September 9, 2001
I think you just pulled a Bush when he messed up on the date.
Fixed. And thankyouverymuch!
"Pulled a Bush" - Young Geoffrey hangs his head in shame.
Oh it could be worse, you could've said it while delivering a speech about on 9/4 you stood on the rubble of the Towers and stuff... in NYC.
Ouch! You know Geoff, I may just start calling you Bushy or something henceforth.
But then I'll forget after 20 minutes of harassment, so don't worry too much about it becomming habbit.
I can't believe you screwed up that date though...I mean, it clearly wasn't a typo.
Later Bushy Mcgee
2005-07-12 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Pulled a Bush"
That is the trouble with posting things essentially first-draft. For some reason, though, I've often had trouble with that date - usually, though, I end up typing "7/11".
(Meanwhile, it's 7:45 and I don't even know I'm coming home tonight. I'll call shortly to let you know the prognosis.
(*mwah* to you, too)
I liked this a LOT . . . good stuff.
I don't know, I debated arguing with you over this due to the usual sloppiness in your analysis of causality, but couldn't find the heart for it. Instead some evil elf inside me hopes it will irritate you more if I point out there is a typo, three or four instances of missing words, and twice you opened parentheses that you never closed. If your argument were html code it wouldn't even compile. My evil-hearted elf only wants to point out that sloppiness is intellectually pervasive. You can't see the flaws in your analysis for the same reason that you could read this a million times and never see the two missing closing parentheses.
For what it's worth, my elf and I disagree on the nature of your handicap. He thinks you're just intellectually negligent, that like missing words you also frequently lose your car keys and remote control and often can't remember what you came into the kitchen for, and he simply doesn't trust the precision in analysis of someone who consistently can't remember when they opened a bracket. He thinks you're just one more placard-waving troll whose crippled ideological reasoning is really a transparent quarry from which he mines self-esteem, down there day after day clawing at the walls for missed veins of ore in an increasingly spent and wasted hole.
I am more charitable than my elf, and think that sometimes you become so enamoured with what you imagine to be the persuasiveness of your argumentation that intellectual diligence becomes a kind of annoying obstacle. You would make a very good politician but an exceedingly bad cryptologist and I bet you have trouble assembling furniture.
If I thought for a minute that a challenge to you - to attack my ideas rather than my typing - wouldn't send you fleeing like a ten-year-old pick-pocket on the next train to smug, neo-liberal, self-satisfaction, I might ask, "But what is it with which you disagree?"
Sadly, years of shared history have shown me that you are far too lazy to brave the exchange of ideas, prefering the sniper's cheap shot to actual argument.
The typo has been pointed out. I'll look for the unclosed parentheses.
Geoff can assemble furniture!! He assembled 4 ikea book shelves with minimal amounts of frustration...and a rather large wardrobe...with doors and shelves and things. He's plenty competent with furniture. So hah! Good day to you sir.
2005-07-12 11:46 pm (UTC)
As you know, I also kept a 1971 Volkwagen minivan running for two years and tens of thousands of miles through the deft use of plastic clothesline.
2005-07-14 03:02 am (UTC)
I don't know, I have never seen any furniture at Geoffrey's. Everything is made out of milk cartons and prayers. I think even his TV is a milk carton. He once tried to make me a sandwich out of plastic.
fix: (To I need to say it?
The only thing that I would add to this is that we wouldn't even need to sacrifice any of our consumption in order to make poverty history, have others have said. We do have enough grain to feed all those that go hungry at night, today. The only people that would have to make serious sacrifices are the ultra-rich. I mean we are faced with environmental depletion, but there are lots of things we can do to alleviate despair without even sacrificing our lifestyle. We're just that wealthy, and the economic system is just that fucked.
I mean we are faced with environmental depletion, but there are lots of things we can do to alleviate despair without even sacrificing our lifestyle.
For now, yes - though I fear the time for action without a bloodbath is running short. If climate change causes a significant drop in food production and/or shuts down the Gulf Stream so that Europe freezes in the space of a decade we may find we aren't nearly as rich as we thought we were.
The only people who would have to make serious sacrifices are the ultra-rich? That's hilarious. You don't remember last decade's hip musical Live8-equivalent, the Willie Nelson, Neil Young farm-aid concerts?
Do you have any idea how many poor countries whose GDP is 95% agrarian would spiral into the toilet if grain was given away? Overproducing grain would save thousands and decimate millions. This is exactly why IMF loans to third world countries are contingent on their governments moving away from agricultural exports and towards industrialization. It's also why well-meaning countries (particularly the US) take upon themselves a huge financial hit deliberately by paying their own farmers not to produce certain crops just to help sustain the fledgling economies of poorer nations whose entire sustenance is dependent on stable agricultural prices.
In fact, the US even spends money destroying their own crops when over-production threatens to destabilize world prices, not so much for themselves, but because the economies of third world countries suffer the most when 95% of their export values tank. Look at it this way. The ideological content but poor understanding of global economics in your post suggests to me that you are someone who sells beads on the street. What would happen to you and all the other bead-sellers if suddenly nicer, better beads all flooded onto the market, and all for free? If you wouldn't want that to happen to yourself, why would you wish it on the entire populations of those countries who produce and export only agricultural products? Why would you happily, let's say, feed the Sudan for free and in the process, starve Kenya? Why would you feed the perpetually-engaged-in-civil-war peoples of Nigeria by destroying the barely-functional economy of Zimbabwe?
Before ranting, you should make sure you're not attacking a straw man you made up. I didn't say that we should just give this grain away. I specifically said that it was the economic system that was fucked up. Because I mentioned that there is enough grain for everyone didn't mean that I meant for surplus to be given away for free. I was just pointing out how fucked up it is that we have enough grain and people go hungry anyway.
The U.S. could reduce its subsidies to farmers, if it thinks that it's producing too much cheap grain, instead of destroying grain. Actually, I don't believe that U.S. farmers destroy crops on a large scale in order to stabilize world prices. You'll have to prove that. They already are the main reason (along with the EU) why world crop prices are so low, and that third-world agrarian economies are suffering so much.
I mean, I know that the EU does subsidize its farmers a whole lot to not produce more than a certain quantity of food, with their quota systems and such. But that's nowhere as much the case in the U.S.
It sure looked like you were suggesting that to me, given what you said about having enough grain and then immediately following that with an assessment of who would have to make sacrifices.
Anyway, the problem you are describing in your above post is not problem with the "economic system" at all, that is a poor analysis of the causality - the problem is a much simpler one, it's a consequence of living in a (for all practical purposes) 3-dimensional universe.
A man holding up a bag of grain in Kentucky can more easily sell his grain to his neighbour than to a man in Bangladesh. Even if he gives away the bag of grain for free, absolves all ownership of the bag and sticks a post-it note on it bequeathing it to a specific man in Bangladesh - behold, the bag of grain still sits there at his feet, unable to be consumed by its new rightful owner. That is the whole of the problem with the equal distribution of food across the planet, it has nothing to do with a bad "economic system" in terms of buying and selling the food itself.
If you imagine a world in which it is possible for a man in Kentucky to sell his truckload of corn to anyone in the world through effortless teleportation, that would create the missing ingredient: customer parity. All customers would become equal, and there would no longer be a need to destroy a mountain of corn simply because it exists in one inconvenient location on a sphere in order to safeguard the economic microcosm of another part of the sphere.
If anything, the economic system works to mitigate these food losses, but unfortunately this involves another even more complicated global economy: oil, 99% of whose functional use is solely for transporting one inconveniently located 3-dimension object, person, container lorry or turnip from a place of lower value to a place of higher value. Again, a spatial problem, not an inherently economic one. Unfortunately (again), rising oil prices raise food costs (through overhead) to countries who import food, as opposed to who are relatively agronomically self-sustaining, so rising oil prices more drastically affect the food costs of third world countries and the problem is compounded.
All of which is to say, blaming rotting food piles at one X,Y coordinate that would not rot at another X,Y coordinate on an inherent economic flaw is faulty, it's simply a limitation in a physical universe in which moving an object with mass from point A to point B consumes energy. It would be like saying it is an economic flaw that people cannot simply directly consume their money; and maybe that would solve all the problems if money were edible and printed on Graham crackers, so that it always in every part of the sphere had a minimum value as fibre.
Even before India had to lift import quotas to enter the WTO in the late 1990s, it had huge surpluses of grain, wheat in particular. This is one of the nations that has the most hungry people on the planet, and it has grain surpluses that rot, mere kilometers away from starving people, grain you could deliver using a few tanks of gas. So even locally (say, the subcontinent), there is enough food. Every nation on this planet, except for a few very small ones, city-nations like Monaco, Luxembourg, the Vatican, etc, have the agricultural capacity to answer their own food needs (although not the variety, but that's another issue, and it's not relevant here). The technology exists. The problem is economic, not fucking geographic.
EVEN IF IT WAS GEOGRAPHIC AND PHYSICAL, I don't know if you've been reading the news, but there's that little thing called "globalization", which, while it has been marking human civilization since its earliest times, has been greatly increased in recent years. Note in particular the trade in goods between Asia and America, as we send back and forth the cheapest as well as the most expensive commodities. We (Canada as well as the US of A) are already sending boatloads of grain across the world (we sell wheat to China, for example), and sell it in these markets at cheaper prices than the local farmers do there. There are these things called boats, and they have capacities like "PanaMax" and "SuezMax", which are humongous quantities, and take a very low ratio of fuel-to-weight ratio to move around. I was talking about earlier civilizations; it is agriculture that gave rise to the first human empires, and the trade in crops along long distances. Agriculture, and trade in agricultural goods, is the oldest commercial activity that humans have engaged in.
The problem is economic. In an era where we can put a man on the moon, (although not in the deepest reaches of our own oceans) we have absolutely no problem moving grain from Uttar Pradesh to Bangladesh, or even from Edmonton to Jakarta, and it doesn't even cost that much.
Anyway, all that said, I see that you are a Torontonian, I hope we can meet some time; you're articulate even if not quite on the same spot as me.
I believe I took the economics out of my example and yet the "problem" still existed, which means that the source of the problem must be something other than economics.
Here is another example: suppose I give you a gold brick. I want no money or service for this gold brick, I expect nothing from you. The "system" that requires you to be economically viable or even not economically inert is factored out: I merely give you the gold brick. The brick is in my apartment. All the problems you might have economically had prior to this moment to enable you to "become the owner of" a gold brick are gone, yet you still have two problems: acquisition of the brick, and management of the brick.
The gold brick is probably too heavy for you to come and get yourself, and even if you do come and get it yourself, you are still "spending" your energy (I use the term spending on purpose because I don't see any qualitative difference between spending money or energy or time). But likely you'll have to possess economic viability beyond my having given you the brick, merely to acquire the brick. Once you do acquire the brick, now you have to possess or buy management skills and knowledge skills in order to maximize your value of the gold brick. You must spend your time and resources to gain from the brick.
I have taken all the initial "economic system" out of this example, everything that requires you to be economically strong enough, smart enough or diligent enough to own a gold brick. If you want to describe the *subsequent problems* as problems with your own personal economic power I can accept that, but your original message branded the entire economic *system* as haphazardly fucked. You have merely cast such a wide and analytically lazy net as so allow *all problems*, even the physical problem of the atomic weight of gold, to be encapsulated in a "fucked economic system". That's nonsense. The system is just a tool to facilitate mutually agreeable trades. It enables a breadmaker who wants a turnip not to have to look everywhere for a breadless turnip farmer, nor engage in some long, time-consuming series of barters in order to finally acquire a turnip in exchange for bread. When it comes to the system, there is no difference between gold bricks and grain: there are physical realities beyond the scope of the economic model for which, sure, it is frustrating to watch and emotionally draining to bear, and tempting to assign blame to a more controllable ideology instead - but ultimately misanalyzed.
Your dismissal of transportation costs is also misguided. Even if you call the food free, there are many more costs besides fuel associated with sending big ass ships across the ocean. All the crew and ship maintenance costs are rolled into a shipping cost for the shipper. There are often export duties and in countries with no trade agreement, import duties. In the kinds of countries we are talking about, more often than not there are also "extra-judiciary" fees and then no garantee that the shipment to the people you want it to. All of that adds up. If you accept then that it costs the person donating free food a large amount of money to also help the recipient acquire the food - where do you think that money comes from? It gets subsidized by that seller's legitimate food sales, which drives the food prices up *for everybody else*. You help some people and harm others.
For some reason I want to launch into a long harangue about globalization but I think I am running close to the LJ character limit.
(aw fuck, I still hit it)
Well, I hit that stupid character limit but I'm going to avoid my globalization harague anyway. I only want to say that in my opinion, most of what you call problems with the economic system are actually cultural problems which keep impinging upon the system. By this, I mean the fact that just about every African country has been involved in an unaffortable war in the last 50 years, and that about 60% of them are chronically irresponsinble in this regard, and presently at least 20% of them are still engaged in civil conflicts. I call these cultural problems because largely they are the results of tribalism, racism, corruption and the poor enforcement of rule-of-law. To use the global "economic system" being fucked as a catch-all to dismiss the widespread and parasitic effects of these deeper humanitarian and cultural issues is just... moral cowardice.
Yes, I will look forward to meeting you perhaps at the end of time when Young Geoffrey finally hosts the LJ party that he has been claiming he is going to host since the beginning of time.
PS. I disavow any actual giving you of any actual gold brick.