Everyone's Missing the Bigger Picture in the Reinhart-Rogoff Debate

George Washington's picture

You've heard that an incredibly influential economic paper by Reinhart and Rogoff (RR) - widely used to justify austerity - has been "busted" for "excel spreadsheet errors" and other flaws.

 

As Google Trends shows, there is a raging debate over the errors in RR's report:

Even Colbert is making fun of them.

Liberal economists argue that the "debunking" of RR proves that debt doesn't matter, and that conservative economists who say it does are liars and scoundrels.

Conservative economists argue that the Habsburg, British and French empires crumbled under the weight of high debt, and that many other economists - including Niall Ferguson, the IMF and others - agree that high debt destroys economies.

RR attempted to defend their work yesterday:

Researchers at the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund have weighed in with their own independent work. The World Economic Outlook published last October by the International Monetary Fund devoted an entire chapter to debt and growth. The most recent update to that outlook, released in April, states: “Much of the empirical work on debt overhangs seeks to identify the ‘overhang threshold’ beyond which the correlation between debt and growth becomes negative. The results are broadly similar: above a threshold of about 95 percent of G.D.P., a 10 percent increase in the ratio of debt to G.D.P. is identified with a decline in annual growth of about 0.15 to 0.20 percent per year.”

 

This view generally reflects the state of the art in economic research

 

***

 

Back in 2010, we were still sorting inconsistencies in Spanish G.D.P. data from the 1960s from three different sources. Our primary source for real G.D.P. growth was the work of the economic historian Angus Madison. But we also checked his data and, where inconsistencies appeared, refrained from using it. Other sources, including the I.M.F. and Spain’s monumental and scholarly historical statistics, had very different numbers. In our 2010 paper, we omitted Spain for the 1960s entirely. Had we included these observations, it would have strengthened our results, since Spain had very low public debt in the 1960s (under 30 percent of G.D.P.), and yet enjoyed very fast average G.D.P. growth (over 6 percent) over that period.

 

***

 

We have never advised Mr. Ryan, nor have we worked for President Obama, whose Council of Economic Advisers drew heavily on our work in a chapter of the 2012 Economic Report of the President, recreating and extending the results.

In the campaign, we received great heat from the right for allowing our work to be used by others as a rationalization for the country’s slow recovery from the financial crisis. Now we are being attacked by the left — primarily by those who have a view that the risks of higher public debt should not be part of the policy conversation.

But whether you believe that the errors in the RR study are fatal or minor, there is a bigger picture that everyone is ignoring.

Initially, RR never pushed an austerity-only prescription.  As they wrote yesterday:

The only way to break this feedback loop is to have dramatic write-downs of debt.

 

***

 

Early on in the financial crisis, in a February 2009 Op-Ed, we concluded that “authorities should be prepared to allow financial institutions to be restructured through accelerated bankruptcy, if necessary placing them under temporary receivership.”

 

Significant debt restructurings and write-downs have always been at the core of our proposal for the periphery European Union countries, where it seems to us unlikely that a mix of structural reform and austerity will work.

Indeed, the nation's top economists have said that breaking up the big banks and forcing bondholders to write down debt are essential prerequisites to an economic recovery.

Additionally, economist Steve Keen has shown that “a sustainable level of bank profits appears to be about 1% of GDP”, and that higher bank profits leads to a ponzi economy and a depression.  Unless we shrink the financial sector, we will continue to have economic instability.

Leading economists also say that failing to prosecute the fraud of the big banks is dooming our economy.  Prosecution of Wall Street fraud is at a historic low, and so the wheels are coming off the economy.

Moreover, quantitative analyses provides evidence that private debt levels matter much more than public debt levels.  But mainstream economists on both the right and the left wholly ignore private debt in their models.

Finally, the austerity-verus-stimulus debate cannot be taken in a vacuum, given that the Wall Street giants have gotten the stimulus and the little guy has borne the brunt of austerity.

Steve Keen showed that giving money directly to the people would stimulate much better than giving it to the big banks.

But the government isn't really helping people ... and has  instead chosen to give the big banks hundreds of billions a year in hand-outs.

(Obama's policies are even worse than Bush's in terms of redistributing wealth to the very richest. Indeed, government policy is ensuring high unemployment levels, and Obama – despite his words – actually doesn’t mind high unemployment. Virtually all of the government largesse has  gone to Wall Street instead of Main Street or the average American. And “jobless recovery” is just another phrase for a redistribution of wealth from the little guy to the big boys.)

If we stopped throwing money at corporate welfare queens, military and security boondoggles and pork, harmful quantitative easingunnecessary nuclear subsidies,  the failed war on drugs, and other wasted and counter-productive expenses, we wouldn't need to impose austerity on the people.

Indeed:

Neither stimulus nor austerity can ever work … unless and until the basic problems with the economy are fixed.

 

But stimulus and austerity are not only insufficient on their own … they are actually 2 sides of the same coin.

 

Specifically, the central banks’ central bank warned in 2008 that bailouts of the big banks would create sovereign debt crises. That is exactly what has happened.

 

Remember, it is not the people or Main Street who are getting bailed out … it is the giant banks.

 

A study of 124 banking crises by the International Monetary Fund found that propping up banks which are only pretending to be solvent often leads to austerity:

Existing empirical research has shown that providing assistance to banks and their borrowers can be counterproductive, resulting in increased losses to banks, which often abuse forbearance to take unproductive risks at government expense. The typical result of forbearance is a deeper hole in the net worth of banks, crippling tax burdens to finance bank bailouts, and even more severe credit supply contraction and economic decline than would have occurred in the absence of forbearance.

 

Cross-country analysis to date also shows that accommodative policy measures (such as substantial liquidity support, explicit government guarantee on financial institutions’ liabilities and forbearance from prudential regulations) tend to be fiscally costly and that these particular policies do not necessarily accelerate the speed of economic recovery.

 

***

All too often, central banks privilege stability over cost in the heat of the containment phase: if so, they may too liberally extend loans to an illiquid bank which is almost certain to prove insolvent anyway. Also, closure of a nonviable bank is often delayed for too long, even when there are clear signs of insolvency (Lindgren, 2003). Since bank closures face many obstacles, there is a tendency to rely instead on blanket government guarantees which, if the government’s fiscal and political position makes them credible, can work albeit at the cost of placing the burden on the budget, typically squeezing future provision of needed public services.

In other words, the “stimulus” to the banks blows up the budget, “squeezing” public services through austerity.

 

But instead of throwing trillions at the big banks, we could provide stimulus to Main Street. It would work much better at stimulating the economy.

 

And instead of imposing draconian austerity, we could stop handouts to the big banks, stop getting into imperial military adventures and stop incurring unnecessary interest costs (and see this). This would be better for the economy as well.

 

Why aren’t we doing this?

 

Because – underneath the false easing-versus-tightening debate – this is not a financial crisis … it’s a bank robbery.

 

Profits are being privatized and losses are being socialized.  So the big banks get to keep the mana from heaven being poured out of the stimulus firehose, while austerity is forced on the public who has to bear the brunt of Wall Street’s bad bets.

 

The big banks went bust, and so did the debtors.  But the government chose to save the big banks instead of the little guy, thus allowing the banks to continue to try to wring every penny of debt out of debtors.  An analogy might be a huge boxer and a smaller boxer who butt heads and are both rendered unconscious … just lying on the mat.   But the referee gives smelling salts to the big guy and doesn’t help the little guy, so the big guy wakes up and pummels the little guy to a pulp.

 

And creditor committees dominated by giant banks like Goldman which helped countries like Greece fraudulently cover-up their financial problems are now demanding austerity, and Greece is holding a fire sale of its infrastructure, public utilities, tax base and whole islands to give to the creditors.  Spain, Italy, and even countries like the U.S. are no different.

 

As we wrote last year:

Economists note:

A substantial portion of the profits of the largest banks is essentially a redistribution from taxpayers to the banks, rather than the outcome of market transactions.

Indeed, all of the monetary and economic policy of the last 3 years has helped the wealthiest and penalized everyone else. See this, this and this.

 

A “jobless recovery” is basically a redistribution of wealth from the little guy to the big boys.

 

***

 

Economist Steve Keen says:

“This is the biggest transfer of wealth in history”, as the giant banks have handed their toxic debts from fraudulent activities to the countries and their people.

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said in 2009 that Geithner’s toxic asset plan “amounts to robbery of the American people”.

 

And economist Dean Baker said in 2009 that the true purpose of the bank rescue plans is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”.

 

The money of individuals, businesses, cities, states and entire nations are disappearing into the abyss …

… and ending up in the pockets of the [fatcats].

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Harbanger's picture

"Obama is quite a ways to the right of Richard Nixon."

I agree, Nixon was a douchebag, but you really need to catch up.  It's about not D or R.  Trust me, there are NO classic "liberals" left in the Democrat party.

Diogenes's picture

That's what I am saying. Nixon had his "executive privilege" aka Divine Right of Kings. Obama has his executive orders. The only difference is Nixon didn't get away with it.

Obama's policies are no different from Bush's, if anything he is worse. So let's forget all this party politics. It's all bullshit .

Colonial Intent's picture

Ron Paul, Cynthia Mckinney, Kucinich etc,etc.

Anyone who isnt acting in the best interests of the party gets thrown overboard, regardless of which party they are in, lobbyist money owns both parties ad infinitum.

nmewn's picture

"Obama's policies are no different from Bush's, if anything he is worse."

Can't argue with that, nothing is ever done to stop federal government expansion & intrusion into what is rightly the purview of the states.

Whenever an action is proposed to even slow the growth of federal government (not even the size of but just the growth of the federal budget) howls of righteous indignation come from the bowels of this monster we have constructed. The bureaucrats inhabiting this beast leap into action at the mere suggestion of it living with a measly one or two percent less...OMG!...austerity!

I'm quite sure they would have a "collective" heart attack if we demanded a 10 or 20% real cut in it.

Case in point...bureaucrats & politicians were running around recently with their hair on fire screaming about airport tower closures. OMG! Sequestor! Austerity! The implication being of course, without someone in the towers, planes would fall from the sky, crash & burn, your everyday societal collapse & general mayhem type stuff.

Well, lo & behold they have another huge pot of money just sitting there off to the side in a separate account. Idle. Untouched. Unused. Why, its almost as if they are either incompetent managers of our money OR they were trying to frighten the citizens into accepting still larger bites from our apple. Still, when it came time for them to bugout from DC and go home, this idle account was "discovered" for the good of all society.

Its an accounting miracle!!!...lol.

I guess I just expect better liars in my politicians & apparatchiks ;-)

knukles's picture

Ah, memories of when Liberals loved their designation.
BTW the California people of that ilk have likewise shed "progressive" as its become tainted as well for what bullshit it is, and assumed, donned the cape of "Optimists"... in and of the future, plans and policies, wise gubanimt, intelligently directing a life of social, economic and environmental justice.

"Optimist"

Which when you think of it is more PC specifying the layers of tripe surrounding one.  Change the words and the policies become "New and Improved", better, substantial.... all part of the wordsmithing of the future.

All nefarious motives and sleight of hand at work
Ever so Bernasian

shovelhead's picture

Funny....

The communists still prefer 'Progressive'.

I think they're still a bit edgy about Uncle Joe & Chairman Mao.

nmewn's picture

It seems, if they can't redefine themselves (sometimes daily) or their surroundings or how they percieve the world at large, they are not content in their inner space.

Perhaps they don't know what they really are, even after a lifetime of navel gazing & whisker pulling? ;-)

LetThemEatRand's picture

It is undeniable and unquestionably true, yes?

nmewn's picture

I've been consistent in my views, can you say the same?

LetThemEatRand's picture

So you admit you are consistently wrong?  Probably one of the 12 steps. 

nmewn's picture

I've always been consistently opposed to your freedom depriving ten planks...yes.

Always will be, forever, or do you want to explain the 20,000 pages of new regulations of ObamaCare wrought by your ignorance & arrogance?

LetThemEatRand's picture

And the one trick pony is back.  Look in your mirror, Newman.

StychoKiller's picture

What do you give a Govt that's taken everything?

flapdoodle's picture

Kidneys? Spleens? Lungs? Corneas? Hearts?

Colonial Intent's picture

I know, its just not enough for them is it.

DaveyJones's picture

Cheney was never an idiot, just a murderer

Toolshed's picture

Cheny was never an idiot, just a MASS murderer.

Fixed it for you. You are quite welcome.

ebworthen's picture

Virtual shotgun - pew research - see who would duck (duck, goose).

angel_of_joy's picture

So, is Obama a murderer?

He sure is, but he's also a moron.

Fred Hayek's picture

On top of which, he evinces the amazing quality of being a smug moron.

DaveyJones's picture

same qualities - anything for power. I try to stay away from that current president current party thing - the bad guys want me to think like that.

Toolshed's picture

Absolutely. And the worst sort at that. A sneaking, back jumping, cowardly weasel of a murderer. At least Cheney had some balls.

knukles's picture

Best I can tell of this "debate" is that:

First, the data and number being disputed or truly of an inconsequential factor.  It has become a splitting of hairs, literally a Hegelian Dialectic proposition arguing over the small whilst (as George points out) the bigger picture is lost, the robbery and thievery

Second, the Dems and Repubs have indeed reversed roles at the moment relative to history BUT FOR Reasons of Political Expedience. Large deficits today are "good" because it means the necessity for higher taxes, faciliates larger government which necessitates bigger defictis, QED.

Third, I've never, ever been a believer (for decades now, the Leviathan being the enemy along with its supporters, regardless of affiliation) but have concluded that while the Republicans are hypocrites galore, the Democrats are just plain evil.  For whatever reasons.

Fourth, predicating one's philosophy upon principles rathr than personalities and minutiae, Krugman's alliance already (again) masterfully displays the ulterior motivations.  Forget the "debate", big government is the enemy.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Big government just dumped a huge amount of gold (via JPM) onto the market, to tamp down the price ahead of what is likely another round of massive "easing" (money printing) that will be justified by the Excel error.  Causation is not correlation, but seems pretty coincidental that the Excel error was discovered the same week as the historic orchestrated gold dump.  

P.S.  Democrats are not evil as a group.  Many are well-meaning, as are many Republicans.  It's the national political class that is the problem.  It's like rooting for a baseball team -- you are literally rooting for the team colors.  Players come and go and change colors.  The team lives on to make money for its owners.   The tribal tendencies of humans allows this bizarre paradigm to exist.

FreeMktFisherMN's picture

Government is nothing but force. When one values liberty and voluntary action, anything done by coercion--whether directly like by a thief in the night, or via a surrogate in IRS or politician--is wrong. 

'Liberals' in the modern sense of the word are actually statists. Of course all GOPers but a few 'radical' Tea Partiers are also statists, just so you know I am awake to what is going on as to the bipartisanship of Keynesianism warfare/welfare agenda in the current false dichotomy. 

Classical liberals/Austrians just want to be left alone. I am one of them. I value things individually and subjectively.  

LetThemEatRand's picture

Some of us believe there is a middle ground where government leaves us alone for the most part, but where it is okay to coerce the more selfish among us to contribute to roads, bridges, fire departments, police, courts, airports, etc.    I'll bet you could be quite happy in that version of society, even if you had to cough up an occasional buck for the "public" good.  And it may just sell to the public.

Fred Hayek's picture

I find your incredible conceit that you know who is committing the thought crime of being a "selfish" person rather funny. Who's more selfish, the rich businessman who wants to pay as little taxes as possible and maybe even cheats on them or the guy who has a fraudulent EBT card and gets paid a disability check all while having a thriving under the table business? They're both lying. They're both making other people give them money to which they're not entitled by the rules. Please elaborate about just who is selfish and why.

honestann's picture

No, absolutely not.

If it isn't fully voluntary, it is overt aggression.  And I fully reject overt aggression in every single one of its forms.  EVERY one of them.

Anusocracy's picture

That is why I am a panarchist, not an anarchist.

FreeMktFisherMN's picture

'Government' is nothing but people running an organized system of theft. Quit anthropomorphizing 'it' as this 'entity'. And I think you are not allowing yourself to think outside this statist paradigm. Markets naturally develop and things like roads would get done--efficiently-- as people mutually agree on their benefits.

Force begets more force, as people are spending others' money. Power corrupts. Government by definition is not voluntary. It is central planning. 

LetThemEatRand's picture

I have a low tolerance for blind ideology tonight, but I'll bite.  Where has this pure free market of which you speak with no collective action worked in all of human history?

honestann's picture

In times long past many places on planet earth were not claimed by predators-DBA-government.  The individual humans who lived in those places either operated as predators, stealing and/or destroying their neighbors and their property, or voluntarily trading with their neighbors.

Those humans acting as predators were properly dealt with as a predator of any species would be... with a bullet.

Those humans acting as voluntary neighbors were a "free market".

Please note that your complete delusion is brightly shining through.  Check this out:

A "free market"... by definition and by necessity... is "collective" in the sense that individuals are exchanging with other individuals (more than one individual is involved).  Since more than one individual is involved, people like you love to talk about a purely fictional entity called "the collective" that also somehow mysteriously appeared, and you love to pretend that fictional entity is somehow real, which it is not (it is a mental-unit, like "SantaClaus").

Therefore, to ask for a "free market" that has no "collective" aspects, is to ask for a market that has no market (a "market" being "trade").  Try to imagine "trade with yourself" sometime.  Doesn't make much sense, does it?  Now try to imagine involuntary trade with yourself.  While that sorta thing might happen in your house, those of us who are individualists never encounter such a thing.

As a matter of common sense, a free market is one form of interaction between individuals, namely, voluntary interaction.

As a matter of common sense and simple consistency, every other form of interaction between individuals involves involuntary interactions.  In other words, theft, harm, enslavement, destruction.

There are only two sides.  Pick one.  Yes, people discuss many flavors of "involuntary interactions", but they are all irrelevant, the only distinction being who screws who and how, and what kind of cover stories they spew to attempt to defend their atrocities.

Ultimately, there is only "voluntary" and "involuntary".  We know which you prefer.

I prefer voluntary.  I demand voluntary.  I will never accept involuntary.  Try to force involuntary on me and I will either ignore you, escape you, or kill you dead.  Got that?

akak's picture

Honestann, yours are consistently among the very most interesting, and fascinating, posts here on ZeroHedge.

If I (and others) do not routinely compliment you on them, rest assured that they ARE appreciated!

shovelhead's picture

IT USED TO BE CALLED A VILLAGE OR TOWN.

adr's picture

Should I have money taken from me to pay for fixing roads in Detroit because they are worse off than my roads? Even though my roads need to be fixed as well. Let those who do not take responsibility rot and do not punish the responsible so it is impossible for them to flourish.

Any government entity seeks to redistribute wealth to where they see fit regardless of the will of the individual. If 49% of the people do not want a tax levy, but 51% of the people do, 100% of the people pay for it.

Sorry but if 51% of the people want the levy than those 51% should pay the cost. A taxpayer should never be asked to pay the pension of a teacher who no longer works. Eventually the cost to pay teachers not to work costs more than the payroll of those that do. A town with no working teahcers may use 50% of the tax reciepts to pay for pensions. How is this good?

Instead of a local government collecting fines by putting 30 cops on the road in a town of 3800 people for supposedly fixing roads. Let people who live nearby fix the potholes with their own money. Aybe a few neighbors each throw in $5 to buy a bag of asphalt and they keep a tamper in one persons garage. Problem solved without an opressive police state that costs more to run than it brings in.

In Japan each store is responsible for keeping the sidewalk and street in front of their business clean. The result is not a single piece of garbage anywhere.

If you remove individual responsibility and transfer it to a central authority whose job is to delegate responsibility, nothing ever gets done. That is due to the delegation of responsibility taking more effort than an individal doing of his own accord.

honestann's picture

Excellent post, as is the reply following this message.  But I'll take it even further.  I don't want roads.  That's right, I don't want roads, at least not in the sense others mean.  I'll explain this with two examples, one that applies to my admittedly extreme situation, and one that applies to neighborhoods everywhere.

I don't have a car.  Or an SUV, truck, motorcycle, etc.  I live in the extreme boonies in a very sparsely populated part of the world, with a grand total of about 20 people living within 120km of me in every direction.  It has been impossible to get to my home by land for who knows how many tens or hundreds or thousands of thousand years (for different reasons in different directions).  However, while building my place (starting ~4 years ago), it would have been difficult if not impossible to build my place without bringing in materials on various kinds of trucks, from pick-up trucks to flat-bed trucks (fortunately no 40-foot size tractor-trailer type trucks were necessary).

Very fortunately for me, there was one place in a deep canyon that the gap was much narrower than elsewhere, perhaps 12 meters or so.  I found some people who managed to build a jerry-rigged crossing that trucks could carefully and slowly cross.  Believe me, nobody had to be told to cross slowly and carefully!  Once all necessary large and heavy materials were across, we mananged to, ehhhh (how do I describe this), pivot, rotate, drop and slide the pieces of the crossing over onto my side, and sorta bury it in an overhang cavelet sorta place.  From that day forward, nobody could get here by land, and all further work was done here, with equipment that remains here.

While I don't have a land vehicle, I do have a little 2-seat airplane that gets 75 miles-per-gallon (or 32 kilometers-per-liter) at 250kph (economy speed, with top-speed of 300kph), and flies 4000km+ non-stop (and theoretically 6000km+ with my fuel blatters hooked in).  Also fortunately for me, my little toy only needs 80 meters of flatish rock/dirt/grass/road to get off the ground, and much less to land, which means the 100 meters of flattish rock leading up to my home works fine (and doesn't look like a place to land anything).

So, for me personally, roads are a hassle, and certainly useless.  It would be a sad day in my world if some government or corporation decided it wanted to run a road through my neck of the woods (within, say, 30km of my place).  Obviously I can't stop them, or even register a protest without risk of drawing attention to myself, but as far as I'm concerned, roads are bad news!

Of course, I have no philosophical objection to people collaborating to build roads when it really makes sense to them.  And I can see how roads can be convenient in places where lots of humans live near each other.  I totally don't understand why humans choose to do this, but that's their business, since I don't tell others how to live (and expect reciprocation).  But this leads me to the other example, which is much more normal.

Let's consider a more normal place to live.  A village, a town, or several to many miles outside a village or town.  My airplane gets 75 miles per gallon.  And when I need to go somewhere, I usually fly straight line to where I want to go, not some arbitrary circuitous zig-zag where [the better or less traveled] roads happen to be.  So why, prey tell, would anyone want to drive something as inefficient as a car or SUV?

I mean, really!  Why drive 30mph to 60mph when you can fly 3 times as fast... or faster when you allow for the fact that you typically drive 50% to 80% further because you can't drive "shortest distance" like you could fly?  Why suffer the hassle of traffic when there's a lot of empty space up here in 3D land?  Why stop every 500km for fuel when you can stop every 4000km or 6000km?  For that matter, why pay thousands of dollars to fly to Hawaii or Fiji, and get raped by TSA goon-thugs, when you can fly there in your own vehicle, starting anywhere you want, at any time you want, without molestation?

And why build all those freaking expensive, expensive, expensive roads, then fill them with endless UGLY billboards and road signs?  Hey, my little airplane has GPS and autopilot, so for practical purposes, I only need to pay a little attention when I'm taking off, and a little more when I'm landing.  And since I can land on a 50m straight stretch of open field, lawn, dirt road or other open space, it's not like I need a freaking airport!  Fact is, I literally land behind the place I usually shop for food, and roll up to the side of the building and tie my plane down to the steel posts that prevent delivery trucks from running into the building.  In fact, I don't ever land on a runway.  Almost never, in fact.  Not for over 2 years now.

So why pay for all those roads when people can fly much cheaper, faster and vastly less stressfully?  I'm serious.

If not for the billions of dollars per year of funds stolen every year to pay for grossly inefficient roads, people would be flying to work, flying to friends, flying to store, etc.

Of course, I understand the infrastructure necessary to support millions of people flying all over the place doesn't yet exist.  But what is that infrastructure?  Well, the answer is, almost all the infrastructure already exists, and simply isn't coordinated yet.  Remember, my little cheap-as-hell (but very modern) little airplane already has GPS, already has 3D autopilot, already has whole-airframe-emergency parachutte system (to gently bring down the entire airplane if something goes wrong), a completely glass cockpit (like in modern fighter-jets), and so forth.  Pretty much the only piece that doesn't exist yet to support a huge increase in quantity is... trivial systems to coordinate multiple landings in small areas.  In other words, if you and your 20 immediate neighbors share a combined "neighborhood road / landing strip", then there needs to be a way for incoming (or leaving) planes to activate a "red-light" for the very short periods they need to touch down.  And do note that these little planes only need a tiny little short period or stretch of empty road to land on, since they are moving at only about 45mph when they land (only about 3 times as fast as a human can run).

The point is this.  In a fully voluntary world that is not run by huge fictional involuntary organizations (central authorities) that suck up all the money and force the infrastructure they want to build, people would create rational... and radically more efficient... solutions to travel and their other needs.  I can't even begin to explain how much more efficient and enjoyable flying is compared to driving.  Oh, some might say "planes are more expensive", and sure enough, they are.  The typical car today costs $30,000 and my plane cost 4 times as much.  But understand this.  The company that makes the plane only makes a few per week, not thousands per day like car factories.  Though the plane is made of high-tech materials (mostly carbon-fibre) and therefore costs more per pound for materials, the plane only weighs about 1/5 as much as your car does (650 pounds before we load it down with passengers, baggage and fuel).  So the bottom line is this.  If made in similar quantities, these planes would probably cost less than your car!  And they get better mileage (75mpg) and save you lots of travel time (250~300kph in a straight-line to where you're going).

I'm quite good at imagination and invention.  But even I can't fully imagine how many astounding ways life would be vastly, vastly, vastly, vastly, vastly better in a fully voluntary world.  Let's just say that what looks like "wild, crazy, amazing special-effects sci-fi" today would be everyday life in a fully voluntary world.

And yet the mindless sheeple-chimps demand we all be slaves.

Sigh.

Anusocracy's picture

Interesting.

About 15 years ago I started planning something similar - relocating to an isolated area - except I was going to build an aero-motorhome, a Windybaygo. I have a fear of heights, but I figured that I could handle being in an airship. Did a lot of work planning it and stopped.

I decided it was more important to focus on life extension.

 

honestann's picture

Maybe a blimp design would work for you.  One consequences of the project I now collaborate on could be called "life-extension", but not in the conventional sense.  We can live literally forever, but will not be organic beings.  Better than nothing.

Anusocracy's picture

I'm not not entirely pleased with owning living quarters committed to a fixed location, hence, an aero-motorhome. My original concept was a 200 foot square floating carbon nanotube 'air mattress' drag anchored over some cheap land somewhere in central Australia. Currently, that fantasy is impractical because of helium and nanotube costs. So now I have a regular motorhome and have the option of driving it or shipping it to other locations.

My thinking on life-extension is pretty much in line with SENS, repair what you have, with the possibility of accessing better future technologies. If the technologies were available, I would probably want to use biological or non-biological forms for different purposes. An augmented bio-me could be 'entangled' with a nonbio-me, sharing the same sensory inputs but not necessarily sharing responses, while in completely incompatible environments.

 

 

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I loved your response adr, you are so right! I've experience this first hand.

2 winters ago we had a huge amount of rain which completely washed out the main entrance to our Mesa. About 50 families used this entrance and there is no other exit. At first we all just were confused what to do. This was private land and there was no one to call for help. Soon 3 people with very good tractors got them to the site and started moving the massive amount of mud. Mr miffed got our huge flood lights to help with the all night operation. Someone had access to telephone poles and dragged them down to the site as a form for the culvert we were trying to construct. Finally some one who had connections to a construction firm got us a wonderful cement culvert we could buy for a reasonable price and another person had access to a crane we could use. Many other people contributed in small ways providing food,coffee, a make shift rest area with a burning barrel ( it was very cold!). The whole bill was 15,000 which made our portion $300 which we gladly paid. One month later the person collecting the money came and asked us if we could pay more. Turns out only half of everyone paid and she was hoping the paying group would be willing to help. We paid another 300. Part of me has a hard time with this. I know there are a few of us that are truly struggling and I have no problem with helping them. However, I know of several people who had the means to fund the entire enterprise but wouldn't consider helping. Every time I watch them drive on the new road I have to fight not being angry. But really, isn't this true of life always? There are always those who rise to the occasion and those who take advantage. This world is anything but fair and just.

Miffed;-)

LetThemEatRand's picture

Nice ideological rant.

Local government is (should be) responsible for local roads.  My point is limited government.  What say you?

nmewn's picture

My point is limited government.

You, LTER, are now FOR limited government?...LOL!!! Something about being consistent that I can't quite lay my finger to.

If true, you'll be welcomed into the fold, if false, you'll be ostracized for life by former fellow travellers and your new friends.

Sure you're up to it? ;-)

LetThemEatRand's picture

Thanks Newman.  I don't need to join your club.  No girls and all that.

nmewn's picture

lol...nice try...there was a slight disturbance in the Gender-Force but now I know I can expect no more talk from you about the doom & gloom from "limited government" or "government austerity".

Its a big club LTER and I really didn't care whether you were male or female (outside of my own curiosity).

But thanks ;-) 

Harbanger's picture

Darling.  Your point is NEVER limited government.  I've been waitin on you.  Where've you been?  sleepin late?

Harbanger's picture

Oh stop it.  This is fight club!  Win your argument without throwing a bitch fit.