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Old 07-08-2008, 09:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
I answered the question directly.
I was making reference to this:

"I'm not sure which thread I saw it on...but I did see CK comment
to Buck something like "you're the only other 'sane' one on this site."


I know it wasn't a question really, but it was a comment he did make and I thought you would surely have a reply?
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:01 PM   #17
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What makes insanity so bad? Just as too much of anything is bad, being too sane is definitely not a good thing.
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:30 PM   #18
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Good post, CK. Thanks.

I try to be a fair guy...so I listen to what you say, and take it in.
You make some good points...but I'll make some comments, here,
with some challenges...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
In the publishing company, our objective is to get teachers to adopt the most expensive textbooks and force the students to purchase new textbooks - with no regard for what is best for the students or the university.
You know what...I'm on the other side of this particular example.
I'm a college teacher, as you know. One of the things I do is
review textbooks. You do hit on one of our frustrations.
Specifically, we get frustrated with textbook authors who publish
a pretty good book, but then 2 years later come out with the next
edition, which is literally 99.5% the same...but we gotta go get the
new edition, because the publisher is no longer selling the previous one.
Moreover, our poor broke students are bent over a barrel, and have
to buy that book, and pay $ 150 for it. Luckily, at least, our cyber
economy is providing some alternatives to the price gouging bookstores.

This is another issue....but from the inside, I'll call college education
what it is: it's a gigantic scam. I'm personally conflicted at being part
of the problem, the way you probably are in the company you work for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
We strive to sell the cheapest, most poorly made books at the highest price possible.
I'm also bothered by what you allude to here. Record albums, for instance,
that were made in the early '60's, were strong and durable. In the late '70's
and 80's (before they saw their demise) were cheap and highly breakable.
It is true, and a frustration of many people, how cheap and crappy many
things are, often in relation to their relative price as well (like, who'd want
to pay that price for this crap).

So, why is this happening? Actually, I attribute it mostly to a overall
decay of values. Whatever happened to taking pride in what one makes?
Yes, we all want to be compensated for what we produce, but we used
to also want to see our customer feel good about the goods or services
they were getting from us.

This is a problem in personal values...it is true that profit is a motivation
to do this, but not the problem. To be ONLY concerned with profit,
and not give a whit about the unhappy customer, the disgruntled employee,
or the law for that matter...would be the problem.

Moreover, I may place quite a bit of blame on an overcontrolling,
overregulating, overtaxing government...that FORCES many companies
to be a bunch of cheap bastards to make up for the prohibitive taxes
our government places on them.

At least under capitalism, we have the chance to not frequent that company
that sells high-priced crap...provided there is not a monopoly. Moreover,
I don't think socialism is going to make an individual all-of-a-sudden "take
pride in their work" or care about "making the customer satisfied", anymore
than capitalism would. At least under capitalism, it's at least necessary for
the company to produce a quality product, or for the individual to do
quality work in order to be compensated (paid...purchased from).

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
What do you think the main objective of a drug company is? To save lives? No, it is profit. If the objective were to save lives, we would have cures for many of the rare, yet deadly diseases, instead of producing billions of dollars worth of "boner" (erection) pills.
Actually, I'm supportive of the profit motive. Not so much because I think
it's so wonderful and great that somebody because a billionaire somewhere.
However, it is a powerful motivation for a couple of reasons. Firstly, very
few people are going to take huge financial risks, invest huge sums of money,
and work very very hard to produce something useful just to get nothing in
return. People may volunteer time for the good of others, but not invest
huge amounts of their own time and resources, and not get compensated.
Moreover, it's not fair for someone to take the risks, invest the money, and
put in the time and not get compensated. Secondly, to do the reseach to
produce medications requires a ton of time, money, and human resources
to develop yet-unknown meds.

Furthermore, I prefer not to leave this job to the government.
High taxes to pay for it...then allot the money to some consortium to
produce some medication, but then you get "paid" whether you produce
or not, like so many other wasteful government programs.

Sure, drug companies create a lot of "hard stick" meds. Still, give them
credit. The United States has produced numerous life-saving meds that were unheard-of 50 years ago. Moreover, the world has come to
depend on us
for the meds we've created. (Unfortunately, other
countries are stealing them from us...copying the pills created due to
our billions of dollars of reseach, and then selling them at base production
cost, i.e. next to nothing).

The life-saving meds have been produced...almost all in Capitalist America.

As you'd say, the proof is in the putting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
When the means of production are returned to the workers, and the entire society "owns" the products that are prouced, the efforts of said company can be recfocused on that which is best for the costumer/worker/country - not that which is best for the CEO.

Do you see any problem with companies where the CEO makes more alone than the entire workforce of 500 workers combined?
In college, I read a book about what was called the "transformal organization".
Maybe you've heard of it...it was a model for small to moderate sized
companies, whereby all the workers owned and shared the ownership of
the company, and shared the profits equally. The idea was that a person
was not "hired" per se, but would agree to somehow buy into the company.
Thus, each person would have an interest in the success of the company,
and then share in the companies benefits equally.

There are some obvious problems in this idea. I take the example of my
brother's company that he started with two of his friends back in 1986.
The artist of the company started out as an equal partner, but eventually
asked my brother to buy him out, and become an employee, because he
no longer wanted to share the financial risk of the company.

This makes the point that, certainly, successful business owners make
scads of money...but that's because they are the one's who have put
their necks on the line and taken the huge financial risks. For workers
who work for a "transformal" company...what happens if the company
goes belly-up? They all go bankrupt, and nobody gets paid
for the work they have put into the production of the company. In the
traditional set-up, if a company fails, the workers may get laid off, but
they are paid for their work, and it's the owners of the company who
eat the big you-know-what sandwich (like happened to my brother's
business when it's time came). But, then again, it's the risk that people
freely choose to take on when they start a business.

I'm more comfortable with a capitalist system where the individual can
choose to seek employment, or if they are willing to take the risk and do
the work, start a business from ground up. Furthermore, there's all the
moderate risk taking options, such as stocks and investments, where you
take partial risks.

Okay, enough of that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
Socialism is not EQUAL distribution of wealth. The idea is not to make everyone the same. The idea is to return POWER to the PEOPLE. As it is now, workers produce for the wealthy, with very little compensation.
The reason I have always been bothered with the old idea of "power to
the people" is that I really don't know what that is supposed to mean.
As far as I can tell, it means one of two things...

1) Dismantle the current disparity of wealth and start from ground zero.
In addition to the problem of how the heck this is going to be done (like
mass confiscation of wealth like occurred under Ceaucescu's Romania?),
the reality of the matter is that if we all started again from square one,
and the government allows everyone to be equal, it wouldn't be long
before the smart, clever, hardworking, industrious, and aggressive among
us would rise to the top, and the whole division of wealth would be there
all over again, maybe within a year or so...

or...

2) The government assures that this doesn't happen, which means that
the government would have to closely control, micromanage, and hold
force with an iron boot...much like what we've seen recent century
communism. This gives me the absolute chills.

How else will it be done, otherwise, if we're not beholden to a
powerful, oppressive government to assure it??

My vote is to stay with Democratic Capitalism, with appropriate social
programs, paid for by moderate taxation. It's not anywhere near perfect,
but socialism, as an option, would be far far worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
All I can say is that you should really critically question our current economic system. Maybe you will conclude that socialism is not the answer. But I don't think that anyone as smart as you could conclude that capitalism works.
Actually, I don't think I'd have to be smart or dumb to conclude that
capitalism works. It has, better than any other system that has been
tried. The United States economy has been far-and-away the most
dynamic and influential in world history, providing a greater standard
of living, benefits, and overall wealth for all it's citizens (and even citizens
of other countries) top to bottom...even if some people have fallen
through the cracks.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:02 PM   #19
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Good stuff phil.

I am going to leave the socialism debate alone for now. I think we've both made our points, and it doesn't appear that either one of us is going to budge. I always enjoy reading your comments.

A few things:

Quote:
Specifically, we get frustrated with textbook authors who publish
a pretty good book, but then 2 years later come out with the next
edition, which is literally 99.5% the same...but we gotta go get the
new edition, because the publisher is no longer selling the previous one.
It pains me, but I am part of it.

We revise our best selling philosophy text every 3 years. The material ranges from Plato to Machiavelli, material that is all over 500 years old... What needs to be revised?

Just sickening...

Quote:
Luckily, at least, our cyber
economy is providing some alternatives to the price gouging bookstores.
This is one of the few things I am proud of being part of. I have recently been instrumental within the company with moving the company to make as many of our text available in eBooks (electronic books). eBooks are not for everyone, and certainly have their problems, but they are very cheap. They can also be offered chapter-by-chapter for students who don't need the entire text. In addition, they are good for business because there is no "used book" market for eBooks. And, they save trees

I try to push eBooks in nearly every call I make.

Quote:
I'm personally conflicted at being part
of the problem, the way you probably are in the company you work for.
Conflicted to say the least.

June 2006 - I graduate college, complaining about book prices as I sell my used texts back to the bookstore for 1/10 the price I paid for them.

July 2006 - I am being trained on how to force new editions into the bookstores, force the students to buy the books from us, and convince professors to use unnecessary, over-priced technology products along with our texts.

I went from saying "screw the man," to being the man in less than a month's time.

Quote:
I'm also bothered by what you allude to here. Record albums, for instance,
that were made in the early '60's, were strong and durable. In the late '70's
and 80's (before they saw their demise) were cheap and highly breakable.
Well it looks like we have come full circle. I am a record collector. Most of the bands I listen to (new bands) make all of their albums available on vinyl. The new records they make today are twice as thick and durable than any of the old albums I have purchased or been given.

This is a unique example though because records are more of a "specialized" item for modern day collectors and music geeks. They aren't produced in the mass numbers that other products are. Furthermore, those who are buying records truly value the quality of vinyl they are purchasing.

(if you ever want to talk about records and music, let me know, I could go all day )

So that's that. Sorry I didn't touch on the issue at hand, but I think I've said all I need to say about that. If buck or Ellis or anyone else would like to add, please feel free.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:56 PM   #20
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Adding:

A college teacher who doesn't like Socialism at all? That math department... never quite in stride with the humanities department...

Anyways, libertarian socialism is not insanity; if anything, it makes so much sense that it is insane. Small, decentralized communities working in a collective manner.

Google Noam Chomsky, but be warned that you may be embarrassed at never being an anarchist.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:13 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellis View Post
Small, decentralized communities working in a collective manner.
Sounds like federalism to me!

I'm all in for some more of that.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
I'm glad you brought up drug companies.

What do you think the main objective of a drug company is? To save lives? No, it is profit. If the objective were to save lives, we would have cures for many of the rare, yet deadly diseases, instead of producing billions of dollars worth of "boner" (erection) pills.

Say a drug company has two options:

1) Research a cure for a rare but deadly disease that effects 500,000 people...

or

2) Research a pill that cures ED, which effects 10 million people.

Which route do you think they will choose? To save lives and make less money, or cure boner problems and make more money?

I think the proof is in the pudding.


Tho I'd personally stay away from an analogy using erectile dysfunction & the term "the proof is in the pudding".


Quote:
Originally Posted by philabramoff View Post
At least under capitalism, we have the chance to not frequent that company
that sells high-priced crap...provided there is not a monopoly. Moreover,
I don't think socialism is going to make an individual all-of-a-sudden "take
pride in their work" or care about "making the customer satisfied", anymore
than capitalism would. At least under capitalism, it's at least necessary for
the company to produce a quality product, or for the individual to do
quality work in order to be compensated (paid...purchased from).

Actually, I'm supportive of the profit motive. Not so much because I think
it's so wonderful and great that somebody because a billionaire somewhere.
However, it is a powerful motivation for a couple of reasons. Firstly, very
few people are going to take huge financial risks, invest huge sums of money,
and work very very hard to produce something useful just to get nothing in
return. People may volunteer time for the good of others, but not invest
huge amounts of their own time and resources, and not get compensated.
Moreover, it's not fair for someone to take the risks, invest the money, and
put in the time and not get compensated. Secondly, to do the reseach to
produce medications requires a ton of time, money, and human resources
to develop yet-unknown meds.
The reality is it's a monopoly that's protected by a corrupt FDA from competition from overseas & has no government involvement in keeping drugs for the average American to be reasonably attainable. There's tons of drugs coming out of Europe that can't get in due to the FDA while other drugs with horrific side effects are routinely advertised on the US air waves.

It makes no sense where the government protects the citizen, say, against price gouging at the pumps but allows drug companies to make products that rake in billions & billions of dollars a year & keeps those costs above the regular joe for the life of the patent & in a lot of cases, tweaks it to keep that patent rolling.


Quote:
Furthermore, I prefer not to leave this job to the government.
High taxes to pay for it...then allot the money to some consortium to
produce some medication, but then you get "paid" whether you produce
or not, like so many other wasteful government programs.
So neither scenario works but you'd rather have 'the lessor of 2 evils'? How about some government regulations?

This is like insurance costs. Rates go up & are spread across the boards cuz there's no regulation. Those companies keep their profit margin above all else & just pass it to the people. It also smacks of the oil companies taking in billions while whining about potential losses down the road.

Government needs to be involved at some level to stop the raping of the public.


Quote:
Sure, drug companies create a lot of "hard stick" meds. Still, give them
credit. The United States has produced numerous life-saving meds that were unheard-of 50 years ago. Moreover, the world has come to
depend on us
for the meds we've created. (Unfortunately, other
countries are stealing them from us...copying the pills created due to
our billions of dollars of reseach, and then selling them at base production
cost, i.e. next to nothing).
I wouldn't downplay the rest of the world's discovery of life saving drugs tho the US big money has attracted some of the most brilliant minds. So yes, money has done it but not cuz of some noble gesture & not a benefit to the everyday person without some pain & suffering to get it.

As far as generics? The drug companies aggressively pursue any of these companies that attempt to circumvent their patent rights. The generics that have come out after the fact are reasonably priced, not next to nothing. Besides, the 'billions' in research? They've made their money & their huge profit margin. They're not victims here...

On others that are out from under patent protection, they've made their bones & it's fair game for anyone else. That's the way it works & they haven't lost anything but the chance to keep lining their pockets.

Example:
Bristol-Myers Plavix makes about 4 billion a year...after year...after year...till 2012 in the US & 2013 in Europe. It stopped Apotex being marketed in the US by an injunction but sadly sustained a 15% drop in sales. If this holds up, I'm sure they'll see that money.

Bottom line in too big of a subject, this isn't about giving credit to a guaranteed money maker like drugs or some fanciful idea of somebody taking 'huge risks'. The risk was mismanagement, not that drugs couldn't be discovered.

Here's some tidbits:


excerps:

Big Pharma teaches old drugs new tricks

Drugmakers hunt for new patents on old blockbusters to try and postpone the inevitable: generic competition.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As Big Pharma faces patent expirations on some of its most lucrative drugs, the industry is trying to reinvigorate sales by finding creative ways to land new patents - but on the same old drugs.

The industry is losing some $16 billion worth of annual sales this year because of patents that will expire; last year it suffered $23 billion in patent losses, according to the research firm IMS Health. And despite clever reformulations of popular patented drugs like Lipitor and Zyrtec, Pfizer (up $0.13 to $25.67, Charts) and other industry leaders are discovering that there is no substitute for the ever-elusive new blockbusters.

But since new blockbusters are hard to find, drug companies are tweaking their existing drugs -- by creating extended release versions for instance -- in order to get new patents on old drugs. Drugmakers are also combining drugs whose patents are set to expire with other drugs to create entirely new products, and new patents. These patent-extension tricks certainly help to cushion the blow of the sales vacuum created by patent expirations, but they're no substitute for new products worth billions.

Les Funtleyder, analyst for Miller Tabak, said that Big Pharma is paying the price for its "innovative black hole," and has "relatively few tools in the tool kit" to address the impending post-patent sales dips.

"At some point, all big drugs are going to go off patent, and the question is: What does Big Pharma do next?" said Funtleyder. "They could innovate their way out of the problem, or they could buy a pipeline, or they could go out of business."....

Big Pharma's battles to extend and protect its drug patents are hard-fought, but they ultimately cannot compensate for a weak research and development pipeline.

Miller Tabak analyst Funtleyder of compared the drug companies' methods of extending patents and creating partnerships to "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."

"You should never look revenue in the mouth, but the key driver on pharma is new products," said Funtleyder.

Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research And Development, Study Finds

A new study by two York University researchers estimates the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim.

The researchers’ estimate is based on the systematic collection of data directly from the industry and doctors during 2004, which shows the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a percentage of US domestic sales of US$235.4 billion.

The research is co-authored by PhD candidate Marc-André Gagnon, who led the study with Joel Lexchin, a long-time researcher of pharmaceutical promotion, Toronto physician, and Associate Chair of York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health.

“In our paper, we make the case for the need for a new estimate of promotional expenditures by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry,” says Gagnon. “We then explain how we used proprietary databases to construct a revised estimate and finally, we compare our results with those from other data sources to argue in favor of changing the priorities of the industry.”

The study is important because it provides the most accurate image yet of the promotional workings of the pharmaceutical industry, says Lexchin.

The authors examined the 2004 reports of IMS Health (IMS) and CAM Group (CAM), two international market research companies that provide the pharmaceutical industry with sales/marketing data and consulting services. IMS obtains its data by surveying pharmaceutical firms, while CAM surveys doctors, which explains important discrepancies in the data they provide.

The researchers used 2004 as the comparison year because it was the latest year in which information was available from both organizations.

CAM reported total promotion spending by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry as US$33.5 billion in their 2004 report, while IMS reported US$27.7 billion for the same year. The authors observed, however, important differences in figures according to each promotion category. By selectively using both sets of figures provided by IMS and CAM, in order to determine the most relevant data for each category, and adjusting for methodological differences between the ways IMS and CAM collect data, the authors arrived at US$57.5 billion for the total amount spent on pharmaceutical promotion in 2004. The industry spent approximately US$61,000 in promotion per physician during 2004, according to Gagnon.

“Even our revised promotion figure for 2004 is apt to be understated, as there are other promotion avenues that are not likely to be taken into consideration by IMS or CAM, such as ghost-writing and off-label promotion,” says Gagnon. “Also, seeding trials, which are designed to promote the prescription of new drugs, may be allocated to other budget categories.”

IMS and CAM data were used for comparison purposes because data from both are publicly available, both operate globally and are well regarded by the pharmaceutical industry, and both break down their information by different promotion categories. Most importantly, the two organizations use different methods for gathering their data, allowing the researchers to triangulate on a more accurate figure for each promotion category.

The authors focused their study on the United States because it is the only country in which information is available for all of the major promotion categories, and it is also the largest market for pharmaceuticals in the world, representing approximately 43% of global sales and global promotion expenditures....

As well, note the authors, the number of meetings for promotional purposes has dramatically increased in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, jumping from 120,000 in 1998 to 371,000 in 2004, further supporting their findings that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is marketing-driven.

Thus, the study’s findings supports the position that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is marketing-driven and challenges the perception of a research-driven, life-saving, pharmaceutical industry, while arguing in favour of a change in the industry’s priorities in the direction of less promotion, according to Gagnon and Lexchin.

***************************************


Just another broken part of the system...

I don't mind a company making money or researching for life saving drugs but let's not put lipstick on the pig here. These companies are nothing but shareholders who don't discuss how many more lives they've saved at their meetings but how much more money they've made this month.

Face it, it's a monopoly based on capitalism which may point to a noble mission statement but the fine print is that it's a cash cow & most Americans can't afford the milk.




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I am a record collector.
I'm selling my records over on ebay. Get yer ass over there...
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:28 AM   #23
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Good stuff tark.

Are you really selling your records?
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:02 PM   #24
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I will add something to the discussion of drug companies, from a professional's point. We need to develop new classes of antibiotics, as nearly all the old ones (and some have been developed within the past 10 years) have had immunity develop to their actions. In other words, they do not work as well as they once did. This is partially because of their routine use in livestock feed and partially because they are over-prescribed to people. The fact is that there are some infections that cannot be treated today because nothing will work against them.
The R&D to develop these drugs is very, very expensive, and the process is very long to get them approved. Less than 1% of all compounds that are brought into the testing phase actually make it to the market, and it takes 10 years to get them approved.
What is the answer? More concentration on R&D by the big companies, and possibly shared research, so they do not have duplicate trials going at the same time.
I do not approve of the advertising expenses for the drugs that are being promoted, but understand the reason for them. Those drugs are very high-profit and can be used by a large number of people.
By the way, I recently sold about 500 albumns to a 2nd hand store. The first batch were inspected carefully by the proprietor and I got about $1 each for them. He asked if they were ever played, and I told him they were. I took very good care of them, washing them regularly and allowing them to dry in a vertical position. He looked at a couple of the 2nd batch and by the time I had taken the last batch in, he just asked how many there were and gave me $2 each for them.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:06 PM   #25
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With the multiple comments on records, I'm going to start a thread!
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:12 PM   #26
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Good idea.
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:02 PM   #27
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Sure, drug companies create a lot of "hard stick" meds. Still, give them
credit. The United States has produced numerous life-saving meds that were unheard-of 50 years ago. Moreover, the world has come to
depend on us for the meds we've created. (Unfortunately, other
countries are stealing them from us...copying the pills created due to
our billions of dollars of reseach, and then selling them at base production
cost, i.e. next to nothing).


50 years has some merit but show me any "father" of a discipline (whether it be inventing new cures, technologies, advancing sciences
) and I'll show you someone who at the very least took a huge paycut...if not risked an outright beheading at the hands of the Church.

Fear not though...money created the bonner pill...as CK puts it.



Truth is, the Einsteins/Galileos/Darwins do it cuz they got the skillz and passion for it.

If this nation would revalue the concept of nobility in work ethic/providing for one's family...they could do their thing and those without the skills could still live a good life.
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:14 PM   #28
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If this nation would revalue the concept of nobility in work ethic/providing for one's family...they could do their thing and those without the skills could still live a good life.
I ahve a feeling that this nation has its value's ass-backwards.
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Old 07-10-2008, 05:46 PM   #29
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I am going to leave the socialism debate alone for now. I think we've both made our points, and it doesn't appear that either one of us is going to budge. I always enjoy reading your comments.
Got it, CK. Then again, the point of our discussions really isn't to
get the other guy to "budge" so much as it is to discuss and clarify.

However, I am still curious about this...

This is no longer a question about comparing the merits and downfalls
of socialism vs. capitalism...

Rather, I want to ask this:

Suppose we do decide, as a nation, to go the "socialist" route, as it
were. How will this be accomplished, in practice? What I mean to
ask is, how would the transition actually be done, in terms of dismantling
our capitalist system, turning the "state into the individual", and
"returning the wealth to the people" ?

As far as I can tell, examples abound where nations have, in attempting
to achieve this goal, seen massive slaughters of their citizens, widespread
theft of personal property by the government, and mass revocations of
their rights.
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Old 07-10-2008, 07:08 PM   #30
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Suppose we do decide, as a nation, to go the "socialist" route, as it
were. How will this be accomplished, in practice? What I mean to
ask is, how would the transition actually be done, in terms of dismantling
our capitalist system, turning the "state into the individual", and
"returning the wealth to the people" ?
It can't happen. With globalization, it would take a world-wide revolution of the working class. There would be no way to implement socialism in the US, without a total shift in the global economy.
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