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Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #25 on: 25/03/2007 22:21:36 »
We seem to disagree about what the natural equilibrium state for wealth is. So far as I can see you think that the natural (low energy if you like) state is an even distribution. I certainly don't see mmuch money ending up with the poor.. What exactly do you mena by "the lowest societal level"?
I think that a lumpy distribution where the money is with a few plutocrats is, unfortunately, the low energy state. I'm happy to see that Islam, along with many other systems, sees this as a problem and seeks to address it.
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #26 on: 26/03/2007 02:36:27 »
Hi Bored chemist,

I have already explained everything in your post in previous posts and would rather not have to type it again. Please consider some of my previous posts for a response.

Also, by "the lowest societal level", you can think of homelessness, poverty, working more than full time and still not being able to earn a living wage.

As an aside, I found your post to be somewhat confusing, partly because you are claiming I said things that I never actually said. For instance, I never made any claim on some standard "natural equilibrium state" for wealth. I general, and I have said this over and over again, I am only referring to the tendency of wealth to equilibrate among the various societal levels and make no claim on it actually equilibrating. As pointless of an argument as this might seem, the reason that I make it is to be able to say that it is the unequal distribution of wealth as we see today that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic in nature rather than vice versa.

I guess I ended up rewriting much of what I already said after all... :D
 

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« Reply #27 on: 26/03/2007 04:20:21 »
Hi another_someone,

Quote
A system that is in equilibrium is without the capacity to change, and such a system is for all practical purposes, a dead system.

This is a meaningless statement as far as context is concerned. This "dead" system would entail equality for all human beings.

In death we are all equal, but is that necessarily a desirable outcome?

OK, I know we are talking about a dead economic/monetary system, rather than directly dead human beings; but it still does beg the question as to whether a dead monetary system serves human society any value?

If, no matter what you or I did, we were to always have the same amount of money as everybody else, then why would we try and do anything to change the amount of money we had, because we would, no matter what we did, be incapable of making any such change.  In that scenario, the primary value of money, to motivate human action, would be nullified.  So what value would money have.  In such a scenario, we would have no money at all, since that which we might now regard as money would no longer function as money, so they would be worthless pieces of paper.

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Yes, we could consider a hypothetical economic system that was in its lowest energy state, but such a system would have no dynamic, and thus be useless as an economic system.

Consider my original post again and notice how I specifically did not repeat the part about "lowest energy state" as part of the analogy; the reason being that energy is not as relevant to the context of a state as is societal levels. And considering societal levels instead of energy makes the critical difference.

The term 'energy' has a number of meanings (which can be confusing when one simultaneously talks of conservation of energy and consumption of energy – but they are two different meanings for energy).

In general terms, energy is that which causes action; and something is considered to be at its lowest energy state if it is no longer capable of any further action (at least without an input from an external energy source).  In that respect, a monetary system that is in a stable state of 'equilibrium' should be in a state where it cannot move out of that equilibrium, otherwise we cannot regard that state as stable, but merely transitory.  That is what I meant by being at the lowest energy state.

In that respect, if the monetary system is in a permanently stable state, it follows that it can no longer do any work (i.e. perform a useful function) for society.



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In order for a system to perform work, it must have a dynamic, and thus must not be in a state of minimum energy where no more useful work can be done by the system.

Again, I specifically did not mention an economic system being in a state of minimum energy, let alone an economic system as they have nothing to do with the argument. Can you even qualitatively describe to yourself what it means to have high or low energy states in an economic system?

I think that is what I have done above.

Anyway, I was talking about the monetary system, not economic systems which use the monetary system as a medium through which wealth is transferred. As such, this is not so much a critique of capitalism as it is a critique of man-made systems (but I suppose that delves into a topic of its own).

Whether one makes a distinction in the present social context between the monetary or the economic system (since many would regard money as merely a measure of economic value), the underlying fact remains that any system, of whatever nature, is only useful insofar as it is capable of doing work, and once a system ceases to do work, it no longer functions as a meaningful system.

If money does not work for human society, then it ceases to have any useful meaning to human society.

 

another_someone

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« Reply #28 on: 26/03/2007 05:39:23 »
I think that a lumpy distribution where the money is with a few plutocrats is, unfortunately, the low energy state.

I actually think that money is far more complex than that.  That its natural state is to be unevenly distributed is a reasonable comment, but that money is its own attractor is too much of an oversimplification, and if that were to be the case, the monetary system would long ago have reached such a low energy state, and having reached that state would have lost any dynamic in the system, and thus causing a collapse of the system.

While it is true that the rich get richer, it is also true that the rich can get spectacularly bankrupt - so there are limiting factors that reverse the flow of money, and this is what keeps the system going.

It is also the case that money only has as much value as whatever you buy with it; so a rich man who never spends his money has no money (in any practical sense, since buying nothing with it, the money merely has a theoretical value that is never actually realised).

All of this means that while money will always attract money, there are pulls in both direction, that while causing the system to be lumpy, do not simply creating black holes into which money enters but never leaves.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #29 on: 26/03/2007 09:14:41 »
The point of all this is to be able to say that the unequal distribution of wealth around the world is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic. And further more any system that supports the natural tendency for wealth to equilibrate (such as the Islamic commandment to return all excess profits to the central government for redistribution to the poor), will be sustainable in the long term.

Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2007 09:16:56 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #30 on: 26/03/2007 12:02:11 »
Hi another_someone,

Although I can't expect everyone to read every post that I write, if you want an engaging discussion, you should consider reading some of my previous posts as they address the central theme of your post.

Basically your understanding is that I am referring to some sort of socialist ideals when I talk about equality of distribution of wealth. Consider some of my previous quotes:

Quote
I general, and I have said this over and over again, I am only referring to the tendency of wealth to equilibrate among the various societal levels and make no claim on it actually equilibrating. As pointless of an argument as this might seem, the reason that I make it is to be able to say that it is the unequal distribution of wealth as we see today that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic in nature rather than vice versa.

Quote
Ultimately, the reason I bring all this up is mostly because I am tired of hearing the idea that the inequality across the world is a natural phenomenon and that achieving equality among all humans (in term of have the basic needs of life met; not the socialist ideals of forced equality of wealth) is idealistic thinking of the worst kind and completely unpractical.

Following from the argument I have made thus far, I would argue that it is the current model of extreme accruement of wealth among a small group of individuals that is idealistic and unpractical as it runs counter to natural effects of all equilibriums.

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There is a big difference between being able to work for extra wealth and 1% of the world's population owning 40% of economic wealth don't you think? I am not a supporter of socialist principles where everyone should be forced to have exactly equal wealth. In Islam, there is room for ownership, running a business and generating profit and all that good stuff, the only difference being that Muslims are commanded to give back to the community "all that is in excess" via the central government.

P.S. I'm not like keeping a record on the posts or anything  ::)
I found those posts by simply searching for "socialist" in the reply section.
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #31 on: 26/03/2007 12:36:59 »
Since I am being confused for supporting socialist principles, I think a disclaimer is necessary:

By equality in distribution of wealth, I do not mean forced and exact equality in wealth. So long as the wealth distribution curve does not look like the Eiffel tower or even the pyramids, I have no problem [O8)]

Quote
Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.

The assumption was that money (the pieces of paper in your wallet) does not move of its own accord (obviously). Whereas water has a natural driving force (gravity) for moving to its lowest energy state, the pieces of paper in your wallet have no such natural driving force (again, obviously).

However, and I guess I have not really elaborated on this, I mentioned in a previous post that money and wealth are just representations of the raw material attained from economy. There isn’t any particular species towards which food, one type of raw material, gravitates towards. Food naturally becomes available equally for all species. It is this natural tendency for equality in distribution that I am referencing when I say that wealth “wants” to gravitate towards the lower societal levels. While there is no driving force for money, there is a driving force for the raw materials which equally become available to all species which is the natural cycles of the earth.

So, again, I do live on this planet too so please don't think that I have assumed something so illogical as money and wealth themselves magically move around by the wind or something to find poor people. Money and wealth don't have a driving force themselves, however seeing as how they represent raw materials which are meant to, in general, equally present themselves to those who need them, they too can be thought to want to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state. So, following this logic, the only nation states that can exist in the long term are those that adopt wealth distribution methods that act as driving forces similar to the naturally occuring ones.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2007 12:55:58 by namaan »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #32 on: 26/03/2007 13:59:17 »
Food naturally becomes available equally for all species.

Sorry, but I disagree. Species develop to fill niches, to consume available food. If a food source dries up the animals will perish.
 

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« Reply #33 on: 26/03/2007 14:13:01 »
Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.

Are humans outside nature?

What is the meaning of unnatural?  Does it have any more meaning than supernatural?

If it is, how can it be unnatural, unless one judges something as being outside of nature (e.g. God)?
 

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« Reply #34 on: 26/03/2007 14:34:16 »
As an aside, I found your post to be somewhat confusing, partly because you are claiming I said things that I never actually said. For instance, I never made any claim on some standard "natural equilibrium state" for wealth. I general, and I have said this over and over again, I am only referring to the tendency of wealth to equilibrate among the various societal levels and make no claim on it actually equilibrating. As pointless of an argument as this might seem, the reason that I make it is to be able to say that it is the unequal distribution of wealth as we see today that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic in nature rather than vice versa.

the point is that money has many competing tendencies, which is why it keeps working.

If money had a single, simple, tendency (in any direction – whether it was towards centralism or towards equal distribution), sooner or later it will have all flowed in one direction or another, and would have nowhere else to flow.  Money works, and keeps working, because there are both centralising forces and distributing forces, and these are constantly in tension.

You can debate whether the forces of distribution ought to be stronger, and the forces of centralisation ought to be weaker, but practical observation shows they are not.  If the theory and the practice disagree, it is usually a reasonable assumption to make that the theory is at fault.
 

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« Reply #35 on: 26/03/2007 15:02:12 »
By equality in distribution of wealth, I do not mean forced and exact equality in wealth. So long as the wealth distribution curve does not look like the Eiffel tower or even the pyramids, I have no problem [O8)]

Are we talking here about your preferences, or the natural preferences of the monetary system?

I have no problem with your preferences, but I do have a problem with the notion that because you or I would wish it to be so, thus it must naturally be so.

The assumption was that money (the pieces of paper in your wallet) does not move of its own accord (obviously). Whereas water has a natural driving force (gravity) for moving to its lowest energy state, the pieces of paper in your wallet have no such natural driving force (again, obviously).

Money is not a piece of paper, it is the sentiment (i.e. the trust placed in the value) associated with those pieces of paper.  Today, a piece of paper can buy you a house, while tomorrow that same piece of paper may not even buy you a loaf of bread (I am making assumptions the the relative values of bread and houses are as we see them today, and am only making a statement that the value of the money in your pocket can change, even as the pieces of paper themselves do not move anywhere).

However, and I guess I have not really elaborated on this, I mentioned in a previous post that money and wealth are just representations of the raw material attained from economy.

In an idealised world, this would be so; but in the real world, money is simply a way of measuring power.  Clearly, having control over necessary raw materials is a way of accumulating power, but power distribution has always been more complex than that.  More to the point, there is a natural positive feedback cycle that allows that if you have power, it allows you to assert greater control over essential resources, and the greater control you have over essential resources, so the more power you will accrue.

Long before the days of the modern complex moneyed society, there were kings and there were slaves.  The abolition of each (Kings have not been abolished, but where they do survive, they have tended to lose much of their historic power) has been commensurate with the rise of money (I know that money is much older than that, but its social significance has clearly been amplified over the last few centuries).  As the roles of King and slave have reduced, so money has made its own kings and its own slaves, although they are not called so.

In that respect, money has not really changed very much, except that it has given us a new way to measure that which always was there.

There isn’t any particular species towards which food, one type of raw material, gravitates towards. Food naturally becomes available equally for all species.

Are we talking species here, or individuals within a species (arguments exist for each, but individuals within a given species will inevitably be far more in direct competition over the same resources than would inevitably be the case between species, where different species might utilise different resources).

In both cases, shortages do arise (although they do fluctuate from year to year, from decade to decade, from century to century).

Generally, an animal with more power (the alpha male and his mates) will have access to more, or better, food; while other individuals will be relegated further to the margins.  Clearly, the smaller the social unit, the less capacity there is for social inequality (an ant colony, having millions of members, will have much more inequality between the queen and the workers, than a troop of 30 monkeys).
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #36 on: 26/03/2007 18:15:05 »
Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.

Are humans outside nature?

What is the meaning of unnatural?  Does it have any more meaning than supernatural?

If it is, how can it be unnatural, unless one judges something as being outside of nature (e.g. God)?

Confusion of semantics again; I'm a psychologist, you're a scientist, so differing terminology. I'm not asserting that humans are outside of nature. When referring to human nature I mean the way humans think & behave.

There are those who argue that all behaviour is predictable; it's just that we don't yet know the rules involved. Personally, I don't concur with that viewpoint. Therefore when I say that human interference is not a natural process I mean there are no universal laws that stipulate that humans will behave in a particular way under particular circumstances. There are certain laws in physics, for instance, that apply equally everywhere - Boyle's law, Hook's law etc - but there are none that can be applied to human behaviour (or, at least, none that we have yet discovered; and I doubt we ever will).

For that reason I consider everything that humans play a part in must be unnatural - it is not inevitable that it happens.

As you rightly pointed out, wealth is not just paper money. Paper money is 1 representation of wealth. Among the Maasai of East Africa wealth & status is measured in cattle. Cattle do not "tend to spread out equally". Left to their own devices they will just wander where they want with a tendency to stick close together.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #37 on: 26/03/2007 21:34:32 »
Namaan,
What you said in the very first post is this
"the system describing the flow of wealth or money will tend towards equilibrium and thus naturally tends towards the lowest societal level available to it "
then you clarified "lowest societal level" thus

"Also, by "the lowest societal level", you can think of homelessness, poverty, working more than full time and still not being able to earn a living wage."

I may have missed the point, but doesn't that mean you think the "lowest" level to which wealth flows is those unfortunates in poverty?
My observation is that it does not, rather the reverse is true and the rich get richer.
If that's not what you meant then please explain.
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #38 on: 26/03/2007 22:40:07 »
First of all, I largely skipped over the arguments about how “money is not paper”. That has nothing to do with this argument and is just a matter of semantics. I have been using the phrase “money and wealth” for a while now so it should be obvious what was meant. For consistency’s sake, I’ll just stop using the word “money” and stick to “wealth”.

Quote
the point is that money has many competing tendencies, which is why it keeps working.

If money had a single, simple, tendency (in any direction – whether it was towards centralism or towards equal distribution), sooner or later it will have all flowed in one direction or another, and would have nowhere else to flow.  Money works, and keeps working, because there are both centralising forces and distributing forces, and these are constantly in tension.

This is also a matter of semantics. In my understanding for something to have a tendency to do something means that it naturally does something without regards to external forces. Following this understanding, water has a single tendency as governed by the gravitational force, which is to go down. Even so, you can get water to do many things outside this tendency such as run a steam engine, take part in nuclear power plants, generate electricity in dams and so on. This is done by applying energy to the water which otherwise only has a straightforward tendency to go down.

Similarly, once again considering the following:

Quote
Food naturally becomes available equally for all species. It is this natural tendency for equality in distribution that I am referencing when I say that wealth “wants” to gravitate towards the lower societal levels. While there is no driving force for money, there is a driving force for the raw materials which equally become available to all species which is the natural cycles of the earth…. Money and wealth don't have a driving force themselves, however seeing as how they represent raw materials which are meant to, in general, equally present themselves to those who need them, they too can be thought to want to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state.

I would argue that wealth also has only one tendency, which is to “go down” to the lower societal levels (in possibly more effective terms, to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state of existence). But you can get this wealth to do many things outside this tendency such as the effects of the “centralizing forces” you mentioned (specifically the actions of the “elite”).

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Are we talking here about your preferences, or the natural preferences of the monetary system?

Throughout the entire discussion, I have consistently spoken of the “natural tendency” of wealth to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state (or at least had a similar meaning). Just because I like this thinking doesn’t change the fact that I refer to this tendency as natural laws just as one would consider gravity to be a natural law. In fact this was the very point of the analogy I made between the laws describing the flow of water and those describing the flow of wealth in my very first post.

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In an idealised world, this would be so; but in the real world, money is simply a way of measuring power.  Clearly, having control over necessary raw materials is a way of accumulating power, but power distribution has always been more complex than that.  More to the point, there is a natural positive feedback cycle that allows that if you have power, it allows you to assert greater control over essential resources, and the greater control you have over essential resources, so the more power you will accrue.

So, if the oil companies tomorrow could, for some reason, no longer find a single person to work for them anymore, and thus no more oil (a raw material) can be extracted from the earth, the people running these companies will somehow magically remain in power?

Quote
Are we talking species here, or individuals within a species (arguments exist for each, but individuals within a given species will inevitably be far more in direct competition over the same resources than would inevitably be the case between species, where different species might utilise different resources).

In both cases, shortages do arise (although they do fluctuate from year to year, from decade to decade, from century to century).

You responded for me, while there are shortages, there are also surpluses, but while there may be fluctuations, in general, equilibrium is maintained.

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Generally, an animal with more power (the alpha male and his mates) will have access to more, or better, food; while other individuals will be relegated further to the margins.

And yet, in general, equilibrium is maintained as all members of a species are fed. This isn’t about how the animals treat each other; frankly that’s not an excuse for comparison to humans anyway with the brain capacity allotted to us.

Quote
Clearly, the smaller the social unit, the less capacity there is for social inequality (an ant colony, having millions of members, will have much more inequality between the queen and the workers, than a troop of 30 monkeys).

I never made any claim about a particular species’ capacity to get resources

And Bored chemist,

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My observation is that it does not, rather the reverse is true and the rich get richer.

Unfortunately, I have responded to this observation too many times to repeat.

{phew}

I am rather overwhelmed by the amount of interest that this post has generated. Or maybe its because I am spending so much time on the replies that you guys want to have some sympathy and make some response if nothing else ;D

Anyway, I probably won’t be able to post any replies again for a bit, unless they can be done in a sentence or two.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2007 22:55:44 by namaan »
 

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« Reply #39 on: 27/03/2007 00:27:36 »
This is also a matter of semantics. In my understanding for something to have a tendency to do something means that it naturally does something without regards to external forces. Following this understanding, water has a single tendency as governed by the gravitational force, which is to go down. Even so, you can get water to do many things outside this tendency such as run a steam engine, take part in nuclear power plants, generate electricity in dams and so on. This is done by applying energy to the water which otherwise only has a straightforward tendency to go down.

Sorry, but you are being wholly inconsistent here.

You are:

  • for something to have a tendency to do something means that it naturally does something without regards to external forces
  • Following this understanding, water has a single tendency as governed by the gravitational force, which is to go down

But is not the gravitational force an external force?

In the absence of any external force, water has a tendency to do nothing at all.

Similarly, once again considering the following:

I would argue that wealth also has only one tendency, which is to “go down” to the lower societal levels (in possibly more effective terms, to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state of existence). But you can get this wealth to do many things outside this tendency such as the effects of the “centralizing forces” you mentioned (specifically the actions of the “elite”).

When you say 'similarly' – do you mean that you similarly regard a single force as not being an external force at all, and regard all other forces as external forces, and then regard that single force as pertaining to a natural tendency?

So, if the oil companies tomorrow could, for some reason, no longer find a single person to work for them anymore, and thus no more oil (a raw material) can be extracted from the earth, the people running these companies will somehow magically remain in power?

If the oil company is offering people good money to work for them, then you will have to explain why people are refusing to work for them?

It is possible that a government passes legislation that makes it illegal for people to work for oil companies, but that would merely be a demonstration that the power of government still exceeds the power of oil companies, but that too is dependent upon the government not being bankrupt (i.e. a bankrupt government would not be able to afford to pay to police its laws, and so the law would be futile).
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Generally, an animal with more power (the alpha male and his mates) will have access to more, or better, food; while other individuals will be relegated further to the margins.

And yet, in general, equilibrium is maintained as all members of a species are fed.

Are you really trying to say that in the wild no animal ever starves?

This isn’t about how the animals treat each other; frankly that’s not an excuse for comparison to humans anyway with the brain capacity allotted to us.

But humans are animals, and beneath the veneer, we still behave as any other animal behaves.

Furthermore, if you are talking about the way a system behaves (and you have consistently referred to the monetary system), then the assumption is that the system has a behaviour that is not under the concious control of humans (you have argued you are not trying to propose a controlled economic system, but are looking at the natural way the monetary system works without explicit controls applied to it).

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Clearly, the smaller the social unit, the less capacity there is for social inequality (an ant colony, having millions of members, will have much more inequality between the queen and the workers, than a troop of 30 monkeys).

I never made any claim about a particular species’ capacity to get resources

Neither was I – I was referring to the size of the social unit, without regard to the species that composes that social unit.
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #40 on: 27/03/2007 17:04:06 »
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But is not the gravitational force an external force?

In official scientific terms, yes, obviously. I don't know what else to call this, but by external forces, I guess I am essentially referring to all forces that are directed by humans; thus human directed forces? A better way of saying it might be intrinsic forces (gravity and such) versus extrinsic forces (forces directed by humans).

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When you say 'similarly' – do you mean that you similarly regard a single force as not being an external force at all, and regard all other forces as external forces, and then regard that single force as pertaining to a natural tendency?

?

I don't know what you said since what you said arises from a misunderstanding that I pointed out above.

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Are you really trying to say that in the wild no animal ever starves?

There was a reason why I put "in general" in bold.

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But humans are animals, and beneath the veneer, we still behave as any other animal behaves.

You didn't even bother to account for a humans brain having much greater capacity for thinking and reasoning.

Unless of course you would like to place your existence at the same plane of cognition as that of an ape.
« Last Edit: 27/03/2007 17:10:25 by namaan »
 

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« Reply #41 on: 27/03/2007 20:26:53 »
Quote
But is not the gravitational force an external force?

In official scientific terms, yes, obviously. I don't know what else to call this, but by external forces, I guess I am essentially referring to all forces that are directed by humans; thus human directed forces? A better way of saying it might be intrinsic forces (gravity and such) versus extrinsic forces (forces directed by humans).

But even if one removes humans from the equation, there are numerous 'natural' forces acting upon water – whether it be the heat of the Sun, or the tidal forces of the moon (the last is actually still a gravitational force, but it is one that causes tides to rise and ebb in relation to the Earth).

The reason why rain keeps on falling is because the water keeps getting up into the upper atmosphere.  If there were only one force, going in only one direction, once the rain fell, it could never fall again, and the entire water cycle of the planet would cease (this has absolutely nothing to do with human activity – it has been happening long before humans ever developed on this planet).

It was the same thing I was trying to say about the money system – unless there were forces driving it in both directions, one could not sustain a perpetual system (what goes in one direction, in order that it may come back again, must at some time go in the other direction, otherwise, once it has all moved in one direction, it would cease to move anywhere ever again).

Another, very simple example, is a rail network.  You cannot have all the trains only ever moving in one direction (unless you have a circular line – which I shall exclude from this example, and is in any case a rarity), otherwise the railway companies would soon run out of rolling stock, and the railway would cease to function.  Thus, you must have trains moving in both directions in order to be able to keep the railways running (even if, and it often happens, they have to run the trains empty just to make sure they get back to where they started).  The same is true of both money and of water – there must be a way for money (and water) to get back to where it started from, and thus there must be forces driving that money back to its starting point, just as there must be forces driving money in the other direction (and for the system to remain dynamic, those two forces must operate over different time periods).


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Are you really trying to say that in the wild no animal ever starves?

There was a reason why I put "in general" in bold.

All animals, whether human or non-human, die of something.  I cannot tell you offhand what percentage of animals die of starvation, what percentage of predation, and what percentage of disease.  Certainly, in general a higher percentage of non-human animals die of predation that human animals do; so that is a factor that would slightly skew the percentages in the other two categories.  That aside, certainly food shortages are a very significant killer in the non-human world; although this may be more skewed towards the very young (as bad as human infant mortality may appear, it is still but a small fraction of what infant mortality is amongst most non-human species, and those infants who make it into adulthood are likely to be tougher than their human counterparts because of the greater odds against them surviving to adulthood).

Furthermore, very few, if any, non-human animals outside of a zoo (or those kept as pets, etc.) will ever survive into what we might regard as old age.

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But humans are animals, and beneath the veneer, we still behave as any other animal behaves.

You didn't even bother to account for a humans brain having much greater capacity for thinking and reasoning.

Unless of course you would like to place your existence at the same plane of cognition as that of an ape.

Many biologists would class us as apes, and make no significant distinction.

Clearly, there are differences, mostly in the complexity of the social organisation we undertake; but motivationally, and biologically, there is not a great deal of difference (and the more we learn about apes, the more difficult it becomes to draw a clear line between other apes and ourselves – we know apes are capable of using tools, of using signalling devices, and or undertaking planned ambushes and acts of warfare).

That is though somewhat irrelevant to the matter in hand.  The money system is a chaotic system, that is not amenable to long term prediction, let alone to concious control.  Those who are best at making even approximate short and medium term predictions about the way the money system works, tend to make a small fortune on successful speculation on the money and commodities markets.  Some have in the past managed to interfere, and thus control, the short term activity of a small corner of the money and commodity markets – it is illegal, and their success can be only limited to a small corner of the whole system, and only for a short period of time, but for that alone the rewards (if you can get away with it) are tremendous.

The long term predication and management of the entire money system is as unattainable to human concious control as is the long term management of the weather (and each is probably equally as undesirable).
« Last Edit: 27/03/2007 20:45:18 by another_someone »
 

Offline namaan

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« Reply #42 on: 30/03/2007 13:29:07 »
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But even if one removes humans from the equation, there are numerous 'natural' forces acting upon water – whether it be the heat of the Sun, or the tidal forces of the moon (the last is actually still a gravitational force, but it is one that causes tides to rise and ebb in relation to the Earth).

You are right; in this regard, the terminology I used was pretty stupid. While the point I was trying to make seems straightforward to me, language is not allowing me to present it as straighforwardly as I would like. Well, that's what happens when you make up the argument as you go along. Anyway, it did start as a rant afterall and like all good rants, its time to close.
 

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« Reply #43 on: 11/04/2007 09:49:00 »
I have just caught up with this thread and have skimmed through it but it appears that no one has picked up the fundamental flaw in the original arguments.  Whilst I agree that there is a general tendancy for things to "run downhill"  this definitely does not mean that all systems tend towards a uniform equilibrium near the centre of their range.  Any familiarity with control theory would show clearly that there are many final states for systems in general and these include equilibriums in varous parts of their range from one extreme to another they also include the possibility of there being no stable state as in limit cycle oscillations.

To determine which situation may apply to a complex system requires a full knopwledge of all the parameters that affect it and the way that they interact.  Economics is incredibly complex  far more so than most normal physical systems like (for example) the way a blob of hydrogen and helium etc becomes a star and evolves.
 

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« Reply #44 on: 11/04/2007 13:29:51 »
Economics is incredibly complex  far more so than most normal physical systems like (for example) the way a blob of hydrogen and helium etc becomes a star and evolves.

Not sure that it is more complex, only that we understand the two from a different scale.

With hydrogen, we have studied lots of hydrogen on a macroscopic scale in the lab, and we can observe lots of hydrogen before, after, and during start formation within the wider universe.

Our understanding of economic systems is as if we had wandered into a huge hydrogen cloud, studied it an an atomic scale in vivo, but had no capability to study it in vitro, and no ability to observe comparable gas clouds in nature in various stages of evolution.  I would doubt that with those limited observations, we would ever have been able to reliably been able to predict that whet the long term evolution of a gas cloud would be.

Even today, we might (by various in vitro studies, and wider observation) be able to say that stars formed from gas clouds, but could we really be able to accurately predict the future history of a particular region of a gas cloud - will it become part of a star, or escape - will all hydrogen become part of a star sooner or later?

The difference between the two is not one of innate complexity of the system, but the distance between what we are trying to predict and what we have been able to study - hence the calculations we must use are inherently complex in order to span the wider gulf (and at present, wholly unverifiable); but the inherent system is no more complex.
 

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« Reply #45 on: 12/04/2007 00:39:03 »
Most stars form and evolve in precisely predictable ways that are only controlled by the mass of material present in the star. 
 

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« Reply #46 on: 12/04/2007 01:20:03 »
Most stars form and evolve in precisely predictable ways that are only controlled by the mass of material present in the star. 

I agree with that, but it is predictable only because we have been able to research how hydrogen behaves on a large scale - we have built fusion explosions on Earth, we have looked at stars in different stages of formation, etc.

What I was saying is that we cannot predict how economies behave on a large scale because we have not been able to study large numbers of such economies on a large scale.

We can only study economies on the atomic scale, and what I was saying is that if our entire experience of how hydrogen behaves is based on one isolated cloud of hydrogen that we could study at an atomic level, without being able even to see a single star (and thus no reason to suspect that stars could even be formed), then how would we be able to make the accurate prediction we can about the behaviour of hydrogen clouds.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2007 01:27:18 by another_someone »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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« Reply #47 on: 12/04/2007 09:29:04 »
As I said economies are much more complex and subject to a vast number of variables but there are occasions when economies can be considered as isolated and it is possible to learn a lot from the study of how economies have worked in the past but I agree that the knowledge is far from complete.
 

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« Reply #47 on: 12/04/2007 09:29:04 »

 

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