getting a computer that's twice as powerful for half the price shows up in GDP calculations as half the economic output, rather than 4x the value
As it should. If spending gets cut in half by product efficiency gains and those savings aren't redirected into new consumption, then an economy is producing below its potential. It's definitely useful to have that show up in GDP changes.
Unless eschergirls has changed dramatically in the last few months, the "folks" behind it are one young lady who runs it as a personal hobby blog. It's a shame she's being bullied this way, but I can't blame her at all for not wanting to deal with the legal hassle and risk of fighting back.
While such a ban is stupid, CAR has far, far bigger problems right now. The "government" doesn't really wield authority outside the capital, and its existence is only sustained by French and African Union soldiers. It's pretty much the most impoverished country in the world, and it's lately been going through a really horrific civil war and religious pogroms that have further compounded its already dismal situation.
If the 4th Amendment only protects the innocent, then it's useless. The government simply would not prosecute people against whom their unconstitutional searches turn up no evidence, and so those searches would never be challenged in court.
I feel compelled to point out that the Labor Party was the Australian government for the entire duration of the country's participation in TPP negotiations, right up until three months ago when they lost an election. They've had several years to release a text themselves.
Just because an issue is emotional or psychological does not mean that it cannot be approached rationally. As humans, we share common values of fairness, peace, and happiness, and so we craft our laws to promote and defend those values. If a policy is objectively harmful to one or more of those psychological goods, then we have a rational reason to consider abandoning or proscribing that policy.
The reason that we outlaw unwarranted investigations and arrests in the United States is because of the genuine suffering they cause to the individuals targeted by such actions, because they contravenes our principles of treating everyone equally under the law, and because they allow people or institutions in positions of power to abuse their power for their own benefit rather than that of the public they're supposed to serve.
My point is not to drag anyone into a deep argument about the nature of rights themselves. Rather it's that the first comment here, Ima Fish saying that you shouldn't have to highlight the potential abuses of NSA spying but only say that they're intrinsically wrong, is a terrible argument. If the entirety of your position consists of "this is wrong", it leaves you totally unequipped to oppose someone who responds "nuh uh, it's perfectly fine!".
It is critically important to have genuine, rational reasons for opposing things, and the potential for abuse is a strong reason that the NSA's programs. Without reasons like that, we're no better than children stamping our feet and saying "I just don't like it!"
The Fourth Amendment probably makes the NSA's policies unconstitutional in the United States, but it's not a reason they're wrong in any kind of ethical sense. If I said that the Fourth Amendment ought to be repealed, what would you say to convince me that was a bad idea? If another country wanted to replicate the NSA's program, why would they be wrong?
Techdirt's gotten me on board with the need for serious IP reform and opposition to IP chapters in trade agreements by making economically sound arguments.
This, however, is protectionist crap.
Please, please, please don't undermine your credibility by arguing that legacy IP corporations deserve to fail in the market if they can't adapt to competition from new technology, but that legacy manufacturers ought to be immune from competition from overseas.
That's not preserving wealth, though, that's risking it. It's an important and valuable thing, to be sure, but there should be some way of being able to hold on to what you've earned without risk.
Why? Value isn't static. Think about pre-currency economies running on barter. Cows are still the primary means of exchange in a lot of east African communities. How do you preserve the value of a herd of cattle? You can't just lock them in a pen for as long as you want, they'll die and begin to rot. You'll have to care for them yourself, or lend or sell them on to someone else in return for something else, such as a contract for future goods or services.
There's no good reason that anyone should expect currency-based economies to function any differently at a fundamental level. Trying to lock up wealth into no-risk hoards is a recipe for stagnancy at best, and we're all be better off with the vitality of constantly fluctuating credit markets. Yes, there is uncertainty and risk from having to invest your savings, but that's simply a reflection of the nature of life and reality, the world around us is constantly changing and we could all die tomorrow. At the moment, the best we can do is pretend that some assets are risk free, such as with insured deposits. But the truth is that such schemes merely move the risk around so that it's borne by other parties, such as governments or private insurers. Even precious metals aren't risk-free, you're counting on other investors and metal brokers to keep up the price for you.
Without that ability, we are all but indentured servants.
Indentured to our own need for scarce resources in order to survive, perhaps. But there's no financial scheme at all which can hope to solve that, it's the fundamental economic problem. There's just no way out until our production becomes unlimited.
No. Economies are active things, people need a constant supply of goods and services to fulfill both basic needs and more frivolous desires. Given that reality, trying to preserve "wealth" in the form of completely inactive assets (like a big pile of gold) is a bad thing, it does no one but the owner any good. Instead, you want people to preserve their wealth in the form of productive assets, stuff which has value to other people because of what it does for them, things like equity in businesses or investment loans.
From a monetary perspective: trying to give people ways to save wealth that doesn't involve any risk encourages people to use those methods, which drains money from the credit market that would otherwise be used to invest in new enterprises.
To put this in context of the Bitcoin issue, I want to be clear that I have no objection to Bitcoin. In fact, I'm kind of hoping that it ends up taking on the role that gold has been serving for a while, as an inert asset with stable supply that's popularly believed to have uses an alternative currency. Then at least we could free up the supply of gold for other, more useful things. Bitcoin does potentially have a role to play in the economy, but it's as a complement to fiat currencies, not a replacement.
Yeah, static currencies are great until you run into a balance of payments crisis or deflation.
I remind you that the government of Cyprus didn't steal anyone's money. The banks were bankrupt, they couldn't honor all the deposit accounts. The government actually borrowed a huge amount of money in order to guarantee depositors retained more of their savings than they would have otherwise.
Everyone could do with a reminder that their bank deposits are loans, not cash vaults. Those investments can sometimes fail. Nor is currency a good way to store your wealth, anyway. It is a means of facilitating exchanges, preserving value is not its purpose.