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Thread: Is college debt justified

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    Default Is college debt justified

    I was going to start here with an exposition on the subject of Peak Oil and its implications, but I fear the subject has been belabored on the web. I think everyone knows what's going on by this point. Only the government keeps quiet on the subject. (For those who yet remain in the dark, cheap oil -- and other resources -- are running out, driving up the cost of everything and leading to what will be a permanent decline in economic production; the end of economic growth means eventual monetary crisis in every country with substantial national debt; monetary crisis means economic depression)

    My question is, how can people justify taking on any additional loans, including student loans, at this point in time? I recently learned that you can't just "default" on student loans and may be in debt slavery for decades to come, as well as family members who may have undersigned the loans.

    Does anybody honestly think the economy is going to "get better" and everyone will be able to get jobs again?

    How many recent graduates cannot find any job or are working at Starbucks for $8/hr. with no prospects for a higher paying job?

    How can one justify going into debt to pay for schooling that will not provide a return on investment?

    Do people realize what the risks of taking on college debt are?

    How can someone justify paying $20,000 a year to learn stuff you can learn for free from books, with the result of being miserable for years to come?
    It is easier for the eye of a camel to pass through a rich man than for a needle to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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    I'll have an answer for you in two years. I'll know then.

    In the meantime, sign me up for another 8k loan!

    How can someone justify paying $20,000 a year to learn stuff you can learn for free from books, with the result of being miserable for years to come?
    That's a very good question. The short answer is they have no choice. Capital is tightly controlled and the only way to get it is to do the work that the people who have it demand. As for learning things for free from books, the short answer is that that doesn't work because of this thing called EXTROVERSION. A lot of people want to have everything explained to them because they don't like using their noggins. Now you can argue that not every extrovert demands a verbal (or even one-on-one) response to their questions, but the simple fact is that there is not an INTROVERT out there who won't use their noggin to understand something. (but then there's the whole "I've my own ideas" issue with the introverts... every introvert wants to reach THEIR OWN conclusion).

    Actually not many people take out college loans. The current Pell Grant limit is $5400 per student per year. ($2700 per semester) That's enough to pay the community college tuition + books if bought used. For that, you get education enough to hold a job with pay ranging from 20-30k a year. Those who go for the bachelors degree are going to be making anywhere from 50-100% more money than the people with associates degrees, and they are probably going to marry someone who makes a roughly similar amount. $70-$90k a year is good money, much more than my family ever had! (when I was growing up, anyway)

    I don't think peak oil will come for ages. I think its just a speculation scare to drive up prices. (and would you know it, it worked!) We'll be able to send solar powered robots to get our resources from other worlds long (on the other hand... where exactly are we going to find petroleum on lifeless planets...?)

    We live ridiculously wasteful today. There should a solar panels on the roofs of every home and building. However market forces have made it so that there is no non-altruistic reason to do so. Why bother investing in solar power when the electric company is just going to jack up prices on your electric to make up for their "lost" revenue?
    Last edited by tcaudilllg; 07-16-2010 at 06:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    I was going to start here with an exposition on the subject of Peak Oil and its implications, but I fear the subject has been belabored on the web. I think everyone knows what's going on by this point. Only the government keeps quiet on the subject. (For those who yet remain in the dark, cheap oil -- and other resources -- are running out, driving up the cost of everything and leading to what will be a permanent decline in economic production; the end of economic growth means eventual monetary crisis in every country with substantial national debt; monetary crisis means economic depression)

    My question is, how can people justify taking on any additional loans, including student loans, at this point in time? I recently learned that you can't just "default" on student loans and may be in debt slavery for decades to come, as well as family members who may have undersigned the loans.

    Does anybody honestly think the economy is going to "get better" and everyone will be able to get jobs again?

    How many recent graduates cannot find any job or are working at Starbucks for $8/hr. with no prospects for a higher paying job?

    How can one justify going into debt to pay for schooling that will not provide a return on investment?

    Do people realize what the risks of taking on college debt are?

    How can someone justify paying $20,000 a year to learn stuff you can learn for free from books, with the result of being miserable for years to come?

    So...what is your alternative to a college eduction? A degree is worth millions over a lifetime.
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    There are some peak-oil doomer articles on the web saying the 2008 economic crisis was primarily caused by the steep increase in oil prices preceeding it. Anyone know how seriously that should be taken?

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    Quote Originally Posted by labcoat View Post
    There are some peak-oil doomer articles on the web saying the 2008 economic crisis was primarily caused by the steep increase in oil prices preceeding it. Anyone know how seriously that should be taken?
    It seems nonsensical, since firms (so, let's not talk about "big banks") were mostly damaged by a credit freeze, because banks didn't know if other banks had toxic assets in their balance sheet (thus, they didn't want to give each other loans, thus banks had to store high levels of "pure liquidity"). If oil prices were the cause, it would have been a demand-led crisis (prices would have shot up excessively, people wouldn't have had enough money to buy as much as before, etc. etc.).

    Anyway, from my perspective, US-UK style college debt looks like a massively irrational decision. My personal opinion is that this kind of system should encourage a stronger selection among college students, namely only rich people and those who manage to obtain a scholarship should actually go to college. A loan is an extremely risky choice.
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    UGH. God dammit, Rick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    I was going to start here with an exposition on the subject of Peak Oil and its implications, but I fear the subject has been belabored on the web. I think everyone knows what's going on by this point. Only the government keeps quiet on the subject. (For those who yet remain in the dark, cheap oil -- and other resources -- are running out, driving up the cost of everything and leading to what will be a permanent decline in economic production; the end of economic growth means eventual monetary crisis in every country with substantial national debt; monetary crisis means economic depression)
    There will not be a permanent decline in economic activity. There is plenty of scientific research being done on alternatives to fossil fuels, and the economic incentive for profit will pretty much guarantee that one of them becomes popular and causes the economics cogs to start turning again.

    My question is, how can people justify taking on any additional loans, including student loans, at this point in time? I recently learned that you can't just "default" on student loans and may be in debt slavery for decades to come, as well as family members who may have undersigned the loans.
    Any time you take out a loan, you are taking on a risk. Before taking out a student loan, you should do research to determine how lucrative your chosen degree is and what the jobs market is like for people with that degree. A philosophy major, for example, has little business taking on such debt unless he values possessing the degree more than the freedom of not having to pay back the loan while working a crappy job. It all amounts to opportunity cost.

    Does anybody honestly think the economy is going to "get better" and everyone will be able to get jobs again?
    Of course it will. The problem right now is that the various Western governments are making the recovery take longer by fucking with the economic fundamentals of their respective economies. This is common sense. However, free market capitalism, though it can be slowed, has proven time and time again that it is robust enough to prosper in spite of substantial detrimental mitigating factors, like tariffs and government oversight.

    How many recent graduates cannot find any job or are working at Starbucks for $8/hr. with no prospects for a higher paying job?
    How many of these people will contribute to the inevitable economic recovery that will take place in the next five to ten years? You need to look at the big picture and determine if there is a net benefit to society in having these people educated despite the costs incurred.

    How can one justify going into debt to pay for schooling that will not provide a return on investment?
    Monetary return on investment? If there truly weren't any monetary return, then of course it would generally be foolish to take on such debt. However, most college degrees do result in costs being recovered and then some.

    Do people realize what the risks of taking on college debt are?
    Most of them do, but it's actually pretty easy to pay back $30,000 when you're making $40-50,000 a year out of college. It may take some years, but it's very doable.

    How can someone justify paying $20,000 a year to learn stuff you can learn for free from books, with the result of being miserable for years to come?
    You're missing the point. The reason people go to college is to earn a degree, not because they are somehow stuck on the false notion that classroom learning is the only way to become educated.

    College is about money for most people, but I agree that many subjects can be learned quite easily on one's own if you're willing to put forth the effort. I know that you speak like ten languages, I can fluently read Spanish from 100% self-study, and am also in calculus despite never taking a math class that went above basic algebra. However, you and I are also quite a bit smarter than the average person, so I am hesitant to hold other people up to these standards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    UGH. God dammit, Rick.



    There will not be a permanent decline in economic activity. There is plenty of scientific research being done on alternatives to fossil fuels, and the economic incentive for profit will pretty much guarantee that one of them becomes popular and causes the economics cogs to start turning again.



    Any time you take out a loan, you are taking on a risk. Before taking out a student loan, you should do research to determine how lucrative your chosen degree is and what the jobs market is like for people with that degree. A philosophy major, for example, has little business taking on such debt unless he values possessing the degree more than the freedom of not having to pay back the loan while working a crappy job. It all amounts to opportunity cost.

    Of course it will. The problem right now is that the various Western governments are making the recovery take longer by fucking with the economic fundamentals of their respective economies. This is common sense. However, free market capitalism, though it can be slowed, has proven time and time again that it is robust enough to prosper in spite of substantial detrimental mitigating factors, like tariffs and government oversight.



    How many of these people will contribute to the inevitable economic recovery that will take place in the next five to ten years? You need to look at the big picture and determine if there is a net benefit to society in having these people educated despite the costs incurred.



    Monetary return on investment? If there truly weren't any monetary return, then of course it would generally be foolish to take on such debt. However, most college degrees do result in costs being recovered and then some.



    Most of them do, but it's actually pretty easy to pay back $30,000 when you're making $40-50,000 a year out of college. It may take some years, but it's very doable.



    You're missing the point. The reason people go to college is to earn a degree, not because they are somehow stuck on the false notion that classroom learning is the only way to become educated.

    College is about money for most people, but I agree that many subjects can be learned quite easily on one's own if you're willing to put forth the effort. I know that you speak like ten languages, I can fluently read Spanish from 100% self-study, and am also in calculus despite never taking a math class that went above basic algebra. However, you and I are also quite a bit smarter than the average person, so I am hesitant to hold other people up to these standards.
    Te-judging the effectiveness of an undertaken task or project. *I can't help it. With you, it's like talking to a wall. Dense.*

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    I'm disturbed by the fact that an education is something you buy in the United States.
    asd

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    Quote Originally Posted by heath View Post
    I'm disturbed by the fact that an education is something you buy in the United States.
    me too
    Education should be free so that people can concentrate on their tallent and not feel stressed by finances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heath View Post
    I'm disturbed by the fact that an education is something you buy in the United States.
    I'm disturbed by your gross naivety about relying on the government for everything, despite the wealth of historical evidence that suggest this is always a bad idea.

    I'm also disturbed by the fact that you haven't yet drawn the obvious conclusion that the government is the reason education costs so much to begin with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    I'm disturbed by your gross naivety about relying on the government for everything, despite the wealth of historical evidence that suggest this is always a bad idea.

    I'm also disturbed by the fact that you haven't yet drawn the obvious conclusion that the government is the reason education costs so much to begin with.
    1. I have never mentioned anywhere that I would like to rely on the government for everything. No one relies on the government for everything. I don't feel the government is necessarily evil. I'm interested in science, and there is a lot of credible scientific work done by public agencies, or created by public subsidies. for instance, the internet, although it is reasonably argued that the internet has taken its current form from commercialization, however, the government is generally much more willing to invest in unusual or fundamental research, which I appreciate as a person who appreciates knowledge. Fixing the government to your liking is going to help eliminate problems to the same degree letting the government take care of every problem would.

    2. I'm not aware of any education, private or public, in the USA, that isn't outrageously expensive. You'll simply say this is the government's fault. I can certainly see how this is partially the government's fault, but also the fault of major industries conferring with the government to keep people in debt, and thus in this country and working absurdly hard for fear of job loss. Also debt makes really great business. Both parties, government and big business, are against the majority of citizens of the United States.

    cheers if you want to have a non-explosive and non-frustrated conversation about this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by heath View Post
    1. I have never mentioned anywhere that I would like to rely on the government for everything. No one relies on the government for everything. I don't feel the government is necessarily evil. I'm interested in science, and there is a lot of credible scientific work done by public agencies, or created by public subsidies. for instance, the internet, although it is reasonably argued that the internet has taken its current form from commercialization, however, the government is generally much more willing to invest in unusual or fundamental research, which I appreciate as a person who appreciates knowledge. Fixing the government to your liking is going to help eliminate problems to the same degree letting the government take care of every problem would.
    So the government, which shouldn't be relied on for most things, should be relied on to teach us about reality?

    2. I'm not aware of any education, private or public, in the USA, that isn't outrageously expensive. You'll simply say this is the government's fault. I can certainly see how this is partially the government's fault, but also the fault of major industries conferring with the government to keep people in debt, and thus in this country and working absurdly hard for fear of job loss. Also debt makes really great business. Both parties, government and big business, are against the majority of citizens of the United States.

    cheers if you want to have a non-explosive and non-frustrated conversation about this.
    It is the government's fault. Basic common sense reasoning makes this obvious. The government subsidizes tuition and controls the student loan supply. Do the math on how this is the obvious cause of the high price of tuition.

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    Before I studied Peak Oil and alternate energy sources, and the subject of energy in general, I was under the impression that oil would start to run out at some distant date -- say, 2030. Much to my surprise, I learned that most oil-producing nations were already past peak production, that the U.S. peaked in 1970, and that production in the Persian Gulf countries has been flattening out. The Peak Oil community now generally believes peak world oil production/consumption to have occurred in July 2008. I've looked at all the charts and read the reports and find this highly probable.

    When you first learn of Peak Oil, you first imagine that the use of oil will decline just as gradually as oil output increased over the decades. This is not true. There is a key concept central to any energy discussion called "EROEI" (energy return on energy invested). If half of oil production is used to mine the oil itself, then we effectively have only half of the oil available for other uses. Since the dawn of the oil age the EROEI of oil and other fossil fuels has been steadily dropping. At first you could basically just poke the ground, and oil spouted out. Early wells had an EROEI of 100:1. Today's oilfields are less accessible and take more technology to develop. EROEI is around 20:1, and this ratio will drop as we switch to progressively more difficult-to-reach sources.

    At what point is oil extraction too costly to be worth it? Some analysts suggest 10:1 as a minimum EROEI for the maintenance of industrial civilization as we know it.

    The fact is, there will not be a gradual decline in oil usage, but a rather abrupt drop-off as both oil production and EROEI go down. Furthermore, an economy crippled by a lack of energy leads to monetary crisis, which further decreases economic output, and so on.

    Ultraconservatives will tell you that the U.S. has "vast oil shale reserves," as if oil supply were nothing to worry about. The fact is, oil shale is a terrible source with an EROEI of between 1.5:1 and 4:1, and requires vast amounts of water to extract. And wouldn't you know, the U.S. oil shale deposits are right in the mild of an arid zone with very little water (Utah, Wyoming, Colorado). No one in his right mind would develop those deposits. It is just used as a conservative talking point to downplay Peak Oil and related concerns.

    The Athabaska tar sands are also a terrible oil source with a low EROEI of between 5:1 and 6:1. Yet now that's where the U.S. is getting a large portion of its oil. The conservative mantra is that the free market will take care of our energy issues, and that new technologies will be developed as oil prices rise. That's true to some extent, but just how fast can the free market act? Can a man be put on the moon 6 months after the market demands it? Try completely rebuilding national energy and transportation infrastructure in a matter of months or years, and by letting the free market run its course with no political guidance.

    It turns out that, of all available energy sources, fossil fuels have by far the highest EROEI and the largest total supplies. Coal is still at about 50:1, oil near 20:1, and natural gas 10:1. Hydropower is very efficient but comes with environmental costs, and most potential has been developed already. Nuclear is roughly between 5:1 and 8:1. Wind is among the best, at near 18:1. Solar is surprisingly low at 3.75:1 to 10:1. Ethanol and biofuels are usually pathetic, sometimes below 1:1.

    The truth is, many lauded alternative energy source really aren't good for more than small-scale local needs. To maintain current energy usage in an era of diminishing oil supplies would require huge immediate investment in a wide range of alternative energy infrastructure. As the EROEI of fossil fuels is still higher than the alternatives, it isn't happening on its own without government subsidies. Yet if you wait too long to develop things that take years to set up, then the energy might not be ready when the EROEI of oil and/or coal suddenly drops below a threshold level.

    As the EROEI of oil and coal drops, the more pollution is produced (BP spill is a case in point). At some point the ill effects outweigh any benefits gained.

    Finally, to run transportation, you need an extremely dense energy source such as oil. Airplanes cannot realistically run on electricity because no batteries have anything close to the amount of energy storage per unit weight needed to keep a plain in the air for long. When we switch to electric cars (if ever -- I am very skeptical anyone will have the money to buy them), we'll be reliant on elements such as lithium which are going to run out in the not-too-distant future, too. Basically, most current forms of transportation are unsustainable in the long run. The global economy as we know it is reliant upon cheap transportation fuel. Take that away, and 90% of international trade goes "poof."

    To understand more about energy and what options are actually available to us, read Richard Heinberg's report "Searching for a Miracle" (Searching for a Miracle|Richard Heinberg) All his numbers are from industry sources and experts. If you're getting your info from conservative talk show hosts, get ready to hear a ton of B.S.

    So what does this have to do with college debt?

    Basically, any debt is a gamble that in the future you will be able to produce more than you are currently producing. National debt is a gamble on increasing GDP. To increase, GDP requires additional resource inputs or more efficient use of existing inputs. Our economy runs on fossil fuels, which will soon begin to run out, no matter whether we have a Libertarian in office or a Socialist. Our national debt is rising quickly. Hundreds of billions of dollars were thrown at the banking system to keep it alive, and yet economic recovery has not resulted, unemployment is at 10%, and home foreclosures continue. Oil prices plummeted, and that didn't even help.

    What happens when you have a practice of government funding its programs and operations through debt, and the economy stops growing for a long period of time? Default, hyperinflation, or deflation. Each in turn causes a substantial drop in GDP. What goes for nations goes for individual debtors, too. While the Bush and Obama bailout plans shored up the banking system for now, it's still screwed unless GDP growth returns. GDP growth is associated with increased energy consumption. If there is too little energy available, energy prices rise rapidly in response to any sort of economic recovery, and recession resumes. If this happens 2, 3, or 4 times, people and businesses will get the picture and radically change their activities and habits. I wonder what the stock market will look like after that.

    Now look at education. For decades colleges and universities have been adding more and more bells and whistles, more and more infrastructure, and have been raising the cost of education in relative as well as absolute terms. You used to be able to go into just a little debt to attend college. Now it's tens of thousands of dollars. Who's benifiting? Of course, the colleges. There is a vast PR and conventional wisdom machine telling you to go to college and not fear taking on student debt, and for a long time it worked, but as soon as growth ends, people with debts are screwed, unless government steps in and declares a general debt amnesty. I wouldn't count on it.

    Think about where your tuition money is actually going. What percentage goes to pay your professors? Do people realize they're paying for air conditioning, building construction and maintenance, landscape architecture, administrative staff, cultural events, and a million other things? All the while you are told, "college debt is good debt. It is an investment in your future. It's worth a million dollars." (actually, more like $500,000, for past graduates).

    Basically, college students are going to wake up one day and realize they are up to their eyeballs in debt in a failing economy with no job prospects because all the things they studied to become are currently not in demand because they are all linked to the fossil-fuel based economy, which will be abandoned or at least vastly downgraded.

    If you ask what would I do, I would take a serious look at your situation and make every possible effort to avoid taking on debt. I would develop skills and contacts and assets that would put me in a better position to weather a long-term economic downturn with all of its new opportunities as well as mass disillusionment. I would not place my bets on an economic recovery. We had cheap fossil fuels (free energy) to pull us out of the Great Depression. Before that we essentially lived in a traditional, low-energy society. Now we have built up an incredibly energy-intensive society and will soon have no more cheap energy left.
    It is easier for the eye of a camel to pass through a rich man than for a needle to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    So the government, which shouldn't be relied on for most things, should be relied on to teach us about reality?

    It is the government's fault. Basic common sense reasoning makes this obvious. The government subsidizes tuition and controls the student loan supply. Do the math on how this is the obvious cause of the high price of tuition.
    Sometimes I wonder, Discojoe, which power structure you propose putting in place of government. Big business? Shell, Mobil, Walmart, Apple, Microsoft? As if these entities actually have anyone's interests in mind but their own. Government sucks, but it is the only body that can regulate public life. You can have small government in a small society with localized economic activity. Increase economic interaction between regions, and bigger government is inevitable. You cannot have business structures that are bigger and more powerful than government itself, otherwise you end up with a form of commercial dictatorship -- a far cry from a free market.

    The only reason market capitalism has worked as well as you say it has is because of cheap fossil fuels. The Soviet Union's command economy was also working well enough until 1989. Hardly anyone was seriously predicting its demise. The problems we're in now have to do with a paradigm of endless growth and of resource exploitation. This mindset is not intrinsic to any political-economic system. The Soviets also had it.

    It really doesn't matter a hell of a lot what political system is in place, as long as resources are managed well and not squandered. With fossil fuels, we have not done this and have been living in denial for 100 years. We've deluded ourselves into thinking that as long as a free market is in place, all is well. The fact is, we've mismanaged our resources no worse than the Soviets.
    It is easier for the eye of a camel to pass through a rich man than for a needle to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maritsa33 View Post
    Te-judging the effectiveness of an undertaken task or project. *I can't help it. With you, it's like talking to a wall. Dense.*
    Yeah. Discojoe is the best example of an LSE on here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    So the government, which shouldn't be relied on for most things, should be relied on to teach us about reality?


    It is the government's fault. Basic common sense reasoning makes this obvious. The government subsidizes tuition and controls the student loan supply. Do the math on how this is the obvious cause of the high price of tuition.
    1. No. I think the current academic political atmosphere is very stifled to opinions on the left and right. However, in less politicized subjects, the government is capable of doing the same job as anyone else. I don't feel like at any time in my science education has government intervened and said, "hey don't teach him about such and such physics, it's too powerful." You think the world runs on ideology and economics alone? In an extremely technocratic society someone has to develop the technology, and it is not the person who makes the decision(administration, generally containing the ideology), but the person who does the work(scientist) that is most important. I don't mix up chemicals and go, okay, this is the anti-capitalist mixture, and science education is generally very depoliticized. I can guarantee you that if you take a minerals/geology class you'll learn about every method currently in use in finding natural resource deposits on the globe, but you will not be taught about peak oil, war efforts for oil, etc or anything other political issues surrounding natural resources.

    2. But why does the government do this? It seems to me they are doing it for the reason they do everything else-- to support large corporate interests here and abroad. The education system definitely also helps with the process of indoctrination, but I believe the indoctrination also suits business interests as i remember hearing about the great businessmen and government officials who made this country possible in public education.
    asd

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    Quote Originally Posted by LokiVanguard View Post
    The trends i'm seeing in my line of work are demand for experience that not only cannot easily be learned from a book, but also cannot easily be applied when you're halfway across the world. This goes for sys/net/db admins, security gurus... not so much for programmers, however.
    Trend-wise, would you also say programming seems more promising and reliable than networking?
    Last edited by Park; 07-18-2010 at 04:24 AM.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Here's a simple solution. Stop requiring degrees for so many jobs. Some of the necessary skills can self-taught or at least learned outside an educational institution. As long as the person has the necessary skills and demonstrated competence that's more important than any degree and think of all the money people could save.

    Of course that's going to be too radical for some.
    LII-Ne with strong EII tendencies, 6w7-9w1-3w4 so/sp/sx, INxP



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    Quote Originally Posted by warrior-librarian View Post
    Here's a simple solution. Stop requiring degrees for so many jobs. Some of the necessary skills can self-taught or at least learned outside an educational institution. As long as the person has the necessary skills and demonstrated competence that's more important than any degree and think of all the money people could save.

    Of course that's going to be too radical for some.
    Not saying we've had something better, but capitalism has turned out to be total fail. And people are too change-o-phobic and unwilling to make progress.
    Last edited by Park; 07-18-2010 at 04:48 AM.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fdg
    Anyway, from my perspective, US-UK style college debt looks like a massively irrational decision. My personal opinion is that this kind of system should encourage a stronger selection among college students, namely only rich people and those who manage to obtain a scholarship should actually go to college. A loan is an extremely risky choice.
    My professor this semester told us that YOU should never take loans out for college unless it's for a master degree. he end up still paying for school loans and I would say he is in his late 50's. The problem is that 18 years old doesn't know how to handle money in this magnitude. They think that they will never get a job because they started off in a public college/community college which is cheaper. and this is not true. It doesn't make sense to me to take out money to fulfill per-requisite that you can take in public college, and ONLY take out money if you are accepted to a professional phase of a program.
    (D)IEE~FI-(C)SLE~Ni E-5w4(Sp/Sx)/7w8(So/Sp)/9w1(sp/sx)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jarno View Post
    1)
    A girl who I want to date, asks me: well first tell me how tall you are?
    My reply: well I will answer that, if you first tell me how much you weigh!

    2)
    A girl I was dating said she was oh so great at sex etc, but she didn't do blowjobs.
    My reply: Oh I'm really romantic etc, I just will never take you out to dinner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 07490 View Post
    My professor this semester told us that YOU should never take loans out for college unless it's for a master degree. he end up still paying for school loans and I would say he is in his late 50's. The problem is that 18 years old doesn't know how to handle money in this magnitude. They think that they will never get a job because they started off in a public college/community college which is cheaper. and this is not true. It doesn't make sense to me to take out money to fulfill per-requisite that you can take in public college, and ONLY take out money if you are accepted to a professional phase of a program.
    Then how will they go to school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maritsa33 View Post
    Then how will they go to school?
    By car or bus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    So the government, which shouldn't be relied on for most things, should be relied on to teach us about reality?



    It is the government's fault. Basic common sense reasoning makes this obvious. The government subsidizes tuition and controls the student loan supply. Do the math on how this is the obvious cause of the high price of tuition.
    This is understanding Ti (using Te to look at and understand the system), not using Ti to make a new system, because nowhere on here do you say that "the new system, or another system..." In fact, all you do is describe how it works, which is Te.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    I was going to start here with an exposition on the subject of Peak Oil and its implications, but I fear the subject has been belabored on the web. I think everyone knows what's going on by this point. Only the government keeps quiet on the subject.
    I know a little bit about peak oil. I don't get too much into it because:

    1.) I am not a geologist

    2.) I have also heard rumors to the contrary with regard to how much natural resources there actually is.

    3.) There is only so much that you can prepare yourself for. I have been prepared for an economic collapse and a subsequent crime wave already except for buying property out in the country (which I am an idiot for not doing).

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    (For those who yet remain in the dark, cheap oil -- and other resources -- are running out, driving up the cost of everything and leading to what will be a permanent decline in economic production; the end of economic growth means eventual monetary crisis in every country with substantial national debt; monetary crisis means economic depression)
    A lack of natural resources is not the cause of the current economic problems. That is another subject in itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    My question is, how can people justify taking on any additional loans, including student loans, at this point in time? I recently learned that you can't just "default" on student loans and may be in debt slavery for decades to come, as well as family members who may have undersigned the loans.
    The whole college deal is a scam that is in part promoted by corporations and banks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Does anybody honestly think the economy is going to "get better" and everyone will be able to get jobs again?
    No, not any time soon. I predict that there will be a whole crisis and depression in the west that will cause upheaval. In the east, there will be economic depression, but I actually do not think you will suffer a whole political realignment from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    How many recent graduates cannot find any job or are working at Starbucks for $8/hr. with no prospects for a higher paying job?
    Many; I don't know the numbers exactly. I know of people who have graduated college here in the USA and make less money than I do (I am a "blue collar" worker).

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    How can one justify going into debt to pay for schooling that will not provide a return on investment?
    It is not justifiable

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Do people realize what the risks of taking on college debt are?
    some do and some do not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    How can someone justify paying $20,000 a year to learn stuff you can learn for free from books, with the result of being miserable for years to come?
    No, logically speaking it is not justifiable.

    ...


    The reason people go to college is this:

    1.) Because it is assumed that it is the safe way to go.

    2.) The baby boom generation in America thinks it will be the only way to get a "good" job.

    3.) People think they are actually going to make a lot of money once they graduate from college because historically that was the case. This is because there were no "arts" degrees, these were people who went to college to study medicine, engineering, etc. colleges came up with the idea of the liberal arts degree because colleges became big business in the last few decades and decided on how to keep students from dropping out so revenues would stay up.

    4.) Some people who go to college have this belief that they are going to make these connections into some industry world or some other elitist group of people, and then become famous overnight.

    5.) The reason (I think) women often go to college is because they think they are going to become that "strong career woman," or meet her future lawyer husband (or doctor, or whatever).

    6.) Some people legitimately do want to be an engineer, doctor, lawyer, etc. etc. etc. which is what college is for.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
    --Theodore Roosevelt

    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    "Man who stand on hill with mouth open will wait long time for roast duck to drop in."
    -- Confucius

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Sometimes I wonder, Discojoe, which power structure you propose putting in place of government. Big business? Shell, Mobil, Walmart, Apple, Microsoft? As if these entities actually have anyone's interests in mind but their own. Government sucks, but it is the only body that can regulate public life. You can have small government in a small society with localized economic activity. Increase economic interaction between regions, and bigger government is inevitable. You cannot have business structures that are bigger and more powerful than government itself, otherwise you end up with a form of commercial dictatorship -- a far cry from a free market.
    People regulate their own life by choosing from whom to buy, we don't need anyone to regulate public life.

    The only reason market capitalism has worked as well as you say it has is because of cheap fossil fuels.
    Even if fossil fuels never existed, the free market would have done a much more efficient job at allocating resources in whatever system existed in their place.

    The Soviet Union's command economy was also working well enough until 1989. Hardly anyone was seriously predicting its demise. The problems we're in now have to do with a paradigm of endless growth and of resource exploitation. This mindset is not intrinsic to any political-economic system. The Soviets also had it.
    Utter fucking nonsense Rick. First of all, the USSR was NOT working "well" by any stretch of the imagination. People were miserable and lived shitty lives. I don't even need to elaborate on this.

    The problems we're in have to do with central banks fucking with interest rates. Period.

    It really doesn't matter a hell of a lot what political system is in place, as long as resources are managed well and not squandered. With fossil fuels, we have not done this and have been living in denial for 100 years. We've deluded ourselves into thinking that as long as a free market is in place, all is well. The fact is, we've mismanaged our resources no worse than the Soviets.
    Except many political systems FUCK WITH RESOURCES and don't use them efficiently AT ALL. THAT'S THE POINT.

    The point is that, no matter what kind of resource situation we're in, the free market has the ability to allocate said resources much better than any other system. This has always been true, much longer than we've been using oil. Nothing about the existence of fossil fuels disproves anything about the free market. The Wealth of Nations focuses on records from long before oil became the backbone of the economy, and you can see from these records that the free market works better than command economies even when oil isn't in the picture.

    Quote Originally Posted by heath View Post
    1. No. I think the current academic political atmosphere is very stifled to opinions on the left and right. However, in less politicized subjects, the government is capable of doing the same job as anyone else. I don't feel like at any time in my science education has government intervened and said, "hey don't teach him about such and such physics, it's too powerful." You think the world runs on ideology and economics alone? In an extremely technocratic society someone has to develop the technology, and it is not the person who makes the decision(administration, generally containing the ideology), but the person who does the work(scientist) that is most important. I don't mix up chemicals and go, okay, this is the anti-capitalist mixture, and science education is generally very depoliticized. I can guarantee you that if you take a minerals/geology class you'll learn about every method currently in use in finding natural resource deposits on the globe, but you will not be taught about peak oil, war efforts for oil, etc or anything other political issues surrounding natural resources.
    My concern has to do with subtle misinformation found in textbooks and in the fact that teachers, who practically cannot be fired thanks to the government, often have left-leaning viewpoints that seep into the classroom.

    2. But why does the government do this? It seems to me they are doing it for the reason they do everything else-- to support large corporate interests here and abroad. The education system definitely also helps with the process of indoctrination, but I believe the indoctrination also suits business interests as i remember hearing about the great businessmen and government officials who made this country possible in public education.
    The government does it because politicians get votes by promising school tuition. It's an old favorite. It boils down to us getting screwed so that some bureaucrat can get reelected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Sometimes I wonder, Discojoe, which power structure you propose putting in place of government. Big business? Shell, Mobil, Walmart, Apple, Microsoft? As if these entities actually have anyone's interests in mind but their own. Government sucks, but it is the only body that can regulate public life. You can have small government in a small society with localized economic activity. Increase economic interaction between regions, and bigger government is inevitable. You cannot have business structures that are bigger and more powerful than government itself, otherwise you end up with a form of commercial dictatorship -- a far cry from a free market.
    What you call commercial dictatorship I call corporatism, which is not the same as capitalism. Walmart is not free market, and Shell, Mobil, and Microsoft I would be suspicious of. In a truly free market system, businesses would have to have some interest in their customers if they want to stay in business.

    What extent does public life need to be regulated?

    The root reason for some globalist corporations to become more powerful than governments (in some areas) are, in short, the central banks. It is a long story, but central banks manipulate the money supply, which cause business cycles that empowers governments and certain corporations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    The only reason market capitalism has worked as well as you say it has is because of cheap fossil fuels.
    This is partially true. Jared Diamond talks and writes about this, any society works better if resources are abundant. Capitalism allows people to use resources most efficiently assuming all other factors are equal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    The Soviet Union's command economy was also working well enough until 1989. Hardly anyone was seriously predicting its demise.
    *The Soviet Union did collapse*

    I do not remember much before 1989. Rick, I am sure you have more knowledge on the Soviet Union than I do. When you talk about no one predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union, are you talking about within the Soviet Union? Or are you talking about worldwide? Obviously people within the Soviet Union were not likely to have predicted the collapse because they lacked reference outside of that system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    The problems we're in now have to do with a paradigm of endless growth and of resource exploitation. This mindset is not intrinsic to any political-economic system. The Soviets also had it.
    Are you talking about economic problems? If so, this is false.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    The fact is, we've mismanaged our resources no worse than the Soviets.
    How can that possibly be?
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
    --Theodore Roosevelt

    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    -- Mark Twain

    "Man who stand on hill with mouth open will wait long time for roast duck to drop in."
    -- Confucius

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    Quote Originally Posted by LokiVanguard View Post
    More promising as in better paid, or more jobs available in the future?

    For someone like me, I can't do programming 8 hours a day so it's not really an option. For more openings, programming beats it hands down, but a lot of these jobs tend to be mind numbing business database frontend programs. ugh!
    Yeah, I'm finding programming to be a bit dull and tedious at times. Just, too much ...
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbean View Post
    The reason people go to college is this:

    1.) Because it is assumed that it is the safe way to go.

    2.) The baby boom generation in America thinks it will be the only way to get a "good" job.

    3.) People think they are actually going to make a lot of money once they graduate from college because historically that was the case. This is because there were no "arts" degrees, these were people who went to college to study medicine, engineering, etc. colleges came up with the idea of the liberal arts degree because colleges became big business in the last few decades and decided on how to keep students from dropping out so revenues would stay up.

    4.) Some people who go to college have this belief that they are going to make these connections into some industry world or some other elitist group of people, and then become famous overnight.

    5.) The reason (I think) women often go to college is because they think they are going to become that "strong career woman," or meet her future lawyer husband (or doctor, or whatever).

    6.) Some people legitimately do want to be an engineer, doctor, lawyer, etc. etc. etc. which is what college is for.
    7) Their expensive liberal highschool education encourages them to go to University. (Though to be fair most of the people I know from my expensive liberal high school are going into, as you say, medicine, law, psychiatry, dentistry, etc; meanwhile I'm probably going to wind up in a dead-end white collar job with some government department, and that's truthfully the extent of my aspirations in life.)

    8) They lack the confidence or discipline (or both) to educate themselves.

    9) They've been raised on the belief that "you graduate from University and get a job" since they were little.

    ^^What applies to me personally, others may be the same^^

    But long story short, Rick, there are plenty of compelling "irrational" reasons to go through University. Understand that they're compelling quite apart from how illogical they seem. Most people are not logical or rational.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbean View Post
    What extent does public life need to be regulated?
    I mostly agree with your points, Jimbean.

    Let me give some examples of what happens when public life is not regulated, or regulations are not enforced.

    1) At a traffic intersection it is in each driver's personal interests to proceed as far forward through the intersection as possible before stopping, even if it obstructs other traffic trying to move in the other direction. If there is not a rule that you may not stop in the middle of an intersection, then people will do what is in their own interests to the detriment of the overall good. Institute a rule (and traffic laws in the first place), and people are on the average safer and move more quickly than without them. Who can establish these rules but government?

    2) Only government can decide which natural resources may be exploited and which may not. Simply parcelling the land into private property and letting the market take care of it is no solution. Individuals will tend to take care of their individual parcels which they depend on for sustenance (if they are growing their own food), but commercial entities extracting minerals and raw goods do not tend to take care of all aspects of an environment's health unless they are monitored and restricted by the government. Furthermore, they may find it in their interests to overexploit a resource as quickly as possible to gain a market edge and squash competitors, and then start taking better care of things.

    In my opinion, land that is unsuitable for continual human habitation and subsistence farming should not be private property. There is no reason for it to be.

    I happen to live right next to an enormous forest right outside of Kiev. It exists only because the city established limits to development and decided that some things would not be for sale. If local government did not take on this role, there would be no community areas, no community resources, just a wasteland of private property like most U.S. urban areas. When all land is private, people may only congregate in their own homes or in commercial centers. The Europeans recognize the social and cultural benefits of having public areas that are not for sale.

    >>> Originally Posted by Rick
    The problems we're in now have to do with a paradigm of endless growth and of resource exploitation. This mindset is not intrinsic to any political-economic system. The Soviets also had it.

    What I meant by this is that our long-term problems come from seeking temporary monetary gain rather than the long-term welfare of our society. For instance, we built our entire modern housing and transportation infrastructure around nonrenewable resources. Now how stupid is that? We did it because it made good mid-term financial sense to do so. And yet take away the oil and coal, and almost everything we have built since WWII is utterly worthless. In fact, it's now a liability because as a society we have lost the skills essential to survival and prosperity in a normal, non-fossil-fuel world.

    Obviously, business interests could not have stopped this exploitation and redesign of American life, since this served their interests. No one but government could have done it, but instead government got in bed with big business to finance their election campaigns and win votes, and for decades now we have been ruled by corporate, money-making interests instead of the common good. Now, we're screwed, taking out more and more loans to pay for infrastructure that is unsustainable. This will catch up to us in the form of monetary collapse and a 50% drop in GDP such as in the former USSR.

    The reasons the Soviets essentially acted the same are different. Part is that they were competing with the West for technological and military progress. Part is that they needed hard currency to service their foreign debt, and what they sold to the West was oil and other raw materials (as I understand). Part was that the bureaucratic system simply received directives from above, and no one was rewarded for taking good care of resources, and no one had any personal responsibility for the result. Also, the press could easily be manipulated to hide party errors.

    Nonetheless, after Stalin the Soviets did not live horribly, and many old-timers to this day regret the collapse of the USSR. Anyone under 40 generally does not.

    Some things the Soviets did actually turned out to be very wise when the country collapsed. For one, almost every family had received a dacha that they used to grow food and could flee to from the city if necessary. Second, the Soviets built urban areas around public transportation which continued to operate during the collapse. Their housing and transportation infrastructure was far less energy-intensive than the U.S.'s.

    Discojoe: "People regulate their own life by choosing from whom to buy, we don't need anyone to regulate public life."

    We need laws and law enforcement. We need national protection. We need national-level resource management.

    Furthermore, I am of a lower opinion of people's ability to make free rational choices. Commercial entities are quite good these days of creating addictive products and advertising messages that feed on people's weaknesses. Big business also tries to influence the type of infrastructure people use in order to make it impossible not to use their products. That is how we ended up living in a society where you can hardly get by without a car and where the rights and interests of pedestrians are totally compromised. That's how we ended up all fat and sedentary and prediabetic. Because it's in the monetary interests of the commercial entities that control American public life, and because government is deeply in bed with these interests.
    It is easier for the eye of a camel to pass through a rich man than for a needle to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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    Side Note:I've always wanted to write an article discussing the historical basis for why our generation "needs a degree" to get a job. It's not because we actually do, but because of the post-WWII atmosphere where having a degree almost guaranteed you a job. Within a generation the economic promise of the university degree has triggered a massive overstock in people with university educations. As a by-product, having a degree has become an essential qualification to get teh average job.

    What also doesn't help recent university grads with respect to finding jobs is less about a recession and more to do with an overlap between a relatively large late-80s generation and a huge chunk of baby-boomers who can't or won't retire. That's putting a lot of strain on the job market.

    All of this said, it sucks to be an American trying to get quality university education. The expense is just insane. I'm whining right now because I might have to take out a student line of credit to afford my Bachelor's of Education (a professional degree that I take after my first degree is finished). Not to mention the government in my province will give you loans to cover as much as they think you'll need help covering based on how much you make in a year and what you get for scholarships, but they only ever make you pay back a maximum of 7500/year. Tuition for my first degree was between 4-5000. This year I'm whining because it's 6500
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    What I meant by this is that our long-term problems come from seeking temporary monetary gain rather than the long-term welfare of our society.
    It's physically impossible to take this process too far, because:
    1) it would require an extremely high level of central planning, which would in turn require an extremely stable political environment (decades). That's something I believe could change, though.
    2) on the very long run, the universe is going to entropically die. If our scientist try to push the limit of their future-orientedness, the most likely philosophical result is nihilism. I have discussed this problem at length with a physicist friend of mine, and it seems to be much deeper than any other. There's one way out: either we understand how to terraform other planets (mid-term way out), or we understand how to reach alternative universes - if there are any (long-term way out).

    So, I personally think the "best" solution is a smooth transition from least to most renewable resources. You should remember how, two centuries ago, we weren't even able to control electricity . We can't be too demanding towards our own species - we're humans, we need to be somewhat short-sighted, otherwise we might go insane (obsession about the heat-death of our universe is said to be one of the main reasons behind Ludwig Boltzmann's suicide). I personally believe your economic and scientific analysis of peak oil and related subjects (growth, or lack of it) is a little bit superficial and slightly too emotional.
    The collapse of any communist system had been predicted as far as 1920, from Ludwig Von Mises, in his famous article ""Die Wirtschaftsrechnung im sozialistischen Gemeinwesen", where he mathematically proves how economic calculation (thus, pricing of any object) is impossible in a communist system. Bear in mind that I'm not even a fan of the Austrian School, but that's something that cannot be ignored.
    Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG
    It seems nonsensical, since firms (so, let's not talk about "big banks") were mostly damaged by a credit freeze, because banks didn't know if other banks had toxic assets in their balance sheet (thus, they didn't want to give each other loans, thus banks had to store high levels of "pure liquidity"). If oil prices were the cause, it would have been a demand-led crisis (prices would have shot up excessively, people wouldn't have had enough money to buy as much as before, etc. etc.).

    Anyway, from my perspective, US-UK style college debt looks like a massively irrational decision. My personal opinion is that this kind of system should encourage a stronger selection among college students, namely only rich people and those who manage to obtain a scholarship should actually go to college. A loan is an extremely risky choice.
    There was a steep rise in the prices of a great deal of commodities beside oil, and the fact that subprime mortgages started getting defaulted on was initially the result of financial trouble on the part of individuals, possibly brought about by said rise in prices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Let me give some examples of what happens when public life is not regulated, or regulations are not enforced.

    1) At a traffic intersection it is in each driver's personal interests to proceed as far forward through the intersection as possible before stopping, even if it obstructs other traffic trying to move in the other direction. If there is not a rule that you may not stop in the middle of an intersection, then people will do what is in their own interests to the detriment of the overall good. Institute a rule (and traffic laws in the first place), and people are on the average safer and move more quickly than without them. Who can establish these rules but government?
    Okay fine. This is an area that local governments can agree on, or have own set of laws.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    2) Only government can decide which natural resources may be exploited and which may not.
    The more a government does this, the less likely that I will be investing in that country.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Simply parcelling the land into private property and letting the market take care of it is no solution. Individuals will tend to take care of their individual parcels which they depend on for sustenance (if they are growing their own food), but commercial entities extracting minerals and raw goods do not tend to take care of all aspects of an environment's health unless they are monitored and restricted by the government.
    Unless the said corporation owns the new media in some way (which with the internet is no longer the case), the corporation would be liable if it knowingly caused property damage to another. Case in point: without government involvement, British Petroleum is going to be liable for the property damage and in some cases the lost opportunity costs that incurred along parts of the Gulf Coast. Because of its losses, there are rumors that BP will have to file for bankruptcy. That sends a message to the industry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Furthermore, they may find it in their interests to overexploit a resource as quickly as possible to gain a market edge and squash competitors, and then start taking better care of things.
    You are speaking to the point that resources are finite. I cannot answer to this, except for the fact that the price sets an equilibrium; in theory, people will adjust accordingly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    In my opinion, land that is unsuitable for continual human habitation and subsistence farming should not be private property. There is no reason for it to be.
    I disagree. Just because the land is not good for agriculture does not mean that it is worthless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    I happen to live right next to an enormous forest right outside of Kiev. It exists only because the city established limits to development and decided that some things would not be for sale. If local government did not take on this role, there would be no community areas, no community resources, just a wasteland of private property like most U.S. urban areas. When all land is private, people may only congregate in their own homes or in commercial centers. The Europeans recognize the social and cultural benefits of having public areas that are not for sale.
    I think I understand what you are saying; I have not been to Europe though. Here in the United States, urban development was sold in the way you see it as part of the "American dream." This is obviously very inefficient and wasteful. Furthermore it is also the reason why Americans use so much oil; I have to drive at least four miles to get anywhere I need to go on a daily basis. This is another subject in itself, but I don't think what you propose is the answer here at least in the USA.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    >>> Originally Posted by Rick
    The problems we're in now have to do with a paradigm of endless growth and of resource exploitation. This mindset is not intrinsic to any political-economic system. The Soviets also had it.

    What I meant by this is that our long-term problems come from seeking temporary monetary gain rather than the long-term welfare of our society. For instance, we built our entire modern housing and transportation infrastructure around nonrenewable resources. Now how stupid is that? We did it because it made good mid-term financial sense to do so. And yet take away the oil and coal, and almost everything we have built since WWII is utterly worthless. In fact, it's now a liability because as a society we have lost the skills essential to survival and prosperity in a normal, non-fossil-fuel world.
    Again this is dealing with the fact that resources are finite. How finite? I don't know. However, for instance, do you folks in Ukraine have the ability and feasibility to drill for oil from the black sea? If not, then what are the costs to Ukrainians to import some or all of the oil they need? Is is worth the costs to operate your transportation infrastructure built from the Soviet era? If some of your Soviet infrastructure is decaying, then it is probably an indication that the free market would not have permitted for it to be built in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Obviously, business interests could not have stopped this exploitation and redesign of American life, since this served their interests. No one but government could have done it, but instead government got in bed with big business to finance their election campaigns and win votes, and for decades now we have been ruled by corporate, money-making interests instead of the common good. Now, we're screwed, taking out more and more loans to pay for infrastructure that is unsustainable. This will catch up to us in the form of monetary collapse and a 50% drop in GDP such as in the former USSR.
    It was not entirely free market interests that happen that way here in America. Another thread can be made on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Nonetheless, after Stalin the Soviets did not live horribly, and many old-timers to this day regret the collapse of the USSR. Anyone under 40 generally does not.
    I am assuming this has to do with the culture and what the older generations had gotten used to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Furthermore, I am of a lower opinion of people's ability to make free rational choices. Commercial entities are quite good these days of creating addictive products and advertising messages that feed on people's weaknesses. Big business also tries to influence the type of infrastructure people use in order to make it impossible not to use their products. That is how we ended up living in a society where you can hardly get by without a car and where the rights and interests of pedestrians are totally compromised. That's how we ended up all fat and sedentary and prediabetic. Because it's in the monetary interests of the commercial entities that control American public life, and because government is deeply in bed with these interests.
    Get rid of the Central bank and the people who run them, separate corporations from governments by limiting the government so much that the corporations have no incentive to gain influence in government.

    Regardless of how people make decisions, ultimately they are responsible for them.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
    --Theodore Roosevelt

    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    Glorious Member mu4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    It's physically impossible to take this process too far, because:
    1) it would require an extremely high level of central planning, which would in turn require an extremely stable political environment (decades). That's something I believe could change, though.
    2) on the very long run, the universe is going to entropically die. If our scientist try to push the limit of their future-orientedness, the most likely philosophical result is nihilism. I have discussed this problem at length with a physicist friend of mine, and it seems to be much deeper than any other. There's one way out: either we understand how to terraform other planets (mid-term way out), or we understand how to reach alternative universes - if there are any (long-term way out).

    So, I personally think the "best" solution is a smooth transition from least to most renewable resources. You should remember how, two centuries ago, we weren't even able to control electricity . We can't be too demanding towards our own species - we're humans, we need to be somewhat short-sighted, otherwise we might go insane (obsession about the heat-death of our universe is said to be one of the main reasons behind Ludwig Boltzmann's suicide). I personally believe your economic and scientific analysis of peak oil and related subjects (growth, or lack of it) is a little bit superficial and slightly too emotional.
    The collapse of any communist system had been predicted as far as 1920, from Ludwig Von Mises, in his famous article ""Die Wirtschaftsrechnung im sozialistischen Gemeinwesen", where he mathematically proves how economic calculation (thus, pricing of any object) is impossible in a communist system. Bear in mind that I'm not even a fan of the Austrian School, but that's something that cannot be ignored.
    I pretty much agree. I think global warming/peak oil are problems and can happen, but on a much bigger time scale with less damages(relative, there is also more willingness to pay a cost in enviroment and human lives).

    I think there West is that there is a demand of near-term, short-term political rhetoric that isn't there in other places like China, where they think similarly about these issues, especially when there are more pressing short-term issues for them to worry about.

    However, there will be great benefit in the technological innovation that will come from research and development. As a whole as long as the researchers are doing science and the engineers and doing engineering, I have no problems with what they're doing. I much rather funding go there then many other industries, such as the current military conflicts, faith based initiative.

    I need to study the economic calculation problem more, but I think the thing about economies, big enough entities seek to manipulate prices when they can. So given unrestricted economic freedom to any organization large and small, they will seek to manipulate prices which ends a free market.

    Anyways, I've been studying large cluster AI networks and things like this and it's impossible to create a coherent system without some level of centralized supervisor process, but it's impossible to create a high performance system that takes advantage of the full range of resources without decentralizing many processes. I don't trust anyone that advocates central planning heavily or decentralization heavily without going into the mechanism, at least conceptually.

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    Rick's argument is basically: "Here's some stuff in society that I think is immoral, and here's my totally unrealistic plan to fix it. Also, here's a bunch of hackneyed justifications that disprove 200 years of basic economic laws as long as you don't subject them to any close scrutiny and pick apart the cherry picked information that I back them up with."

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    Quote Originally Posted by LokiVanguard View Post
    My old school costs:

    BERKLEE | Tuition and Related Costs

    On-Campus: ~ $55,124
    Off-Campus: ~ $39,294
    Last edited by Park; 07-20-2010 at 12:00 PM.
    “Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilly
    You've done yourself a huge favor developmentally by mustering the balls to do something really fucking scary... in about the most vulnerable situation possible.

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    Myyyy god thats a lot of money
    Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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    *huggles her government-subsidized-not-god-awful tuition*

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    Very busy with work. Only kind of around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by discojoe View Post
    Rick's argument is basically: "Here's some stuff in society that I think is immoral, and here's my totally unrealistic plan to fix it. Also, here's a bunch of hackneyed justifications that disprove 200 years of basic economic laws as long as you don't subject them to any close scrutiny and pick apart the cherry picked information that I back them up with."
    I haven't actually suggested plans to fix things. I think you're referring to my comments on free markets, which are admittedly not the best informed, but are basically peripheral to the discussion of the worthwhileness of college and possible consequences of Peak Oil. In any case, I think faith in free markets' ability to solve any problem is extremely naive.

    It is well known that one of the basic problems of economic theory is its failure to include the cost of resource maintenance in price calculations. In other words, the cost of mitigating environmental degradation caused by the harvesting of a resource is usually not included in the price paid by consumers. For instance, if you buy crops grown in a monoculture using modern equipment and fertilizers, the price may be artificially lower than the price of crops grown sustainably in a sustainable agricultural system. However, the modern system is unsustainable and causes pollution of waterways outside the farm property due to nitrate runoff, soil depletion and loss of organic matter, and also involves the release of many more tons of CO2 into the atmosphere as a result of using fossil fuels in production, fertilization, and transportation, and also because of the loss of organic matter in soil. None of these costs are likely included in the cost paid by consumers. Therefore, to say that "the market will take care of it" is simply false because the price does not cover these associated costs.

    As to whether or not the problems I talked about can be fixed, I personally don't think college in the U.S. can be made much less expensive without the university system collapsing. I don't think American society can be made less energy-intensive without the monetary system collapsing. I don't think the basic principles of governance in the U.S. can be changed without the government collapsing. I don't believe that complex societal systems can easily self-simplify. This is compounded by the practice of taking on debt, which reduces a system's flexibility. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic, but this is also the view of Joseph Tainter, a historian and anthropologist who wrote The Collapse of Complex Societies. Individuals, however, can adapt more easily to changing situations than bureaucratic systems.

    FDG: "So, I personally think the "best" solution is a smooth transition from least to most renewable resources."

    I agree, but I am skeptical that the U.S. in particular will take this route, or take it early enough to avoid negative consequences. The time for the beginning of the transition was 1970 when our own oil supply began to go into decline and we started importing more and more oil.

    There are three discussions in this thread. One is on the value of a college education in the current economy, another is on Peak Oil and its probable consequences, and another is on politics and economics.

    My positions on these are:

    1. College in the U.S. has become less and less of a good deal over time and now is looking more and more like a bad deal for many people.

    2. Peak Oil and the depletion of nonrenewable resources in general will have serious economic consequences for which modern developed nations are not yet prepared. There are no technologies or energy sources currently available that could allow the western world (particularly the U.S.) to continue its current economic course unchanged. Without a new source of cheap energy it seems almost inevitable that countries such as the U.S. will become increasingly bogged down in debt, leading to serious fiscal problems and economic decline. Saddled with the costs of maintaining current energy-intensive infrastructure (costly homes, costly transportation, costly education, costly healthcare), individuals also seem to be going further and further into debt.

    My recommendation is for people to reduce their expenses and avoid debt as much as humanly possible rather than take out loans and gamble on the likelihood of future economic growth, which seems increasingly less likely considering the underlying resource issues, such as Peak Oil.

    Climate change could be mentioned here, but it may well be a moot point as the main driver of economic downsizing will probably not be climate mitigation efforts, but scarcity of resources and financial problems.

    3. I don't believe in any particular economic or political system. Ultimately, the best system is whatever lasts longer, just as the best genes are those that are still around 10 or 100 generations later. There is no such thing as a completely free market just as there is no such thing as a completely command economy, and there are good reasons why neither can exist in a pure form. Purists of either extreme I view as naive.
    It is easier for the eye of a camel to pass through a rich man than for a needle to enter the kingdom of heaven.

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    Glorious Member mu4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    3. I don't believe in any particular economic or political system. Ultimately, the best system is whatever lasts longer, just as the best genes are those that are still around 10 or 100 generations later. There is no such thing as a completely free market just as there is no such thing as a completely command economy, and there are good reasons why neither can exist in a pure form. Purists of either extreme I view as naive.
    Longevity isn't the same as quality of life and lasting contribution to humanity and isn't the only measure of success.

    The oldest civilizations in the world such as the Middle East, India and China are all mired in legacy cultural and ethnic issues which have passed thru the various systems and governments that have ruled.

    Ultimately the civilization that have the best methods of modernizing their system either thru reform or revolution have some advantages.

    I don't really put too much stock in longevity, since hundreds of years of stagnation has it's share of problems.
    Last edited by mu4; 07-20-2010 at 04:46 PM.

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