Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Another call for libertarian/liberal fusion
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, December 05, 2006

During the recent run up to the election there was quite a bit of discussion of why libertarians were not at all happy with the GOP and were looking elsewhere (or staying home). Brink Lindsey, of CATO writing in The New Republic sums the problem up (CATO link here) fairly well:
Libertarian disaffection should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP's rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.

This woeful record cannot simply be blamed on politicians failing to live up to their conservative principles. Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.
I think, more than any other description I've seen, the emphasized line best makes the point of libertarian disaffection with the GOP. Sure, the massive spending increases were certainly a part, and not a small part either, but that's recoverable. Well, it's recoverable if, as Lindsey points out, there hasn't been a real sea change in the GOP itself.

I'm really not sure, even at this point, there has been been such a sea change, although I think the perception carried in the empasized sentence is indeed real. I'll certainly agree though that it appears to be true, and for voters, and libertarians, that changes the game completely. What keeps me from accepting it as gospel is I'm not sure how much of what Lindsey notes was election base rallying stuff vs. that which is or has become a permanent part of the conservative ideology.

Of course he mischaracterizes some of it. "Building walls to keep out immigrants" is not the total solution of those who want a wall. It is part of the solution which is best characterized by the 'security first, immigration reform second" slogan. Viewed without context, building walls sounds damning. However within the context of a War on Terror, not so. But on the other points he raises some red flags of which conservatives should understand do indeed lead to the perception, and then the belief, that the GOP has moved from resisting government intrusions in the life of citizens to using government to impose its values. The Terri Schiavo case and the ongoing debate about stem-cell research, while consistent with the conservative value of all life being precious, demonstrated the GOP's willingness to use government to impose its point of view, even reaching down, in the case of Schiavo, and interfering in what is essentially an end-of-life family matter best handled by the family in the courts, if necessary. And, of course, gay marriage and flag burning amendments are again not something which belongs at the federal level (remember the Bill of Rights restricted government, not citizens, and it seems a complete reversal to begin to amend the Constitution to restrict citizens and empower government).

So he's right when he says the perception of the GOP in general certainly changed over the last decade, and the cases indicated have certainly unraveled the hoped for libertarian fusion. The "fusionist synthesis" Lindsey identified had indeed come apart and many libertarians refused the GOP the support it needed because of its perceived drift from traditional conservative principles to this new populist form of conservatism which called for more government intrusion.

The Democrats, of course, want the votes (and know they got some of them) of libertarians because, in the evenly split electorate, 2 to 5 percent spells victory.
To date, Democrats have made inroads with libertarian voters primarily by default. Yes, it's true that Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame caused something of a stir by proposing the term "Libertarian Democrat" to describe his favored breed of progressive. And the most prominent examples of his would-be movement—first-term Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, fellow Montanan Tester, and Virginia Senator-elect Jim Webb—have sounded some libertarian themes by being simultaneously pro-choice and pro-gun rights. At the same time, however, their anti-nafta, Wal-Mart-bashing economic populism is anathema to free-market supporters.

In short, if Democrats hope to continue appealing to libertarian-leaning voters, they are going to have to up their game. They need to ask themselves: Are we content with being a brief rebound fling for jilted libertarians, or do we want to form a lasting relationship? Let me make a case for the second option.
Again, a pretty honest and on-target assessment. They did indeed make inroads with libertarians by default. They, unfortunately, were all that was left, speaking of a viable party, when libertarians began turning their backs on the GOP. Where else to go? And in this case, Democrats were somewhat less objectionable than Republicans.

As is obvious, Lindsey's fantasy, as it is with most conservative Democrats, is to find a way to make a permanent home for libertarians among Democrats. And Lindsey makes a valiant effort.
Today's ideological turmoil, however, has created an opening for ideological renewal—specifically, liberalism's renewal as a vital governing philosophy. A refashioned liberalism that incorporated key libertarian concerns and insights could make possible a truly progressive politics once again—not progressive in the sense of hewing to a particular set of preexisting left-wing commitments, but rather in the sense of attuning itself to the objective dynamics of U.S. social development. In other words, a politics that joins together under one banner the causes of both cultural and economic progress.
In reality, depending on the particulars, the game plan isn't a particularly bad one, and, I'm certain, there are those libertarians among us who would be open to a fusion with "progressives" if indeed the liberalism talked about were the traditional liberalism of Hayek and von Mises, and not that of Chomsky and Pelosi. Of course that's what Lindsey is calling for, but I cannot imagine the modern Democratic party jettisoning its "preexisting left-wing commitments" in favor of a more traditionally liberal agenda. Because a more traditionally liberal agenda would be more focused on liberty than egalitarianism, and egalitarianism is the core of today's progressive agenda.

What would be necessary to attract real libertarians to the Democrats? They would have to do at least two things. Embrace capitalism and reject populism. Lindsey's thoughts on the former:
Furthermore, it has become increasingly clear that capitalism's relentless dynamism and wealth-creation—the institutional safeguarding of which lies at the heart of libertarian concerns—have been pushing U.S. society in a decidedly progressive direction. The civil rights movement was made possible by the mechanization of agriculture, which pushed blacks off the farm and out of the South with immense consequences. Likewise, feminism was encouraged by the mechanization of housework. Greater sexual openness, as well as heightened interest in the natural environment, are among the luxury goods that mass affluence has purchased. So, too, are secularization and the general decline in reverence for authority, as rising education levels (prompted by the economy's growing demand for knowledge workers) have promoted increasing independence of mind.

Yet progressives remain stubbornly resistant to embracing capitalism, their great natural ally. In particular, they are unable to make their peace with the more competitive, more entrepreneurial, more globalized U.S. economy that emerged out of the stagflationary mess of the 1970s. Knee-jerk antipathy to markets and the creative destruction they bring continues to be widespread, and bitter denunciations of the unfairness of the system, mixed with nostalgia for the good old days of the Big Government/Big Labor/Big Business triumvirate, too often substitute for clear thinking about realistic policy options.
Now there are a lot of interesting thoughts in those two paragraphs. But primarily, Lindsey puts his finger on the reason that the Democrats, at least as the party is structured today, would be hard pressed to pull in libertarian fusionists in any meaningful numbers. To much of the left, their blind antipathy to capitalism is all but religious dogma. And it stands in the way of any meaningful change in the philosophy of the left in general and Democrats in particular. It is literally an article of faith for some that capitalism is an enemy of progressivism. Throwing that over won't be easy and one has to wonder if the number of libertarians such a change might attract would be worth the hard-core leftists it would drive off.

Given that example, Lindsey correctly summarizes the problem for libertarians and progressives:
The central challenge in cementing a new fusionist alliance—and, make no mistake, it is a daunting one—is to elaborate a vision of economic policy, and policy reform, that both liberals and libertarians can support. Here, again, both sides seek to promote individual autonomy; but their conceptions differ as to the chief threats to that autonomy. Libertarians worry primarily about constraints imposed by government, while liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces.
While correctly identifying the irreconcilable difference between libertarians and liberals (or progressives), left out of this summation is the key point that liberals see nothing wrong at all with using the power of government to attempt to change the "constraints" of birth and economic forces (and that is similar to the present perception of the GOP's willingness to use government to impose its values). It is that willingness to use government in such a role that finds most liberals naturally opposed to capitalism (and it's creative destruction) and thus libertarians. And while Lindsey certainly sees areas where libertarians and liberals could form a common cause, I think his belief that they could "fuse" is based more on hope than reality. Lindsey points to a number of areas where libertarians and liberals essentially want the same outcome, but never really convincingly sells the premise that both sides have more in common than not.

The key, in my estimation, to any libertarian/liberal fusion lies in the embrace of capitalism by the left and all that brings with it. I simply cannot fathom (and maybe that's inherently my problem and not the problem of others) a progressive movement today, given its core principle of egalitarianism, which would ever commit to such a thing. To the progressive movement in America today, capitalism is viewed more as a problem than a solution given, as Lindsey states, "liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces." The source of those "economic forces" is the capitalist system, and I simply don't see progressives/liberals calling off their war on those forces anytime soon, and certainly not just to try and attract 5% of voters who don't share belief in their core principle.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
To begin with, Lindsey’s entire article is available free here.

I never cease to be amused by this sort of nonsense. Nine times out of ten, I observe that people who pine away for it also have no serious idea in the world of what they’re talking about. Consider this bit from Sebastian Mallaby writing in The Washington Post:
"Would libertarians be more comfortable in the company of Democrats? On moral questions — abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research — clearly they would. But on economic issues, the answer is less obvious."
This person is completely incapable of even thinking about the matter, for the simply obvious reason that "economic issues" are "moral questions".

Lindsey writes:
"The basic outlines of a viable compromise are clear enough."
Let’s just be clear that "compromise" — as a concept — implies an exchange of values, and then realize that the left has no claim on anything that isn’t already ours (I’m talking about you and me, Bruce) as a matter of right, and that they are therefore not authorized to hold it ransom to bargain with as if it were theirs. And anyone who even implictly grants them this power of "compromise" has already given up the game. I realize that this sort of thing is often undertaken in a spirit of "fairness" (pick your own word here), but it is very dangerously misguided, and so is anyone who follows such advice.

Lindsey:
"But the most difficult thing here is not working out details—it is agreeing to try. And, as part of that, agreeing on how to make the attempt: namely, by treating economic policy issues as technical, empirical questions about what does and doesn’t work, rather than as tests of ideological commitment."
Oh, very well, then: Ideas are useless in "the real world" — to coin a popular phrase — and we should just keep wandering around in the darkness touching hot stoves in order to see if they still burn us. Here’s what Lindsey doesn’t understand: the left will happily take him up on such an offer in an endless chase after what "does and doesn’t work", technically and empirically, in dictating the economic details of individuals’ lives — the very working matter of their survival, and what Mallaby is pleased to dismiss from "moral" analysis.

Look: socialism is demonstrably evil technically, empirically, and morally in every form, and yet the left cannot give it up. No serious person can call for a "try" to "compromise" with such a thing, and no serious person can regard any such suggestion as anything but towering foolishness.

We’re not the ones who have to give anything up. Let them come to freedom — completely, unequivocally and without fatuous reservation.

Let them come to us, or to hell with them.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
The new "Populist Conservatives" are the folk Ronnie and his supporters have called "liberals" for decades. To quote Bill "A liberal by any other name is still a liberal". The "Populist Conservatives" may have fooled the MSM (not very hard to do ask Capt Jamil) but they have not fooled honest conservatives. Which is why the GOP got crushed last month; and appears to be heading for another "thumpin" in 08; with their new PopulistConservative/liberal leadership.
 
Written By: Rodney A Stanton
URL: http://
well, as one of your regularly-visiting liberals, let me politely disagree.

yes, egalitarianism is one strong strain running through the Democratic party. but more and more the party is electing people who are more focused on fairness and equality of opportunity.

For example, it is easy to say that free trade benefits everyone. but it’s also false. Free trade benefits the winners more than it hurts the losers, but there are still none the less Americans significantly hurt by lowering trade barriers. Should they suck it up, or should the government provide assistance? More to the point, why would anyone expect these people to vote for policies which are adverse to their own economic interests? On the same vein, US consumers benefit more than US producers are hurt even if the counterparty country engages in slavery and has no environmental controls. But you should be able to understand (if not agree with) the idea that the US should not be rewarding that foreign country’s conduct, even if it comes at a cost to the US consumer.

Another example is health care. While it may not be in the economic interest of those who are 18 to 35 to purchase health care insurance, it is the societal interest that they do so, so that the members of this group who do need care (accident victims, chronic diseases, the occasional unlikely cancer sufferer, etc.) aren’t free-riding on US taxpayers.also, employer-based risk pooling is working really badly.

I’m open to any solution which (a) prevents or limits free-riding, (b) prevents or limits the use of taxpayer-funded emergency rooms as the first point of contact with the medical system for non-emergency needs, and (c) creates risk pools which do not interfere with easy labor mobility. So far, the best idea going is a govt-sponsored single payer with opt-out provisions, but i’ll entertain others.

libertarians should come to the democratic party, because their influence is likely to restrain the worst impulses of that party to command-and-control solutions. that, and the participation of libertarians in the republican party hasn’t gotten them anything.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
"The Terri Schiavo case and the ongoing debate about stem-cell research, while consistent with the conservative value of all life being precious, demonstrated the GOP’s willingness to use government to impose its point of view..."
What’s the point? What entity with governmental power does not try to impose its point of view? Even libertarians seek to ’impose’ their POV.

Perhaps you mean ’willingness to use government to impose a POV you disagree with?’




 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Francis,

While I think that this is a good point:
... the participation of libertarians in the republican party hasn’t gotten them anything.
I’m not sure how to reconcile the more policy-oriented parts of your comment with one another, though. Specifically, your argument in favor (or what I read to be in favor) of protectionism includes the observation:
More to the point, why would anyone expect these people to vote for policies which are adverse to their own economic interests?
But your argument in favor of universal health care appears to take the opposite approach:
While it may not be in the economic interest of those who are 18 to 35 to purchase health care insurance, it is the societal interest that they do so, so that the members of this group who do need care (accident victims, chronic diseases, the occasional unlikely cancer sufferer, etc.) aren’t free-riding on US taxpayers.
If protectionism is in everybody’s immediate self interest (let’s assume for the sake of argument that means higher consumer prices and higher wages), then they should vote for it. But even though government-sponsored (and mandated) health insurance might not be in everybody’s immediate self-interest, they should vote for it anyway?

Please pardon me for saying so, but that seems a little bit inconsistent.
 
Written By: Brian
URL: http://
Brian:

personally, i’m not in favor of protectionism. but on the other hand no one’s figured out how to outsource my job (land use / development / water rights lawyer) yet. my point is that the Democratic Party is trying to get elected people who understand both (a) free trade is good for the country as a whole; and (b) some people are going to get hurt by free trade policies so it is an appropriate use of government resources to try to ease their transitions into new employment opportunities. If libertarians would put aside their often mindless opposition to government assistance, they might recognize that they could contribute to the Democrats’ support of free trade.

on health care, I don’t see anyone who likes the current system (long lines at the ER, anyone?) except private health care insurers. Like lowering trade barriers, transitioning to a better-designed health care system will have winners and losers, but the gains of the winners should far exceed the losses of the losers.

Now, it is possible that hard-core libertarians believe that if you can’t pay for health care you should go die underneath a bridge someplace, but that idea is not going to get 50% of the votes. So the question is whether your principles outweigh your desire to participate usefully in the debate. Like I said before, libertarian ideas can restrain the Democratic party from the worst of its instincts while moving to a system thats both more fair and more efficient.

Here’s another way of looking at it: Bush had more power to enact his core agenda than any president probably since FDR. We got a massive growth in government spending, steel tariffs and a Soc.Sec. reform program that never got off the ground. And libertarians want to stay with the Republican party? I’ve heard of abusive relationships but this is ridiculous.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
The key, in my estimation, to any libertarian/liberal fusion lies in the embrace of capitalism by the left and all that brings with it. I simply cannot fathom (and maybe that’s inherently my problem and not the problem of others) a progressive movement today, given its core principle of egalitarianism, which would ever commit to such a thing. To the progressive movement in America today, capitalism is viewed more as a problem than a solution given, as Lindsey states, "liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces." The source of those "economic forces" is the capitalist system, and I simply don’t see progressives/liberals calling off their war on those forces anytime soon, and certainly not just to try and attract 5% of voters who don’t share belief in their core principle.
Liberals can (and do) embrace a kind of libertarianism that: 1) recognizes the danger of concentrated wealth in big business and big finance — that concentration can thwart the proper workings of the market; 2) recognizes that the goal of freedom is not always the same as embracing whatever market outcomes bring; and 3) moves towards a more traditionally libertarian view of foreign policy. In short, libertarianism that is ideology-driven to the point that abstract principles define positions rather than a practical consideration of freedom is more likely to get lost in its ideological beliefs (becoming, like Marxism did, almost a secular religion). If it’s freedom-driven and practical rather than philosophy-driven and ideological, I can easily imagine a more libertarian form of "liberalism" emerging.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"If it’s freedom-driven and practical rather than philosophy-driven and ideological, I can easily imagine a more libertarian form of ’liberalism’ emerging."
"Oh well, as long as you pay your taxes, you can whine all you want online."

Drop dead, you disgusting lying fraud.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Drop dead, you disgusting lying fraud.


You really should learn not to carry grudges from long past internet flame wars. Then again, personal grudges can be convenient if one doesn’t want to deal with difficult issues.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
What would be necessary to attract real libertarians to the Democrats? They would have to do at least two things. Embrace capitalism and reject populism.
And to attract real libertarians to the Republican, the Republican need only to reject populism*.

*True to an order of magnitude and not all populisms are equivalent.

The Republicans are simply much, much closer as a party to any even vaguely libertarian position.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Liberals can (and do) embrace a kind of libertarianism that: 1) recognizes the danger of concentrated wealth in big business and big finance — that concentration can thwart the proper workings of the market;
So, when did Hayek or Mises recognize something like that? The only libertarian objection to large amounts of wealth is when that wealth is based upon government created advantages (or outright theft).
2) recognizes that the goal of freedom is not always the same as embracing whatever market outcomes bring; and
So, when did Hayek or Mises recognize something like that? Market outcomes are the results of individual decisions—i.e., individual freedom.

The problem is, the lefts idea of "freedom" diverges from true freedom.
3) moves towards a more traditionally libertarian view of foreign policy.
Like Bill Clinton’s?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"Building walls to keep out immigrants" is not the total solution of those who want a wall. It is part of the solution which is best characterized by the ’security first, immigration reform second" slogan. Viewed without context, building walls sounds damning. However within the context of a War on Terror, not so.
If building walls is damning, isn’t having an Army, Navy, or even the Border Patrol even more damning? The wall is defensive, after all, but the military has offensive capability that offers up a significant potential for missuse.

The only context I see a need for is that the wall is on our border (if we decided to build a wall dividing Mexico City, I’d agree it was damning).
The Terri Schiavo case and the ongoing debate about stem-cell research, while consistent with the conservative value of all life being precious, demonstrated the GOP’s willingness to use government to impose its point of view,
How is it unlibertarian to not fund stem-cell research? Or did the Republicans move to ban private stem-cell research?

No federal funding of stem-cell research sounds like something Rs and Ls should agree on, even if the reasons behind the decisions are different.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"You really should learn not to carry grudges..."

You really should go play in the middle of a train-track, Doktor. What you dismiss as a "grudge" is a rational antipathy to a politics of rampant destruction dressed-up in your patented Yellow Smiley-Face and Mr. Rogers sweater. I see you, just the way I have from the first second I laid eyes on you, and it’ll be a bloody cold day in hell when you get a pass from me in peace. You have no business in the world speaking of "freedom", and every time you try it, it’s a goddamned despicable lie.

Die, creep.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
You really should go play in the middle of a train-track, Doktor. What you dismiss as a "grudge" is a rational antipathy to a politics of rampant destruction dressed-up in your patented Yellow Smiley-Face and Mr. Rogers sweater. I see you, just the way I have from the first second I laid eyes on you, and it’ll be a bloody cold day in hell when you get a pass from me in peace. You have no business in the world speaking of "freedom", and every time you try it, it’s a goddamned despicable lie.

Die, creep.
At least I was smart enough to drop flame war silliness when I realized that internet insults are meaningless. In any event, I apologize for the immature style of response I gave you in the past, but remind you that antipathy is in the eye of the beholder.

Of course, I’ve never been able to carry a grudge against anyone.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"but remind you that antipathy is in the eye of the beholder." - Scott Erb
*snork*

Damn, that was perfectly good antigua you made me snort out my nose. You owe me a buck, Doc.

Naw. Antipathy is in the mind of the antipathist. Beck doesn’t need a beholder to hold you in lack of esteem.
 
Written By: Ironbear
URL: http://oldwolves.co.uk/
Shut up, Erb. The central issue in all this is liberty, and you are distinctly disqualified.

Just disappear, scumbag.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
The only libertarian objection to large amounts of wealth is when that wealth is based upon government created advantages (or outright theft).

The very concept of limited liability corporations is a massive government-created advantage in favor of capital at the expense of labor. As is the modern bankruptcy code. As is the Federal Reserve’s laser-like focus on the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (aka NAIRU). As are many of the laws regarding the formation of unions and collective bargaining.

Now, these policies are the core of modern capitalism and have lifted literally billions of people out of poverty. But let’s not pretend that we’re living in some kind of theoretical laissez-faire system where government does not regularly advantage various interests (usually but not always capital).

Oh well, as long as you pay your taxes, you can whine all you want online.

isn’t this simply a true statement, in that tax cheats tend to go to jail (where internet access is, i believe, pretty limited), and online commentary is largely unregulated?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Liberals can (and do) embrace a kind of libertarianism that: 1) recognizes the danger of concentrated wealth in big business and big finance — that concentration can thwart the proper workings of the market;
So, when did Hayek or Mises recognize something like that? The only libertarian objection to large amounts of wealth is when that wealth is based upon government created advantages (or outright theft).
Hayek and Mises should not be treated as quasi-religious figures (Marxists made the mistake of doing that to Marx and look where it got them). Adam Smith actually recognized the danger of too much power in the hands of big business and big money. Hayek did an impressive job destroying the idea that governmental planning is better than market mechanisms, but the problem isn’t just the institution of the state or government, but the powers that get exercised by those institution.

If too much power is concentrated, either in a state or a corporation or financial institution, the agency with the power can have defacto governmental abilities; they can use that power to govern in a way that circumvents market mechanisms (usually they find it cheaper to simply buy governmental access). In third world governments with weak states powerful economic actors control the situation.

The idea that markets are like magic is, quite simply, absurd. They do a good job communicating demand via price, and that yields better outcomes. Yet markets are obviously not perfect — witness panics, bubbles, etc. — and markets can be circumvented by powerful corporate actors (governments, large corporations, banks, etc.)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Shut up, Erb. The central issue in all this is liberty, and you are distinctly disqualified.

Just disappear, scumbag.
I agree that liberty is the central issue. And you are not qualified to determine who is or is not qualified to speak to that issue. But you are, of course, free to ignore me.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"modern capitalism"

I know the reason why you coupled those two words like that, Francis, even if you don’t, which I believe to be the case.

I think you’re another one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Why don’t you define your term?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"I agree that liberty is the central issue. And you are not qualified to determine who is or is not qualified to speak to that issue."

That’s what you think, Squish-boy. I know what the concept includes and excludes, which means you.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"Hayek did an impressive job..."

You’ve never read the man in your lying life.

Who do you think you’re going to kid?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
You’ve never read the man in your lying life.

Who do you think you’re going to kid?
I shouldn’t admit this given all the insults you’re hurling, but I read him in part because of you. Before that I’d only read about him, but your descriptions (and others) in internet debates at some point in the past caused me to order Road to Serfdom through inter-library loan, and it persuaded me on a number of issues; it really is a powerful book. It’s probably why I changed my mind about things like national health insurance and a number of ’big government’ issues.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Those aren’t insults, Doktor: they’re facts.

And I don’t believe a single word that you say, because I’ve been watching you lie right out loud in front of everyone for a whole decade, every single chance you had. You are a singularly stupid individual, and morally unregenerate, to boot. Nobody on earth could make you re-think your bloody nonsense because you never thought about it to begin with. You simply have no idea what the concept involves — even though you’ve managed to learn how to work a keyboard and spell nicely.

Your word is nothing.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Hayek and Mises should not be treated as quasi-religious figures
That wasn’t my intent, just point out how your point diverge from key libertarian thinkers.
(Marxists made the mistake of doing that to Marx and look where it got them).
One could say that their mistake was in ignoring Marx—Lenin’s attempt to start a Marxist revolution, in Russia no less (Marx believed that one could not start the process (or stop it), it would just happen—and it wasn’t going to start in Russia).
If too much power is concentrated, either in a state or a corporation or financial institution, the agency with the power can have defacto governmental abilities; they can use that power to govern in a way that circumvents market mechanisms (usually they find it cheaper to simply buy governmental access).
What they do is use governments—due to government control of the economy.
In third world governments with weak states powerful economic actors control the situation.
In most Third World nations, the government nationalies the "powerful economic actors", seizing their assets.
The idea that markets are like magic is, quite simply, absurd.
No one claimed they are like magic.
They do a good job communicating demand via price, and that yields better outcomes. Yet markets are obviously not perfect — witness panics, bubbles, etc. — and markets can be circumvented by powerful corporate actors (governments, large corporations, banks, etc.)
Mostly markets are circumvented by governments. When large corporations do it, it is usually (always?) operating with the support of a government.

The panics and bubbles are usually (always?) driven by some government policy.

Now, before you use another strawman, I’m not claiming markets are perfect—they can’t be since people and information are not perfect. They are just the best solution.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Hayek and Mises should not be treated as quasi-religious figures (Marxists made the mistake of doing that to Marx and look where it got them).
But, Marx was dead wrong.

Adam Smith actually recognized the danger of too much power in the hands of big business and big money. Hayek did an impressive job destroying the idea that governmental planning is better than market mechanisms, but the problem isn’t just the institution of the state or government, but the powers that get exercised by those institution.
The problem is government; the proverbial boot in the throat. The legal use of force. Take that out of the equation and big business and big money have no power over me that I don’t give them.
If too much power is concentrated, either in a state or a corporation or financial institution, the agency with the power can have defacto governmental abilities; they can use that power to govern in a way that circumvents market mechanisms (usually they find it cheaper to simply buy governmental access).
Take government out of the equation and see where that gets you.
 
Written By: Vendo
URL: http://
And I don’t believe a single word that you say, because I’ve been watching you lie right out loud in front of everyone for a whole decade, every single chance you had. You are a singularly stupid individual, and morally unregenerate, to boot. Nobody on earth could make you re-think your bloody nonsense because you never thought about it to begin with. You simply have no idea what the concept involves — even though you’ve managed to learn how to work a keyboard and spell nicely.

Your word is nothing.
*shrug* You certainly can have whatever opinion of me you want. You seem to feel a strong need to state forcefully and repeatedly your antipathy. That’s fine with me.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think you’re another one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

you don’t know me nearly well enough to call me a liar, punk. Instead of continuing your abusive little dribble of insults, feel free to (a) answer the substantive points I’ve made, (b) ignore me and/or (c) go f*** yourself.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
But, Marx was dead wrong.
Marx was wrong, but he had some insights that still spawn useful social science. But the whole communism thing was an absurd misapplication of the idealist Hegelian dialectic to materialist economic activity. It was a typical 19th century error — grand theories trying to objectively determine the
proper
operation of the world.
The problem is government; the proverbial boot in the throat. The legal use of force. Take that out of the equation and big business and big money have no power over me that I don’t give them.
I am not convinced. When governments break down completely, mafias, warlords, sectarian groupings vying for power for their group, etc., tend to emerge. I’d need some real world evidence before I could accept your claim. I tend to avoid ideologically driven or philosophy-driven notions of how the world should be in favor of pragmatic evidence based determinations. Reality is multi-causal, and I’ve come to distrust grand theorizing.
Take government out of the equation and see where that gets you.
Probably back to a government. That’s the ultimate argument against anarchy — people constructed governments before, and if they disappeared, would probably create them again.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Francis"you don’t know me nearly well enough to call me a liar, punk."

You can start reading for comprehension just anytime is suits your convenience, honey-lamb, and then get this: if I’d thought you were lying, I would have said so. There is a great big categorical difference between presumptive ignorance and mendacity, and I know it even if you don’t, but I believe that you do.

Now, then. As for your "substantive points": I asked you about one of them for the direct purpose of taking it up, and you just went out like a light. If you’d like to try again, I’m all ears.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
brain-sushi:
"You certainly can have whatever opinion of me you want."
The facts will do, and they’re independent of "opinion". This is another fine point of philosophy that you’ve never understood because you’re a bloody moron.
"You seem to feel a strong need to state forcefully and repeatedly your antipathy."
That’s exactly right, and for exactly the reason that I stated: you have no business presuming to hold forth on the political matter at hand here, because freedom simply is not a value to you, no matter what you try to sneak past these people in your lying little bites.

You’re never going to get away with it where I can see it, Erb. Never; as long as you and I are alive and online. I’ll turn out to just kick your ass every single time I take it in mind, because of how mortally wrong you are and always have been.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Francis wrote:
The very concept of limited liability corporations is a massive government-created advantage in favor of capital at the expense of labor.
Absolutely not, in fact that’s a ridiculous idea. As long as they get paid what was agreed on, no business ever exists at the expense of labor (except in the sense that labor is an expense). Limited liability companies operate at the expense of the common law legal concept of the jointness and severability of debt—but this is not neccessarily a consequence of government.

Such an agreement could be made beforehand between investors and capital seekers.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Hayek and Mises should not be treated as quasi-religious figures
That wasn’t my intent, just point out how your point diverge from key libertarian thinkers.
The term libertarian is also used by radical post-Marxists scholars who attack the governmental planning of communism but accept a lot of Marx’s critique of capitalism. My own position is a kind of pragmatic libertarianism, avoiding ideology/philosophy as the guide, and recognizing that there are always balances and imperfections.

(Marxists made the mistake of doing that to Marx and look where it got them).
One could say that their mistake was in ignoring Marx—Lenin’s attempt to start a Marxist revolution, in Russia no less (Marx believed that one could not start the process (or stop it), it would just happen—and it wasn’t going to start in Russia).
But when reality started proving Marx wrong, the Marxists dug in. Revisionists in Germany were demonized by the communists, and when it didn’t work in the governments they did create, rather than question Marx, they murdered their own citizens.

If too much power is concentrated, either in a state or a corporation or financial institution, the agency with the power can have defacto governmental abilities; they can use that power to govern in a way that circumvents market mechanisms (usually they find it cheaper to simply buy governmental access).
What they do is use governments—due to government control of the economy.
But if there were no government, they would either create one to assure their continued dominance, or exercise defacto governmental powers to control the economy. The fact of the matter is that the enemy of liberty is centralized power. Centralization is most common in governments, and hence governments are the entities that start wars, colonize, or commit atrocities. But when government breaks down, small centralizations without accountability can occur, leading to mafia rule, or other kinds of defacto mini-governments.

Thus, pragmatically, I conclude government is inevitable, at least at this stage of human development, and the key is to demand transparency and accountability to the people to rule of law.

In third world governments with weak states powerful economic actors control the situation.
In most Third World nations, the government nationalies the "powerful economic actors", seizing their assets.
Sometimes. But remember, governments are people, just like business leaders are people. Every thing that governments can do, any organization run by people might try to do. Governments get away with more because they are recognized as legitimately having a monopoly of power. That’s why I find it amazing (though oddly intriguing) that these ’neo-libertarians’ seem to want to combine libertarian ideas with acceptance of America’s big government foreign policy. But that’s another issue.
Mostly markets are circumvented by governments. When large corporations do it, it is usually (always?) operating with the support of a government.
In capitalism there is a built in incentive for business people to try to circumvent the market, because the market ultimately threatens their power and wealth (they are constantly having to deal with competition). I don’t think absent government you’ll suddenly have ethical corporations who won’t try to use power to circumvent markets and create defacto governments.
The panics and bubbles are usually (always?) driven by some government policy.
They have also been driven by the fact markets are the result of human choices, and humans are prone to panics and greed that can drive tulip bulb or Florida real estate prices through the roof. Greed can lead to insane ideas like a ’new economy’ means the Dow and Nasdaq can’t go down and will keep rising. I remember being amazed at the utter blindness of people in the late nineties, a decade I’ve labeled a decade of illusions (see my blog for December 4).
Now, before you use another strawman, I’m not claiming markets are perfect—they can’t be since people and information are not perfect. They are just the best solution.
If they are working right they are most of the time. But will they work right absent government? Can government really be put out of the picture? Or is the problem really abuse of power, and that can be done by any group of humans who gain power?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Limited liability laws, like bankruptcy laws, allow the owners of corporate entities to lose the extent of their investment, and no more, despite the existence of involuntary creditors. (voluntary creditors, as Perkins ably notes, are not, in theory, affected by such laws because they are able to define the scope of their risk through contract.)

now, what group is most likely adversely affected by such laws? who tend to be the unsecured / involuntary creditors of corporate entities when they fail, labor or capital? (Labor.)

Yes, limited liability laws are incredibly efficient. Who would invest in any large company if they had to stake all their personal assets based on that investment? Even Lloyd’s of London recently gave up on unlimited personal liability for its names.

To take another recent example, Delta is looking to have the PBGC take over its pension obligations so that Delta can get out of bankruptcy. But PBGC is going to impose a huge haircut on pensionholders.

Efficiency has its price. Limited liability laws protect investors to the detriment of involuntary creditors. And (without doing a stitch of research) I’ll bet that since the passage of limited liability laws, the vast majority of people adversely affected by such laws are those who extended labor, not capital, to the failed entity.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
"...avoiding ideology/philosophy as the guide..."
As if you have no "ideology" or "philosophy" (not like "social construction" or anything) because you’re somehow above all this grubbing about with any of that stuff.

Bruce: pay close attention to this lying rubbish, and especially to his "pragmatism".

Do you understand me?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"My point is that the Democratic Party is trying to get elected people who understand both (a) free trade is good for the country as a whole; and (b) some people are going to get hurt by free trade policies so it is an appropriate use of government resources to try to ease their transitions into new employment opportunities."

Actually, the Republicans also agree to jobs retraining, etc. Of course, retraining bitter old union workers doesn’t always succeed.

From: http://www.aliciapatterson.org/APF0802/Strohmeyer/Strohmeyer.html

We call up and say we have people qualified for the job orders that they want," Russ continued. "And they tell me, ‘Don’t send me a steelworker.’ I say, ‘Well why don’t you see the man and talk to him?’ And they say, ‘I don’t want to see them…poor work habits. When they were working, they got everything they asked for. I don’t need that.’ "

His office is finding it difficult, Russ said, to offset the steelworker image: "That they got big dollars, great benefits, and the big thing was to get into a corner and go to sleep."

He said that fewer than 50 steelworkers applied for retraining with his agency. And so the welfare load has zeroed out of sight.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
As an entrepreneur who is getting gray hair trying to keep my business going and meet my employee’s payroll, I take satisfaction that I am getting the better end of the deal on limited liability... LOL.

I still don’t get how labor is screwed by limited liability - not only does it really not affect them in any way, well, except that there are more jobs because of it, but they already have social benefits from the government too.

The equivalent of unlimited liability for labor would be indentured servants or slaves where ALL of their labor would be forfeit, or perhaps where the owners could have them on call 24/7?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
As if you have no "ideology" or "philosophy" (not like "social construction" or anything) because you’re somehow above all this grubbing about with any of that stuff.
Social constructionism/constructivism is a social scientific theory to analyze various issues.

Obviously everyone has beliefs. Ideology-driven understandings of reality put the ideology or the philosophy first, trying to develop a coherent system for understanding, categorizing and judging reality. Some even go back to the old enlightenment ideal of trying to find ’first principles’ and build from there (though that’s pretty much rejected now a days).

For me that’s backwards. Reality is too complex and uncertain. Rather, I try to constantly re-assess them and focus on practical efforts to ’do what’s right.’ At base, that’s a subjective call — I have to live by what I hold to be right, and make my choices and deal with the consequences. I think that’s liberating to some extent. Too many people blame their problems on the system, the government, capitalism or some thing external to themselves (rationalized by a complex idealogy). Too many people try to find self-esteem in a collective identity or external validation (nationalism, religion, etc.). I think the key is to take responsibility for oneself, one’s actions, and ultimately one’s attitude.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"If too much power is concentrated, either in a state or a corporation or financial institution, the agency with the power can have defacto governmental abilities; they can use that power to govern in a way that circumvents market mechanisms"
Demonstrate how a private entity, without the help of a coercive government, can gain defacto governmental abilities. I say it cannot be done and the power that you refer to with respect to non-governmental entities is not a threat unless sanctioned by law. Power is a problem, but it depends on where that power is.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"Reality is too complex and uncertain."

Speak for yourself, dim-boy. And don’t even try to come on like you don’t have an ideology in this fight because you and I both know better. The difference between us in this case is that you have an interest in your detached acanemic above-the-fray pose, while I know the bloody truth and won’t hesitate to kick the wheels off your little red wagon right in front of everybody.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Harun:

The equivalent of unlimited liability for labor would be indentured servants or slaves

exactly so. The 13th Amendment contains a more-or-less matching provision to limited liability.

the point being that the government regularly interferes on behalf of both labor and capital to limit their ability to contract. If a company fails, the worker cannot pursue the individual assets of the owners of the company for unpaid wages/ contract work / other benefits. And even if a worker is on the rocks, a company cannot offer less than minimum wages.

so the real question for libertarians is whether they want to (a) not participate in a system which does not share their values (because voters keep electing politicians who pass laws interfering with freedom of contract); (b) vote for democrats / participate in democratic party politics; or (c) vote for republicans / participate in republican party politics.

now, given that the most powerful republican president since Lincoln(?) has had nothing but contempt for libertarian values (tax cuts without spending cuts are just a tax shift to later taxpayers), the question remains why people with libertarian values continue to vote republican, as opposed to seeking to moderate some of the worst instincts of the democratic party.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Demonstrate how a private entity, without the help of a coercive government, can gain defacto governmental abilities
Not only can it be demonstrated, there are numerous examples.

Government coercion did not establish or protect "company towns", but the "company" became the defacto government and acted with more authoritarianism than any actual governmental bodies in American history.

The only way that a scenario absent of government coercion can exist in reality, is a scenario when the government does not have the power to be coercive, and in these circumstances, other interests take this role and exercise much more coercion than a constitutional republican government would likely ever exert.

It’s human nature, if there is a power vacuum, someone will grab that power, and power granted is power used.

This is the failure of libertopian idealists, they simply do not recognize that although government is the source of all the problems that they cite, there is no such thing as a lack of government, there is simply periods of centrailized power, and periods between periods of centralized power.

Understand this, the libertarian ideal of the free market does not exist, it never has and it never will, all markets are constructs and even the rules of the constructs themselves are examples of coercive power and advantage someone. There is ALWAYS some entity there to use coercive force of one form or another to manipulate the market to someone’s advantage.

The best way to deal with it is try and make that centralized government work as well as possible with a commitment to the greatest personal and economic freedom possible within the construct.

But just as socialism necessarily reduces individual liberty by it’s very existence, so too does the construct.

Cap





 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
"Government coercion did not establish or protect ’company towns’, but the ’company’ became the defacto government and acted with more authoritarianism than any actual governmental bodies in American history."
That is ridiculously untrue. That’s just laughable. To begin with, policies in these places were enforced by civil authorities under the color of law. And you might bear the reminder that lots of people did not work for those companies, which means that they were free to pursue their interests in other ways. This is something that only a government can prevent. Pullman never could have.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Who would invest in any large company if they had to stake all their personal assets based on that investment?
Considering what you do for a living, I’m very relieved that you understand this implication of eliminating limited liability. You had me going for a minute.
The very concept of limited liability corporations is a massive government-created advantage in favor of capital at the expense of labor.
When a firm fails, what exactly does labor lose? They lose their opportunity to sell their labor to that particular firm, and that’s pretty much it. They don’t lose their ability to sell their labor to anyone else, nor do they lose any of the fruits of their labor. The owners of the firm on the other hand, lose their firm and all of the fruits of their labor and/or capital that they ever invested in it—in addition to losing the same opportunity for income from the firm the workers lost.

In fact, in situations where labor loses the most heavily, it’s not due to their status as workers, but because of their status as owners. It’s when workers lose their personal capital investments in the firm that they lose the most.

As a tech worker myself who was laid off during the last recession, I have a personal understanding of how disruptive loss of employment can be. But being dealt a setback isn’t the same as being treated unfairly. Capitalism is a profit and loss system, and the way the system distributes that loss isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, because there will always be losses to be distributed, and the way the market does it is generally fair.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: peter jackson
URL: www.liberalcapitalist.com
That is ridiculously untrue. That’s just laughable. To begin with, policies in these places were enforced by civil authorities under the color of law. And you might bear the reminder that lots of people did not work for those companies, which means that they were free to pursue their interests in other ways. This is something that only a government can prevent. Pullman never could have.
As usual, your confidence in what you believe to be knowledge far outweighs the actual veracity of the facts.

Pullman is a good example and a bad example, The town was located right outside of Greater Chicago, so workers were not cut off as many company towns in the coal or textile industries were. It is the example used as the big kickoff to the labor movement, but it was not a geographically isolated area where the company owned everything AND all residents were employees of the company. However, when the workers struck at the Chicago factory in 1894, the coercive power of government was brought bear, but not arbitrarily, rather in the service of the Pullman company. My point is that if the coercive power of government were absent, Pullman directly would have filled the void and been it’s own coercive power as was often done in isolated company towns.

In these towns, everything was company owned, including law enforcement. Even in the Ludlow incident, where the Colorado Militia was responible for a massacre of workers, the Governor called off the militia and the company PAID for them to return and do their bidding. They were reinforced by company agents.

What the Hell do you think Pinkerton excelled at beside genuine detective work? They were law enforcement hired by companies to enforce the laws as the companies saw fit.

Pullman Strike (1894)
Ludlow Massacre (1914)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Massacre

http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/earlyday.htm

http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1993/08/mm0893_10.html

You amaze me Billy, you scream about government and pretend no other source of abuse is worthy of your scorn. I am telling you that coercive power ALWAYS exists, with or without government.

The ideals you long for in society are every bit as elusive and represent as much of a misunderstanding of human as the wrong ideas of Karl Marx.

Cap



 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
"As usual, your confidence in what you believe to be knowledge far outweighs the actual veracity of the facts."
Oh, yeah? Then riddle me this:
"...in isolated company towns."
Cite me one single "company town" from which the workers were not free to leave and find employment elsewhere. Step right up. And understand this: if you manage to do that, you will no longer be talking about capitalism. (Hey, Francis: this is the point that you’re running away from. Don’t worry about it. I didn’t expect an answer from you anyway.) The very Wikipedia article that you cite on Ludlow points out exactly what I told you about "color of law". Go read it again. I point out to you that only a government can do the sorts of things that have people like Scott Erb foaming in their sleep; you observe that a mining company calls on a government to do it; it doesn’t occur to you that the point’s made.

Look: they didn’t call on J. P. Morgan. They called on a government. "Under color of law", just like I told you.

It’s very curious that you don’t deplore the violation of so-called "scabs’" rights in a matter like this, all while you’re moaning about "authoritarianism".

You say:
"However, when the workers struck at the Chicago factory in 1894, the coercive power of government was brought bear, but not arbitrarily, rather in the service of the Pullman company."
...and you say it quite without reference to the fact that strikers had already destroyed other peoples’ property by the time the troops were called in. (This would be the events of June 29, 1894, and you could bloody look it up.)
"I am telling you that coercive power ALWAYS exists, with or without government."
Oh, you mean like; people who "occupy" other peoples’ factories, smash windows out of them and destroy equipment, and threaten the lives of others who freely decide to work in them?

No. I don’t think that you have that sort of thing in mind, but you bloody well should.

Look: I completely understand all of these aspects of unilateral use of force. It’s what things like the Mafia are all about. I don’t need someone like you lecturing me on the fact that bad people exist in the world. For one thing; it’s a good part of the reason why I keep my own guns: I am not a utopian. However, we might at least be clear on the fact that people like the Mafia don’t make some pretense that they wield power for the arbitrary presumption of everybody’s benefit.

The equivocation that you’re running is stark nonsense, but you can be happy with the fact that I, for one, see no way to reason you out of it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
It amazes me to this day those who are so apoplectic about the power of big corporations. Well, yes, sometimes corporations do things that are deceitful and bad and they pay the price for it eventually (enron). But contrast that to the power of (corrupt) government.

No corporation can tax me, put a ceiling on my income, conscript me, ration my goods, throw me into prison, make me wait for four hours in the DMV, or censor my
speech.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Frances,

Correct me if I am wrong, but the mechanism by which labor becomes an involuntary creditor—for example in your Delta brankruptcy example—is that the government mandates the workers involuntarily suurender a part of their compensation to the administration of the company to provide future benefits.

So far, that is a problem inhering to government, not the free market, and not of corporations, LLC’s or otherwise.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Sorry Cap, those workers in the company towns, as Billy has pointed out, were free to leave. They weren’t going to be thrown in jail. Those companies had power only to the extent that those workers wanted those particular jobs. No one made them work there. That example doesn’t fit my question.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"Reality is too complex and uncertain."

Erb:

Find a bridge.

Jump off.

Then please come back and explain reality.

Your biggest fan,

Erbfan
 
Written By: Erbfan
URL: http://
Find a bridge.

Jump off.

Then please come back and explain reality.
I tell you what, go study quantum physics until you understand. Then figure out the way political, economic and social systems operate.

Then tell me if these things are as simple and easy to understand as the way the law of gravity operates when you jump off a bridge.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
No corporation can tax me, put a ceiling on my income, conscript me, ration my goods, throw me into prison, make me wait for four hours in the DMV, or censor my
speech.


True — there are laws against those things, and any corporation that tried would have to deal with the government. Take the government away, however, and you might be surprised what powerful corporate actors would be able to do.

Also, often in company towns or in the sweat shops of the industrial revolution the freedom to leave was there, but it also meant having as a consequence starvation for your family or begging as an alternative. Take away general constitutional protections, and company towns might be far more coercive (they’d probably create their own government to assure order).

That’s why I’ve become convinced that ideology can’t give an answer. Ideology deals with abstractions and assumptions that break down in various situations. At best it’s a starting point, or different perspectives offer different insights. But I defy anyone who can point to an ideology or philosophy that gives them the ’right answer’ for understanding the world. That kind of perspective lends itself to political jihadism. Responding to a point about the complexity of social relations with "jump off a bridge and see if you understand reality" is a sign of someone not wanting to really challenge their core belief system, not wanting to introduce ideas and perspectives that may challenge what they want to believe. It’s easier to ridicule and deride than self-critique. But ultimately, that path leads nowhere.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Jump, then tell us about the reality of gravity. May I suggest the Golden Gate Bridge?

"Hi, I’m Scotty. The truth is there is no truth. The moral is that there is no moral. Red is white. Wet is dry. Can you tell I’m talking out of my arsehole or what? Hey don’t walk over to the other drunk talking out of his butt at the bar? listen to me! I crave attention...."
 
Written By: Erbfan
URL: http://
You guys are essentially arguing the is/ought divide. Billy and friends are arguing that there is no is/ought divide in morality; Scott is arguing that there is an is/ought divide.

I’m inclined towards Scott’s premise, though we may not share the same extrapolations from it. Still, unless you guys can agree on the is/ought problem, this argument is a bit pointless. You don’t share the foundation, so why is it a surprise that you reach different moral conclusions?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Jon:

Do you believe there are things you ought to do/not do?

Why?

 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
Do you believe there are things you ought to do/not do?
Only insofar as there is a goal in mind. Absent a subjective value judgment, there is no natural "ought". Nature does not dictate a proper course of behavior, except that which is naturally enforced.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Cite me one single "company town" from which the workers were not free to leave and find employment elsewhere. Step right up. And understand this: if you manage to do that, you will no longer be talking about capitalism.
Sorry Cap, those workers in the company towns, as Billy has pointed out, were free to leave. They weren’t going to be thrown in jail. Those companies had power only to the extent that those workers wanted those particular jobs. No one made them work there. That example doesn’t fit my question.
The first one is fun, if labor is abused and legally prevented from leaving it’s not capitalism? For who, the laborer? The company? It’s buyers? Their buyers? The economy as a whole?

Start with Honduras sweat shop factories where people are coerced by companies work 19 hour days. I am sure it doesn’t feel like capitalism for the laborer. But is the company not a capitalist company? So when Walmart buys the clothes, are they not capitalist? When consumers go into Walmart and buy these clothes, are they not capitalist?

So you want an example, here you go... Every company town that used a truck system whereby people were paid in the form of scrib, or scrip, or credit to the company store. Often workers were paid in cash, unless they owed money to the company store, which were they required to purchase goods from, at inflated rates, and many found themselves working simply to pay the debt without a way to create enough capital to get out. Some of the workers, in debt to the company store, were legally compelled to remain, and even if they weren’t they had no resources to move themselves and their families, and if they ticked off the company, many had written into their contracts that they would vacate their homes immediately upon termination, so they became broke, and homeless, and far away from any other jobs.

The point is that in the absence of government power or coercion in these company towns, the companies themselves became the coercive power, payer, shopkeeper, loanshark, judge, jury, and jailor, worse than our federal government has ever been.

By the way, you can leave the United States, so if you want to argue that fed is coercive but company towns were not simply because you may be able to leave, you have to show me who is compelled to stay in the US.

Cap




 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
You guys are essentially arguing the is/ought divide. Billy and friends are arguing that there is no is/ought divide in morality; Scott is arguing that there is an is/ought divide.
It’s along those lines, but the larger point is that even if we had the "ought" they want, it recreates everything we have in the "is" with a different master.

It’s like, capital will exploit labor, and if there is a government, they will use to gain greater advantage to exploit labor, if there is no government, or no government with coercive force, they will become the coercive force.

Labor will always try to gain advantage over capital, and if there is a government, they will use to gain greater advantage to exploit capital, if there is no government, or no government with coercive force, they will become the coercive force.

Coercive power is either present or is void that will be filled, by a man, by a business, by a local government, by a state government, or by a federal government.

Billy et al, recognize the coercive power of government and they don’t like it, but they fail to recognize several points, one os that power granted is power used. They want a government with the power to protect them, but expect that government not to use that power for anything beyond that responsibility, and that is simply flawed reasoning, any person, body, business, or government that has so much power that it can defend you, has such great power that it will abuse it in one way or another. If you eliminate federal power, you are not enhancing freedom, you are simply trading for a different source of coercive power.

Understanding the nature of power, government, and society is the best foundation for advancing human interests, simply having an absolute philosophy and dismissing anything does not fit this philosophy is entertaining, but absolutely useless in making the world a better place.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
It’s like,
This was a leftover sentence fragment from a sentence I revised. I am not trying to sound like a 14 year old girl, like, you know.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"Start with Honduras sweat shop factories where people are coerced by companies work 19 hour days. I am sure it doesn’t feel like capitalism for the laborer. But is the company not a capitalist company?"

No. It is not.

Do you have any questions?

Erb — We’re not talking about physics and you are not a physicist in any case. When are you going to stop making an explosive jackass of yourself with every single thing you write?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Do you have any questions?
Yes, the two questions that followed that you so conveniently ignored.

So when Walmart buys the clothes, are they not capitalist? When consumers go into Walmart and buy these clothes, are they not capitalist?


Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Billy is asking you to do something that’s logically impossible, and defining the terms tautologically. He wants you to cite an example of a company that uses coercion, but you’re not allowed to name any companies that use coercion because that’s not capitalist.

Yes, companies can and do use coercion in exactly the same way government does. Yes, in the absence of proper government, companies would do so more often. No, that’s not pure capitalism. But pure capitalism requires that companies and people not use coercion and, if history is any guide, that’s simply not going to happen on a large social scale.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
But if there were no government, they would either create one to assure their continued dominance, or exercise defacto governmental powers to control the economy. The fact of the matter is that the enemy of liberty is centralized power. Centralization is most common in governments, and hence governments are the entities that start wars, colonize, or commit atrocities. But when government breaks down, small centralizations without accountability can occur, leading to mafia rule, or other kinds of defacto mini-governments.

Thus, pragmatically, I conclude government is inevitable, at least at this stage of human development, and the key is to demand transparency and accountability to the people to rule of law.
I actually agree. However, the they (They? Who the hell is they?
—sorry, when anyone says "they" I think of The Wild Bunch) doesn’t have to be corporations. In fact, I think creating a new government is unlikely for an existing corporation—new actors are more likely to fill that role, if we assume the government "leaves town" for some reason.
If they are working right they are most of the time. But will they work right absent government? Can government really be put out of the picture? Or is the problem really abuse of power, and that can be done by any group of humans who gain power?
I don’t think government can be put out of the picture, ’cause if it is another one will fill its place. As you previously indicated. That’s why I’m inclined to a constitutional republic, like the one we had pre-New Deal. Consider that my First Order solution.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I tell you what, go study quantum physics until you understand. Then figure out the way political, economic and social systems operate.
I had three quarters of upper division quantum mechanics in physics, followed several years later by a semester in a solid state electical engineering class (the first half was just a review of quantum mechanics, so I coasted while the students with engineering backgrounds sweated).

What does quantum have to do with it?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Billy is asking you to do something that’s logically impossible, and defining the terms tautologically. He wants you to cite an example of a company that uses coercion, but you’re not allowed to name any companies that use coercion because that’s not capitalist.
Yes, and I am trying to play along, asking him at what precise point in the supply change does the product of the coercive non-capitalist companies become part of a capitalist system?

I figure that if the product is from a non-capitalist source, then whatever market they sell into, if that market accepts the goods, cannot be a capitalist system.

Since Walmart and other companies use these kinds of non-capitalist companies (and countries) as suppliers, and Walmart is America’s largest retailer, America cannot be a capitalist society.

But if Billy thinks that one degree of separation is enough to turn the product of slaves into the consumer good of a capitalist society, then he is simply making arbitary calls and his morality is as relativistic as those he criticizes.

I get sooo tired of the philosophical discussions while a couple trillion dollars of our money is being spent, and I want to have a say in how efficiently it is spent, while Billy lobs bombs from the sidelines suggesting that any position other than not spending is socialist and therefore evil.

Socialism doesn’t have to be evil, and capitalism doesn’t have to be good. They both have elements that limit freedom, in socialism, it is the security for liberty argument, in capitalism, it is the construct (the rules) of the system that always favors something over something else, necessarily limiting freedom for those it fails to advantage.

It’s funny, when a person believes that something is the proper role for government, whatever that is, be it defense, road building, or just enforcing the laws, then using the coercive power of government to pay for these things is not socialism, but if there is a program they do not approve of, then all of sudden they have determined the line where socialism begins. Relativistic crap. If the the most efficient way to get something done is by using the pooled resources through the government, then that is the proper role for government.

Then it’s just a matter of debating whether something can be done most efficiently by government and stop wasting all this time and bandwidth on philosophy and name calling.

Oh, and Ayn Rand was ugly.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"Start with Honduras sweat shop factories where people are coerced by companies work 19 hour days."
How? Workers have no choice? What is the company going to do the worker if the worker quits? What is the company going to do if they all quit? Jail them? Fine them?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
How? Workers have no choice? What is the company going to do the worker if the worker quits? What is the company going to do if they all quit? Jail them? Fine them?
It is mostly women and children and they are physically assaulted if they refuse to work, they are physically prevented from leaving.

Wouldn’t a decent coercive government be nice to have around to prevent this?

Wait, there can’t be coercion that’s not evil, but, but...

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
In his defense, Beck is consistent. He believes government itself is immoral, and that pure capitalism is the only moral system. (capitalism = voluntary trade, non-coercion) I agree that, assuming a universal and/or absolute morality, capitalism is the only coherently moral system of economic organization. But I don’t agree that there’s any moral foundation, so we diverge on premises.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I had three quarters of upper division quantum mechanics in physics, followed several years later by a semester in a solid state electical engineering class (the first half was just a review of quantum mechanics, so I coasted while the students with engineering backgrounds sweated).

What does quantum have to do with it?
Read the post I was responding to. Reality is more complex than just acknowledging the fact that if you jump off a bridge gravity pulls you down.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yes, companies can and do use coercion in exactly the same way government does. Yes, in the absence of proper government, companies would do so more often. No, that’s not pure capitalism. But pure capitalism requires that companies and people not use coercion and, if history is any guide, that’s simply not going to happen on a large social scale.
I guess my question would be whether or not that’s because we have a human nature of the sort Machiavelli or Hobbes might suggest, or if our current cultural and social development yields an ability to de-humanize others and rationalize coercion. While we see coercion and atrocities all over, I can’t help but believe that the noble and humane side of our nature is ultimately our true selves. When people commit atrocities like in Rwanda or elsewhere, the perpetrators and victims are wrought with psychological problems.

I know a woman who survived the Cambodian holocaust — she was only a child when it happened — and despite all she experienced (her story is intense — she’s seen and experienced things most people can hardly imagine) she has a positive outlook on life, and stresses kindness and love towards others. Deep down I think that a voluntaristic, non-coercive, libertarian social reality is possible, but it’ll probably take generations and perhaps centuries (millenia?) to develop our cultures in a way that our true nature dominantes.

Of course, if Hobbes and Machiavelli are right, the above is just wishful thinking.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Reality is more complex than just acknowledging the fact that if you jump off a bridge gravity pulls you down.
If you jump off a bridge, gravity provides the reality that is of immediate concern. At least until you impact.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
But if there were no government, they would either create one to assure their continued dominance, or exercise defacto governmental powers to control the economy. The fact of the matter is that the enemy of liberty is centralized power. Centralization is most common in governments, and hence governments are the entities that start wars, colonize, or commit atrocities. But when government breaks down, small centralizations without accountability can occur, leading to mafia rule, or other kinds of defacto mini-governments.

Thus, pragmatically, I conclude government is inevitable, at least at this stage of human development, and the key is to demand transparency and accountability to the people to rule of law.
I actually agree. However, the they (They? Who the hell is they?
—sorry, when anyone says "they" I think of The Wild Bunch) doesn’t have to be corporations. In fact, I think creating a new government is unlikely for an existing corporation—new actors are more likely to fill that role, if we assume the government "leaves town" for some reason.
...
I don’t think government can be put out of the picture, ’cause if it is another one will fill its place. As you previously indicated. That’s why I’m inclined to a constitutional republic, like the one we had pre-New Deal. Consider that my First Order solution.
The problem is that in a globalized high tech world it’s hard to imagine that kind of government. I think, though, the challenge fundamentally is for both the right and the left to shed its authoritarian pasts — the nationalism and religiousity of the right, and the socialism and paternalism of the left — and find a new way to conceptualize politics. We need that, I think old patterns of thinking aren’t working — that’s why we get silly partisanship, and Presidents like Clinton and Bush. I’m not sure yet how to do that, which is why I read a wide variety of different perspectives, while avoiding partisan blogs and the whole red state/blue state thing. I’m genuinely uncertain about just what is needed and what will work.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The problem is that in a globalized high tech world it’s hard to imagine that kind of government.
Well, we have taken small steps towards smaller government since LBJ’s time. For example, deregulating oil, etc. I can see that there are areas of security that may not fit well with a minimal government, but in most other areas I think it would work just fine.

It was English and American free markets that really started globalization, after all.
I think, though, the challenge fundamentally is for both the right and the left to shed its authoritarian pasts — the nationalism and religiousity of the right, and the socialism and paternalism of the left
Perhaps this is just my bias, but I don’t see nationalism and religiousity as "authoritarian". Well, religion is authoritarian, but on a family level (at least in American versions where the state isn’t interlinked—and FWIW, I’m not religious). I can see that nationalism can aid authoritarianism, but it can be useful in fighting it as well.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Perhaps this is just my bias, but I don’t see nationalism and religiousity as "authoritarian". Well, religion is authoritarian, but on a family level (at least in American versions where the state isn’t interlinked—and FWIW, I’m not religious). I can see that nationalism can aid authoritarianism, but it can be useful in fighting it as well.
I see both as creating an artificial collective identity through which one can try to gain meaning and self-esteem, rather than focusing on ones’ individual choices and self-reflection. It’s not that I oppose them; I think Pope Benedict is doing a very good job (after an awkward start) trying to reach out to the Islamic world in a way a secular leader can not. I also think that the West can’t deny its Christian heritage, both the good and the bad. Nationalism can create a sense of shared identity to fight against oppression and to work for common goods. Yet each has numerous times historically led to a collective condemnation of "outsiders" and a lot of violence and war. So I respect patriots and religious folk if their actions are not coercive/oppressive, but I won’t wave a flag or don a religious symbol myself.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Billy is asking you to do something that’s logically impossible, and defining the terms tautologically."

That is not true, Jon. Look: there is a crucial difference between a person who steals for a living and one who produces for a living. We do not refer to them with the same terms for the simple reason that the essentials by which we identify and refer to them are different. They are not similar concepts.

This is what I am doing. This is about non-contradictory identification according to essentials.

What you said simply isn’t true.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I understand what you mean by ’capitalism’, but it doesn’t exist on any large scale. Individuals engage in voluntary trade all the time, but every large group of individuals has rules and laws that detract from pure capitalism.

If you define every use of coercion as "not capitalism" (correctly) and then ask Cap to cite a capitalist company that uses coercion, then you’re begging the question. You’re setting it up so that, by definition, he cannot give you an answer other than the one you seek.

Their point — and correct me if I misstate it — is that, in the absence of a government or of something powerful enough to prevent it — companies will engage in coercion. (note: were mankind almost universally philosophically predisposed towards self-determination, social mores could be powerful enough to prevent that kind of coercion...but they are not) You may argue that they should not, but unless you are powerful enough to stop them, then they will continue regardless of your feelings on the matter.

And, really, that’s the way we get government. The only difference is that some forms of government are more responsive to popular opinion and, as a result, more respectful of the notion of individual rights. Government is a monopoly supplier of the legal use of force.

Absent government, the "legal" use of force would be employed by quite a lot of people. We’d see businesses, mafia-type organizations, and voluntary collectives using it to further their own interests.

My theory — and it is just a theory — is that any anarcho-capitalist state would gradually evolve into a government in relatively short order. Initially, the people would form community organizations, security collectives and other similar methods of securing their interests. Gradually, due to the economies of scale, those would grow into what amounts to city-states, and then Nations. At some point, the people would discover that their interests required the "voluntary collectives" become "democracies" and they’d have sufficient power to enforce that. Plus — at what age does coercion become wrong? — kids are notoriously difficult to incorporate into a self-determination framework.

Voila! You’re back to government.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
"If the the most efficient way to get something done is by using the pooled resources through the government, then that is the proper role for government."
That is a bankrupt statement. Efficiency is the only criteria?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Hi

How is it going? Well, I wanted to share some of my views with you. I bet you’ll surely find them interesting and worth reading! Please go ahead.

Civic Participation in the USA has been extremely low in recent years and most of us have stopped voting because we feel we cannot make any difference! The result - our democracy is eroding due to a narrow base of political participation. Who will continue in the White house after 2008 election? Well, that’s unpredictable now! Nevertheless, I guess a party, which comes forward fully armed with all the requirements in demand, will win, AND not to forget, it needs to have all the ways to promote its plans as well.

I just wanna share some info that I’ve found online about a company called www.v-empower.com that attracted me with all its varied undertakings for this purpose; Let me explain it out to you – as I feel it will be useful to you as well.

V-Empower works at empowering People and their Businesses. They are a bunch of netpreneurs who are empowering citizens, elected officials and are out to change the world of democracy. They hope to inspire the younger generation to be part of the political process and strengthen democracy by using state-of-the-art technology tools.

V-Empower had played a remarkable role to its credit in the 2004 US Elections. Its innovative applications such as online voter registration, online absentee ballot request, online identification of a voter’s Polling Location, Online Database Search for the Federal and State legislators to facilitate citizens and candidates in local, county, state and federal elections played a very crucial role. These services ensured that an estimated 6 million voters were assisted in exercising their civic duty.

Not to end up here, they are also into campaigns with a website called www.ezcampaigns.com. Working with bulk mailing tool, the www.ezlistmailer.com is their added advantage. They carry online lobbying using www.weblobbying.com and the online survey is an easy task with their www.ezquestionnaire.com website. I am sure all the ones who run in politics need the above for many reasons and I’m quite sure all these are very much useful for and during presidential elections to them.

V-Empower, as a technology solutions and services provider offers wide range of quality Software and Web based solutions. Apart from these, it also provides exclusive services for governments, businesses and individuals in Software Engineering, Security and Privacy Applications, Web Development, Internet Technologies, and E-Commerce Solutions as well.

To cut the long story very short – “V-Empower” works to empower the people of AMERICA.

Rosé
 
Written By: Rose Spencer
URL: http://
I’m guessing that the post above gets deleted on every thread in the blog.

Spammers!
That is a bankrupt statement. Efficiency is the only criteria?
That is a bankrupt statement.
If my statement was not perfectly clear, leaving the word "efficiency" to many, many possible criterion, the assertion that the statement is "bankrupt" is completely devoid of any provocation of thoughtful discussion.

I could write a couple thousand words on what criteria might qualify something to be within the scope of government, but I figured everyone here was smart enough to recognize the economic use of language in making a secondary point.

I’ll adjust my assumptions and assume that only most people are smart enough.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"I understand what you mean by ’capitalism’,..."
No, you don’t. Observe:
"Individuals engage in voluntary trade all the time, but every large group of individuals has rules and laws that detract from pure capitalism."
The difference is in the fact of voluntary association. The organizations that you’re talking about cannot forcibly demand anyone’s involvement with them. This is the essential characteristic that separates them, conceptually, from government.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I don’t see how what you’ve written contradicts what I’ve written. Yes, capitalism’s central feature is "voluntary association". Again, I note that this does not exist in any macroeconomy. It only exists in some discrete, individual transactions.

Every large society has coercive laws and regulations. The closest thing to an exception might be Amish society, although they are fairly small and still subject to the regulations of larger society. You’ll note, though, that they share a very rigid philosophic and moral system. In a society where this does not obtain, the non-coercive trait would not, either.

In any event, of course businesses can forcibly demand involvement. You mentioned the mafia yourself. That’s not capitalism, but it’s a business. In the absence of effective government — and sometimes with it, though to a lesser extent — that kind of business would exist. The idea that businesses cannot conduct coercion is patently absurd.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
"I don’t see how what you’ve written contradicts what I’ve written. Yes, capitalism’s central feature is ’voluntary association’. Again, I note that this does not exist in any macroeconomy. It only exists in some discrete, individual transactions."
That very fact is what makes macroeconomics utter nonsense. Those individual transactions are the very essence of these large organizations’ existence, and without them, there is no "macro" available as a device for ignoring them.
"You mentioned the mafia yourself. That’s not capitalism, but it’s a business."
I see. Okay, then, you kids can play by yourselves now, because this discussion is over. There is nothing that a rational person can say to something like that.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
That very fact is what makes macroeconomics utter nonsense.
That’s a bit like saying that planetary gravitational effects are utter nonsense, since gravity is a property of individual atoms. All I’m saying is that, in any medium-to-large society, there are rules and laws preventing purely free trade. I’m not arguing that those rules necessarily should exist...but they do.
I see. Okay, then, you kids can play by yourselves now, because this discussion is over. There is nothing that a rational person can say to something like that.
There you go again. After asking for an example of a coercive business, you dismiss anything involving coercion. That’s not rational discussion, it’s a temper tantrum. Occupations that use coercion exist, and no amount of "but it’s not capitalist!" can change that. It’s not capitalist, but it’s still an occupation.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I see. Okay, then, you kids can play by yourselves now, because this discussion is over. There is nothing that a rational person can say to something like that.
And we close with Billy taking his ball and going home because what "IS" does not fit with what he thinks "OUGHT" to be.

Billy suffers from self imposed irrelevance.

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
If an assertion that equates the Mafia with busines is "relevant", then I’m right exactly where I want to be.

I might be "irrelevant", but you people are out of your minds.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Nobody has argued that it’s a good business, Billy. Pre-civil War plantations weren’t a good business, but they conducted business. A business is merely an income-producing occupation.

If you have some other definition of ’business’ in mind, you should share it with the rest of us. Meantime, circular arguments and temper tantrums are neither persuasive nor flattering to your position.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
If an assertion that equates the Mafia with busines is "relevant", then I’m right exactly where I want to be.
You just don’t get it Billy.

In ANY system, whether it be capitalist, socialist, communist, anarchy, there will be efforts to create wealth, you want to ONLY consider wealth creation efforts that fit your morality as qualifying as capitalist efforts and anything else eliminates itself from being a part of a capitalist system, creating your libertopian idiocy that excludes actual, real, current, ongoing wealth creation efforts if they use means that you do not approve of.

The mafia is an extreme example of wealth creation efforts WITHIN a capitalist system, but there are countless examples, ranging from a person cheating on their taxes to murder in the effort to create wealth. Enron is one of these examples.

The point being, and here is what you seem incapable of accepting, is that people will do whatever they can get away with in order to create wealth, and whatever someone actually DOES get away becomes a defacto element of the system.

There are only two ways around this, one is to successfuly prosecute every instance of a violation of the laws and/or morality of the system and the second is for ALL participants to voluntarily stay within the laws and/or morality of the system.

Neither of those will happen, so libertopia cannot exist, and every violation of the law or morality of libertopia that happens IS a part of that system, even if it OUGHT not be.

You are welcome to opt out of the discussion, or opt out of the system, but you cannot opt out of reality... oh wait, maybe you can.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
To begin with, Henke: you can call this a "temper tantrum" all day long until you wear out the ’T’ on your keyboard, but the fact is that nobody is obligated to put up with outright lunacy. Now; take a good look at...
"A business is merely an income-producing occupation."
...your own choice of words here. Of those seven that you chose for that sentence, one of them is the key to this whole puzzle in your brain. And here is your clue for the day: forcing others to give up values (see "Mafia") is not "producing".

"One of these things is not like the other." (Cue ’Sesame Street’ theme for the kiddies.)
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
...your own choice of words here. Of those seven that you chose for that sentence, one of them is the key to this whole puzzle in your brain. And here is your clue for the day: forcing others to give up values (see "Mafia") is not "producing".
Let’s examine this.

I’ll pick one sector of Mafia business and see if it forces others to give up their values.

Loansharking: A loan shark is a person or body that offers illegal unsecured loans at high interest rates to individuals, often backed by blackmail or threats of violence. They provide credit to those who are not willing or are unable to obtain it from more respectable sources, usually because interest rates commensurate with the perceived risk are illegal.

So we have a business that sees a need, has a market, is willing to accept the risk of working outside the law, and provides a service. Because the service is outside the law, they cannot count on the coercive force of government to enforce their contracts, so they enforce their contracts themselves. The customers are not forced to enter into transactions with them, they do so of their free will. If they enter into such an agreement and reneg, they do not have to worry about the coercive force of government being used to force them to comply, so without the self enforcement of the loanshark, there could be no enforcement at all, and the business could not exist. But of course anyone willing to enter into this business would necessarily be willing to apply self-enforcement techniques.

So, they have a service they offer, customers are free not to avail themselves of this service, and they produce wealth.

Sounds like production to me.

Do you want to talk about narcotics and how this prohibition creates a production opportunity for organized crime? Again, still production.

Perhaps stealing is not production, but again, I am not sure, it is just an alternate risk-reward scenario.

Recognize what IS is not lunacy, pretending that it IS NOT is lunacy.

Cap


 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
You’re playing semantic games here. I could easily have left that word out and said that a "business" is merely an "occupation". That’s accurate. If you want us to use your definition, you need to propose it. Meanwhile...
And here is your clue for the day: forcing others to give up values (see "Mafia") is not "producing".
It is producing for the person engaging in that occupation. Who said there was a requirement to produce for anybody else?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
This is all rather beside the point anyway. Individuals can employ coercion through any organization, be it government or otherwise. Individuals use coercion, not "government". So, since coercion is available to any individual (or sufficiently powerful group thereof) regardless of institution, what’s the argument here? Any organization can employ it, and if government does not attempt to retain a monopoly on it, then other organizations will.

Is any of that factually incorrect? I don’t think so. You’re merely objecting to the organizational description given to the individuals employing it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
And here is your clue for the day: forcing others to give up values (see "Mafia") is not "producing".
It is producing for the person engaging in that occupation. Who said there was a requirement to produce for anybody else?
Perhaps it’s just me, but how is this producing and not stealing? And please don’t say "it’s just semantics," because, with that argument, it’s all just semantics and capitalism is really communism.

Per Dictionary.com
steal –verb (used with object) 1. to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch.
2. to appropriate (ideas, credit, words, etc.) without right or acknowledgment...

pro·duce –verb (used with object) 1. to bring into existence; give rise to; cause: to produce steam.
2. to bring into existence by intellectual or creative ability: to produce a great painting.
3. to make or manufacture: to produce automobiles for export.
4. to bring forth; give birth to; bear: to produce a litter of puppies...





 
Written By: Patrick
URL: http://
Jon, I believe that the world that Billy thinks OUGHT to exist but for the coercion of the US Federal Government will come crashing down unless he denies the premise that coercion WILL exist with or without government and that a "free market" without coercion is fictional construct as fictional as communism or socialism.

There is only the push and pull of interests with a hope that a balance is maintained as close to liberty as possible. We will of course experience periods where the pendulum swings but as long as there are periodic corrections, our society can continue to exist.

There is no libertopia, the US is a great example of setting up a decent construct, but time, human nature, greed, liberalism, conservativism, nationalism, and every other "ism" and interest will all tug and the result will be what it is, and in no case will the result be Billy’s libertopia.

Look at the difference between the tugs in Europe and the US, one astonishing difference is the degree of personal liberty (what people do privately, consensually, without government interference) within those admittedly less libertarian systemic constructs.

The only way for Billy’s libertopia to exist would be if everyone had the exact same interests and the exact same ideas of how to advance those interests, and they all matched Billy’s.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Perhaps it’s just me, but how is this producing and not stealing? And please don’t say "it’s just semantics," because, with that argument, it’s all just semantics and capitalism is really communism.
I think you are confusing the dictionary definition of production with the creation of wealth. The creation of wealth in a capitalist system IS production, and if you create wealth by stealing, it is part of the system if the system allows it. If you create wealth by advertising a psychic hotline on Jerry Springer and charge people 5000% more than it costs you to advertise and provide the "service", you are creating wealth, you are participating in the capitalist system, and you ARE a producer.

The criminality of something does not preclude it from being wealth production, it is simply a deficit in the risk column.

Until you realize that people will do anything they can get away in order to create wealth, including coercion, in ANY system, you are necessarily eliminating an instrinsic element that makes any conclusions suspect.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
The creation of wealth in a capitalist system IS production, and if you create wealth by stealing, it is part of the system if the system allows it.
Do you agree that "wealth creation" and "wealth production" are synonymous?
PRODUCTION OF WEALTH. The word production, which, in ordinary language, means the giving birth to, or producing, without regard to the utility of the thing produced, or the outlay required for that production, takes, in economic science, a particular meaning, much more restricted, more exact and more absolute. This word, in political economy, is applied to that particular branch of the science which has for its object the creation of values, considered apart from their distribution and their consumption; and, scientifically speaking, it can be applied only to work resulting in a product of a value superior, or at least equal, to that of the services of every kind which that operation has taken. It is only when this balance is obtained, that there is truly production. There would be destruction on the contrary hypothesis, that is, if the value produced was found to be inferior to the sum of those necessarily consumed in order to obtain it; and this is so true, that, if one attempted to repeat the same operation a certain number of times he would finally destroy the entire sum of the values he had originally employed in the experiment, so that it would become physically impossible to repeat it.
Well, reading a bit more, and making sure I am clear on my definitions, I still don’t understand. I suppose one could, initially, accept your position as true, but that would, as a base, require them to be completely amoral. However, it would allow them to take the position that the thief building a wad of cash is not, per the definition, being destructive, but productive. But there is a problem. Once that levy is breached, we are no longer talking about a capitalist system, because you are denying any individual the right of ownership.

Per your example, if you are providing a psychic service, you are providing something that other people are deeming more valuable than the money in their pocket and they are agreeing to make that exchange. The creator of that hotline is, indeed, creating wealth. They are producing psychic tales and are selling them at a price. People can choose to participate in trade, or not. A pickpocket building a wad of cash is growing a wad of cash in his pocket, but he isn’t producing it, he is stealing it.

Based on the above definition from the Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers (see above) it seems your position is even further behind than it was out of the gates. Again, how is it production and not stealing? (Coercion is indeed a piece of the puzzle, but coercion is much different than thievery.)
 
Written By: Patrick
URL: http://
"...completely amoral..."

(nod)

You understand them, Patrick.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I suppose one could, initially, accept your position as true, but that would, as a base, require them to be completely amoral. However, it would allow them to take the position that the thief building a wad of cash is not, per the definition, being destructive, but productive. But there is a problem. Once that levy is breached, we are no longer talking about a capitalist system, because you are denying any individual the right of ownership.
I am not making a moral judgement on thievery, I am making the statement that because wealth creation thievery exists in a capitalist system, it IS a part of the system. I agree that it is immoral to steal, but morality, or lack thereof, is not a requirement of a method of wealth creation in a capitalist system. If morality were required.

As to production vs destruction, the equation is not societal (socialist would like that if it were). Do you suggest businesses that created wealth for themselves, their shareholders, and their employees but are destructive in the larger sense cannot be a part of a capitalist system?

Tobacco may be profitable for the tobacco company, it’s shareholders, and it’s employees, but the costs to society of the existence of that industry is far greater making it a net destructive enterprise.

Alcohol, same thing.

Porn, perhaps?

Video games?

We may make moral judgements about who these business can sell to, but most capitalists agree that people should apply their personal morality to the choice of whether to avail themselves of these products, but not of whether the sale should be allowed or not.

To that extent, capitalism is itself amoral.

Now, as to thievery as a manner of wealth creation being excluded from being a capitalist venture because it deprives people of their rights. This goes back to discussion on coercion. Walmart buys products from suppliers that use coerced labor to create their products, the rights of these people are beyond denied. Can Walmart still be a capitalist enterprise?

I don’t see how you can say no to the first and yes to second, unless you have a sliding scale of what is and is not capitalism. And what of businesses that perform government contracts, like Halliburton, are they capitalist enterprises?

Which brings us full circle to my original point, capitalism is any means of wealth creation that is allowed to occur within the system. The goal of a GOOD system is to disallow as many of those wealth creations methods as possible that deprive people of their rights, and by disallow, I mean actually prevent them from occurring, not just make a rule that they shouldn’t happen and if someone gets caught they will be punished.

But then we come to the role and scope of government. If deprivation of rights is the line where something goes from capitalist to something less desirable, then this is what the coercive force of government should be applied. But what of all the so-called capitalists that suggest that puchasing goods manufactured with coerced labor should be allowed and to disallow this would be interfering in the free (haha) market. Doesn’t the coercive force of government itself deprive people of their rights?

All I am really pointing out is that while you think you want a libertarian system where the only function of government is to protect rights and otherwise leave the market alone, what you really are is a relativist with different lines drawn between what is acceptable denial of rights and what is not.

Is the wealth thieves accumulate really different than the wealth Walmart creates, and since many mafia businesses like drug dealing and loansharking are entered into voluntarily, is the wealth these enterprises create now better than the wealth Walmart creates?

Or does the consideration of rights stop at the border, and if that’s the case, would a thief who lives in the US but steals in Europe be more acceptable?

Cap






 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Epilogue:

Billy Beck is writing this (below) about the recognition that capitalism is a perfect concept in Libertopia, but in real life it is a system created by men, and like any system, it allows and creates advantages and inequities as part of the system. More importantly though, it is a race to wealth and does not distinguish between ill gotten gains and ethically acquired wealth. The fallback is always what people can get away with, the only difference are rules, consequnces for being caught breaking the rules, and the wish of everyone playing nice.

Billy is disgusted by ethical violations, as am I, but he pretends that if he labels unethical behavior as NOT capitalist, then Libertopia can still exist. And then accuses anyone of recognizing the existence of unpunished unethical wealth creation as amoral.

I wonder how Billy feels about that $35B a year in marijuana revenue... isn’t it unethical to break the law, or is it okay to break laws as long as Billy has decided that they are not good laws?
An American Endarkenment fairy-tale:

Man works hard for years in order to buy a property in a northeastern village. As he prepares to establish a business on the fruit of his labor, he is approached by an officially-sanctioned thug, who demands eight hundred thousand dollars or a fifty-percent stake in the business. The honest property-owner refuses. The village then instantly condemns the property under "eminent domain" and hands it over to the officially-sanctioned thug.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the extortion.

(yawn) Yes; I saw this story somewhere at least a week ago. It’s not great big deal that I note it here, now, except that it’s your daily bite of "Wotta Great Country" by "We, The People".

Here’s what I think is the worst aspect of something like this: the morons in this discussion would call it "capitalism".

Do you know what that means?

It means that there is no conceptual designation integrating the ethics, politics, and economics of honest producers who don’t steal from others. Robbery and hard work: it’s all the same.

Move along, citizens: show’s over.
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Captin, you call capitalism a system, which implies control by some group of people (over the actions of the general populace). I reject that qualification, as it always includes the unethical initiation of force by those controlling the system.

You personify capitalism, stating that "... [capitalism] allows and creates advantages and inequities ..." and "... [capitalism] ... does not distinguish between ill gotten gains and ethically acquired wealth." Capitalism is a concept, not a sentient being capable of carrying out such behavior.

Free market exchanges involve individuals, who make their own choices. Those particular individuals who recognize the rights of others can and do "distinguish between ill gotten gains and ethically acquired wealth." Recall the discussion about the absurdity of equating the mafia’s organized theft with honest business owners. Some people here know how to make the proper ethical distinctions. Some people don’t (or won’t).

As for equating laws with morality, that’s simply ridiculous. Was it unethical to violate apartheid laws? Was it unethical to violate laws enabling slavery? Was it unethical to harbor Anne Frank’s family? If you can’t answer each and every one of those questions with an unqualified no, then you’re simply hopeless.

Assuming you agree that breaking those laws was not unethical, then please explain why breaking drug prohibition laws is unethical. Start with this man.
 
Written By: Elliot
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider