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Default Money, concern about inflation?

August 14th, 2007, 19:23
On topic (I think) some might find the information in this article interesting. Unfortunately, it is a journalist's rephrasing of the original report by the head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, but it's pretty concise.

Edit: There is a link to the actual report in the article—I just overlooked it. It's an interesting read.

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August 14th, 2007, 20:25
Damn, I hate parallels like this one.

The fall of Rome was a pretty complex process. As such, you can easily find things to point to if you want to draw a parallel between it and any major power in trouble. However, it's just as easy to point to major factors with no clear analogies.

Moreover, the phrase "declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government" is just plain wrong on a number of counts.

(1) If by "moral values" you're referring to the usual thing (i.e., sexual mores and hedonism), the late Roman empire actually saw a *tightening* of such values, as Christianity became the state religion. The high point of the Roman empire — the period of the "Five Good Emperors" from Nerva to Marcus Aurelius — was actually characterized by very permissive mores. Of course, if you're referring to stuff like corruption, nepotism, profiteering, and what have you, you could paint a different picture.

(2) The military during the late Roman empire was not, in fact, "over-confident and in foreign lands." If only. It was within the empire, keeping down insurrections at home and barbarians at the borders — but it was no longer loyal to the central authority in Rome, rather than individual generals. That meant that whoever had the most loyal legions got to be Emperor, and the Praetorian Guard got to decide how long they stayed that way.

I'll give you fiscal irresponsibility — that happened for sure. The Roman Empire was running huge deficits for a long time, pissing away the treasury to buy luxuries from the East. There you could draw a better parallel with the US, since the fiscal irresponsibility was largely caused by a huge disparities in wealth — the poor were miserable to start with and only got poorer and more numerous, while the rich had all the power and just kept getting richer, which isn't that different to developments in the US lately.

However, the main problem with the parallel is that it misses both the major ultimate cause for the decline, as well as the obvious proximate cause. Namely, the decline of productivity due to ecological damage, and the little matter of the Huns — or, actually, the huge population movements originating in Central Asia. Eastern Rome survived for another thousand years because they weren't hit as hard by the barbarian hordes, y'know.

Finally, the USA isn't Rome. The polities have hugely different social and political structures, values, capabilities, and histories. For starters, Rome's ascendancy lasted a half a millennium, while America's only been a great power less than a century, and a hegemonic one for little more than 50 years.

So the parallel isn't really very useful, other than as a rhetorical device.
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August 14th, 2007, 21:38
Well, it's a rather grandiose(and over-used) parallel, I agree. As I mentioned, the article itself is by a journalist, and typically, the sentence he quoted was the only reference in the 14 page report that referred to Rome per se; it is a report primarily about fiscal irresponsibility and aging government, and it's main thrust is to point out that America needs smarter, more responsible leadership from the grass roots level to Washington. I imagine no one can argue with that.

Here's a little snip of the actual report, (which is written in a rather breezy Suzy Sunshine prose—my bold) :

The problem is that much of government today is on autopilot, based on social conditions and spending priorities that date back decades. I’m talking about when Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and John Kennedy were in the White House. The fact is, the Cold War is over, the baby boomers are about to retire, and globalization is affecting everything from foreign policy to international trade to public health.
Unfortunately, once federal programs or agencies are created, the tendency is to fund them in perpetuity. This is what I mean when I say our government is on autopilot. Washington rarely seems to question the wisdom of its existing commitments. Instead, it simply adds new programs and initiatives on top of the old ones. As President Ronald Reagan once quipped, a government program is “the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” This is a key reason our government has grown so large and so expensive.

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Last edited by magerette; August 14th, 2007 at 21:42. Reason: added quote
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August 14th, 2007, 22:06
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Well, it's a rather grandiose(and over-used) parallel, I agree. As I mentioned, the article itself is by a journalist, and typically, the sentence he quoted was the only reference in the 14 page report that referred to Rome per se; it is a report primarily about fiscal irresponsibility and aging government, and it's main thrust is to point out that America needs smarter, more responsible leadership from the grass roots level to Washington. I imagine no one can argue with that.
I can.

The "grassroots" — that is, everything up to the municipal and in many cases the state level — actually works rather well in the US. The real problems are at the federal level — that's where the closed political elite, the out-of-control government programs, the pork-barrel politics, and the corrupt lobbies are. All you have to do to solve them is to dissolve the union. ;-)

Incidentally, the Italians are in a similar situation, only worse. The difference is that Italy is a small country and therefore potentially easier to reform. So if you want to draw parallels, Rome in 2007 is a better place to look than Rome in 507.
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August 14th, 2007, 22:58
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I can.


The "grassroots" — that is, everything up to the municipal and in many cases the state level — actually works rather well in the US. The real problems are at the federal level — that's where the closed political elite, the out-of-control government programs, the pork-barrel politics, and the corrupt lobbies are. All you have to do to solve them is to dissolve the union. ;-)
Or change the nature of a man…

I agree that smaller is easier in terms of change—for good or ill. A large part of the problem is the hugeness of the country(and thus the infrastructure) the salad bowl effect of recent immigration/class polarization, and the enormity of overcoming the inertia of the past.

AFA grassroots functionality, having been a municipal employee for most of my life in small cities up to a fairly large one, I do agree up to a point. The problem is that the larger government(or possibly anything else) becomes, the more mediocrity, inefficiency and apathy intrude. I worked for a small city with big budget problems, but it was actually less of a nightmare in terms of accomplishing tasks than a large city with an almost unlimited budget. This problem is just exacerbated at the federal level and carried to the nth degree of inefficiency by what amounts to a sinecure for the self-serving careerists there employed. So the level of grass roots functionality depends heavily on how layered a bureaucracy you're dealing with. In terms of fiscal responsibility, many municipalities function just like the feds with far too little accountability, the delusive "lowest bid" system and strangling unionization.

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August 15th, 2007, 01:14
good discussion… but I run out of ammo. Just dig around the web and brought a couple of books.
Ironically, this little paper was written by the God-father of Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan before he became the Chairman.
http://www.eldoradogold.net/pdf/gree…ic_freedom.pdf
I seems to get the impression that fiat money is like a habitual drug user or gambler, it will only escalate to its inevitable and destructive end. but would take a grain of salt…from these advocates of Gold. Just like other things, it also follows the supply and demand curve.

An interesting site about Austrian School of economics, advocate of free market economic vs. statist. Central bank by definition is statism.
http://www.mises.org/

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August 15th, 2007, 19:09
Talking about inflation im more worried about inflation of computer hardware than money. I spend tons of hard cash on hardware that becomes worthless in just few years. Oh well one gotta have hobbies I guess.
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August 15th, 2007, 20:26
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
So the level of grass roots functionality depends heavily on how layered a bureaucracy you're dealing with. In terms of fiscal responsibility, many municipalities function just like the feds with far too little accountability, the delusive "lowest bid" system and strangling unionization.
You put your finger on it. Every layer of hierarchy puts the decision-makers that much further from the electorate and their oversight. OTOH if you have a very big administrative unit, it becomes very hard to govern without some kind of hierarchy. That's why any organization becomes harder and harder to run efficiently and honestly as it grows in size. So the EU is seeing very similar structural problems as the US for very similar reasons, and other large countries like Russia, India, China, and Brazil aren't exactly paragons of good governance either.

I have a feeling that creative use of information technology could push that limit up a fair bit, but it's not easy. For starters, we'd need a culture of transparency in government — make all information freely accessible to everyone unless there's a damn good reason not to.

Until that happens, I for one am not in favor of deepening European integration — I believe it'll work better as the fairly loose commonwealth of countries that it currently is than a "United States of Europe."
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August 15th, 2007, 21:27
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post

I have a feeling that creative use of information technology could push that limit up a fair bit, but it's not easy. For starters, we'd need a culture of transparency in government — make all information freely accessible to everyone unless there's a damn good reason not to.
The impact of information technology is about the only really new thing in the human mix. There's no question that it's a factor that can drive change on almost every level; my Pollyanna-ish *hope is that it will indeed produce not only accountability but response in government.

The best part, to my mind, is that it's a tool that transcends barriers of distance and makes information acquisition and transfer available to anyone with the initiative to seek it out. And it's especially a tool of the young, a very potent force for change in themselves.


Until that happens, I for one am not in favor of deepening European integration — I believe it'll work better as the fairly loose commonwealth of countries that it currently is than a "United States of Europe."
I think you're wise. You don't want to start seeing EU agencies releasing statements comparing things to the fall of Rome.



(*for those not familiar with this american usage, you can check the link—you have to scroll down a bit)

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August 15th, 2007, 22:33
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Talking about inflation im more worried about inflation of computer hardware than money. I spend tons of hard cash on hardware that becomes worthless in just few years. Oh well one gotta have hobbies I guess.
I disagree, I think we are getting better value performance/$ as time progressing(technology advancing). A decent rig costs me about $1500 since my first 286 to Q6600. but the performance difference is night and day. Gas was $1/gallon when I first got my car and now is $3, MPG is about the same. Electronics seem to the exception, it gets cheaper over time despite inflation.

Of course, I agree they are d*mn expansive, particulary at launch.

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September 22nd, 2007, 04:24
Dollars are falling to all time low… Gold soars all time high.

Ron Paul vs. Bernanke, House Financial Service hearing on CNBC Sept 20
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhglwvE50cg

Remember that Government Inflation Rate 2% doesn't put food and fuel into consideration.

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September 23rd, 2007, 19:55
I'm currently quite happy that the Euro is so strong.

In principle this would mean that I can buy goods from the U.S. - or the "Dollar-Zone" in general - much "better" now.

The only drawback is that customs eats up most of the money I save by having a strong Euro.

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September 23rd, 2007, 20:38
It's going to be a significant drag on the European economy, though. Every 10 cents the Euro gains, Airbus takes a loss of two billion.
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September 25th, 2007, 22:45
That depends.

("On what ?")

The European economy doesn't entirely consist of Airbus.

As long as other countries are still willing to buy European wares despite the strong Euro, we're happy with that.

On the other hand, countries - based on the Euro - that like to buy wares coming from Dollar-based countries do something goo to the edport of the Dollar-based countries. And I think that's not *that* bad.

It's always give and take, sometimes it's the one side, sometimes its the other.

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November 10th, 2007, 17:44
When this thread started, gold was at $600 an Oz, now at $840, I challenge to anyone to make a 38% face value profit in 3 months! Ben is talking about lowing the interest rate again… can inflation be cured with more inflation. You got to watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAwvlDJgJbM

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November 10th, 2007, 18:05
while we're at it the Loonie is approaching $1.10 American. I never thought I'd see that in my lifetime. This is bad for me as I get paid in Greenbacks and going home will now cost me bank.

Oil almost hit $100 a barrel this week. Very, very bad at the pump. Given the credit crunch in mortgages and this upcoming Christmas disaster due to poisonous Chinese toys the 8 year recession cycle is about to begin IMO.

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November 11th, 2007, 00:03
Guess we need another war to kick start everything again!!

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November 11th, 2007, 00:27
good article ->

What is driving oil prices so high?

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November 16th, 2007, 21:01
Check out these numbers by Grandfather Economic Report series
http://mwhodges.home.att.net/inflation.htm#1800

On a related note, FBI and Secret Service Raided a "real" money supplier back with 100% Silver and Gold
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_sSipUrBG0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg8P9dNXTEg
There is a serious error in the second report regarding target of the Class action Lawsuit - It is againt the Federal Government, not Liberty Dollar. It's quite amusing the they mentioned "funny money"

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