Uncommon Sense

June 21, 2022

Is Shaq On Your Top Ten All-Time NBA Player List?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 9:34 pm

With the even higher ascendance of Steph Curry, many talking heads have been arguing about whether Steph belongs on the top ten all-time NBA player list.

I won’t argue that point, but I will address something else. Many people included Shaquille O’Neal on their lists. I do not.

When Shaq first entered the league, he weighed in at 294 pounds but in his heyday he was between 350 and 400 pounds. Now, Mr. O’Neal was allowed to do things other people were not. When Shaq got the ball down on the block, he would attempt to run straight through his opponent—whump! The collision would knock the opponent guarding him back several feet. Then Shaq would do it again—whump, whump, whump, and then shoot a two foot shot or dunk the ball in the basket.

This is a violation of the rules. That is called a “charge,” the term derived from one player charging into the space occupied by another. As long as the defender displays good defensive posture, this foul is called even today (being, with moving screens, the most commonly called “offensive foul”). When Shaq did it, however, it was allowed and when officials were asked to call the rules, the players were told to resist more. (An Aside—this is not unique. Allen Iverson was informed by NBA officials that his signature move, a cross-over dribble, was illegal (aka “carrying the ball”) before he played his first NBA game, and would be called as such. Iverson responded with: “go ahead and try” and the officials swallowed their whistles in front of hostile Philadelphia crowds.)

If Shaq’s charges were called for the fouls they were, I am sure Shaq would have still been a great center. Just as Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) adapted when the NCAA outlawed dunking, I am sure Shaq would have adopted other strategies, but since that was unnecessary—whump, whump, whump, dunk was a persistent pattern in his game.

I have three centers on top of my all-time list: Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. I consider Wilt and Bill to be a 1A/1B pair (basically a tie) and Kareem a close second. Many people pick Bill above Wilt because Bill has 11 championship rings, but basketball is a team game and there are a lot of other people involved in winning a championship. My test is: if you were to switch Wilt and Bill, would the results still be the same? I think they would. Wilt showed that he could do everything that Bill could do defensively and Bill was gifted as a center, But Wilt and the Celtics would still win a ton of championships and Bill on the teams Wilt played for would win maybe a couple.

Shaq was good, but not all-time good.

Shaq is 15th all-time in rebounding, having played 19 years. Do you know who is #1? Wilt, who played only 14 years and amassed 23,924 rebounds to Shaq’s 13,099. Of course, Bill was #2 at 21,620 in his 13 year career. Kareem was at 17,440 over his 20 year career.

Shaq had 3,026 assists, Wilt had 4,643. Shaq amassed 28,596 points in his 19 years, Wilt totaled 31,419 in his 14 years.

Shaq won four NBA championships, three with Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats and one not paired with Kobe Bryant. Not exactly dominant as an individual

Bill was surrounded by almost a dozen fall of fame players during his championship run (including  Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, and John Havlicek, plus he played for a hall of fame coach, Red Auerbach). Wilt’s first championship happened when he finally got a supporting cast of stars, including Hall Greer, Billy Cunningham (a rookie), and Chet Walker. Rather than reload, the Sixers traded away Wilt and didn’t see the playoffs for quite some time thereafter. Wilt’s second championship came after a stint with the SF Warriors (in which he played in the NBA Finals, one game of which I saw in person) when he was traded to the LA Lakers. In that championship run, the Lakers first such, Wilt had a supporting cast including Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, two other all-time greats. (The two were great but couldn’t beat the Celtics . . . until they acquired Wilt.) The supporting cast to “the stars” is the most important factor in winning a championship.

June 2, 2022

WTF? Biblical Interpretations—Why?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:59 pm

I just saw a link to a presentation that would show me a new way to interpret the Book of Job in the Bible. I didn’t bother because I always take a step back before taking a step forward.

People claim that the Holy Bible is “holy” because its authors (dozens of them) were inspired by God to write what they wrote. Some go so far as to say that every word written was, in effect, written by God.

So, why would an all-knowing and all-powerful god inspire someone to write down a story that would then require some other guy to explain to me what it meant. In many cases, there is more than one guy claiming to have the “correct” interpretation.

I believe this is called a failure to communicate.

May 3, 2022

Why Most Prices Will Never Come Back Down

I ran into a blog post with the title above. The answer they came up with is off the mark, however.

Prices and costs are two different things. Prices go up and continue to go up because that is the way we designed the system. If we were to have designed it differently, we could have had prices that always went down or even stayed the same.

So, why do prices go up? It is obvious that they do. I remember buying whole loaves of bread for 25 cents, even 10 cents when killer sales took place. I also bought gas for my car at 25 cents per gallon when the price wars raged. Now whole loaves of bread cost $2-6 but the pricier breads are way better than the schlock breads we had available way back when. (Our grocery was in a WW2 surplus Quonset hut.) And gas prices are spiking way up now, but were in the high $2 to low $3 range before the most recent round of price gouging began.

But, when bread was 25 cents per loaf, the minimum wage was less than $2 per hour. In other words cents then were different from cents now. I got into the habit of always bending over to pick up pennies on the floor or sidewalk; I no longer bother doing this (isn’t worth the effort).

You see, the system adjusts. The average American income is about $55,000 now. When I was a child, that income would have made you one of the “rich.” That was back when $10,000 bought you a very nice house, indeed. If you made enough in a year to buy a house in those days, well, you were doing pretty well. The average (median) house price sold around here is now $325,000. As a college professor, I never made more than $75,000 per year (corrected for inflation, that would be about $120-150,000 now, so a college professor now makes enough in a year to buy half a house.

If you go back in time, the buying power of people’s wages held fairly constant from WW2 to roughly 1980. Then the wage suppression efforts of the conservative/wealthy types kicked in and real wage increases stalled from that point onward.

It used to be the case that as price increases occurred there was pressure to raise wages. I remember when wage increases were broken down into two parts: one was for “inflation” (aka price increases) and the other was above and beyond that, aka a real increase. This was because people figured out that if their salaries were increased only enough to deal with price increases, then their “raise” was not a real raise, as their buying power was unchanged.

What is shocking to me is that the wealthy folks continue their efforts, some quite underhanded, to increase their wealth, when that “extra wealth” doesn’t affect anything other than their egos. They already have enough income, enough houses, cars, vacations, etc. Piling another billion on top of what is already in their Money Bins doesn’t change their lives in any ways, but actually . . .

Their wealth hoarding is a transfer of wealth, real wealth, not inflated wealth, from the rest of us to them. They don’t feel their increase but we feel our decrease. As our lives become more and more diminished, the lives of the wealthy become more and more precarious. Since we do not have the money to buy the goods the factories of the fat cats are making, they move their sales over seas. But those markets aren’t as favorable as our rigged markets (rigged for our wealthy, that is). China is notorious for accepting factories of American corporations, then within a few short years, there is a native Chinese production facility in competition with them, and not just in competition with yours in China but in Europe and other places as well. China backs active espionage of “intellectual properties,” and protects startups from predation as they build up speed and capacity. (Hey, don’t get snooty, we did the same to Great Britain after our Revolutionary War.)

And the fat cats can’t fall back on the American domestic market (which used to be huge) because we Americans do not have the disposable funds we used to have. What we do have is debt. It is debt that enslaves us. At least we don’t have to go to work houses anymore, but our jobs have become much like those workhouses. We work and we work and we work and we don’t get ahead.

And, of course, the conservatives (and their political party, the GOP) are Social Darwinists. That they are wealthy is an indicator of their superiority on all fronts (business, political, religious, moral, etc.). That we are poor and massively in debt is an indicator of our inferiority on all of those same fronts. And they are not inclined to serve you via our government. You are not worthy.

So, prices will continue to go up, that is the way the system works. Unfortunately, your ability to pay those prices will shrink and shrink, and shrink. The system worked somewhat better in the past, but when the plutocrats bought our governments they no longer work for us, they only work for them.

If you do not believe me, look up what the 1960’s minimum wage would be worth today if it had been corrected just for inflation. Compare that with what the minimum wage is today.

The irony, of course, is that the plutocrats do not understand that if they hadn’t transferred all that unnecessary (to them wealth) out of our pockets, we would still be buying all the things they are selling, and they could continue to be “players” in “the game.” As it is is, they seem intent on destroying the game and most of us in the process.

Afterword The people on their side of the fence believe that there are only four things that can reverse wealth inequality: mass warfare, violent revolution, lethal pandemics, or state collapses. And those aren’t guarantees! The collapse of the Soviet Union (with meddling by U.S. by the way) caused a great deal of new wealth inequality. But World War 2 wiped out a great many monarchies and fortunes of the then rich and famous.

I am not fond of any of these but if they don’t listen to common sense advice, maybe a violent revolution is a quick fix. Or maybe someone will figure out how to target the uber-wealthy with a virus.

April 18, 2022

If It Worked for the Transcontinental Railroad . . .

In this country the first east-west transcontinental railway was staged as somewhat of a contest. One team started building the railroad on the west coast and the other on the east (not really either coast, but you get the idea). Incentives were provided and Bang! they were off, hopefully to meet in the middle of the country somewhere!

So, let’s settle the Ukraine dispute similarly. First all combat stops. Then a construction team financed by the western nations, begins at the westernmost point of destruction in Ukraine. Another team, paid for by Russia starts at the easternmost extent of the destruction from this war. When the starter signals, the teams work to reconstruct Ukraine, repairing all of the damage done during the war. The Ukrainians will have a team of inspectors who will either sign off on the work done or not as to whether it meets their own standards.

The contest ends when the two teams meet. And the amount of restoration determines the influence zones those outer forces have in the Ukraine. The West will acknowledge Russia’s primacy in their “influence zone” and Russia will acknowledge the West’s primacy in their “influence zone.”

At a bare minimum, Ukraine receives help restoring its infrastructure. And Russia may receive recognition of how bankrupt they actually are.

Instead of nations flexing their military muscles and beating their military chests, why not have them do feats of engineering or projects offsetting climate change to prove their international cojones are bigger than others?

March 18, 2022

Time Travel and the Grandfather Paradox

As a wannabe science fiction/fantasy author I read a lot and often enough encounter time travel and its glorious weirdness. Some scientists say time travel is impossible because of the paradoxes involved, the Grandfather Paradox being one of the most commonly cited. If one were to go back into the past and locate one’s grandfather, what would happen if you were to kill Grandpa? If you managed to pull it off, the paradox occurs. If your grandfather died before your parents were born, then you would never have been born, travel in time, and be able to kill your grandfather.

These complications are easily escaped by creative authors, who project that when you kill your grandfather, the timeline in which he and you existed separates off and is disconnected from the current time line (both of which toddle off nicely). You are still alive because you are a visitor from that other time line, but can no longer go back as you can time travel but not timeline travel.

Another approach is you pull the trigger and kill grandpa and you immediately disappear and history adjusts, automatically tying up all loose ends . . . except in rare cases in which and our intrepid hero can find the clues and, and. . . . And the mechanisms for these things to happen physically seem way too magical.

Other authors have time fighting back. You pull the trigger on the gun and the gun jams. You fix the gun and pull the trigger again and the bullet misfires, etc. In other words time fights back. You can’t kill Grandpa because the Universe Abhors Paradoxes, don’t you know.

I like the one where you kill Grandpa and then just disappear, with the wrinkle that you end up back in the timeline in which Grandpa lived. This can be great fun as repeated trips into the past can result in trivial actions causing our hero to spring back (remember the butterfly in Brazil, flapping its wings and causing a hurricane in Japan) over and over and over, thus creating so many time lines that the time overlords investigate and take action against him, and so on, etc., usw.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is also involved in these stories. In one, a time traveler goes back in time to find out of the Jesus story was real (guess who ended up nailed to a cross). (I think that was Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock, but I am working from memory and that was a long time ago.) Or a time traveler goes back in history and executes Hitler as a youth, only to find that someone far, far worse was waiting in the wings but who had gotten pruned out by Hitler and so was unknown to us.

Fun, isn’t it.

It is not so much fun for the scientists trying to determine the differences between possibilities and probabilities when it comes to this topic. Sadly, only a few people are actually working on such problems. More are working on real problems, one of which perplexes me. It is the case that quantum mechanics and Einstein’s General Relativity theories do not seem to be compatible, that is neither fits nicely within the other, nor is there some fusion that seems to work to combine them. Actually, I wonder why this is a problem. General relativity comes up when you study gigantic objects, like planets, starts, galaxies, etc. and quantum mechanics comes up when you investigate things smaller than atoms. Expecting the theories in those two realms to play nice is a bit like wondering why the biology of frogs in the Amazon basin doesn’t inform us about the formation of diamonds deep below the surface of South Africa. Where does the expectation that the two big physics theories should be compatible come from? I suspect it comes from a desire to see the world around us as a relatively simple machine. (I do not.) It is a bit like Rodney King’s appeal “Can’t we all just get along?” It sounds nice, but there is absolutely nothing indicating that it should or even could come about.

January 30, 2022

The Repair Shop

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 8:27 am

I have been binge watching episodes of the BBC’s series “The Repair Shop.” In this show, set in a homey setting in England, Brits bring their family treasures to a very talented crew of restorers for restoration. If you haven’t noticed, I am a flaming Anglophile. “Hi, Steve!” (Ignore them, those are members of my 12-Step group.)

I relish, however seeing hordes of “my people” on the show. Then tend to around my age, painfully white, and are quite typically British: bad hair, worse teeth, tremendously sentimental, and emotional about their “treasures.” They seem to be both surprised and somewhat embarrassed by their emotions. They also seem to be having an ongoing battle with the letter H. They pronounce the H, for example, in words like heirloom (hair-loom”), but we do not (“air-loom”). Yet they drop H’s from a great many words, e.g. “ow’re you doing?) I wonder what H did to them? Hmm.

And they give names to almost everything (toys, musical instruments, pieces of furniture, etc.). When I was growing up, our cars and many other possessions had names, just like the Brits did and still do. (My father was of Spanish heritage, my mother of mostly British heritage.)

I enjoy each and every episode as nice stuff gets restored. I like to repair things, although I am not in their class. It is interesting, also, how attached we get to our physical possessions. Possibly that is because emotionally we control both ends of the relationship, so such are not as messy as the human-human relationships in our lives.

This show is on the Discovery Channel currently although I was already aware of it, so some episodes had already been shown on some other channel some time ago. I find myself even rewatching episodes I had already seen as “good” is always being done by and for nice people. The BBC doesn’t charge for the restorations, so some of these gifts are quite lavish.

Lovely people, lovely things, how can you go wrong?

January 28, 2022

Just What Does That Mean?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 10:35 am

The most quoted Bible passage in the U.S., at least at football games, is John 3:16, to wit:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, translations vary).

This seems to be an important saying to evangelical Christians but what does it mean? I understand the basic premise, but what exactly does “whoever believes in him” mean?

I understand “whoever believes him” as a phrase, but what does “whoever believes ‘in’ him” mean?

Another common phrase used by evangelicals is “you must accept Jesus in your heart as your Lord and Master.” Now that sounds far too slavish for me, walking around calling Jesus the Christ “masser.” Yes, Masser Jesus, no Masser Jesus . . . sounds too demeaning (to us both) to me. Why would an exalted spiritual being desire to own slaves?

So, that is out, but to “believe in him” is a possibility, if I only knew what it meant.

And it sounds like too much of a bargain. Believe “in” this guy, that he exists and you get to live forever. Sounds like a trick. Maybe living forever is a torment. I am already having trouble remembering things. Add a few thousand years and I won’t remember my own parents.

The entire quotation is fraught with strangeness. God loves the world? Doesn’t he love all his creation? Otherwise there are some parts he loves and other parts, well, not so much. But it is all his creation, no? And he declared it all good, right? Maybe that declaration was premature because when he caused the Great Flood, he admitted he regretted creating humanity (and apparently all of the other plants and animals that were wiped out). And this means that this god is not omniscient, or he would have seen at all coming. Actually Genesis, the first book in most Bibles tells us that he is neither omniscient nor omnipresent. For example, if he had been omnipresent, he would have been there when the serpent was tempting Adam and Eve and could have nipped it in the bud, or been there when Eve plucked the fruit, etc. So John is just reinforcing what we already know from reading Genesis.

Actually most of this confusion can be laid at the feet of the Apostle Paul, who completely distorted Jesus message, actually replaced it with one of his own. Jesus’s message was simple: repent, admit your sins, then love God with all of your heart and obey his commandments. He added that time was short, so there was some urgency, although he admitted he didn’t know when the curtain was to close upon this age. So, according to Jesus, you had to repent, give up your sinful ways (by following God’s commandments) and you shall be judged by what you do, by your acts, aka deeds or works. He said nothing about believing in himself, although he said some things mysterious, such as the only way to the Father was through the Son, but these “recordings” of what Jesus said were written by either Paul himself or Paul’s followers, so we do not “know” anything Jesus actually said, we only know what these writers claimed Jesus said and there are enough contradictions to bring their authenticity into question.

Paul made up this cockamamie idea that the path to salvation was through faith, alone, faith in Jesus, no “works” were necessary. Now faith can be translated as “trust,” so this could mean you have to trust Jesus, but I think that misses the point. What Paul was selling was an easier path to “salvation,” because it only required “faith,” which cannot be examined, instead of “works” which can be. The required faith was small, but the “works” were great. So Paul was in the business of selling salvation cheaply.

Now why Paul did this, we do not know. Maybe he had a mental breakdown and believed all that he said. Or maybe he was a con man looking to built a power base to establish his worth in his world. But it is clear that Paul won the battle and Christianity has almost nothing to do with what Jesus seems to have preached, at least according to scripture, and everything to do with what Paul and his followers preached. Including John 3:16, whatever that means.

January 18, 2022

Why All the Bullshit?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 10:37 am

Why all of the bullshit? We seem to unavoidably create imaginary realms and then claim that we have lost contact with them: Mount Olympus, the Elysian Fields, Heaven, Plato’s land of absolutes, the spiritual realm, etc.

I was reading a post on Medium that included the following:

“All human beings are descendants of tribal people who were spiritually alive, intimately in love with the natural world, children of Mother Earth. When we were tribal people, we knew who we were, we knew where we were, and we knew our purpose. This sacred perception of reality remains alive and well in our genetic memory. We carry it inside of us, usually in a dusty box in the mind’s attic, but it is accessible.” – John Trudell

and

I think it is unfortunately true that we have lost touch with the sacred dimension in ourselves, in nature and the cosmos, and I agree that that one fact empties life of its meaning as well as its mysterious beauty (emphasis mine).

How Mr. Trudell knew this about us when we were “tribal” I shall set aside for now, but human experience explains much of this. As a primitive people, having little knowledge of the world around us, we experienced death of people close to us. So, an understanding of death came to us. It fit right in with the deaths of plants and animals all around us and made the point that we were part of the totality of existence. (“We are one with nature, Grasshopper.”) Then we experienced the loss of a loved one and receive visitations from that loved one over and over, in our dreams. That we construct our own dreams from memory and imagination was not knowledge available at the time, so it appeared that our loved one was still alive, but when we woke in the morning or abruptly at night, they were not there with us, so they must be somewhere else. Our vivid dreams gave us the impression that those we knew were dead were still alive and since they were not here, our wishful thinking had us believing they were elsewhere. If memory serves, at one point the Celts believed that when we died, we went to another realm, and lived there much as we lived here, and when we died there, we were transported back here (lather, rinse, repeat).

In that same post, the author goes on to say “Underneath the cluttered surface of our minds lies another dimension, one that animals and nature live in without struggle.” Apparently this person is so divorced from nature as to not know that struggle is an integral part of all animal’s lives. In my last home in California, it was very quiet where we lived (out in the boondocks, as it were) and occasionally, as we were falling asleep we could hear what sounded like screams, which were the initial cries of rabbits being eaten alive by coyotes and foxes. All predators eat their prey, often before their prey has died. This hardly describes a “another dimension, one that animals and nature live in without struggle.”

Is this just a case of the world not being as we like it so we invent another, much like C.S. Lewis’s “Boxen” a land inhabited and ruled by animals? If one found relationships with humans difficult, one could retreat to a place where humans were not in charge?

I understand this being the response of a child in that I experienced this myself. But do we not put away childish things when we become adults?

Apparently not.

January 11, 2022

Hey Kyrie, Do Your Effing Research!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:05 pm

NBA superstar Kyrie Irving is refusing to get vaccinated against the COVID viruses and so is in the interesting position of not being allowed to play in his games in his home stadium, due to a city law. He is allowed to play in most of the road games his team has scheduled but for most of the first half of this season, the team sat him down and did not even attempt to play him. They did, however, pay him half of his salary for not playing! (I want that job! Can I have that job? I am an expert at not playing!) Now that they has struggled a little bit, the team  has decided that Kyrie playing half of their remaining games might not be so bad.

Mr. Irving has stated that he has done “his own research” and finds the vaccines are not safe and he will not take them. Some of his research, apparently, is based upon comments by Joe Rogan, a comedian. The rest being from the Internet, one assumes, as the likelihood that Mr. Irving went to a university library, the Mayo Clinic, or some other kosher source of information is quite slim.

But, I have some “more” research Mr. Irving could do.

The group of people who could provide the most pertinent information regarding the safety of the vaccines for him would be professional athletes, like Mr. Irving. Professional basketball players, playing at the highest level of the sport would be perfect. In September the National Basketball Association reported that over 90% of the 600 players then associated with teams were vaccinated. Some of those didn’t make the opening day rosters, so call it 500 players like Mr. Irving and if 90% of those were vaccinated (don’t worry Kyrie, I’ll do the math) then there are 450 men just like you, Kyrie, who have taken the vaccines. So, do your research! Ask around. How many of those had an adverse reaction? How many died from taking the vaccine? How many claim they lost their jobs because of the vaccine? You could do a social media poll since it seems most of that cohort participate in that activity. Or you could ask the NBA Player’s Association which has a fiduciary obligation to look after its members.

Or you could just hurt your team by getting paid to do nothing, probably now getting full checks on home games in which you are not even allowed in the stadium. Go for it man. They can widen the doors to allow your ego into the stadium.

Hey, maybe you can get Joe Rogan to do the research for you.

January 1, 2022

We Need to Fix Capitalism . . . Now!

Capitalism is quite flawed, but so are all of the other economic/political systems. Some countries have been good at reining capitalism’s excesses . . . this country isn’t one of those.

As I have said, often enough, capitalism’s Achilles’ Heel is that it doesn’t place any limits whatsoever upon greed. I suggest that a good start at reining in the greed woven into the warp and woof of capitalism is to eliminate speculation. There is no inherent good associated with speculation, although there are many associated evils in it; for example, people try over and over to manipulate prices, markets, whatever to make their speculations pay off, legally and illegally. Those are not what might be classified as productive labors.

We need to eliminate speculation as something that doesn’t contribute anything to our society, nor does it contribute anything to individuals. It is a form of gambling, pure and simple.

There is something called the “futures markets” in which prices are set now for sales that will take place in the future for various commodities. The buyers are hoping the prices go up and they will get a deal when that sale is triggered and the sellers are hoping the prices are going to go down, so they will get a fatter price for their goods. In an ideal world this process helps to moderate price changes, but in the world we live in, it is just another form of gambling.

The stock markets are dominated by secondary sales, making the story about the role of such markets in our economy we are taught in school to be a very, very minor form of providing capital for businesses. Instead these markets are very close to just being casinos where rich people gamble.

Let me explain how these capitalistic devices have taken over. If you go to the store and buy, say, a shirt in most states you will pay a sales tax, up to almost 10% of the price of the item (although a small number of states charge nothing, but I think there are just five of those). But if you buy a share of stock, what “sales tax” to you pay? The answer is nada, zip, zilch, no tax at all. Some items, such as alcoholic beverages, include what used to be called “sin taxes.” Extra taxes are levied upon alcoholic beverages to discourage their consumption (Get behind me, Demon Rum!). We do the same for gasoline in which there are substantial taxes, both federal and state, paid and then sales taxes added on top of those! We could do the same for stock transactions. This would discourage speculation, certainly the practice of buying a stock and selling in when its price went up a few cents, often just seconds or minutes after the buying transaction. (Amazing what you can do with computers!) If the profits from the sale didn’t cover the sales taxes, those sales wouldn’t be made.

Plus people who buy and sale and trade stocks contribute nothing to our society. Extensive studies show that stock markets are actually a drag on our economy (they extract funds from the economy without producing anything in exchange). We, at least, need to slow their roll.

Currently we have a patent system, a flawed system but it works . . . kind of, sort of. Drug companies have become adept at acquiring patents and then jacking up the prices for the goods produced under those patents. A current example is insulin. One vial of insulin lispro (Humalog), which used to cost $21 in 1999, costs $332 in 2019, reflecting a price increase of more than 1000%. The cost of manufacturing that drug has barely changed over that same time period. We could change patent laws to prevent such abuses. “What the market will bear” is not a limit upon greed. These same pharmaceutical companies have also taken to making very, very (very!) minor changes in their drug’s formulations to apply for new patents, extending their “right” to make as much money as they want. Patents were supposed to, were designed to, expire so that those things end up belonging to the commonweal. Often the public has already paid to research that drug in the first place through public universities and federal institutions and research funding. The same thing is woven into our copyright laws with written works and others eventually ending up in the public domain.

We have tools to rein in greed in capitalism but the current greedy class has acquired so much wealth that they are blocking access to the political gears of government to make such reforms. If we do not act soon, it will be too late. The only result of extreme wealth inequality is armed strife.

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