Second Short Quiz - Suggested Answers

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johnkarls
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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Second Short Quiz - Suggested Answers

Post by johnkarls »

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QUESTION 1

In light of our author’s views, what is one of the most striking things about Sydney Harbor? About most major European cities such as Paris and London?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 1

Sydney Harbor, once past the narrow headlands, broadens into quite a large (probably 5 miles by 2.5 miles) bay that is gorgeous for sailing. As it narrows again, the business district is on the south bank and facing it, on the north bank with the most unbelievably-beautiful views of the city, IS THE SYDNEY ZOO!!! In any American city, the Zoo long since would have been moved and replaced by high-priced high-rise condominiums!!!

Anyone who has visited Europe knows that every city there has large, beautiful parks that are convenient for the citizenry to enjoy!!!

QUESTION 2

How would the examples of most of the world’s historical figures fit with her analysis, starting with the Egyptian Pharaohs and continuing through, say, Napoleon (aka France’s Hitler) to Stalin and Chairman Mao?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 2

All of them shared a disdain for the individual (though in Napoleon’s case, an argument could be made that he did care about individuals insofar as they were his soldiers who must have enjoyed all the raping, pillaging, and mayhem). So instead of building parks and taking other actions that would benefit the individual, they were constantly squandering human life to build, for example, pyramids (or in the case of Stalin’s gulags and Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, for no good reason at all!!!)!!!

QUESTION 3

Who was Robert Moses and why is he important to this analysis?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 3

Robert Moses (12/18/1888 – 7/29/1981) was the most powerful person for many decades in New York (both City and State) and, perhaps, even the nation (with the possible exception of J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI).

Like J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Moses was never elected to anything. And whereas J. Edgar Hoover had a “file on everyone” as the basis for his power over Presidents and peons alike, Robert Moses was the head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority which had its own “taxing” ability (i.e., tolls) and power of eminent domain.

Moses built virtually all of NYC’s bridges, parkways, expressways, beaches, parks, and other public amenities. Including establishing cultural events and institutions that were located in the parks.

A hero of the common man???

Yes!!!

Unless his building projects trashed your neighbourhood, or your park!!!

He was fond of building his expressways through public parks (since the public land would not cost him anything) and through the middle of slums (since the land would be cheap). Indeed, “The Power Broker” (a famous bio of Robert Moses) disclosed that a subsidiary reason for putting expressways through public parks is that he discovered that federal funds were available for building “entrance roads” to public parks and he took the position that his expressways were “entrance roads” to the parks – at least in the super-legal sense that they “entered” the parks even though there were no exit ramps so that motorists could actually stop to enjoy the parks.

If you ever have occasion to drive on one of New York’s Parkways, many of which extend well outside NYC (indeed, the Taconic State Parkway stretches all the way from NYC to the Massachusetts Turnpike Extension just outside Albany), you may fail to notice that all of the crossing roads are over-passes (never under-passes) and that the over-passes are very low. “The Power Broker” discloses that Moses had a purpose in making the over-passes low = so that buses could not use them, only passenger vehicles each of which would have to pay a toll to his coffers and there wouldn’t be zillions of bus passengers who would escape his tolls/taxing net!!!

I’m sure the Pharoah’s, Napoleon, Stalin, Chairman Mao, etc., were all very envious of the power of Robert Moses!!! And probably wondered why he employed it to any extent at all to benefit humanity rather than solely to benefit himself!!!

QUESTION 4

What is the relevance of the U.S. inter-state highway system?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 4

Historically, it has also destroyed many neighborhoods across the country!!! Though now politicians and planners are often more sensitive to the “collateral damage” that expressways can inflict.

QUESTION 5

What about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in 2005 in Kelo v. City of New London that municipalities can commandeer private property under their power of eminent domain on behalf of private developers?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 5

This was one of the most controversial decisions of the Supreme Court before it lost its liberal majority. The “cause” of the liberal majority was urban renewal. The dissenters were more concerned with private property rights – particularly if the “urban renewal” was making private developers rich at the expense of the owners whose property was being confiscated.

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Editorial Note: In case you are wondering about the relevance of Q&A 1-5 to our book for this month on Disaster Capitalism, the point of Q&A 1-5 is that the “Law of the Jungle” that it describes is not confined to capitalists!!! “Survival of the Fittest” has always been an arena in which the strongest – whether governmental leaders (especially dictators), warriors, underworld figures, etc., as well as businesses – can wreak havoc on the lives of individuals. And the tactics described by our author have been used just as often by dictators, warriors, etc. who didn’t even have to be concerned about turning a profit but could wreak havoc on the basis of pure whim!!!
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QUESTION 6

What about the political clout of farmers and large agri-business in virtually all economically-developed countries – starting with the United States but taking special note of France and Germany and even reflecting on Britain at the time of its admission to the European Union (or Common Market as it was known in those days)?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 6

Commentators for decades have decried the political clout of American agriculture which is heavily subsidized by the American Government both in terms of direct subsidies and indirect subsidies (e.g., tax credits for ethanol, etc.).

However, agricultural is one of the few sectors of the American economy that has survived (and indeed thrived)!!! Though virtually all agricultural output is generated by huge corporations rather than traditional “family farms.”

France and Germany, two original members of the Common Market (which became the European Union) fought for decades over agricultural policy. Primarily because French farmers were heavily subsidized. But also because the German Mark was so highly valued because there was great world-wide demand for Deutschmarks in order to purchase all those Volkswagens, Mercedes, BMW’s, Porsche’s and Audi’s – which also contributed greatly to the bankruptcy of German farmers.

Britain was an interesting case because it refused, for many decades, to join the Common Market/European Union because of its trade with its former colonies (aka the British Commonwealth) with Britain exporting manufactured goods and, to a great extent, importing agricultural products. Finally, Britain joined –- in simplistic terms, deciding that French agricultural products were cheaper than agricultural products from the Commonwealth where wages were rising (as were the costs of long-distance transportation).

QUESTION 7

Should the U/Chicago’s “free markets” also be reined in vis-à-vis other industries so that worthwhile employment can be provided for all American workers taking into account their current education and skills?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 7

Probably – let’s discuss on April 14th.

QUESTION 8

Should the U.S. government regulate the convertibility of the U.S. dollar into other currencies in order (a la the recent historical examples of Japan and China) to protect American workers?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 8

Probably – let’s discuss on April 14th.

QUESTION 9

What other policies might be desirable in the light of our author’s views?

SUGGESTED ANSWER 9

Let’s discuss on April 14th.

Pat
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Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:11 pm

Currency Black Markets - Import Controls

Post by Pat »

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In connection with trying to control the US dollar's foreign-exchange rates, there should be some discussion of currency black markets and smuggling. Virtually every time a country has attempted to control foreign access to its currency in order to control imports, there has been a black-market rate and an official rate for the currency. And there has also been extensive smuggling of goods that, once imported illegally, are exchanged for currency in circulation inside the country.

I haven't seen anything published on how the Japanese government and the Peoples Republic of China coped with these problems. Presumably they were able to do so or their foreign-exchange controls in order to limit imports would not have been successful. If the presumption is correct, then I am guessing that the Japanese were probably able to do so as a result of cultural differences between Japan and other countries that have experienced black-market exchange rates and smuggling, and I am guessing that the PRC was probably able to do so by extensive policing and severe penalties. (Whether or not the guesses are correct, they are the two methods of coping with these problems and I am not aware of any others.)

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