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Monday Sober Thread: Trophies for Everyone!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
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    Recently, the United States dropped to fourth in a study of how competitive various economies are on the world stage. The article cites a massive budget shortfall and public distrust of politicians as causes.

    This study has been widely reported, and I've heard everyone and anyone expounding on their solutions to the problem. One radio commentator said that the best thing we could do would be to lengthen the school year by shortening the summer break for students.

    FOCUS: What should countries do to maintain their competitive edge?

    ALTERNATE FOCUS: A shorter summer break? That's un-possible!

    RULES: As with other Sober Threads, the no-politics rule is suspended in this thread. However, the no-asshole, no trolling, and no name-calling rules still apply.
     
  2. Durbanite

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    Background: I am surprised my shit-hole country is ranked as high as 54th (according to that article) - I'm not surprised it's the "best performer in the region", since its competition is Namibia (over 80% desert), Botswana (again, desert - the Kalahari), Swaziland (despot King Mswati III where over 70% of the population live below the poverty line), Lesotho (no money or resources - S.A. props up their economy, especially through the Highlands Water Project) and Zimbabwe (Mugabe the fuckup). What surprises me about S.A.'s ranking is that they've obviously not taken into account the virtual collapse of the car manufacturing exporting industry - S.A. exports vehicles to many of the world's right-hand drive markets, including Australia. The industry has slumped due to massive strike action due to perceived lack of wages - COSATU (Council Of South African Trade Unions) has fucked the industry by embarking on mass action, since COSATU now made it impossible to compete with other emerging markets due to the excessively high wages being paid to workers compared with other emerging exporting markets. This is a huge problem, since cars are one of S.A.'s biggest exports. There was also a big NUMSA (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa - a COSATU affiliate) strike that went on for several weeks in 2008 - primarily affecting the gold and steel industries, which also hampered the motor industry and affected gold exports.

    Also, there has been a huge (3 week long) public servants strike, again for higher wages - this one is still not completely resolved. These people have been basically looting cities and fucking up anyone who gets in their way.

    FOCUS: S.A. will have no competitive edge in anything within the next 3 to 5 years, due to the trade unions fucking it up for everyone else by demanding a king's ransom for some illiterate asswipe stamping a piece of metal or gluing a piece of vinyl interior to a door. It is NOT the manufacturing companies' problem if you have six kids with AIDS to support - maybe you should consider using a condom or closing your legs. Fuck off.

    ALT. FOCUS: Companies need to start appealing some law changes that govern the power of trade unions - the unions here have FAR too much power. Also, trade unions need to stay the fuck out of politics and stop ramming their communist bullshit down everyone's throats. All those idiots are doing is fucking up the economy for everyone else. Communism DOES NOT WORK, dipshits, because it fails to take into account that every man and woman has different wants and needs. Also, companies need to start hiring core staff who will be allowed to belong to a company-run trade union with representatives appointed by the workers in that company that is NOT affiliated with COSATU, thus starting to break COSATU's stranglehold on the economy, which they achieve through violent manipulation of those workers who don't want to go on strike.

    Fuck COSATU. I hope you die in a fire, Zwelinzima Vavi.
     
  3. RCGT

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    The only reason people aren't more upset about the state of the school system in the US is because it happens to involve children, who have a poor history of making eloquent arguments about their problems. We keep them for 8 hours a day, wake them up at ungodly hours, punish them if they can't sit still, dope them up if they can't focus, and send them home with a boatload of homework and complex projects that teach nothing and inevitably require parental assistance.

    This is relevant.

    edit: embedded



    Edit #2: The greatest strength of the US educational system is that we don't teach by rote, we don't do memorization-and-regurgitation, we don't teach blind facts. Debate it as you will, but the facts are pretty indisputable: compared to the vast majority of developing nations and some developed ones as well, our educational system broadly emphasizes critical thinking, putting one's thoughts into words, and creative solutions to existing problems. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But suggestions to make our education system "more like China's" or "more like India's" is a step in the wrong direction. More standardized testing won't make your smart kids smarter. More times tables won't help them adapt to the technological revolution. That is what we have done best, and that is what we need to continue to do best to stay "on top".
     
    #3 RCGT, Sep 13, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  4. ghettoastronaut

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    But then how will they help till their parents' fields? And also, isn't extending the school year the last thing you want to do when governments are trying to squeeze their budgets? Besides that I fail to see how this will improve American economic competitiveness. Even in the long term.
     
  5. Lasersailor

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    ALT Focus: A wise man once said, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him walk on it." (G. Larson)

    Making a kid go to school for longer or shove more material in front of his face isn't going to make him or her smarter. Nor is our problem uneducated young adults entering the work force or being entrepreneurs.


    The problem with our Competitiveness was correctly listed in the second sentence. Public distrust of politicians. We should distrust politicians. Every single thing that politicians touch turn to rot and decay, and unfortunately for us they have their hands in everything.

    Frankly, we're fucked. You know that the government will never accept a decreasing role in our lives.
     
  6. Frank

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    I don't know what you're smoking, but the government always does a bang up job whenever they take a hold of something. I mean, look at social security, that shit is bullet proof.
     
  7. AbsentMindedProf

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    I don't think making the school year longer would have much of a difference, but I think rearranging the school year so that they don't get all that time off at once could be a good thing. Some of the schools in Reno have a schedule were they're in year round, but have longer spring, fall, christmas breaks with a shorter summer break. The teachers I know at those school seem to think that it works pretty well.

    I also found it interesting that the article talks about how Obama wants to push rebuilding transportation infrastructure. A lot of that was built during the great depression, and has probably exceeded it's intended design life. I don't see it really helping all that much, besides bolstering the construction field. Which will still be in the shitter, because most private development companies still aren't trying to build anything. I think if you want to build infrastructure you should focus on the energy and telecom fields. Maybe we should also start thinking ahead about how renewable energy power can be spread across the country. Most "green" energy sources have to be stuck in remote locations, and we're going to need new tech to efficiently get it to where it needs to go.

    I also think we need to start funding more research in all fields. Innovation is what the American economy used to stand for, and we should strive for that again.
     
  8. Misanthropic

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    Apparently they missed this part - "The article cites a massive budget shortfall and public distrust of politicians as causes."

    When I get a flat tire, I usually respond by cleaning the windshield, or maybe adding a little more oil.


    This is a little broad as a focus goes. If we are discussing a developing country, then education and literacy should be stressed, and corruption reduced, to remove barriers to entrepeneurship and creative thinking. As for the US of A - correct the tolerance for mediocrity that permeates our society. This mentality, typified by tripe such as "Everyone is a winner" and "you are all special", plays to the lowest common denominator. Push kids to excel. Reward them for excellence, and if they suck, tell them so, in way that encourages improvement.
     
  9. Guy Fawkes

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    The country should limit the number of children families are aloud to have as an initial step.

    There's just too many fucking people and those "budget shortfalls" are caused because there are too many people to help and not enough funds to do it with. So everyone suffers.

    If you're on any type of assisted living dole you shouldn't be allowed to have children until you can support them. If the window of your procreative abilities closes before you can have them... tough.

    There were never budget shortages when more people were contributing than taking from the system. The only. ONLY way to get back to that is simple. More people contribute than take. We're a long way away from that happening.

    There are too many systems in place that allow people to coast and push paper (at all levels of education and life in general) get rid of this group of people and we'll be just fine.

    If you haven't read Philalawyers "Fattened Middle" blog post or you disagree with me... go read that first before commenting.
     
  10. MooseKnuckle

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    I'm not sure allowing the government to regulate people's breeding habits would be wise. The better solution would be to vastly reduce the dole in the first place. People can rely on private donations instead of public ones if they're in need of help, and I can decide who I want to be charitable to with my money instead of the government deciding it. These entitlement programs only grow larger and include more and more people, and eventually the politicians can't get elected if they want to fix them (actually pay for them without borrowing/printing money) because nobody wants their programs to be cut. Gosh, how would we ever survive without all the money we get from the government at various stages in our life?! Oh yeah, we've done it for most of our history.

    I'm of the opinion that if we don't get our fiscal policy in order it doesn't matter what else we do. If we don't figure out that one thing, we're completely fucked. One look at the unfunded liabilities that we'll start paying for in the next decade or two is enough to make me think it's too late already. We need major cuts in the size and scope of the federal government, people need to be more self sufficient, and the government needs to get the fuck out of the way and let people figure out how to do that. We're losing our competitive edge because a bloated federal government likes to squander money by promising everyone a bunch of free shit, and pretending like the bad rich people can fund it all. Fuck I'm pissed now.

    And yeah, PL's "fattened middle" article was great. Check that shit out.
     
  11. JoeCanada

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    (Let me just preface this by saying I don't claim to be that knowledgeable about this sort of stuff, but it does interest me, and I want to get smarter.)

    Honestly, it seems to me like there is a very deep rooted problem here. Look around in our (North American) society for the messages being sent to us. Basically, "what is the fastest, cheapest, easiest way to get the job done? (And can I do it from home?)" Whether it be eating, shopping for clothes, getting into a profession, or whatever, it seems like we're always looking for an easier way to do something.

    I'm all for efficiency and working smart, but there's a point where it just becomes laziness.

    Look at me, I'm 23, and grew up in a fairly typical North American upper middle class setting. "You can be whatever you want" was pounded into me from age 3, but "you might have to work your fucking ass off to get there" was not. I'm slowly learning that second lesson after a year of moping around wondering why I hadn't become an astronaut neurosurgeon. I got a university degree, what's going on??

    I guess if I had to propose a solution I would say let's be honest with kids, and reward them when they earn it. Let's not make it seem like a degree is the key to success and happiness, when in fact you can get one by doing next to nothing. If you work hard to get the most out of your education and then work hard on applying that knowledge to a career, then it starts to pay off.

    Basically, if we want to raise a more competitive generation... let's fucking let them know that the world is a competitive place.

    Just my $.02
     
  12. scotchcrotch

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    Extending the school year will do jack shit. Are teachers really struggling to fit the curriculum into the school year?

    It all goes back to parenting, and Americans have gotten fat and lazy. If we can't provide it for ourselves, then our government will provide it. Considering the government is a self-serving entity, they're more than happy to oblige with the backing of tax dollars and growing Big Brother.

    If we really want to keep America on top, we need an outside party to come in and cut the fat. Big time.

    Bring back the gold standard, eliminate the Fed, cut grandfathered programs and restructure current ones to be funded on performance. Stop digging us a deeper deficit.

    Not to say government and oversight doesn't have its role, but it needs to be overhauled and audited on a continual basis.


    I still don't see how special interests are constitutional, another reason government needs a wake up call and needs to report to someone besides themselves.
     
  13. Guy Fawkes

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    The problem with your system is that it simply takes too long.

    Cut back the government dole? Hahaha that'll take a minimum of two decades to actually make happen... all the while the people I'm talking about are increasing the drain. These individuals are also too stupid to understand why they shouldn't have children. In fact private organizations and the government already spend hundreds of millions of dollars talking/teaching about pregnancy prevention... it isn't working.

    The fattened middle isn't just about some group of people collecting close to $100k salaries for doing and contributing nothing. It's about every person that already isn't an American in spirit. America was founded by individuals looking to forge into a frontier and build a better life from scratch. These middling twats would have been left in the wilderness by the wagon train they were slowing down.

    The biggest problem is that we don't leave these burdens behind anymore. We throw them on our shoulders and allow them to continue to suck us dry.

    In fact I'd argue that if government did this and only this we wouldn't need them for much else.
     
  14. Kittie

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    The problem with public education isn't funding, it is where the funding is allocated. All over the country, funds have been cut for the "gifted/talented" programs and funneled to "credit recovery".

    For example, I live in Tennessee. In my county alone, students are not allowed to receive less than 55%. Basically a kid can do nothing, and then take a class called "Credit Recovery" after school and do make up work and receive an A for a class where they slept all semester. I graduated high school in 1995 when there were five advanced placement classes offered. Now, there is ONE.

    Kids aren't taking pride in anything anymore. Not only would I have been beaten for being a lazy jerk for receiving a C, I would have been embarrassed. From what I can see, a lot of parents are not taking responsibility for their children's education. They rely too much on teachers and the school system to be babysitters. Lengthening the school year will only foster this type of environment.
     
  15. ghettoastronaut

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    Question for you economics folks: what do these rankings mean when they say economic competitiveness? Do they mean economic competition within the given country, or a country's collective ability on a world stage to compete economically? Furthermore, what does that even mean - do Sweden and Switzerland have greater buying power, more weight to swing around, etc, than other countries, or does it have to do with stability of banks and corporate growth? And why the apparent contradiction between nanny-state socialist European countries like Sweden being the most competitive countries in the world?
     
  16. dubyu tee eff

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    Ok, I'm sorry, but most of the posts in this thread are pretty idiotic. You guys are all grasping at unbelievably speculative straws. First of all, countries don't compete against each other. A healthy country is one with a robust GDP/capita and economic growth. Generally, economic growth in one country is good for all the countries that trade with it because countries that grow import things. (And even though creates a lot of its growth by means of an undervalued currency which hurts everyone else's exports, there is a strong argument to be made that their growth is still good for the world overall). So what we need is economic growth, how do we do it?

    All this speculative nonsense about education is quite irrelevant to actual solutions. The actual solutions involve a lot of annoying things like a solid background in Macroeconomics, which it is quite evident very few of you have. What might actually work is boring things like improving NGDP expectations, increasing the inflation rate, price level targeting, expanding quantitative easing, and certainly fucking NOT fixing the budget as soon as possible.

    What we need is monetary stimulus. The fiscal stimulus enacted last year's spending boost to the economy has passed and was in many ways undercut by cutbacks at the local and state level of government. Since we are in a liquidity trap conventional monetary policy is ineffective. What I listed above is a short(and very incomplete) list of possible ways around conventional monetary policy. Bernanke is well aware of these unconventional monetary stimulus methods(in fact he did a lot of the groundbreaking research on this during his research career studying the great depression and Japan during the 90's). Unfortunately, the inflation hawks at the Fed are dominating its policy making. They are still under the assumption that large budget deficits lead to inflation which they have been taught must be avoided at all costs. They still believe a double dip can be avoided and a recovery may take hold under the current policy structure.

    This is the outlook based on conventional economics. There are many competing arguments such as the recalculationists. I won't bother explaining all this since I would end up writing a book. But you've got to at least learn the conventional framework behind these recommendations before making policy judgments, especially unconventional ones.

    Unfortunately for the general person, there aren't really any methods to support any differing policy(perhaps thankfully so). The best think the average Joe could honestly do is make a lot of noise and tell the politicians that you are fucking pissed and they need to do something. Hopefully, this could lead to some pressure from the government to make the Fed do something. If there is a way out of this mess, it is through the Fed.
     
  17. dubyu tee eff

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    It doesn't mean anything. Countries don't compete against each other. The media makes up bullshit terms like economic competitiveness to stupidly summarize who is doing the best income/GDP-wise in the world.

    edit: "economic competitiveness within a country" is also a meaningless phrase. Markets don't create zero-sum outcomes.

    edit2: If this doesn't make sense, think of it this way. Let's say I trade you a pencil for a pen. Who won? Well, you gave me a men and accepted a pencil so clearly, to you, a pencil is currently worth more than a pen. I accepted a pen and gave up a pencil so clearly I currently value a pen more than a pencil. It is a net gain for both of us, as is every other voluntary exchange of goods, money, or service. This is how wealth is created. (For any other economics nerds here, yes I know that results in an increase in utility, not technically wealth, but you'll understand what I'm saying anyway so fuck off).
     
  18. ghettoastronaut

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    So what if I wrestle you to the ground, hog-tie you, and run away with the pen and pencil? Now that's competitiveness.
     
  19. dubyu tee eff

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    Thinks he has a chance with Christina Hendricks...

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    Not if I like it.
     
  20. Viking33

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    No. That's fascism.