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A Heated Coffee Shop Conversation

I was in the coffee shop yesterday, discussing politics with one of my few coffee shop friends who agrees with me politically. (At least on what we were discussing at the time...I don't want to put too many words in his mouth.)

We talked some about the bailout, and I pointed out that it was a bit disingenuous to blame it on laissez-faire policies because we haven't really had laissez-faire.

A lady over in the corner said "It's Wall Street!".

Apparently she took exception to what I was saying. That's her right, even though it was a bit rude to inject herself into a conversation between two people she didn't know.

She pointed out that banks make loans to profit-making enterprises instead of "spiritual and holistic" enterprises.

"Oh I see", I said "we'll just make banks lend money for spiritual and holistic endeavors and everything will be fine."

I guess I shouldn't have mocked her. But when someone throws one over the plate like that it is awful hard to resist the temptation to swing.

She looked at me sternly and said "I have been belittled by better than you, sir."

I responded "I'm sure you have. I haven't debated like this in a while and I'm a bit rusty."

She complained that I just wanted to talk to someone I agreed with and then said "You are resisting my opinion."

Wow. I had gotten into an argument with the borg! She just left it understood that my resistance was futile.

I think there is a word for resisting someone's opinion. It's called disagreeing, and it happens all the time. People live through it.


It is amazing how ideologically uniform some people can be. And I think libertarians can be the same.

But on the left - boy, it's amazing.

And on the crisis - wasn't one of the reasons for the collapse because banks kept making loans to people who couldn't pay?
A lot of the bad loans were made because of the Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make a certain amount of loans to underserved communities. This generally involved changing eligibility standards.

What mind-blowing ignorance... Holistic and spiritual communities?? She completely deserved the mocking. It's suprising how many people don't even understand the most basic ideas about the reason investment brokering and the associated industry exists. If you were to build a model of investors in the stock market, and put 50% of them to invest 'altruistically' without seeking profit, you'd destroy wealth rather than generate it and only the ones investing with the idea of generating profit would be left. Even the idea is appalling. What is a 'spiritual business'? Acupuncture or something?

I am barely familiar with the concepts and certainly not qualified to comment on the causes, but I would think we would want as greedy of a stock market as possible in order to make sure the competetive model works at all. Perhaps a problem isn't that people are greedy neccessarily but just that there isn't much incentive for sustainability with 'golden parachute' style payouts getting tossed out for those who bank on the now at the cost of the future.
This is pretty much Adam Smith's invisible hand, at least as I understand it.(A caveat: I have read a lot more about Adam Smith than I have read by him).

Greed isn't necessarily good, but in the stock market it helps lots of people make money. If people get too greedy, the bubble pops and the market punishes them.
The most greedy suffer more.

I've got no problem with people being concerned with spiritual things, as long as they understand it's not the same as business. I'm not going to go to Deprek Chopra or Joel Osteen for investment advice, and I'm not going to go to Warren Buffett or Jim Cramer for spiritual counsel.
That Jim Cramer guy sounds pretty evangelical sometimes...