Atheism and Libertarianism

zarathustra
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Atheism and Libertarianism

The video series below raises some interesting points in regard to theism and statism, with the claim that both employ the same logical fallacies (with the implication that atheism and libertarianism are the most logical positions to hold).   One can see that people may think logically in regard to one of the topics, while illogically in regard to the other.  Stalin and Mao, for example, were atheists; it is questionable, however, whether they ran their states rationally.  Conversely:  Ron Paul & Paul Ryal are fans of the atheist Ayn Rand in regard to the economy, yet card-carrying christians.  

It does raise a worthwhile question:  If atheism is the conclusion when logic is applied to the existence of god, what is the conclusion when logic is applied to the state?

 

Some of the points raised so far in the series:

 

  1.  Negative philosophies - Neither atheism nor libertarianism do not make positive claims.  
    • Atheism is not the assertion there is no god, but the rejection of the proposition that there is one.  
    • Likewise, libertarianism is rejection of the initiation of force as a means of achieving social or political goals.  
    • Just as the atheist does not have the burden of explaining how the universe got here (where in failing to do so vindicates god as an explanation); the libertarian does not have the burden of proving how society will function well in absence of government (where failing to do so vindicates the establishment of government).
  2.  Special Pleading ⁃ Theism and statism both posit a universal rule, then make an exception.
    • Theism - first cause or fine tuning - everything needs a cause, or the universe is fine-tuned, but god didn't need a cause or fine-tuner itself.  
    • Statism -  Actions considered criminal when performed by individuals are acceptable when performed by the state.  Killing someone over a perceived threat is considered murder, but it is acceptable for the government to order drone strikes in which innocent people are killed.
  3. Pascal's Wager
    • Theism - There's a potential gain for wagering god exists and being right, but nothing to lose by being wrong. (A promise of delayed gratification). This is a false dichotomy as there are multiple religions to choose from.
    • Statism - Wager that government is good, rather than take the chance of chaos without it.  This is likewise a false dichotomy, as there are multiple types of government to choose from.  
  4. Bottom-up vs. Top-Down organization 
    • Theism claims a top-down designer is necessary to explain order, ignorant of the phenomenon of emergent complexity / or how evolution by natural selection can account for complex organs such as the eye.
    • Statism claims a top-down organization (government) is necessary, ignorant of Adam Smith's Invisible Hand.  As an example, he provides the example of a pencil, which no one person knows how to make.
  5. Argument from Incredulity  Advancing one hypothesis while ignoring alternative hypotheses, justified by the absence of evidence
    • Theism  
      • god of the gaps ("You can't explain how life started, so it must be god" )
      • or missing links in the fossil record ("You don't have a transitional fossil between A and B, so evolution is false".
    • Statism
      • government of the gaps ("Who will build the roads; feed the poor; keep companies from polluting?  You can't explain how, so we need government." )
  6. Exclusivity - Intolerance of others
    • Religion seeks to place restrictions on people's lives, even when their actions/beliefs (or lack thereof) do not affect others.  Secularism, on the other hand, allows the religious to belief whatever they want.
    • Statism places restrictions on private exchanges.  This applies even to "atheist" ideologies like communism.  Libertarianism, on the other hand, allows others to conduct exchanges as they wish (i.e., if a group of individuals wish to practice communism amongst themselves, libertarianism does not stipulate they can't).
  7. Paradox of Interests - Concentration of benefit, with dispersion of cost.  A small group reaps huge benefits by the imposition of cost on a large group.  While the distributed cost to individuals in the large group is small enough that noone has incentive to contest the imposition, the concentrated benefit to the members of the small group is great enough incentive to impose the cost.
    • Church members have less incentive to object to tithing, yet the church profits exorbitantly by the accumulated tithes of the congregation (even if the whole congregation does not donate).
    • Consumers may not find it worth their effort to fight a few extra cents here and there in taxes, even though the government gets rich in aggregate.
      • I actually find myself vulnerable to this in regard to the recent NSA stories.  While it's obvious the government is encroaching far too greatly on our privacy, I haven't yet been so outraged to do anything about it  -- since I don't yet feel my personal loss of freedom is great enough to warrant it.

 

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zarathustra
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Playlist

Series didn't embed:  Here's the link 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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cj
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for crying out loud

There are just as many fallacies in this argument.

"Just as the atheist does not have the burden of explaining how the universe got here (where in failing to do so vindicates god as an explanation); the libertarian does not have the burden of proving how society will function well in absence of government (where failing to do so vindicates the establishment of government)."

Sorry, first rule of wing-walking - don't let go before you have something else to hang onto. I am not comfortable saying let's do a social experiment of the magnitude this would entail. Besides, we already know how deregulation will work - we will get a proliferation of monopolies that create inferior products and services for higher prices. See the airline industry for a recent example.

"Actions considered criminal when performed by individuals are acceptable when performed by the state.  Killing someone over a perceived threat is considered murder, but it is acceptable for the government to order drone strikes in which innocent people are killed."

I don't like capital punishment, either. So let's all have a "stand your ground" law. And no one has yet answered my question. If someone feels threatened and pulls a gun, the party faced with a gun now truly has their life threatened. So which one is "standing their ground?" The first party who feels threatened or the second party who really is threatened?

"Wager that government is good, rather than take the chance of chaos without it.  This is likewise a false dichotomy, as there are multiple types of government to choose from."

I'll buy there are multiple types of government to choose from, but haven't you just been advocating no government? Isn't that just one choice?

"Statism claims a top-down organization (government) is necessary, ignorant of Adam Smith's Invisible Hand.  As an example, he provides the example of a pencil, which no one person knows how to make."

Adam Smith said that in order to prevent monopolies that negated his "invisible hand," the "captains of industry" had to be restrained. Read Adam Smith - get back to me.

"government of the gaps ("Who will build the roads; feed the poor; keep companies from polluting?  You can't explain how, so we need government." )"

The poor will or will not survive without government. But explain to me - all toll roads everywhere? Who regulates the tolls? You pay $1 on this block and the next block you pay another $5? Someone has to be paid to stand out there and collect the money, count the money, deposit the money, hire the road workers, supervise the result. Before I toss what we have, I want to know where we are going and just what are the costs/benefits?

"Statism places restrictions on private exchanges.  This applies even to "atheist" ideologies like communism.  Libertarianism, on the other hand, allows others to conduct exchanges as they wish (i.e., if a group of individuals wish to practice communism amongst themselves, libertarianism does not stipulate they can't)."

I don't care if you belong to the communist or libertarian or family values or working families or whatever party. All of those and more are valid parties in the state of Oregon. They even put up presidential (and other) candidates.

"Concentration of benefit, with dispersion of cost."

The entire argument misses a very important human trait. If you ask someone holding a sign - "No more taxes" - what should we cut? Schools? Social Security? Medicaid/medicare? Roads? Food inspectors? Military? Nine times out of ten the response will be - "uh, none of these." What should we cut? "Foreign aid." (Less than 1% of the US budget. ~25 cents per person per YEAR. http://masbury.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/what-percent-of-us-budget-goes-to-foreign-aid/ )

Real people - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSDGB_Cdreg

 

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Beyond Saving
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I've experienced these same

I've experienced these same arguments myself several times over the years. I agree with much of what Shane has to say, but a few things I think he takes the comparison too far. 

I haven't had time to listen to the whole series yet, so here are a few comments on what I have listened to so far. 

zarathustra wrote:

 

 

  1.  Negative philosophies - Neither atheism nor libertarianism do not make positive claims.  
    • Atheism is not the assertion there is no god, but the rejection of the proposition that there is one.  
    • Likewise, libertarianism is rejection of the initiation of force as a means of achieving social or political goals.  
    • Just as the atheist does not have the burden of explaining how the universe got here (where in failing to do so vindicates god as an explanation); the libertarian does not have the burden of proving how society will function well in absence of government (where failing to do so vindicates the establishment of government).

This is probably the argument I think is the weakest. Libertarianism is only a negative philosophy if you accept the NIoF principle as an axiom.

The existence of statist governments is not in question, it is only a question of whether or not they work well, which I agree the burden of proof is on the supporters to demonstrate how well they work. However, there is a significant amount of evidence that shows that statist governments "work" in that they often perpetuate themselves beyond our lifespan and achieve all sorts of goals. This then ultimately boils down to a moral/preference question of whether the goals achieved by a statist government are "good". Certainly, anyone who makes a claim supporting a specific government has the burden to show that their government achieves goals better than others and that those goals are something we should want to achieve.

But libertarianism is not immune from having to show that its morality is better. There is no deductive logic that proves that not initiating force is better than initiating force. While libertarians don't have the burden to prove one type of government is better than another type, they do have the burden to prove the moral basis of the philosophy that non initiation of force is better than initiating force. There is no way to get around the fact that libertarianism is making the positive assertion that non initiation of force is better than initiation of force. Due to this, the comparison breaks down. 

Also, I agree with CJ that as a practical aspect, you are not going to convince anyone to support your ideas if you can't explain how whatever replaces statism is going to be better than statism. The atheist/theist debate actually has a parallel here too. If your goal is to actually persuade a theist to become an atheist, it is the burden on the atheist to demonstrate that basing your beliefs on what is supported by evidence is better than believing in fantasy. You can't simply accept as an axiom that believing in reality is automatically better than believing in fantasy. Most of us here avoid that aspect because most of us have the position that we don't care if someone believes in a fantasy and instead focus the argument on what is real and what is fantasy. 

 

Quote:

  1.  Special Pleading ⁃ Theism and statism both posit a universal rule, then make an exception.
    • Theism - first cause or fine tuning - everything needs a cause, or the universe is fine-tuned, but god didn't need a cause or fine-tuner itself.  
    • Statism -  Actions considered criminal when performed by individuals are acceptable when performed by the state.  Killing someone over a perceived threat is considered murder, but it is acceptable for the government to order drone strikes in which innocent people are killed.

Yeah, I get this one all the time. The only exception I take here is I am not sure that statism posits a universal rule. Statism is generally based on practicality of the moment and not an ideal. Most statists do not suggest that the state is perfect the way that theists argue God is perfect. So while it points out the hypocrisy, it does not put any nails in the coffin of statism the way the argument can against the Christian god. (note that special pleading does not necessarily occur with all gods, many polytheistic religions don't view their gods as perfect.)

And again, us libertarians often fall into the same trap. Libertarians are not anarchists, and readily admit that government is necessary on some level to prevent/punish people who initiate force on other people. When philosophy comes in contact with the real world, all philosophers become hypocrites.   

Anyway, I found the videos pretty interesting so far. I will listen to the rest later when I have the time and post any comments I have. 

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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cj wrote:I am not

cj wrote:

I am not comfortable saying let's do a social experiment of the magnitude this would entail.

Yet you are comfortable with social experiments of great magnitude that the government implements every day? What are social security, welfare, subsidies, stimulus, affordable care act, and regulation in general if they are not social experiments? The ACA alone is going to completely reshape the American healthcare industry in a way that has never been attempted in any country in the history of the world. Our government is currently doing a big social experiment called "quantitative easing" trying to make up for the disaster caused by its social experiment in affordable housing. The government experiments all the time. Why does an experiment involving a non-government solution make you more uncomfortable than a government-centric one? 

 

cj wrote:

Besides, we already know how deregulation will work - we will get a proliferation of monopolies that create inferior products and services for higher prices. See the airline industry for a recent example.

Besides the fact that the deregulation of the airline industry led to substantially lower prices, the airline industry is hardly deregulated in the libertarian sense. Airlines remain one of the most regulated industries in the country. Eliminating the CAB only removed one layer of government bureaucracy and in recent years, we have added several new layers to the industry such as the TSA and Homeland Security. Except for pricing controls, the FAA adopted most of the powers removed from the CAB. Changing the alphabet soup that creates the regulations does not make an industry unregulated.

This is a good example of the parallel to Pascal's Wager. The argument becomes centered on "more regulation" or "deregulation" both of which are statist answers because "deregulation" never means unregulated. It almost always means getting rid of one government agency that is unpopular and replacing it with a new one.

 

 

cj wrote:

I don't like capital punishment, either. So let's all have a "stand your ground" law. And no one has yet answered my question. If someone feels threatened and pulls a gun, the party faced with a gun now truly has their life threatened. So which one is "standing their ground?" The first party who feels threatened or the second party who really is threatened?

Whoever initiated the force is in the wrong. 

 

cj wrote:

I'll buy there are multiple types of government to choose from, but haven't you just been advocating no government? Isn't that just one choice?

Only in the exact same sense that atheism is one choice. 

 

cj wrote:

Adam Smith said that in order to prevent monopolies that negated his "invisible hand," the "captains of industry" had to be restrained. Read Adam Smith - get back to me.

Yeah, Smith was not a libertarian. His work is important to libertarian philosophy in that he was one of the first people who described how a free market works. Many libertarians try to take that further than it really goes and try to paint a caricature of Smith as some libertarian forefather. He is subjected to the same types of mischaracterizations that Marx would later be subjected to, often by people who find their books too tedious to actually read. In all fairness, both wrote books that are extremely dry and less than thrilling reads. 

 

cj wrote:

The entire argument misses a very important human trait. If you ask someone holding a sign - "No more taxes" - what should we cut? Schools? Social Security? Medicaid/medicare? Roads? Food inspectors? Military? Nine times out of ten the response will be - "uh, none of these." What should we cut? "Foreign aid." (Less than 1% of the US budget. ~25 cents per person per YEAR.

A libertarian would say "all of the above plus more", it is not a popular philosophy which is why it is rarely tried. People like their "free" stuff. This is another argument that parallels the theist vs atheist argument. "If it isn't true, why is it so popular". Statism is popular, that doesn't mean it is good. (BTW, republicans are statists)  

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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The problem I have with

The problem I have with libertarianism is the fact that it cannot work. It requires all parties to voluntarily adhere to the philosophy, and we as a species have never shown a capacity for such an agreement on any philosophy.

I don't like statism either. Like libertarianism, it cannot work.

Either one can work for awhile, even centuries. Possibly millennia. But not in perpetuity.

Statism will inevitably have someone in power who is incapable of managing resources sufficiently and the state will collapse.

Libertarianism has no central authority and is weak against statist governments who will have no trouble conquering and subduing the libertarians.

Both forms of government are inherently flawed in dozens of ways. I mention only the biggest problems to save myself writing a novel on the subjects.

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Much like capitalism and

Much like capitalism and socialism, only a delicate balance between the two has any hope of perpetuity. The state must have the power to defend itself or it will be conquered. But if that power is absolute then it will inevitably collapse.
The problem with this is that in time the state will aquire absolute power unless the population remains vigilant. Yet no population in history has been up to the task.

I think therefore that we are doomed to see libertarian societies evolve into statist societies until they collapse, and we start the process all over again.

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The title of the thread is

The title of the thread is absurd.

"Human" for example is a label. It describes a specific species of mammal. So because 7 billion of us are human, we all agree?

If you spent any time here you'd know that Beyond Saving and I hate each other's economic views and we are both atheists.

 

"Atheism" is not an ideology, or economic view or even a dogma. Atheism is merely the "off" position on the issue of god/s. It says nothing about our personal political or economic views, or even our personal morality.

 

 

 

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Vastet wrote:Much like

Vastet wrote:
Much like capitalism and socialism, only a delicate balance between the two has any hope of perpetuity. The state must have the power to defend itself or it will be conquered. But if that power is absolute then it will inevitably collapse. The problem with this is that in time the state will aquire absolute power unless the population remains vigilant. Yet no population in history has been up to the task. I think therefore that we are doomed to see libertarian societies evolve into statist societies until they collapse, and we start the process all over again.

That is the problem right there. "Capitalism" is not a form of government. Gadaffi was a billionaire who owned stock in GE. China capitalizes off of the sale of cheap goods on slave wages. Saudi Arabia capitalizes off the sale of oil.

We are social animals, we evolved that way. The real issue is absolute power. Anything left unchecked can get to the point of absolute power, be it in the form of nationalism, political party, religion OR business. EVERYTHING in that list needs human vigilance because all those things are run by humans.

 

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Brian37 wrote:The title of

Brian37 wrote:
The title of the thread is absurd.

"Human" for example is a label. It describes a specific species of mammal. So because 7 billion of us are human, we all agree?

The title of the thread is the same as that of the video playlist which I'm referring to for discussion.  I'm not sure what you find absurd about the title, unless you mistook it to suggest that all atheists are libertarians.  This is obviously not the case.  As Shane (the maker of the videos) even points out, there are libertarian theists (e.g., Ron Paul) and statist atheists.   Shane is raising the topic that the some of the same reasons (read:  fallacies) invoked to justify belief in god are also invoked to justify the institution of government.  

 

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zarathustra wrote:Brian37

zarathustra wrote:

Brian37 wrote:
The title of the thread is absurd.

"Human" for example is a label. It describes a specific species of mammal. So because 7 billion of us are human, we all agree?

The title of the thread is the same as that of the video playlist which I'm referring to for discussion.  I'm not sure what you find absurd about the title, unless you mistook it to suggest that all atheists are libertarians.  This is obviously not the case.  As Shane (the maker of the videos) even points out, there are libertarian theists (e.g., Ron Paul) and statist atheists.   Shane is raising the topic that the some of the same reasons (read:  fallacies) invoked to justify belief in god are also invoked to justify the institution of government.  

 

 

Yes, I did, I resent the implication that because another person like me might not believe in a god, has the same "fuck you I got mine" attitude, implies we owe each other loyalty based on label.

 

Loyalty is a joke, not that it isn't a part of life, all labels do this. It is a joke in that point of view is lost, and most people do no see that what works for them may not work for others.

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cj wrote:"Concentration of

cj wrote:
"Concentration of benefit, with dispersion of cost."

The entire argument misses a very important human trait. If you ask someone holding a sign - "No more taxes" - what should we cut? Schools? Social Security? Medicaid/medicare? Roads? Food inspectors? Military? Nine times out of ten the response will be - "uh, none of these." What should we cut? "Foreign aid." (Less than 1% of the US budget. ~25 cents per person per YEAR. http://masbury.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/what-percent-of-us-budget-goes-to-foreign-aid/ )


 

If you listen to the video, that is precisely the human trait that he points out and spend 12 minutes talking about. His entire argument is that because of this trait, the philosophy of statism encourages programs which benefit special interests.

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


cj
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Beyond Saving wrote:cj

Beyond Saving wrote:

cj wrote:
"Concentration of benefit, with dispersion of cost."

The entire argument misses a very important human trait. If you ask someone holding a sign - "No more taxes" - what should we cut? Schools? Social Security? Medicaid/medicare? Roads? Food inspectors? Military? Nine times out of ten the response will be - "uh, none of these." What should we cut? "Foreign aid." (Less than 1% of the US budget. ~25 cents per person per YEAR. http://masbury.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/what-percent-of-us-budget-goes-to-foreign-aid/ )


 

If you listen to the video, that is precisely the human trait that he points out and spend 12 minutes talking about. His entire argument is that because of this trait, the philosophy of statism encourages programs which benefit special interests.

 

My point. In a representative democracy, you are NOT going to be able to significantly reduce government spending. And if you try, there will be enough of an outcry, that we will be back to the same or higher levels of spending. As an example, Reagan cut military R&D spending, California claimed it was going to go bankrupt (I have no opinion on whether this was the truth), there was a recession, and the spending was put back in. With the result that Reagan ultimately implemented a very large tax increase.

Right or wrong, pragmatically, government spending will not be reduced because of this human trait. Plenty of research in behavioral economics and social psychology - people are not willing to give up what they have regardless of their current social-economic status, regardless of the actual amount they are being asked to give up, regardless of their political leanings, regardless of any other demographic you can think of.

If you want to talk about reform, you have consider whether you can even implement it. I believe bloodshed is the only way you could get people to go along with a true libertarian form of government once they realized just how much they would be giving up. Because the bulk of spending is not foreign aid, not social welfare (SNAP and such), not federal salaries. It is military defense and Social Security and federal pensions.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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cj wrote:My point. In a

cj wrote:

My point. In a representative democracy, you are NOT going to be able to significantly reduce government spending. And if you try, there will be enough of an outcry, that we will be back to the same or higher levels of spending. As an example, Reagan cut military R&D spending, California claimed it was going to go bankrupt (I have no opinion on whether this was the truth), there was a recession, and the spending was put back in. With the result that Reagan ultimately implemented a very large tax increase.

So representative democracies are doomed to eventually collapse under their debt. Bleak view, but probably accurate. Hopefully when our government collapses we can implement something better and more libertarian. Wouldn't it be much better if people recognized this and did support reducing statism? 

 

cj wrote:

Right or wrong, pragmatically, government spending will not be reduced because of this human trait. Plenty of research in behavioral economics and social psychology - people are not willing to give up what they have regardless of their current social-economic status, regardless of the actual amount they are being asked to give up, regardless of their political leanings, regardless of any other demographic you can think of.

If you want to talk about reform, you have consider whether you can even implement it. I believe bloodshed is the only way you could get people to go along with a true libertarian form of government once they realized just how much they would be giving up. Because the bulk of spending is not foreign aid, not social welfare (SNAP and such), not federal salaries. It is military defense and Social Security and federal pensions.

Yet, if we don't reform the system is going to run out of money and collapse. That collapse will no doubt bring a lot of pain, suffering and probably violence. It probably is inevitable and if I was placing a bet is what I would bet on happening. However, it is a lousy reason to reject the philosophy. 

A majority of people will probably always believe in god too. There are a variety of human traits that make people more likely to believe in god than not. Yet we all remain atheists. Why? 

I can't speak for Shane, but I know my philosophy will never be the majority in my lifetime. Which is why I readily concede a number of issues at the practical level as not being worth opposing, such as fire protection, road construction, food stamps etc. which are really quite small and almost always the things that people opposing me try to focus on. I have some small hope that we can be successful on some of the big things and at least slow down the collapse so it happens after I die.

If more people accepted the simple premise that government should not use violence to meet its goals then there is a chance of some reform. Will a majority of people ever accept that premise? I don't know, but you can never be a majority without first being a minority. And the ironic thing is that I have seen many people suggest the libertarian premise in the abstract and support it, then fail to apply it when determining their political position on a particular issue. Most people don't put much thought into politics, they side emotionally. That other people pick sides emotionally is hardly a good reason for you to do so as well. 

As far as I can tell, all Shane is trying to do is persuade statist atheists to put more thought into the subject. At least I haven't seen him make any calls for radical change (maybe he does so in other videos, these are the only videos of his I have ever watched). It makes sense to appeal to them because statist atheists do rely on many arguments to defend their statism that are similar to those they routinely reject from theists.  

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Comparing statism to theism

Comparing statism to theism is just plain stupid so I will just criticize those who think this would be heaven if we lived in anarchy...

Most people tend to see a big dichotomy between private enterprise and government. There is no such thing. Specially today with so much promiscuity between capital and government.

It would take a long time to explain better but I want strong government because:

Life is way too complex and I cannot possibly make the best informed decision in everything.

I need protection from those who want to take away everything I have. And make life a fair game in alowying justice to be blind of prejudices.

Government is the will of the majority in a country, or it's supposed to be. Government has to make rules and regulations in order to uphold civil rights and duties. Allow and protect freedoms, minority groups and promote well being and happiness.

Governments make mistakes because they are made of people.

Government enterprises can also profit against private competition. There are huge amounts of examples.

Profits from state companies can be invested in wellfare programs (build hospitals, paying teachers, building roads...)

the biggest problem with government is corruption. If you solve this, you solve everything else.

Central planning works very well in natural monopolies, preventing wasting and unnecessary confusion.

The biggest mistake you can make in your thought is thinking that all government intervention is bad. If you say this, you are technically saying that Norway and North Korea are the same. It's not so much state intervention that causes bad living conditions but division of powers, democracy, pluralism, education, etc that makes for better living for the most of us.

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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perhaps you haven't lived long enough

Perhaps you don't have a feel for the pendulum swings society takes - politically, economically, philosophically.

 

Beyond Saving wrote:

So representative democracies are doomed to eventually collapse under their debt. Bleak view, but probably accurate. Hopefully when our government collapses we can implement something better and more libertarian. Wouldn't it be much better if people recognized this and did support reducing statism? 

 

No necessarily. Clinton had a hefty surplus, remember? A healthy economy, reasonable restrictions on monopolies, and a nice bubble and the thing is done. Pendulums. Or, roller coasters if you prefer. Hang on for the ride. Better yet, prepare for the ride. Get your restraints tightened. Lack of regulation just gives you bigger swings, higher and lower hills. Try researching historical booms and busts prior to about 1925.

 

Beyond Saving wrote:

Yet, if we don't reform the system is going to run out of money and collapse. That collapse will no doubt bring a lot of pain, suffering and probably violence. It probably is inevitable and if I was placing a bet is what I would bet on happening. However, it is a lousy reason to reject the philosophy.

 

Collapse is not inevitable. We have had busts before and recovered from them. The pendulum will swing again. Wait for it. We actually have a pretty good track record in that regard.

 

Beyond Saving wrote:

A majority of people will probably always believe in god too. There are a variety of human traits that make people more likely to believe in god than not. Yet we all remain atheists. Why? 

 

There are similarities in the idea of hanging on to what you have before grabbing for some other handhold on the wing. Are you willing to give up all of what you get from government regulations? Sit down and enumerate them then tell me all the ones you are willing to give up.

 

Beyond Saving wrote:

I can't speak for Shane, but I know my philosophy will never be the majority in my lifetime. Which is why I readily concede a number of issues at the practical level as not being worth opposing, such as fire protection, road construction, food stamps etc. which are really quite small and almost always the things that people opposing me try to focus on. I have some small hope that we can be successful on some of the big things and at least slow down the collapse so it happens after I die.

If more people accepted the simple premise that government should not use violence to meet its goals then there is a chance of some reform. Will a majority of people ever accept that premise? I don't know, but you can never be a majority without first being a minority. And the ironic thing is that I have seen many people suggest the libertarian premise in the abstract and support it, then fail to apply it when determining their political position on a particular issue. Most people don't put much thought into politics, they side emotionally. That other people pick sides emotionally is hardly a good reason for you to do so as well. 

As far as I can tell, all Shane is trying to do is persuade statist atheists to put more thought into the subject. At least I haven't seen him make any calls for radical change (maybe he does so in other videos, these are the only videos of his I have ever watched). It makes sense to appeal to them because statist atheists do rely on many arguments to defend their statism that are similar to those they routinely reject from theists.  

 

Funny thing. People prefer using punishment over reward for changing behavior because it usually works. And when it works, it does so immediately. It's why Ceasar Milan is so popular as a dog trainer, it is why we will likely never get rid of the prison system (a huge cost for local government, not so much for federal), it is why people hit their children, their spouse, their neighbor. It is very unlikely anyone will ever convince people that government should not be responsible for punishing people who do not conform with society.

The reason I support the idea of "statism" is that I don't trust other people to "do the right thing" if they are left alone. This was not addressed on the list. Example One - the bathroom we are currently trying to resurrect. Remodel or renovate is too understated for the work we need to do. Let's hear it for no building inspectors or permits.

Oh, yeah, we did have to have a house inspection before the bank would loan. (House inspections before purchase are not a legal requirement, but a lender requirement. As BS would know, but others may not.) Since the house doesn't have a crawl space, there wasn't any way to see the damage without removing flooring and walls. Not a normal procedure for the standard house inspection. But caveat emptor and we are going to eventually have a solid and dry bathroom. It would have been a lot nicer for everyone if we could have trusted that the "right thing" was done when the house was originally built back before there were building inspectors.

Many people do what is easiest and cheapest, not necessarily what is best long term. That is why the very first building codes date back to Hammurabi about 1772 B.C. 

That is only one example of why I don't support libertarianism.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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cj wrote:Perhaps you don't

cj wrote:

Perhaps you don't have a feel for the pendulum swings society takes - politically, economically, philosophically.

 

Beyond Saving wrote:

So representative democracies are doomed to eventually collapse under their debt. Bleak view, but probably accurate. Hopefully when our government collapses we can implement something better and more libertarian. Wouldn't it be much better if people recognized this and did support reducing statism? 

 

No necessarily. Clinton had a hefty surplus, remember? A healthy economy, reasonable restrictions on monopolies, and a nice bubble and the thing is done. Pendulums. Or, roller coasters if you prefer. Hang on for the ride. Better yet, prepare for the ride. Get your restraints tightened. Lack of regulation just gives you bigger swings, higher and lower hills. Try researching historical booms and busts prior to about 1925.

 

Clinton didn't have a surplus because of significant government cuts. The bottom line is that our current problems with Social Security are not going to be solved by growth. We simply cannot grow fast enough.

Since 1940 we have had 12 years where we had surpluses. That isn't a pendulum swinging back and forth or a "good track record". If the surpluses were gigantic they might have evened out all the spending, but they weren't. The largest surplus we have ever had was $236.4 billion. The 4 years we had of the Clinton surplus amounted to $558.5 billion. The following 2 years we had deficits that added up to $535.4 billion. Since that surplus our government has ran deficits adding up to $7,999.4 billion. To make up for that we would have to have a surplus the size of the biggest one we ever had for over 33 years. Isn't going to happen without significant reforms.    

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals/

Booms and busts prior to 1925? I am very familiar with that era, see my blog posts on it. 

 

cj wrote:
 

There are similarities in the idea of hanging on to what you have before grabbing for some other handhold on the wing. Are you willing to give up all of what you get from government regulations? Sit down and enumerate them then tell me all the ones you are willing to give up.

 

Yes I am. All of them, including the property tax from which I derive most of my income. But yes, I understand that changes would have to be implemented slowly over time. All of this stuff didn't appear overnight and eliminating it overnight would be a disaster to our economy. We should start with Social Security by making it a voluntary program since that is the largest elephant in the room and the one that is going to trample us if we don't do something within the next 40 years.

 

cj wrote:

Funny thing. People prefer using punishment over reward for changing behavior because it usually works. And when it works, it does so immediately. It's why Ceasar Milan is so popular as a dog trainer, it is why we will likely never get rid of the prison system (a huge cost for local government, not so much for federal), it is why people hit their children, their spouse, their neighbor. It is very unlikely anyone will ever convince people that government should not be responsible for punishing people who do not conform with society.

And 200 years ago it was unlikely that people would be convinced to give up slavery. I'm sure you don't support hitting children, hitting spouses or hitting neighbors. Nor have you ever struck me as the type of person who hits their dog. Fortunately, as a society we have evolved past accepting slavery, child abuse, spousal abuse etc. Is it so completely implausible that some day in the distant future we might stop accepting government abuse as well?

A libertarian is a person who doesn't see governments use of force as inherently different from the individual uses of force you listed.

 

cj wrote:
 

The reason I support the idea of "statism" is that I don't trust other people to "do the right thing" if they are left alone. This was not addressed on the list. Example One - the bathroom we are currently trying to resurrect. Remodel or renovate is too understated for the work we need to do. Let's hear it for no building inspectors or permits.

Oh, yeah, we did have to have a house inspection before the bank would loan. (House inspections before purchase are not a legal requirement, but a lender requirement. As BS would know, but others may not.) Since the house doesn't have a crawl space, there wasn't any way to see the damage without removing flooring and walls. Not a normal procedure for the standard house inspection. But caveat emptor and we are going to eventually have a solid and dry bathroom. It would have been a lot nicer for everyone if we could have trusted that the "right thing" was done when the house was originally built back before there were building inspectors.

Many people do what is easiest and cheapest, not necessarily what is best long term. That is why the very first building codes date back to Hammurabi about 1772 B.C. 

That is only one example of why I don't support libertarianism.

Ok, good example. Why do you need government to do the inspections and force every person who builds their house to make it to whatever standards they set?

Obviously, there are a lot of home shoppers out there who are concerned about such things. There are also a lot who are not. It is so inconceivable that some private organization would provide certifications and inspect newly built dwellings? Someone who is concerned about the quality of the dwelling would be willing to pay more for one that is certified by a reputable company than one that was self built or built by an unknown company. 

Also, like house inspections for lending, lenders would be willing to offer better interest rates for houses that are certified by companies they consider reputable than ones that were not since they are taking an increased risk. They would probably require anyone getting a loan for building to have a certified inspections during the building process as well. 

You can already find such organizations that rate a variety of fields. Angie's list for one example. They would be funded by people that the inspections are important to (home purchasers, banks, insurance companies etc.) rather than everyone. When you are building/buying a brand new home, it is very easy to find out what kind of quality a particular company builds. 

Believe it or not, there are some people who don't give a flying fuck about inspections. Me for example. The house I purchased is in a county that is rural and the area has virtually no building code. The house was self built. So yeah, when I bought it, I knew there was a risk that someday I would discover some significant problems. But, in exchange for that risk I got the house a lot cheaper than average which allowed me to pay cash. My ex-wife never would have gone for it in a million years; different people have different priorities and different risk tolerances. 

There are people in this county that live in houses they built themselves, and nowhere near the building code of any place that has them. One guy I know lives in a semi-trailer he converted into a small mobile home. Has power, plumbing and everything. I would never live in it, but it is cheap and he is apparently satisfied in it. Just because you would never live in that type of housing, why should you insist that everyone else live in houses that meet whatever standard you arbitrarily decide to set?

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Teralek wrote:Comparing

Teralek wrote:
Comparing statism to theism is just plain stupid so I will just criticize those who think this would be heaven if we lived in anarchy...

I find the initial comparison apt for this reason:  

Atheism is the default position in regard to the existence of god:  lack of belief.  

Libertarianism is the default position in regard to the state:  lack of government.  

It is the theist and statist who has the burden of proving his position.   The difference may lie with a statist being able to meet his burden of proof, whereas hitherto the theist has not been able to.   However, fear-mongering about conditions under anarchy is comparable to the theist asking "Without god, where would we get our morals from?"

Teralek wrote:
The biggest mistake you can make in your thought is thinking that all government intervention is bad. If you say this, you are technically saying that Norway and North Korea are the same. It's not so much state intervention that causes bad living conditions but division of powers, democracy, pluralism, education, etc that makes for better living for the most of us.
 

I don't think that follows.  As an atheist, I would not say Jainism and Islam are equally bad, even if I reject both as irrational.  A democracy like Norway may be better than a dictatorship like North Korea, but the democrat still has the burden of proving his version of government "works".   For example, Norway is technically a constitutional monarchy, even if it essentially functions like a democracy.  One could argue Norway would be even better without its king.

There are no theists on operating tables.

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zarathustra wrote:Teralek

zarathustra wrote:

Teralek wrote:
Comparing statism to theism is just plain stupid so I will just criticize those who think this would be heaven if we lived in anarchy...

I find the initial comparison apt for this reason:  

Atheism is the default position in regard to the existence of god:  lack of belief.  

Libertarianism is the default position in regard to the state:  lack of government.  

It is the theist and statist who has the burden of proving his position.   The difference may lie with a statist being able to meet his burden of proof, whereas hitherto the theist has not been able to.   However, fear-mongering about conditions under anarchy is comparable to the theist asking "Without god, where would we get our morals from?"

Teralek wrote:
The biggest mistake you can make in your thought is thinking that all government intervention is bad. If you say this, you are technically saying that Norway and North Korea are the same. It's not so much state intervention that causes bad living conditions but division of powers, democracy, pluralism, education, etc that makes for better living for the most of us.
 

I don't think that follows.  As an atheist, I would not say Jainism and Islam are equally bad, even if I reject both as irrational.  A democracy like Norway may be better than a dictatorship like North Korea, but the democrat still has the burden of proving his version of government "works".   For example, Norway is technically a constitutional monarchy, even if it essentially functions like a democracy.  One could argue Norway would be even better without its king.

Why do we need parents? kids can eventually manage themselves. It is the "parentist" who has the burden of proving his position. There are certainly many children who don't want their parents.

We need government because we are not Amoebas and a country needs a strategy and organization. No government is anarchy. Anarchy leads to all sorts of abominations. I think evidence is so clear here that it doesn't need showing. Just look back in history where in many regions of this planet the rulers couldn't reach. Government is needed primarily to uphold the law and provide justice.

You can correctly argue that Norway would be better without a king and we can talk about it. But that's irrelevant. The reason why Norway is arguably the best country in the world and most certainly better than north Korea is clearly to do with other factors.

Why Norway is such a great place has to do with many reasons. State intervention is just a detail in the whole thing.

BTW I don't believe in the modern form of democracy as being the best chiefly because most voters are not well informed on who to vote, or what their vote means really.

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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  Ah! Do a little

  Ah! Do a little experiment! Take South Korea government out of the way and make this your little experiment of a no state country.

I bet all the money I have that Samsung would immediately take over the country. They are eager to do this already! Everybody thirsts for power. Take one organization out of the way, another will take it's place... Samsung would monopolize the economy, and every aspect of Korean society to their benefit - Benefit of Samsung profit and wealth on directors.

Would this be better for the people of South Korea? No

You cannot hope to take the government out. Something else will always replace it. Any human social organization from tribes to corporations requires leadership to work. The question is how do we make this leadership fair and square. This is still a question with no definitive answer. 

Remove all leadership and turn civilization into chaos - then we become no better than amoebas. With our intelligence though we would put our species at risk and many other who share the planet with us.

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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no company wants

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.


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Beyond Saving wrote:Yes I

Beyond Saving wrote:

Yes I am. All of them, including the property tax from which I derive most of my income. But yes, I understand that changes would have to be implemented slowly over time. All of this stuff didn't appear overnight and eliminating it overnight would be a disaster to our economy. We should start with Social Security by making it a voluntary program since that is the largest elephant in the room and the one that is going to trample us if we don't do something within the next 40 years.

 

You don't get off that easy. Start listing them. Not the taxes, the local and federal services you think should be stopped and list the ones you want to keep. I am certain the list of the keepers will be shorter for you. Not a problem. Enumerate all of them, please, not just a blanket "all of them."

 

Oh, and the housing standards? Because no one lives in the same house forever. Someone wants to live in a dump, fine. Future owners should know. And, as well demonstrated in my house, a house inspection will not find the most egregious structural problems where the original construction was cheapened up. You just can't demolish a house during the inspection and a lot of issues could be hidden where they can not be found until later when the damage is already done.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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latincanuck wrote:no company

latincanuck wrote:

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.

 

I agree. There is a balance - just enough regulation, not too much. And you know when the balance is about right because the number of complaints drop off and the economy is humming along.

 

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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latincanuck wrote:no company

latincanuck wrote:

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.

Ok, nice hypothesis. Now demonstrate that a company has ever created a monopoly without government support. (I could list a dozen off the top of my head that exist(ed) solely because of government support, government creates monopolies and rarely destroys them but for the moment lets pretend those monopolies are somehow different)

Then demonstrate that the monopoly was harmful enough to justify using force to break it up. 

Then demonstrate that using government force was an effective and necessary means to break up the harmful monopoly. 

 

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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cj wrote:You don't get off

cj wrote:

You don't get off that easy. Start listing them. Not the taxes, the local and federal services you think should be stopped and list the ones you want to keep. I am certain the list of the keepers will be shorter for you. Not a problem. Enumerate all of them, please, not just a blanket "all of them."

 

Government is involved in nearly every aspect of our lives for better or for worse it would take hours to list the ways. I listed property taxes because I make money off of that system. Every year the property tax system boosts my income substantially. If that were to disappear it would be a significant pay cut for me (last year it would have eliminated my income and made me take a net loss for the year). There is absolutely no government program that is more beneficial for me, it is by far the most profitable branch of my business. And yes, I am willing to give that up (not only willing but I actively campaign for candidates who desire to get rid of it)

The only role I believe government should play in our society is to prevent us from using force against one another, arbitrate contracts and protect us from being taken over by other countries. That means police, a judicial system and a defensive military. And even when I am the one personally benefiting more than most from a particular government activity, I am willing to give it up. 

Government does a lot of good things. Ok, so what? If a bank robber does a lot of good things with the money, does that mean it is ok to rob banks? If beating your child makes them behave does that justify it? If a man is a great member of the community and is a doctor who saves lives every day, does that excuse him beating his wife when he gets home and dinner isn't ready on time?

The basis of the libertarian argument is a moral stand that it is always wrong to initiate force. Something that pretty much everyone accepts on the individual level. We just expand it to groups as well. Can we find other ways to achieve the same goals without initiating force? Yes we can. (lol accidental ironic reference) 

 

cj wrote:
 

Oh, and the housing standards? Because no one lives in the same house forever. Someone wants to live in a dump, fine. Future owners should know. And, as well demonstrated in my house, a house inspection will not find the most egregious structural problems where the original construction was cheapened up. You just can't demolish a house during the inspection and a lot of issues could be hidden where they can not be found until later when the damage is already done.

So? How does a private organization not solve that problem? I am not saying it is a bad idea when you purchase an old house that it was inspected during the construction phase by a reputable 3rd party. I'm saying there is no reason that 3rd party has to be the government. And absent government, companies that specialize in those kind of inspections will emerge and certify houses as they are built. Why? Because houses that are certified would sell for higher profits than those that are not.

When you went to buy the house, you would know whether or not it had been certified and would easily be able to hop on the internet and research the certification company to see if it was reputable. Then as a consumer, you could choose whether to pay a little more for a certified house or if you are willing to take the risk on a house that isn't certified. Just like right now you can go to a car dealer and use carfax to determine which cars have a clean history and which were involved in accidents and have the higher risk of undiscovered damage.

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving

Beyond Saving wrote:

latincanuck wrote:

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.

Ok, nice hypothesis. Now demonstrate that a company has ever created a monopoly without government support. (I could list a dozen off the top of my head that exist(ed) solely because of government support, government creates monopolies and rarely destroys them but for the moment lets pretend those monopolies are somehow different)

Then demonstrate that the monopoly was harmful enough to justify using force to break it up. 

Then demonstrate that using government force was an effective and necessary means to break up the harmful monopoly. 

I know many companies that own 60% plus of a given market, or even 95% like the last I worked for - I worked on the cruise industry which is on of the less regulated you can imagine. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/13/opinion/walker-cruise-ships (Ask me questions if you want because I worked on cruise ships for the last 2 years)

From personal experience companies who are in control of a market have aggressive strategies to remain in control. Like price control, control of raw material flux and price, aggressive and deceitful recruiting...

There is no such thing as 100% monopoly and it doesn't need to be as long as the competition is under control.

A monopoly is not an easy thing to define. It depends on the market and the company. But someone who can solely control prices, have enough economic power for dumping, and buy all competition or forcing cartels may have a monopoly.

Amazon maybe is the best example for you, for dumping and buying competition. Another good one is Samsung by carteling.

AIG size was harmful to the economy because its failure could and would trigger the failure of other companies in a domino effect chain reaction. "Too big to fail too big to exist". If the state didn't interfere we would no have a recession but a depression instead with dramatical consequences for the stability of society and public order. On one hand I agree that the state should not have interfered because who fucks up big time deserves to go down. On the other hand I think the state should interfere because thousands or millions of everyday working people shouldn't have their lives destroyed because of the casino life style of a handful of fat cats.

Only way to prevent this is to not let monopolies form in the first place.

This is not an hypothesis for I have seen this happening before my eyes.

I know you don't agree with this but you have your reasons... I have mine which are as clear as the daylight rising tomorow. As for the demonstration there are many economists backing me up.

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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Beyond Saving

Beyond Saving wrote:

latincanuck wrote:

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.

Ok, nice hypothesis. Now demonstrate that a company has ever created a monopoly without government support. (I could list a dozen off the top of my head that exist(ed) solely because of government support, government creates monopolies and rarely destroys them but for the moment lets pretend those monopolies are somehow different)

Then demonstrate that the monopoly was harmful enough to justify using force to break it up. 

Then demonstrate that using government force was an effective and necessary means to break up the harmful monopoly. 

 

Eyeglasses. Both I and my husband wear them. Buying a new pair usually runs over $300 for a pretty ordinary pair of glasses.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57527151/sticker-shock-why-are-glasses-so-expensive/

So I went looking on line. Similar glasses, same style of lenses (we wear progressive bifocals), and we can get a pair for less than $100. A huge difference for selecting frames with Russian instead of Italian names.

This monopoly is an Italian company and so is not subject to US laws. It probably wouldn't matter if it was since people are going to say that a 300-400% markup does not justify squelching "free markets." Which market is not free if there is a paucity of suppliers. Did this company receive support from the Italian government? I have no idea.

Yes, I can get the less expensive frames on line - but no, I can not get them in the store where and when I get my eye exam.

 

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cj wrote:Beyond Saving

cj wrote:

Beyond Saving wrote:

latincanuck wrote:

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.

Ok, nice hypothesis. Now demonstrate that a company has ever created a monopoly without government support. (I could list a dozen off the top of my head that exist(ed) solely because of government support, government creates monopolies and rarely destroys them but for the moment lets pretend those monopolies are somehow different)

Then demonstrate that the monopoly was harmful enough to justify using force to break it up. 

Then demonstrate that using government force was an effective and necessary means to break up the harmful monopoly. 

 

Eyeglasses. Both I and my husband wear them. Buying a new pair usually runs over $300 for a pretty ordinary pair of glasses.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57527151/sticker-shock-why-are-glasses-so-expensive/

So I went looking on line. Similar glasses, same style of lenses (we wear progressive bifocals), and we can get a pair for less than $100. A huge difference for selecting frames with Russian instead of Italian names.

This monopoly is an Italian company and so is not subject to US laws. It probably wouldn't matter if it was since people are going to say that a 300-400% markup does not justify squelching "free markets." Which market is not free if there is a paucity of suppliers. Did this company receive support from the Italian government? I have no idea.

Yes, I can get the less expensive frames on line - but no, I can not get them in the store where and when I get my eye exam.

 

 Good one!! I was completely unaware of this! And I wear glasses since I'm 5 years old!! And I like to keep myself informed!! It makes you wonder why some giant companies "shun publicity", like Monsanto too... Well maybe not... maybe is kinda obvious why the shun publicity...

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Teralek wrote:I know many

Teralek wrote:

I know many companies that own 60% plus of a given market, or even 95% like the last I worked for - I worked on the cruise industry which is on of the less regulated you can imagine. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/13/opinion/walker-cruise-ships (Ask me questions if you want because I worked on cruise ships for the last 2 years)

Sure companies often develop huge market shares, but that does not make a monopoly. A monopoly is a company that does not have competition either now or fear of it in the future. 

 

Teralek wrote:

From personal experience companies who are in control of a market have aggressive strategies to remain in control. Like price control, control of raw material flux and price, aggressive and deceitful recruiting...

They try all the time, and some of them are not particularly nice people. So what. 

 

Teralek wrote:

There is no such thing as 100% monopoly and it doesn't need to be as long as the competition is under control.

A monopoly is not an easy thing to define. It depends on the market and the company. But someone who can solely control prices, have enough economic power for dumping, and buy all competition or forcing cartels may have a monopoly.

Ok, good enough definition to work with. If a company can "solely control prices" through any method whether that be forcing a cartel or somehow eliminating all of their competitors, I would agree that is a monopoly. Although that is not necessarily a negative thing. You still have the burden to show that the company is so damaging we should send people with guns to take a portion of their company away from them. 

 

Teralek wrote:

Amazon maybe is the best example for you, for dumping and buying competition.

And Amazon is not a monopoly. For every single product they sell I have many non-Amazon options. Amazon remains successful only because they consistently are able to offer products at prices lower than anyone else can. They do not have sole pricing control. If they tried to add say 50% onto the price of all of their products to increase profit, their marketshare would evaporate overnight since their entire business model relies on them being able to sell products cheaper than other online retailers and especially brick and mortar stores like Walmart.

 

Teralek wrote:
 

Another good one is Samsung by carteling.

And has it been particularly successful for them? Samsung has been trying for decades to set up cartels in order to keep the price of their products artificially high. Yet the price of their products has continued to drop. Their last brilliant attempt at a cartel totally flopped because the product they were trying to keep prices up on became obsolete. Short term a cartel can have some success at maintaining higher prices, long term they all fail on their own. Either someone within the cartel cheats (and the first cheater makes a big profit) or other related products that are not part of the cartel take their marketshare. Cartels are not particularly damaging to consumers and frequently are damaging to the companies that attempt them. If anything, companies should fire executives who try to set up cartels, not because cartels are unethical but because long term cartels are not profitable. 

 

Teralek wrote:

AIG size was harmful to the economy because its failure could and would trigger the failure of other companies in a domino effect chain reaction. "Too big to fail too big to exist". If the state didn't interfere we would no have a recession but a depression instead with dramatical consequences for the stability of society and public order. On one hand I agree that the state should not have interfered because who fucks up big time deserves to go down. On the other hand I think the state should interfere because thousands or millions of everyday working people shouldn't have their lives destroyed because of the casino life style of a handful of fat cats.

It is always sad when people lose their jobs on a personal level. However, it is absolutely necessary in an economy that companies go out of business and people lose their jobs. Companies that are poorly ran, associate with poorly ran companies, or offer products that are not needed should go out of business. If AIG was allowed just to fail and all their employees were out of work plus the support companies which were unable to find other customers to fill the gap AIG just left, what happens? Those people go find other jobs. 

If there is enough demand in the economy for an AIG, then other companies in the insurance industry are going to start expanding. They are going to pick up talented employees who just got laid off for discounted salaries and are going to go around selling insurance like crazy to AIG's customers. It is a sad situation for AIG, it is an economic boon for the other insurance companies. So some AIG folk are going to keep working the same industry, while others would go off to find work in a different industry and do something else valuable for the economy. 

The initial crash to the economy might be bigger. But it will also be significantly shorter as private companies will be racing each other to take up the marketshare that AIG just lost. When the government bails out an immoral and flawed company like AIG, what do they do? They reward and maintain the people, decisions and structure that led to the problems in the first place. Why should people with guns take money from me to give it to a company like AIG that failed because of their own stupidity? The executives at AIG should be broke on the street, instead they collected $165 million in bonuses courtesy of the US taxpayer.

For the low level workers who had no clue what was going on, sure it is sad. But businesses go out of business every single day. Does it matter to the secretary whether the company that goes out of business is big or small? No, either way, they are out of a job and that sucks. Why bail out a large company but not all those workers who lose their jobs with small companies? Do people losing a job with a big company somehow suffer more than someone losing a job from a small company? But I'm sure you can see how absurd it would be to bail out every failing company just to prevent people from losing their jobs. Besides, even WITH the bailout AIG has cut its workforce in half and the company is still bleeding money like crazy.

What should have happened, in my ideal world, is that AIG would have been forced to go bankrupt. All of their assets would have been sold to pay back all the people they owe money to. Then, when they didn't have enough to pay everyone back the creditors could press lawsuits against the executives responsible and they would have gone personally bankrupt as well. The irresponsible scumbags would find themselves completely broke on the street with the additional problem of a bad reputation. I think that is far more just than those scumbags paying themselves multimillion salaries on the taxpayer dime as their company continues to disintigrate around them. No government necessary outside of a judicial system which enforces the contracts AIG made and makes them pay the money they voluntarily agreed to owe.  

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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cj wrote:Eyeglasses. Both I

cj wrote:

Eyeglasses. Both I and my husband wear them. Buying a new pair usually runs over $300 for a pretty ordinary pair of glasses.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57527151/sticker-shock-why-are-glasses-so-expensive/

So I went looking on line. Similar glasses, same style of lenses (we wear progressive bifocals), and we can get a pair for less than $100. A huge difference for selecting frames with Russian instead of Italian names.

This monopoly is an Italian company and so is not subject to US laws. It probably wouldn't matter if it was since people are going to say that a 300-400% markup does not justify squelching "free markets." Which market is not free if there is a paucity of suppliers. Did this company receive support from the Italian government? I have no idea.

Yes, I can get the less expensive frames on line - but no, I can not get them in the store where and when I get my eye exam. 

So you have other options and those options are extremely easy for you to access. Whether or not you choose to exercise those options are irrelevant. It is not a monopoly. If you want cheaper glasses you can buy them online or go to Walmart, Costco etc. Luxottica realized they can't compete with Walmart price wise so they took a different approach of making them very expensive to appeal to the status symbol crowd. It is a smart idea, and apparently it works really well for them.

What terrible damage are they doing to you that should require people with guns to go to Luxottica and tell them they have to stop selling glasses or change their price or whatever? If you don't want to pay $300 for glasses, don't. No one is forcing you to buy from Luxottica. Apparently, a lot of people want to and are willing to pay hundreds of extra dollars for the brand names. Who are you to tell them they can't?

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving wrote:

Beyond Saving wrote:

latincanuck wrote:

no company wants competition, it takes away from profits. I have spoken about this with many business owners over the years and pretty much if they could get a monopoly they would, why? Because more profit and control for them. Yes you will get business owners that don't want the responsibility, but like wall Street we see what uncontrolled greed will lead to. At the same time over regulation will stifle innovation and competition. A balance between the two is needed wear competition can grown but monopolies don't take over the start up and little guys.

Ok, nice hypothesis. Now demonstrate that a company has ever created a monopoly without government support. (I could list a dozen off the top of my head that exist(ed) solely because of government support, government creates monopolies and rarely destroys them but for the moment lets pretend those monopolies are somehow different)

Then demonstrate that the monopoly was harmful enough to justify using force to break it up. 

Then demonstrate that using government force was an effective and necessary means to break up the harmful monopoly. 

 

 

Sorry for the late response.

Well yes they usually have government help, but not in the sense you think, it is due to inaction or the company in question influences (payoff or political funding or voter influencing) I can think of a few cases, like American Tobacco which was the largest seller of tobacco in the US and abused its position to bully suppliers and sellers, buy cheap and not allowing the sale of tobacco to rivals and then selling the tobacco at a higher than fair price when there was no one else to buy from. The real issue is price fixing and unfair business practices.

De Beers was another monopoly which was harmful because it controlled the diamond industry in such aways as to not allow any competition that did not join its cartel, either by buying up diamonds and storing them (limiting supply) or flooding the market wit the diamonds used by other sellers/producers that were not part of it's company. As well as price fixing which is what they were sued for and lost.

There are cases where a monopoly is good, like the standard Oil monopoly which brought gas/fuel across the US for cheap and water companies in various countries that can bring water across a nation for cheap, however they tend to be heavily regulated. However companies like microsoft which were sued and lost for it's monopoly hold on the PC because it would buy out or simply price discriminate against competitors and punish manufactures that sold/installed rival OS. Now the government was spurn into action because other software companies made the accusations.

There are various pros/cons to it, but history has shown that unregulated free market capitalism can lead into these types of monopolies (Western Union was another that was accused of Price gauging but this was before the introduction of the Sherman act law)


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latincanuck wrote:Sorry for

latincanuck wrote:

Sorry for the late response.

Well yes they usually have government help, but not in the sense you think, it is due to inaction or the company in question influences (payoff or political funding or voter influencing) I can think of a few cases, like American Tobacco which was the largest seller of tobacco in the US and abused its position to bully suppliers and sellers, buy cheap and not allowing the sale of tobacco to rivals and then selling the tobacco at a higher than fair price when there was no one else to buy from. The real issue is price fixing and unfair business practices.

De Beers was another monopoly which was harmful because it controlled the diamond industry in such aways as to not allow any competition that did not join its cartel, either by buying up diamonds and storing them (limiting supply) or flooding the market wit the diamonds used by other sellers/producers that were not part of it's company. As well as price fixing which is what they were sued for and lost.

There are cases where a monopoly is good, like the standard Oil monopoly which brought gas/fuel across the US for cheap and water companies in various countries that can bring water across a nation for cheap, however they tend to be heavily regulated. However companies like microsoft which were sued and lost for it's monopoly hold on the PC because it would buy out or simply price discriminate against competitors and punish manufactures that sold/installed rival OS. Now the government was spurn into action because other software companies made the accusations.

There are various pros/cons to it, but history has shown that unregulated free market capitalism can lead into these types of monopolies (Western Union was another that was accused of Price gauging but this was before the introduction of the Sherman act law)

Ok, lets look at these examples, all of which clearly had gigantic portions of market share.

American Tobacco: Buck Duke inherited a small tobacco business and was doing fairly well. Then he purchased a machine from a brilliant inventor (James Bonsack) which could automatically roll cigarettes. I don't know if you have ever rolled your own cigarettes or joints but it takes time to do by hand. A skilled worker could roll about 4 per minute. The machine could roll 12,000 per hour. Duke was able to outproduce everyone in the industry so he offered his cigarettes for 5 cents a pack of ten, about half the price of most cheap brands (expensive brands sold their cigs for $1+ per pack) and through that was able to achieve approximately 40% of the market.

Duke started a process known as vertical integration, basically, his company owned every step of the cigarette process from the tobacco farms to the packaging companies. This allowed him to provide his cigarettes cheaper than anyone else and he invested in an extremely aggressive sales force. The result was that the large companies he competed with went out of business because they couldn't compete with the low prices. He eventually achieved a 92% market share. 

Impressive, if you define "monopoly" as simply being really huge and pretty much the only significant company in a market, it was a monopoly. But did Duke have pricing power? No. He could lower the price of cigarettes, indeed the one area of the market he was never successful in were the high brow special made expensive cigarettes and cigars. His market share only existed as long as he was able to keep prices lower than anyone else and maintain customer loyalty. The instant he raised prices, he would have lost his monopoly. So why is it bad that he was able to provide a product to people cheaper than anyone else could?

What happened after the government broke up the trust? Did cigarette prices drop? No. Prices went up. Packs were now more frequently packs of 20 which Duke sold for 10 cents. After the trust broke up prices went up to 12.5 cents wholesale. Then in 1931, during the depression when the price of tobacco was falling the tobacco companies tried to raise the price more to 15 cents a pack. The result was that cigarette sales dropped dramatically. Camel, the leader at the time, lost 30% of their sales in a single year. What happened? A bunch of small and regional companies started offering cheap cigarettes at 10 cents a pack and it turned out people weren't so loyal to the big brands. A little regional company called Phillip Morris that made a brand called Marlboro became very popular. In the early 1930's dozens of new brands came out of the woodwork taking advantage of customers upset at the raise in prices. 

Suppose that the government never broke up the tobacco trust. Do you think anything different would have happened if rather than the big four companies all raising prices in 1931, it was the one big company that raised prices? I don't believe it for a minute. Just like the dozens of trusts that held huge market shares in the early 1900's that didn't get broken up by the government, they eventually would have lost it to competition. Look at the sugar trust (98% market share), International Harvester, US Steel and other companies which were not broken up. Today they are shadows of what they used to be. Is there any reason to believe that somehow tobacco would have been different? No. 

 

De Beers-

Is a perfect example of a monopoly that only managed to persist because of government help. Their whole strategy relied on limiting the amount of diamonds being mined. To do this, they got laws passed so that when new diamond mines were discovered only they got control of them. If you happen to own land in South Africa and discover it has diamonds, you can't mine it. It is against the law and people with guns will come and take it from you. De Beers has been actively involved in trying to use governments to outlaw any diamond mines other than theirs. They are not above murdering, bribing and lying to achieve those ends. They made deals with governments like Botswana, South Africa and the USSR to get complete ownership of all diamonds in the country. No support from the governments, and De Beers loses control of the diamond industry as anyone who discovers a diamond can go sell it in the market. Right now, they can't.

 

Standard Oil-

Interesting that you bring that one up and point it out as a good thing. It is also a good thing that was destroyed by the government for being evil. Like most natural monopolies, Standard Oil survived only insofar as it offered lower prices and/or better quality than their competition. And not only did Rockefeller have to compete with other potential oil companies, his big competition came from a man you have probably heard of Thomas Edison and that damn light bulb. As the kerosene market collapsed due to people starting to get electric wiring, Rockefeller invested heavily in scientists to discover new uses for oil and found hundreds of them. Standard Oil only retained its market share by being aggressively innovative and always being technologically one step (or two) ahead of anyone else. Indeed, by 1911 when the Court finally broke up Standard Oil, it was no longer a monopoly at all. It only had 11% of market share in oil, which by that time was the largest petroleum product. It still maintained dominance in kerosene, but the kerosene demand was significantly lower. Its refining business continued to grow, but was losing market share as well.

It is also interesting to notice that Standard Oil attempted to be part of two cartels. Both of which failed miserably. The first agreement was in the 1870's called the SIC, it was an agreement between oil refiners and railroads to raise prices. By 1872, Standard Oil was forced to shutdown all of their refineries because oil producers refused to sell to them and started selling to smaller companies. 

The next effort was called the Pittsburgh Plan where oil refiners and oil producers agreed to set the price of crude oil at $5 a barrel. The problem was that producers outside the cartel started increasing production immediately. Crude spiked for a few weeks and then fell back down to $3.50 a barrel. Within two months the price fell all the way to $2 a barrel, lower than it was before the cartel. So much for the power of a monopoly to fix prices. Rockefeller claimed that he knew neither cartel would work and he participated solely to show his competitors that they would have to compete with him price wise, something none of them could do. Probably just trying to save face, but over the next couple of decades, Standard bought up much of their competition going from 10% to 90% of market share within 8 years. Standard maintained that market share by producing efficiently and selling their products cheaper than anyone for 20 years, then started to lose it as new competitors mimicked their business model and were able to match their prices.   

 

Microsoft-

Another example of a company that got huge market share due to being the first to aggressively pursue a new technology. Ultimately, those evil greedy bastards were guilty of providing consumers a product for free! Can you believe the greed? I am not convinced that a company giving me free stuff is causing any harm at all. Certainly not worth destroying them. Isn't one of the main arguments for government that they can give you all sorts of "free" stuff?

Regardless, another example of how a monopoly disappears on its own. Despite losing their case, Microsoft was never broken up. The agreed to a settlement when they appealed which was completely toothless and amounted to a slap on the wrist. Now today, is Microsoft still a monopoly? They have intense competition from Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Sony, etc. In fact, Microsoft is pushing for the government to break up Google as a monopoly!

In summary, companies can develop large market shares within a particular industry and have a form of what we could call a natural monopoly. These types of things tend to happen in industries that have particularly high start up costs, limited natural resources or are at the edge of technological innovation. However, as long as those monopolies are not coercive (rely on government to shut down their competition either directly or through things like licensing or preferential regulations) their market power only exists to the extent that they can maintain customer loyalty or customer apathy towards seeking an alternative. No one forces you to purchase Microsoft, most people just bought it because it was convenient and they didn't care what operating system they had.

Inevitably, someone comes up with something people like better because it is nicer, easier, cheaper, trendier or whatever and market share melts away. The companies that were huge 50 years ago are smaller (or even non-existent) today. The companies that are huge today will no doubt be smaller or non-existent in 50 years. They might still be significant, but a natural monopoly can't survive long term anymore than a great athlete can be the best forever. So why is government necessary to break these monopolies up? The irony is, that in most cases by the time the government gets around to breaking up the monopoly, its natural decline has already started. All you are doing is introducing another variable that can be (and is) easily abused. Why did the government go after Standard Oil but not International Harvester? Because International Harvester was politically popular and Rockefeller was not. You give the government the power to pick and choose which companies constitute monopoly power and which don't and it is flat out naive to believe that how friendly the businessmen are with the politicians isn't a factor in determining who is sued. 

Monopolies aren't damaging long term they must remain efficient and inexpensive. Even if they get rid of all competition at a particular moment, new competition springs up immediately as soon as some businessman believes he can offer a better/cheaper/newer product. That new businessman will succeed or fail depending on whether they can convince consumers. However many businessmen lose their fortunes trying to compete, there will always be another one behind them. A monopoly isn't just competing with current competition, they are competing with all potential competition, which includes companies within their own industry and also companies in industries which could provide alternatives. (Oil competes with electric, cruise ships compete with hotels, eye glasses compete with surgery and contacts, diamonds compete with other precious stones etc.)

Monopolies are not immortal. Countless examples show that monopolies inevitably lose market share whether a government intervenes or not. Companies might try to fix prices and try to destroy all of their competition, but unless they get a government to outlaw their competition they are doomed to fail. It is like the idiots who try to corner commodities in the markets. They are motivated by the prospect of huge profits, but they never profit and almost always lose large amounts of money. It sounds good in theory, but doesn't work in practice. 

So does it justify using force to break up a monopoly when that use of force is inconsistent and the supposed goal of the force (breaking up a monopoly) is something that is going to happen without it anyway?

The reality is that government is usually responsible for creating monopolies that are damaging to the consumer. For example, consider the New York City taxi industry. It used to be that anyone with a car could throw a sign on their car and be a taxi driver. It was a very popular way to make money for poor immigrants because compared to opening a store front it had very low start up costs and could bring a respectable income. Now, it costs $1 million to get a "taxi medallion" to legally charge someone for a ride. You have to have a medallion for each taxi.

The result? Most people can't afford a million so only large corporations bother. The only way it is profitable is to have a bunch of taxi's providing a stable income and allow millions of dollars of capital to sit tied up in the medallions. A mega-corporation is content to allow their millions to sit with an average return of 5-7%, most people don't have a million just sitting around. The result is that taxi fare in NYC is ridiculously expensive to the consumer and a taxi driver has absolutely no realistic opportunity of ever being able to own their own company unless they win the lottery or something. They could have the best ideas for improving the efficiency of service and lowering the price of cab fare, but could never personally benefit because the barriers of entry set by the government are too high. I could go on for literally hundreds of pages listing businesses which have gained coercive monopolies through regulation almost always disguised as "safety". The reality is that corporations have a lot of money that they can spend lobbying governments and the reality is that politicians are happy to let corporate lawyers write laws, lobby them and fund their campaigns. The idea that regulations are anti-big corporation is laughable. 99% of the time regulations pass because they are supported by big corporations and are designed specifically to make it harder for new competition to come into existence.

I am not against big corporations. I don't get upset because someone sells way more than me and makes a ton of money. Sometimes this gets me painted in the wall as being pro corporation. Well, not really. I support corporations to become as large as they are able in a free market and maintaining their size as long as they can. I don't support them using government as a tool to restrict their competition. I am absolutely flabbergasted at the number of people who literally hate big corporations and seem to have a deep mistrust of them come out and be all pro-regulation, pro-bailout etc. It makes no sense. They say you can't trust big corporations, but then go and join their side when it comes to voting. "Too big to fail" is a ridiculous, dangerous and ignorant notion. We shouldn't hate corporations because they are big, we should hate corporations that use our government to eliminate their competition.

If a Mafia boss sent thugs to destroy the cars of all the taxi drivers that didn't pay him $1 million, I'm pretty sure we would all agree that is bad and he should be stopped. Yet when a taxi corporation uses the government as the thugs people consider it legitimate. (While the government won't send someone to destroy the car with bats, they will send a man with a gun to seize the care, fine you and when you can't pay the fine throw you in jail)

If United Healthcare went around sending men with guns to other insurance companies and threatening to shut them down and throw them in the basement if they didn't offer the exact same insurance at the exact same price they offer people would probably say they should be stopped. Yet when UH goes to D.C. and gets a law passed so that the government threatens to send men with guns to arrest anyone who sells a health insurance plan that insures less than UH and is a different price people call it a good thing.

If United Healthcare went to someones house with a gun and demanded you buy health insurance or you will have to pay a fine people would be outraged. But the government sends an IRS agent to the house and I am told that is a good thing.

The essence of the libertarian position is it does not make the arbitrary distinction that the use of force by government is any more legitimate than the use of force by a private corporation. And given that people routinely argue that our government is controlled by private corporations, I don't get why they so willingly accept corporations using government as their street thugs.

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving wrote: A

Beyond Saving wrote:

 A monopoly is a company that does not have competition either now or fear of it in the future. 

 

That may be the definition of monopoly but I don't agree with it. Like I told you I consider a monopoly when a company controls alone key aspects of a market.

Teralek wrote:

From personal experience companies who are in control of a market have aggressive strategies to remain in control. Like price control, control of raw material flux and price, aggressive and deceitful recruiting...

Beyond Saving wrote:

They try all the time, and some of them are not particularly nice people. So what. 

So there should be regulations that prevent them from succeeding. Regulations, not machine guns.

So basically the oil cartel (which is probably the largest legal cartel in the world) is bad and unprofitable for oil companies?! 

Success through obscure methods by companies are a general rule (pressure, lobbying and other examples I've given before). I'm saying this by experience not because of the tabloids. As soon as an unethical method is known by a news paper the company looses. For example if a company circumvents antitrust laws it succeeds but you don't know about it. It only becomes clear when you know, but then they are not successful. 

So basically what I'm saying is that companies have a lot of success in their unethical methods, we just don't know about it.

Beyond Saving wrote:

It is always sad when people lose their jobs on a personal level. However, it is absolutely necessary in an economy that companies go out of business and people lose their jobs. Companies that are poorly ran, associate with poorly ran companies, or offer products that are not needed should go out of business. If AIG was allowed just to fail and all their employees were out of work plus the support companies which were unable to find other customers to fill the gap AIG just left, what happens? Those people go find other jobs. 

If there is enough demand in the economy for an AIG, then other companies in the insurance industry are going to start expanding. They are going to pick up talented employees who just got laid off for discounted salaries and are going to go around selling insurance like crazy to AIG's customers. It is a sad situation for AIG, it is an economic boon for the other insurance companies. So some AIG folk are going to keep working the same industry, while others would go off to find work in a different industry and do something else valuable for the economy. 

I agree with you. But you are conveniently forgetting that the economy has negative feedbacks as well as positive. If people loose their business and their jobs the market goes down, meaning there will be less people buying stuff and making business. This in turn will make more people unemployed and more failed businesses... This works the other way as well, if more people have more money, they will spend it allowing more profit and expanding businesses.

This is why recessions tend to be very long and unstoppable for a while. 

In the latest example I don't think the "initial crash to the economy would have been bigger" but I think it would be catastrophic, if governments just stand and watched. Simply because today everything seems to be connected to everything. The only country that I think did the best during the 2008 crysis was Iceland.

 If we have a system with NO companies which are too big to fail, we would have a much more stable economy. Unstable economies are unethical, and that's the only reason I'm against them.

I understand why governments all over the world did what they did and I also understand why they shouldn't. This is a complex issue and not a black and white picture, especially for me. Economy is not my specialty...

Central planning is clearly more efficient in many cases and private investment in others. Examples are power distribution or road building, which is much more efficient if it's controlled by one institution alone. I believe the state should do it. One of the key reasons why I think that is I don't believe the state is an evil entity we should terminate. The state is not them, it should be "we the state" and the state is much more open to public scrutiny than a company which is much more secretive and profit driven. If you look carefully in all countries in the world the state interferes a lot on these issues. 

Cell phone manufacturing, on the other hand, is much more efficient if it's controlled privately and in competition because its product is not a single structure of billions dollars providing a primary service that supports civilization.

Things work this way almost everywhere, some places better some places worse. So the OP has the burden of proof that anarchy would be a better system, not us...

 I think comparing statism (or regulation) with religious faith is not very smart. I could say the same about anarchy.

There are many more reasons I want regulations. Like poisoning or some other ways I can die or get sick form products I buy, deceitful marketing, ethical wages, crime safety, ecological sustainability, etc... What I want to change to first is a different voting and democratic system because people don't know what they are voting for nowadays.

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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Teralek wrote:So there

Teralek wrote:

So there should be regulations that prevent them from succeeding. Regulations, not machine guns.

Regulations are guns. A regulation that is not backed up by the ultimate threat of imprisonment is useless and would quickly be ignored. The punishment might be a fine or something non-violent. But what happens when you refuse to pay the fine? They take it from you forcefully. What happens if you hide your assets so they can't take it electronically? They send men with guns to your doorstep and arrest you. What happens if you resist arrest? They use whatever force necessary up to and including lethal force. The reason why the enforcement of regulations rarely involves an actual gun is solely because of the implicit threat that if you don't obey/pay the penalty more significant force will be used.  

 

Teralek wrote:

So basically the oil cartel (which is probably the largest legal cartel in the world) is bad and unprofitable for oil companies?! 

The oil cartel would cease being profitable immediately if non-cartel countries increased oil production. For example, if the US were to completely open up its oil market, OPEC would be screwed. Also note that OPEC is only successful with their attempts because the cartel is supported by governments which use guns to ensure that all the drilling companies obey. If one of the companies were to drill more than OPEC says, then the government would come in and shut down the company. 

 

Teralek wrote:

Success through obscure methods by companies are a general rule (pressure, lobbying and other examples I've given before). I'm saying this by experience not because of the tabloids. As soon as an unethical method is known by a news paper the company looses. For example if a company circumvents antitrust laws it succeeds but you don't know about it. It only becomes clear when you know, but then they are not successful. 

So basically what I'm saying is that companies have a lot of success in their unethical methods, we just don't know about it.

And those unethical methods are as likely if not more likely to occur using government.

 

Teralek wrote:

I agree with you. But you are conveniently forgetting that the economy has negative feedbacks as well as positive. If people loose their business and their jobs the market goes down, meaning there will be less people buying stuff and making business. This in turn will make more people unemployed and more failed businesses... This works the other way as well, if more people have more money, they will spend it allowing more profit and expanding businesses.

This is why recessions tend to be very long and unstoppable for a while. 

That theory only works if money has a fixed value, it doesn't. Having more money is meaningless when inflation outstrips the increase in money. People have more money, but don't have more buying power. Similarly, during periods of deflation and unemployment, money becomes more valuable and therefore a single dollar purchases more. So while there may be less money and fewer people purchasing, demand can be higher. 

Also, recessions are never across the board. Certain industries thrive in recessions and demand for them goes up providing jobs. A recession is nothing more than the market reacting because some good or commodity (or several goods/commodities) were being over produced. IOW, too many people are making things/providing things that are not needed. So they lose their jobs which temporarily lower demand for whatever other goods they wanted/needed until they start working in a field where there is demand. Left to their own devices, people tend to find jobs in demand really quick because they still want to eat.

Government regulations tend to slow the process down for a couple of reasons. First, politicians want to be compassionate so they provide benefits such as unemployment which reduce the incentive/necessity to get a job immediately. Second, they are obsessed with making sure people don't lose their jobs, so they give bail outs and such to prevent people from being laid off even though the product they make is not selling. This prolongs the recession, which is why the one we have now is so damn long and also why the Great Depression was so damn long compared to the many recessions we have had that lasted for a year or two. 

 

Teralek wrote:

If we have a system with NO companies which are too big to fail, we would have a much more stable economy. Unstable economies are unethical, and that's the only reason I'm against them.

I will concede that a free market is unstable, I deal with it on a daily basis in my attempts to remain profitable. I don't consider that a necessarily bad thing. Instability is what leads to innovation, improved technology and extreme wealth. Poverty is extremely stable in that it never changes. Free markets work by encouraging overproduction and then destroying those who fail to be efficient at producing. There are two distinct types of efficiency- efficiency in the amount of resources/effort put into making a final product and efficiency in the use of the final product.

For example, one might increase the efficiency of making cell phones so that a company can make millions more in a year for pennies which leads to much larger amounts of the final product and in a free market that company is going to have a huge advantage regardless of whether or not every cell phone is sold. The financial benefit for overproducing outweighs the minimal loss of throwing away excess. The result is that a lot of companies overproduce and a lot of the end product never goes to a consumer. It is often thrown away. That is why Americans are ridiculously rich and also ridiculously wasteful. If you had a theoretical system which could eliminate all overproduction, you could save all the labor, time and raw materials that go into making stuff that sits in warehouses until it is thrown away. That would also reduce the booms and busts associated with a free market.

However, such a system has never existed and so far the attempts to create them have been failures. The main problem is that if you give people the freedom to choose what to buy, how do you predict exactly what they will buy before they buy it? If you don't give people that freedom, then you have a system which encourages and rewards those who are corrupt which makes for a rather unpleasant place to live.  

Ultimately, it is a moral question. Is a government morally justified to initiate force in order to make an economy stable. I think non-violence is more important morally than guaranteeing stability even if a government could guarantee stability. Which is why my initial post in this thread I pointed out that I disagree that the entire burden of proof is on the statist. Libertarians need to prove that non-initiation of force is morally better than initiating force. First, I think it is important for people to recognize that any law, any regulation, no matter how nice, how minor or how effective it is constitutes a use of force. 

(Note: not all laws constitute an initiation of force, for example a law against murder doesn't initiate force because the murderer already initiated force and the state is reacting to that use of force. Libertarians are not anarchists. I do think that the anarchist might be completely free of the burden of proof as their position is a completely negative philosophy.)

 

Teralek wrote:
 

Central planning is clearly more efficient in many cases and private investment in others. Examples are power distribution or road building, which is much more efficient if it's controlled by one institution alone. I believe the state should do it. One of the key reasons why I think that is I don't believe the state is an evil entity we should terminate. The state is not them, it should be "we the state" and the state is much more open to public scrutiny than a company which is much more secretive and profit driven. If you look carefully in all countries in the world the state interferes a lot on these issues. 

Cell phone manufacturing, on the other hand, is much more efficient if it's controlled privately and in competition because its product is not a single structure of billions dollars providing a primary service that supports civilization.

Things work this way almost everywhere, some places better some places worse. So the OP has the burden of proof that anarchy would be a better system, not us...

Is it impossible to have central planning without using force? You can still have government, you can still have government functions inside a libertarian system. The only thing the government is restricted from is using force to obtain its goals. You want Social Security? Fine, make it a voluntary contribution program and only pay out to those who opted to participate voluntarily. Want a city park? Raise money for it voluntarily. Want a government ran utility system? Fine, fund it through voluntary methods and don't ban a private company that chooses to invest and compete. You want a huge national military? Fine, start raising money. You want some central planner which gives bailouts to companies or subsidies? Fine, raise the money voluntarily for the bailouts and to pay the committee. Want the government to build a light rail system? Fine, raise the money voluntarily and build it. Want a government organization to go around and stamp its approval on the safety/quality of products? Fine, fund it voluntarily.  

There is absolutely nothing in a libertarian system that prevents you or anyone else from getting together with a group of any number of people and choosing to have any kind of government program, construction project or public service you desire. The only thing it prevents is you forcing someone who doesn't wish to participate to be part of it or fund it for you. There is absolutely nothing that the government does today service wise that it could not do in a libertarian system. It would only lose its power to force people to participate and its power to forcefully take peoples money to pay for things they don't want to be part of.

You want to join the Venus Project and set up an RBE? A Marxist commune? Fine with me. Just don't use force to make me or anyone else live there. I doubt it will work as great as imagined, but feel free to try to prove me wrong. There is nothing there that is contrary to a libertarian system.  

People accept the constant use of force as necessary because it is all we have ever had in our lifetimes. Is it really necessary to make everything the government does coercive? Are there ways the government could do it without coercion? Yes, I believe there are ways and I don't think it is an idea that is so crazy it should be dismissed immediately as ridiculous as it often is. Just because the worldwide trend for 100 years has been to turn to coercive government solutions to all problems does not mean those solutions are the best ones. 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving wrote:The oil

Beyond Saving wrote:

The oil cartel would cease being profitable immediately if non-cartel countries increased oil production. For example, if the US were to completely open up its oil market, OPEC would be screwed. Also note that OPEC is only successful with their attempts because the cartel is supported by governments which use guns to ensure that all the drilling companies obey. If one of the companies were to drill more than OPEC says, then the government would come in and shut down the company. 

And why don't they do it? Maybe they profit more this way and avoid a war with a cartel that has a lot more "market force" than them...

Beyond Saving wrote:

And those unethical methods are as likely if not more likely to occur using government.

 

On the contrary, unethical methods are more often employed in libertarian systems than in liberal democratic ones.

Beyond Saving wrote:

That theory only works if money has a fixed value, it doesn't. Having more money is meaningless when inflation outstrips the increase in money. People have more money, but don't have more buying power. Similarly, during periods of deflation and unemployment, money becomes more valuable and therefore a single dollar purchases more. So while there may be less money and fewer people purchasing, demand can be higher. 

Also, recessions are never across the board. Certain industries thrive in recessions and demand for them goes up providing jobs. A recession is nothing more than the market reacting because some good or commodity (or several goods/commodities) were being over produced. IOW, too many people are making things/providing things that are not needed. So they lose their jobs which temporarily lower demand for whatever other goods they wanted/needed until they start working in a field where there is demand. Left to their own devices, people tend to find jobs in demand really quick because they still want to eat.

Government regulations tend to slow the process down for a couple of reasons. First, politicians want to be compassionate so they provide benefits such as unemployment which reduce the incentive/necessity to get a job immediately. Second, they are obsessed with making sure people don't lose their jobs, so they give bail outs and such to prevent people from being laid off even though the product they make is not selling. This prolongs the recession, which is why the one we have now is so damn long and also why the Great Depression was so damn long compared to the many recessions we have had that lasted for a year or two. 

 

Didn't know that about currency, but makes sense, goes to show my ignorance in economy... Still the effects on that might only work on normal market fluctuations. If the down turn is severe enough deflation can only do so much. there are several brakes to deflation too. In Portugal I saw a recession for 2-3 years but there was no deflation, only stagnation of the Euro... But Germany controls the Euro really...

I think though depressions are across the board. The great depression was across the board. The way you write make it sound like a hiccup. Finance is connected to EVERY sector of human activity for example. Demand goes far beyond eating and modern economy is mostly based in shit we don't really need. In the 19th century economy you would be right.

Your 1 premise about government slowing down economic recovery is not true. If it was, after a recession there would be an increase in jobs offers and many of these jobs not being filled because people were on government unemployment benefits. What happens is exactly the opposite. Moreover very rarely you get lots of unfilled job offers. There are more job offers to be filled when the economy is growing not the opposite. Plus you have the math fact that there are not enough jobs for every single job seeking person. Most people I know rather work than stay on benefits. On the second premise I agree to a certain extent. True that the bail outs extend depressions whilst making them less severe... but AFTER the bail outs whoever doesn't sell continues not selling so the government has to continue "bailing out" until it can't no more... On the other hand new business who can sell would prosper and lift the economy back. This does not happen.

The reason why depression tend to last decades is because of the feedbacks I told you and capital accumulation. On our depression BTW I think there is a 3rd factor - Resource constrains.

Beyond Saving wrote:

I will concede that a free market is unstable, I deal with it on a daily basis in my attempts to remain profitable. I don't consider that a necessarily bad thing. Instability is what leads to innovation, improved technology and extreme wealth. Poverty is extremely stable in that it never changes.  

More than innovation, free market or anything else I would like to see a system where the extremes were eliminated: Extreme wealth and poverty.

Beyond Saving wrote:

For example, one might increase the efficiency of making cell phones so that a company can make millions more in a year for pennies which leads to much larger amounts of the final product and in a free market that company is going to have a huge advantage regardless of whether or not every cell phone is sold. The financial benefit for overproducing outweighs the minimal loss of throwing away excess. The result is that a lot of companies overproduce and a lot of the end product never goes to a consumer. It is often thrown away. That is why Americans are ridiculously rich and also ridiculously wasteful. If you had a theoretical system which could eliminate all overproduction, you could save all the labor, time and raw materials that go into making stuff that sits in warehouses until it is thrown away. That would also reduce the booms and busts associated with a free market.

However, such a system has never existed and so far the attempts to create them have been failures. The main problem is that if you give people the freedom to choose what to buy, how do you predict exactly what they will buy before they buy it? If you don't give people that freedom, then you have a system which encourages and rewards those who are corrupt which makes for a rather unpleasant place to live.  

In theory central planning can solve the problems you stressed. And I stress In theory. True that I don't know about any current system that can eliminate all of this and be a pleasant/free place to live, in practical terms.

Beyond Saving wrote:
Ultimately, it is a moral question. Is a government morally justified to initiate force in order to make an economy stable. I think non-violence is more important morally than guaranteeing stability even if a government could guarantee stability. Which is why my initial post in this thread I pointed out that I disagree that the entire burden of proof is on the statist. Libertarians need to prove that non-initiation of force is morally better than initiating force. First, I think it is important for people to recognize that any law, any regulation, no matter how nice, how minor or how effective it is constitutes a use of force. 

(Note: not all laws constitute an initiation of force, for example a law against murder doesn't initiate force because the murderer already initiated force and the state is reacting to that use of force. Libertarians are not anarchists. I do think that the anarchist might be completely free of the burden of proof as their position is a completely negative philosophy.)

You know what's funny? Starting on a completely different basis I agree with you. Because in principle I agree with Gandhi's philosophy of non violence. However I'm not sure if that would be wise to implement without risking civilization itself...

Be careful though with your concept of "initiation of force". That is not so black and white as you are painting.

I worked briefly sometime ago in a job where my boss was pressuring me and threatening me to work insane hours. I quit and I know that people don't work for him for long. But imagine that I was in fear of starving and had no other job perspectives...

I'm sure that you know as well as I do that there are many ways bosses pressure and coerce people. If there was no regulations this would be worse.

Another example is cruise lines (The libertarian industry). International Maritime Law imposed (gun imposed according to you ) that no one can work more than 14 hours on a single day. Before this there were more people (Philipinos and Indians) literally collapsing from exhaustion and getting into work accidents. Why do you think Philipinos choose to be on a ship for 9 months working 12-14h shifts making 400$ a month? No one forces them. Is this ethical?

What if the CEO of Royal Caribean took pity on them and reduced the work hours to 10h a day and increased wages to 500$? This would force him to adjust cruise prices to make the same profit... Well then Carnival would win market share big time because it could offer cheaper cruises for the same routes. It's not good for business to take pity on others. Capitalism is very predatory if left alone. A very good teacher of unethical behavior

Imagine a picture where I have someone who I feed and give basic accomodation but I demand painstaking work on 12h shifts with no days off. This person is free to go if he wishes. He chooses not too because outside my "umbrella" there is starvation and no bed to sleep. Is this ethical? Is there any "initiation of force" here?

You may think this is fiction or exageration. I say look at history and think again.

I say more, most people left alone don't do the right thing. We exploit others at the first opportunity. Forcing someone to do something for you even when you are not physically forcing anything can be an "unlawful" use of force too.

 

Beyond Saving wrote:
Is it impossible to have central planning without using force?

Humans being humans, yes, I believe so. 

Imagine that I give money voluntarily to a governmental safety laboratory so that they can analize the safety of food and products that I consume. Ethically you shouldn't have access to the results if you don't contribute.

If whoever doesn't pay can't have access to results then I have to go on a website or something and see about the safety of everything that I buy. A lot of nuisance compared to just go to the supermarket and pick the product up.

What if you want to contribute BUT have a low income job and you can't pay this service because you are already spending it on health care and social security? Is it fair that is more likely that your life expectancy is much lower than mine?

There is something very unethical in all of this. Seems like freedom vs. ethics... can you have them both?

 

Beyond Saving wrote:
Is it really necessary to make everything the government does coercive? Are there ways the government could do it without coercion? Yes, I believe there are ways and I don't think it is an idea that is so crazy it should be dismissed immediately as ridiculous as it often is. Just because the worldwide trend for 100 years has been to turn to coercive government solutions to all problems does not mean those solutions are the best ones. 

A fair government doesn't need to be coercive. "I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law." Aristotle

When I was in Sweden I was amazed by some people's comments on how they were proud of their state health system and other state services. On how this was much better than in many other countries.

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"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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Teralek wrote:Beyond Saving

Teralek wrote:

Beyond Saving wrote:

The oil cartel would cease being profitable immediately if non-cartel countries increased oil production. For example, if the US were to completely open up its oil market, OPEC would be screwed. Also note that OPEC is only successful with their attempts because the cartel is supported by governments which use guns to ensure that all the drilling companies obey. If one of the companies were to drill more than OPEC says, then the government would come in and shut down the company. 

And why don't they do it? Maybe they profit more this way and avoid a war with a cartel that has a lot more "market force" than them...

The general political climate of the US is that drilling is evil. As far as the politicians who push/support the propaganda against drilling there is a wide variety of motivations, some of them no doubt are actually concerned about the environment. The accidents that have occurred don't help. The Exxon Valdez spill created a lot of public sentiment against drilling, and no doubt is the primary reason so many people are opposed to drilling in ANWR. The BP spill froze expansion in the Gulf for awhile. It is something that seems less strong in peoples minds, perhaps because we have a much shorter attention span now than during the Exxon Valdez. New oil drilling is just now getting started.

http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/print/volume-73/issue-5/international-report/gulf-of-mexico-e-p-activity-maintains-momentum.html

That drilling combined with the new oil coming from shale will no doubt have a huge impact on the global market and damage OPEC's ability to be effective to the extent that it is effective at all. The only way OPEC can control prices is by cutting production. They are going to have to cut production this December mostly because all the shale oil is starting to hit the market. What happens if they cut production? They make less money than they did before because they are selling less oil at the same price, while American companies make more money due to the artificially high prices. This encourages even more drilling. If the companies can get through the political reality of being allowed to drill, they will happily drill more, making OPEC cut production even more to maintain prices. Eventually, OPEC countries will be unwilling to cut production and accept lower profits and the oil price will crash. It is inevitable, and given a truly free market where oil companies could simply start drilling without all the red tape, it would happen faster. If the American public and politicians weren't so anti-drilling it would have happened 20 years ago. 

http://www.platts.com/latest-news/oil/kuwaitcity/opec-must-cut-crude-output-to-prevent-sharp-price-26116906 

 

 

Teralek wrote:

Didn't know that about currency, but makes sense, goes to show my ignorance in economy... Still the effects on that might only work on normal market fluctuations. If the down turn is severe enough deflation can only do so much. there are several brakes to deflation too. In Portugal I saw a recession for 2-3 years but there was no deflation, only stagnation of the Euro... But Germany controls the Euro really...

In a libertarian society you don't have a central bank and that makes a huge difference. Inflation and deflation of money are directly controlled by governments through printing and destroying money and for the most part, they can control it very effectively. The problem with that is inflation and deflation are indicators that encourage or discourage people from putting their money places.

For example, the US government pursued a low interest rate, moderate inflation monetary policy throughout the 90's. This encouraged people to put money into real estate because they could borrow at really low rates and the investment was profitable through inflation alone. Real estate was a natural choice for regular people because you can get really large loans to buy real estate compared to other purchases. As more and more people realized that it increased demand for real estate, which caused prices to spike, which encouraged more people to believe real estate was a great (and safe) place to invest. 

What should have happened, is the demand for loans should have caused the price of loans to climb, raising interest rates and making borrowing to buy a house for investment purposes less profitable and less desirable. The spike would have settled down and the people who bought last would have taken losses. Most of the economy probably wouldn't have noticed any more than it noticed the tech bubble burst outside of silicon valley. 

Why didn't this happen? Because the US government printed a lot of money and put a lot of effort into maintaining low interest rates by loaning cheaper and cheaper money to the banks. The banks had a virtually limitless supply of money they could borrow for virtually nothing and loan out for 5% and make a huge profit. If the property foreclosed it didn't matter because the values were rising so rapidly that banks often made more profit on a loan they foreclosed than on one paid as agreed. Encouraging sloppy lending practices because banks really didn't give a shit if the loan was paid, they profited either way. 

It was politically expedient to avoid the immediate, but probably short, recession that would certainly occur if rates rose. Every time the Fed did raise rates, the economy would slow immediately because borrowing slowed down, and every time they cut rates borrowing would increase. In the meantime, all sorts of real estate was being improved and people were flipping houses like crazy because it was perceived as virtually no risk. You borrowed at low interest rates and even the worst real estate investment would increase in value at a higher rate. 

This can't continue forever. Eventually, even the government has to stop giving away money and interest rates can't fall below zero and the realities of the real market value become apparent. At that point, all it takes is the slightest touch and the house of cards that only existed because the government was helping hold it up while the market made it bigger collapses. Then, instead of having a market that was overvalued for a few years and had a little overproduction with a few companies going in over their head, you end up with a market that has been overvalued for over a decade with massive amounts of overproduction, over investment and pretty much every significant company in the world had their fingers in it. 

 

Teralek wrote:

I think though depressions are across the board. The great depression was across the board. The way you write make it sound like a hiccup. Finance is connected to EVERY sector of human activity for example. Demand goes far beyond eating and modern economy is mostly based in shit we don't really need. In the 19th century economy you would be right.

Your 1 premise about government slowing down economic recovery is not true. If it was, after a recession there would be an increase in jobs offers and many of these jobs not being filled because people were on government unemployment benefits. What happens is exactly the opposite. Moreover very rarely you get lots of unfilled job offers. There are more job offers to be filled when the economy is growing not the opposite. Plus you have the math fact that there are not enough jobs for every single job seeking person. Most people I know rather work than stay on benefits. On the second premise I agree to a certain extent. True that the bail outs extend depressions whilst making them less severe... but AFTER the bail outs whoever doesn't sell continues not selling so the government has to continue "bailing out" until it can't no more... On the other hand new business who can sell would prosper and lift the economy back. This does not happen.

The reason why depression tend to last decades is because of the feedbacks I told you and capital accumulation. On our depression BTW I think there is a 3rd factor - Resource constrains.

The job market is hardly a free market in any developed economy. There are a number of reasons why us employers are not hiring. Hiring a person has gotten substantially more expensive than it was prior to the recession because of our loving government. In a free market, hiring people after a recession should be cheaper which encourages more people to hire. It isn't, and the reasons for it are directly tied to the actions of governments. Quite frankly, anyone who hires a new employee in the US right now without an extremely compelling need to do so is an idiot I wouldn't trust with my money. I could expand on this but it is a rather large tangent. Maybe I'll get around to discussing it in another thread.

Resource constraints are often a large contributing factor and often the instigating factor of a recession. And does government action increase resources? Only in the case of a government that is actively involved in operating companies that produce resources. I think there is substantial evidence that private companies are far superior in creating more resources than government ran companies. I think it is certainly fair to question which is better at fairly distributing resources, or which is more moral in creating them etc. I don't think that it is even disputable that private corporations in a more/less free market create much larger raw numbers of resources even compared to a very well ran government.

 

Teralek wrote:
 

In theory central planning can solve the problems you stressed. And I stress In theory. True that I don't know about any current system that can eliminate all of this and be a pleasant/free place to live, in practical terms.

And such theories I think are worth trying out, because who knows maybe someone might figure out how to make one work. I'm all for anyone attempting to build a city which tests those theories, as long as they don't use force. In a completely free market people are free to try whatever they want. Cartels and trusts weren't necessarily designed out of pure greed. Many of the cartels in the 1800's were created in attempts to protect declining industries, prevent job losses and make things more efficient. The theory failed, but it is little different than the theory commonly pushed by governments to justify subsidies. I think people should be free to experiment with all sorts of strategies. The ones that work well will be rewarded and mimicked, those that don't will gradually disappear and variants of them will be tried later. 

 

Teralek wrote:

You know what's funny? Starting on a completely different basis I agree with you. Because in principle I agree with Gandhi's philosophy of non violence. However I'm not sure if that would be wise to implement without risking civilization itself...

Be careful though with your concept of "initiation of force". That is not so black and white as you are painting.

Most people tend to agree with the moral basis on an individual level, they just refuse to hold government to the same standards they hold their neighbor to. 

But yeah, "initiation of force" isn't black and white and us libertarians will argue against each other over specific policies all the time. The discussion though is a completely different nature than political discussions between statists. Instead of the argument being over what works better, what is nicer and the assumption that the government should "do something" to solve whatever problem, the discussion is whether or not a persons or companies actions constitutes an initiation of force that is causing real harm. I would be ecstatic if that was the political dialogue happening on a broad level. 

 

Teralek wrote:

I worked briefly sometime ago in a job where my boss was pressuring me and threatening me to work insane hours. I quit and I know that people don't work for him for long. But imagine that I was in fear of starving and had no other job perspectives...

I'm sure that you know as well as I do that there are many ways bosses pressure and coerce people. If there was no regulations this would be worse.

Another example is cruise lines (The libertarian industry). International Maritime Law imposed (gun imposed according to you ) that no one can work more than 14 hours on a single day. Before this there were more people (Philipinos and Indians) literally collapsing from exhaustion and getting into work accidents. Why do you think Philipinos choose to be on a ship for 9 months working 12-14h shifts making 400$ a month? No one forces them. Is this ethical?

What if the CEO of Royal Caribean took pity on them and reduced the work hours to 10h a day and increased wages to 500$? This would force him to adjust cruise prices to make the same profit... Well then Carnival would win market share big time because it could offer cheaper cruises for the same routes. It's not good for business to take pity on others. Capitalism is very predatory if left alone. A very good teacher of unethical behavior

Imagine a picture where I have someone who I feed and give basic accomodation but I demand painstaking work on 12h shifts with no days off. This person is free to go if he wishes. He chooses not too because outside my "umbrella" there is starvation and no bed to sleep. Is this ethical? Is there any "initiation of force" here?

You may think this is fiction or exageration. I say look at history and think again.

Good examples, I don't think you are exaggerating at all and those types of situations are definitely sad. So lets look at history. Is it something that will persist indefinitely without government intervention? No. The reason why employers can demand long hours, low pay, bad conditions etc are because there is a large labor market that is desperate. Working for the terrible employer is better than their other option, starving. Like any resource, when there is a high supply the value of it is really low. And labor is a resource that reacts to the market like any other resource.  

Also, like any other resource, when labor is available in excess it encourages more companies to use it. This is why so many American companies build factories in places like China. Is government intervention needed to increase the value of the resource? Clearly not. Wages and working conditions have been improving in China which not so many years ago was viewed as having an infinite labor supply mainly due to there finally being competition to attract workers. For the first time, experienced workers in China are starting to have other options. Are they anywhere near modern Western standards? No. Will they reach that eventually? Probably.

Every single Western country also went through a period where there were massive amounts of labor available and had similarly poor working conditions. We like to look back and point out the government laws like minimum wage and government standards as being responsible, but were they really? Not so much. Unions were routinely legislated against when they first started. In fact, the first uses of anti-trust laws in the US were not against corporations, they were against unions because a union is basically a cartel attempting to control the price of labor. Invariably, proworker laws don't pass until after unions become successful and have political power. You have a dual aspect of government being responsible for holding back unions in the beginning and then when unions succeed despite government, the prounion forces gain political power and use it to speed the process up. If the government never used force at all, the process would have started faster, although at the end it might have been a little slower. Regardless, it was a process that was going to happen inevitably.

The question isn't whether or not worker conditions will improve, eventually workers will have options, the labor supply will shrink and they will have more bargaining power. The reason to use government force to impose labor laws isn't because conditions won't improve, it is to speed up that improvement. Force is a very quick way to do many things, if my goal is to get you to give me $10 you would probably hand it to me much more quickly if I put a gun in your face than if I try to find some non-violent way to get it from you. That doesn't make it right.

Killing all the British would have been a quick way to get freedom for India, especially if the killing had been timed to take place during WWI or WWII when the British were occupied elsewhere. It took Gandhi decades of effort and significant suffering before his cause succeeded shortly before his death. What is better, being fast or being moral?  

 

Teralek wrote:
 

Beyond Saving wrote:
Is it impossible to have central planning without using force?

Humans being humans, yes, I believe so. 

Imagine that I give money voluntarily to a governmental safety laboratory so that they can analize the safety of food and products that I consume. Ethically you shouldn't have access to the results if you don't contribute.

If whoever doesn't pay can't have access to results then I have to go on a website or something and see about the safety of everything that I buy. A lot of nuisance compared to just go to the supermarket and pick the product up.

What if you want to contribute BUT have a low income job and you can't pay this service because you are already spending it on health care and social security? Is it fair that is more likely that your life expectancy is much lower than mine?

There is something very unethical in all of this. Seems like freedom vs. ethics... can you have them both?

Let us examine this. Fortunately, there are a number of private organizations that use voluntary money to certify companies. There are a number of ways they can get the money

The BBB (Better Business Bureau)- An organization that built up a reputation by grading businesses. They get their funding by soliciting businesses to be certified. The business pays a fee and then the BBB has a process where they inspect the company and verify that it is in fact a regular business. They track and arbitrate complaints which can affect the grade the business receives and are available for consumers. Their reputation among consumers is really good. Their reputation among businesses varies, some claim that the BBB "shakes down" businesses for money because when you pay to get accredited you get a better grade than a company that isn't. The BBB isn't really useful for determining the quality of a businesses product, but it is very effective for protecting yourself from outright scams.

Angie's List- A company with a convenient online site that charges a subscription (varies by location but is generally around $20 a year so affordable to anyone who can afford to buy anything). Angie's list works by verifying the identity of its members who then write reviews of the companies they use. Through a series of safeguards the company limits the number of fraudulent reviews either from people with a personal grudge against a company (such as a terminated employee) or from companies making false positive reviews. Like the BBB, Angie's list will arbitrate disputes between customers and businesses so that businesses have a chance to fix honest mistakes before their name is sullied by negative reviews. Angie's list is imo an extremely valuable resource for anyone hiring contractors, landscapers and other similar jobs where you often have to pay a large fee upfront before you get the benefits.

Such fields often encourage dishonest practices because the contractor can easily take the money do half or none of the work and disappear. For the consumer, it is almost always impossible to track down the dishonest contractor and obtain any legal satisfaction because they use false names and move from state to state. Free sites, like Yelp can protect consumers somewhat, but often have false reviews (there are in fact companies you can hire that will go around bragging about your business on all sorts of review sites). There was a problem, and Angie's List solves it, no force needed. I would consider Angie's List far more reliable than say a state certification. A field that Angie's List is currently expanding is their medical. Sure, the government certifies doctors, but does that mean the doctor is actually good?  

Nasty Client- A website for contractors to report clients who rip them off. Yes, you can actually get a review of customers for only $16 a year. Why? Dishonesty is not a one way street and it isn't only consumers who get screwed. People hire contractors, get the work done and then refuse to pay up. It is against the law for contractors to destroy the work, some have gone to jail for breaking a window they just installed that the customer refused to pay for. It is an expensive and long process for a contractor to attempt to collect and usually a process that fails to get the money back. So the guy who made Nastyclient.com had the brilliant idea of creating a list of people who do this. As it turns out, if a person is dishonest and rips off one contractor, they are likely to do the same thing to others.

Credit Agencies- Like Nasty Client, these are companies that protect corporations from customers who don't live up to their agreements. They make their money from corporations that pay to run credit checks and from consumers who want to know what the credit agencies track about them.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways these things can not only be funded, but also turn an excess profit. There are benefits and drawbacks for each method but I think it is best for the people involved to decide what method is best for them. How would such an organization work for food? Most likely corporations would pay a fee to be certified. They would pay a fee and the certification company would do inspections of the safety standards in place and grade them. How would the consumer know? Most likely, large grocers would refuse to carry anything that isn't certified. Walmart doesn't want to be known as the place that sells spinach that will kill you.

The other option would be something along the lines of "RealSeal" a non-profit organization set up by a voluntary dairy farmers trade group. The trade group funds the organization which allows companies which go through an annual certification process and meets their standards to put the tradmarked "Real" design on their dairy products. Why would farmers pay for this? Marketing. It helps them sell more product as a group. An ecoli outbreak happened in spinach awhile back that was really bad (despite all the government safety inspectors) and it really hurt spinach farmers because a lot of people stopped buying spinach. Really, who wants to die for spinach? A nice porterhouse steak and I might risk it. The seal is easy to see and prominently displayed on the packaging. It is a much faster way to figure out that a dairy product is actually mostly real dairy than trying to read the ingredients. 

The entire assumption behind having government inspectors is that without them companies would have dramatically different standards. That simply isn't true. Government inspectors are not that active, they don't catch a lot of health dangers and even when they find problems the punishment is a slap on the wrist. The company pays a few bucks, cleans up their act until the follow up inspection and then goes back to their bad habits in a few months. The food supply in the US remains mostly safe because companies don't like the bad publicity of selling stuff that gets people sick. The local news loves it when a local person is hospitalized doing something as mundane as eating because it scares people.

Perhaps if they didn't have government agencies to blame for failing to catch the health violations, large companies like Walmart would be faced with more of the blame. Instead of asking some poor government hack "Why didn't you catch this?" And going on about how the system needs to be reformed which leads to the drafting of some law that never makes it out of committee because after a few weeks no one pays attention to it; suppose we asked the grocer "Why did you stock unsafe produce?" "Why aren't you doing more?" At the prospect of losing customers, a corporation will do anything to improve their image. The government doesn't have the same motivation.   

   

Teralek wrote:

A fair government doesn't need to be coercive. "I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law." Aristotle

When I was in Sweden I was amazed by some people's comments on how they were proud of their state health system and other state services. On how this was much better than in many other countries.

And if the state health system is so popular (which I have no reason to doubt that it is), is it unreasonable to believe that people would voluntarily pay the money into it that is currently be extracted through force? A health system that is popular and works well doesn't have to be coercive. If it has to be coercive to exist, then it apparently is not so popular. 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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 Well well... I can see you

 Well well... I can see you know your stuff when it comes to economics and politics. And you are doing a good job converting me to a libertarian. I cannot say you are wrong in the many things you've said.

However there are a few things I want to say:

I don't agree completely with you analysis on the oil industry. Oil is a finite resource, you can only drill so much. Drilling on the middle east has not the same price as drilling at deep water. Forget about cheap oil. It will never happen again. I would bet with you on this because I'm 100% sure of this. The price is not artificially high, its a supply constrain and cost of production. I can show you a multitude of studies showing this too.

Oil from shale is very expensive, uses tons of water and is causes damage to the environment. The reason why shale oil is being extracted now is because before was not profitable with low prices.

About the inflation and deflation, the main reason why governments want low interest rates it's because stimulates investment which is always good in capitalism. But I might agree that keeping interest rates artificially low will make the economy very unstable in the long run.

Resources are not created magically. There are physical limits, Money can only buy so much...

We (you and I, and other interested people) care about knowing stuff. Other people dont' want to care about everything. I can't blame them, life is complex enough. Let me give you an example; I know FDA controls much of the safety of products and keep harmful substances from consumers. Other people don't even know what FDA does. Our ethical duty is to protect the ignorants too. Passivity and indiference can be an "initiation of violence".

It is true that the examples you gave control the safety of products to a certain extent. But doesn't avoid that dangerous products enter the market because it's not mandatory and across the board. A dangerous product is an initiation of violence. A person ignorant of the fact that the product is harmful will buy it and probably the dangerous product would be cheaper than the safe. I would still have the nuisance of having to go to the BBB or something else to see if I was buying a safe thing.

Furthermore these entities like BBB can only do so much. Tobacco industry tried hard for decades to give the idea that smoking was harmless and could in fact be good for you. How on Earth a no state interference would avoid this situation better?

Finally open market economy tends to create a huge wage span, meaning many people will have very low wages, and this would force them to buy cheap unsafe stuff.

The existence of an FDA is able to rest the minds of both rich and poor, and focus our attention to something else. You can argue that the FDA is not doing a good job and you might be right. But if it didn't exist it would be worse. Europe is stricter on regulations than the US and I must say I trust more EU regulations and safety than US ones.

Final point is that whoever "initiates violence" (puts on sale a carcinogen and claims safety) needs to be penalized. It is always better to prevent than to resolve. The bait of easy and huge profits from dangerous products can be too good for some unethical people. Information is the key, like in so many other things.

I am sure that in Sweden there are people that don't agree with the health system and don't want to pay half of their income in taxes. I have actually met a guy in Norway precisely like this. Question is: is it fair that those who want to pay force those who don't want? If not, those who don't contribute should not, ethically, use public hospitals... which in turn can create awkward situations in medical emergencies...

Finally even though many things you've said make sense, in practical terms I find countries with very mixed economies like Sweden, Denmark and Norway, very organized and close to my ideal place to live.

Thanks anyway for you in depth answers.

Edit: Oh I forgot to say that if you want to continue to be coherent in your line of thought you cannot be against spontaneously formed worker unions as well. Unions can be a non cooperation, and very powerful weapon in a non violence philosophy.

______________________________________________________________
"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

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"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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Teralek wrote:However there

Teralek wrote:

However there are a few things I want to say:

I don't agree completely with you analysis on the oil industry. Oil is a finite resource, you can only drill so much. Drilling on the middle east has not the same price as drilling at deep water. Forget about cheap oil. It will never happen again. I would bet with you on this because I'm 100% sure of this. The price is not artificially high, its a supply constrain and cost of production. I can show you a multitude of studies showing this too.

Oil from shale is very expensive, uses tons of water and is causes damage to the environment. The reason why shale oil is being extracted now is because before was not profitable with low prices.

Yes and no. Oil is a limited resource and eventually we will reach a point where prices must increase simply because enough oil doesn't exist. We are not there yet. The US has at least 1.5 trillion barrels of oil, about 1 trillion of that is deemed recoverable using current methods. That is a huge resource of mostly untapped oil, it dwarfs the stated oil reserves of the major OPEC countries (of course I believe that they have been lying and probably have much more than they have publicly stated). I have seen people theorize that there is actually as much as 4 trillion barrels of oil in the US in areas we haven't looked yet, but until we find it we certainly can't count on it. Even if we talking less than a trillion, that is enough oil to have a significant effect on the market for our lifetimes. At some point, it will become whale oil and be so rare that prices become too high, we are not there yet and won't be for many decades. The only way oil is disappearing soon is if we fail to exploit US reserves or if someone develops a new technology that is significantly cheaper.

As far as cost of production is concerned, yes shale oil and deep water drilling is more expensive than conventional methods which is why they have not been fully developed yet. At initial investment the costs of extracting the oil are $70-90 per barrel, for a smaller operation they can even get as high as $110. However, most of this high cost is associated with the initial investment, purchasing the land, hiring/training new workers, drilling the well, buying the equipment, building the infrastructure, roads, transportation network, living quarters for workers etc. Start up investments range anywhere from $3 billion to $10 billion, that is a lot of money even for large oil companies.

Once the well is pumping, the costs per barrel drop dramatically. Most estimates are that by 500 million barrels a projects cost per barrel should be down to around $40 per barrel. Shell thinks they can get costs per barrel down to a point where they could actually profit at a wholesale price of $30 per barrel, a bold claim but perhaps not impossible. Shell is willing to bet tens of billions on it.

We can see this taking place in the US oil fields that have been operating in Bakken and Eagle Ford. The pumps that are running are getting progressively cheaper and this is putting a squeeze on some of the companies that have been slower at developing or joined the party too late because they can't compete. There is no doubt that many of the small companies are going to go bankrupt because their capital investments are not going to be patient enough and stop sending money. What happens to all the equipment they already purchased when they go bankrupt? BP, Exxon, Shell and every other big company with cash is going to drool as they scoop up billions worth of equipment and active wells for substantial discounts. Above in my reply to Latin I detailed the story of Rockefeller and how he made his fortune and buying up small companies which couldn't compete on price point was one of his major strategies. He was able to purchase already operational refineries for less than it would have cost him to build one. The initial investors lose their money, and the new investor has a much smaller initial capital outlay and is therefore able to profit with smaller margins.

The ironic thing about markets is that just because a particular industry is going to boom does not mean that the individual companies within the industry are going to do well. It isn't even certain that a majority of the companies will do well. Often, one or two companies do extraordinarily well and all the others don't. Which is how so many investors lose their shirts joining the gravy train and investing massive amounts in "safe" investments that are "guaranteed" because everyone knows such and such industry is booming, only to find themselves selling the stock for pennies on the dollar. Which is why I am not personally invested in any of the small companies that have sprung up to build wells in the US. I believe the wells will be profitable, I don't believe the companies currently operating them are going to be the ones to profit. Of course, there might be one of those small companies that is going to be brilliantly run and will become the next huge oil company of the future, but being able to make that prediction with accuracy requires very personal knowledge of the people involved. 

So while I agree completely that eventually oil will go up in price to a point where it is no longer economically feasible to use, I disagree that we are at that point. We will probably never see $20 a barrel oil, but oil prices are going to drop significantly. I would say in the ball park of $60 a barrel would be reasonable. So if you want that bet, I will bet you the value of one barrel of oil that by 2025 oil will drop below $60 a barrel at some point. Payable in 2025 to a charity of the winners choice. (And I will hope that the environmentalists don't conquer the world and oil skyrockets to $20000 a barrel lol)

 

Teralek wrote:
 

Resources are not created magically. There are physical limits, Money can only buy so much...

Not magically, but they are created. For example, oil mostly came about because of a shortage of whale oil. We completely destroyed a natural resource to the point that only the extremely wealthy could afford it. It was this shortage that led to investments in kerosene. So yeah, we didn't magically create a resource, but the lack of one resource provided the incentive to find a replacement. As it turns out, that replacement was not only effective for the immediate need to light lanterns, but also led to us discovering all sorts of uses for petroleum that really has shaped how we live today in the modern world. It was the discovery/invention of the technology that created a vast pool of resources that was previously unavailable. 

I don't think we are anywhere near maxing out our technological limits. I think that eventually we will find a way to harness essentially infinite amounts of power and when we do, fossil fuels will become an interesting footnote in history like whale oil is. The only thing money does is it encourages or discourages the use of a commodity and where labor efforts should be allocated. Like shale oil, the primary hurdle for solar power, wind power, geo thermal power etc. is the initial cost of investment. Once the power source is built, the day to day operations are not terribly expensive. If I am right in my bet on oil, then over the next decade private funding of such sources will probably decrease which will slow down their development. If you are right, it will increase. 

Which brings up what I consider to be a very valid criticism of libertarianism which I am surprised no one has really mentioned. The environment. There is little incentive to worry about long term environmental concerns. While it is quite easy to show that chemical runoff from a farm into drinking water has an immediate detrimental effect on others and therefore constitutes an initiation of force which the government has some role in punishing or preventing. Get a group of libertarians drinking beers and you can have some very passionate arguments over whether CO2 emissions are significant enough to constitute an initiation of force. Just goes to show your previous point that it isn't always black and white is on the mark.

The difference is that in a crowd of libertarians the assumption isn't going to be that the government should do something by default. The burden is going to be on those who insist the government has to get involved to prove that the harm occurring is significant enough to justify it and that government involvement is a good/the best way of dealing with it.  

There are a number of other issues like this, which is to be expected. A general political theory can't be expected to provide you with an absolute determination of all the specific issues. It really is more of a starting point of ideals/goals from which you base your determinations. For example, if you want to get pedantic a drunk person giving you an unwanted hug at a bar is an initiation of force. You don't want to be touched, but they are touching you anyway. I'm pretty sure that 100% of people would agree this is such a minor force that no government punishment is needed. On the other hand, a person actively trying to murder you is an initiation of force that everyone can agree is appropriate to use government force to punish.  

 The disagreements come in the middle area as to how serious an offence should be before government force is an acceptable retaliation. In my personal life, I tend to lean a bit far in keeping government force off the table. You can punch me out of the blue and I'm not going to file assault charges. Although, an unprovoked assault is certainly an initiation of force and there is plenty of reasons to have laws against it and use government force to punish those who do it. Just goes to show, libertarianism isn't monolithic.

In general, I would say most libertarians can agree on a rough line when it comes to physical conflicts, but there are real significant disagreements when it comes to environmental damages, what constitutes harassment, things like noise ordinances etc. As humans, we are going to conflict with each other regularly even if we don't intend to and those types of conflicts can be very difficult to deal with on an idealistic level. Philosophy has its limitations when it comes in contact with the real world. 

 

Teralek wrote:
 

We (you and I, and other interested people) care about knowing stuff. Other people dont' want to care about everything. I can't blame them, life is complex enough. Let me give you an example; I know FDA controls much of the safety of products and keep harmful substances from consumers. Other people don't even know what FDA does. Our ethical duty is to protect the ignorants too. Passivity and indiference can be an "initiation of violence".

I hate to speak for all libertarians, but passivity and indifference are generally not interpreted to be initiations of force. I'm sure you have seen versions of the theoretical morality exercise where pushing a button kills one person while not pushing the button kills X more people and you have to decide whether or not it is moral to push the button. The libertarian answer is that inaction is more moral. Libertarianism is not a utilitarian or utopian philosophy.

In the case where action does not conflict with the base principle then action might be a nice thing to do, might be the moral thing to do, but not a legitimate reason to force people to do it. The philosophy doesn't seek to make things great for everyone and accepts that some people will have miserable lives. However, I think it is quite arguable that while statism often promises that it can make everyone have a better life, the actual results never measure up to the promise.

Maybe society would be better off if we simply sacrificed the quality of living for a few people to improve the lives of a majority. Certainly, a single house slave improves the standard of living for an entire family. You sacrifice the living standard of one human to improve the standard for a whole family. An extreme example, but the underlying philosophy is the same. Is it ok to take from one person simply because it benefits many people? The standard answer in statism today is yes, within reason. So you can take a certain amount of resources/money from them, put restrictions on how they live, maybe force them to serve in the military etc. but you can't make them a slave. The libertarian answer is no, that is not sufficient reason.

  

 

Teralek wrote:

It is true that the examples you gave control the safety of products to a certain extent. But doesn't avoid that dangerous products enter the market because it's not mandatory and across the board. A dangerous product is an initiation of violence. A person ignorant of the fact that the product is harmful will buy it and probably the dangerous product would be cheaper than the safe. I would still have the nuisance of having to go to the BBB or something else to see if I was buying a safe thing.

Furthermore these entities like BBB can only do so much. Tobacco industry tried hard for decades to give the idea that smoking was harmless and could in fact be good for you. How on Earth a no state interference would avoid this situation better?

Finally open market economy tends to create a huge wage span, meaning many people will have very low wages, and this would force them to buy cheap unsafe stuff.

The existence of an FDA is able to rest the minds of both rich and poor, and focus our attention to something else. You can argue that the FDA is not doing a good job and you might be right. But if it didn't exist it would be worse. Europe is stricter on regulations than the US and I must say I trust more EU regulations and safety than US ones.

Final point is that whoever "initiates violence" (puts on sale a carcinogen and claims safety) needs to be penalized. It is always better to prevent than to resolve. The bait of easy and huge profits from dangerous products can be too good for some unethical people. Information is the key, like in so many other things.

I am sure that in Sweden there are people that don't agree with the health system and don't want to pay half of their income in taxes. I have actually met a guy in Norway precisely like this. Question is: is it fair that those who want to pay force those who don't want? If not, those who don't contribute should not, ethically, use public hospitals... which in turn can create awkward situations in medical emergencies...

Finally even though many things you've said make sense, in practical terms I find countries with very mixed economies like Sweden, Denmark and Norway, very organized and close to my ideal place to live.

Thanks anyway for you in depth answers.

Edit: Oh I forgot to say that if you want to continue to be coherent in your line of thought you cannot be against spontaneously formed worker unions as well. Unions can be a non cooperation, and very powerful weapon in a non violence philosophy.

In regard to dangerous products, certainly if a product causes harm that is not inherent in its proper use, the company can and should be sued. That certainly does constitute an initiation of force if the company knew the product was dangerous or was somehow negligent. I think in general most libertarians probably have a more forgiving attitude towards companies not having warning labels. The 3 year old chokes on marbles, well hey dumb ass you don't put small objects near your kid, it isn't the companies fault. In cases where the dangers are not immediately obvious to the consumer, the company should bear responsibility. If a car company makes shoddy brakes on cars for example, they should be sued into bankruptcy. And I have no problem with modifying bankruptcy laws so that the people who make such products lose all of their personal assets too. 

For things like cigarettes, I can see holding them responsible for their claims of safety after they had internal studies proving that the product was not safe. For that dishonesty, they should be punished. As far as modern day smoking, everyone knows it is unhealthy and consumers are purchasing them knowing that so there is no issue anymore. 

Ideally, prevention is nicer than punishment afterwards if you can do so at the same cost. In reality, prevention is nearly impossible. Unethical people find ways around whatever preventative methods the government devises and have for hundreds of years. The FDA was founded in 1906, yet it wasn't until the 1980's into the '90s that they did anything about tobacco. The government didn't prevent anything.

In order to be effective at preventing things, you have to have an extreme amount of control and therefore, a significant amount of infringement on the freedom of innocent people to catch the bad guys. So yeah, a completely free market is going to have more problems with unethical people, but those people will be dealt with and weeded out as they get caught. With our modern communication through the internet, it will happen much faster. I don't think it is a situation where people routinely going to the grocery store are going to have a reasonable fear for their health. And I think it is better to leave innocent people free from government force than to catch a few more bad guys. 

As far as hospitals are concerned, you do have an ethical dilemma when a person who didn't pay for the system shows up and has a life threatening problem. Most people would agree that the hospital should save their life, and in the vast majority of cases the hospital will. Certainly, people will abuse that and refuse to pay, knowing that if something happens their lives will be saved anyway. There are a few ways to handle that situation. First, allow the hospital to aggressively seek financial reimbursement for their services. As far as I'm concerned, going in and using a service like medical care without paying constitutes an initiation of force, so if you have the money in your bank somewhere, I have no problem with government power being used to seize the money you owe and give it to the hospital. If you don't have the money, well under any system you are not paying anyway.

In any system, you are going to have a certain number of people who are not going to be productive and be a net drain on the system. Either we kill them (or refuse treatment allowing them to die) or we just accept that they are a cost of doing business. I vote for the latter. I don't think hospitals should be forced to treat everyone, but I also don't think any hospital that refused to treat someone in the emergency room would survive the public outrage. This is a fabrication that people make up of horror stories of people being refused life saving treatment but can't point to a single real example.

Doctors aren't monsters and every hospital in the US has funds set aside specifically for the purpose of treating patients who are indigent. Sometimes those funds are raised through charity, sometimes they come from a small premium added to the cost of every service. It really is no different than retail stores which routinely add a small premium to make up for theft. Those who can't/won't pay are not going to get top priority and are not going to get the best care, but why should they?

And as far as unions are concerned, I fully support them as long as they are voluntary. I think unions played a vital role in improving labor conditions. I oppose the sometimes violent actions such as sabotage, attacking scabs and riots, but I have no problem with peaceful strikes. Government's role should be to step in when either side resorts to violence. Short of that, workers and employers should figure it out on their own. If the workers decide that sticking together is better than negotiating individually they should be free to do so. If the employer thinks that firing everyone and hiring new people is a better option than catering to demands, then they should be free to do so. If the working conditions are really that bad, the employer will be forced to negotiate as new people won't be willing to do the work either. Hiring new people every 3 months is prohibitively expensive. Which is why employers bent on union busting often tried to resort to violent tactics, in which case it is appropriate for government to become involved.  

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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 This is like listening to

 

This is like listening to Bethoven slightly out of tune - there's a kernel of truth, but the premise (out of tune instrument) makes it all sound fucked.

Atheism and libertarianism are understood very differently by people, even those who claim membership of the groups. People are different. For example, I am an atheist and I have objections to the "negative" philosophies in general. I think that some "positive" (or irrational if you like) beliefs have a definite place in our society. I don't think they can be eliminated nor do I think they should be.

Analogous are heuristics in search algorithms. Most of the time heuristics don't have the slightest relation to the algorithm that will solve the search perfectly, but, depending on the problem at hand and if chosen wisely, the heuristic may get us to something pretty good in a reasonable amount of time. Same is the case with the grand processor in our heads - the heuristic "truth before anything" does not fit every problem.

Which brings us to the commonality between certain parts of atheist and libertarian communities: focus on this one heuristic to the point of religiosity and the lack of care for practical solutions to real problems. There is a very simple reason why we can't put the blame for all of our predicaments on our irrational beliefs - we are irrational by "design" and often it's a good thing.

 

You may be asking yourselves at this point: if irrational beliefs are ok, how can we ever get to an agreement over anything and doesn't it leave us open to abuse? Nope, it does just the opposite Smiling Once freed from our dogmatic adherence to antagonizing people, we can start following our interests. I'll give you an example: in the case of existing paradoxes of interest in both government and religious institutions, we have natural allies: the religious folk. Amazing, isn't it? So what's the desired course of action? Turn them all into atheists first, then adress the power elite that is fucking us all? I say no. We are far more likely to mobilize resistance of our religious brothers by explaining the issue through the words of a prophet, and there is plenty to chose from. Not only that, but we are ourselves more likely to be motivated by a good MLK speech in the middle of a million men march, and the man was a preacher.

Now some libertarian atheists may say *switching to barely bearable mocking voice* the burden of proof is on you *switching to normal voice, slightly elevated* It doesn't matter - we got shit done.

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.


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Regulations are necessary to

Regulations are necessary to protect the people. Building codes are necessary so that buildings won't collapse and kill people, costing the economy. Food regulations are necessary so people don't get poisoned, costing the economy. Banking regulations are necessary so that banks don't overextend themselves, go bankrupt, and cost the economy. Ecological regulations prevent the poisoning of public and private lands and air and water, which would cost the economy.

Some regulations may be superfluous, but without the vast majority of them we'd never have progressed society to the point which we have. The rich would simply buy the courts and the scientists and delay legal proceedings so that any challenger would lose their case long before they had any chance at proving it (this happens even with regulations, it would be much worse without).

A regulation free society would fall apart.

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Vastet wrote:Regulations are

Vastet wrote:
Regulations are necessary to protect the people. Building codes are necessary so that buildings won't collapse and kill people, costing the economy. Food regulations are necessary so people don't get poisoned, costing the economy. Banking regulations are necessary so that banks don't overextend themselves, go bankrupt, and cost the economy. Ecological regulations prevent the poisoning of public and private lands and air and water, which would cost the economy. Some regulations may be superfluous, but without the vast majority of them we'd never have progressed society to the point which we have. The rich would simply buy the courts and the scientists and delay legal proceedings so that any challenger would lose their case long before they had any chance at proving it (this happens even with regulations, it would be much worse without). A regulation free society would fall apart.

Regulations don't matter shit if you don't enforce them; we are in the business of providing a platform for money grabbing assholes and self-appointed dictators. There is no well-regulated system, only system about to be deregulated by private hijackers.

What really matters is fighting for regulation, all day every day. Penalty for introduction of legal bribery and giving and taking of bribes should be severe prolongued suffering and total exclusion from future work in relevant institutions. It has to come from the bottom (workers physically taking over the institutions in thousands), because the police will not police themselves. And we have to be ready for Egypt-like conditions and have a mind to target the right people straight away.

So, how much of that have we done lately? Nothing? Not a surprise people are talking about libertarianism and other pipe dreams. They see abandonment and no hope. We should make it much worse to make it better.

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Regulations apparently DO

Regulations apparently DO matter even if not enforced.

Food poisoning is exceptionally rare and involuntary recalls are practically unheard of. Los Angeles isn't a pile of rubble. Cities haven't been burned to the ground in a hundred+ years. The financial system has survived multiple crises.

There aren't enough government personnel to police any of the regulations involved in these, yet the vast majority of business' and people adhere to them regardless.

Regulations which are scrapped will be reinstituted as soon as something happens to justify their existence. The problem is that they've been so successful that people assume they are pointless. They'll stop making that assumption as soon as issues arise in the face of deregulations.

The US will go bankrupt and fall apart before any deregulation matters anyway. The empire cannot be sustained another generation. India, China, and Canada have too much going for them for the US to keep up. That won't stop the US from trying, accelerating the inevitable.

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Vastet wrote:Regulations

Vastet wrote:
Regulations apparently DO matter even if not enforced. Food poisoning is exceptionally rare and involuntary recalls are practically unheard of. Los Angeles isn't a pile of rubble. Cities haven't been burned to the ground in a hundred+ years. The financial system has survived multiple crises. There aren't enough government personnel to police any of the regulations involved in these, yet the vast majority of business' and people adhere to them regardless. Regulations which are scrapped will be reinstituted as soon as something happens to justify their existence. The problem is that they've been so successful that people assume they are pointless. They'll stop making that assumption as soon as issues arise in the face of deregulations. The US will go bankrupt and fall apart before any deregulation matters anyway. The empire cannot be sustained another generation. India, China, and Canada have too much going for them for the US to keep up. That won't stop the US from trying, accelerating the inevitable.

Regulation itself establishes a language, a presence in our mind, that allows momentary reactivation of neglected practices. I agree with you on this; it is a process of civilizing the society. A couple of generations ago child abuse was called parenting. Today we have regulation and thereby the concept itself.

However, if you think that the descent into breakup of the US power is going to change things for the better, think again. We have to start considering the Icelandic option, even by force if necessary. Otherwise we will get the Greek option.

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Hey! B Saving! I havent

Hey! B Saving! I havent forgot you I just don't have a lot of time lately to answer your huge posts. But I will try to answer you soon!

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"I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didnt work that way...so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness"

"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." (Max Planck)

"the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." Paul Davies


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I think the whole concept of

I think the whole concept of libertarian is complete BS. Everyone is for the government leaving them alone when it benefits themselves, and for government forcing others to do something when it benefits themselves. No one has a political philosophy except what is best for No 1.

For example 'libertarians' are invariable in favor of monopolization of land and other natural resources to benefit themselves. To hell if this restricts the liberty of others. Much like slavery was defended as liberty to own property. And they generally favor paying for the police and military to defend their right with other people's taxes instead of their own.

Then we've got the socialists that believe people must live up the their civic duty when it comes to paying taxes and business following regulations. But then they're Ayn Rand libertarians when it comes to mandatory birth control, work for welfare benefits, regulation of the power government unions, etc... Only rich and business classes need to be regulated, not everyone.

I think how politics is similar to religion is that people generally take their views based on wish thinking. How they wish the world worked instead of how it actually does.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


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ZuS wrote:However, if you

ZuS wrote:
However, if you think that the descent into breakup of the US power is going to change things for the better, think again.

The end of the American empire will be a great thing for the whole world, the US included (after a few bumpy years of course).

It just won't take long before China steps in and creates the Chinese empire, plunging things back to where they were before.

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Part 8: Morality

8. Argument from Morality - Claiming that theism/statism is morally superior, or that atheism/libertarianism is immoral.

  • Theism - claims god is necessary for morality, e.g, "Without god, people would just kill and rape."  Some versions of theism employ the threat of eternal punishment to enforce this morality.
    • Problems with this argument:  
      • Different religions have different moral codes
      • Even within one religion, morally objectionable behaviours are often endorsed.  The bible, for example, endorses many practices now considered immoral, e.g., slavery or genocide.    
      • Morality justified by punishment is dehumanizing, as it implies people are only moral for selfish reasons.
      • The religious use morality in an attempt to undermine their opponents.  For example, creationists may say, "if evolution is true, then it's ok to kill the sick and weak".   Such an argument overlooks the fact that evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive.  
      • The Euthyphro Dilemma refutes the moral argument
        • If morality is what god commands, then god could command slavery/genocide and it would be moral
        • If certain acts are moral or immoral regardless of god's command, then god is not in fact necessary for morality.
  • Statism - People will behave in criminal behavior, without a threat of punishment.  ("Without government, we'd all just be killing and raping everybody".)  
    • One clear difference here between theism and statism is that the threat of hell is unproven, while the threat of governmental retribution, such as prison, is real.  It's on this account I'm unsure if the fallacies of the moral argument for god can be applied to the need for government.  Shane acknowledges this difference between divine and governmental retribution, and proceeds to list these as inconsistencies:    
      • Like religions, different governments have different moral codes.  "Republicans want to enforce morality in the bedroom, and Democrats want to enforce morality in the wallet."
      • Special Pleading - Advocates of one form of government make excuses for its failings, while censuring other forms of government for similar failings.  Shane offers as example how members of a democracy may support the overthrow of a dictatorial government which encroaches on individuals' rights, yet not support the overthrow of their own government for engaging in similar behaviors.  A clear difference between dictatorship and democracy or republic of course is that a democratically elected government can be "overthrown" at the next election.  However, that would still mean that the government's morality is determined by the majority, where the majority could --and did-- support slavery or denial of reproductive rights.  
      • Just as creationists may use morality as a red herring against the science which opposes them, statists may use morality as a red herring against the economics which opposes them.  As example, Shane addresses minimum wage.  He claims (albeit without citation) that the economic data indicates that having a minimum wage leads to unemployment, minimum wage advocates accuse their opponents of hating the poor.   
      • Government-endorsed morality is likewise dehumanizing.  Even if the threat of prison for infractions is real (as opposed to the threat of hell), it still implies people will only behave for selfish reasons, namely to avoid punishment.  
        • I have some reservations regarding the claim, as we have empirical examples of how poorly people can behave in the absence of government (L.A. riots, Somalia, Katrina-era New Orleans).  Furthermore, even if we assume most people are "good", we acknowledge there are outliers whose behavior is detrimental to society, and who need to be separated from society.  
      • Ultimately, there is no government entity which defines morality.  There are only individuals with their own moral codes, who by means of government can impose it on the populace as a whole (just as there is no god which defines morality, but people with their own morality, who simply claim divine authority as endorsement).  

 

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Part 9: "Somalia"

9. "But...SOMALIA!!!" - Theists or statists use examples of oppressive governments or failed societies, to demonstrate the failure of atheism or libertarianism.

  • Theism -
    • Hitler/Nazism
      • "Hitler was an atheist" - Theists argue that the atrocities committed by the Nazis are the consequence of atheism.  
        • There is plenty of evidence to indicate that Hitler was a christian - (quotes from his writings and speeches, marrying Eva Braun in a Catholic ceremony)
        • One could contend Hitler was simply acting "christian", but was really an atheist.  Even if that is the case, this is admission there is no strong evidence that Hitler was an atheist, and that nazism can be blamed on atheism.
        • The Nazis banned all writings which ridiculed christianity.
      • Theists also try to equate Darwin & evolution with Hitler and nazism, implying that genocide is an example of "survival of the fittest" in practice.
    • Stalin/Mao - Even if theists concede that Hitler's atheism is disputable, one can still point out that Stalin and Mao's are not, and millions suffered and died under their communist regimes.
      • While atheists, they were dogmatic, rejecting rational inquiry. 
      • One can argue that their regimes were cult-like, only replacing god with the state.
      • Hence they were atheists, but not rational atheists.
    • Such data is cherry-picked
      • Those who bring up these examples overlook predominantly atheist countries like Iceland or Norway, whose societies function well.
      • Statistics indicate there are proportionately fewer atheists in prison than the general population; while the number of religious is directly proportional.  Atheists also statistically have fewer teen pregnancies and abortions.  While it is unreasonable to draw from this data that atheists are "better" than theists, it counters the original claim that atheism leads necessarily to "worse" societies.
  • Libertarianism - Statists will point to the lawlessness and chaos of Somalia, as indication of what libertarianism leads to. (in the strictest sense, the U.N. installed a provisional government in 2004, but from the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1994 through 2004, there effectively was no government.)
    • Shane here makes the distinction that libertarians are not against the state, but rather the initiation of force; and Somalis do not abide by the non-agression principle.  In other words:  eradicating a country's government does not make it libertarian.
    • One could point out that most Somalis are muslim, who abide by sharia law.  I.e., one could just as easily mis-attribute Somalia's chaos to theism as to libertarianism.
    • Shane cites Peter Leeson's paper, "Better off stateless: Somalia before and after government collapse" as indication that Somalia, for all its problems, was in fact better off without a government than with the one which was overthrown.  The quality of life does not compare favorably to that of a developed nation like the U.S., but does in comparison to its neighbors Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya (by GDP, life expectancy and infant mortality, among other indicators).   I would ask how much of this could be attributed to the piracy for which Somalis are currently notorious.
  •  Conclusion
    • Countries with the most economic freedom (e.g., Honk Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland) prosper, while ones with the least (e.g., Cuba, N. Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe).
    • It is selective reasoning when the theist who cites Nazi Germany but ignores Norway to counter atheism; and so also when the statist cites Somalia but ignores Hong Kong.

 

There are no theists on operating tables.

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Vastet wrote:ZuS

Vastet wrote:
ZuS wrote:
However, if you think that the descent into breakup of the US power is going to change things for the better, think again.
The end of the American empire will be a great thing for the whole world, the US included (after a few bumpy years of course).

i sincerely hope the US will go the way of britain, graciously letting go of their superpower status while still remaining an influential voice in world affairs, earnestly learning from their mistakes and using those lessons to advise others.  britain has become a much nicer place for the average citizen to live since the fall of the empire.

as for whether or not the end of US power will change things for the better, it's gonna happen either way, so we might as well start taking steps to make it as positive a transition as possible.

as for the chinese, i think they'll handle their global power status more responsibly than either britain or the US ever did.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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I'm thinking Britain didn't

I'm thinking Britain didn't give up the way it seemed. I think they delegated their authority to the US in return for a seat behind the scenes. They don't have the obvious power they once did, but then they don't need it. And really, nothing ever took it away from them. They just let it go.
But looking at how tied they are to the NSA issue, and how much they have unabashedly locked down the islands and spy on their own people even more than the US, I have to wonder if anything really changed.
Or maybe it did, but now it is slipping backwards into the mire.

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zarathustra wrote:It does

zarathustra wrote:

It does raise a worthwhile question:  If atheism is the conclusion when logic is applied to the existence of god, what is the conclusion when logic is applied to the state?

(I apologize if my non-native English is difficult to read. I have hardly written a word of English in years, but bear with me if you will.)

The delusion of authority seems to be no less prevalent among us non-theists than it is among theists. This frustrates me to no end. But I was myself a statist for many years into my adult life, so I can relate to the statist majority.

What is the delusion of authority? To put it succinctly, it is the belief in the right to rule and the duty to obey. Even if most people would not admit to holding such a belief when put in these terms, it is clear that almost everyone (erroneously, I believe) morally judges acts of violence committed by agents of the state in a manner fundamentally different from the way he would judge a similar act committed by non-agents of the state.

Furthermore, an act that would otherwise be judged as morally unacceptable may be judged as acceptable by those suffering from the delusion of authority if that act is in accordance with what the state has declared to be 'the law'.

How should the non-statist minority go about helping the statist majority of atheists throw off this delusion? Of course I do not know the answer, but the Socratic method would seem a good bet. When a statist tries to justify an act of violence committed by an agent of the state, ask whether the same justification would apply to a non-state actor committing a similar act.

When arguing against the delusion of authority, never be distracted by appeals to consequences. 'Without the state we would not have the public good X,' a statist will inevitably object. Resist the temptation to shift the focus of the discussion to this claim. At most, point out that not having X is not a necessary consequense of not believing in the right to rule and the duty to obey.

The message we non-statists must (if not in these exact words) convey to our statist friends is this: 'You may believe that subjugation to the state is preferable to individual sovereignty. Indeed, you may believe that individual sovereignty is impossible. Nevertheless you must as a skeptical thinker critically evaluate which individual acts of violence, if any, are morally permissible. This applies to those actors who claim to act as representatives of the state as well as to those who do not.'