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Post 100

Friday, March 24, 2006 - 9:44amSanction this postReply
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The great majority of the people who live in Alaska are for, not against, the drilling of oil there (ANWR).  This includes many of the native peoples, who want to make better lives for themselves.  They are being sacrificed for no valid reason, environmental or otherwise, other than so that politicians can make vain gestures to the far leftist environmentalists and limousine liberals can tell their friends how much they care about the environment while they drive their Volvos and heat their homes and use their gadgets like everyone else.



Post 101

Friday, March 24, 2006 - 11:44amSanction this postReply
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> Suppose I treasured land on which there was oil, and didn't want it developed because I desired to preserve the environment.

Bill, you ask an excellent set of questions. If you don't mind, I'd like to reword and broaden it to the way I have formulated it in past years: Suppose you are the first or early settlers on virgin land. How much can you claim and for what use? Obviously the first individual in an individual rights context to cross the Mississippi can't claim the Western two-thirds of the country. Can you claim an unobstructed view down your mountainside and across the next valley, since that is why you became Daniel Boone seeking elbow room? So no one else is allowed to settle, set up oil derricks, build a smoke-belching railroad down the hill from you?

The Northwest Ordinance(s) and the Homestead Act provide answers to much of the initial acquisition of rights issues, but not the 'esthetic' or 'peace and quiet' or quality of life issues. You only get concerned with these at a more advanced stage of civilization and economic development.

This opens up a whole series of philosophy of law questions of degree and context. (Short answers: valuable; detailed analysis: priceless.)

Phil



(Edited by Philip Coates
on 3/24, 11:49am)




Post 102

Friday, March 24, 2006 - 5:02pmSanction this postReply
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In order to sustain our lifestyle, our level of transport, and products that are made from oil, we need more. I don't think most people are going to accept such a drop in production of the things they want, and unfortunately the Ogoni, and people in their situation, suffer because of our demands. 

It's not just a "want" most people couldn't survive large drops in use of resources like oil.

Have you ever read Rand's the "Anti-Industrial Revolution" I'm citing it like this because its been a while since I read it and I'm positive I wouldn't be able to express it as well as Rand did.

But the gist of it is that there were no "good old days" of virgin land. Less resources means higher use of the most valuable resource of all human labor.

Imagine cooking and cleaning your house as an exhausting all day process, imagine food that can't get preserved effectively so any sort of stockpiling is a fruitless effort. Imagine hard exhausting physical labor in almost every field as a way of life for people who just aren't in any physical condition to do so. Or go to an unindustrialized country and see for yourself.

As to the free market solution... I know enviromental charity tends to be a pretty big business... has anyone ever tried buying the land up?

---Landon




Post 103

Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 4:37amSanction this postReply
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Dear everyone,

your collective :) stance seems that the people are irrational, for not wanting their way of life destroyed, and/or aren't being benevolent for wanting the company to drill on their land, so we can sustain our way of life? The view I'm getting is that they should like what is happening to their culture, and if not they are being unselfish (or irrationally self interested, Oist language is difficult when it comes to describing interpersonal cruel/evil behaviour) by not letting us have what we want? 

Dear William Dywer,

Well in all honesty I think the oil is probably going to go to industrialized countries, and be use to drive cars, and make all many of things made from plastic. The money from the oil will probably go to the corrupt government.  I'll ask you a question, is it ok to destroy  peoples way of life, and environment, to sustain our way of life?  The Ogoni obviously value their culture highly, and need their land for farming, it seems like your advocating altruism?

Dear London,

I agree we have built up a large dependence on oil (as Bush proclaimed), and we would have to go without making more xboxes (I own one before I get flamed) and other countless luxury that are made from it.

A charity is by definition non-profit, and I'm pretty sure no charity could outbid Shell and Chevron, I can't see many people giving up their cars for public transport, and donating enough money for them to do so.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is seems to me that the wishes and respect of a non-violent culture (despite having violence perpetrated continually against them), doesn't trump our lifestyle sustenance (no matter how wasteful). It also seems, from these brief discussions of what I've read are that if someone values the environment, their culture (that is valued, and doesn't harm), their beliefs, their objections, and human rights (regarding Guantanamo bay) are simply swept aside, and labelled irrational, and whatever they object to should go ahead. Am I right?

(forgive the short post, problem with PC)

(Edited by Mr Mike Skinner on 3/25, 4:40am)




Post 104

Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 9:07amSanction this postReply
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It means more than just X-boxes. And it's easy to criticize when you're not the one starving, poor, diseased and just all around hopeless and living a life that isn't really worth living. And a lot of the stuff others consider "luxuries" are things we couldn't do without. People would loose their jobs and ability to sustain themselves (due to industries being shut down and just travel issues). I don't see how reducing the few countries in the world that aren't third world countries to being third world countries would help anyone... I'd rather do the reverse.

It breaks my heart to see starving children in africa and south america and other places and I'd love to see their biggest worry become "Not getting an Xbox." But you're talking about dragging the world down to their level.

As to guantamo bay. For the most part, if anyone deserved something like that it was many of the people held there. But to be honest you're right few people (I hesitate to say no one because I know how evil some men actually are) deserve the treatment recieved there.

---Landon




Post 105

Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 8:28pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,

The virgin land problem was pretty much covered by Locke when he wrote of "mixing your labor" with the land. This means doing something with it, even if that something is only marking boundaries (ie, building a fence) or walking the boundaries every so often.

After ownership has been established it still needs to be defended. There is a legal concept of "adverse possession" which should be used more often. If a squatter uses a plot of land for X years and never was told to leave, never was sent a bill for rent, never was even reminded that he was on someone else's property, that land should become legally his.



Post 106

Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
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Rick,

I hold a higher standard for property acquisition than you (or Locke). This higher standard resolves current conundrums like "setting a forest ablaze means you own it (because you've mixed some labor with it)" -- and the recent, repulsive Coase theory of differential value production; which states that, if someone could produce more value than you currently do, with the property that you currently own -- then they have a legal right to your property.

Locke could be improved on by adopting the following qualification: "mixing your labor" with the land to produce value. With this new, higher standard for homesteading, merely setting forest fires is not sufficient for owning all the land that the fire reaches before it fire burns out. Instead, your homesteading ability is limited to the amount of land that you can produce any value from.

You mentioned fences and walking the grounds. And -- though I feel like it -- I find it difficult to disagree with these points of an ownership claim. You could say that there is a fitness value to walking the land. You could say that there is an esthetic value to viewing all the plants contained there. You could say that there is some type of value from the fence, itself. I'll have to think more on that.

I'm currently thinking of the counter-example of a savage defending a gold mine as his "valuable" cave -- and I'm trying to integrate that with this. Discussion welcomed.

Ed




Post 107

Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 11:16amSanction this postReply
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I agree with Locke's general idea of establishing initial ownership (and even the idea of adverse possession), the problem here is just interpretting what mixing labor is.

With respect to a fire, I see starting a controlled burn of an area to be mixing labor - in the area where you mixed labor by either starting it or controlling the burn such as building firewall ditches or otherwise bounding its spread. An uncontrolled blaze across the continent would not establish your ownership except of the small patch you started (but could make you liable for destruction to others' person or property).

It's similar with fences. Say I go in the wilderness and build a 1'x1'x1'x1' fence, point at it and say, "That's the untamed wilderness out there" and [gesturing all around me] "Whew! I'm glad my property is now safely fenced off from it!" That obviously does not really give me ownership of the world minus 1 square foot.

That's the most intentionally extreme/absurd example, but the problem is the same on other scales - establishing fences around some perimeter is far simpler than actually homesteading (via mixing labor) the whole area contained within. Rick, if North America were unoccupied til you came across it, and you built a fence across Panama and all along the coast, then you have certainly established ownership of a very long strip of land maybe a couple feet wide on either side of the fence. However, you can't, in any meaningful sense, be considered as having established ownership of the millions of square miles within the boundary. We could get into really odd thought experiments about how I'd have to fly or pole-vault in to get there, but the point is that if I came within the perimeter I could validly homestead any of the vast majority of land which you never worked.




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Post 108

Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 4:23pmSanction this postReply
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Mike Skinner wrote:
Dear William Dywer [sic],

Well in all honesty I think the oil is probably going to go to industrialized countries, and be use [sic] to drive cars, and make all [sic] many of [sic] things made from plastic.
Not to mention lowering the price of gas, which people use to heat their homes in the winter and keep themselves from freezing to death.
The money from the oil will probably go to the corrupt government.
Which is the fault of the free market??
I'll ask you a question, is it ok to destroy peoples [sic] way of life, and environment, to sustain our way of life? The Ogoni obviously value their culture highly, and need their land for farming, it seems like your [sic] advocating altruism?
Altruism? I'm advocating altruism, because I want to improve people's standard of living by encouraging the development of natural resources in the service of their lives and well-being? I wouldn't call this "altruism"; I benefit from it as well. Productivity and trade work to the advantage of everyone. You ask, is it okay to destroy a people's primitive way of life by developing their natural resources, if they are unwilling or unable to to it themselves? Yes, if their way of life is standing in the way of economic development and a better standard of living for everyone concerned, including the people themselves.

There was a time in this country when people were far more dependent on agriculture than they are today, because they had to devote a disproportionately large share of their productive resources just to make sure they had enough to eat. It is the fact that we were able to develop those resources for uses other than farming that it made it possible for us to advance economically and to enjoy a far higher standard of living than would otherwise have been possible in a strictly agrarian economy.

Let me ask you as question, Skinner: Is it okay to forbid the mining of oil, because some environmentalists don't want to see nature despoiled, if doing so causes people to freeze to death in the winter, because they can't get enough energy to heat their homes, or die of heat stroke in the summer because they can't afford air conditioning, or die before they get to the hospital in an emergency, because they can't afford the cost of transportation?

It is economic progress that has made it possible for the West to enjoy its high standard of living in contrast to third-world counties in which large numbers of people die of famine and disease on a regular basis. But that progress was possible only because people were allowed to develop natural resources for a productive human purpose rather than being forced to preserve them for the sake of nature, as if nature had a right to survive but human beings did not. In the short term, such development also creates jobs for local inhabitants, like the Ogonis, and raises the level of their real wages, enabling them to buy more of what they want and need.

In any case, no Ogoni has the right to prevent other Ogonis from enjoying the fruits of this development by preventing it from ever taking place, just because he wants to preserve his "culture." Just as capitalism is superior to socialism, and freedom superior to slavery, so a progressive, industrialized culture is superior to a primitive, third-world one that prohibits economic development and keeps its people mired in poverty. The more advanced culture has every right to supplant the less advanced one and in the process raise its people's standard of living.

Skinner, your entire approach is "conservative" in the worst and most retrograde meaning of the term, namely, the preservation of heritage and tradition at the expense of any improvement in human living conditions. You want to deny people in other parts of the world the opportunity to break free from primitive, economically backward societies, because of some allegedly intrinsic virtue in the preservation of their existing "cultures." If you had your way, the wealth that we currently enjoy here in the West would not have been allowed to come into existence. As it is, you want to prevent a similar development from taking place in other parts of the world.

- Bill
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 3/26, 4:30pm)




Post 109

Thursday, March 30, 2006 - 11:31pmSanction this postReply
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     Regarding a basic prob re determining 'how much' land-area in a place no one else yet seems to be using (or, has NOT fenced off from others' preventing others' abuse of it against one's usage), such a prob is mostly academic now...surface-land-wise. --- But, ntl, I'd have to say that however much is able by one to be fenced in, then officially-'claimed' as done to official-'protectors'...whether we're talking ranchers, farmers, condo-developers, or XBOX factories, that's a good enough starting point.

     Consider, just building a personal dwelling is itself creating the smallest 'fence.'  How one uses the area (or, how often) within such is not a necessary justification for keeping it, whether the fence builder is a single person or a mega-organization (think undersea and planetary...nm platforms in space). I really see little place for question-concerns here about others having no right to use the land-area, once a 'fence' has been created ('open-rangers' nwst).

LLAP
J:D

P.S: Re 'open-rangers' concerns, such 'used' the varied land-areas...only sometimes. Clearly not many different ones could use the same land. Such should have attempted to keep it reserved for their purposes if they wished to count on continued use.

(Edited by John Dailey on 3/30, 11:34pm)

(Edited by John Dailey on 3/30, 11:39pm)




Post 110

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 6:52amSanction this postReply
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Dear William Dwyer,

I admit, I'm not that intelligent compared to people on this thread (I left school with average grades), and my grammar and spelling is poor, but it would have been more benevolent to simply write; Mike check your grammar and spelling before you post. Instead it was presented (I perceive) as an attempt to publicly belittle me. Anyway...

Which is the fault of the free market??
No, I wasn't trying to portray that. This discussion I suppose is confusing. We seem to jumping between an utopian situation; where there is only libertarian law enforcements, and economic structures, and reality.

On a side note I read that kind of drop of context a lot from pro-market sites a lot, they write about the evils of taxation, welfare state, minimum wage, etc.

But I don't really read many (remember I wrote - many) recommendations to use private currencies, ie. e-gold,  as protest against fiat currency and central banking (I got that from an anti-globablisation website). According to the free market economists articles I've read (I've just begun, and I find it difficult to get into the lingo), central banking and fiat currency is a major contributor to economic stagnation. The only free market advocates I've read (I repeat I've just begun) who openly stated that the concentration of wealth, is helped by fiat policies. Taking this to be true then, the campaigns of against minimum wage and corporate taxation being more important than, central banking and fiat policies harms the free-market argument of greater prosperity for the poor.

If central banking gives unfair power to pressure groups, ie. corporations and commercial banks (I'm learning that the policy of fiat allows them to create more fiat money www.theclassactionsuit.com ), then surely if minimum wage, labor rights etc are dropped then it will result in the 'socialism for the rich/corporations' that people perceive capitalism to be.

Also you have clarified your view that the culture of the Ogoni people isn't respected only industrialized nations are, thanks for making that clear. I however believe as long as the culture isn't violating people's rights, then it should be allowed to be free from industrialization if it chooses to.

quoteLet me ask you as question, Skinner: Is it okay to forbid the mining of oil, because some environmentalists don't want to see nature despoiled, if doing so causes people to freeze to death in the winter, because they can't get enough energy to heat their homes, or die of heat stroke in the summer because they can't afford air conditioning, or die before they get to the hospital in an emergency, because they can't afford the cost of transportation?



Good question. Our current context is that companies could spend more money on recycling (plastic bags are given out for single items at supermarkets etc), and building alternative fuels (in Britain there is some good publicity for bio-diesel, fuels made from recycled cooking oil), and building things that last. Before I get flamed, I agree technological advancement has helped environmental concerns, mp3 players and the internet have shrunk the need for non-biodegradable cd's, and packaging.

quoteIn the short term, such development also creates jobs for local inhabitants, like the Ogonis, and raises the level of their real wages, enabling them to buy more of what they want and need.



Most Ogoni., and people of Nigeria want Oil companies out, they have consistently, along with the government, violated their rights, and environment.

quoteSkinner, your entire approach is "conservative" in the worst and most retrograde meaning of the term, namely, the preservation of heritage and tradition at the expense of any improvement in human living conditions. You want to deny people in other parts of the world the opportunity to break free from primitive, economically backward societies, because of some allegedly intrinsic virtue in the preservation of their existing "cultures." If you had your way, the wealth that we currently enjoy here in the West would not have been allowed to come into existence. As it is, you want to prevent a similar development from taking place in other parts of the world.



 No, I advocate (I unfortunately didn't make this clear), respecting the wishes of a largely peaceful culture, and increasing recycling, and alternative fuel development in order to sustain our lifestyle, instead of relying on crude oil. There appear to be many reasons to advocate that idea of ecologists, not just to sustain the environment. The west wouldn't have to rely on unstable regions, and governments (venezuela, current oil problem). We wouldn't have to go to armed conflict over oil. (I'm referring to articles by the ARI that protecting/reclaiming US oil interests is a good premise to go to war on). 

And much to the pleasure of you guys, and conservatives, it would shut up many environmentalists ;). 

(Edited by Mr Mike Skinner on 3/31, 6:54am)




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Post 111

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 9:22amSanction this postReply
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The so-called "gold standard" idea is a strong dissent I have from Objectivism, if it truly is a part of Objectivism to begin with.  I believe it is NOT because it does NOT conform with economic reality.  Without currency as it is currently, there is no way that credit can properly be extended to expand new businessed and it results in economic stagnation.  That is not to say it cannot be abused, but contrary to popular opinion, the government does not control the (US) central banks (the President appoints the Fed Chairman only), nor is it manipulated by some conspiratorial cabal for only their own benefit.  It works, is the bottom line, and all modern economic monetary theory proves that it works.  Having currency completely tied to a commodity such as gold could just as easily be tied to pork bellies, with no more logic to it.  What if a country has no gold, but is extremely wealthy, how would they have such a currency?




Post 112

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 9:50amSanction this postReply
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Kurt, the Randian argument is not about gold per se, it's about a durable commodity ...

===========
... the medium of exchange must be a durable commodity, usually a metal. A metal is generally chosen because it is homogeneous and divisible: every unit is the same as every other ...

More important, the commodity chosen as a medium must be a luxury ...

The term "luxury good" implies scarcity and high unit value. Having a high unit value, such a good is easily portable ...

In the absence of a gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. ...

The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. ...

Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the "hidden" confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights.

--Alan Greenspan, "Gold and Economic Freedom," CUI, 96
===========

Ed




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Post 113

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 1:59pmSanction this postReply
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What has inflation been like in the US since 1990?  Nary a problem - it has remained low due to proper monetary policy.  Nothing can save you from profligate spending or confiscatory taxes - gold or no gold.  The Spanish had tons of the stuff when they conquered the new world, then went bankrupt.  There were all kinds of problems that we no longer have with such currencies, be they gold or silver.  Just look at the history. 

The gold standard is dross as an idea and needs to be dropped, only the lunatic fringe still supports it. 

Also - this statement is incorrect because it is already factored into all assets and commodities ALREADY:

In the absence of a gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value.
 
You can still buy Gold as a commodity as an inflation hedge.
You can buy bonds, stocks, and other investments based upon your belief in where interest rates were going.  If you had gold when rates were high, and bought bonds with fixed rates, then when rates began to drop you would make a lot more money than holding gold.
You may invest in stocks of businesses that are or are not affected by various changes in markets, including money and inflation and anything else.

Good Economic policy is key, not ancient history as economics.




Post 114

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 2:40pmSanction this postReply
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Based on Federal Reserve data, M3 has grown from $4.1T to $10.3T between Jan 1990 and Feb 2006. You can debate how problematic that has been (given other factors such as productivity increases and where and how that new money is held), but it doesn't exactly seem low.




Post 115

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 7:50pmSanction this postReply
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Kurt,

===============
What cost $1 in 1990 would cost $1.49 in 2005.
Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2005 and 1990,
they would cost you $1 and $0.67 respectively.
===============
http://www.westegg.com/inflation/


I think that this is significant [49% inflation in the last 15 years].

Ed




Post 116

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 9:45pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, if you make 4% per year in interest, that $1 becomes $1.80

3% = 1.56

so inflation is lower than 3% per annum

That is not significant, after all, wages and investments can meet or beat that easily, and is factored into it.  It is only at very high rates where it becomes a problem, because there are greater fluctuations, less uniform change, and hence more problems with market pricing.  The negative economic impact of stagnant capital supply is far worse.




Post 117

Friday, March 31, 2006 - 10:35pmSanction this postReply
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Fundamental question ...

Why should I have to make at least 3% per year in interest, just to retain my already-earned wealth? Why must I be forced to invest this amount into reliably-growing capital (in order to just remain the same)?

Why can't I simply get what value I earn?

Ed




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Post 118

Saturday, April 1, 2006 - 12:58amSanction this postReply
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Kurt you wrote,
The gold standard is dross as an idea and needs to be dropped, only the lunatic fringe still supports it.
Methinks thou hast perpetrated the dreaded "Argument from Intimidation." Say hello to a member of "the lunatic fringe." :-) The Gold Standard -- ah yes, so near and dear to my heart -- the virtue of which is that it removes the quantity of base money from the arbitrary whims of central bankers, and thereby guards against significant inflation.

George Reisman points out that on a gold standard, there would be a modest increase in the supply of gold owing to an improvement in mining technology, but that that self-same technology would also improve the productive efficiency of the economy, increasing the supply of goods and services in about the same proportion as the increase in the supply of gold, so that the average level of prices would remain fairly stable.

Of course, the adoption of a gold standard has little popularity among mainstream economists, so it is not at the present time politically feasible, but that doesn't mean that it isn't the best policy. Mises and Hayek have pointed out the problem of economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth, yet even some free-market economists still believe that while the government is not competent to determine the proper supply of shirts and shoes, which can only be determined by the interaction of supply and demand in a free market, the federal reserve can somehow determine the proper supply of money. One need only look at the history of central banking to see the folly of that view.

The solution is to take the money supply out of the hands of central bankers and return it to the operation of the free market, from which it originated. The consumer price level remained fairly constant from 1800 to around 1940, with a modest increase during the Civil War and World War I. But since the beginning of World War II, the average level of prices has risen exponentially. The Fed's ability to inflate the currency is what has caused the dramatic increase in the money supply and the ensuing increase in the rate of inflation. On a gold standard, this kind of inflationary increase would have been impossible, since an increase in the money supply could only occur if more gold were made available through mining. It is the limited ability of mining companies to extract gold ore from deposits that would prevent the money supply from increasing as dramatically as it has. But under a fiat currency, printing more money is the easiest thing in the world. And when the power to increase its supply exists, bankers will eventually find a rationale for doing so. The fact that we are currently experiencing low inflation is irrelevant, since the potential to increase it rather dramatically still exists, and in the wrong hands will be used. The old saying, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is as relevant to the power of the central bank as it is to any other government function.

Which is why I think that a gold standard is the only real guarantee against hyperinflation and against a consequent monetary devaluation.

So, there you have it: the latest word from the "lunatic fringe!" :)

- Bill



Post 119

Saturday, April 1, 2006 - 2:07amSanction this postReply
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Ed- Don't fall for the fallacy that 'inflation' is a symptom (pricing) rather than the monetary cause.




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