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Index » Internet/Computer » The Web » Economix Page: Previous  1, 2, 3, 4 ... 192, 193, 194  Next
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Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 19, 2019 - 8:50am

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
Always find it highly amusing how you borrow religious vernacular to talk about natural rights, yet, back in the day, you had no qualms about trashing religious believers over in the atheists thead. For someone as astute as you the hypocrisy is startling. And again, you are being disingenuous. The point is not that I don't "believe" in rights. I  fully support them as one of the best social constructs humankind as come up with, as I have repeatedly stated in the past. I just don't buy into your religious conviction concerning them.

I love that line from Bishop Tutu: When the white man came, we had the land and he had religion. He taught us how to pray and when we opened our eyes, we had religion - and he had the land.
(quoting from memory here)

Your religious fervour reminds me very much of the white man he was referring to. The liberal rights-based minimal or no-government society is likewise predicated on all of us adhering to the same beliefs for it to work. That you don't see this still astounds me to this day. If there is one constant to human history it is that we will find a way to disagree on just about anything. All of us having to have the same basic belief (in this case a distinct set of natural rights) before we even start discussing in the various public fora is just about the dumbest foundation for a stable society that I can think of.

So to correct the impression you were trying to make in the passage above. I have absolutely no problem with a legal system based on rights. My problem is that the libertarian movement does not go far enough. I am missing any reference to the tradition of "being my brother's keeper" or, to use  a word that has come back into vogue, "stewardship" of the environment. Society and the environment are common goods that a system based solely on individual rights fails to properly address. So shoot me.

Shooting you would violate your rights.

I figured this would come up. I was trying to head off this digression with the statement you quoted, but I see we're here again. And once again I don't have time to write the book-length defense of the concept of rights that I adhere to, demonstrating that it is a reasoned position rather than a religious one. Regardless of the origins intellectual honesty should compel you to argue with the concept rather than the author or the path it took to the argument.

You're free to believe what you like about that concept and me—see, you have that right. I'm mostly trying to prevent a redefinition of the concept to include obligations to get around the duty of justifying forcing random obligations on people.

There are all kinds of situations that the concept of rights doesn't address, but it doesn't need to. It forms a basis for the minimal set of things people aren't allowed to do to each other. That has a moral gravity that's irresistible, a temptation to identify anything you want as a right, and then insist that others provide it for you. You hint at recognizing that above, but it would be nice if that recognition were explicit.

If you want to impose a set of obligations on top of the obligation to respect the rights of others you need to justify that obligation. You need to justify it not only on ethical grounds but pragmatic: is this course effective? Is there some goal it accomplishes better than doing nothing? Does the effect justify the side-effects? With sweeping social plans and programs those questions get asked far too seldom and the answers ignored far too often.

To make an analogy to the world of medicine: setting a broken bone undoes an intervention in the body, restores it to a healthy state—a state that should be recognized as the default. Surgery or a drug may or may not. If you have a prescription to intervene in the body you should be able to justify it as outweighing the unintended consequences. Surgery starts with a wound, a defect in the body that wasn't there before. The result needs to be a greater good than the damage done by the knife. Drugs are carried to every part the body, not just the part that's ailing. Can the body tolerate it well enough to justify its use, and in either case does the patient want the treatment at all? You shouldn't get to drag people in off the street and perform surgery on them.

Speaking of shooting people...you are advocating policies that have to be imposed by threat of force. That threat (and the inevitable reality of the threatened action) needs to be justified, Make your case. Justify it not just to the people who want free houses, but to the person whose house will be seized when he can't pay the taxes to provide them. Justify shooting him if he won't leave that house.
black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 19, 2019 - 8:15am



 Lazy8 wrote:
NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
However,  identity politics has been around for millenia and was not born recently on the left. Identity politics sucks wherever you find it. And no, I was most definitely not blaming Trump on the liberal movement. Just noting that the public dialogue trashing the legitimacy of government has made it easier for blowhards like him to trample all over its principles without suffering any political consequences.

Point taken, the modern left did not invent identity politics. For a while it was out of fashion in favor a more classically-liberal universalism, but the left (at least hereabouts) was responsible for bringing it back, dusting it off, dressing it up in sanctimony, and weaponizing it. Trump's own support is, in part, an incoherent tribal reaction to that revival.
 
the left, really? its been 3 decades in making, since reagan and the conservatives adopted the evangelists. the left has just adopted the methods used against them, with a vengeance i would add. 

Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 19, 2019 - 7:24am

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
However,  identity politics has been around for millenia and was not born recently on the left. Identity politics sucks wherever you find it. And no, I was most definitely not blaming Trump on the liberal movement. Just noting that the public dialogue trashing the legitimacy of government has made it easier for blowhards like him to trample all over its principles without suffering any political consequences.

Point taken, the modern left did not invent identity politics. For a while it was out of fashion in favor a more classically-liberal universalism, but the left (at least hereabouts) was responsible for bringing it back, dusting it off, dressing it up in sanctimony, and weaponizing it. Trump's own support is, in part, an incoherent tribal reaction to that revival.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 7:05pm



 westslope wrote:


 
LOL!  I love the anger.   You sound like a very righteous, virtuous person.   

What is the neo-liberal approach and how does it differ from the 'liberal' approach?   

BTW, how are the testosterone-charged pale-faced sheep ranchers doing in New Zealand these days?  

So are you a Neo-Marxist?   If so, the track record has not been good.   In fact, it has been universally bad.  Unless lower material standards of living, poor quality public services and poverty are what you seek.  

I believe that Neo-Marxist leftists in Canada — many of whom pull down over $100,000/year — are simply targeting the maintenance of authentic tourist experiences for their children in poor developing countries.
 

I know I often might appear to be one brick short of a load, but hopefully I don't come across as that stupid. As for the righteousness, I most definitely fall short of what Lazy8 does for the community IIRC. I am under no illusions about my lack of qualifications for sainthood.
NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 6:58pm



 Lazy8 wrote:

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.

 
Always find it highly amusing how you borrow religious vernacular to talk about natural rights, yet, back in the day, you had no qualms about trashing religious believers over in the atheists thead. For someone as astute as you the hypocrisy is startling. And again, you are being disingenuous. The point is not that I don't "believe" in rights. I  fully support them as one of the best social constructs humankind as come up with, as I have repeatedly stated in the past. I just don't buy into your religious conviction concerning them.

I love that line from Bishop Tutu: When the white man came, we had the land and he had religion. He taught us how to pray and when we opened our eyes, we had religion - and he had the land.
(quoting from memory here)

Your religious fervour reminds me very much of the white man he was referring to. The liberal rights-based minimal or no-government society is likewise predicated on all of us adhering to the same beliefs for it to work. That you don't see this still astounds me to this day. If there is one constant to human history it is that we will find a way to disagree on just about anything. All of us having to have the same basic belief (in this case a distinct set of natural rights) before we even start discussing in the various public fora is just about the dumbest foundation for a stable society that I can think of.

So to correct the impression you were trying to make in the passage above. I have absolutely no problem with a legal system based on rights. My problem is that the libertarian movement does not go far enough. I am missing any reference to the tradition of "being my brother's keeper" or, to use  a word that has come back into vogue, "stewardship" of the environment. Society and the environment are common goods that a system based solely on individual rights fails to properly address. So shoot me.




NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 6:39pm



 Lazy8 wrote:

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.


 
First up, a very nice description of Trump and I wholeheartedly concur with the bolded...

However,  identity politics has been around for millenia and was not born recently on the left. Identity politics sucks wherever you find it. And no, I was most definitely not blaming Trump on the liberal movement. Just noting that the public dialogue trashing the legitimacy of government has made it easier for blowhards like him to trample all over its principles without suffering any political consequences.

NoEnzLefttoSplit

NoEnzLefttoSplit Avatar

Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 6:34pm



 black321 wrote:


 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?

 
point taken, but funny isn't it how so many of those who have already made their billions pursue a liberal political program? And by liberal political program, I mean a program that reduces government and taxation and is against any form of coercion on the individual, relying instead on widespread respect of each others "natural rights".   hmm..  it's my ranch and don't tell me what I have to do on it. Again, when I think of libertarians, I can't get this guy out of my mind.

westslope

westslope Avatar

Location: BC sage brush steppe


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 11:28am



 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.
 
LOL!  I love the anger.   You sound like a very righteous, virtuous person.   

What is the neo-liberal approach and how does it differ from the 'liberal' approach?   

BTW, how are the testosterone-charged pale-faced sheep ranchers doing in New Zealand these days?  

So are you a Neo-Marxist?   If so, the track record has not been good.   In fact, it has been universally bad.  Unless lower material standards of living, poor quality public services and poverty are what you seek.  

I believe that Neo-Marxist leftists in Canada — many of whom pull down over $100,000/year — are simply targeting the maintenance of authentic tourist experiences for their children in poor developing countries.
Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Dec 18, 2019 - 7:41am

NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
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.

"Ensnared in a debt trap"—they were just walking down the road, minding their own business, and debt sprang out and nabbed them! Does that happen on your planet?

Are you trying to redefine agency  to make it friendlier to your argument? It doesn't mean the freedom to do whatever you want without consequences, it means the freedom to choose your own path. Agency doesn't mean that path doesn't lead into a wall or over a cliff; it doesn't mean you're strong enough to climb that path. It just means no one will stop you.

Other plights less of one's own making have had remedies you'd approve of applied hereabouts. The results have been beyond underwhelming, and it isn't for lack of money spent. Again you've packed more into a paragraph than I have time to argue with, and you're convolving things that belong to different arguments.

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?

We have no debtor's prisons. You can walk away from any debt (other than debt owed to government, of course) and face no consequences other than your worldly goods and credit score.

If you exercise agency to steal, kidnap, extort, or worse (?) you have violated the rights of others regardless of your education background. If you have a point here I'm damned if I know what it is.
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: An earth without maps
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

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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?

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