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Turns out $600 is only the beginning. You’ll need to send it in for a new battery every year or so at a cost of $79 plus shipping – plus $29 more if you want a loaner for the three days it takes.


David Andrews: ‘An in-depth mathematical study showed that, indeed, one particular chart pattern was useful at more than a random level. That was the ‘head-and shoulders bottom,’ aka the ‘double bottom.’ But even that pattern was only slightly correlated with a subsequent rise in the stock price.’


Ralph: ‘Frustratingly, rolls of 100 first-class stamps do NOT come in the Forever variety. People usually buy rolls with the intention of using them over a period of time. They would seem to be the ideal candidate for coming in the Forever variety.’

☞ It’s not just frustrating – it’s stupid. Why on earth would the USPS not want to be able to ‘borrow’ at zero percent above the rate of inflation? (By selling us stamps months or years before delivering our mail.) If it had no better use for the money, it could turn around and buy TIPS at 2% above the rate of inflation. All its first-class stamps should be forever stamps. And they can go up in price as needed, just as they do now.

Gloria Mercado-Martín: “You asked: ‘Why would anyone buying first-class stamps not buy the “forever” variety?  (Thus far, most don’t.)’  I don’t buy the forever stamp because it is utterly b-o-r-i-n-g.  Yes, I am the one that asks the postal clerk if s/he has any pretty stamps.  Last ones I got, the Marvel Superheroes!  The Forever bell cannot hold a candle to Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four!”

☞ Agreed!

But why can’t they be good “forever,” too?  The Postal Service could even experiment with charging a couple of cents extra for the pretty ones.  Heck, why not?  As Nineteenth Century department-store merchant John Wanamaker first put it: “Give the lady what she wants!”


Donald J. Szostak:  “Your reprinting JKG’s quote yesterday (“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”) looks like another attempt to smear conservatives.  I wonder what Galbraith thinks modern liberals are up to with their lack of civility and their intolerance for opposing points of view?  Have a nice day.”

☞ My guess is that if JKG were alive today he would stand by his quote and consider it provocative rather than intolerant.

Michael Albert: “I’m not really surprised Galbraith thinks conservatives are selfish. It’s certainly a popular belief with liberals, but where’s the evidence?  Maybe you should look to this: Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism.  I haven’t read it yet, but I heard an interview with the author.  As I recall he said he’s a liberal and was surprised to find that measuring several different ways, liberals as a group are more miserly and conservatives more compassionate.  He said he hated to say it, but if he was down and out he’d much rather it be in the company of conservatives than liberals.  It’s always seemed to me that liberals are compassionate when gifting other people’s money, but cheap when the money is their own.  This book appears to back that up with studies of where the money, time, and personal effort of each group really goes.”

☞ I don’t think Galbraith had in mind the religious conservatives likely to make up a large portion of any “conservative” population studied (and who I have no doubt tithe and volunteer generously); but rather the wealthy who believe they should pay less tax.  That group may be compassionate, too – but not when it comes to taxing them to fund social programs or raising the minimum wage or encouraging collective bargaining.

My guess is that neither liberals nor conservatives much like to pay taxes – and that both are compassionate.  (Don’t most of us have a mix of selfishness and compassion?)  But wealthy conservatives tend to want to cut taxes on the rich, while wealthy liberals tend to think the Clinton/Gore levels were about right.  Galbraith would say that in arguing for the elimination of capital gains taxes and any tax on large estates, the wealthy are being selfish – but that, not wanting to be selfish, they look for moral justifications for their position.

That was certainly true of slave-owners, quoting Colossians (3:22) and Ephesians (6:5).  They were compassionate, and they sought moral justification for a policy that – coincidentally – added greatly to their wealth.

In arguing that the estate tax rate on billionheirs should be cut from 55% to 0% – a steep cut by any measure – conservatives seek, and find, moral justification.

Is there any parallel in these two examples?  Conservatives would presumably say: no.  Liberals might linger over the question.


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