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Old 09-14-2008, 01:07 AM   #51
amplify
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re: POG Politics Thread

riverfish,

My thoughts on free will have a variety of influences, but I don't count Skinner among them. Kant as filtered through Schopenhauer (though not in the way you mean), and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, definitely. We are dealing with different levels of reality here. In the world of appearances, we seem to be able to make choices. Obviously, these choices on the gross level are influenced by chemistry, conditioning and so on so it is arguable whether we even have free will at this level.

At a level down from gross matter, we are dealing with little jiggly particles following probablistic pathways through spacetime and I don't really see how free will fits in here at all. The characteristics of spacetime follow from the creation of the universe, the actual matter involved has no will, so we would have to be the only things in the universe with this aspect, as a conglomeration of subatomic particles, collected into cellular structures, organized into neurons, and at some level of complexity released from the deterministic and probablistic forms into acting freely.

At a level below that is where Nisargadatta comes in with nonduality. There is only one essence, appearing as everything. Appearing as the mind, the body, everything. There is no doer, nothing done. The appearance of subject/object (the source of a lot of thrashing about if you take the Kant/Schopenhauer route) disappears. All is One, without a second, nondual. This is not mystical bullshytt either, it's completely compatible with modern physics in every way. Plotinus was on to this way back when as well.

Essentially, the very concept of free will turns out to be based on a lot of assumptions that I just don't make, at every level.


I'm not an ACist really, more of a Minarchist and Libertarian.

I don't know what you are asking wrt negative and positive liberties.

Last edited by amplify; 09-14-2008 at 01:17 AM. Reason: lava burger rigid
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:53 AM   #52
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re: POG Politics Thread

My view on free will (or lack thereof) is far more mechanical. I believe we are physical beings and bound by physical laws, though we don't really understand the physical laws. This is not the same as predetermination, as if quantum theory is true there is a lot of randomness in the universe.

Amp,

I don't know how you can conclude that the actual matter has no free will. It certainly makes sense, but so do a lot of other things that are not true (as well as a lot that are, well appear to be to speak more precisely). In short, we have no friggin clue why things work the way they do, so to say that these particles that exhibit completely non predictable behavior have no free will is a conclusion that does not follow from the assumptions I would make. (It's probably true, but that is just my intuition, which is based on a lot of things that likely don't extrapolate well modern physics.)

Here is a fun exercise: define free will. I will get Socratic if anyone uses terms like 'conscious' because that is something that also does not have an easy or commonly accepted definition.
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:57 AM   #53
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Originally Posted by well named View Post
BTW, I should probably know more about the Georgia/Russia situation than I do. If anyone has any ilinks to news or commentary that are of some depth I'd be appreciative.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.p...xt=va&aid=9816

i posted this earlier
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Old 09-14-2008, 02:08 AM   #54
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re: POG Politics Thread

fnord, you're right. I have no ****ing idea what goes on at the quantum level, if anything.

wikiworld says "The question of free will is whether, and in what sense, rational agents exercise control over their actions and decisions."

Don't get Socratic with me, I ain't your Alcibiades.
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Old 09-14-2008, 02:46 AM   #55
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re: POG Politics Thread

if you dont have freewill, was it your destiny to post in this thread?

this is a serious question
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Old 09-14-2008, 06:57 AM   #56
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re: POG Politics Thread

So why shouldn't the Iranians (or anyone) own nuclear weapons?
I never understood this.

Quote:
What happens when commodities become much more expensive, and china wants them, we want them, and lots of people who don't like us much (russia, iran) have them is a bit scary to think about.
If instead of warmongering and trying to take resources by force buying them would have been the modus operandi of choice from the beginning this problem would not exist.

Quote:
I think Russia's actions are much more provocative towards America than America's reaction is to Russia. It's basically a big FU you to the western world and it's influence. Clearly Georgia wasn't a peaceful state but I don't think that warrants another country invading it. That's just a line that should not have been crossed, but was only done so to prove a point to the rest of the world.
What borders are binding, who gets to decide what a nation is?
do you think Tibet and Taiwan should be independant?

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What point are you trying to make? cuz afaik, the US did not go into cuba during the cold war
What about invading Iraq, what signal does that send to some nations?

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My fundamental belief is that this money belongs to the person who earned it and the state has stolen it from them at gunpoint. Then this becomes an easy moral decision.


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The average person votes based on the most ridiculous of reasons, and typically it's the same reason every time.
Do you think Democracy works? If not what alternatives would you suggest? From the tone of it it sounds like you'd prefer a Platonian elitist kinda deal (i.e. exclude the "dumb and uninformed" voters)?
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This is pretty terrible. Freedom is just some stupid buzz-word that sounds good. What the hell does it mean here? What do you mean when you say "freedom?"
<insert ethics of liberty mp3 link here once found>

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AC is roughly as practical as full-blown communism, which is to say it is not practical whatsoever
Given that Socialism (and thus communism) have more or less been proven to not work and any anrachist ideas that I know of sound vastly superior to the current state of affairs (which btw is drifting more towards socialism every day) this is a bold statement.

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I think the broader point is that it's not clear that successfulness of a society can be determined solely by maximizing a particular value, in this case "freedom". This is basically the same problem I have with praxeology as a basis for making political or economic decisions. I don't think the complexities of human interaction can be broken down in such a purely analytic way.
I can't answer this without sounding like an ass but you should just get a book on praxeology and one on freedom and read them and rethink that. Praxeology is explicitly not claiming to work out the complexities of the world but instead focuses on what is provable and just concentrates on that. That is in fact one of the main reasons why Austrian economists exist. We belive that the claims of creating models to represent the complexity of the world as done my common economists is silly at best.
Ethics of Liberty builds on basic principles and outlines a system of Ethics that stresses freedom as the single most important idea and once again a logical reasoning approach is chosen. The only weakness I see in the whole chain of argument is in deciding when a human being takes controll over their own decision making but I still haven't seen a better attempt.

Last edited by clowntable; 09-14-2008 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 09-14-2008, 07:30 AM   #57
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re: POG Politics Thread

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One cannot eliminate interference. People will always interfere with you. I can interfere with somebody by crossing the street, jaywalking, selling drugs on your corner (wire example ftw), stealing their property, etc. Only by eliminating interaction with other people can one eliminate interference by other people, and very few do that.
Harmfull interaction can only be punished correctly if the concept of freedom is understood correctly as far as I am concerned.
Note that my concept of freedom explicitly allows me to discriminate if I so chose.

Quote:
At any rate, I can address the need for business regulation with math and duty and history pretty easily. And since humans are now so vast and powerful (with respect to our impact and potential impact on the world) you really cannot remove the superstructure of governance. In fact, it probably needs to be greatly increased in the area of world governance. Then add in the large scale projects that benefit man kind, but are beyond the scope of companies and individuals (either in size or in assumed market value) and you hit a real wall. This really gets into philosophy, but I can bring it bath to math for people who want to take the "oh well, social Darwinism" tact. (I am speaking of things in the last bit like Malaria treatment. The people who suffer from Malaria are all from impoverished areas, so there is no financial incentive for companies to solve the problem, unlike say aids or cancer that hits rich countries hard, too.)
a) I would love to see that math.
b) If there are things that companies cannot handle but government can do them pretty easily, why not let government handle everything? Honest question: Would you concider yourself a Socialist?

I'd love if someone could find a link to the calculation that showed that some pretty long highway in the US could have been build and completely covered with gold for the money it took the government to build it but at the very least I think we can all agree that well uh bridges should end somewhere :P
-----

Link to text version:
http://mises.org/rothbard/ethics/ethics.asp
Audio:
http://mises.org/media.aspx?action=category&ID=95

Last edited by clowntable; 09-14-2008 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:10 AM   #58
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re: POG Politics Thread

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What about invading Iraq, what signal does that send to some nations?
Whether we had the right to go there or not, our results have been good, and most nonarabic nations are glad we did
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:11 AM   #59
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re: POG Politics Thread

Clown, are you a true ACist?
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:21 AM   #60
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re: POG Politics Thread

Clown,

To do the math, we need to agree on the assumptions. My assumptions are along the lines of:
Humanity should strive to maximize several things, including production, knowledge, quality of life while minimizing things like negative impact on ecology and other sentient beings (I'm not a vegetarian or anything, don't read too much into that).

I don't consider myself a communist. I would probably be considered by some as socialist, but I don't know where the lines and definitions are drawn. I believe people should be able to amass just sick levels of wealth, but I don't really believe that sick levels of wealth should be allowed to be passed on.

The math all comes from maximizing and minimizing. If you are talking about maximizing production, just study game theory to see why pure capitalism fails in this regard.

I know a pretty fair amount about business. Here is a quiz for you: what is the most sacred duty of a for profit public company?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
To increase shareholder wealth. That is their fiduciary duty and not striving to that is a major break breach of ethics. Unfortunately, that is often contrary to what is good for the system as a whole. Even when you disregard people who make business decision in a purely EV fashion even when considering breaking the law (that is looking at illegal actions from the perspective of how likely is it I will get caught, what happens if I do get caught, what is the payoff of the action? And these guys do exist, even if they are not the norm), you get into a lot of situations where businesses fiduciary duty is counter to what is good for humanity as a whole.

Examine something like this in your proposed framework:
Cigarette companies sell to all ages and are endorsed by doctors saying they are healthy while other doctors say they are not (who is certifying the doctors is another question entirely). What happens if anything?

Change cigarettes to vitamin C in a situation where another company is saying sugar pills are much more healthy and vitamin C is bad for you. Or any thing where claims are made from both sides and there are public health and/or safety issues surrounding it.

I am not saying the government should run everything, but I am saying that most things need oversight from a disinterested third party. There are several reasons for this that all stem from many sets of starting assumptions.

And again, a lot of people do not realize the scaling problems with a lot of problems. Take software engineering, just as an example. People see reasonably complex programs being developed in by a couple of people in a garage and think that you can scale up to huge projects linearly.

Actually, I think what most people assume is linear extrapolation almost always. This is just a common trap a lot of people fall into. You hear this rationale from people proposing a flat tax for instance, or criticizing waste on large projects (that is ones where there isn't corruption behind the scenes). But in a lot of cases it is just dis economies of scale stemming quite often in large part from the shear combinatorics of people and functions which have to interact and coordinate.

Here is a physical example to ground this in something more tangible: If a boat with a perfectly efficient engine is traveling through the water at 5 knots it will not have the same fuel economy as when it is traveling through the water at 10 knots, because the resistance of the water does not scale linearly, it scales with the square of velocity. In cars, at slow speeds, most of your lost energy is going to heat; at high speeds it is going to overcome air resistance because again, resistance rises as the square of velocity.

Getting back to business and economics, there are very real dis economies of scale as well as economies of scale, and I think the dis-economies rise at least quadratically and at worst factorially.

Also, in considering all this, how do you deal with academia? Most academia from kindergarten through the post graduate world is subsidized by governments, through taxes. I would argue quite vehemently that the long term benefits from these actions far outweigh the costs, even if it is not always immediately apparent. In these less government worlds is the theft from the people to fund these activities acceptable?
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:25 AM   #61
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Originally Posted by metsandfinsfan View Post
Whether we had the right to go there or not, our results have been good, and most nonarabic nations are glad we did
Wait, what?

Our results have been good?

And the most non Arabic nations are glad we did argument is extremely bad. I mean if we just gave away everything we had, most non US nations would be glad we did. If we ganged up on one nation and divvied up their loot, most non that nations would be glad. That sort of argument is just a logical fallacy, along the lines of "X number of Y's can't be wrong!". (e.g. 200 million people can't be wrong)
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:28 AM   #62
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Originally Posted by metsandfinsfan View Post
Whether we had the right to go there or not, our results have been good, and most nonarabic nations are glad we did
Also, the question was about what message it sent. There has been a lot of linking the Iraq invasion to justification for countries like Russia invading other nations.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:37 AM   #63
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re: POG Politics Thread

In World War 2, we stood by while great injustices were being committed, and did not get involved until after we were attacked.

Is that what you think our War policy should always be?
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:51 AM   #64
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Originally Posted by metsandfinsfan View Post
In World War 2, we stood by while great injustices were being committed, and did not get involved until after we were attacked.

Is that what you think our War policy should always be?
Not in the least, and this is a horrible argument, which again is a logical fallacy. You are citing something entirely unrelated, then suggesting that I had a position on it. In fact, my posts did not even state a position on the decision to invade, it questioned whether we were successful (which I don't think we were) and observed that you were using logical fallacies. Further, I spoke a little about the message it sent because of the way it was executed.

Now, on to the question of who has a right to judge other nations and act with violence in response. That is a thorny question, and a slippery slope. I don't feel like debating it one way or the other, but it is far more complex than I think you make it out to be. I will say that certainly Hussein was an extremely evil despot. I will not say that invading Iraq was or was not a good idea (actually I will say it was not, at least in the way it occurred.)
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:55 AM   #65
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Originally Posted by fnord_too View Post
Also, in considering all this, how do you deal with academia? Most academia from kindergarten through the post graduate world is subsidized by governments, through taxes. I would argue quite vehemently that the long term benefits from these actions far outweigh the costs, even if it is not always immediately apparent. In these less government worlds is the theft from the people to fund these activities acceptable?
Why should a school have anything to do with government? You want to learn, pay for it. You want to set up a school for people who don't have the money, do that. You don't have to mug people for the funding. The generosity of Americans is staggering, we donate enormous sums of money on top of our tax burden. There is no reason to think that this generosity would do anything but increase. This is an easy win for market forces.
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:20 PM   #66
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Why should a school have anything to do with government? You want to learn, pay for it. You want to set up a school for people who don't have the money, do that. You don't have to mug people for the funding. The generosity of Americans is staggering, we donate enormous sums of money on top of our tax burden. There is no reason to think that this generosity would do anything but increase. This is an easy win for market forces.
Quite simply because the benefits outweigh the costs. Market forces do not push towards system maximization (re: Nash). Rather they push towards concentrating wealth and power in smaller smaller proportional pools.

But back to education: a more educated populace leads indirectly to a stronger economy and better conditions. Look at say all the breakthroughs made by Universities which have translated into business and better quality of life. There is no direct and obvious link from education profit, so there is no reason for business to fund it at a loss. Additionally, there are many people who otherwise could not afford to go to school. Furthermore, standardization and (relatively) unbiased education is pretty important imo. If I am a not for profit taking donations to run schools, my agenda is going to be influenced by the agenda of those who donate (if not they will just form their own agency). This leads to basically the have not's (and a child being a have not is not in the least merit based, but purely circumstantial) basically being at the mercy of the charity of others, who may have strong agendas.

Really, everyone benefits from an educated populace whether they realize it or not, so imo it does fall under the auspices of the government, because education of the masses does not coincide with maximizing shareholder wealth. (It's one of those damn Nash equilibriums where if you had a system where everyone (including business) contributed to a pot of money to educate the masses they would be better off than if no one did, but each individual decision is dominated by being selfish.)
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:24 PM   #67
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Do you think Democracy works? If not what alternatives would you suggest? From the tone of it it sounds like you'd prefer a Platonian elitist kinda deal (i.e. exclude the "dumb and uninformed" voters)?
Democracy can work. I think Democracy in its current form is not working, for a number of reasons.

The number 1 reason is the way media & politicians work together. Media is more concerned about ratings than truth. Politicians are more concerned about getting elected than governing well. To get elected, politicians need the media, and in order to get in the media, they need to talk in sound bites. You can't explain policy or political platforms in sound bites - it's too complex.

Because those sound bites are designed purely for exposure, and to limit attack possibilities from opponents, they can mean almost anything. That means, no matter what a politician does, his opponents can say he lied (with another sound bite, obv). This is what the average person knows about politics. So they vote based on their personal pet cause, for whoever has the sound bite closest to their beliefs.

I don't have some elitist view of elections - I think media and politicians have a responsibility to present themselves in a straightforward and honest way. If they do that, and if they follow through - or explain why they had to change their mind - democracy will be far more effective, because people will start to think about who they're voting for and why, with real information.
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:26 PM   #68
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re: POG Politics Thread

fnord, if you can set this up without committing acts of aggression against people then I'm all for it.
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:30 PM   #69
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re: POG Politics Thread

Is it possible that the acts of aggression have a greater benefit (even to the people being aggressed) than the harm they cause? If so, how would one measure that?
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:40 PM   #70
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Is it possible that the acts of aggression have a greater benefit (even to the people being aggressed) than the harm they cause? If so, how would one measure that?
Well, that's the problem. Once you start justifying violence in non-defensive situations, it never ends. Throw this guy in jail for smoking dope. Beat this guy for protesting the convention. Invade sovereign nations to "promote democracy."

You don't have any moral right to inflict harm on me because you have determined that it is in my best interest. We just don't have these ethical problems if we don't commit acts of violence against people.
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:51 PM   #71
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You've created a whole new set of ethical problems though. Education is suddenly reserved for the rich, or those in an area where a rich person has decided to give money so poor kids can have some education. You've removed the violence of taking tax money from people, and created a society that, 20 years down the road, is going to be 70% people with no education.

Let's face it - if rich people have the option of donating money to medical research which may be of direct help to them, or paying for poor kids to go to school and creating job competition for their kids, which do they choose? I think enough choose to not fund schools that we end up with a large society of people that can barely do arithmetic (worse than now, even)
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:52 PM   #72
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re: POG Politics Thread

btw, I think governments massively mismanage their resources, and wish they'd pull their collective heads out. I just don't think the alternative is better - or even as good.

A mismanaged government is, overall, better for society as a whole than no government, or the very minimalist "defense only" government.
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:52 PM   #73
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re: POG Politics Thread

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Originally Posted by fnord_too View Post
Quite simply because the benefits outweigh the costs. Market forces do not push towards system maximization (re: Nash). Rather they push towards concentrating wealth and power in smaller smaller proportional pools.

But back to education: a more educated populace leads indirectly to a stronger economy and better conditions. Look at say all the breakthroughs made by Universities which have translated into business and better quality of life. There is no direct and obvious link from education profit, so there is no reason for business to fund it at a loss. Additionally, there are many people who otherwise could not afford to go to school. Furthermore, standardization and (relatively) unbiased education is pretty important imo. If I am a not for profit taking donations to run schools, my agenda is going to be influenced by the agenda of those who donate (if not they will just form their own agency). This leads to basically the have not's (and a child being a have not is not in the least merit based, but purely circumstantial) basically being at the mercy of the charity of others, who may have strong agendas.

Really, everyone benefits from an educated populace whether they realize it or not, so imo it does fall under the auspices of the government, because education of the masses does not coincide with maximizing shareholder wealth. (It's one of those damn Nash equilibriums where if you had a system where everyone (including business) contributed to a pot of money to educate the masses they would be better off than if no one did, but each individual decision is dominated by being selfish.)

Perhaps my recollection of Nash Equilibriums is incorrect, but I do not believe this is a Nash equilibrium problem.

If each of 300 million people contribute $10 to education, that's $3 billion for education. But if 299,999,999 people contribute $10 to eduction, that's $2,999,999,990 for education, and the one person who didn't contribute is still better off -- so there's no equilibrium there at all.

IIRC a Nash equilibrium problem would be where person A and person B are each deciding between X and Y, with the following utilities:
(choice of A, choice of B) = (utility to A, utility to B)
(X, X) = (25, 25)
(X, Y) = (20, 20)
(Y, X) = (20, 20)
(Y, Y) = (40, 40)

so if the current situation is (X,X), neither A nor B has immediate incentive to switch to Y, but once one does the other will too and they will both be better off.

In this education example, for it to be a Nash equilibrium problem as I understand it, you'd have to show that there is some threshold of education purchased where all of a sudden the benefits of education to all greatly increase.

If someone is more up on this stuff than me please feel free to correct me... was one of the few subjects in college that I actually found interesting.
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:11 PM   #74
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re: POG Politics Thread

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You've created a whole new set of ethical problems though. Education is suddenly reserved for the rich, or those in an area where a rich person has decided to give money so poor kids can have some education. You've removed the violence of taking tax money from people, and created a society that, 20 years down the road, is going to be 70% people with no education.
I don't actually think this is the case. Without governmental controls, anyone who wants to set up a school can do so, and the result of competition will be improved education at lower prices. This idea of children being herded into government classrooms for 7 hours a day from age 5 to age 18 is ridiculous anyway. It doesn't take that long to teach a kid to read, do arithmetic operations, and get along with other people.

But I haven't "created a society". All I have done is live by the simple moral rule of minding my own business. If people want government, they can have all of it they can stand. Just don't kick in my door if I don't join. If your government has reasonable taxes and provides valuable services, I might. The USA did pretty well until 1913 when we got hit with the double whammy of the personal income tax (so unconstitutional they had to pass an amendment) and the Federal Reserve System. At that point, I'd like to leave the organization.

Last edited by amplify; 09-14-2008 at 01:17 PM. Reason: I keep thinking of stuff
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:17 PM   #75
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Join Date: May 2004
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re: POG Politics Thread

Ack,

I think I am describing an unstable maxima, which is related. Technically I believe a Nash equilibrium is one where one entity moving independently cannot increase his utility, but several moving in unison can. The condition for falling into a Nash equilibrium is an unstable local maxima (though I suppose you could possibly have one with a stable maxima, but just be in a Nash equilibrium by circumstance). I am a bit rusty on a lot of the terminology, but have a reasonable grasp of the underlying mechanics.

Just wikid it, and here is what they have to say (in part):
Quote:
In game theory, the Nash equilibrium (named after John Forbes Nash, who proposed it) is a solution concept of a game involving two or more players, in which each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his or her own strategy (i.e., by changing unilaterally). If each player has chosen a strategy and no player can benefit by changing his or her strategy while the other players keep theirs unchanged, then the current set of strategy choices and the corresponding payoffs constitute a Nash equilibrium. In other words, to be a Nash equilibrium, each player must answer negatively to the question: "Knowing the strategies of the other players, and treating the strategies of the other players as set in stone, can I benefit by changing my strategy?"

Stated simply, Amy and Bill are in Nash equilibrium if Amy is making the best decision she can, taking into account Bill's decision, and Bill is making the best decision he can, taking into account Amy's decision. Likewise, many players are in Nash equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that they can, taking into account the decisions of the others. However, Nash equilibrium does not necessarily mean the best cumulative payoff for all the players involved; in many cases all the players might improve their payoffs if they could somehow agree on strategies different from the Nash equilibrium (e.g. competing businessmen forming a cartel in order to increase their profits).
Also, here is a free introduction to game theory from the interwebs (courtesy of someone at Drexel):
http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/t...game/game.html
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