• Michael R (unregistered)


  • (nodebb)

    Luckily C++ has no "eval": otherwise, I'm pretty sure my colleagues from 20 years ago would have used it all over the place ...

  • NoLand (unregistered)

    Didn't Dreamveawer generated code use eval() a lot (because bracket notation is obviously is just a rumor and doesn't exist), which made this a rather popular pattern for a while? (Until it was discovered that this is not the best way to handle JSON data… and, why at all?)

  • NoLand (unregistered)

    BTW, from the obscure book, "JavaScript: The Unused Parts": it's a little known fact that you can cast types in JS, like Number(myVar1), or String(myVar2), and thus force evaluation in a safe way.

    (My favorite unused JS is probably Object.prototype.handleEvent(), which allows you to bind events to an object with the this context preserved. It has been around since JavaScript1.2/ECMA2, and it would not have required arrow functions to achieve the same.)

  • (nodebb)

    Somehow, we found something even more dreadful than paying taxes - in a tax advice website.

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered)

    American tax paying has always been confusing to me. Over here on the continent income tax is automatically deducted from our monthly wage by our employers. I don't even know what my gross income is. And all my other taxes (like property tax) just arrive in the mail fully calculated by our tax service.

  • (author) in reply to LZ79LRU

    You say that like it isn't confusing to Americans.

  • (nodebb) in reply to LZ79LRU

    It is similar in US. For all employees (not contractors/businesses), taxes are automatically deducted.

    The difficulty is the big number of different tax deductions/credits, which means the deductions never actually represent the accurate amount, which necessitates to file taxes and get tax return (or pay a little more). This is one of those reforms which IMO is sorely needed - simplification of the tax code. (But I'll leave it at that - don't want to go into politics.)

    Contractors/businesses are a whole different matter, of course.

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered) in reply to Remy Porter

    The math might be but like I just do not understand why you can't just get a bill in the mail from the IRS like in a sane country. Like, I know I am missing something contextual here but what?

  • (nodebb) in reply to Michael R

    I'd appreciate it if you didn't just start discussing my finances on a public forum like that.

  • (nodebb) in reply to LZ79LRU

    Over here on the continent income tax is automatically deducted from our monthly wage by our employers.

    In the part of the Continent where I live (France), that wasn't true before 2019. You accumulated your taxes-owed during the year, and paid them the following year, having filed a tax return. They had a system of monthly payments, but it was the Treasury that collected them directly, and a year behind.

    So, like most ordinary employees, I ended up not paying any taxes for the 2018 tax year, since during 2018 I was paying 2017's taxes, and in 2019, I was paying 2019's taxes, and the government realised just what would have happened if they had insisted that all those Frenchies had to pay two years' of taxes in one year, the French being who the French are.

  • (author) in reply to LZ79LRU

    A real honest answer, which is gonna get complicated, because there are a lot of factors.

    First, the Federal structure of US governance means that the US government is constitutionally limited from enacting a lot of policies that would be trivial in other countries. There is, for example, no US-wide drinking age by Federal law, but by tying highway funding to drinking age laws, states that want their highways funded by the Federal government need to set the drinking age to 21. So we have a defacto national law, but it's passed by a state by state basis.

    Because of these kinds of constitutional limitations, the Federal government uses taxes as a policy implementation. If you want to encourage or discourage certain behaviors in the market, you tie those behaviors to tax bonuses (or penalties). That's why, if you have a mortgage, you get to reduce your gross income by the interest you pay on it (up to a limit). It's why your retirement funds have complicated tax structures (401ks contributions reduce your gross income, and you only pay taxes on the profits when you retire, Roth IRAs don't reduce your income, but you won't pay taxes on the profits from the account). Because taxation is policy, taxation gets fiendishly complicated.

    (to be continued)

  • (author) in reply to Remy Porter

    But that's not the entire explanation. Because most Americans don't have complicated tax situations, and thus don't care about any of that. Hell, even when I was a contractor, I rarely exceeded the minimum deduction (we say "hey, unless you have big deductions, we'll just say you can deduct this much automatically, and tell us if you want to deduct more than that"). So why don't we have an easy path? Because tax prep companies have engaged in regulatory capture and actively sabotaged any attempt for the government to simplify the tax situations for your average tax payer. In fact, when Congress mandated that they were required to offer free tax prep services for basic situations, all of these companies basically complied with the letter of the law but made the service basically inaccessible and a hard push for going into their paid services (to the point where most people using the "free" system believed they were required to pay).

    (to be continued)

  • (author) in reply to Remy Porter

    But that's not the entire explanation either. Because wealth is power, we have an entire class of citizens who have the political power to alter the tax system to their benefit. We talk about how billionaires don't pay any taxes, and while the actual details are complicated, the entire system has been captured by oligarchs who can exploit its complexity (and induce policy to add more complexity) so that they can reduce their overall tax burden, frequently down to effectively $0.

    Finally, you also have politicians who don't actually understand taxation or its purpose, especially on the rightward side of the aisle where you get people who go all in on "taxation is theft" and "government bad, starve the beast!" ideology. Making decisions driven by pure ideology instead of rational policy with objective goals is always a mistake, regardless of your ideology. But when your ideology leads you to actively sabotage the systems you are working with, you're basically a TDWTF story waiting to happen.

  • (nodebb)

    Most of what Remy said is correct. The only thing I would add is that 1) "billionaires don't pay taxes" is a left wing political slogan, which doesn't accurately portray the situation (but has some truth to it); 2) lowering the tax burden without lowering the spending is a gimmick, so even if we agree that a lot of government spending is wasteful/corrupt/etc., lowering taxes just leads to increasing deficits and debt, which is also taxation, but delayed; 3) I, for one, prefer the federalized system and don't like this "the federal government gives money to states in exchange for them passing laws which the feds want" which is effectively undoing the federalism of the USA. Having states craft their own laws is a good thing, because it allows Americans to move between states - "vote with their feet" - if they don't get the results they like through elections. To an extent, similar criticism can be aimed at the EU; while I fully support most of the benefits of free trade, worker migration, etc., some policies are unnecessarily onerous and overbearing on individual countries; this leads to the formation of "separatist" movements like the well known UK "exit" movement and similar political forces in other countries. EU would be wise to reassess its trajectory and move away from the direction of "one centralized European government" and more towards "voluntary cooperation of member states a-la carte" (a country can join free trade zone, but not free migration, etc.).

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered)

    Thank you everyone for those explanations.

    I know my question might have come off as odd or worse but I genuinely am so used to living in a place where taxes are automatic that having to think about my taxes beyond signing on the dotted line to have my money taken is a completely out of context problem for me. And the question of why this seemingly obvious thing wasn't obvious everywhere was really bugging me. Especially since my only contact with it was from american entertainment media which probably blows these things out of proportion. As the impression I always got from it was that doing your taxes was some sort of terrifying nightmare chore that everyone had to do each year and woe be to him who makes a mistake. Which given what you just said most likely is not the case.

    Reading what you all wrote the whole system actually kind of makes sense. In a sort of twisted sort of way. Like, I understand how things are now and how they got there. But I basically agree Mr. TA. The whole using taxes as a way to influence local governments is frankly cheating. And on a related note I too wish that the EU would wake up and realize it's supposed to be like the UN and not an empire.

    But we all have our cross to bear, I guess.

  • (nodebb) in reply to LZ79LRU

    For most workers, while they do have to file taxes each year, it's actually pretty straightforward - a person without investments, side income, etc. - somebody who only has a job - is extremely simple, and it is possible to do it either for free or for a nominal amount, like ~$30.

  • Sou Eu (unregistered) in reply to LZ79LRU

    LZ79LRU, in the US we give documents to our company's payroll department which they use to determine federal, state, and local tax. It indicates whether we are single, married filing jointly, or married filing separately. It also indicates things like number of dependents and additional tax we would like withheld.

    Taxes here can be complicated because we have graduated tax brackets, lots of exemptions, and a tax code which requires a PhD to understand. We can do things (like depositing to into a tax-deferred retirement account or donate to charity) to limit our tax liability. Every year we must file our income taxes to verify that our company withheld the right tax amount. Most of the discrepancies for me have been changing jobs, raises, or unexpected medical bills.

    Banks use our gross salary to determine our borrowing limit for credit cards, mortgage, and other loans.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Sou Eu

    When I lived in the US, I had to see a tax prep type person one year because I made the mistake of living in New Hampshire and working in Massachusetts, but at least the time I spent on a business trip to California counted as "time not worked in Massachusetts", and therefore wasn't taxable by Mass. (At the time, NH didn't even have state income tax.)

    And later, I lived in the UK, and was eventually asked to stop submitting Self Assessment tax returns because my tax affairs were too boring. I was well over the income threshold for them asking for the returns, but my tax situation was so desperately simple that it was a waste of their time looking at it.

    We can do things (like depositing to into a tax-deferred retirement account or donate to charity) to limit our tax liability.

    Well, I can do that sort of thing in France, and in fact the donate-to-charity thing acts to reduce the tax paid by ... reducing the tax paid. (As opposed to reducing the taxpayer's effective taxable income.)

    But submitting my return is a case of going online, checking the pre-configured values on the webpage, adjusting anything that isn't correct, adding my charitable donations total in ===> that box, and pressing the "I'm done, I'm signing and submitting this return" button.

    Because my tax affairs are boring, I guess.

  • Peter Smith (github) in reply to LZ79LRU

    Imagine the US has the bones of a sane tax system, and then add two enormous complications:

    1. As a country, we both want to give certain people (like parents of small kids) a break, but at the same time, and insist that the help has to be part of the tax system
    2. As a country, we'd rather make the tax system complex instead of just charging rich people more.

    So my taxes depend on whether I have kids AND how much money I make. Because once I hit a certain threshold, I don't get the same child care benefits. Worse, the tax people don't actually know if "I" have kids because I'm divorced, and they don't know how my ex and I are splitting the kids ("lengthwise" is the wrong answer :-) ). And the help for parents with kids also changes based on whether the kid is in full-time college or not, and the tax people don't know that, either.

    A less complex system would split out the "payments to people with children" and just mail out a check every month, and instead of weird inflection points for benefits would just bump the max tax rate a percent or so.

  • Brian Boorman (unregistered) in reply to LZ79LRU
    Over here on the continent...

    Which continent? There's 7 of them. And America is "on the continent" as well. Just presumably a different one than you.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Mr. TA

    because it allows Americans to move between states - "vote with their feet" - if they don't get the results they like through elections

    Most of what you (and Remy) said is correct, but this is problematic. There's a reason that in practice almost no one ever does this. It's like people saying "If so-and-so gets elected, I'm moving to Canada!" and then, when so-and-so is elected and push comes to shove, they stay put and just complain.

    To start with, for lots and lots of people this is simply not an option financially. The cost is simply too high, there's no guarantee of work once you move, etc. You can come up with dozens of reasons.

    For most readers of this site, who are well-paid engineers, this is theoretically possible. Find a job in a new state, pay a little to some movers (or have the company that's hiring you pay them), and you're done. And most of us have probably moved between states at one point or another. But even for us who could theoretically afford it, this is frequently not an option for other reasons: they have family obligations that are local, they have to uproot families, etc. When we do move between states, the politics of the state we're moving from or to is way down on the list of reasons to move.

    Picking the state you live in is not like "shopping around" for a good deal on a new TV. Not everything is a market.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Brian Boorman

    Oh I know, instead of discussing tax policy, let's argue about how many continents there are:) and brag that USA is a superpower and is more important than most other continents :) JK

  • (nodebb) in reply to WatersOfOblivion

    What you are saying is true to an extent, but the empirical data speaks volumes: hundreds of thousands move between states. For example, a simple search online got me these headlines:

    596,000 people moved to Texas from other US states in 2020

    A record number of Californians moved to Texas in 2021, study finds Jul 5, 2023Researchers found that 111,000 people, or 300 per day, decided to make the move from California to Texas in 2021, an 80% increase compared to 2012 ....

    Granted, it's a drastic move to take because you're unhappy with the policies of your state, but it is there if all else fails and conditions become unbearable. And just like some people have friends and family in the state they're moving from, others have close ones in the state they're moving to, or they are social butterflies and make new friends easily and don't really care about leaving their former circle behind.

    Moving costs money, but you don't necessarily have to be a highly paid engineer to afford it. A truck rental will be a couple of thousand (depending on distance); loading and unloading can be done for a few hundred dollars; and typically when people move states, it's because the new state has better economy, so they're rightfully optimistic about being able to find a new job, be it software, or construction, or anything else.

    By no means, shopping for a state is not the first choice - that would be voting, political activism, in some cases a lawsuit - but if all else fails, it's an option which should continue to be available.

    Addendum 2023-07-19 12:47: PS. Forget states in the USA where everybody speaks English - millions move between countries in the EU and choose to adopt a new language and culture, despite the difficulties of doing so.

  • Gearhead (unregistered)

    Luckily C++ has no "eval": otherwise, I'm pretty sure my colleagues from 20 years ago would have used it all over the place ...

    void eval (const char* code_string)
      fp = fopen ("code.cpp", "w");
      fprintf (fp, code_string);
      fclose (fp);
      system ("g++ code.cpp");
      system ("a.out");
  • (nodebb)

    What I don't see here is what actually makes this a problem.

    This is Javascript--it's executing client side. This provides a trivial means to execute arbitrary Javascript on your own client. So what, you can do that anyway.

    Unless you can execute code on the server (and why would anything be executing on the server?) or somehow get it to another client this just lets you mess up your own session.

  • (nodebb)

    I just log onto my.gov.au, click on the 'ATO' link, start my tax return, and watch as it pre-fills pretty much everything, I then enter in some deductions, exemptions, etc... click on 'tax estimate', change some other things, click on 'tax estimate' again to see if it changed anything, etc...

    Then eventually click on 'Finalise' and hey presto, tax return done for the year.

    Usually get that done around July/August, since people not using a tax agent only have until October.

    Prior to MyGov, I was using the ATO's eTax software, which effectively did the same thing but offline, haven't had to use the ATO books that you can get from the local newsagency in over a decade.

    Can't imagine trying to do a tax return in the US.

  • Duke of New York (unregistered) in reply to LorenPechtel

    No one said that security was the only requirement. Hopefully you do not consider it an acceptable user experience for scripts to call eval and crash whenever the user provides irregular input.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Duke of New York

    I think it's a fantastic idea! It makes their site so easily extensible to cater for any country or region's tax laws! The user can enter in formulas that represent the required logic, instead of just plain values, and get advice that's suited to their needs!

  • (nodebb) in reply to prueg

    In fact, I'd be waiting for someone to complain that removing the evals and putting in input validation is going to break their workflow!

  • (nodebb)

    Think of the plus side: the new web site could be just a long react JS string eval'd in the previous web site! Look boss, serverless instant deployment! Just tell the client to copy paste this entire magic string and type enter.

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered)

    The one proper one course. I mean, let's list the 7 continents in no particular order.

    1. Australia - Not suitable for human habitation. Or any habitation really. Like, just don't go there or you'll die. Yet just like Javascript people still do. Makes me question human sanity but than so does Python. At least they prove just how stubbornly resilient we are as a species.

    2. South Pole - When you want to experience the authentic Ice Age experience, minus the woolly mammoths. Just don't climb the mountains or you'll go mad.

    3. Africa - This one had real potential but it peaked too soon and it's been downhill since. Not in the least because it's northern neighbor kept kicking it while it was down. But people tend to overemphasize this part.

    4. North America - The home of the great satan, the evil empire of our time. The most vile, soul crushing entity ever to grace the landscape of human thought and imagination. One which consumes all that we love and cherish and milks it dry turning it into a dried up husk of its former self in the process. Also the united states and a couple other countries. But that's besides the point.

    5. South America - North Americas messy, unkempt brother (sister?). It's another one of those that peaked too soon and newer really got over its glory days. By the time Europeans came to finish it off the place was already in dire need of a shave, bath and some fresh clothes. On the plus side, if it ever gets one we all die so there is an excuse if ever there was one.

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered)
    1. Asia - Throughout human history if anyone had been asked to place a bet on which continent is going to be on top they'd have said Asia. From the first empire ever in Akkad through the justice and mercy of the Neo Assyrians, the glory of medieval China to the might of classical Persia and finally the vastness of the Mongol Horde there have been no shortage of great and amazing civilizations to come out of this place. And yet like all overachievers its children seem to burn brightly but for a short time and than peak, burn out and end up as an office drone somewhere leaving everyone who knew it to wonder where it all went wrong.

    2. Europe - The plucky underdog that could. Remarkable for most of its history for pretty much nothing other than being the home of a bunch of warring barbarians the continent had a short flash of something during the Roman Empire before once more fading into obscurity for a thousand plus years. But whilst everyone else had already peaked and was declining and generally used to seeing it as a joke Europe was biding its time. Like a spider it sat, watching the world intensely, learning from the mistakes of others and waiting for the day the accumulated XP from fighting each other over trivial things in a continent the size of what others would call a province accumulated to hit max level.

    And than BAM! Renaissance, exploration, art, culture, world conquest! All in an afternoon.

    And we would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling Germans.

  • Brian (unregistered)

    One other important fact that's often overlooked is that a good 50% (or more, I forget the exact number) of people in the U.S. pay no taxes at all, and in fact get handed money from the government instead. Of course, the government has no money of its own so those handouts actually come from the other half of the country that does pay taxes. Which in turn creates an incentive for all those freeloaders to vote for candidates who promise them more free stuff, which is why the nation's finances are going straight down the toilet. Conversations about fiscal discipline don't exactly make for exciting political campaigns...

  • DutchGeoGuy (unregistered) in reply to Peter Smith

    just mail out a check

    We don't even have checks anymore....

  • (author) in reply to Mr. TA

    Migration statistics tend to get abused to make weird points. I was going through those stats recently (to win an online argument), and Texas also had one of the largest outflows- while they had a net inflow, a lot of people are leaving Texas. It's a huge stretch to say that any of this migration is related to government policies or even taxation- it's far more likely that it's related to job opportunities, which is the main reason people move. We can arguably connect jobs to policy- and a lot of the jobs in Texas are in fossil fuels, which ah… even big wall street investors are starting to think "maybe this isn't a great way to make money anymore". What's most notable is that Texas is plummeting in your usual quality of life metrics, which are more closely linked to policy, but clearly don't prevent migration- that living somewhere cuts years off your lifespan doesn't seem to matter to most folks when they're concerned with their next paycheck.

  • (author) in reply to Brian

    That's not how this works. The government is not funded by taxes. The government is funded by borrowing money (mostly from its own central bank). Fun fact about banking: you don't need money to lend money. If you take out a loan, the bank just invents a bunch of money to put on a spreadsheet to say that you've paid your debt. The total pile of money in the world has increased. And when you pay back the debt, the amount of the principle gets removed back from the money pool (the interest stays, which creates interesting problems when you think about this as a system, because it means we always need more money).

    But getting back to funding the government: the government gins up money out of nowhere, and then spends it. They've taken a loan and increased the amount of money in the world. Then they levy taxes. The purpose of taxes is to remove money from the total money supply. Taxes don't fund the government, taxes destroy money. The government creates money by spending and destroys it through taxation. We want the general supply of money to increase over time, but in a controlled rate relative to the growth in economic production.

    And it's not just the government that operates this way- business do the same thing. They take on debt to encourage growth. A balanced budget for a business is a failing business.

    Further, what we know from these programs "giving" money to "freeloaders" is that they actually boost economic activity out of proportion to the money spent- allowing the government to claim more in taxes than the initial outlay, which gives us more capacity to control the money supply.

    But you're right: conversations about modern monetary policy do make bad campaign, which is why we have a lot of bad thinking around the idea that the government needs to balance their budget like a workaday middle class family.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Brian

    a good 50% (or more, I forget the exact number)

    It might be worth looking up that number. I did a quick web search, and it looks like the number of people not filing federal income tax in the United States is usually (and currently) about 40%, although it did get higher than 50% in the first two years of the pandemic. And because federal income tax is not the only tax that Americans pay, the number of people who pay literally no taxes at all is extremely small.

    Also, referring to people who don't make even enough money to pay the minimum federal tax as "freeloaders" is a bit ungenerous, don't you think? I suspect many people living below the poverty line would be more than happy to be earning a lot more money if they could.

  • Duke of New York (unregistered)

    The Federal Reserve owns about 20% of the US national debt, which is about the same amount that the government owns via lending between different departments. That makes it the single entity owning the most debt, but does not make it the source or sponsor of most of the government's borrowings. Tax collections funded 72% of FY22 federal expenditures and the rest was obtained through additional borrowing, which has been recognized all around as unsustainable but does not support statements that "the government is not funded by taxes" or "the government collects taxes only to destroy money."

  • Duke of New York (unregistered)

    ps: I'm not sure what any of this has to do with coding an entire web site like a spreadsheet.

  • (author) in reply to Duke of New York

    I mean, if you have an inflow and an outflow, it's not wrong to say that the inflow covers the outflow. But the basic principle of modern monetary theory is that money is debt. The government takes on debt to create money, and then releases that debt to destroy it. Taxes take money out of the economy and put it back into the government's hands. At this point, it's meaningless to say that the government then spends that money: the government could destroy that money, and create new money equal to the amount (or greater, which is usually what we do)- there's no meaningful difference. The government can create money at will, through spending.

  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to Remy Porter
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to Remy Porter

    "the basic principle of modern monetary theory is that money is debt"

    No, the basic principle of MMT - which is neither modern, nor a monetary theory - is that Hitler was right. It's Nazinomics gussied up in a new frock. It is thoroughly depressing that apparently intelligent people like you have been fooled by it.

    Key proponents of MMT have publicly admitted that 'Hitler understood MMT'. It is purely and simply the idea that the Weimar Republic did not suffer hyperinflation as a result of money-printing - with the corollary that it was therefore all the fault of the Jews, and we need to rebuild Auschwitz to finish the job. There's a good reason all mainstream economists shy away from it.

    For those of a less economic bent, the idea behind the magic money tree is that we can create all the wealth we desire at the stroke of a pen, but the Jews are stealing it, so killing the Jews will make you rich. It's straight-up Nazi, when you actually understand it.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Remy Porter

    1, regarding Texas quality of life getting reduced - that's a laughable conclusion, basing almost entirely on certain journalists' idea that certain socially conservative policies negatively impact the quality of life. There was this article in multiple outlets which neatly put all conservative states in the bottom 10 states to live in and all liberal states in the top 10. It is so ridiculous, it's not even worth discussing.

    2, regarding the actual economy, Texas attracted a huge number of companies to move their HQs to it in non-oil sectors, like IT. It is just factually inaccurate to claim Texas only makes money on oil. Furthermore, opinions of oil by certain investors notwithstanding, despite the pollution created by burning fuels, we're very likely stuck with it for the foreseeable future, so Texas' oil industry will be just fine for decades to come.

    3, all that is irrelevant anyway: I wasn't arguing that Texas is great and everybody should move there, only that people do migrate between states. When you point out that there is outflow from Texas, as well, it actually reinforces my argument: people move between states when they're unhappy - be it to Texas or from Texas, etc. The number supporting argument is not the net inflow into any particular state but rather the total number of people who migrated from any state to any other state

  • (nodebb) in reply to Remy Porter

    What you did there is conflate the monetary system and fiscal policies.

    Yes, money is created by the fed through borrowing. Whether that's the right approach or not is debatable, but that is indeed how money works.

    And yes, governments do tax the economy; it doesn't have anything to do with how money is created. If hypothetically we had a gold standard monetary system, taxation would have the exact same effects.

    To the extent that the treasury can collude with the fed and spend newly created money, that's also taxation, because that money reduces the value of everybody's earnings and savings.

    And no, it is untrue to claim that all or even most government spending increases economic activity. For example, federal spending as percent of gdp was very low during Clinton years, yet the economy grew at a record pace.

    Your contention that the federal government does not need to balance its budget is bordering on trolling. Are you even serious? I'm not sure if I should spend the time to explain how wrong that opinion is without first confirming you actually meant it.

  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to Mr. TA

    Sadly, it seems that Remy is serious, and is, at best, the useful idiot of some truly dreadful types. I just hope he doesn't actually understand what it is that underpins the idea he's been duped by.

    Let's imagine, for a moment, that the notion Remy has adopted is actually true, and the government - any government - can indeed create wealth with the stroke of a pen. The obvious question to be asked, then, is why they don't do it. One possible answer is that they are doing that, and there's some group which secretly controls the government and is stealing the proceeds. Another possible answer is that there is some group which secretly controls the government, and is deliberately keeping us all poor because they enjoy doing so. There are no other possible explanations.

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered) in reply to Dave

    This is going to be super oversimplified as I only have 2 years of economics from university (don't ask) and that was decades ago. And I don't want to write a dissertation.

    Governments do not create wealth. They create money. Economies create wealth. And there is a difference.

    Wealth is the measure of the intrinsic or functional value of goods and service owned by an individual or economy. As in gold is valuable because it is gold and a chicken is valuable if you are hungry.

    Money is a specific good that was preferentially chosen by legal fiat to be the primary means of exchange within an economic system. It has no intrinsic value on its own. It's value lies in its purpose of existence which is to make trading easier.

    The two are exchangeable with one another, as any two goods are, but are not interchangeable. You can own or create wealth without owning or creating money and vice versa. Just like you can exchange chickens for pigs but you can breed either without effecting the other.

    Governments and banks do indeed create and destroy money out of thin air all the time. That is what monetary politics is. And the reason they do it is because in order for a modern economy to function you need to have enough money available to people so that they can easily trade but not so much that doing so becomes impractical.

    Too little money and people start hoarding it for only the bare essentials which drives demand down which bankrupts supply which breaks your economy. Too much money and you have people shoving wheelbarrows down the streets to buy a loaf of bread. And since that is impractical for everyday use they turn to alternatives such as foreign currencies or bartering with other goods.

    So what is the reason governments borrow money instead of just printing up endless stacks? Well the simple answer is that it's complicated. And I am out of time on my lunch break and out of space to type in this comment.

  • (nodebb) in reply to LZ79LRU

    I think you two are saying the same thing, just wording it slightly differently.

    About your point of creating money to match the economic growth and preventing deflation: that is debatable. If you look at the major deflation in the US, which was part of what's known as the "great depression", it happened AFTER income tax and the federal reserver were already created. For more than a century before that, the gold standard worked just fine, the economy grew massively, particularly after the civil war. So I'm not sold on the idea that managing money supply by the government is a requirement for the economy to grow.

    And that's before we start considering the temptation that the powers that be have to create more money than the economy needs in order to satisfy their political agendas, which has been happening everywhere in the world and now is in the USA, as well...

  • LZ79LRU (unregistered) in reply to Mr. TA

    This is not about economic growth but basic functioning. What ever you use for money, be that fiat currency, gold coins, seashells or cattle (all used in different parts of the world at different times in history) has to be scarce enough to have trade value but common enough to be easily available for circulation.

    That is why whole creating and destroying money thing is not limited to fiat currencies. Back when countries had to mint coins out of precious metals it worked pretty much the same. For example Spain famously had huge inflation after they got their hands on all the free gold from South America and China which used silver coins had big problems after loads of European silver started making its way into the country after the opium wars.

    Equally, there were periods during history (for example the middle ages in western Europe) when the supply of precious metals were in too short of a supply causing coins to be too valuable which had an equally crippling effect on the economy.

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