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Rajiv
12-01-07, 11:30 PM
A DIARY OF THE ONSET OF THE GREATER DEPRESSION (http://carolynbaker.net/site/content/view/234/)- A book Review by Carolyn Baker of Danny Schechter's e-book SQUEEZED The entire book can be down loaded here (http://www.coldtype.net/debt.html)




http://carolynbaker.net/site/images/depression%20unemployment.gif

For more years than I can count I've heard Danny Schechter's name bandied about in progressive circles, but for all his tireless activism, he did not fully capture my attention until I saw his stunning documentary "In Debt We Trust (http://www.indebtwetrust.org/)." By that time I had forsaken my myopic focus on imperialism, the Iraq War, the Democratic Party, and of course, Bush-bashing. It was becoming painfully and increasingly clear to me that history was repeating itself, and being an historian, I was well aware that it never does so in exactly the same manner but often with enough mirroring of earlier eras that it behooves human beings to sit up and pay attention.

About the same time that "In Debt We Trust" appeared on my radar screen, Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis was released, hammering home the inescapable similarities between the fall of the Roman Empire and the demise of the United States. Despite the divergence of focus between Schechter's documentary and Johnson's Nemesis, both ultimately reveal that the American empire is descending into catastrophic financial collapse, already bankrupt, which will eventually result in the abject impoverishment of all but a very few of its privileged inhabitants.

After purchasing "In Debt We Trust" I showed it regularly to a particularly endangered species in the empire's economic war on its own citizens, students. As a result, many "come to Jesus meetings" and "true confession sessions" ensued in my classes as they unburdened their souls regarding the gargantuan student loan debt with which they would leave college and their accelerating awareness that glamorous, cushy, lucrative jobs with which they might pay off their debts would not exactly be falling at their feet.

Then came Danny's new e-book Squeezed and his request that I review it. After reading it, the above description "a diary of the onset of the Greater Depression" came to mind. Let me explain.

I had recently read Doug Casey's "What's About To Hit Us Will Be Far Bigger Than The Great Depression (http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Archives2007/CaseyFarBigger.html)" in which he uses the term "The Greater Depression" to describe the economic tsunami dead-ahead. Then after reading Squeezed, I realized that Danny has given us an extraordinary diary explaining exquisitely how we arrived on this path. "Great Depression" and "diary" are words that automatically hook most historians, and clearly, I'm no exception, particularly since I have acquired some financial literacy in recent years and have come to understand the quintessential role of economics in world, national, and local events.

Early in the book the following quote from the National Association For Business Economics appears, and I find it absolutely stunning:

The combined threat of subprime loan
defaults and excessive indebtedness
has supplanted terrorism and the
Middle East as the biggest short-term
threat to the U.S. economy.

Some sleight of hand the ruling elite have accomplished since 9/11, namely, that while Americans were pondering the color of the government's daily terrorist threat assessments, that government and its corporate cronies was taking them to the cleaners, picking their pockets, swindling, cheating, extorting, defrauding, hustling, ripping-off, double-dealing, conning, hornswoggling, hoodwinking, fudging, gouging, bamboozling, scamming, screwing, shafting, and let's not forget bilking the American middle and working classes. Hey, look over there-see the Italian spider climbing up the wall-or Osama hiding under your bed? And while you look, we'll steal you deaf, dumb, and blind!

Schechter succinctly informs the reader early-on of the book's contents stating that:

*It discusses how debt has restructured our economy and put
our people under a burden that many will never crawl out of. It
shows how access to credit has, for many, gone, in Steven Green's phrase "from a luxury to a necessity to a noose." It identifies the profiteers and calls for an investigation and the prosecution of those behind this shrewdly engineered ponzi scheme.

*It offers the critique of a media critic who has monitored flawed and superficial reporting on the subject and who is trying to challenge the news media to improve its coverage the problem and it also monitors some of what it has done. It discusses the making of my own new film intended to fill part of void. The story of In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts discusses its impact and the battle to get it seen.

* It advocates a debt relief movement in America and argues that such a movement would have tremendous resonance across the spectrum of political life. It urges citizens to get involved and politicians to respond.

On each topic, Squeezed superbly elucidates the key issues and documents the twists and turns of the odyssey that has resulted in the early stages of the Greater Depression which we have now entered.

Near the end of the book appears a Q & A section with Schechter and Gregory Paschal Zachary of Alternet from a 2006 interview entitled "Young Borrowers Face A Life Of Debt (http://www.alternet.org/story/44356)". The portion of the dialog I found most illuminating was the interviewer's question:

Paschal Zachary: You suggest at times that there is a conspiracy to trap as many Americans as possible into crushing debt, simply in order for banks to boost profits. Is it really that bad?

Schechter: The card companies are a cartel. They collaborate as much as they compete. They use the same techniques. There are people who see techniques, and the companies who use them, as evil. I don't personally like those terms. But I think the card companies are insensitive. They are chasing revenue and they don't care how they get it. They go over the top.

While I agree with Danny's answer, what really intrigues me is the interviewer's question, again echoing that dreaded word that sends progressives screaming into the night as if their hair is on fire: conspiracy. You see, in progressive circles we can say anything about anything as long as we don't imply that anything was a conspiracy. It all just sort of happened because stuff just happens, and it's "irrational" and a bit wacky to imply otherwise.

Earlier in the book, Schechter offers a blistering paragraph that probably did set Zachary's hair on fire if he's read the e-book and if he really is as terrified of "conspiracy theory" as he sounds:

Driving this change is a growing concentration of power in the
financial and banking sector. That, in turn, unleashed a process
called FINANCIALIZATION with the economy dominated by a
vast CREDIT AND LOAN COMPLEX every bit as insidious as the
Military Industrial Complex. This Complex is shadowy and
omnipresent, active in funding our politicians and lobbying for laws
that benefit their businesses. At the same time, it is invisible to most
of us. It operates through a fog of shadowy lobbyists, interconnected
institutions and highly legalized (and hence poorly understood)
rules, laws and procedures underpinning the market system and the
high-speed computers that move money and buy/sell orders
around the world in seconds.(xxii)

.
.
.
(contd (http://carolynbaker.net/site/content/view/234/))

jk
12-02-07, 11:44 AM
my problem with this kind of rhetoric is that it seems to absolve the borrowers from all responsibility. they did not have to buy into the bs spewing from the tv they don't have to watch on the flat screen they didn't have to buy.

to analogize- i really hate drug peddlers, but the addicts have the choice to go to rehab.

Rajiv
12-02-07, 11:48 AM
If you understand how advertising, marketing and PR works, you wouldn't be making that statement.

jk
12-02-07, 11:50 AM
If you understand how advertising, marketing and PR works, you wouldn't be making that statement.
i think i understand quite well how advertising, marketing and pr work. but i don't think their power is sufficient to say that society is composed of mindless zombies marching to their next happy meal. the addicts are indeed addicted, but they can choose rehab.

of course it is aa dogma that people only clean up after hitting bottom. so maybe after the bankruptcies people will find something to value in life more than flat screen tv's.

Rajiv
12-02-07, 12:30 PM
You are right of course -- but along with Advertising, Marketing and PR, is the ultimate irresistible force! Peer Pressure!

We are a nation of lemmings after all!

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3413/1335/400/Leap.4.Tree.Knowledge.a.Lemming_305.jpg

from Lemmings on the Ledge (http://lemmonledge.blogspot.com/)

The Lemming Manifesto:
Lemmings be we,
Trained to be free
Like schools of fishies
Flying up from the sea.

Smart ones we are,
Scooting about in our cars,
Going real far,
Beyond the ledge and onto the stars.

On the Moon we have landed,
Oh our populations have expanded,
No end for us is in sight
Cause Malthus was just plain not right.

The truth is an illusion so deep, it feels real.
The only truths worth believing are the convenient truths. Everything else is a lie. It must be.

Contemptuous
12-02-07, 01:19 PM
Rajiv -

This worthy poet needs to brush up on his cadence and pentameter however. :D

JK -

<< i don't think their power is sufficient to say that society is composed of mindless zombies marching to their next happy meal >>

What? You mean we have free will? Argh! Free will freaks me out! Too many decisions!

EJ
12-02-07, 02:03 PM
The household debt problem is a complicated issue. The two areas of persistent confusion on the subject is the role of personal responsibility and the "intent" of the credit system.

On the topic of intent, I don't buy the idea that some group of elites has conferred to devise a plan to purposefully defraud the poor of their credit.

The source of problem can demonstrated to result from the action of a free market on the credit and banking system over time. If there is a "someone" to criticize, blame can be placed at the feet of free market fundamentalists and ideologues (read: Greenspan) who dismantled the outdated regulatory framework but failed to replace it with anything more relevant. In a previous era, these same ideologues fought against regulation of chemical companies and automobile manufacturers. Had they prevailed in those industries we'd still have PVCs in the water and no airbags in cars. They only lost after a several serious environmental disasters and a few hundred thousand drivers died unnecessarily. Free market fundamentalists fighting for continued unregulated credit and banking will suffer a similar fate and for similar reasons: the system will fail and produce catastrophes which will be addressed with regulation; Risk Pollution will create credit Love Canals. The regulatory political reflex will be severe. That's a promise from me that you can take to the bank.

Research leaves little doubt that the institutions of credit–lenders, banks, issuers, regulators, etc.–have since the early 1980s developed a credit system which maximizes profit by concentrating high interest rate debt in the hands of the lowest wealth and income groups. This is perfectly logical from a efficient market standpoint: 1) statistically, the poor repay debt at a higher rate than middle class, and 2) people with poor credit have to pay higher interest rates. From these facts, why shouldn't the credit system evolve to maximize these market opportunities? The industry has gotten so efficient that it now systematically turns good credit risks into bad credit risks in order to extend future credit at higher interest rates. It doesn't "mean" to do that, it's just being efficient.

This coming week's Weekly Commentary is titled Inequality in Everything. We tie wealth, income, and debt inequality into a framework that helps us further our understanding of events we have seen coming since 1999 as we head into the recession and 2008 elections. I have long been concerned with the short term political implications of poor income, debt, and wealth distribution in the next consumer recession, and the negative long term impact on economic growth caused by inequality. All the data needed to make the case are there; no need to rely on rhetoric.

The last time a major consumer (vs business) recession occurred when the US had these levels of mal-distribution of debt, income, and wealth was in the 1930s. Of course we had other problems that we do not have today, but major a contributing factor that thwarted economic policy responses in the 1930s to mitigate the depression was getting the 10% of households that held most of the wealth to generate enough demand to employ everyone else. The answer in 2001 - 2005 was the housing bubble, which produced a relatively well distributed asset price inflation. That cannot be repeated.

FDR's answer was wealth re-distribution, unpleasant but far preferable to the form occurring in Russia and China at the time. FDR-lite (my term for Hillary if the 2008 recession gets heavy) will face similar choices. I expect to see very creative solutions this time around.

On the question of "individual responsibility," there's something academic and more than a little self-centered about that phrase. I'm not even sure what it means. Mostly the folks who use it are saying "I can make responsible financial decisions, why can't these people who stupidly take on these loans?" They can't because they are not as well educated as the professors of individual responsibility, that's why. Their judgment sucks, and they are easily influenced to make decisions against their interests by anyone they perceive as an authority. Why are they not as well educated? Largely because they are not as lucky as as the individual responsibility professors are. So when I hear the phrase "individual responsibility" all I hear is "Why can't everyone be as smart and lucky as I am?"

Then there's the question of free will. We are working on a video to help show the basics of the problem. You don't have to read Freud to understand why free will is so unimportant. No one makes decisions without both conscious and unconscious influences. The ratio of influence is roughly 90% the latter and 10% the former. When conscious beliefs are weak, due to lack of education, unconscious desires play a more important role in decision making, and using the media to shape unconscious desires is not rocket science. All it takes is authority, repetition, and high production values. Part of the efficiency of the credit industry is effectively selling the idea of borrowing as smart and risk free, and everyone is doing it, get what you want today, and so on, over and over and over.

Authority, repetition and high production values. That is the simple secret of how debtors are influenced to make decisions that are not in their interest.

jk
12-02-07, 02:28 PM
Authority, repetition and high production values. That is the simple secret of how debtors are influenced to make decisions that are not in their interest.

i agree. yes, there is influence. but we don't want to go to the opposite pole of victimology and conspiracy theory, either. as you say at the beginning of your post. we need to be wary of both of these extremes.

Rajiv
12-02-07, 02:48 PM
Originally Posted by ej
Authority, repetition and high production values. That is the simple secret of how debtors are influenced to make decisions that are not in their interest.


i agree. yes, there is influence. but we don't want to go to the opposite pole of victimology and conspiracy theory, either. as you say at the beginning of your post. we need to be wary of both of these extremes.

That and the fact that we are encouraged to take an optimistic scenario rather than a pessimistic one. We are encouraged and taught to think that debt is not really a burden - and satisfying current needs by taking on debt is an acceptable (Nay! Even that it is a smarter) behavior.

GRG55
12-02-07, 04:11 PM
That and the fact that we are encouraged to take an optimistic scenario rather than a pessimistic one. We are encouraged and taught to think that debt is not really a burden - and satisfying current needs by taking on debt is an acceptable (Nay! Even that it is a smarter) behavior.

Let's not forget the very visible reinforcement that comes from watching so many others who have borrowed heavily "win" in what has been a consistently inflationary environment for many decades. And they won big if they were nimble enough to put their levered capital into and out of the most speculative of assets in recent years. Prudence only gets rewarded (?) when the inevitable downturn manifests. But the periods of downturn are brief and generally infrequent - so far.

metalman
12-02-07, 05:07 PM
Let's not forget the very visible reinforcement that comes from watching so many others who have borrowed heavily "win" in what has been a consistently inflationary environment for many decades. And they won big if they were nimble enough to put their levered capital into and out of the most speculative of assets in recent years. Prudence only gets rewarded (?) when the inevitable downturn manifests. But the periods of downturn are brief and generally infrequent - so far.

borrow, let the fed inflate, sell. borrow, inflate, sell. borrow, inflate, sell. been going on long as i remember. don't go building nothing! that's fer suckers.

Uncle Jack
12-02-07, 07:54 PM
On the question of "individual responsibility," there's something academic and more than a little self-centered about that phrase. I'm not even sure what it means. Mostly the folks who use it are saying "I can make responsible financial decisions, why can't these people who stupidly take on these loans?" They can't because they are not as well educated as the professors of individual responsibility, that's why. Their judgment sucks, and they are easily influenced to make decisions against their interests by anyone they perceive as an authority. Why are they not as well educated? Largely because they are not as lucky as as the individual responsibility professors are. So when I hear the phrase "individual responsibility" all I hear is "Why can't everyone be as smart and lucky as I am?"

I'm one of those people who uses the phrase "individual responsibility." When I see someone assigning "luck" to someone who has the drive for self-edification, I think "what a ridiculous sentiment."

Constantly being on guard against my own fear and greed is a full-time job. It's everyone's full-time job to look out for themselves, and we are all susceptible to the outcomes from letting our guard down.

Luck? Come on.

metalman
12-02-07, 08:09 PM
I'm one of those people who uses the phrase "individual responsibility." When I see someone assigning "luck" to someone who has the drive for self-edification, I think "what a ridiculous sentiment."

Constantly being on guard against my own fear and greed is a full-time job. It's everyone's full-time job to look out for themselves, and we are all susceptible to the outcomes from letting our guard down.

Luck? Come on.

the biggest luck in life is to be born to parents who don't abuse you and who instead take good care of you and teach you self-respect. that's luck. throw in solid common sense about $ on top, that's even more luck. throw in a good school system and time with you to help with studies, that's even more luck. etc. that's one lottery. then there's the brains lottery. if you lost the other lottery and had abusive parents, neglectful, no edu, AND you lost the brains lottery you are most certainly totally fucked. what's so hard to understand about that?

c1ue
12-02-07, 08:18 PM
No, getting born into the 'Gates' family is lucky.

No reason not to aim to the top of the curve while you're at it :o

I'd love to be one of Buffet's 'lucky sperm' winners. Probably turn out to be even more terrible a person than I am now, but it'd be fun!

Rajiv
12-02-07, 08:19 PM
Luck? Come on.

Read Taking Luck Seriously (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/21/opinion/21miller.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print) by NY Times Columnist MATT MILLER


Test your political philosophy with one simple question: which matters most in determining where people end up in life?

You've got two choices. The first is "luck" - by which I mean the pre-birth lottery, that inherited package of wealth, health, genes, looks, brains, talents and family. "Luck" is all those gifts or curses for which we can neither take credit nor be blamed.

Choice No. 2 is individual effort, hard work and personal character.

Obviously this is a false choice; every life is a blend of both. We're born with certain endowments, and make the most of them (or don't) based on personal traits. But if you had to say which one matters most in shaping where people end up, how many of you would join me in answering "luck"?

In a poll I commissioned a few years ago, people who call themselves liberals or Democrats overwhelmingly said luck; most conservatives or Republicans said individual effort.

But if you're hoping to shake up today's gridlocked politics, what's interesting is that independent voters - now the nation's biggest bloc - viewed luck the way Democrats do.

Luck isn't a bad proxy for what the current Times series labels "class." It's a theme U.S. politics conspicuously avoids. Yet if we approached it right - if we took luck seriously - we'd be on the way to the commonsense consensus needed to make progress on our fixable injustices. See also

A Theory of Justice (http://books.google.com/books?id=b7GZr5Btp30C&dq=john+rawls+a+theory+of+justice&pg=PP1&ots=D0zhw3Iqha&sig=_4Q98YESiiQf9pfImlN9OIBH1P8&prev=http://www.google.com/search%3Fhl%3Den%26q%3DJOHN%2BRAWLS%2BA%2BTheory%2 Bof%2BJustice%26btnG%3DSearch&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail) by John Rawls

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See also

Rawls' Mature Theory of Social Justice (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm)
An Introduction for Students


Contents Sources and Related Work (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#ref)
1. Introduction (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#jrint)
2. Two Moral Powers (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#2pwr)
3. Comprehensive Doctrines (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#cd)
(sometimes called "Comprehensive Views")
4. A Political Conception of Justice (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#pcj)
5. Reasonable Citizens (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#rc)
6. Reasonable Comprehensive Doctrines (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#rcd)
7. Social Contract Theories (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#sc)
8. The Original Position (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#op)
9. Expounding the Principles of Justice (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#expo)
10. The Two Principles of Justice (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#2prin)
11. More on the Equal Basic Liberties (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#ebl)
12. Basic Liberties and Property (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#blp)
13. What Does the Second Principle Mean? (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/matrawls.htm#2ndprin)
For related web pages see

Martha Nussbaum on Capabilities and Human Rights (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/nussbaum.htm)
John Rawls on Concrete Moral Principles: Implications for Business Ethics (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/ethics/rawlcprn.htm) For online materials related to John Rawls see Rawls On Line (http://www.wku.edu/%7Ejan.garrett/rawlsonl.htm)

raja
12-02-07, 11:28 PM
The concepts of luck, responsibility, free-will and determinism are all based on the common illusion of duality. These issues can never be "settled" because they stem from the faulty premise that words effectively represent reality. :eek:

(For further explanation, read Alan W. Watts, D.T. Suzuki and/or Ludwig Wittgenstein.)

Contemptuous
12-02-07, 11:49 PM
Metalman -

You wrote:


the biggest luck in life is to be born to parents who don't abuse you and who instead take good care of you and teach you self-respect. that's luck. throw in solid common sense about $ on top, that's even more luck. throw in a good school system and time with you to help with studies, that's even more luck. etc. that's one lottery. then there's the brains lottery. if you lost the other lottery and had abusive parents, neglectful, no edu, AND you lost the brains lottery you are most certainly totally fucked. what's so hard to understand about that?

Surprising comments indeed from a Libertarian. FWIW, you are spot on. Many people are borne totally fucked by all those factors, just as many brainless sops cruise through life unscathed because they had enough of those factors to be "rescued".

I see eye to eye with you on a lot of stuff. 'Course you are ornery and crusty as all hell, but that's another story.

Uncle Jack
12-02-07, 11:59 PM
the biggest luck in life is to be born to parents who don't abuse you and who instead take good care of you and teach you self-respect. that's luck. throw in solid common sense about $ on top, that's even more luck. throw in a good school system and time with you to help with studies, that's even more luck. etc. that's one lottery. then there's the brains lottery. if you lost the other lottery and had abusive parents, neglectful, no edu, AND you lost the brains lottery you are most certainly totally fucked. what's so hard to understand about that?

Right. I understand. Now tell me how the person you just described isn't a slobbering idiot who hasn't already done themselves in by holding up the local 7-11 at gunpoint.

Contemptuous
12-03-07, 12:20 AM
Help!! Rajiv and Raja are swamping us with heavy duty reading assignments! Wittgenstein!! :eek: :eek: :eek: HELP!

jimmygu3
12-03-07, 01:24 AM
We are a nation of lemmings after all!
from Lemmings on the Ledge (http://lemmonledge.blogspot.com/)

The Lemming Manifesto:
Lemmings be we,
Trained to be free
Like schools of fishies
Flying up from the sea.....


In true contrarian fashion, I must point out to those who don't already know that the urban legend of lemmings commiting mass suicide is completely false. It is based on a Disney movie from the '50s in which the filmmakers used camera tricks and herded lemmings off a cliff into a river. Read all about it: http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp

Rajiv, I know the literal truth about the lemmings was not your point, but I thought it bore mentioning, especially in a thread dealing with mass psychology and deceptive marketing. As they say, a lie unchallenged becomes truth. This widely-believed tale is just a tiny example of the many "truths" we unquestioningly swallow.

Rajiv
12-03-07, 06:52 AM
In true contrarian fashion, I must point out to those who don't already know that the urban legend of lemmings commiting mass suicide is completely false. It is based on a Disney movie from the '50s in which the filmmakers used camera tricks and herded lemmings off a cliff into a river. Read all about it: http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp

Rajiv, I know the literal truth about the lemmings was not your point, but I thought it bore mentioning, especially in a thread dealing with mass psychology and deceptive marketing. As they say, a lie unchallenged becomes truth. This widely-believed tale is just a tiny example of the many "truths" we unquestioningly swallow.

JG3, your point is well taken, and serves to highlight how half truths and outright lies can become unquestioned truths.

More about real lemmings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings)


Behavior

The behavior of lemmings is much the same as that of many other rodents which have periodic population booms and then disperse in all directions, seeking the food and shelter that their natural habitat cannot provide.

Lemmings of northern Norway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway) are one of the few vertebrates who reproduce so quickly that their population fluctuations are chaotic,<sup id="_ref-0" class="reference">[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-0)</sup> rather than following linear growth to a carrying capacity or regular oscillations. It is unknown why lemming populations fluctuate with such variance roughly every four years, before plummeting to near extinction.<sup id="_ref-1" class="reference">[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-1)</sup>

While for many years it was believed that the population of lemming predators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predator) changed with the population cycle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_cycle), there is now some evidence to suggest that the predator's population may be more closely involved in changing the lemming population.<sup id="_ref-2" class="reference">[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-2)</sup>

Myths and misconceptions

Misconceptions about lemmings go back many centuries. In the 1530s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1530s), the geographer Zeigler of Strasbourg (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Zeigler_of_Strasbourg&action=edit) proposed the theory that the creatures fell out of the sky during stormy weather (also featured in the folklore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore) of the Inupiat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inupiat)/Yupik (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yupik) at Norton Sound (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norton_Sound)), and then died suddenly when the grass grew in spring.<sup id="_ref-3" class="reference">[4] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-3)</sup> This was refuted by the natural historian Ole Worm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Worm), who first published dissections of a lemming, and showed that lemmings are anatomically similar to most other rodents.

While many people believe that lemmings commit mass suicide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_suicide) when they migrate, this is not the case. Driven by strong biological urges, they will migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. Lemmings can and do swim and may choose to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat<sup id="_ref-4" class="reference">[5] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-4)</sup>. On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway_lemming) in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming, sometimes to exhaustion and death. Lemmings are also often pushed into the sea as more and more lemmings arrive at the shore. <sup id="_ref-5" class="reference">[6] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-5)</sup>

The myth of lemming mass suicide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide) is long-standing and has been popularized by a number of factors. In 1955 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1955), Carl Barks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Barks) drew a Uncle Scrooge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Scrooge) adventure comic with the title: The Lemming with the Locket (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Lemming_with_the_Locket&action=edit). This comic, which was inspired by a 1954 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954) National Geographic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Geographic) article, showed massive numbers of lemmings jumping over Norwegian cliffs.<sup id="_ref-6" class="reference">[7] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-6)</sup>. The suicide myth was further propagated by Walt Disney (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Walt_Disney_Company) documentary White Wilderness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Wilderness) in 1958 which includes footage of lemmings migrating and running head-long over a ledge. An investigation in 1983 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Brian Vallee, showed that the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea to show the alleged suicides.<sup id="_ref-7" class="reference">[8] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-7)</sup> This myth is also witnessed in a German film - The Little Polar Bear (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Polar_Bear) (lars, the polar bear)--in which a group of despondent lemmings are frequently jumping off various ledges.<sup id="_ref-8" class="reference">[9] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings#_note-8)</sup>

Due to their association with this odd behaviour, lemming suicide is a frequently-used metaphor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor) in reference to people who go along unquestioningly with popular opinion, with potentially dangerous or fatal consequences. This is the theme of the video game Lemmings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings_%28video_game%29), where the player attempts to save the mindlessly marching rodents from walking to their deaths.

Spartacus
12-03-07, 04:42 PM
No, getting born into the 'Gates' family is lucky.

No reason not to aim to the top of the curve while you're at it :o

I'd love to be one of Buffet's 'lucky sperm' winners. Probably turn out to be even more terrible a person than I am now, but it'd be fun!

look for inheritance
http://www.elsop.com/wrc/humor/ms_riki.htm


And for Buffett,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett

" His children will not inherit a significant proportion of his wealth. These actions are consistent with st "

bart
12-03-07, 04:50 PM
You are right of course -- but along with Advertising, Marketing and PR, is the ultimate irresistible force! Peer Pressure!




I liked this one too, especially for it conciseness.

"A relatively small percentage of the population can twist and corrupt the financial system, destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, because its profitable, and because they simply do not care about the damage they do to others. The dirty little secret is that capitalism, like any other form of social structure, requires policing, regulation, laws, and enforcement to prevent the predations of sociopaths and con men, no matter what weapons they may choose to employ."

Rajiv
12-03-07, 05:23 PM
" His children will not inherit a significant proportion of his wealth. These actions are consistent with st "

The actual entry


Buffett also announced plans to contribute additional Berkshire stock valued at approximately $6.7 billion to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and to other foundations headed by his three children.
.
.
.
Buffett once commented, "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing"


His children have already won a big lottery prize - even though most of his wealth will go to charitable foundations.

See also

BORN ON THIRD BASE:
The Sources of Wealth of the 1996 Forbes 400 (http://www.faireconomy.org/press/archive/Pre_1999/forbes_400_study.html)

but even that study is faulty - because the bar for starting in the batters box is set very high - in other words 90 % of the US population would be considered as being in the starting box -- In other words -- all the people on the list were at least minor leaguers!

Spartacus
12-03-07, 05:36 PM
Not arguing, just putting out the info that this lottery is not near the amount that most (all, actually) that I've spoken with about this assume.



His children have already won a big lottery prize -

Rajiv
12-03-07, 05:41 PM
If they got a good education, a chance to run a philanthropic foundation - and a stake to start their business -- then I say they have already won a lottery!

metalman
12-03-07, 06:12 PM
Right. I understand. Now tell me how the person you just described isn't a slobbering idiot who hasn't already done themselves in by holding up the local 7-11 at gunpoint.

i'm saying he's a slobbering idiot... statistically... because he lost the sperm lottery. how many kids of yale grads grow up to be 7-11 robbers? how many stand in line to spend their puny wages on lotto tickets? how many are buying crap mortgages? no, instead they grow up to be president and wreck the country.

i rest my case.

Contemptuous
12-03-07, 06:15 PM
Uncle Jack -

What do you think? Metalman seems in fine fettle here! You gotta love the guy's unique blunt style, even if you disagree with him! :D


i'm saying he's a slobbering idiot... statistically... because he lost the sperm lottery. how many kids of yale grads grow up to be 7-11 robbers? how many stand in line to spend their puny wages on lotto tickets? how many are buying crap mortgages? no, instead they grow up to be president and wreck the country.

i rest my case.

Uncle Jack
12-03-07, 08:05 PM
i'm saying he's a slobbering idiot... statistically... because he lost the sperm lottery. how many kids of yale grads grow up to be 7-11 robbers? how many stand in line to spend their puny wages on lotto tickets? how many are buying crap mortgages? no, instead they grow up to be president and wreck the country.

i rest my case.

I lost the sperm lottery also then, because I didn't go to Yale and I have no interest in wrecking the country, nor will I ever get the chance.
I have played the state lottery in my past, before I understood the math, and yes, in my adult life.
I signed my name to a bad car loan once. Once.

I learned. I overcame. I adapted. You can, too.