes, has the privilege of shopping in government stores (PX and Commissary), pays nothing or very little for government health care ... and was going on and on about how he wants a smaller government all the while benefiting from that same government.

For whatever reason many middle class people here who are firmly and undeniably on the dole seem to be the most vocal about the evils of socialism and government assistance. If nothing else this demands a level of hypocrisy that one wouldn't think humanly possible.


+100!!!

K.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 01:08 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
For whatever reason many middle class people here who are firmly and undeniably on the dole seem to be the most vocal about the evils of socialism and government assistance. If nothing else this demands a level of hypocrisy that one wouldn't think humanly possible.


No one would be against the government assisting people in various ways if there no costs to doing so. But the costs are terribly high. They take people who would otherwise be well into the middle class and push them into poverty. Just because someone isn't starving or unable to own a car as a result of paying their taxes doesn't mean the government hasn't harmed them greatly by taking that money.

People pay a lot of attention to the relatively small number of people that the top whose lifestyle isn't affected even if they pay tons of taxes and to people at the bottom who don't pay any. But most of the story is about the guys in the middle who work hard experience great stress as they try and make their way through this world (put a decent roof over their kids, pay for their education, etc.), but nevertheless are not so poor that the government cuts them any slack. These hard working folk bear almost the entire cost of the various government programs. Taking money from someone who can barely afford it and must make great sacrifices to give it up and then giving it (or a small percentage of it, after all the waste) to someone else who isn't making sacrifices or working hard is offensive to a large percentage of Americans, even if the first group doesn't starve.

And we should remember throughout this discussion that the argument is about a marginal change from the way things are now, not a complete change. No one advocates eliminating all social programs or the entirety of the safety net. No one in America seriously advocates total government control of healthcare. Obama has shifted power to insurance companies and employers away from the individual. This means the individual has less control over who provides insurance. There is less competition, the insurance companies can charge more, and losing your job will be yet a bigger deal. Actually it's a mixed bag. There are many good things in his health care bill, but the thing is absolutely huge, unbelievably complex, in some cases not even feasible to implement (at any cost), and full of little pieces of unrelated pork stuck in by one politician or another.

If everyone paid their own health insurance, the way people pay their own auto insurance, insurance companies would compete much harder and offer a much greater variety of plans and better service. Auto insurance (which is mandatory) is one of the industries with the highest satisfaction rate there is. If companies provided auto insurance, auto insurance would cost far more and treat you much worse.

The health care bill in question didn't actually make that large of changes to the system, but it ignored the most broken parts of the system and made others worse than they are now. If his health care bill was for socialization like in Europe or Canada this would be a different discussion.

Examples of things ignored in Obama's health care bill:

1. The AMA artificially restricting the number of doctors, causing acute shortages and high incomes. In some specialties (dermatology, anesthesiology, radiology, orthopedic surgery, etc.) the shortage and wages are absolutely unbelievable.

2. A government committee that has been lobbied hard into paying certain doctors millions of dollars per year instead of something like a market wage. Normally when there's an easy job that pays a ton, lots of people enter the profession and drive prices down, but they can't do it here because of #1.

3. Company sponsorship of heathcare plans instead of individual choice prevents insurance companies from needing to treat people well and also insulates people from realizing how much of their wealth is paying for medical care. This does affect the life choices they make and their expectations.

4. Doctors can be sued for millions in malpractice, but can buy insurance against this. This means they charge much more than they would (in order to pay for the insurance) but if they do bad things and harm their patients, they can continue to practice without hindrance. In other words the lawsuits are not about punishing the doctors or making sure malpractice is avoided, but just about dumping huge sums of money on victims (or people pretending to be victims) and their lawyers.

5. Hospitals charge individuals, small insurance companies, and medicare far, far less than they charge big insurance companies and medicaid for the same services. The difference is so large that it's basically not feasible to pay for even routine treatments yourself. As a result, people without insurance just don't pay at all, which passes the costs on and leads the hospitals to mark up prices for individuals even more in order to write it off on their taxes.

6. Hospitals are compelled by law to provite for lots of things for people who will not pay. My brother is a doctor and tells me that he sees people all day who either are trying to get drugs from their doctors (many doctors just prescribe them...it doesn't cost them anything and it gets these people out the door faster) or taking advantage of the fact that the hospital can't kick them out easily to treat a very expensive hospital bed like it was cheap housing. There are many stories of people who couldn't afford treatment they needed, but for the most part these are people who have not learned how to cheat the system.

These are all things a bill could have changed, which would have helped us far more than what was done without socializing the whole thing (I am not a doctor, so I don't know all the others). In my opinion, total government takeover makes more sense than what was done, and I hate government takeovers.

The vehement anti-Obama sentiment about Obamacare stems mostly from partisanship, not good cause--that's true of almost all vehement sentiment. The bill does hurt things and for the most part doesn't help, but it's nowhere near changing the US healthcare system in a fundamental way.
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: WSJ article on N2 - 04/14/13 03:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
... replying to my post about a Canadian seeking medical care in the US. ... This wasn't addressed to me, but it wasn't stated what type of surgery it was, whether it was an urgent operation such as an organ transplant or heart operation, or a less serious procedure such as a hernia operation or cosmetic surgery.
There was no surgery, just routine care from a physician. Lucky for her that she lives right across the border, just a short drive. Q: What would she do if she lived farther north? A: Suffer.

Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
If the loss of your perceived freedom is participating in universal health care ...
Nope. My objection is in being forced to accept government choices. If you're satisfied with government running your life, feel free to be so ensnared. But I choose otherwise.

I'll say it again: I don't mind that other get what they want. But I object when they force me to get what I don't want.

It's hypocrisy. Suppose government forced my religion upon you. (It's been done before, yes?) Would you object? Why must you accept personal choices made by others? Why must I?

Suppose government forbade gay people certain rights. (Oops. "Suppose" is inappropriate. It's being done right now.) Wouldn't they object? (Oops. That's a rhetorical question. They do object!) Why must one lifestyle be accepted and another rejected. Why must someone accept personal choices made by others?

In sum: You do it your way, I'll do it mine. And government need have NO say in the matter.

Originally Posted By: Temperament
A Ferrari is no use if you don't have smooth roads (but both are the product of others skills and efforts).
Quite true. But both the Ferrari drivers and the Corolla drivers like to have roads, so we willingly pay for them. Yes, the roads are the product of others. But those people are being paid for it? I don't see a problem.

Originally Posted By: dewster
For whatever reason many middle class people here who are firmly and undeniably on the dole seem to be the most vocal about the evils of socialism and government assistance. If nothing else this demands a level of hypocrisy that one wouldn't think humanly possible.
I'm not sure what you mean. Which people "here" are vocal and on the dole? People here on the board? People in your home location?

Anyway, that might be a true anecdote. But don't make it a general conclusion. I am in the middle-class. I am vocal about the harm socialist government inflicts. And I have NEVER been on the dole. (And I await criticism for being "successful", the cardinal sin of American socialism.)

Originally Posted By: dewster
No one advocates eliminating all social programs or the entirety of the safety net.
Perhaps some people advocate complete elimination, but I don't. But I DO wish to eliminate programs that benefit special interest groups at the expense of others.

Originally Posted By: dewster
Obama has shifted power to insurance companies and employers away from the individual. This means the individual has less control over who provides insurance.
Correct. That drives to the heart of the problem: government control.