Free market capitalism

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In my economics class I came across a very good article in support of free market capitalism, it’s called “I pencil” http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html
discuss.

 
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How about bringing up some questions for us to answer and discuss first, hm?

 
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No one knows how to make a pencil? What? Absurd. It’s a sheathed stick of graphite, we had grade school children make pencils over here.

 
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One of the wonders of open research (a tangent I know) is that fundamentally, anyone with a good mind, and an ability to read can figure out the basics of how to make anything.

 
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Originally posted by Ungeziefer:

No one knows how to make a pencil? What? Absurd. It’s a sheathed stick of graphite, we had grade school children make pencils over here.

If you were given raw materials and no machinary could you make a pencil?

 
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Originally posted by wercooler:

If you were given raw materials and no machinary could you make a pencil?

It wouldn’t be brilliant, but it would write. I’d probably go for a mechnical pencil, as they’re going to be easier to make without woodworking tools (from a hindsight perspective)

 
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Originally posted by vikaTae:
Originally posted by wercooler:

If you were given raw materials and no machinary could you make a pencil?

It wouldn’t be brilliant, but it would write. I’d probably go for a mechnical pencil, as they’re going to be easier to make without woodworking tools (from a hindsight perspective)

The point is that no one knows how to build a fully funtional pencil starting with raw matierials by themselves.

 
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Sure they do. All you really need is a lump of graphite and something to scratch it on. It’s not pretty, but it works. You could do the same thing with a lump of chalk and a dark surface. File it to a rough line point with your fingernail and you’re good to go.

All inventions are like that. Apply lateral thinking and common sense.

 
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Ah, free market capitalism! What drove us to the 1929 and 2008 stock market crashes. It is such an efficient economic system, isn’t it!

 
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If you were given raw materials and no machinary could you make a pencil?

Yes. Absolutely. I can’t believe this is really up for a question. Can I do basic carving? Yes. Can I prepare mixtures of graphite and clay? Yes certainly. That’s it.

The point is that no one knows how to build a fully funtional pencil starting with raw matierials by themselves.

Yes, yes I do. I know lots of people that do. Are you kidding? My grade school class made pencils. I know people who make custom pigments, oils, acrylic bases, and all sorts of far more complicated art supplies. Pencils are really not some holy grail of absurd complexity.

 
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Originally posted by Ungeziefer:

If you were given raw materials and no machinary could you make a pencil?

Yes. Absolutely. I can’t believe this is really up for a question. Can I do basic carving? Yes. Can I prepare mixtures of graphite and clay? Yes certainly. That’s it.

The point is that no one knows how to build a fully funtional pencil starting with raw matierials by themselves.

Yes, yes I do. I know lots of people that do. Are you kidding? My grade school class made pencils. I know people who make custom pigments, oils, acrylic bases, and all sorts of far more complicated art supplies. Pencils are really not some holy grail of absurd complexity.

How would you make an eraser?

 
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Originally posted by wercooler:

How would you make an eraser?

It’s just a block of rubber. You could use any source of rubber, right down to the tree sap itself.

A quick and dirty method would be just to cut a block off an old car tyre with a hacksaw.

 
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Originally posted by Ungeziefer:Absolutely. I can’t believe this is really up for a question. Can I do basic carving? Yes. Can I prepare mixtures of graphite and clay? Yes certainly. That’s it.

After you spend a week carving and crafting a shitty pencil, it would break in 5 minutes. If you were smart, and no one had machinery for making pencils, you would entice investors to a pencil making business, with a solid business plan. You’d hire engineers to design the machines that would create the pencils from the raw materials, and secure raw material suppliers. Then, you’d start mass producing the bastards, marking them to the major universities and school systems. You’d be a friggin millionaire before you knew it, and the wise investors would reap profits aplenty, to turn those profits into other ventures.

That is how a libratarian views capitalism. You see it as sitting in a hut, carving pencils by hand and filling them with clay you hand mixed, so you can peddle them to whatever passerby feels sorry for you.

Silly liberal, why you no capitalism?

 
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I believe the challenge is to make a modern pencil. So, looks nice, hexagonal sides, can be sharpened, writes clearly and cleanly, has an eraser that works well, has a little brass-colored bracket between the wood and eraser, etc. I think it’s also fair to assume that you should have to get the raw materials yourself.

However, I’m not certain all how relevant this is to capitalism vs. socialism.

 
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Originally posted by BobTheCoolGuy:

I believe the challenge is to make a modern pencil. So, looks nice, hexagonal sides, can be sharpened, writes clearly and cleanly, has an eraser that works well, has a little brass-colored bracket between the wood and eraser, etc.

I’d go for the mechanical pencil type, as I said before. All it needs is a screw, a coil, a stick of graphite, a straw, a funnel, a plastic washer, and some epoxy glue. Take an afternoon to assemble and its refillable. There’s no special secret to making pencils, and the base knowledge is easily accessible to anyone with a working mind.

To claim that it is somehow beyond the reach of any one intellect is ludicrous in the extreme.

 
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Originally posted by vikaTae:
Originally posted by BobTheCoolGuy:

I believe the challenge is to make a modern pencil. So, looks nice, hexagonal sides, can be sharpened, writes clearly and cleanly, has an eraser that works well, has a little brass-colored bracket between the wood and eraser, etc.

I’d go for the mechanical pencil type, as I said before. All it needs is a screw, a coil, a stick of graphite, a straw, a funnel, a plastic washer, and some epoxy glue. Take an afternoon to assemble and its refillable. There’s no special secret to making pencils, and the base knowledge is easily accessible to anyone with a working mind.

To claim that it is somehow beyond the reach of any one intellect is ludicrous in the extreme.

Well, it really is beyond the reach of any one intellect. Sure you can make a mechanical pencil if you have the parts to one. The hard part is that you can’t use premade parts. A plastic washer is not a raw material in my opinion, and neither is a screw. You can only start with things that would be here if there was never a human presence (by my rules anyway)

 
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Your rules aren’t my rules. The common sense approach is to just use what’s lying around anyway.

You are quite welcome to ignore human-made resources if you wish, its your life.

 
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Originally posted by vikaTae:

Your rules aren’t my rules. The common sense approach is to just use what’s lying around anyway.

You are quite welcome to ignore human-made resources if you wish, its your life.

And that’s what the whole point of the mental exercise is, I think, to show that we rely on the ingenuity of others for everything. The point is that by ourselves we really couldn’t build a pencil.

Also, a guy tried to do this with a toaster and wrote a book about it.

 
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Of course we can build a pencil by ourselves. Pick up a lump of any natural substance that leaves behind smears, carve a point and press down on a firm surface. That’s all a pencil fundamentally is.

Honestly Bob, its like you dismiss out of hand the posts of anyone who disagrees with you.

 
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Originally posted by vikaTae:

Honestly Bob, its like you dismiss out of hand the posts of anyone who disagrees with you.

I’m not seeing evidence for that. There’s a difference between giving an answer and “dismissing out of hand”. The point Bob was making (point, get it?) is that even though we might have the illusion of self reliance, everything we do is made possible by others. Disagreeing with someone and providing evidence is not being “dismissive”.

 
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Originally posted by JaumeBG:

Ah, free market capitalism! What drove us to the 1929 and 2008 stock market crashes. It is such an efficient economic system, isn’t it!

Despite its drawbacks, everything else is garbage in comparison, because the first step is to replace interested accountable management is less interested less accountable management. Then, for instance, you get your social issues mixed in with your business management. It’s fundamentally flawed from a theoretical perspective to unduly limit free markets… it is also historically flawed from a human experiential perspective to unduly limit free markets. We do need regulation, but regulations are like taxes. It is preferable that engineers maintain their credentials (which includes an ethics agreement) and producers abide by their warranties.

Now, if you’re talking about the sub-set of banking we could get more in detail.

 
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After you spend a week carving and crafting a shitty pencil, it would break in 5 minutes.

I am rather certain it wouldn’t. I’ve got no shortage of artistic implements I’ve carved myself. It’s usually a relaxing way to spend a few hours on occasion and I don’t mind working with wood. I’ve made some nice fountain nib pens if I do say so. I’ve never worked any of the metal implements myself, and am quite sure I could. I’m no stranger to fine metal working either. It’s not exactly rocket science, I am certain most people understand the basics innately and with a couple dozen hours would be more then functional.

I believe the challenge is to make a modern pencil. So, looks nice, hexagonal sides, can be sharpened, writes clearly and cleanly, has an eraser that works well, has a little brass-colored bracket between the wood and eraser, etc. I think it’s also fair to assume that you should have to get the raw materials yourself.

Slightly more complicated, but that is really just artistic trappings that have little to do with the functionality of the item. The hexagonal sides would be simple craftsmanship, little trouble there. Sharpening would simply require a pretty brittle graphite mixture, that may take some guess work but really doesn’t sound imposing. The yellow paint would only require pigment and resin, I’ve got both of which growing in my backyard. The exact tone may vary, if we want an exact colour match that may be beyond my means. The brass would be easy enough, I’ve done brass work myself on a much more difficult scale. I don’t have the requisite veins of ore running behind me though. Rubber outside of urban scavenging would be difficult, and I can’t say I am very familiar with that process granted.

But really is the point of the mental exercise to concede that I don’t have limitless resources? That sometimes materials are found outside of my reach? I don’t see how that is any admission of complexity so much as simple logistics. I’d have a real hard time making a coral pendant, because I don’t live anywhere near coral, not because it is some refined work of great complexity.

 
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Rubber’s a tree sap derivative from a handful of species Ung. You could pick up a couple of rubber trees at your local garden centre if you wished a steady supply of that resource.

I don’t see how that is any admission of complexity so much as simple logistics. I’d have a real hard time making a coral pendant, because I don’t live anywhere near coral, not because it is some refined work of great complexity.

My sentiments exactly.

 
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income inequality:

credit rating:

so no more talk of rampant capitalism is good for the economy ok? it’s over, you lose. the verdict is in.

 
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Originally posted by OmegaDoom:

credit rating:

so no more talk of rampant capitalism is good for the economy ok? it’s over, you lose.

Income inequality is a sign of entrepreneurship. It is generally, a good thing in a free market. It gives people an incentive to create jobs and wealth. More socialist countries have much difficulty creating wealth as fast as they spend it.