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Author Topic: Bitcoin has positive effect on mainstream economy.  (Read 851 times)
Vladimir
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July 08, 2011, 08:10:10 AM
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I've been doing  some reflecting (while doing accounting) on my experience with building a few bitcoin datacentres and I must say that a lot of business was  generated for builders, electricians, computer components manufacturers, distributors,retailers etc.. It will surely filter down to tax man eventually too. And this is only if one considers the first circle of people and businesses i.e. those who got paid by me directly. Surely they in turn will use the money for something useful.

This all was funded by bitcoin investors and entrepreneurs. Instead of just fat cat banksters (who still got their cut) lot's of economic activity was generated on the main street.

I think this is great.

Fee free to share with us in this thread how your bitcoin enterprise (however small or big) has generated jobs and wealth for broader economy.





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July 08, 2011, 08:52:18 AM
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I know that's a common misconception in the age of "stimulus" programs, but generating jobs and spending isn't a positive effect per se.
remember all the jobs and network equipment purchases etc. generated by the dotcom bubble?

for now, bitcoin is a waste of resources (manpower, network, mining equipment...) with the potential of being useful in the future - paying off the resources used.
we'll see.
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July 08, 2011, 08:56:54 AM
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remember all the jobs and network equipment purchases etc. generated by the dotcom bubble?
We're still profiting from that. All those investment jumpstarted the modern, high-bandwidth, commercial internet as we know it.
For example, the overinvestment in data centers brought down the prices, which allows companies to host their web applications for only a few $100 per month instead of (ten)thousands like before.

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July 08, 2011, 08:58:41 AM
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I know that's a common misconception in the age of "stimulus" programs, but generating jobs and spending isn't a positive effect per se.
remember all the jobs and network equipment purchases etc. generated by the dotcom bubble?

for now, bitcoin is a waste of resources (manpower, network, mining equipment...) with the potential of being useful in the future - paying off the resources used.
we'll see.


I agree with this.

The real possitive effect of Bitcoin in the economy is that it provides currency when the banking system is broke and cutting the transmission of savings towards investing. Even the Federal Reserve has admitted that the local alternative currencies that appeared during the Great Depression helped to keep valid business alive. Some deflation after a bubble is good, but too much deflation is bad (what Hayek called primary and secondary deflation).

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We're still profiting from that. All those investment jumpstarted the modern, high-bandwidth, commercial internet as we know it.
For example, the overinvestment in data centers brought down the prices, which allows companies to host their web applications for only a few $100 per month instead of (ten)thousands like before.

Not all the investments of the dotcom bubble were malinvestments. A part of it has been re-used, but another big part was wasted. There was no need for all the crazyness and all the waste to create the infrastructure we have now.
patvarilly
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July 08, 2011, 09:02:34 AM
 #5

I've been doing  some reflecting (while doing accounting) on my experience with building a few bitcoin datacentres and I must say that a lot of business was  generated for builders, electricians, computer components manufacturers, distributors,retailers etc.. It will surely filter down to tax man eventually too. And this is only if one considers the first circle of people and businesses i.e. those who got paid by me directly. Surely they in turn will use the money for something useful.

This all was funded by bitcoin investors and entrepreneurs. Instead of just fat cat banksters (who still got their cut) lot's of economic activity was generated on the main street.

Not to be glib, but remember that the foundation on which Bitcoin is built (SHA2, RIPEMD, elliptic curve cryptography, the Internet) can ultimately be traced back to government-funded research decades ago.  Investors and entrepreneurs are wonderfully efficient at taking a kernel of an idea, fleshing it out and pushing it forward, but you shouldn't delude yourself into thinking that "the taxman" is the useless blood-sucking squid in this story.
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July 08, 2011, 09:03:53 AM
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Useless, no. Blood-sucking squid, yes.

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July 08, 2011, 09:05:50 AM
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Not to be glib, but remember that the foundation on which Bitcoin is built (SHA2, RIPEMD, elliptic curve cryptography, the Internet) can ultimately be traced back to government-funded research decades ago.  Investors and entrepreneurs are wonderfully efficient at taking a kernel of an idea, fleshing it out and pushing it forward, but you shouldn't delude yourself into thinking that "the taxman" is the useless blood-sucking squid in this story.

Right, because if you leave the money to the private sector this things would not have happen, even in a more efficient and cheap way.

So the government takes the money by force, reducing the resources the private sector can dedicate to these things, then does all this things in a inefficient and expensive way, and then asks us to thank it. Yeah...
patvarilly
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July 08, 2011, 09:19:18 AM
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Not to be glib, but remember that the foundation on which Bitcoin is built (SHA2, RIPEMD, elliptic curve cryptography, the Internet) can ultimately be traced back to government-funded research decades ago.  Investors and entrepreneurs are wonderfully efficient at taking a kernel of an idea, fleshing it out and pushing it forward, but you shouldn't delude yourself into thinking that "the taxman" is the useless blood-sucking squid in this story.

Right, because if you leave the money to the private sector this things would not have happen, even in a more efficient and cheap way.

So the government takes the money by force, reducing the resources the private sector can dedicate to these things, then does all this things in a inefficient and expensive way, and then asks us to thank it. Yeah...

The private sector does lots of things wonderfully well.  But thinking that it can do *everything* well is incorrect, just as incorrect as thinking that the public section can do *everything* well.  Long-term research that may not have an impact within the next 5 years, exactly the kinds of fundamentals I listed, is precisely one of the things that the public sector is far better at doing than the private sector.  Look at every successful OECD country and you'll find a good correlation between public research investment and growth.  One of the reasons the US keeps being the source of large quantities of innovation is that there's a very well-funded and established pipeline of ideas in place, with lots of new things coming out at the end of that pipeline every day.  Where I come from, government-funded research is virtually non-existent, and I can assure you that the private sector is not picking up the slack.
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July 08, 2011, 09:31:16 AM
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Not to be glib, but remember that the foundation on which Bitcoin is built (SHA2, RIPEMD, elliptic curve cryptography, the Internet) can ultimately be traced back to government-funded research decades ago.  Investors and entrepreneurs are wonderfully efficient at taking a kernel of an idea, fleshing it out and pushing it forward, but you shouldn't delude yourself into thinking that "the taxman" is the useless blood-sucking squid in this story.

Right, because if you leave the money to the private sector this things would not have happen, even in a more efficient and cheap way.

So the government takes the money by force, reducing the resources the private sector can dedicate to these things, then does all this things in a inefficient and expensive way, and then asks us to thank it. Yeah...

The private sector does lots of things wonderfully well.  But thinking that it can do *everything* well is incorrect, just as incorrect as thinking that the public section can do *everything* well.  Long-term research that may not have an impact within the next 5 years, exactly the kinds of fundamentals I listed, is precisely one of the things that the public sector is far better at doing than the private sector.  Look at every successful OECD country and you'll find a good correlation between public research investment and growth.  One of the reasons the US keeps being the source of large quantities of innovation is that there's a very well-funded and established pipeline of ideas in place, with lots of new things coming out at the end of that pipeline every day.  Where I come from, government-funded research is virtually non-existent, and I can assure you that the private sector is not picking up the slack.

Sorry, but this is a big hand waving and saying that the middle point is always better (a fallacy).

You are saying that the USA private sector does not invest long term or does not do it right. This is a lie. You then compare the capacity of the USA economy with the capacity of the country you come from, which probably is not comparable. But lets compare zones that can be compared, like the USA and Europe. In Europe medicine is basically in the hands of governments (although there are private insurances and hospitals), and in the USA it was more in private hands (although this is changing quickly). What do we see? The USA is one of the biggest innovators in medicine and basically decimates the medical innovations coming from Europe (and yes, I know that there is some government involvement in the USA medicine investigation, but the comparation is still valid).

What you are doing all the time is taking the position of a bully. I take the money from you by force, stopping you from using it and investing in investigation, spend it in an inefficient way to discover some things, and then claim that you need me to discover those things. The question you are not answering is: What would have happened if you left those resources to the private sector?
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July 08, 2011, 09:40:54 AM
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What do we see? The USA is one of the biggest innovators in medicine and basically decimates the medical innovations coming from Europe (and yes, I know that there is some government involvement in the USA medicine investigation, but the comparation is still valid).
this is the worst example you could choose.
medicine in the US isn't private (as in unregulated free market) at all, especially not research. even the actual services are run by HMOs (so-called "private" insurance), and only for non-military, non-poor, non-public-sector-worker, adult-but-not-retired, and by (state) governments for everyone else.

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What would have happened if you left those resources to the private sector?

...and that's very speculative. what would the behaviour of human beings be.
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July 08, 2011, 09:48:40 AM
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this is the worst example you could choose.
medicine in the US isn't private (as in unregulated free market) at all, especially not research. even the actual services are run by HMOs (so-called "private" insurance), and only for non-military, non-poor, non-public-sector-worker, adult-but-not-retired, and by (state) governments for everyone else.

Yeah, I know. I was more thinking in a historical sense. That is why I pointed out that the situation has changed now.

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...and that's very speculative. what would the behaviour of human beings be.

But then, how can you compare? If the government is taking the money, the government is the one producing the investigation. But how can you claim that if left with the money the private sector would not have done better? Its a long and interesting discussion. But the point that its important to keep in mind is that the results of what we see now is not because the private sector can not investigate long term. Its the result of the government taking the resources needed to investigate from the private sector and using them. Pointing out that some discoveries were done by the government proves nothing.
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July 08, 2011, 09:59:21 AM
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Not all the investments of the dotcom bubble were malinvestments. A part of it has been re-used, but another big part was wasted. There was no need for all the crazyness and all the waste to create the infrastructure we have now.
But this applies to everything. Even in non-boom times, a large part of investments is wasted. I've come to see it as a kind of decentralized, randomized discovery process. A boom/bubble is just a speedup of the normal rate at which this happens.

On the other side you have the structured, committee-based economy, which tries to produce growth at a fixed rate by guessing what things are real and useful and which are bubbles and shouldn't have resources wasted on them. The problem is, that it is hard or impossible to know those things in advance. Good ideas might be shot because "they're just a bubble" and bad ideas might be preserved because they've worked in the past and the world has changed since.

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July 08, 2011, 10:12:51 AM
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...and that's very speculative. what would the behaviour of human beings be.

But then, how can you compare? If the government is taking the money, the government is the one producing the investigation. But how can you claim that if left with the money the private sector would not have done better?
I'm not.
It's hard to claim either way, it's predicting human behaviour.

if it wasn't perceived as governments role to do research, maybe bill gates and others would start a research fund instead of inoculating africa (or whatever he's doing). who knows.

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But this applies to everything. Even in non-boom times, a large part of investments is wasted. I've come to see it as a kind of decentralized, randomized discovery process. A boom/bubble is just a speedup of the normal rate at which this happens.
boom/bust in individual businesses or even sectors of the economy is natural.
synchronized boom/bust of the entire economy is caused by central banks. without central banks a boom in one sector would drain the resources of another sector and therefore provide a regulator.
people don't like to give up food for network equipment.

...ahm...bitcoin! just to stay on topic...
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July 08, 2011, 10:16:20 AM
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Not all the investments of the dotcom bubble were malinvestments. A part of it has been re-used, but another big part was wasted. There was no need for all the crazyness and all the waste to create the infrastructure we have now.
But this applies to everything. Even in non-boom times, a large part of investments is wasted. I've come to see it as a kind of decentralized, randomized discovery process. A boom/bubble is just a speedup of the normal rate at which this happens.

On the other side you have the structured, committee-based economy, which tries to produce growth at a fixed rate by guessing what things are real and useful and which are bubbles and shouldn't have resources wasted on them. The problem is, that it is hard or impossible to know those things in advance. Good ideas might be shot because "they're just a bubble" and bad ideas might be preserved because they've worked in the past and the world has changed since.

True, the discovery process has a lot of failures, trial and error. All in different sectors, all different things that are being tried, from which only a few succeed. But its not similar to a bubble. A bubble is not in any way a magnification of that process. Hayek always said that what make him some interested in the boom bust cycle was this question: There are normal errors always in the economy, people trying things, some times succeding, but a lot of the times failing (as you pointed out), but why suddenly all the investors and entrepreneurs make all the same mistakes in the same sector?

Its not the same as mistakes in different areas and different ideas. During a bubble the investors and entrepreneurs make all this mistakes in the same direction. Why? Because they are getting false information (mainly interest rates), the price signals are perverted. And as long as this false signals are mantained, the problem goes on, and that is why there is no correction until even the government can not keep the bubble going with more coercion.

A bubble is not trial and error, its not a discovery process. Its reactions to bad signals, and that is why the trial and error is not called malinvestment (you are getting information), but a lot of the results of the bubbles are indeed malinvestments, and could have been avoided if the price signals would not have been distorted.
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July 08, 2011, 10:48:13 AM
 #15

You are saying that the USA private sector does not invest long term or does not do it right. This is a lie.

Not too long ago, Steve Koonin (the provost of Caltech) went to work for BP as their chief scientist, and he made a very serious effort to encourage long-term investment in biofuels technology.  He remarked that the reaction of his superiors was that BP did not invest in anything without some potential for payoff within 5 years ("BP is not a charity" was the memorable phrase I remember), and what ended up coming out of these efforts was a private-public partnership with Berkeley, LBNL and UIUC.  This is the prime example I'm thinking of when I say that the private sector is great at pushing things in the short term, but that there is a need for public institutions to drive the long-term research.

You then compare the capacity of the USA economy with the capacity of the country you come from, which probably is not comparable. But lets compare zones that can be compared, like the USA and Europe. In Europe medicine is basically in the hands of governments (although there are private insurances and hospitals), and in the USA it was more in private hands (although this is changing quickly). What do we see?

A $30B+ NIH budget, bigger than the combined health research budgets of the members of the EU, and a pharma industry that's cutting jobs because it has too few new inventions in the pipeline?

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/09/14/eli-lilly-to-cut-5-500-jobs-as-big-pharma-winter-approaches/

The research part you're thinking of is in no small part supported by the NIH.  Pharma spends big to implement existing ideas on a huge scale (say, screening 1,000,000 compounds against 1,000,000 targets to see if you get a hit), but many of the foundational ideas (say, discovering oncogenes as potential targets for drugs) come from basic research.  Moreover, if you're comparing total expenditures on healthcare, that's a very different beast (pick your poison: trial lawyers suing for malpractice or insurance companies/hospitals/HMOs spending 20-30% on administrative overhead).

The USA is one of the biggest innovators in medicine and basically decimates the medical innovations coming from Europe (and yes, I know that there is some government involvement in the USA medicine investigation, but the comparation is still valid).

And yet health indicators of the USA are much worse?  Europe is excellent at taking advantage of the research that comes out of the US and actually delivering it.

What you are doing all the time is taking the position of a bully.  I take the money from you by force, stopping you from using it and investing in investigation, spend it in an inefficient way to discover some things, and then claim that you need me to discover those things. The question you are not answering is: What would have happened if you left those resources to the private sector?

As one of the posters replied, this is very speculative.  But it's incorrect simply think that the government is taking money from you by force and that you are a hapless victim of the evil taxman.  For one, there are such things as public goods, that we are all better off having but individually worse off if we pay for them (the most prominent examples being police and defense).  Moreover, a lot of the income you receive is made possible by the quality institutions of your society (this is the idea of social capital, here's an interesting read: http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/20061217.htm).  If you had been born in Uganda with an equal skill set to the one you currently have, you will almost certainly not earn anywhere near what you earn today.  If you disagree, you should put your money where your mouth is, renounce your citizenship and emigrate to Pakistan to enjoy a rock-bottom tax rate and low-cost services.  Third, there are such things as externalities, where you as an individual can impose costs on me without paying for them (think of the banksters netting all the profits and leaving us with the tab for the losses).  A good chunk of what government does is to neutralize these externalities, and make sure that it is the people imposing the external costs that are paying for them.

Personally, having seen the difference in quality of life and the functioning of society that good government buys in both the US and Europe, I am happy to pay my dues.
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July 08, 2011, 10:58:47 AM
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A bubble is not trial and error, its not a discovery process. Its reactions to bad signals, and that is why the trial and error is not called malinvestment (you are getting information), but a lot of the results of the bubbles are indeed malinvestments, and could have been avoided if the price signals would not have been distorted.
Whether pricing signals are "distorted" is really subjective, as pricing might depend on estimates on information that is not known by anyone yet at the time of the investment such as rate of social adoption, political factors, scientific discoveries, and so on. I don't think there is such a thing as undistorted pricing signals as all. The world is a very uncertain place.


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July 08, 2011, 11:03:56 AM
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A bubble is not trial and error, its not a discovery process. Its reactions to bad signals, and that is why the trial and error is not called malinvestment (you are getting information), but a lot of the results of the bubbles are indeed malinvestments, and could have been avoided if the price signals would not have been distorted.
Whether pricing signals are "distorted" is really subjective, as pricing might depend on estimates on information that is not known by anyone yet at the time of the investment such as rate of social adoption, political factors, scientific discoveries, and so on. I don't think there is such a thing as undistorted pricing signals as all. The world is a very uncertain place.



you agree without noticing it.

zero or negative interest rates (adjusted) are a signal that almost every investment is wortwhile, a signal everyone gets at the same time.
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July 08, 2011, 11:22:38 AM
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Not too long ago, Steve Koonin (the provost of Caltech) went to work for BP as their chief scientist, and he made a very serious effort to encourage long-term investment in biofuels technology.  He remarked that the reaction of his superiors was that BP did not invest in anything without some potential for payoff within 5 years ("BP is not a charity" was the memorable phrase I remember), and what ended up coming out of these efforts was a private-public partnership with Berkeley, LBNL and UIUC.  This is the prime example I'm thinking of when I say that the private sector is great at pushing things in the short term, but that there is a need for public institutions to drive the long-term research.

If this is your evidence I have already won the discussion. Im supposed to believe that the decission of one corporation regulated by the government and that pays taxes is a clear indicative of your point? Your point is already defeated, but if you wish I can point to you a lot of decission where the government did not look at the long term. Would that be prove to you that the government is incapable of looking long term? See how what you said is irrelevant?

Quote
A $30B+ NIH budget, bigger than the combined health research budgets of the members of the EU, and a pharma industry that's cutting jobs because it has too few new inventions in the pipeline?

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/09/14/eli-lilly-to-cut-5-500-jobs-as-big-pharma-winter-approaches/

Let me point you again that I was giving a historical perspective and that I already said that the present situation has changed. But in the example you are giving: During this crisis, the company cutting off in long term research to dedicate more resources to the short term needs that the costumers might have? How evil...  Roll Eyes We should let the costumers out of what they need now in the name of the long term...

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The research part you're thinking of is in no small part supported by the NIH.  Pharma spends big to implement existing ideas on a huge scale (say, screening 1,000,000 compounds against 1,000,000 targets to see if you get a hit), but many of the foundational ideas (say, discovering oncogenes as potential targets for drugs) come from basic research.  Moreover, if you're comparing total expenditures on healthcare, that's a very different beast (pick your poison: trial lawyers suing for malpractice or insurance companies/hospitals/HMOs spending 20-30% on administrative overhead).

Again, I already pointed out that the government is involved in the USA healthcare research industry, but the fact that with more private sector there is more innovation is an indication that the private sector can invest long term (and better than the government does) if the resources are not taken away.

And yet health indicators of the USA are much worse?  Europe is excellent at taking advantage of the research that comes out of the US and actually delivering it.

Yes, Europe is leeching off the USA and also the USA has been damaging its healthcare industry and making it more expensive with growing government regulations all over the XX century. And btw, I suffer european government health care so dont tell me about it.

But you are talking about something not directly related with the discussion to supposedly score a cheap point. Is this how you want to keep the discussion. Pointing anecdotes and arguing about things that dont directly relate?

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As one of the posters replied, this is very speculative.

Yes. Its very speculative. Its as speculative as you saying that if the money is left to the private sector it would not investigate long term. Its a social science and we can do no better. Again, what Im trying to say is that all the things you are saying are anecdotal evidences of a situation where the government takes the money away from the private sector by force, so the government has the resources to investigate while the private sector does not. By pointing the developments of the government or the actions of some private actors (heavily regulated and subsidized by the government private actors) in this situation you are proving nothing.

A more fair analisys would be to compare similar (as much as posible) countries in the same time period with similar technology, one with heavy government involvement and the other without. That would be some valid evidence (not prove, but valid evidence).

And please, if you have to answer to something, answer to this part.

The rest is really not related to the discussion but I ll answer anyways in the next comment.
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July 08, 2011, 11:23:25 AM
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This is not related but anywyas:

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But it's incorrect simply think that the government is taking money from you by force and that you are a hapless victim of the evil taxman.

The goverment is taking money by force. Its a fact. Lets see how you justify that Im not a victim of that.

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For one, there are such things as public goods

Yes there are public goods, that is a completely different thing than government goods.

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, that we are all better off having

How does everybody have/own something? (and not, if the government owns something we dont all own it, the government owns it).

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but individually worse off if we pay for them (the most prominent examples being police and defense).

Bad examples. Long discussion. Not having it here.

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Moreover, a lot of the income you receive is made possible by the quality institutions of your society (this is the idea of social capital, here's an interesting read: http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/20061217.htm).

Yes, social institution are important. They are in fact the basis of society. But you dont need a government to have social institutions.

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If you had been born in Uganda with an equal skill set to the one you currently have, you will almost certainly not earn anywhere near what you earn today.

True. Dont see your point.

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If you disagree, you should put your money where your mouth is, renounce your citizenship and emigrate to Pakistan to enjoy a rock-bottom tax rate and low-cost services.

Do I really need to answer this?

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Third, there are such things as externalities,

Externalities are the name you give to the violations of private property.

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where you as an individual can impose costs on me without paying for them

Because government takes away your right to private property.

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(think of the banksters netting all the profits and leaving us with the tab for the losses).

This is not even an example of what you call externality.

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A good chunk of what government does is to neutralize these externalities,

On the contrary, the government creates these "externalities" by violating the property rights of the people.

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and make sure that it is the people imposing the external costs that are paying for them.

You wanted to say: And making sure the politicians are the one in charge of dealing with this issues, not the people.

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Personally, having seen the difference in quality of life and the functioning of society that good government buys in both the US and Europe, I am happy to pay my dues.

Im happy that you are happy fellow of the corporate regime. But if you really truly believe that the government does produce better results, why not make it voluntary? It will produce better results and will prevail anyway, why impose it? Unless you know it does not produce the best results.
hugolp
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July 08, 2011, 11:30:33 AM
 #20

A bubble is not trial and error, its not a discovery process. Its reactions to bad signals, and that is why the trial and error is not called malinvestment (you are getting information), but a lot of the results of the bubbles are indeed malinvestments, and could have been avoided if the price signals would not have been distorted.
Whether pricing signals are "distorted" is really subjective, as pricing might depend on estimates on information that is not known by anyone yet at the time of the investment such as rate of social adoption, political factors, scientific discoveries, and so on. I don't think there is such a thing as undistorted pricing signals as all. The world is a very uncertain place.

The common definition everybody uses for "distorted signals" is signals produced not by voluntary exchanges but by force. That is the definition I was using.

With that definition the signals are distorted and that produces bubbles. But I hope you at least have noticed that trial and error process is different from a bubble, because during a bubble the cluster of errors of the entrepreneurs get concentrated in one way only, while in a trial an error process they are everywhere. Noticing this should lead you to understand why the bubbles form: Why do entrepreneurs suddenly make all the mistakes in the same direction while the market process produces mistakes in very different areas and in very different ways due to people trying things and sometimes failing?
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