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Thread: POTF 5 - Nominations

  1. #1
    Aexodus's Avatar Persuasion>Coercion
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    Default POTF 5 - Nominations

    POTF is about recognising the very best posts, the best arguments and discourse in the D&D, and appropriately rewarding it.
    You shall progressively earn these medals once you achieve enough wins, but first you must be nominated in threads such as this one. And it works like this.

    Post of the Fortnight - Rules

    -Each user can nominate up to 2 posts per round, and the only valid form of nomination is by quoting
    with a link as shown below the chosen post in the PotF thread designated for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aexodus View Post
    Looking forward to getting this kicked off for real!

    -Each 15 days there will be a new Nomination thread put up, and all the posts written during this period are considered eligible, if properly nominated. Exception are posts who are somewhat breaking the ToS; upon being acted by Moderation, they are always considered uneligible.

    - Remember: It is possible to nominate up to 2 posts each round of the competition; it is also possible to change a nomination anytime before the actual round of nominations ends.

    - There will be two competitions held every month, with a period for nominations followed by a period of voting. The submitted posts can be discussed in a dedicated space.

    - Only posts that have not participated in a previous poll and that have been published in the current period of given time in any section of the D&D area may be nominated.

    - The authors of the nominated post will be informed so they can withdraw the candidacy if that is their wish.

    - The maximum number of participating posts in the final vote will be ten. If more than ten nominations are submitted, seconded nominations will take priority. After seconded nominations are considered, earliest nominations will take priority. If the number of posts submitted to the contest is less than ten, the organizing committee may nominate posts if it considers it appropriate.

    -The members of the committee will never nominate a post belonging to one of them, but the rest of the users can nominate their posts (organizers posts), and vice versa.

    -In the event of a tie, both posts will be awarded and both posters will receive rep and 1 competition point.

    - Public or private messages asking for a vote for a candidate post are forbidden. Violators (and their posts) may not participate in the running contest.

    - People are expected to consider the quality and structure of the post itself, more than the content of the same. While it's certainly impossible to completely split the two aspects when making our own opinion on a post, it remains intended, as also explained in the Competition Commentary Thread, that commenting and discussing on the content rather than on the form/structure of the post is considered off-topic for the purpose of this competition. You are free to nominate and vote for whatever reason you want, but what happens in public has to strictly follow up with the competition rules.

    A nominated post should:

    1. Be focused and relevant to the topic(s) being discussed.
    2. Demonstrate a well-developed, insightful and nuanced understanding of the topic(s) it is discussing.
    3. Be logically coherent, well organized and communicate its points effectively.
    4. Support its contentions with verifiable evidence, either in the form of links or references.
    5. Not be deliberately vexatious to other users.

    Good luck everyone!
    Under the patronage of Pontifex Maximus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commissar Caligula_ View Post
    And on the third day, God created the Remington bolt-action rifle, so that man could fight the dinosaurs. And the homosexuals. Amen.

  2. #2
    Aexodus's Avatar Persuasion>Coercion
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    Default Re: POTF 5 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by cfmonkey45 View Post
    In Defense of Neoliberalism

    Volume 1 - Introduction and Origins
    The Origins of Neoliberalism
    The 2008 Crisis, The False Dilemma Over Capitalism and The "Rise" in Wealth Inequality
    Fed Policy and Wealth Inequality
    Volume 2 - The Failures of Populism (WIP)
    Populism, Trump's Trade War, and Dairy Farmers
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Proposed 70% Income Tax
    Elizabeth Warren's Wealth Tax
    Volume 3 - Policy Proposals (WIP)
    Reforming International Trade Agreements
    Environmentalism and the "Green New Deal"
    Reforming the Welfare

    Since the 2008 Financial Crisis, and the ensuing Great Recession, there has been a rise of populist rhetoric on both the Left and the Right sides of the political spectrum denouncing the perceived "Wealth and Income Inequality" in the United States. Within this debate, various documents, graphs, and statistics are produced--often with no context or opposing opinions--that are then used to create a sudden urgency for "radical" policy changes that would create a more "fair" system. Often times, these narratives rely on dubious historical narratives. For the left, this includes such things as romanticization of the New Deal Coalition, Left-leaning autocracies, the Nordic Model, and a complete misunderstanding of Marxism, while also encouraging a demonization of "Reaganomics" and the supposed "Tax Cuts for the Rich"/"Trickle Down Economics", the entire financial sector, and, on occasion, Capitalism in general. Often, these debates conflate terms, such as Democratic Socialism with Social Democracy, Corporatism with Capitalism, and Neoliberalism with Neocolonialism. For the Right, there is a similar fetish for isolationism, nativism, autarky, racialism, and authoritarian populism, with basically no comprehension of the history of any of these policies in action, and with disastrous consequences.

    Since I've found that very few of these ideas actually permeate the echo chambers of the blogosphere (twittersphere?) in general (and TWC in particular), I figured that I would start a regular schedule of posts to dissect issues that I think are important and open them up for debate. This is partly because I would like to compile all of the more technical analyses I come into contact with, as well as to stop clogging up the various Discord channels I frequent with random, unhinged rants.

    Starting in 2010, there was an increased interest among the left across North America and Europe with a perception of "Wealth and Income" Inequality. Between the early 1990s and the late 2000s, far leftist politics had fallen completely out of favor. Marxism, and its various splintering factions, had been thoroughly discredited firstly with the increasingly obvious failures of Communism within the Eastern Bloc. Within the West, the Center-Left had been dominated by Keynesian thought since the Great Depression. This included nationalization of key industries in the West, with Public Utilities in the United States, nationalized industries in the United Kingdom, and the Dirigisme system of Degaulism in France. Many of these states encouraged high marginal tax rates and expansive social networks. Additionally, most industries were tightly regulated, mimicking war-time production and price controls that became popular among policy planners following the Second World War. Less known, but perhaps far more influential, the United States strongly emphasized an international monetary standard based on gold known as the Bretton Woods Agreement, which pegged many European currencies to both the Gold Standard and the US Dollar. While John Maynard Keynes certainly was a major influence on many variations of these economic policies, he repeatedly criticized the increasing growth of this type of control. However, his untimely and premature death limited his impact, and influence in Keynesian economics began to be overshadowed by various permutations on Keynesianism.

    By the time of the late 1970s, many of these post-War policies had begun to break down for various reasons. For example, the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo caused a supply shock to cascade across the West, which in turn caused asymmetric price inflation. Price controls created significant gas shortages that affected wages and induced inflation. Part of this was also the result of an expansionary monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. At that time, microfoundations were uncommon and economists relied upon highly aggregated data to effectively eye-ball the economy and make sweeping economic decisions based upon them. The discovery of the Philips Curve in 1967, which implied that with higher levels of inflation you could get lower levels of unemployment, convinced some policy makers at the United States Federal Reserve that easy money could permanently resolve inflation. Both of these factors led to the stagflation of the late 1970s, which completely plagued Western European economies with malaise, and near completely discredited classic Keynesian Economics. Now, this is somewhat unfair to Keynesianism, since they did possess models that could account for this, and John Maynard Keynes did warn against this. However, the popular and political impression was that this was a breakdown of government intervention in general and Keynesianism in particular. This rapidly became replaced by Neoclassical Economics, which emphasized microfoundations, empiricism, and a hybrid form of Post-Keynesian Analysis that borrowed heavily from Monetarism. This is exemplified with the Chicago School in general and Milton Friedman in particular. His magnum opus, A Monetary History of the United States (1867-1960) with Anna J. Schwartz, earned him the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics, as he conclusively proved that the Great Depression was a result of a massive contraction in the Money Supply (M2) caused by the Federal Reserve. This has effectively become the standard accepted interpretation of the Great Depression and the New Deal.

    Friedman's ascendance drove new life into Classical Liberalism, and it swept across the United States with Reagan, the United Kingdom with Margaret Thatcher, in Australia with "economic rationalism", Chinese Style Market Reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and, quite controversially, in Chile under Augusto Pinochet and the "Chicago Boys." The wild success of these programs cemented Reagan's extreme popularity (he won the largest electoral landslide in United States history in 1984, and his successor, George H.W. Bush was elected in another landslide in 1988), and signaled the spread of Neoliberalism throughout the Developed and Developing World. Since this is a particularly U.S. Focused analysis, I will take time to define what I mean by "Reaganomics":

    1. Tight Money Supply to Reduce Inflation
    2. Reducing the Tax Code to cut Marginal Tax Rates and raise Effective Tax Rates
    3. Reduce Government Expenditure
    4. Reduce Government Regulation
    5. Increase Trade through Bi-lateral and Multi-lateral Trade Agreements

    In the first aspect, Reaganomics was a resounding success in curbing inflation. Inflation fell from a peak of 13% in 1980 to about 4% in 1984. This lowered prices across the board for consumers, and led to a sharp increase in wealth of the middle class.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    In the next aspect, Reagan cut tax rates across the board. This part requires some explanation, as there is a concrete difference in the statutory tax rate, which is the tax rate required by the authorities, and the effective tax rate, which is the actual tax rate paid. Since WWII, according to Hauser's Law, tax rates have averaged 19.5%, regardless of any major tax cut or tax increase. Taxation as a percentage of GDP was higher in 1981 following Reagan's tax cuts, when the top marginal tax rate was reduced from 70% to 50%, than it was in the 1950s when it was at 96%. In fact, only a handful of people (sometimes literally a handful, and as low as eight people) paid the top marginal tax rate in the 1950s. Regardless, despite the statutory rate of 96%, the effective tax rate hovered at around 42%. Today, the top marginal tax rate (which includes nearly 4% of the population), is at 36%, a mere 6 percentage point difference.

    Similar gains were made in both trade relations and elimination of government regulations. Today, deregulation has lost its luster, and is often associated with a slashing of consumer and environmental protections. In the 1980s, this was not the case. Instead, there were various government entities that tightly controlled various industries. One example is the Interstate Commerce Commission (which has since been abolished), which auctioned licenses to truckers for carrying goods across state lines. Effectively, they would do this with contract rights, which could be bought and sold by third parties as a security. This was a ludicrous system that legally prohibited interstate commerce for quite literally no reason. It also set maximum prices on interstate travel by railroad, and (according to Friedman) is the main culprit behind the collapse of the U.S. rail industry in favor of the more carbon intensive automobile industry. Similar aspects of deregulation include the break-up of AT&T, which was a government sanctioned private monopoly that owned and operated at its peak over 85% of all telephone, wireless, and telecommunications stations. The break-up of the AT&T system led to the creation of virtually all modern Telecommunications companies from Comcast, to AT&T (formerly Southern Pacific Bell), Verizon, and others. Since then, the government has allowed these companies to form local monopolies and re-merge into massive conglomerates.

    The rise of NAFTA, which was negotiated under George H.W. Bush and signed under Bill Clinton (after campaigning against it), represents the high point of Reaganomics. The erasure of transnational tariffs, import quotas, and trade frictions is largely seen (along with the rise of the internet) as the source of the 1990s economic boom which Bill Clinton took credit for. This resulted in massive economic development in Mexico and the United States, and has created trillions in new economic growth. The unfortunate consequence of this is that regions that formerly made up the industrial and manufacturing belt have been neglected and those industries have faced increasing global pressure. This is a complicated phenomenon and I will discuss this much later.

    Finally, in terms of Government expenditure, the Reagan administration fell noticeably short, and represented one of the largest expansions in the Federal Deficit since World War 2. However, in both absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP, this is trivial compared to later presidents such as Bush, Obama, and, now, Trump (who is responsible for the largest of all time).

    Ultimately, Reaganomics, and the ensuing Neoliberal economic movement was a resounding success, and has been credited with lifting literally billions out of poverty, and dramatically increasing the wealth and productivity of the entire planet. It was so thoroughly effective, that the various Leftist opposition movements were forced to incorporate Neoliberal policies into their platforms. This resulted in New Labour in the United Kingdom---exemplified by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the United Kingdom, and the New Democrats--exemplified by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, int the United States.

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the cascade of revolutions against the various leftist nations of the Warsaw Pact, policy makers across the West became confident (perhaps overconfident) in the efficacy and superiority of Neoliberalism as practiced. This is exemplified by the Washington Consensus, a ten-point program that was designed by policy-makers as a one-size fits all approach to modernizing developing economies. Within the international realm, international relations increasingly became monopolized by the United States under the guise of Neoconservativism and Internationalism. This is exemplified by Francis Fukuyama's triumphalist work The End of History and The Last Man, which argued that humanity had reached the final point of its socio-cultural and economic evolution by developing into relatively free democracies, loosely bound by international organizations that regulated trade relations and policy decisions, with economies based around international capitalism as currently practiced. This led directly to vast continental trade agreements and frameworks, such as the Eurozone, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the other proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

    However, ultimately, all good things must come to an end. In 2008, there was a massive financial crisis in the United States, which was mirrored by a similar financial crisis in Europe. Both of these involved complex crises that arose from market failures and government failures in regulating various financial innovations that arose in the late 1990s and early 2000s in what has come to be termed the Shadow Banking Sector. What this basically is are industries that have sidestepped the tightly regulated Financial Services Sector in several countries (but particularly the United States and United Kingdom, as the two largest centers of international finance). Money Creation, the process by which Central Banks and Private Depository institutions create credit for the entire economy, is considered to be an essential part (in fact, perhaps the most important part) of any modern economy according to virtually all modern economic theories. Recall that Milton Friedman definitively proved that the contraction in the Money Supply was responsible for the Great Depression--as well as partly responsible for the Stagflation of the 1970s. In short, banks need credit. Since credit creation in the normal banking sector is tightly regulated in the United States, this requires the financial services sector to lean on largely unregulated sectors for money creation.

    These sectors typically create complex financial instruments by securitizing traditional and non-traditional assets.

    Example: A major company (let's say General Electric) needs to take out a loan to pay its hundreds of thousands of employees. Traditional bank loans are not enough to finance this, so it turns to a financial market to sell short-term corporate bonds that will mature in 270 days. Since this is a well known company, with a well known credit score, this will be considered a safe investment. However, to hedge against the risk of default, its bonds are cut up and mixed in amongst various different short-term corporate bonds into what are known as tranches. One tranche may be made up of, say, 10% General Electric bonds, and maybe 9 other 10% fractions of other company bonds. This forms a Asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP). ABCP are insured against default against other types of hard assets, typically Real Estate, but more specifically Mortgage Backed Securities. How this insurance works, is that if the value of one asset type decreases, you can "swap" it for another using a derivative contract. Additionally, you can purchase Option contracts to purchase or sell others at a later date as a hedge against depreciation.

    Where this becomes relevant is that the 2008 Financial Crisis started with the Subprime Mortgage industry. There were various factors that went into play in this event. At various points, mortgage lenders were encouraged to lend risky mortgages to individuals with little means of being able to repay them. Additionally, all of these mortgages were required to be securitized by two Federal Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These are oddities in U.S. History, in that you have quasi-government agencies having effective monopolies over key areas of the financial services sector. They are structured like Corporations, but all of their stock is held by the United States Congress, and their corporate leadership is selected by hand by the U.S. Congress. Both of these Federal Agencies were complicit, along with several investment banks, in the vast expansion of MBS that were improperly valued. Many of these mortgages were pegged to the Federal Funds Rate (which increased rapidly between 2004 and 2007), and this caused a systemic collapse within the financial services sector. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as privileged GSEs, were able to invest massively in MBS well beyond what private institutions would be allowed to do. Both GSEs were responsible for investing in approximately $4.5 trillion of MBS, which later proved to be toxic. This required both of these agencies to be nationalized and bailed out by the Federal Government in 2008.

    At the height of the Financial Crisis in 2008, several major investment and commercial banks were forced into bankruptcy. Because traditional channels of credit creation remained highly regulated, many of these banks relied on unregulated or quasi-regulated financial instruments in the Shadow Banking industry. While not all of these were bad (ABCPs being a prime example of a stable asset class), the interlocking Credit Default Swaps and other insurance instruments created an interdependence among sound financial instruments (such as ABCPs) and toxic financial instruments (such as Subprime MBSs). Additionally, the Financial Crisis induced a market panic, which depressed the prices of safe assets more than necessary. This helped cause a chain reaction that led to a market collapse. Now, as a Libertarian and Neoliberal, I would like to point out that at multiple key points the 1) Federal Reserve's interest rate policy, 2) the actions of Government Sanctioned Monopolies (GSEs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), 3) explicit government initiatives, such as subsidies for Low Income Families, and 4) over regulation of traditional credit channels, were all major government actions that significantly contributed to the 2008 Financial Crisis.

    In addition to this, the solutions to the 2008 Financial Crisis also involved explicit government actions which exacerbated many key problems within the system. Firstly, the U.S. Treasury under Hank Paulson pursued a policy of Capital Injections into the major financial institutions to prevent their failure. This involved the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. This involved buying up the toxic assets at market rate to subsidize the banks, which then owed money (with interest) to the U.S. Treasury. This raises interesting questions as to whether or not this was really a Neoliberal solution to the Crisis. Definitively, several colleagues of Milton Friedman (who died in 2006), criticized the act as Price Maintainance rather than Liquidity Injections. In other words, rather than help the market as a whole, they just helped the largest banks, who participated in the crisis in the first place. Secondly, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was well aware of Milton Friedman's thesis, sought to explicitly to avoid another Great Depression, and had the Federal Reserve engage in Open Market operations to increase liquidity in the financial system.

    Ultimately, both of these policies stopped a Second Great Depression, and could be described as successes. However, both of these policies had the effect of the government effectively taking vast sums of moneys (billions in the form of TARP, and trillions in the form of QE) and redistributing it to largely wealthy institutions. So, in one sense, Neoliberalism has succeeded. But in another sense, government intervention still places a very significant role, and is exacerbating existing crises. Do note, however, at no point would an alternative system make sense. Given that we already have government monopolies in the form of GSEs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they made literally no difference in outcome (in fact, one could argue that they disproportionately made things worse). Additionally, at no point would anyone seriously consider taxation policies as being the culprit. It is neither here nor there. Likewise, trade policies are equally not to blame. And yet, these are the culprits that both the Left and Right fictitiously create, and then, in turn, create nonsensical policies to "solve."

    At first glance, wealth inequality appears to be rising. Since the 2008 Financial Crisis, popular sentiment towards Neoliberalism has shifted significantly. On the Left, Capitalism is viewed as a destructive force. Writers like Naomi Klein argued that the Iraq War and the ensuing War on Terror exists solely as a Neoliberal/Neocolonial War to steal the oil wealth of other nations. On the Right, the existing system is viewed to value Jupiterian elites, such as Bankers, International Financiers (muh George Soros), and institutions (such as the IMF, UN, or World Bank), as either out of touch at best, or conspiratorially aligned at worst for financial exploitation at the expense of culture and patriotism.

    While wealth inequality has risen slightly, it's size is essentially overblown. Various members of the Anti-Capitalist left tend to cite increasing levels of the Gini Coefficient as examples of why American Capitalism (which they term just capitalism in general) is morally wrong, and then project this backwards to blame Reagan (something, something, Iran-Contra). From the Congressional Budget Office, raw Gini numbers suggest at first glance that inequality has risen significantly. Unfortunately for Leftists, once you control for Taxation and After Tax Transfers, the Gini Coefficient drops precipitously to 0.43, up slightly from 0.38 in the late 1970s. The OECD averages around 0.35, however, many of these countries are small (like Denmark, or Sweden), and are not major centers of global financial activity, so this can skew the numbers significantly. Likewise, in the case of countries like Sweden, many of their main industries (like IKEA) may be headquartered for tax purposes in other European Countries, which skews their wealth statistics.

    Additionally, gains to the highest quintile (the top 20% of Americans, or roughly those that own $500,000 or more in wealth) appear to be significantly higher than the rest of America, except when you control for taxation and wealth transfers (source: CBO).

    On top of this, many leftists tend to conflate U.S. Wealth inquality, with Global Wealth inequality. U.S. Wealth inequality suggests that top 0.1%, who own about $1.9 Trillion of U.S. National Wealth, own more than the lower 49%. However, in 2015, total U.S. Wealth was estimated to be about $90 trillion, indicating that the top 0.1% only owned approximately 2.1% of all wealth in the United States. What actually is this wealth? Well, about 70% of it is single family homes, valued on average at $500,000. The remaining 30% of it are stocks and bonds, the majority of which are owned by mutual funds and pension funds. About 90% of the wealth in the United States is owned by people making between $50,000 to $400,000 each year. Effectively, this is the Middle Class.

    In terms of Global Statistics, they argue that the top 1% own as much as the bottom 50%. However, this is a bit of sleight of hand. Over 50% of the global wealth is owned by the Developed World (North America and Europe). To be in the Global top 1%, you basically need to own anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000. In the United States, this can be fulfilled by earning $50,000 per year, and owning a single family home valued at $500,000, along with a comparable 401(k) or savings account. Once this reality is exposed, the argument for wealth redistribution, and the crisis of capitalism, laughably implodes.

    Like many myths, wealth inequality has a kernel of truth to it. During the Financial Crisis, a significant amount of middle class wealth was destroyed in the form of housing valuation, mortgages, and financial wealth. In response, the Federal Reserve acted by injecting trillions of dollars of liquidity into the Bond Market through the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Since the average American (neither you, nor I) has direct access to the bond market, this had the effect of replacing the destruction of trillions of dollars of wealth within the middle class, with trillions of dollars of wealth to the extreme upper echelons of the financial sector. Because FOMC actions to inject money in the system rely on buying up bonds, this has the effect of lowering interest rates on Treasury Notes. This in turn forces investors out of the Bond Market (where it is unprofitable), towards alternative markets, such as the stock market and the real estate market. Both of these have witnessed historic increases in valuation, far surpassing what normal markets would permit.

    For real estate, it has already exceeded peak pricing by 20% in nearly every market. For the stock market, according to the Buffet Indicator (Total Stock Market Cap divided by Gross National Product), the stock market is overvalued by 36%. Since nearly 60% of the wealth of the top 0.1% is composed of stocks and bonds, this overvaluation has effectively led to a 36% increase in value (far outstripping any wage gains over the same time). However, since this is an artificial inflation due to a highly unique Monetary Policy, it fails many of the Leftist critiques of this phenomenon as being unique, or necessary to either Capitalism in general, or Neoliberalism in particular.

    Most importantly, as the Federal Reserve works to tighten interest rates, stock prices are expected to continue to fall and contract.

    To Be Continued
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commissar Caligula_ View Post
    And on the third day, God created the Remington bolt-action rifle, so that man could fight the dinosaurs. And the homosexuals. Amen.

  3. #3
    Flinn's Avatar All hail the Dude-hotep!
    Patrician Content Staff Citizen Gaming Director

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    Default Re: POTF 5 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by sumskilz View Post
    Regarding the question of whether it influenced Rome, here's an article on that topic on your favorite website. Seems pretty well sourced.

    Unfortunately we really only have one body of Iron Age Canaanite literature which might be useful for understanding cultural attitudes toward kingship etc.

    Suffet is a Latin interpretation of the Punic word špṭ (plural špṭm), which is not unlike the biblical Hebrew špṭ (plural špṭm). The P is pronounced as an F when it occurs in the middle of a word. The pronunciation was probably something like shofet (plural shoftim), O pronounced like the letter name O, and i like the letter name E.

    In the Book of Judges, we have a collection of stories about various tribal leaders and folk heroes, the word "judges" is the way shoftim has traditionally been translated because it comes from a verb that means "to judge". The collection of probably well known stories at the time looks to be arranged in order to create a particular ideological/theological narrative. The stories are book-ended as follows...

    From the prologue:

    Then Yahweh raised up shoftim, who delivered them [the Israelites] out of the hands of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their shoftim but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to Yahweh’s commands. Whenever Yahweh raised up a shofet for them, he was with the shofet and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the shofet lived; for Yahweh was moved to pity by their groaning under those who oppressed and harassed them.

    The entire collection ends with:

    In those days Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

    It's not clear whether that last line is the work of the redactor or re-purposed to his own meaning.

    Now from the Book of Samuel:

    Samuel told all the words of Yahweh to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This will be the ways of the king who will rule over: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and to be his horsemen, and they will run before his chariots. Some he will appoint commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. He will take your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but Yahweh will not answer you in that day.”

    But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

    So how relevant this material is to attitudes in Carthage isn't really clear, it might be something like using literature from 17th Century Scotland to understand cultural attitudes in 18th Century colonial America, but beggars can't be choosers I guess. In any case, there is definitely a recurring theme of shoftim good, kings bad, at least in the eyes of the prophets, as depicted by the scribes.

    EDIT: Contrary to the prologue of Judges which refers to issues of religious orthodoxy, looking at the stories themselves one could conclude that a shofet traditionally derives his power from his deeds and the people's willingness to follow him. Which seems parallel to the more formalized Carthaginian institution.

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  4. #4

    Default Re: POTF 5 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by basics View Post
    I look back to both Hitler and the Kaiser and see the similarities that both had concerning the Germanic culture for as I see it both had a drive in them that was both personal and patriotic. The strange thing is that we all can be like that yet don't have the opportunities that these men had but put in the same position would we have been any different? Looking across the world today and we see the same drive for power, the same manipulation of peoples to create and keep that power. Can there be any doubt that the world appears to be turning left using any means or accusations to achieve it and we are supposed to have learned from these two world catastrophes yet the bodies are still piling up. Yes Hitler and the Nazis stand out but was/is he any worse than say Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Putin, Saddam Husein, Assad, bin Laden or some of the South American leaders. For me the one thing all had and have is a lack of personal experience of God.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Caduet View Post
    even if you buy the holocaust narrative wholesale, you do realize israeli infiltration of western media was occurring well before the holocaust? By the 1930s, israelis owned 80% of all major Hollywood studios. what a coincidence.
    Its a result of people with no property rights not being involved in farming/aristocracy in Europe, so they get involved in entertainment, banking etc. Its not a conspiracy, its a result of harsh social engineering by anti-semites. In Israel many Jews are farmers, apparently that's a conspiracy too? Not sure what a Jews could do that an anti-Semite would not see as suspicious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caduet View Post
    what even is "antisemitic media" and why would it have anything to do with why israeli-controlled western media is such garbage? The idea that the saudis or anyone else have more clout than the israelis is beyond laughable. I don't see all major presidential candidates being forced to give grovelling speeches in their middle of their campaigns to the Saudi's lobby like they do at the AIPAC convention. I don't see us plunging the middle east into chaos and slaughter on the urging of the Episcopalians or Irish agents. Speaking of Kennedy and AIPAC, did you know that despite clearly being a foreign influence, AIPAC has not had to register under the Foreign Agent's Registration Act? The last serious attempt to do so was by the Kennedy administration in 1963. Kennedy had his brains splattered all over a limo later that year and since then no politician has tried to rein in AIPAC. what a coincidence.
    No president every handled a glowing ball in Jerusalem, or tweeted about declaring war on Qatar at Israel's behest. US presidents have forced through peace deals in Ireland that favoured the Republic, and there are many other examples of important ethnic and political factions who command the president's obedience. Israel serve US interests more than the reverse, and the idea the most powerful country on earth is somehow tricked and led by the nose by a little state that did not exist for the first century and a half of the US' existence is laughable.

    Hitler peddled these lies to get into power, and his stupid lies led to his country being cut into pieces by a Georgian atheist, an English Protestant snob, an even snobbier US Dutchman and an ultra Catholic Frenchman. Apparently all controlled by Jews though. Seriously, this garbage halfwit nonsense is almost funny when you consider it, but then you remember the anti-Semitic scum were the ones who directly caused all that murder and rape.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caduet View Post
    Pathetic attempt at whataboutism aside, there are far more Irish Americans and people of Irish descent in America than israelis. Their presence is hardly disproportionate the ways israelis are, particularly in media, academia and the judiciary.
    Its apposite though because idiot anti-Semitism lumps all Jews together in a seamless lump, in the way that joke lumps Protestant and Catholic Irish together. You can cobble together any number of insane conspiracy theories and if you switch your brain off they start to look reasonable. The world is complicated, anti-Semitism is childishly simple to the point of being mentally retarded.
    Last edited by Prodromos; February 04, 2019 at 06:57 PM.

  5. #5
    Aexodus's Avatar Persuasion>Coercion
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    Default Re: POTF 5 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Goldwater View Post
    Much has already been said about Ralph Northam's atrocious conduct, whether it be his advocacy for infanticide or his racist med-school yearbook photo where he either wore blackface or a Klan hood or his incredibly cringeworthy press conference in response to said photo - where he not only failed to convincingly persuade any viewer with half a brain that he was not in fact either of the guys in said photo shortly after admitting to being one of the two pictured & apologizing for it, but incredibly admitted to having worn blackface before and that he was indeed nicknamed 'Coonman'; went on a tangent to describe how to best apply blackface to oneself using shoe polish like only someone who's done this enough times to be a pro could; and almost moonwalked until his wife, clearly the brains of their relationship, reminded him that that would be inappropriate (to say the least) - so instead of going over all that again, I'll just say that as a Virginian, these past few days have embarrassed my state more than having Corey Stewart as our Senator would have. And that if anyone actually believes the multiple lines of bull Northam's trying to sell now, I've got a dozen bridges in Brooklyn you might be interested in.

    Compounding the embarrassment, Northam had spent the entirety of the 2017 gubernatorial campaign trying to paint his opponent, Ed Gillespie - who, it should be noted, was an establishment Republican rather than the alt-right option (that would be the aforementioned Corey Stewart, an unapologetic birther, neo-Confederate and Pizzagater) - as some sort of demonic white nationalist, even running an ad suggesting his supporters as the kind of people who'd try to run over children. That garbage was laughable to begin with coming from a man who refused to shake his black opponent's hand back in 2013, but now that we know he goes by the moniker 'Coonman' & loves dressing in blackface, Klan hoods or both? It's downright hilarious. And by hilarious I mean memorably so, because I hope Virginia remembers and delivers the Democrats a landslide defeat if they dare pull this outrageously hypocritical race-baiting tripe ever again.
    And yes, as some of the above posters have referenced, as if this storm couldn't get any worse, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax now faces allegations of sexual assault. The man who would have replaced Northam if he had a sufficient sense of shame to resign and who was already preparing to take over his boss's seat when the photo leaked, only to be sorely disappointed when Northam insisted he'd stay has been accused by Vanessa Tyson, a professor at Scripps College, of sexually assaulting her in a Boston hotel during the 2004 Democratic National Convention and has retained the same legal team that represented Christine Blasey Ford. He denies raping her, maintaining that they had sex but it was consensual, and has insinuated that Northam's crew revved this case up to get at him (conversely, given how ready he was to take over the Executive Mansion, I'd say there's a non-zero chance that he in turn may have leaked the yearbook photo to accelerate the succession, not that it particularly matters now). So even if Northam does resign tomorrow, all that will accomplish is replacing the hypocritical racist currently sitting in the Executive Mansion with someone who's under suspicion of being a hypocritical sex offender.

    It tickles me pink that the Washington Post took care to actually look into the story and then decide not to run it because of a lack of corroboration, which in no way stopped them from going all-out against Kavanaugh previously (or any number of other cases, including Gillespie's), and that the same voices that were calling for the Covington kids to be doxxed, hounded or butchered with a sadistic fervor and imagination to match any NKVD interrogator have been utterly silent or at best tepidly called for resignations (followed with no action) in both of these cases - certainly, there's been no push among the Virginia Dems to impeach either. Nevermind that, respectively, the accusation against Fairfax has a specified time and place (unlike the less substantial accusations against Kavanaugh) and Northam's photo was taken when he was in his 20s and not under any duress, unlike the Covington MAGA teenager. The irony here is so sharp that an emo could slit their wrists with it.

    Now, for some good news. Elections for both houses of our General Assembly are due this November, and the Democrats have helpfully decided to implode nine months early. All the Republicans have to do is bring up the yearbook photo, the infanticidal statement, the sex abuse allegations and the raging hypocrisy of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and their party whenever people start to forget. I know I'll be doing my part to keep the memories alive and help run these sanctimonious, race-baiting, two-faced clowns out of office when the time comes. Nevertheless: I share OP's belief that Northam (and now also Fairfax) should not resign for two reasons, firstly because age-old embarrassing yearbook photos from when we were young and stupid shouldn't destroy our lives & because the presumption of innocence still exists (though the Democrats certainly don't seem to believe either of these things as of late, Northam and Fairfax themselves among the least of all), but secondly so that they'll linger long enough to weigh the Democrats down even further in the November elections and make a sweeping GOP victory there & in 2021 that much more likely. No doubt the Virginia GOP has made similar political calculations already, on top of having deduced that although Northam & Fairfax's conduct was decidedly less than stellar, they aren't breaking the state constitution and thus meeting the threshold for impeachment either. This entire week has been nothing short of an utter disgrace and the Virginia Democrats have comprehensively demonstrated that they are in dire need of a stiff rebuke at the hands of the voters.
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  6. #6
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: POTF 5 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by Acco View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Alastor View Post
    And I don't know if Greece has time on its side or whatever. But Greeks do. Even before nations as we know them came to be, this ethnic group has lived in that area and has retained its links to the past. What is the base of your argument anyway? That continuity doesn't exist and is only artificial?
    Speaking about ethnic "continuity" in the Balkans is a risky proposition and you should be careful playing this game. I always like to use the example of Pella, which was the capital of ancient Macedonia but today is just a normal village/town in Greek Macedonia. If you only look at 350 BC and now, you might assume this village has been Greek since time immemorial. That's the Greek nationalist interpretation, at least. However, around 100 years ago, Pella was called Postol and was a thoroughly Slavic village. Actually, one of the first Slavic Macedonian nationalists (Krste Misirkov) was born in this village. Pella hasn't really produced any other important people besides Alexander the Great, Philip II .... and a founding Slavic Macedonian nationalist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yayattasa View Post
    Apart from Paeonia, Dardania and Other Bulgaria, in Yugoslavia the area was briefly known as Vardaska (Vardaria, 1929-41), referring to the Upper Vardar river basin. Do North Macedonians hold a grudge against that name due to Serbian irredentism? Because in my opinion that name distance them from Other Bulgars, Greeks, and Illyrians, and could help cement their own identity.
    From 1929 to 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia imposed geographic names on all of its territory. There was no Serbia, no Macedonia, no Bosnia, etc. Instead, there was Vardarska, Moravska, Dunavska, Drinska, Vrbaska, etc. Not a single one of these names is endearing or eternal to anyone in the Balkans. They were artificial by design, intended to lessen the significance of ethnicity. Nobody in Macedonia will embrace "Vardarska" just as nobody in Croatia will embrace "Savska."

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley_Quinn View Post
    Bulgaria has a history of trying to annex the region of North Macedonia.
    Northern Macedonia was occupied by Bulgaria twice during the 20th century. Bulgaria could never quite understand why their Macedonian 'brothers' didn't accept them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by cfmonkey45 View Post
    So basically, I don't disagree with the NYT article. In fact, I feel it supports my argument. If I could distill it in a sentence, my contention is that the narrative is that the top 1% has its wealth, or "surplus" wealth, at the expense of the 99%. That is the contention of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and its echoes in the nascent Progressive movement. Additionally, there is this contention that wealth ownership is marble cake. There's a few people at the top who own all of the wealth. In reality, its more of a marble cake, with large swathes of the middle class being participants as investors, homeowners, sole proprietors, small business and medium business owners.
    I'm not saying you're necessarily in disagreement here. Actually, you're on point on many things, including the breakdown of the top 1% and the top 10%. The most egregious mistake here really is in lumping in 50-400$k income brackets together. Once you're past 100k$ income you're in the top 20% and no longer part of the "middle class" at all. It is also a fact that the vast majority of wealth is concentrated towards the top. That's not really an issue in and of itself, but the increasing shift towards the top, and the current breakdown of wealth, is.

    I doubt you will find a significant number of people who will outright say, or even privately think, that millionaires are evil or shouldn't be millionaires. We all want to be wealthy and hardly anyone begrudges the hard work somebody puts in to become one. The issue is, when the wealthiest Americans get the biggest tax breaks. Now granted, most people don't even pay a lot of taxes, but why should the rich get even more money? You could spend that money on the bottom of the society instead, provide them with healthcare, education, and other opportunities. There's a lot you can do to help out the bottom 80% Americans. The bottom 80% Americans don't need less tax burden, they need more direct assistance. So why is the deficit being spent on the top section of society who is already well off? The answer is "trickle-down". Now I know that's not an actual policy or anything, I am a graduate of Econ myself, but it's the "de-facto" fiscal police of the last 30 years.

    Debt is growing because interest rates are low. This was a MAJOR cause in the Subprime Mortgage crisis as well. We will likely have another crisis because of QE and because we can't learn from our mistakes.
    That's not why I brought it up. I bring up debt to illustrate that the majority of debt, which fuels growth and the pockets of corporate America, impacts the bottom 80% of society much more than the top 20%. I had to take out loans and grants for my college education. I had to. I didn't have a choice, otherwise I wouldn't go to college. I would've much appreciated a free college education, rather than a tax cut for the rich.

    Let me reemphasize this more clearly: if you do not understand the root causes, then you basically have no idea what the correct solution is. I am well aware of their proposed solutions, but I am saying that since they do not understand the core causes, these solutions will fall flat on their asses.
    Not particularly. The 2008 crisis is already done. There's no "crisis" to solve. The populists aren't talking about solving a crisis or anything, they simply want a more equitable distribution of wealth and income in America. Which I think is a perfectly fair argument.

    Ok, so, this is the nuanced portion of my argument. Let me spell this out more directly.

    Now, who is to blame? Is it the Alternative Banking Industry? Is it Traditional Banks? Is it the Fed, or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Is it Congress? Is it President Bush? Is it the Federal Reserve?

    It's these "congressmen" who were bought by the banks. In reality, there was a significant improvisation, with flawed theories, and flawed government policies that caused this crisis. Rather than engage in either conspiracy theories, or populism, I'm interested in understanding the causes and developing solutions based on that.
    Okay, I'm going to snip this part, because you're explaining things to me I already know. I've debated comprehensively about the 2008 crisis and I don't peddle conspiracy theories. In fact, I rather agree with the mainstream argument spelled out in this report. The Populists aren't arguing about the financial crisis. Their main rhetoric is about the current distribution of income and wealth in America. Which quite frankly, is piss poor and stacked way towards the top.

    The top 1% pay over 39% of all tax receipts to the Federal government, despite making 20.65% of all income. If this is too low, what is the ideal number?
    There is no ideal number, but currently Americans live in debt, paycheck to paycheck, and lack many critical services that other countries have. To fix and fund these inequities we need to get the money from somewhere, namely those who can afford it the most, which will have to be the top 20%.

    Also, how

    You should include this picture instead.

    And don't forget sales taxes, which fund most local and state governments, with notable exceptions of course. However, the sales tax is a highly regressive tax and the people who pay it the most is the average american, not the top 1%.

    Tbh, I haven't finished fleshing out my arguments, hence why I had several links bookmarked sketching out what I want to talk about. The biggest issue I have with politics is that we are focusing on the wrong issues. We are focusing on taxation, not spending.
    Don't feel like I'm attacking you. I have some issues with our post, but it's overall very good and something I mostly agree with. I also agree, we need to approach government budgets holistically, spending and taxation. Both matter.

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