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Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 7:21am

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
well, I think I'd rather hear that from the man himself. Were he staunchly in favor of regulation aimed at facilitating the market in this way, we would have no argument. Unfortunately, I see the contrary to be the case. What I hear are arguments that hollow out the legitimacy of such legislation/regulation.. that we then end up with potato heads like BoJo and Trump is then just a short step. I really do not take kindly to people trashing the hard-won insitutions that hold what I see as civil society together.

You won't. The purpose of (just) law is the protection of rights—which we're all aware you do not believe in. But in a legal system based on that premise you're just going to have to suck it up and accept—for the moment—that there are things no one is allowed to do to you, and things you aren't allowed to force others to do.

I don't know enough about BoJo's policies (other than Brexit) to make a judgement on him in this context; Donald Trump is in no way an outgrowth/result of restricting the law to the protections of rights. Donald Trump is a big fan of government intervention in all manner of things, from trade to the female body, and a serial abuser of its legal system. He is also a proponent of identity politics, which he borrowed from y'all on the left.

You do not get to blame Donald Trump on libertarians. Nice try, tho.

As for cowboys,  yes, quite.. that boyhood dream of riding forth from the chains of parental supervision into an unfenced natural world full of opportunity and boundless resources (and pretty devoid of people, if one cares to ignore the plight of the native Americans). It is a myth born of Hollywood and boyhood fantasy.

...and utterly irrelevant to the discussion.
black321

black321 Avatar

Location: A sunset in the desert
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 6:40am



 NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:

 

Well, I'm fifth generation Kiwi, currently looking out on the Hauraki Gulf as the tail-end of a storm goes through..  If there is one thing I am not, it is New World envious. I has it in spades. :-).
What I don't have is a sense of entitlement. More a sense of being pretty damned lucky. And the misunderstanding between Maori and the first Pakeha is yet one more example of why I view this whole neo-liberal approach to markets as being a cultural artefact and one that is neither inclusive nor fair. "All this could be yours too, if you just thought like us." Well some people don't want to. Not everyone sees the world like a testosterone-charged pale-faced cowboy who is out to subjugate nature for his own enrichment.
 
Interesting point. But isn't that the same point the libertarian is making? Don't tell me how to behave?

NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 10:27pm



 westslope wrote:



 
I am not going to stop you from arguing with Lazy8.   


As for the cowboy remark, yeah...., you have me thinking of New World-envious Europeans that do not really understand many aspects of North American culture.   Here is a short course on my part of the world:

1.   On the 7th day God did not rest; she lifted up the corner of the earth and all the Bohemian nut cases rolled out to British Columbia.  

2.   The majority of these misfits tend to sympathize strongly with First Nations and the history of persecution and resource appropriation.   We hang; we party, we smoke the peace pipe, often.   We help out.

3.   The misfits and the social conservatives/rednecks in this part of the world overall get along reasonably well. 

Some of the real cowboys — farmers and ranchers — have tough world views, a strong sense of entitlement and can spout all kinds of anti-FN trash talk.   But then this weary globe-trotting  routard, community activist, labour organizer and all around shit-disturber  has seen and experienced so much worse.

And yes, I worked once on a cow-calf ranch near the Bull River in the Canadian Rocky mountains.  My boss' son had a degree in wildlife biology; his wife was a teacher.  She had English, Shuswap and Chinese blood in her.   My boss — Doris — as a young woman talked down a Grizzly boar standing about 10 metres away from her while holding a completely and utterly useless 22 rifle.  She quietly cussed the animal until it dropped down off its haunches and ambled away.  Doris could be a tad narrow-minded about some things but usually kept that stuff to herself.  

This is the place that even the atheists call God's country.
 

Well, I'm fifth generation Kiwi, currently looking out on the Hauraki Gulf as the tail-end of a storm goes through..  If there is one thing I am not, it is New World envious. I has it in spades. :-).
What I don't have is a sense of entitlement. More a sense of being pretty damned lucky. And the misunderstanding between Maori and the first Pakeha is yet one more example of why I view this whole neo-liberal approach to markets as being a cultural artefact and one that is neither inclusive nor fair. "All this could be yours too, if you just thought like us." Well some people don't want to. Not everyone sees the world like a testosterone-charged pale-faced cowboy who is out to subjugate nature for his own enrichment.
westslope

westslope Avatar

Location: BC sage brush steppe


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 9:09pm



 NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:


 westslope wrote:


There is no such as unfettered markets just like there is no such thing as free trade, a point which I seem to recall Lazy 8 making earlier. Only freer trade, which aside from some unfortunate negative distribution effects, has overall been incredibly positive.   Free markets is short-hand for what.....  relatively free markets with regulation that protects workers, consumers and community members and moreover provides a level playing field for entrepreneurs and financiers regardless of social class, race, ethnicity, sectarian grouping, sex or any other identity.  

 
well, I think I'd rather hear that from the man himself
. Were he staunchly in favor of regulation aimed at facilitating the market in this way, we would have no argument. Unfortunately, I see the contrary to be the case. What I hear are arguments that hollow out the legitimacy of such legislation/regulation.. that we then end up with potato heads like BoJo and Trump is then just a short step. I really do not take kindly to people trashing the hard-won insitutions that hold what I see as civil society together.  

As for cowboys,  yes, quite.. that boyhood dream of riding forth from the chains of parental supervision into an unfenced natural world full of opportunity and boundless resources (and pretty devoid of people, if one cares to ignore the plight of the native Americans). It is a myth born of Hollywood and boyhood fantasy.



 
I am not going to stop you from arguing with Lazy8.   

As for the cowboy remark, yeah...., you have me thinking of New World-envious Europeans that do not really understand many aspects of North American culture.   Here is a short course on my part of the world:

1.   On the 7th day God did not rest; she lifted up the corner of the earth and all the Bohemian nut cases rolled out to British Columbia.  

2.   The majority of these misfits tend to sympathize strongly with First Nations and the history of persecution and resource appropriation.   We hang; we party, we smoke the peace pipe, often.   We help out.

3.   The misfits and the social conservatives/rednecks in this part of the world overall get along reasonably well. 

Some of the real cowboys — farmers and ranchers — have tough world views, a strong sense of entitlement and can spout all kinds of anti-FN trash talk.   But then this weary globe-trotting  routard, community activist, labour organizer and all around shit-disturber  has seen and experienced so much worse.

And yes, I worked once on a cow-calf ranch near the Bull River in the Canadian Rocky mountains.  My boss' son had a degree in wildlife biology; his wife was a teacher.  She had English, Shuswap and Chinese blood in her.   My boss — Doris — as a young woman talked down a Grizzly boar standing about 10 metres away from her while holding a completely and utterly useless 22 rifle.  She quietly cussed the animal until it dropped down off its haunches and ambled away.  Doris could be a tad narrow-minded about some things but usually kept that stuff to herself.  

This is the place that even the atheists call God's country.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 5:05pm



 Lazy8 wrote:


What this leaves intact is agency:  you get to decide how real the threat of stone-washed-jean-based silicosis is. You can still make them yourself if you think the risk is worth it. I mean...if faded blue jeans are the hill you want to die on I won't stop you. I also won't make you die for it, or rot in prison over it.


 

This is the key take-away here. And I agree, agency is a thing worth fighting for. In and of itself. This is the one argument that makes me somewhat sympathetic to the libertarian cause. However, I simply cannot share your optimism that a society devoid of regulation will maximise human agency. Someone ensnared in a debt trap doesn't have a lot of agency. Someone without access to education doesn't either. Someone who is broke, without health insurance and sick, doesn't either.

EDIT: unless of course they exercise agency in breach of contract (walking away from their liabilities in a debt trap), theft (in the case of no education), kidnapping, extortion, or worse (in the case of someone who is very ill).  But that can hardly be the sort of agency you want to promote... or is it?
NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 4:56pm



 westslope wrote:


There is no such as unfettered markets just like there is no such thing as free trade, a point which I seem to recall Lazy 8 making earlier. Only freer trade, which aside from some unfortunate negative distribution effects, has overall been incredibly positive.   Free markets is short-hand for what.....  relatively free markets with regulation that protects workers, consumers and community members and moreover provides a level playing field for entrepreneurs and financiers regardless of social class, race, ethnicity, sectarian grouping, sex or any other identity.  

 
well, I think I'd rather hear that from the man himself. Were he staunchly in favor of regulation aimed at facilitating the market in this way, we would have no argument. Unfortunately, I see the contrary to be the case. What I hear are arguments that hollow out the legitimacy of such legislation/regulation.. that we then end up with potato heads like BoJo and Trump is then just a short step. I really do not take kindly to people trashing the hard-won insitutions that hold what I see as civil society together.  

As for cowboys,  yes, quite.. that boyhood dream of riding forth from the chains of parental supervision into an unfenced natural world full of opportunity and boundless resources (and pretty devoid of people, if one cares to ignore the plight of the native Americans). It is a myth born of Hollywood and boyhood fantasy.



westslope

westslope Avatar

Location: BC sage brush steppe


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 11:22am

A couple of little comments here and there.

There is no such as unfettered markets just like there is no such thing as free trade, a point which I seem to recall Lazy 8 making earlier. Only freer trade, which aside from some unfortunate negative distribution effects, has overall been incredibly positive.   Free markets is short-hand for what.....  relatively free markets with regulation that protects workers, consumers and community members and moreover provides a level playing field for entrepreneurs and financiers regardless of social class, race, ethnicity, sectarian grouping, sex or any other identity.  

The only true free markets are black markets and decentralized markets for home production.    Thriving black markets typically represent some kind of policy failure.  

Democratic capitalism excels at providing safe space for sub-cultures, allowing sub-cultures to experiment.  There is no other system that comes close in terms of fostering economic and social innovation.  The key factor is the emphasis placed on the security of well-defined and enforceable economic property rights both individual and collective.

This cowboy still identifies with the rich western country counter-culture.  Over the decades I have witnessed the unsuccessful experiments.  Nevertheless, more than a few were successful and some went on to be widely adopted.   In many countries in the world or at earlier periods in history, people like me would be dead by now.  

Most of us really have no idea how good we have it; we take so much of what we currently enjoy for granted.  
Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 9:06am

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
So, if I understand you correctly, your main points are:

1. An unfettered market will naturally drive bad behavior out of the market place as consumers will naturally choose the provider with the better CSR score.

.. ok  .. hope you have a long breath for, from what I have seen, consumers seem to take a long time to respond. stone-washed jeans and scilicosis? Doesn't seem like too many consumers give a shit. Not sure I share your optimism for one simple reason: In any transaction you have at least two parties with vested interests. Neither of these are neutral. Quite frequently a neutral "power" is required to protect the interests of those who are not party to the transaction. Call that power power an elected government or some kind of tradition of civil service, or something.

I'm not claiming that markets naturally achieve some arbitrary metric, I'm claiming that as perceived by customers  behavior they see as—on balance—harmful to themselves will be disadvantaged, and that those behaviors will be driven from the market.

Not necessarily completely; a small minority of people who perceive some value from that behavior may be enough to maintain enough market share to keep a bad actor or two afloat, but the center of mass of the customers will shift far enough to marginalize those players.

An obvious example: there are people who still smoke. It's not as many as there used to be, but they haven't disappeared. You can dismiss them as helpless addicts without agency, but I think you'd be wrong. I think they are self-medicating, much as people addicted to caffeine do. Caffeine vectors don't harm bystanders and caffeine addicts make the call about the net benefits for themselves; if we had a way to deliver nicotine as harmlessly there wouldn't be the excuse for regulation. Enter capitalism.

We have technology emerging that could lead to an enormous improvement in public health: vaping. Surprise! A moral panic about this comes along and tobacco companies are paying to beat that drum. Regulators intervene and either ban or raise the price of the new technology, helping cement in place (for now, at least) an entrenched, highly-regulated set of companies.

I've never heard of a connection between stone-washed jeans and silicosis (and honestly I have my doubts, but I'll play along); if this is real then regulating the source could conceivably raise the cost of stone-washed jeans. At least where that regulation actually happens—generally rich countries that can afford to indulge moral panics and eliminate secondary (tertiary, quaternary, imaginary...) risks to health. They will still get made, just in poorer countries. Regulation just moves it out of sight.

Really want to eliminate stone-washed-jean-based silicosis? Start a movement, like the anti-fur people. Attach social opprobrium to them. Or develop an alternative that doesn't cause silicosis—none of which requires government intervention and can start as quickly as you can build a meme.

What this leaves intact is agency:  you get to decide how real the threat of stone-washed-jean-based silicosis is. You can still make them yourself if you think the risk is worth it. I mean...if faded blue jeans are the hill you want to die on I won't stop you. I also won't make you die for it, or rot in prison over it.

Ditto for all those Chinese convinced that powdered rhino horn does...something for them. We've tried banning the sale of rhino horn and interdicting the resulting smuggling and locking people in prison for it. The trade remains, it just drove up the cost of rhino horn—raising the incentive to provide it. What we haven't tried is flooding the market with farmed rhino horns.

Or elephant tusks. Or musk ox glands. Or...pick your endangered species contraband.

2. Governments raise barriers to competition. This goes without saying. But the opposite is also true. Government intervention, if done properly, can promote competitiveness. You yourself said the German car industry is one of the most regulated in the world. Yet it is also a world beater on the global market. Californian emissions standards have long set the bar upon which the car industry has been forced to innovate. NASA and the space race resulted in a plethora of new technologies. The solar power industry would never have got off the ground without the Green party in Germany subsidizing intial research and production (and creating an artificial domestic market). Sometimes, by setting the bar higher, government does in fact foster progress.

I didn't say the German auto industry is the most regulated in the world, I said the auto industry in general is. German manufacturers have maintained an advantage that predates that regulation. The (remaining, entrenched) players are adept at one of the most important aspects of modern automobile manufacturing: jumping thru regulatory hoops. In fact, all the world's (remaining, entrenched) automobile manufacturers are, or they'd be driven out of business or to consolidate into a few entrenched companies.

What if you had a better idea, an innovation you think could make the lives of automobile owners, or passengers, or even neighbors better? You'd better be as rich as Elon Musk if you can't convince one of these players to adopt it so those people can try it and see if it really does make their lives better. Or I guess you could convince some regulators to make it mandatory—then it doesn't matter if it makes anybody's life better, it will be adopted.

Regulating automobile emissions wasn't done to spur technological innovation, it was done to prevent harm. This was necessary but regulation got ahead of technology at first—the first emissions-regulated cars were terrible and as a result customers kept their older, dirtier cars longer or defeated the emissions controls on the cars they bought. We've seen this since as well: tighten the screws on new cars to make them better by some top-down metric and you raise the price of new cars. As a result people hang on to what they have longer, and the fleet metric doesn't improve very fast. Regulators have gotten better at this over time, at least in some cases, by cooperating with industry to keep regulatory changes within the realm of the technologically feasible. But they deal with the players that have a seat at the table, not the ones that might someday replace them. And these rules are one-size-fits-all; you pay for them whether they actually benefit you or not.

3. No individual has the competence to predict the outcome of government intervention. On a simple level, this is flat-out wrong. If you ban CFCs you get less ozone-depleting aerosols. It is a pretty simple mechanism. But granted, you mean in terms of social engineering. Here I can agree, but only to a limited extent. The UK nationlizing its car industry in the 1970s is a classical example of governments getting it wrong. But some degree of government intervention is not only unavoidable but also desirable. Healthcare and education are the two most obvious examples and I believe the data bear me out. We can debate about public utilities, where I have seen good and bad on both sides of the fence. The rest can remain firmly in the private sector as far as I'm concerned.

EDIT: but sure - you main point is philosophical  - no individual has any form of moral precedence to decide on the fate of another. That is true in principle, but things are never quite that clear-cut in reality are they? When my freedom results indirectly in the incarceration/impoverishment of another, things get muddy very quickly... and please, let's not go there again.

I'd be happy to argue the pragmatic case as well, but you've packed a lot into these paragraphs and I've spent enough time arguing on the internet for the morning!

To return to the start. What I most appreciate about you is that your political views are based on principle. You are a capitalist because you want all human interactions to be voluntary. I applaud that. I really do.  I would even share the view but I have also been in situations where doors are quite literally closed to you based on the colour of your skin, your income, your social background or whatever other reason. Being free is not just a mindset of the individual. It is also about the environmental conditions facing that individual. Poverty, race, education and other givens are frequently determining factors over which the individual has no influence. Here a sensible set of laws, a balanced government and a culture of openness and fairness (in which a government may or may not play a decisive role) are most definitely forces for individual liberty. It can of course go the other way, with corrupt governments protecting entrenched interests. But that is not a given. In my experience, good government has the opposite effect.

I'd also be happy to argue the pragmatic side of these cases (racists turn away customers to their economic disadvantage, for instance) but I better get back to economically productive activity.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

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Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 17, 2019 - 12:48am

the

 Lazy8 wrote:
NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
Here you are being disingenuous. You do not prefer free markets per se as you suggest, but because of their economic outcome: a maximum of personal liberty, diversity and economic output.

If, for the sake of argument, free markets would necessarily culminate in some kind of bizarre social outcome that was anathema to personal liberty, diversity and maximum economic output, you would quickly lose your love of them.

In other words, in terms of system, you are very clearly choosing what in your view is a “winner”. Yet your view of “winning system” is very much value-laden, as it must be.

This alone shows how it is impossible to divorce politics from economics.

The argument seems to be shifting here.

That (relatively) free markets maximize human flourishing isn't really in contention, is it? We were talking about tweaking that default state. And those tweaks are what I'm objecting to. Do I really need to defend a world without centrally planned famines and gulags?

In that context I'm pointing out (once again) (and honestly this discussion would be more productive if you'd actually address this point, instead of proclaiming what an awful person I am for making the argument you wish I were making) that the one of the biggest advantages of markets over top-down planning is that competition drives out bad behavior, and that government interventions raise barriers to competition.

That's it, all I'm saying. You may still insist on intervening in markets, and (as you point out) that argument has carried the day at least in part—but it imposes a cost: the economic actors responsible for the bad behavior you want to avoid will be harder to dislodge because of those interventions.

One must necessarily start with the end goals and work out the best system of getting there. This is not a moral imperative but a mere statement of fact. Pretending not to interfere in the development of the market is itself a decision, one you take because, in your eyes, the free market concept delivers what you aspire to. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t adhere to the free market argument.

To accept this premise one must start farther back: you have to pretend that you have the competence to predict the outcome of your interventions. You don't.

Capitalism isn't just an economic model, it's a moral philosophy. I'm a capitalist in large part because I want all human interactions to be voluntary. If you could point to some metric with great confidence and say by that measure we'd be better off if we weren't free to make our own choices my response would be twofold:

1. I don't share your confidence that you're a better guardian of my fate than me.
2. I'd rather be free.

Brexit and the NHS.. seriously? On what parameters are you judging the relative performance of the US health sector to the UK?  Cost? Infant mortality? Universal access? Doctor's salaries? Pharmaceutical innovation? I am genuinely curious. The health sector is for me one of the best examples of what the US does poorly because it is pursuing a free market agenda compared to the standard pursued by just about every other developed nation.

As far as governments being the ultimate monopoly. I'd agree if it were not for the regular election cycle and checks and balances that depose wannabe dictators. Without them, sure. Monopoly of power and coercion.. yep, that would fit the bill.


You brought Brexit up; I have no idea what your point was, and honestly still don't.

The US healthcare market is a mess, as I've pointed out in other contexts, largely because of the ways we've intervened in it. Other sectors of our economy have driven out costs and driven up both quality and efficiency; in healthcare things have gotten steadily worse. Since our legislators can't seem to grasp the consequences of what they've already done they will keep doing more of it, and it will keep getting worse.

I'm a little dumbfounded by the assertion that elections and checks and balances make government not the ultimate monopoly. Dictators don't get deposed by elections and checks and balances, they get deposed by wrenching upheaval and often violence. Taking power back is always harder than ceding it.
 
Woah, I am very sorry if you felt that I was "proclaiming what an awful person" you were. On the contrary, I hold you in the highest esteem. If only there were more like you out there. Seriously.
The thought has crossed my mind a couple of times already that we are both guilty of associating the other with the worst that the "other" side of the political spectrum has to offer. I have to check myself to stop identifying you with  Rees-Mogg and the ERG and you, for your part, have seen in me a proponent of command economies and Soviet gulags.
Well, um.

And no, you are quite right, I totally agree that the premise that free markets maxmise human flourishing is not in contention. Please view me, not as some kind of sclerotic left-winger in favor of nationalizing cash cows but as a rules-based centrist. What concerns me most is social cohesion for I have seen how quickly the conventions that hold civil society together can erode, which benefits no one. I am most definitely NOT pursuing some social engineering program a la national socialism or communism that pretends to know where society wants to go and how to facilitate the onward march of progress. All I really want is for us to find a common vernacular where we can have a sensible discussion, despite the myriad grievances and cutural disparity out there. Once we establish that, we might be able to talk about where we want to go. Ultimately, that is all that politics is about.

So yes, I am some kind of European centrist, which, in the States might qualify me as left-wing. But if you think I am left-wing, well, hell, you haven't seen anything yet, though I am sure you have.

So, if I understand you correctly, your main points are:

1. An unfettered market will naturally drive bad behavior out of the market place as consumers will naturally choose the provider with the better CSR score.

.. ok  .. hope you have a long breath for, from what I have seen, consumers seem to take a long time to respond. stone-washed jeans and scilicosis? Doesn't seem like too many consumers give a shit. Not sure I share your optimism for one simple reason: In any transaction you have at least two parties with vested interests. Neither of these are neutral. Quite frequently a neutral "power" is required to protect the interests of those who are not party to the transaction. Call that power power an elected government or some kind of tradition of civil service, or something.

2. Governments raise barriers to competition. This goes without saying. But the opposite is also true. Government intervention, if done properly, can promote competitiveness. You yourself said the German car industry is one of the most regulated in the world. Yet it is also a world beater on the global market. Californian emissions standards have long set the bar upon which the car industry has been forced to innovate. NASA and the space race resulted in a plethora of new technologies. The solar power industry would never have got off the ground without the Green party in Germany subsidizing intial research and production (and creating an artificial domestic market). Sometimes, by setting the bar higher, government does in fact foster progress.

3. No individual has the competence to predict the outcome of government intervention. On a simple level, this is flat-out wrong. If you ban CFCs you get less ozone-depleting aerosols. It is a pretty simple mechanism. But granted, you mean in terms of social engineering. Here I can agree, but only to a limited extent. The UK nationlizing its car industry in the 1970s is a classical example of governments getting it wrong. But some degree of government intervention is not only unavoidable but also desirable. Healthcare and education are the two most obvious examples and I believe the data bear me out. We can debate about public utilities, where I have seen good and bad on both sides of the fence. The rest can remain firmly in the private sector as far as I'm concerned.

EDIT: but sure - you main point is philosophical  - no individual has any form of moral precedence to decide on the fate of another. That is true in principle, but things are never quite that clear-cut in reality are they? When my freedom results indirectly in the incarceration/impoverishment of another, things get muddy very quickly... and please, let's not go there again.

To return to the start. What I most appreciate about you is that your political views are based on principle. You are a capitalist because you want all human interactions to be voluntary. I applaud that. I really do.  I would even share the view but I have also been in situations where doors are quite literally closed to you based on the colour of your skin, your income, your social background or whatever other reason. Being free is not just a mindset of the individual. It is also about the environmental conditions facing that individual. Poverty, race, education and other givens are frequently determining factors over which the individual has no influence. Here a sensible set of laws, a balanced government and a culture of openness and fairness (in which a government may or may not play a decisive role) are most definitely forces for individual liberty. It can of course go the other way, with corrupt governments protecting entrenched interests. But that is not a given. In my experience, good government has the opposite effect.



Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 14, 2019 - 10:27pm

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
Here you are being disingenuous. You do not prefer free markets per se as you suggest, but because of their economic outcome: a maximum of personal liberty, diversity and economic output.

If, for the sake of argument, free markets would necessarily culminate in some kind of bizarre social outcome that was anathema to personal liberty, diversity and maximum economic output, you would quickly lose your love of them.

In other words, in terms of system, you are very clearly choosing what in your view is a “winner”. Yet your view of “winning system” is very much value-laden, as it must be.

This alone shows how it is impossible to divorce politics from economics.

The argument seems to be shifting here.

That (relatively) free markets maximize human flourishing isn't really in contention, is it? We were talking about tweaking that default state. And those tweaks are what I'm objecting to. Do I really need to defend a world without centrally planned famines and gulags?

In that context I'm pointing out (once again) (and honestly this discussion would be more productive if you'd actually address this point, instead of proclaiming what an awful person I am for making the argument you wish I were making) that the one of the biggest advantages of markets over top-down planning is that competition drives out bad behavior, and that government interventions raise barriers to competition.

That's it, all I'm saying. You may still insist on intervening in markets, and (as you point out) that argument has carried the day at least in part—but it imposes a cost: the economic actors responsible for the bad behavior you want to avoid will be harder to dislodge because of those interventions.

One must necessarily start with the end goals and work out the best system of getting there. This is not a moral imperative but a mere statement of fact. Pretending not to interfere in the development of the market is itself a decision, one you take because, in your eyes, the free market concept delivers what you aspire to. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t adhere to the free market argument.

To accept this premise one must start farther back: you have to pretend that you have the competence to predict the outcome of your interventions. You don't.

Capitalism isn't just an economic model, it's a moral philosophy. I'm a capitalist in large part because I want all human interactions to be voluntary. If you could point to some metric with great confidence and say by that measure we'd be better off if we weren't free to make our own choices my response would be twofold:

1. I don't share your confidence that you're a better guardian of my fate than me.
2. I'd rather be free.

Brexit and the NHS.. seriously? On what parameters are you judging the relative performance of the US health sector to the UK?  Cost? Infant mortality? Universal access? Doctor's salaries? Pharmaceutical innovation? I am genuinely curious. The health sector is for me one of the best examples of what the US does poorly because it is pursuing a free market agenda compared to the standard pursued by just about every other developed nation.

As far as governments being the ultimate monopoly. I'd agree if it were not for the regular election cycle and checks and balances that depose wannabe dictators. Without them, sure. Monopoly of power and coercion.. yep, that would fit the bill.


You brought Brexit up; I have no idea what your point was, and honestly still don't.

The US healthcare market is a mess, as I've pointed out in other contexts, largely because of the ways we've intervened in it. Other sectors of our economy have driven out costs and driven up both quality and efficiency; in healthcare things have gotten steadily worse. Since our legislators can't seem to grasp the consequences of what they've already done they will keep doing more of it, and it will keep getting worse.

I'm a little dumbfounded by the assertion that elections and checks and balances make government not the ultimate monopoly. Dictators don't get deposed by elections and checks and balances, they get deposed by wrenching upheaval and often violence. Taking power back is always harder than ceding it.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

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Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 11, 2019 - 9:11pm



 Lazy8 wrote:
NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
Circular reasoning.. you do have a desired socio-economic result: "a free society where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried and where ideas can succeed on their merits."

That is not an economic outcome, it's a political one: the laws that govern us, not how we prosper under them. I have no interest in picking winners and losers.

 
Here you are being disingenuous. You do not prefer free markets per se as you suggest, but because of their economic outcome: a maximum of personal liberty, diversity and economic output.

If, for the sake of argument, free markets would necessarily culminate in some kind of bizarre social outcome that was anathema to personal liberty, diversity and maximum economic output, you would quickly lose your love of them.

In other words, in terms of system, you are very clearly choosing what in your view is a “winner”. Yet your view of “winning system” is very much value-laden, as it must be.

This alone shows how it is impossible to divorce politics from economics.


One must necessarily start with the end goals and work out the best system of getting there. This is not a moral imperative but a mere statement of fact. Pretending not to interfere in the development of the market is itself a decision, one you take because, in your eyes, the free market concept delivers what you aspire to. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t adhere to the free market argument.

And anyway, the entire postulation of free market economics is pretty much ivory tower stuff. As a fact there is not one national economy that does not pursue some kind of interventionist agenda.

As for the other stuff... dishwashers, ok point taken.


Brexit and the NHS.. seriously? On what parameters are you judging the relative performance of the US health sector to the UK?  Cost? Infant mortality? Universal access? Doctor's salaries? Pharmaceutical innovation? I am genuinely curious. The health sector is for me one of the best examples of what the US does poorly because it is pursuing a free market agenda compared to the standard pursued by just about every other developed nation.

As far as governments being the ultimate monopoly. I'd agree if it were not for the regular election cycle and checks and balances that depose wannabe dictators. Without them, sure. Monopoly of power and coercion.. yep, that would fit the bill.


EDIT: btw.... if the German automobile market is so heavily regulated (as it is) why on earth is it beating the world?

Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 7, 2019 - 8:32pm

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
Circular reasoning.. you do have a desired socio-economic result: "a free society where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried and where ideas can succeed on their merits."

That is not an economic outcome, it's a political one: the laws that govern us, not how we prosper under them. I have no interest in picking winners and losers.

FWIW, I totally concur. That is also the kind of society I want to live in. We just differ radically on how to get there.

In my opinion the biggest threat to our common ideal is not the (frequently selfless) efforts of the thousands of people out there fighting for equal opportunity and access to free education and healthcare as you seem to fear but the efforts of large corporations trying to milk a market to their own advantage.  Since you seem to have no aversion to the concept of monopolies, let's widen the term to include market consolidation. I assume you accept that there has been a huge drift towards market consolidation over the course of the last fifty years. Disruptive technologies aside, do you not see any dangers in this?

You seem to be having some difficulty grasping a concept, so I'll try again: pointing out that your preferred approach to opposing monopolies is counterproductive is not equivalent to an endorsement of monopolies. For the record: I don't like monopolies, but the historical record does not show them to be a natural state in a free market. They are always propped up (against market forces) by the interventions of a state or state-like actor.

There are so many examples out there I am not sure where to start. A lot of my business is in the automobile industry (German). It's not much fun being a supplier to the OEMs, believe me. You have zilch bargaining power and the only response and, quite often, the only way to survive, is to consolidate with other suppliers to increase your own bargaining power. You either accept their terms or you are out of business.

You could do what I (and most of the 7.5 billion of us on this planet) do: don't take the money. Work for someone else.

I will point out that the German state of Lower Saxony controls 20% of the voting shares of Volkswagen Group, and that the automobile industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the world. Don't believe me? Try and start an automobile company in Germany and see how far you get. All those regulations are a formidable barrier to entry, one you can't overcome with a better product or clever manufacturing.

Those regulations are government interventions.

Another example, a current one as it turns out, as we had our dishwasher here in Auckland repaired today. The Chinese guy who repaired it said it was nearing the end of its life and sooner or later we would be forced to replace it. "But don't buy an expensive one. Buy a cheap one. They are all the same on the inside. And all new ones have a shorter life than the old ones. Cheap just means noisier."
I happen to know he is right. According to a report I did recently there are only three suppliers of front panel systems for dishwashers worldwide. Due to the oligopoly in the market they are purposely building machines with shorter lives. How can this possibly be good for the consumer - or the environment for that matter?

Controlling a dishwasher isn't a terribly difficult task; I bet I could find a dozen companies who could do it on Alibaba in half an hour. I deal with more suppliers than that (for very similar controls for the products I design) here in the US.  If you don't want to use one of those three companies (and don't want to make your own dishwasher controls—not a terribly daunting task) I can set you up. Might cost more than a dedicated supplier with a generic product, but if you want to differentiate your dishwasher from the 20-odd brands out there it would be a good way to do it.

The anecdote sounds bogus on its face. Maybe there are only three specializing in dishwasher controls—haven't read your report. With as many global appliance brands as there are (and a very competitive marketplace) differentiating yourself with a longer-lived product is a viable strategy, it just costs more. A free market lets the buyer make that tradeoff: is an extra year of life worth the resources I have to dedicate to it? Restricting those choices means that a lot of potential dishwasher owners would be priced out of the option.

Or what about Nestle buying up the rights to water wells in Africa in order to sell their bottled water to a captive market - water wells that traditionally were seen as common property?

Common property...who could that have been making that sale? A...government, perhaps? Otherwise how did anyone get ownership of the water source?

Assuming it actually happened at all, and isn't just another bit of anticorporate folklore.

Or US Pharma's pressure on the US government to force open the UK health market under a post-Brexit trade deal? How can such moves possibly be conducive to the common good or creating a free society?

Um...you mean a government intervening to allow more competition in a market? Yeah, can't see any good coming from that.

Not familiar with the minutiae of brexit, but I'm not seeing what this does for your argument.

If you think government regulation is not very frequently to the benefit of the consumer you are being intentionally obscurantist. Moreover, if you think there is not some kind of marriage of forces between government regulation and private sector corporate interests, you also being more naive than I hold you for. The point is keeping these forces in balance to their mutual benefit.

Yes, I'm a bad person—an obscurantist!

Say I were. That wouldn't make me wrong.

I'm pointing out a mechanism that you seem determined not to understand: that competitive forces drive bad behavior (as seen by customers) out of markets, and that government interventions into markets discourage (if not ban) the entry of competitors. The resulting monopoly draws a call for ever more regulation, erecting ever more barriers to entry. The end state of this cycle is something like regulating the resulting monopolies as public utilities; at that point they are nigh unto  impossible to dislodge.

Which brings us to the one point on which we might possible readily agree. The abuse of power (public and/or private sector) to artificially kill off any competition. Why you ascribe such abuse solely to the public sector and not the private sector beats me. I know you are a great fan of rights, something I admire most about you. But I fail to understand how removing the institutions in place to uphold these rights can be of any benefit to anyone.

Sounds more like a fast track to a Hobbesian dystopia to me.

Entrenched players get cozy with regulators because it's easier and less risky than innovating. They hire retiring regulators to help guide them thru regulatory thickets and introduce them to the people who get to make arbitrary decisions that affect their business.

They are, as you point out, responding to incentives—incentives created by regulation, not markets. Markets would have them hiring people to create better products and services, to reduce costs and better serve customers. You can't appeal to Big Brother to keep competitors at bay if there is no Big Brother.

I trust customers to know their own best interests, you do not. You see business and government as opposites balancing each other, and governments as implacable foes of monopolies.

They are hardly opposites. Government is the ultimate monopoly.
black321

black321 Avatar

Location: A sunset in the desert
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 5, 2019 - 8:50am

interesting below...but it brings to mind, the alleged distinction between the corporation and government is in many ways false. they are both hierarchies, run by people ambitious for power and/or $. the goals of the stakeholders of both are in line as well, $ based. stockholder wants dividends & capital, voter wants low taxes & free stuff.  as the old sayings go, $ makes the world go around, but it's also the source of all evil. 
NoEnzLefttoSplit

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Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 2, 2019 - 9:54pm



 islander wrote:
 

I agree with nearly everything you've said (I used to sell services to microsoft, they told you the price you would offer to them).

I also appreciate the opportunity to search out this:



 

That's about right.

islander

islander Avatar

Location: Seattle
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 2, 2019 - 9:37pm



 NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:


 Lazy8 wrote:


....
I want to live in a free society—one where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried, and where ideas succeed on their merits.

I don't have a desired socio-economic result. Creative people have always surprised me by accomplishing so much more than I can imagine—I'd rather just let them create and thrive on the results.

I also don't possess the conceit that if I had a desired outcome I could successfully plan for it, that my predictions would come true, or that I—or anyone—has the wisdom to plan the lives of others. I certainly don't claim the right to plan the lives of others, and I wish others would quit claiming the right to plan mine.
 

Circular reasoning.. you do have a desired socio-economic result: "a free society where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried and where ideas can succeed on their merits."

FWIW, I totally concur. That is also the kind of society I want to live in. We just differ radically on how to get there.

In my opinion the biggest threat to our common ideal is not the (frequently selfless) efforts of the thousands of people out there fighting for equal opportunity and access to free education and healthcare as you seem to fear but the efforts of large corporations trying to milk a market to their own advantage.  Since you seem to have no aversion to the concept of monopolies, let's widen the term to include market consolidation. I assume you accept that there has been a huge drift towards market consolidation over the course of the last fifty years. Disruptive technologies aside, do you not see any dangers in this?  There are so many examples out there I am not sure where to start. A lot of my business is in the automobile industry (German). It's not much fun being a supplier to the OEMs, believe me. You have zilch bargaining power and the only response and, quite often, the only way to survive, is to consolidate with other suppliers to increase your own bargaining power. You either accept their terms or you are out of business.

Another example, a current one as it turns out, as we had our dishwasher here in Auckland repaired today. The Chinese guy who repaired it said it was nearing the end of its life and sooner or later we would be forced to replace it. "But don't buy an expensive one. Buy a cheap one. They are all the same on the inside. And all new ones have a shorter life than the old ones. Cheap just means noisier."
I happen to know he is right. According to a report I did recently there are only three suppliers of front panel systems for dishwashers worldwide. Due to the oligopoly in the market they are purposely building machines with shorter lives. How can this possibly be good for the consumer - or the environment for that matter?

Or what about Nestle buying up the rights to water wells in Africa in order to sell their bottled water to a captive market - water wells that traditionally were seen as common property? Or US Pharma's pressure on the US government to force open the UK health market under a post-Brexit trade deal? How can such moves possibly be conducive to the common good or creating a free society?

And no I do not think corporations are evil beings. Like markets they are not sentient and therefore lack one of the essential ingredients of being evil. Nor do I think the people running them are evil beings, though I guess they could qualify as being sentient. I know a lot of corporate managers. They are nice people doing the best job they can given the circumstances. Corporations are merely systems reacting to systemic parameters. It is what they do. Taxes are low in the Caymans? Let's move there. Production constraints are low in China? Let's move there. This is why government and concerted international regulation is paramount.

If you think government regulation is not very frequently to the benefit of the consumer you are being intentionally obscurantist. Moreover, if you think there is not some kind of marriage of forces between government regulation and private sector corporate interests, you also being more naive than I hold you for. The point is keeping these forces in balance to their mutual benefit.

Which brings us to the one point on which we might possible readily agree. The abuse of power (public and/or private sector) to artificially kill off any competition. Why you ascribe such abuse solely to the public sector and not the private sector beats me. I know you are a great fan of rights, something I admire most about you. But I fail to understand how removing the institutions in place to uphold these rights can be of any benefit to anyone.

Sounds more like a fast track to a Hobbesian dystopia to me.

 

I agree with nearly everything you've said (I used to sell services to microsoft, they told you the price you would offer to them).

I also appreciate the opportunity to search out this:

NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 2, 2019 - 9:24pm



 Lazy8 wrote:


....
I want to live in a free society—one where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried, and where ideas succeed on their merits.

I don't have a desired socio-economic result. Creative people have always surprised me by accomplishing so much more than I can imagine—I'd rather just let them create and thrive on the results.

I also don't possess the conceit that if I had a desired outcome I could successfully plan for it, that my predictions would come true, or that I—or anyone—has the wisdom to plan the lives of others. I certainly don't claim the right to plan the lives of others, and I wish others would quit claiming the right to plan mine.
 

Circular reasoning.. you do have a desired socio-economic result: "a free society where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried and where ideas can succeed on their merits."

FWIW, I totally concur. That is also the kind of society I want to live in. We just differ radically on how to get there.

In my opinion the biggest threat to our common ideal is not the (frequently selfless) efforts of the thousands of people out there fighting for equal opportunity and access to free education and healthcare as you seem to fear but the efforts of large corporations trying to milk a market to their own advantage.  Since you seem to have no aversion to the concept of monopolies, let's widen the term to include market consolidation. I assume you accept that there has been a huge drift towards market consolidation over the course of the last fifty years. Disruptive technologies aside, do you not see any dangers in this?  There are so many examples out there I am not sure where to start. A lot of my business is in the automobile industry (German). It's not much fun being a supplier to the OEMs, believe me. You have zilch bargaining power and the only response and, quite often, the only way to survive, is to consolidate with other suppliers to increase your own bargaining power. You either accept their terms or you are out of business.

Another example, a current one as it turns out, as we had our dishwasher here in Auckland repaired today. The Chinese guy who repaired it said it was nearing the end of its life and sooner or later we would be forced to replace it. "But don't buy an expensive one. Buy a cheap one. They are all the same on the inside. And all new ones have a shorter life than the old ones. Cheap just means noisier."
I happen to know he is right. According to a report I did recently there are only three suppliers of front panel systems for dishwashers worldwide. Due to the oligopoly in the market they are purposely building machines with shorter lives. How can this possibly be good for the consumer - or the environment for that matter?

Or what about Nestle buying up the rights to water wells in Africa in order to sell their bottled water to a captive market - water wells that traditionally were seen as common property? Or US Pharma's pressure on the US government to force open the UK health market under a post-Brexit trade deal? How can such moves possibly be conducive to the common good or creating a free society?

And no I do not think corporations are evil beings. Like markets they are not sentient and therefore lack one of the essential ingredients of being evil. Nor do I think the people running them are evil beings, though I guess they could qualify as being sentient. I know a lot of corporate managers. They are nice people doing the best job they can given the circumstances. Corporations are merely systems reacting to systemic parameters. It is what they do. Taxes are low in the Caymans? Let's move there. Production constraints are low in China? Let's move there. This is why government and concerted international regulation is paramount.

If you think government regulation is not very frequently to the benefit of the consumer you are being intentionally obscurantist. Moreover, if you think there is not some kind of marriage of forces between government regulation and private sector corporate interests, you also being more naive than I hold you for. The point is keeping these forces in balance to their mutual benefit.

Which brings us to the one point on which we might possible readily agree. The abuse of power (public and/or private sector) to artificially kill off any competition. Why you ascribe such abuse solely to the public sector and not the private sector beats me. I know you are a great fan of rights, something I admire most about you. But I fail to understand how removing the institutions in place to uphold these rights can be of any benefit to anyone.

Sounds more like a fast track to a Hobbesian dystopia to me.

Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Nov 27, 2019 - 1:35pm

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
Oh grief.. let's just do ourselves a favor and refer anyone interested to the century-long debate between Keynisan economics and classical economics.
There are a lot of better brains out there than you and I who have hammered this out ad nauseum. The real point is that there is not one single national economy out there that does not run on some kind of interventionist quasi-Keynsian framework. Sorry, that is just how it is. Imaging economics without the baggage of state intervention is ivory tower stuff. Wishful thinking. Dreams of open horizons and new frontiers. Delightfully romantic, but sorry, just a dream. The real issue is how governments should best intervene and that necessitates a discussion of economic policy. Even the most radical neo-liberals out there are ultimately basing their arguments on a desired socio-economic outcome. ALL economic discussion starts from this. Presenting the argument as a foregiven outcome "that is just how markets are" is disingenous. You are already assuming that is your desired outcome without having the balls to say it.

I don't know that Keynes had a lot to say about a tendency of free markets to devolve to oligarchies and monopolies, that seems to have been mostly a Marxist trope. In fact I don't see Keynes in particular being relevant to this discussion at all—he's just one of many who advocated for intervening in markets, mostly to counteract business cycle swings.

Adam Smith had a great deal to say about it, and the plain fact that we aren't all living under the thumb of one ginormous worldwide commercial oligarchy proves he was right.

Yes, Keynes is the fashionable orthodoxy. I'm not arguing is, I'm arguing ought.

To your credit: 1. markets not acting perfectly only makes sense within the framework of a subjective valuation (see above).  2. Yes, totally agree, markets just are. They are not sentient beings. No, I do not "blame the market". 3. you are living in one. You obviously define monopoly/oligopoly  much more tightly than I do. But for me any aggregation of bargaining power among a few market players is a distorted market. There are untold examples of this out there. I know. I serve a lot of them. (and yes, I know, disruptive technologies will come along and upend the playing field, but that still does not negate the main argument - the market is skewed.) And no, skewed markets are not just an invention of government intervention but are quite frequently an unholy alliance of the two. Nevertheless, you can have one without the other.

I'm going to repeat my challenge: show me one without the other. In particular show me a monopoly that exists without a government restraining market forces to prop it up.
I know you will never agree to this, but if you could outline to me what your desired socio-economic result is and describe to me the best economic policies to get there, we can continue to discuss things. As things stand, your argument that the market is simply "how it is", which is basically an a priori argument that the market will in and of itself generate the most desirable outcome is simply inadequate from any other socio-political perspective for it is based on the assumption that a free market (with its swings and roundabouts) is inherently the best outcome - whatever that means.

Tell me what kind of society you want to live in. Tell me what fruits of human endeavor your economic concepts will unleash and what implications they have for society as a whole. Tell me also on what belief systems and social consensus they are predicated and maybe we have something to talk about. Otherwise we will continue to talk about two very different things.

I want to live in a free society—one where as many different ideas of what the ideal society is as possible can be tried, and where ideas succeed on their merits.

I don't have a desired socio-economic result. Creative people have always surprised me by accomplishing so much more than I can imagine—I'd rather just let them create and thrive on the results.

I also don't possess the conceit that if I had a desired outcome I could successfully plan for it, that my predictions would come true, or that I—or anyone—has the wisdom to plan the lives of others. I certainly don't claim the right to plan the lives of others, and I wish others would quit claiming the right to plan mine.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

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Gender: Male


Posted: Nov 27, 2019 - 1:45am



 Lazy8 wrote:
NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
1 Like the fact that markets are not perfect? 2 That markets will not necessarily find equilibrium? 3 That free markets will tend towards oligopolies / monopolies and that economies with greater social equality will have higher, on average, total output?  4 Yep, I'm all for it.  I am not sure you are though.

1
First define "perfect".

Delivering some social goal that I define as inherently good is, of course, subjective.  The whole question is irrelevant: markets don't have to serve any particular goal, markets are inevitable. There is always a market, it is always in play, and people will always respond to incentives within it.

2
Like chemical reactions, sometimes the response to a stimulus is loud and chaotic, but if you let it run its course it will find an equilibrium. Humans tend to intervene before that state (overthrowing a clueless regime that recklessly inflates a country's currency before people are reduced to subsistence living, for instance) but there is always an equilibrium state—it just may not be a pleasant one.

You can blame the market (and I know you will!) but the market isn't malevolent or even sentient, it's just where the forces unleashed by various human actions play out. Failing to understand the reactions an intervention will provoke isn't a failure of the market any more than a mess in a test tube is a failure of chemistry—it's a failure of the chemist.

3
Show me one. Go ahead, I'll wait.

There are things economists call natural monopolies—spring water from a particular source, say, or Kodak film* back in the day. In the case of control of a scarce resource (Lady Gaga's voice, for instance) there is still competition of type rather than in that specific commodity. These are created (setting aside government-granted IP monopolies for the moment) by entities (Kodak, or Lady Gaga) serving customers particularly well. If they act like a monopoly (that is, as if they didn't have competition and could do whatever they liked with price or supply) they incentivize innovation and competition.

Cartels and monopolies require government intervention to enforce them. There are always incentives (within a cartel, say, or outside a monopoly) to undercut them, and unrestrained people will respond to those incentives.

So show us an oligarchy or monopoly, and I'll show you a government** intervening—against market forces—to prop it up.

4 Bring it!

*Yes, I realize that Kodak had rivals (Agfa and Fuji to name two) but their market share was tiny, at least where Kodak was allowed to compete. Kodak had excellent products and relentlessly innovated them, acting as if they had competition even when they didn't. But where is Kodak now? Their core competency didn't transfer to the technologies that replaced them, and they're effectively gone—the dominant player in a game no one is playing.

** Or quasi-governmental body—like a drug cartel—using violence and intimidation. And usually the cooperation of at least one government.
 
Oh grief.. let's just do ourselves a favor and refer anyone interested to the century-long debate between Keynisan economics and classical economics.
There are a lot of better brains out there than you and I who have hammered this out ad nauseum. The real point is that there is not one single national economy out there that does not run on some kind of interventionist quasi-Keynsian framework. Sorry, that is just how it is. Imaging economics without the baggage of state intervention is ivory tower stuff. Wishful thinking. Dreams of open horizons and new frontiers. Delightfully romantic, but sorry, just a dream. The real issue is how governments should best intervene and that necessitates a discussion of economic policy. Even the most radical neo-liberals out there are ultimately basing their arguments on a desired socio-economic outcome. ALL economic discussion starts from this. Presenting the argument as a foregiven outcome "that is just how markets are" is disingenous. You are already assuming that is your desired outcome without having the balls to say it.

To your credit: 1. markets not acting perfectly only makes sense within the framework of a subjective valuation (see above).  2. Yes, totally agree, markets just are. They are not sentient beings. No, I do not "blame the market". 3. you are living in one. You obviously define monopoly/oligopoly  much more tightly than I do. But for me any aggregation of bargaining power among a few market players is a distorted market. There are untold examples of this out there. I know. I serve a lot of them. (and yes, I know, disruptive technologies will come along and upend the playing field, but that still does not negate the main argument - the market is skewed.) And no, skewed markets are not just an invention of government intervention but are quite frequently an unholy alliance of the two. Nevertheless, you can have one without the other.
4. I already have, in days gone by, with the graph juxtaposing income equality against economic output, which you rejected out of hand. I don't know how 160 countries constitutes cherry-picking but hey-ho.

I know you will never agree to this, but if you could outline to me what your desired socio-economic result is and describe to me the best economic policies to get there, we can continue to discuss things. As things stand, your argument that the market is simply "how it is", which is basically an a priori argument that the market will in and of itself generate the most desirable outcome is simply inadequate from any other socio-political perspective for it is based on the assumption that a free market (with its swings and roundabouts) is inherently the best outcome - whatever that means.

Tell me what kind of society you want to live in. Tell me what fruits of human endeavor your economic concepts will unleash and what implications they have for society as a whole. Tell me also on what belief systems and social consensus they are predicated and maybe we have something to talk about. Otherwise we will continue to talk about two very different things.



westslope

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Location: BC sage brush steppe


Posted: Nov 22, 2019 - 12:00pm

The reason why so many support single payer medical care is the monopsony power that allows the state-run single payer to reduce drug and other treatment costs.
R_P

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Posted: Nov 22, 2019 - 10:31am

“There are many arguments for what is at the root cause of our current social dysfunction,” journalist Matt Stoller writes at the beginning of his book Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. “Various explanations include the prevalence of racism, automation, the rise of China, inadequate education or training, the spread of the internet, Donald Trump, the collapse of political norms, or globalization. Many of these explanations have merit. But there’s another much simpler explanation of what is going on. Our systems are operating the way that they were designed to. In the 1970s, we decided as a society that it would be a good idea to allow private financiers and monopolists to organize our world. As a result, what is around us is a matrix of monopolies, controlling our lives and manipulating our communities and our politics. This is not just happenstance. It was created. The constructs shaping our world were formed as ideas, put into law, and now they are our economic and social reality. Our reality is formed not just of monopolized supply chains and brands, but an entire language that precludes us from even noticing, from discussing the concentrated power all around us.”

Stoller discusses the backstory and history of this idea on this episode of The World in Time.

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