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Cart Before the Horse

Entry 1202, on 2010-06-30 at 19:52:03 (Rating 4, Comments)

We seem to have the cart before the horse. That's an old proverb. In fact after researching it I can inform you that it dates back at least 2100 years to the time of Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC). Given that long history of recognising that things are often the opposite way around to what they should be you would think that we would know by now that it's something to be avoided!

At this point you are probably wondering what I'm ranting on about this time. Well it's our economic system again. You see I just listened to a couple of podcasts from NPR (National Public Radio in the US) and at least one of the guests recognised, as I do, that we've got things badly mixed up.

We've created a system which has taken control of the people its supposed to be benefitting. Businesses, and especially big corporations, have become out of control, self propagating entities which are greater than any one person. The speaker pointed out how pointless it was to demand the resignation (or assassination!) of the CEO of BP for example, because BP, as a large corporation, runs independently of its supposed masters.

It's like a monster which has been created and now is out of control. It would make little difference who was in charge because the behaviour of the monster cannot be changed. And as I have said in past posts, other corporations are no different really. Any big oil company could have created the same disaster. It's just that BP was unlucky this time.

So now people are subservient to the corporations. And governments do what is best for the corporations instead of using the corporation to achieve the best outcome for the majority of people. Even the people who do benefit from a corporation's success lose in the end because the financial gain is achieved at the expense of social justice, the environment, and other factors which are unsustainable in the long term.

The current "golden period" that most of the western world has enjoyed for many years is achieved through exploitation. Significantly through exploitation of natural resources, but also through exploitation of people. For example, we only have cheap consumer electronics because people in China live on a close to subsistence income. And we enjoy our extravagant lifestyles through excessive consumption of fossil fuels.

I'm the first to admit that I'm as guilty as most because technology is an important part of my life and I'm as happy as anyone else to enjoy cheap iPhones, laptops, stereo and audio equipment, etc. But that doesn't change the essential truth of the problem.

There's no easy answer because the big corporations have so much control over the leadership of the world's most powerful countries that they can't easily be managed through government regulation. It's abundantly clear that has happened with BP and the other oil companies and that's why we now have the Gulf disaster.

What makes it worse is that it seems that every day ordinary people are controlled more and more by government regulation while at the same time regulation of the entities doing the real damage is loosened. The NPR guest gave an interesting example.

He described how energy exploration companies are using a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" to collect gas and oil. The process involves pumping millions of gallons of often unidentified chemicals into the ground and these cause a lot of harm to people living in the area, including medical effects and water from their taps which will burn! But there are no regulations to cover this activity because the companies successfully lobbied the politicians so they could be exempt from them.

And why are these chemicals which are harming people unidentified? Because the corporations hide behind commercial sensitivity. They say they want to maintain the secrets of the chemicals they have developed, and apparently it's OK to not tell people what's being used to poison them.

But an individual throwing a small item into a river (say an old car battery) which would cause much less potential harm would be prosecuted if he was caught. Is that fair? Of course not, because most laws are specifically designed to protect the corporations and punish the people.

So our whole civilisation - the economic system, the political system, and the law - is designed to protect these big companies and many people recognise this. The ones that do often say the system has given us the standard of living we have today. That is partly true but it's also given us huge problems, not the least of which is global warming. And it's not just coincidental that a lot of the corporate world denies the truth of climate change, peak oil, etc.

So this whole post sounds like one huge conspiracy theory and I guess it is (however remember that not all conspiracies are untrue, although most of them are). It's not a conspiracy created by a group of people though, it's one which naturally arises out of a system which started out being much more under control. Unfortunately it has got beyond the point where we can control it any more. The cart really is before the horse!


Comment 1 (2685) by SBFL on 2010-07-04 at 13:15:35: (view recent only)

I don't see any posts on the credit card rorts that have been dominating the news recently. Of course most focus to Labour MPs. Should I detect more bias?


Comment 2 (2687) by OJB on 2010-07-05 at 21:14:04:

There has been plenty of commentary on that already and really its a rather trivial subject involving quite small amounts. I would be more interested in discussing why, as someone who has to pay Telecom for its monopoly services, I am forced into contributing to the extravagant expenses of worthless incompetents like Paul Reynolds.


Comment 3 (2689) by SBFL on 2010-07-06 at 07:59:06:

I didn't see it on this blog. But yeah, typical response from you I guess. Deflect to something completely different. I always said you were a master of obfuscation!

You refer to them as small amounts as if the principle of it wasn't important. I wonder, if this is how they treat the taxpayer with small amounts, how do you thing they treat us with large amounts (as ministers)? Oh don't answer, the Michael Cullen spend up in the good years is evidence enough. KiwiRail anyone? Sale of the Century they call it in Australia.

Funny how you refer to Telecom as a monopoly. What was it when it was completely govt owned? Sound like you are warming to competition!! We'll make a right-winger out of you yet!


Comment 4 (2691) by OJB on 2010-07-06 at 09:08:58:

I don't think the principle is as important as the facts. The facts are that these small indiscretions don't matter. The right wing preparing our assets for sale while everyone is distracted concerns me a lot more.

The government paid too much for KiwiRail but they were forced into that position because private ownership had failed (again). They should have brought in regulations to make the railways less valuable then bought them at a much lower price but at least we now have one important asset back.

When our telecommunications were state owned it was more of a monopoly than it is now but didn't suffer from the same corporate culture of greed and corruption. Competition is OK if we insist on a private ownership model but I would prefer to see our important assets being out of corporate ownership.


Comment 5 (2692) by SBFL on 2010-07-06 at 09:51:50:

So you don't think the principle of not spending our hard earned dollars on hotel porn movies is relevant. I guess then you find this behaviour from our elected (and list) parliamentarians as acceptable. Good luck with that. Personally I would like to think the tax I provide through honest work is spent on more principled government spending. Apparently you are blase.

You are so naive. The government wasn't _forced_ to buy Kiwirail, and even if they were, it should never have been at that price. The fact of the matter was that is was a feel-good election bribe that didn't pay off. But nevermind Labour, we the taxpayers are still paying for your frivolity via the amounts of debt we have to borrow now that the environment has changed.

Please explain to me how rail transport is important, especially in an elongated, two island, NZ? You yourself have effectively admitted that buying it back is not necessary by suggesting better regulation (whatever that would have entailed).

At least you acknowledge that Telecom was more of a monopoly when it was state owned than it is now. You have this childish image of capitalism = greed and corruption, something I cannot hope to change. Of course it is not perfect, but there is no better model (otherwise tell me one that is, and explain how so). Nonetheless why not compare services between the Telecom of old and the Telecom of new. Sure, it is also far from perfect today, but why not compare the time it took to get a new phone line today vs yesteryear. You forget so easily.


Comment 6 (2694) by SBFL on 2010-07-06 at 10:18:33:

I love how you ignore the fact that a minister pleasing himself in hotel rooms at the taxpayers expense is not a significant matter. Sure, the $$ may not have been big, but like I said, how can the public trust a guy like that with the big dollars when he so disregards the small dollars which each and every one of us contributes to in the sense of the public purse. You are clearly out of touch with the common man you so often purport to support.

...and I haven't even started on Chris Carter!!


Comment 7 (2695) by OJB on 2010-07-06 at 10:44:40:

I accept that there will be a small amount of waste and inefficiency in every system. And I am careful not to let the trivia manufactured by politicians and the media hide the things that really matter. If a politician wants to spend a few dollars on porn who really cares compared with the potential loss of much greater sums?

Rail systems have become more important in many countries. Ours was being destroyed by the private sector. The government thought they should act. Sure I agree, there was no absolute compulsion, and they did pay too much, but fundamentally it was the right thing to do.

Rail systems can transport large amounts of goods far more efficiently that road if they are run properly. Good railways are also an excellent substitute for air travel. As fossil fuels become more expensive railways will become a far more valuable asset.

Capitalism rewards greed. That's what its all about. And attempts at restraining it must be opposed through corruption. Surely you agree that's the MO of almost every large corporation?

The technology we have today makes telecommunications much easier to manage than in the old analog days. I agree that the state run system was inefficient but why not fix it instead of implementing something which is potentially far worse?

I don't care about the common man's opinion. I care about the facts. Its a trivial amount. It doesn't really matter. And it deflects attention from the real issues.


Comment 8 (2697) by SBFL on 2010-07-06 at 11:08:07:

It's more than waste. Why do you write it off so easily? It's abuse, it's greed, its selfishness, plain and simple. And if this is how he treats taxpayer money, how can he be fit to be a minister? Remove your blindfold.

I acknowledge your concessions on the rail matter (and some credit to you on this), but still the purchase doesn't explain how it was the right thing to do. Not by a country mile. Let's take a look at its profit to equity ratio now shall we?

In certain examples rail can be more efficient, private businesses will decide that though. But by and large road transport seems to fit the NZ model better. Small population, quite well spread out, and we are elongated and split by two islands as I pointed out earlier. Our environment is not conducive to rail, unlike other countries who have the fortune of being able to make it more efficient. I really wish that rail could do better, it will bring in more competition and be better for business and growth, but I have yet to see it happen. And I was previously a logistics manager in NZ always looking for better ways of moving product.

Re capitalism comment - sorry I can't honour that Worker Rag propaganda with a response.

We need to have the right model first in order to fix it. But I agree that the model we have today is not the right one (though it is better than what we had). I think we agree that we can do better, but surely looking back is not the right way. I believe we need to keep on trucking ahead. Call it evolution of the NZ telecommunications industry if you like.

The facts speak for themselves. Hotel porn on the taxpayer. Is that not enough for you? Can you find a worse abuse of taxpayers money? Not in dollar terms, but in intent. Don't you understand? It is the intent of the individual that matters most because we are supposed to entrust the running of the country with these people. If they abuse this trust on the worst possible level, i.e. pure blatant abuse of our money in the form of hotel porn, then what hope do we have? Shane Jones isn't the only one, but I fail to find a more egregious example.


Comment 9 (2699) by OJB on 2010-07-06 at 11:31:04:

Its obviously not a good thing but its trivial and irrelevant. I think we should be debating more important things. Let's just leave it at that.

I have already agreed they paid too much for railways. If the private sector had been able to run railways efficiently the government wouldn't have had to take control. Private ownership failed so the state had to take over. How often does that happen?

You say "private business will decide that though". There you go again with your naive assumption that the market will always work. How often does it need to fail before you can see that that's just not true?

Capitalism is about returning the maximum return to the shareholders and very little else. If that's not greed then what is?

Yes, we need to move ahead with telecommunications. No one is suggesting going back to an inefficient model we used in the past but many people are looking at KiwiBank and other successes and saying let's use that as a model instead of private, foreign control and ownership.

I'm over the Shane Jones thing. Get some perspective and move on.


Comment 10 (2701) by SBFL on 2010-07-06 at 11:49:08:

I have already explained why it is not trivial and not irrelevant, but you choose to ignore those arguments. Up to you.

I know. I acknowledged that. I haven't seen the books but probably private ownership of rail wasn't the best (since they did sell up - but then again who wouldn't at that price!). You blame the ownership, I blame the environment. Only when public ownership becomes efficient will I cede to you on this one. It is yet to happen. And I doubt it will ever be due to our environment.

Private business is the main customer of rail. Get to know your customers. No customers, not efficiency.

You are right, it is. And who invests in new ventures, opportunities and thus creates growth and jobs? Shareholders!!! Who else is going to do this? Please learn human nature. Without incentive, growth cannot happen. This is why the West won, and the East (bloc) lost. Learn from history.

Kiwibank is still a minnow and not in telecommunications. You should not use this as an example to back your argument. Apparently NZ Post was also a model but they failed miserably when they went to SA (and at least that was the same industry!)

I am not sure you are...since I haven't yet seen a post. You are conspicuous by your silence!


Comment 11 (2703) by OJB on 2010-07-06 at 12:18:47:

Whatever. You think a few dollars is of great importance, I don't. Just more on. There are far more important issues which this nonsense is hiding.

You are in one of those denial mind sets I see with global warming deniers, creationists, etc. Any time the market fails there's always something else to blame. Like the believers in other pseudosciences you change the rules so you can never be proven wrong!

Yes, private business uses rail. Not sure what your point is here.

So you admit capitalism is based on greed but now you think that's OK. We cannot use a system based entirely on return to shareholders. It just doesn't work. That's why the real progress is made in universities and other organisations funded by taxpayers. Investors aren't interested in real progress, just in making a quick dollar.

From Wikipedia: "Kiwibank has won the first four Sunday Star Times/Cannex banking awards, in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 for offering the best value across their range of products. It has been seen by many to have brought a new level of competition in banking in New Zealand in terms of lower fees and growth in service. Kiwibank has higher customer satisfaction ratings than the four large Australian-owned trading banks."

The market had failed again and KiwiBank, introduced by a left wing politician, fixed things. I'll say it again: the market doesn't work.


Comment 12 (2705) by SBFL on 2010-07-08 at 09:25:36:

For the umpteenth time it is not about the dollars. It is about disdain to the taxpayer. Umm, can you read? There are always more important issues, but does that means we should ONLY focus on thee most important issue? Such a weak argument. You aren't fooling anyone.

Mow you come back back comparing me to global warming deniers and creationists, even though those aspects haven't even come up in this discussion. Good luck with that line of argument.

The efficiency of rail will depend on customer demand, not the ownership model.

I said it is based on growth, not greed, but it's no surprise you again decide to put words in my mouth as your form of argument. I don't doubt for a minute that universities can add value to society, but you don't define "real progress" so I don't understand where you are going with this tangent.

Oh dear! A left-wing Sunday paper with a declining circulation gives a state-owned enterprise an award due to the grannies they rang up at 11am on a weekday giving a wrinkled thumbs-up to the bank they could find closest to their local post office.

Yes, Jim Anderton (aka "the peoples purse mayor") who was recently revealed to have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on hotel "room service" on his overseas jaunts, pushed through Kiwibank. No problem with that, I encourage the extra competition for us customers at rival banks, but not sure what he "fixed". The NZ banking system is pretty solid as has been demonstrated with its resilience through the current financial crisis.


Comment 13 (2707) by OJB on 2010-07-08 at 14:04:58:

Well you might see it as disdain to the taxpayer although I don't see how that necessarily follows. But its just trivial, media-driven nonsense. I really don't care. We will never agree on this. Next topic please.

There is a recognised link between having right wing political ideas, following religious fundamentalism, and denying science. I didn't say you were a GW denier or a fundy, just that the general mindset is similar.

The efficiency of rail will depend on many factors, including the customer demand and the ownership model.

Real progress would be something like eliminating a disease or developing a new energy source, both attained through science. Fake progress would be creating a new commercial process to extract as much cash as possible, which would be gained through business.

There's the denial again. Just get over your libertarian biases. There's no one formula which always works. The commercial model often fails. The market doesn't work!

Since KiwiBank has appeared fees have been lowered and more branches have been opened. That's what was fixed. And your irrelevant attack on Anderton is just a distraction.


Comment 14 (2709) by SBFL on 2010-07-11 at 04:32:26:

OJB, I am quite disappointed. Most other left-wing bloggers have clearly acknowledged that Shane Jones (and Carter) were wrong. They didn't even bother to attempt to downplay it (let alone justify it). They recognised the error and acknowledged it. Credit to them for this. Why can't you do the same? Most right-wing bloggers did this with Richard Worth. The shoe is on the other foot this time and yet you continue to defend the shenanigans. You aren't doing yourself any favours.

Then please don't colour me with this so-called "recognised" link.

Scientific breakthroughs are the holy grail of businesses who invest to make them commercially viable. Cash maybe the carrot, but it is investors with balls that make it happen. You know it.

Jim Anderton's profligacy of our money is not merely a distraction. It means he is a career politician with no respect for people like you and I who work an honest wage to contribute to our society. Your ignorance of this only indicates you are tribal left, with little sense of objectivism. Of course had it been a right-wing politician your frothing on this blog would have been overwhelming. Acknowledge what is wrong and then move on, you may even get some brownie points!


Comment 15 (2710) by OJB on 2010-07-11 at 10:00:06:

What they did was unwise (or wrong if you prefer) - I agree with that. Its just not important. My point is that there are more important things to worry about.

I said you had a denial mindset similar to those other groups. That was all.

Scientific breakthroughs aren't the holy grail of business (at least not the vast majority of them). What total garbage! Making lots of money is the holy grail of business. Few people would deny that! Investors don't invest in real science. The free market just doesn't work!

I thought we were talking about KiwiBank, not some real or imagined problem with Anderton. Are you trying to change the subject again? And that ranting about Anderton! Its like its straight from the right wing nutters hand book. Classic!


Comment 16 (2712) by SBFL on 2010-07-16 at 10:02:44:

I love the irony in you putting financial impact before principle. Clearly for you, principles on matter when are right-wing politician are ethically challenged.

That's stretching it. Let's just stick to the matter at hand.

Hmmm, slight confusion here. A scientific breakthrough is a holy grail because.....it creates a new market and yes, a whole lot of cash. What better way to reward risk-takers? As the story goes a "holy grail" is very difficult to achieve, so of course many businesses never look nor end up with one, I wouldn't take the comments too literally.

Sorry if I am simply stating facts. Seems you don't like facts. You refer to them as "real or imagined". Interesting. Then since Jim hasn't explained these "real or imagined" nightly hotel bills, I am looking forward to yours. Come on, tell me what he spent those thousands of "room service" dollars on. Tell me! Afteralkl you brought this guy up with "KiwiBank, introduced by a left wing politician". So show me (what) the money (was spent on)!


Comment 17 (2715) by OJB on 2010-07-16 at 19:34:01:

Let's just forget it. We aren't going to agree on this. I always put real facts and pragmatism ahead of subjective opinions on morality.

Scientific breakthroughs are important because they create new markets? That's so sick. That's what's wrong with this world. Greed and mediocrity transcend all else. Pathetic!

I don't even know what you are talking about regarding Anderton. Don't care either.


Comment 18 (2721) by SBFL on 2010-07-18 at 12:10:40:

The real facts are simple: Labour politicians have been sucking the taxpayers tit for their own self gratuity. I seems you accept this. The rest of us don't.

I understand your view on this but lets be realistic...everyone is looking for a commercial advantage, even the professors at the university. Afterall, it is probably the commercial aspect that makes or breaks a new concept/breakthrough. It is the commercial aspect that turns a concept into reality.

Don't be blind to Anderton. He is a serial trougher no less. In my young days I was a supporter, but now I have seen the light. That doesn't mean everthing he has done is wrong. It just means he lacks credibilty. Kinda important.


Comment 19 (2722) by OJB on 2010-07-18 at 13:15:06:

That isn't a fact, its an emotive, biased opinion. The real fact is that many politicians have been using taxpayer funding which some people might object to.

Not everyone is looking for commercial advantage. Most university people (especially in humanities and sciences) aren't. The fact that you don't even understand this just shows how much you are affected by libertarian propaganda.

Anderton might lack credibility to you but that's hardly surprising considering your political bias. And you should never assume that because you think he lacks credibility that you can make a general statement that he lacks it with everyone.


Comment 20 (2727) by SBFL on 2010-07-18 at 14:29:15:

The facts have been well publicised by the mainstream media. This is not emotive, but based on released credit card statements. Everyone is appalled, only you keep burning the candle. Good luck with that.

It would be naive to assume the professors in the humanities and the sciences are not interested that their discoveries might have commercial gain. Naive indeed.

Sure I have a political bias, but the facts are clear. You cannot deny the facts. He charged thousands of dollars to the taxpayer (you and I) for as yet unexplained "room service" services. Can you explain this? I thought not. Why support a dead horse? For sure I will continue to flog him until he retires.


Comment 21 (2729) by OJB on 2010-07-18 at 15:26:21:

Comments like "sucking the taxpayers tit" are clearly emotive and have nothing to do with facts. If you want to say something then say it, don't resort to meaningless metaphors.

I work in a university. I closely follow science news. I can tell you that most science is done because the researchers just want to know the facts and commercial gain is not important. You should never assume that everyone is as shallow as you and your libertarian friends!

Thousands of dollars for room service. So what? Was he on an official mission of some sort at the time? You seem to be worried about a few dollars here and there which politicians waste yet you ignore the vastly greater sums the private sector wastes. You're being rather selective, I think.


Comment 22 (2731) by SBFL on 2010-07-18 at 23:16:15:

Oh I'm sorry, did that offend you? Here's a few more metaphors: "serial trougher" , "snout in the trough", "waste of space scum-sucking politician who uses my hard earned money for their personal pleasures". I will tell what is genuinely offensive and that is you and any other leftist apologist accepting that it is okay for scum politicians to spend our tax money on their personal gratification. You can now hang your head in shame.

Naive, naive, naive.

Not at all. How the private sector spend's it's own money is up to them. In this case we are talking about our money. You pay taxes right? You really are the only person who has failed to grasp the gravity of this (even my left-leaning parents are disgusted). Again, you have put $$ over principle. And another thing "Thousands of dollars" <> "a few dollars here and there". Maybe you should do MATH101 at your university.


Comment 23 (2734) by SBFL on 2010-07-19 at 02:00:55:

Scientists busy at work with the private sector:
Formula for perfect handshake


Comment 24 (2736) by OJB on 2010-07-19 at 09:24:05:

No it didn't offend me. I was trying to point out how saying that you weren't speaking emotively while at the same time using those sorts of phrases was rather odd. Apparently you prefer to make things worse rather than clarify your meaning.

Who is naive? I work in a university. I have a science degree. I closely follow science every day. Can you say the same? You are the one who is naive because you think everyone bases their life around your philosophy of greed.

So the private sector can rip us off as much as they like but the public sector can't. Nice double standard you've got going there!

Can we just forget this thing about politicians spend trivial amounts on what you consider inappropriate things. Its just not important to me, OK?

I have no idea what you are trying to prove with that perfect handshake stuff. Maybe you could clarify.


Comment 25 (2738) by OJB on 2010-07-19 at 10:03:07:

Instead of libertarian dogma let's use some facts for a change. Here's the result of a meta-analysis from a few years back now...

"Although scientists and engineers can be motivated with extrinsic rewards, the evidence clearly suggests that intrinsic rewards are more effective motivators than extrinsic rewards (Chen et al., 1999). For example, Alpert (1992) finds that technical challenge is the chief motivator for scientists and engineers. James (2002) finds evidence that what motivates scientists and engineers is the opportunity to pursue their research interests. Katz (1988) suggests that sequences of job positions providing new challenges and demanding new skills are required to motivate scientists and engineers. McKinnon (1987) finds that many scientists and engineers are more interested in the challenge of project work than in advancement up the management or the technical career ladders. Other scientists and engineers are interested in the challenge of starting a new venture without incurring the risk of going into business for themselves (Gomez-Mejia et al., 1990)."

Notice that commercial gain is only a minor motivating factor? OK, you can now admit you were wrong. Shock! Horror! There are people in this world not motivated by short term gain and self centered greed. One more time: the market doesn't work.


Comment 26 (2744) by SBFL on 2010-07-23 at 08:34:56:

Consider it a bit of colour to try and get the message through. A message almost all of NZ is disgusted with.

Ehh, now who's being emotive. I don't work at a uni - I work in a real business with real customers. I do have a science degree. Following science closely is not a hobby of mine, though science in general is an interest. I say naive because you don't understand the power of money. But understanding the power, doesn't equate to the love of money (which is apparently the root of all evil). Greed is a sin.

It's still their money and if they rip customers off they will lose (as long as you allow choice and competition). How you spend your income is up to you. You can spend it wisely, or foolishly, but it's up to you. On the other hand if it's my money you spend foolishly, you will hear about it. Get the picture?

Re handshake - shows scientists at waste with public money. Just a bit of comic relief though!


Comment 27 (2747) by OJB on 2010-07-23 at 11:58:05:

I would consider it some extreme rhetoric intended to disguise the facts and emphasize a particular political agenda.

So it sounds like I am in a far better position to ascertain the way scientists work. You work in the business world and have probably a better perspective there. But that's irrelevant because the research shows I'm right anyway. Look at the research I quoted. It clearly shows I'm right and you're wrong. Any comments?

No I don't get the picture. And you don't get the picture either. I'm effectively forced into using private sector companies who waste the money I'm forced to pay them. Its not that different from waste of tax money I'm forced into paying. And again you claim the competitive market works when all the facts show it doesn't.

I have no comment regarding the handshake stuff.


Comment 28 (2752) by SBFL on 2010-07-24 at 06:13:27:

Would that be like the extreme rhetoric you just recently displayed in the comments on the post "Atheist Dogma"? Pot. Kettle. Black.

Resorting to the "I'm right and you're wrong" argument now? Love it.

Let me explain the difference in simple terms: "Their money" vs "Our money".

Not joining in the joviality? Must have hit a sore point along the way!!


Comment 29 (2756) by OJB on 2010-07-24 at 10:06:01:

Whatever you think of my post you still concede you were using rhetoric and not facts. OK thats all I wanted to know.

I have shown research supporting what I have said all you have is libertarian dogma. I guess I win that debate then!

I don't see it as their money any more than you see money gained through tax as "their" money. Both are often gained through devious and unfair means but just through slightly different processes.

OK I'll bite. Let me check out the handshake thing then I'll comment. Have you ever heard of the "igNobel" awards given each year for weird and wonderful (and sometimes superficially useless) research. I'll find a link.


Comment 30 (2764) by SBFL on 2010-07-30 at 22:17:32:

Regarding the first three points...I do love how you spin things to make yourself feel better. Yes of course in your mind you always win. Keep it up.

I see the perrenial trougher Chirs Carter is not only sucking off the tit of the NZ taxpayer but now also off that of the Chinese taxpayer!
"Mr Carter said the Chinese government paid for the trip so he could attend a conference"

Oh sorry, did I use rhetoric again?


Comment 31 (2766) by OJB on 2010-07-31 at 10:30:00:

There seems to be little point in discussing these things if one side wont concede when the other side is right. That's how we improve our beliefs. I have shown real evidence supporting my side, you have shown nothing. That sort of means you should concede the point.

Well at least it didn't cost us anything, unlike this.

You never seem to answer the hard questions (I also notice you have stopped discussing the atrocities of your church in the other thread).


Comment 32 (2771) by SBFL on 2010-08-05 at 07:58:24:

It is you who says so.

McCully and Groser also receive my condemnation for their minibar excesses. When you wrote "Well at least it didn't cost us anything, unlike this." I was expected to be forwarded to a KiwiRail "sale of the century" article. Ahhh, well actually that did cost us. My bad.

I see the Chris Carter thing is playing out well for Labour.

PS No that is not me conceding the point. It's called "sarcasm". A term you could well learn before claiming "victory"

Yes that right, the biased Wikipaedia page using a biased source. And you expect me to spend time debating such nonsense?

We may humour each other with thoughts, opinions, and debate, but I try to keep the external links on the level (at times you do as well).

You will probably disagree but I see myself as centre-right and you as "well" left. That's NOT a euphemism for 'extreme', as I don't see you as such. But you are definitely left of centre-left (IMHO).


Comment 33 (2777) by OJB on 2010-08-05 at 11:36:42:

Again you change the topic. Your original claim was that university researchers are motivated by financial gain. I showed that's not true. You ignored the issue and offered no counter evidence. Just concede the point OK: not everyone fits into the convenient, simple minded, libertarian model. In fact the people who really matter don't. The market doesn't work.

I think Chris Carter is right that Labour do need a new leader. Phil Goff is a genuine, thoughtful person but not necessarily the right person for the leadership. Of course, the way Carter behaved was just bizarre.

Biased Wikipedia sources: the number one avoidance strategy used by conservatives. Instead of such a broad statement why not point out exactly what is wrong? Or is this another example of you avoiding the issue?

I try to keep links on the level too. What's your point?

Of course I disagree. No one thinks they are on the fringe, even when they are. I fully agree I am on the left but certainly not "well" left. You seem to suffer from the standard delusions of the mid to far right so I guess that's where I'd place you.


Comment 34 (2783) by SBFL on 2010-08-09 at 10:30:14:

I wasn't aware I changed the topic. Maybe I dropped a dead one, like that one where I annoyed you about the holier-than-thou university professors needing some motivation rather than sucking of the taxpayer's tit with tenure.

On the second paragraph, I tend to agree. But Labour have noone ready to replace him, their talent pool is as shallow as a carpark puddle. Like you said National will have at least 2 terms, likely 3. So why rush in anyone now? Timing is everything and Carter should realise this. Labour will have some genuine contenders in 2-3 years maybe.

Wikipedia is generally good, but one must judge each page on a case by case basis.

Well as I said not far left, but more than centre-left. You do vote Green afterall, don't you?


Comment 35 (2787) by OJB on 2010-08-09 at 11:23:27:

I was talking about the real data I provided showing you were wrong about the scientists being motivated by potential monetary return. Its just not true in most cases. Do you concede this point?

Its the taxpayer who is getting the benefit of scientific progress. And the people making that progress generally get paid a lot less than the greedy exploiters of those technologies in the private sector. Categorising researchers as "sucking the tit" is just as unfair as categorising all business people as being greedy and exploitative (which I just did!)

Yes, you could be right regarding the timing of a replacement for Goff. And I also agree that no one exactly leaps out as the ideal leader!

Unfortunately many people judge the "case by case" using the criterion of whether it agrees with their political and religious biases or not! Generally you should assume Wikipedia is accurate because independent analysis has indicated it is.

I voted Green for tactical reasons. I don't think the Greens would make a good government by themselves (even if that was likely, which it isn't).


Comment 36 (2794) by SBFL on 2010-08-11 at 08:12:42:

Send me that "real" data again, will you please?

If those "people making that progress" are getting paid less than they deserve then tell me what they are doing about it? Probably they are doing something wrong now. Maybe they should get off their chuff rather then wallow in the culture of jealousy/victim mentality. If they are so clever, why can't they turn their "progress" into deserving fruits? Oh, those nasty capitalists!

Yes we are both guilty of generalisations but I am sure we only use these to raise angst amongst each other.

Re Wikipaedia - not good enough for a blanket assessment. Of course at times people have biases that disagree with the biases of the author, but this doesn't mean it is accurate, fair and balanced. Each individual will have his own view on this I guess. Maybe that is the beauty of Wikipaedia.

Welllll...the truth slowly comes out....if you only voted Green for tactical reasons, does that mean I can draw the conclusion you are a Labour supporter first and foremost?


Comment 37 (2798) by OJB on 2010-08-11 at 10:13:13:

Here's the quote: "Although scientists and engineers can be motivated with extrinsic rewards, the evidence clearly suggests that intrinsic rewards are more effective motivators than extrinsic rewards (Chen et al., 1999). For example, Alpert (1992) finds that technical challenge is the chief motivator for scientists and engineers. James (2002) finds evidence that what motivates scientists and engineers is the opportunity to pursue their research interests. Katz (1988) suggests that sequences of job positions providing new challenges and demanding new skills are required to motivate scientists and engineers. McKinnon (1987) finds that many scientists and engineers are more interested in the challenge of project work than in advancement up the management or the technical career ladders. Other scientists and engineers are interested in the challenge of starting a new venture without incurring the risk of going into business for themselves (Gomez-Mejia et al., 1990)."

At least I label my generalised, stereotyped comments (like I did above) and am prepared to defend them. They also tend to be less obviously hyperbolic and rhetorical (I mean "sucking the tit" is just ridiculous).

Well again I offer real evidence in favour of accepting Wikipedia. There have been at least two studies I know of showing its error rate is comparable to well accepted encyclopedias such as Britannica.

No, I'm not a Labour supporter. I don't support a party at all: I support a philosophy. I think I have probably voted for most parties (including National but not Act) at one time in my voting career. I do concede that Labour probably matches my current politics most closely at this point of time.


Comment 38 (2801) by SBFL on 2010-08-11 at 11:01:26:

I like this bit: "Other scientists and engineers are interested in the challenge of starting a new venture without incurring the risk of going into business for themselves (Gomez-Mejia et al., 1990).". Says everything, really.

If you want to keep defending yourself after I have proposed a reasonable and genial conclusion, then you can just keep on being a pratt if you wish.

In reality that means nothing because it doesn't make a universally accepted false page right, does it? What is it that they say about stats? Not sure why you keep banging this drum.

So you are a Labour supporter? Which policies is it that so closely match your views at this point in time? Is it those which prefer to spend, spend, spend where no money exists? I wonder. I wonder if you understand the concept of bankruptcy.


Comment 39 (2804) by OJB on 2010-08-11 at 13:31:36:

But that's just typical of people like you: you ignore 90% of the message and pull out the small part which agrees with your political biases. Do you not agree that the vast majority of the study contradicts your ideologically held assumptions?

OK, we'll move on from that one now.

No, of course not. if you can find a universally accepted false page I will obviously not take it seriously. I doubt whether you'll find one though (at least not one that lasts for any period of time).

I occasionally vote Labour and at some points of time I think their policies best suit my political philosophy (and at other times I don't). If that's what you call a Labour supporter its no wonder they're in opposition!

I don't condone high spending necessarily. Its not about how much we spend, it how we spend what we have.


Comment 40 (2808) by SBFL on 2010-08-11 at 14:10:52:

No political bias there, I was only highlighting a quote you provided. It says everything really.


Now it's based on a period of time? You really are only supporting the view that the opinion can be up for grabs. The model suggests that extreme views are quickly tempered and I support this. But the risk is still there for bias.

Labour, okay. Best to be up-front about it (esp for a blogger).

And it's also about determining how we can get what we have to spend.


Comment 41 (2810) by OJB on 2010-08-11 at 15:17:16:

How can taking a small part of a much bigger quote say everything? Surely you have to admit that the overall theme of that study is contrary to what you believe. Just admit you're wrong!

There is always risk for bias no matter what the source. Wikipedia has been shown to have similar accuracy as other sources. Its references are listed with each article. Errors tend to be fixed quickly. What is the problem here exactly? (except that it contradicts your ideology)

You seem determined to classify me as a Labour supporter. I don't see it that way: I support the party with the policies which best matches my views. About half the time that's Labour, the other half other parties. If I'm still a Labour supporter by your definition then, whatever...



Comment 42 (2811) by Anonymous on 2010-08-14 at 17:25:33:

I think OJB is right this time. The study he quoted overall shows the people who were studied aren't mainly motivated by money. It's a fact because not everyone is interested in just making more money.


Comment 43 (2812) by OJB on 2010-08-15 at 09:54:20:

Yes! Finally someone who agrees with me! Of course I'm right, at least unless anyone can find any data to contradict that study. Real data is better than unsubstantiated opinion: a point my opponents sometimes miss.


Comment 44 (2826) by SBFL on 2010-09-02 at 09:47:24:

I think I already poo-pooed your scientist motivation argument in comment 38. Though I will acknowledge that the part of your quote I highlighted is a general statement and doesn't apply to every scientist.

"There is always risk for bias no matter what the source." - Agreed. "Wikipedia has been shown to have similar accuracy as other sources." A general accuracy doesn't necessarily mean a specific accuracy.

Re Labour supporter: It wasn't a criticism per se. Just acknowledging your comment (and honesty).

Yes, so lets not spend what we don't have. Borrowing (effectively on behalf of the taxpayer) should be a last resort. Do we agree here?

Re Comment 43: "Of course I'm right". Love the self-delusion. What can I say? Your wee supporter is Mr "Anonymous".


Comment 45 (2828) by OJB on 2010-09-02 at 12:47:48:

You didn't "poo poo" anything (unless by that you mean you talked a load of shit!) The original study clearly showed that financial gain is not a major motivating factor. You're just in the standard libertarian denial mode again.

So we agree we shouldn't suggest evidence is unreliable just because it comes form Wikipedia. So why do you make statements like "Yes that right, the biased Wikipaedia page using a biased source. And you expect me to spend time debating such nonsense?"

No borrowing should not be the last resort. Borrowing should be a strategy which is carefully considered along with many others. In many cases it might be the best option.

I'm right because I have quoted a real study which clearly shows commercial gain is not a major factor in motivating scientists. Either come up with some contradictory evidence or admit you're wrong.


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