A few thoughts for the Progressives on this forum...

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From what I have gathered over the last several years I would wager that many non-partisan progressives and many libertarians such as myself have much common ground in terms of identifying the problems that are plaguing our politics and our economy. Yet we come up with vastly different solutions on how to resolve these problems. I have always been willing to engage those I don’t agree with in discussion in an attempt to ascertain a different perspective and broaden my political views in an attempt to uncover the truth in regards to achieving sound economic policy and good government.

As such I have a few points I want to raise for discussion.

1. I have long felt that too many progressives paint an incredibly simplistic picture of “the rich” vs the poor or middle class. Partisan Republicans have called this “class warfare” but I would agree to the degree that a great number of the rich in this country have been looting the American people. We do have a corporate class that has largely taken advantage of the rest of us through special favors from government, tax exemptions, circumventing the law and getting bailouts and subsidies from the taxpayers. No libertarian I know would support such things. The problem is that there are two types of wealthy individuals. The businessmen that the market picks, meaning those that have worked very hard and gambled a great deal on an unproven idea to have success in meeting a need such that people voluntarily purchase their product or service is something to be thankful for. Such businesses, of which there are unfortunately fewer and fewer all the time, are a tremendous asset to society. These individuals are actually “job creators”. I don’t believe our rhetoric should target these individuals, instead we should criticize the “crony capitalists” or “corporate fascists” that live off of government and the taxpayer.

So, So, instead of a blanket statement like “the rich have done so well so we should target them all for tax increases or criticize them all as exploiters and parasites”, you need to understand that the market economy is an antidote to the type of crony capitalism and fascist abuses that Wall Street firms have foisted on the American people. The true entrepreneur, who gets no special benefits, and has no access to force or coercion is a tremendous benefactor to society, in fact I would argue far more than most government programs ever could be.

So, the focus should be on removing all special benefits from corporations, prosecuting firms for fraud if warranted, removing all subsidies and any cozy relationship to government. Those that produce nothing and are truly parasites will go bankrupt within a year. Many cannot exist independent of government guarantees. We want the scarce resources that have been locked up in government and parasitical banks and Wall Street firms to be freed up to be used by market oriented entrepreneurs and businesses that need to satisfy consumer demands and preferences or face bankruptcy. This is a productive use. Such market economic activity actually produces wealth and creates productive jobs, rather than non-productive jobs as when workers are hired by the government. We should seek to encourage this type of economic activity, rather than criticize all “rich” people equally.

1. 2. I do assume that many of you are recognizing the reality that we do have a sovereign debt problem and a huge budget shortfall that needs to be addressed, correct? Most progressives I have talked to have admitted as much, but they tend to resist much overall spending cuts. They will usually say that much of the problem is due to the “Bush tax cuts” and we need to cover most of the shortfall by tax increases on the “wealthy”. However, that is actually not possible when looking at statistics. Studies have been done to examine revenue based on tax rates over multiple decades. Obviously, a tax rate that is too high will discourage too much economic activity and will cause many to take their capital overseas. However, an exhaustive study of the situation has uncovered the reality that regardless of the tax rate, the revenue that can be generated will only vary between 18% to 20% of GDP. That is a hard limit on the revenue that can be squeezed from an economy regardless of the tax rate.

Therefore, any increase in tax rates on the wealthy will do almost nothing to cover the shortfall. It is actually almost irrelevant. With that understood, spending cuts will need to take place and they will be very politically unpopular. The debate needs to be how can we make these budget cuts fairly and not target those who are most dependent.

I do believe there are a number of areas of government that a reasonable progressive could support cutting, like the Defense budget. Or farm subsidies. However, it will have to be acknowledged that Medicare in particular will need significant cuts as well.

That is simply the reality of the situation. So any honest progressive should abandon the call to increase taxes to increase revenue. You might make an argument for “fairness” or to punish those who cheated somehow, but the idea that you will get significantly more revenue to shrink the deficit is a fallacy that all respectable economists have given up on.

1. 3. The conventional view of conservatives and liberals is that conservatives view government as the gravest threat to liberty, and liberals view corporations as the gravest threat. Underlying this idea from the progressive side is the notion that governments and corporations are opposing forces. The idea is that if we reduce the size of government to a limited role, then corporate power will grow in proportion to the shrinking of government power.

I completely reject this idea. Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government. Once you endorse a system of broad central economic planning and wealth redistribution, the special interests and the most powerful entities will always come out ahead of the middle class or the poor. Not only that, but this system of government that progressives so readily champion, actually perpetuates wealth inequality and distorts the market economy irrevocably, making it more profitable to go to Washington to lobby for benefits and favors than to compete honestly for consumers to buy their products. Even those that resist the temptation to lobby for government know full well that their competitors will, putting them at a serious disadvantage. It is this stage when corporate and business power becomes a parasite on society. No longer are businesses trying to produce products that people want and need, instead they get your money for doing almost nothing through government force.

Therefore, if you truly are opposed to wealth inequality and the concentration of corporate power, you should be focused on reducing the size of government and getting rid of the redistribution of wealth entirely because even if that means cutting off redistribution that purports to help the poor, in relation to all the welfare and benefits being sucked up by a corrupt corporate and banking class, the poor and middle class will come out ahead.

Everyone says that money is corrupting politics and everyone talks about how congressmen are bought off by business interests. But few get to the heart of the problem. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce government to the extent that it no longer has favors to pass out or money to redistribute.

If we do that, then think of all that money and resources that will be freed up for productive economic activity. Think of the reality that businesses will once again have to produce things of value and try to satisfy consumers rather than pandering to politicians.

I prefer to have consumers decide the proper allocation of scarce resources and determine which businesses succeed and which go bankrupt rather than corrupt politicians that simply don’t give a fuck about you or the economy.

4. Related to my last point, many progressives will acknowledge the problems I have mentioned, namely that government today is not “by the people, for the people” but rather has become overrun by corruption and corporate money and influence. The problem is that their solutions involve the notion of working people “rising up” and taking back our government through a variety of means. The idea is that through the democratic process we can organize labor, or poor or middle class to the extent that we can recover what was looted from us and have it redistributed back to the middle class. The idea is that we can have a functioning expansive State that will work in the interest of a majority of Americans rather than a narrow segment of ultra rich corporations and Oligarchs.

IOI I'm telling you right now that this goal is completely impossible and unobtainable. Even if democracy was a desirable form of government, which it certainly isn’t, governments always and everywhere are working against the interests of a majority for the interests of a minority. It has always been that way. Not only that, but democracy is a horrible form of government because it proposes that a narrow majority can trample on the rights of a minority.

I favor, as did the founders, a Republic where our government is constrained by the law, which in this case is the US Constitution. Government thus should have a limited role and wealth redistribution is not one of its functions.

I think many progressives have an idealized vision of government that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all cost calls to strictly limit the power of the State. Many would claim that if only we could get “the right people” in charge we could have a functioning government that would look out for the welfare of the poor and not give welfare to rich, and be honest and competent.

I favor the view of Frederick Bastiat, who argued in The Law that no government should be allowed to do anything that you or I cannot do. Force is only justified in response to a violation of someone’s liberty through just and moral laws that govern all in society equally. No one is above the law. It needs to be applied to all people the same way.

But so many Progressives seem caught up in a certain myth about government, which Bastiat eloquently wrote about, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

They try but in truth government force is used for the benefit of the corporate class, and especially the bankers who loot the rest of the American people. Their power is artificial. It only comes because of government force and coercion. Take away the power of the state, and most of these powerful institutions and corporate crime syndicates would collapse.

But by perpetuating the myth of democracy and an expansive role for government, so many progressives unwittingly give strength to the corporate class and the looting of the majority by the minority.

I have more points I want to raise, but I think this is more than enough to start a conversation. I used to be left leaning and I still think that many Progressive’s hearts are in the right place. They want good outcomes. But I think it is tragic that so many promote policies that so frequently backfire on the most vulnerable in society and benefit the oligarchs that can harness the power of government force to loot the rest of us.

That is not to say that many Progressives don’t have some good ideas and values, but that until they recognize the need to limit government and reduce its role in the economy dramatically, I don’t see the conditions that we deplore changing for the better.

Bring on the discussion.

jrodefeld's picture
jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am

Comments

Doing away with corporate personhood would be a good start. Corporations are not persons and should not have free speech rights and equal protection of the law. This comes from Thom's book "Unequal Protection".

camaroman's picture
camaroman
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May. 9, 2012 11:30 am
Quote camaroman:

Doing away with corporate personhood would be a good start. Corporations are not persons and should not have free speech rights and equal protection of the law. This comes from Thom's book "Unequal Protection".

The discussion on corporate personhood is an interesting one. I think it is a bit more complex than it is made out to be. Even if it were to be acknowledged that a "corporation" as an entity does not have rights, surely the CEO acting as voice to that corporation has some rights on behalf of that corporation?

I use to be right with you in advocating an end to corporate personhood, but after further reflection, I don't think this is really the cause of most of our troubles. I think the problem, as I stated, is the government that passes out favors and benefits the corporations in a variety of ways.

But doesn't a "corporation" need certain rights or protections that are similar in certain ways to individuals? Like a corporation should have property rights where any branch of that corporation can choose who to allow onto their property, etc. And in court, a corporation or business needs certain protections to not be taken advantage of legally.

Even if we stipulate that it is not the corporation that has the rights, but the CEO or another person acting on behalf of the corporation, I think the distinction practically is not that great.

Suppose we did accept that corporations have certain "rights", but our government refused to grant any special benefits, subsidies or privaledges, what would these rights amount to?

Like the Citizens United ruling. I do think it is appalling that corporations spend unlimited amounts to lobby for special benefits, but if government was strictly limited, it wouldn't make any difference how much was spent because governments would not be redistributing wealth and granting privaledges. It would not be worth the money and effort for corporations to lobby politicians in the first place.

I am not saying I favor Citizens United or Corporate Personhood, but I think this ties into the theme of my original post. I think these issues are a little beside the point. I always think powerful interests will figure out how to game the system if there is a system to game. All the laws and regulations in the world are not going to change that fundamental fact.

I just think that a limited, Constitutional government with no redistribution of wealth and clear laws against fraud, and just courts would prevent these problems with concentrated power.

Nobody is angry at corporations or businesses for selling us iPads and cell phones at reasonable prices! What we are angry about is their influence on our legal system and our government. I just think I am striking at the heart of the problem and these other issues are a little bit immaterial in comparison.

Yet most progressives reject a limited government and the free market but I see it as far more fair and equitable than you might understand.

jrodefeld's picture
jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am
Quote jrodefeld:

I just think that a limited, Constitutional government with no redistribution of wealth and clear laws against fraud, and just courts would prevent these problems with concentrated power.

I think this is the cornerstone of the problem: Justice oft leans to the side where the purse pulls.

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote chilidog:
Quote jrodefeld:

I just think that a limited, Constitutional government with no redistribution of wealth and clear laws against fraud, and just courts would prevent these problems with concentrated power.

I think this is the cornerstone of the problem: Justice oft leans to the side where the purse pulls.

And those Supreme Justices leaned towards the pull of the corporate purse in Citizens United. Our government must be at least big enough to fight against that. How big of a gov't would be needed for that task? Any portion of the gov't that benefits corporations over the people cannot be counted towards the size of a gov't of the people. That part of the gov't is too big. How do we cut out that parasitic growth that feeds the fascists while keeping the host gov't of the people alive?

Laborisgood's picture
Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The main objective of government should the "securing and guaranteeing the rights of the individual real person" as we are "endowed with by our creator" as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Unlike Obama who has continually omitted the word "ceator" when quoting this document, as if those rights come from the federal government.

camaroman's picture
camaroman
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May. 9, 2012 11:30 am

Relating to number 1 on your list above. You yourself painted "businessmen" with a broad paintbrush of creating a product, taking chances, working hard etc. In reality those are very few and far between. Most businessmen take advantage of somebody else's creation of a product and working hard. Only the very few that are willing to take a chance on a new product or service. Most jump into the frey after a product or service has shown worthiness. Business men themselves can be divided up into so many types and personalities that you can't just claim that "most" are hard working chance takers that create jobs.

Relating to number 2. The debt problem isn't really understood by anyone in this country. It is a complex situation that can't be addressed with something as simple as "stop spending". There are tremendously good reasons for most of that spending and to simply stop would wreak havok on many Americans from the poor on up to the very important entrepeneur.

We all have a tendency to make light of the very complex role of government spending, regulating, law making and the many other things involved with a government of the people by the people. It's not an easy game to play but we post on blogs with such a simplistic approach to all of it. We are very disingenuous in our praisings and disapprovals of what most of us know very little about in detail.

I look at forums such as this as more of entertainment mixed with a little bit of enlightenment, knowing full well that most of us don't have the information needed to do a very good job of critiquing. We are all experts at everything from the Constitution to the Social Security system.

Bush_Wacker's picture
Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

It has been intentionally made so complex and skewed nobody knows any details (we have to pass a 2000+ page bill before we know what's in it kind of shit). It has become like a cancer, it feeds on itself and gets larger and larger, requiring and consuming more and more of the economy and money.

I don't think the vision our founding fathers had in mind was so complex and menasing.

camaroman's picture
camaroman
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May. 9, 2012 11:30 am
Quote camaroman:

Doing away with corporate personhood would be a good start. Corporations are not persons and should not have free speech rights and equal protection of the law. This comes from Thom's book "Unequal Protection".

Of course, Corporations are not people and should not get any special privileges from the government. But the people who make up the corporations have rights. You wouldn't support the government searching a corporate headquarters without a warrant , would you?

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Bush_Wacker:

Relating to number 1 on your list above. You yourself painted "businessmen" with a broad paintbrush of creating a product, taking chances, working hard etc. In reality those are very few and far between. Most businessmen take advantage of somebody else's creation of a product and working hard. Only the very few that are willing to take a chance on a new product or service. Most jump into the frey after a product or service has shown worthiness. Business men themselves can be divided up into so many types and personalities that you can't just claim that "most" are hard working chance takers that create jobs.

I think the OP is saying that there are two groups of businessmen. Those who get wealthy satisfying the customer and those who get wealthy by using the government. Until this is sorted out, we'll get nowhere.

Quote Bush_Wacker:

Relating to number 2. The debt problem isn't really understood by anyone in this country. It is a complex situation that can't be addressed with something as simple as "stop spending". There are tremendously good reasons for most of that spending and to simply stop would wreak havok on many Americans from the poor on up to the very important entrepeneur.

Actually, it is that simple. If you're revenue is $100, you only spend $100. I think your second point is indicative of you misunderstanding of economics. Of course, if you cut, it is going to affect people. But you're not looking far enough. Whatever is cut is now back in the hands of other people. Since the private economy is more productive than the public economy, the money will be put to better use. Besides, there is nothing stopping the State governments from picking up the shortfall for the poor and there's nothing stopping anyone from helping the poor out voluntaryily

Quote Bush_Wacker:

We all have a tendency to make light of the very complex role of government spending, regulating, law making and the many other things involved with a government of the people by the people. It's not an easy game to play but we post on blogs with such a simplistic approach to all of it. We are very disingenuous in our praisings and disapprovals of what most of us know very little about in detail.

I don't pretend to know everything but I've read several books on economics and political economy. I feel I have a good philosophical and economic grasp of what is going on

Quote Bush_Wacker:

I look at forums such as this as more of entertainment mixed with a little bit of enlightenment, knowing full well that most of us don't have the information needed to do a very good job of critiquing. We are all experts at everything from the Constitution to the Social Security system.

If we're not experts then what makes you qualified to vote for people who are going to make these decisions for everyone else?

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Everybody knows all the details of all legislation that has already passed.

Nobody knows all the details of any legislation to be voted on.

Ron Paul has probably never read the entire text of any bill he voted for.

These legislators, and the President, and the judges who may decide the fate of legislation, all have staffs whose job it is to read this stuff, and then report to the Representative, Senator, etc.

Legitimate problems/crimes may arise. For example, the language in the renewal of the Patriot Act that changed the law whereby United States Attorneys may be replaced, which allegedly was inserted into the bill at the last minute. IMO that might be the ugliest thing the Bush Administration ever did. Some people should be in prison for life for that little trick.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/002354.php

chilidog
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote jrodefeld:

I think many progressives have an idealized vision of government that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all cost calls to strictly limit the power of the State. Many would claim that if only we could get “the right people” in charge we could have a functioning government that would look out for the welfare of the poor and not give welfare to rich, and be honest and competent.

It is strange that libertarians such as myself get accused of being pie-in-the-sky or utopian. But I have a very realistic view on how government actually operates. Many progressives have a view of the State that is right out of the textbooks they read in public schools, the same schools run by a government that is in bed with corporations. They want to give the State all this power to fight the corporations on behalf of the little guy, but then get upset when the corporations get ahold of this power and use it to their advantage. Did it ever occur to them that maybe the corporations support the regulations?

Quote jrodefeld:

I favor the view of Frederick Bastiat, who argued in The Law that no government should be allowed to do anything that you or I cannot do. Force is only justified in response to a violation of someone’s liberty through just and moral laws that govern all in society equally. No one is above the law. It needs to be applied to all people the same way.

But so many Progressives seem caught up in a certain myth about government, which Bastiat eloquently wrote about, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

Agreed. Many progressives think that there is such a thing a "free money" or "federal money".

Quote jrodefeld:

They try but in truth government force is used for the benefit of the corporate class, and especially the bankers who loot the rest of the American people. Their power is artificial. It only comes because of government force and coercion. Take away the power of the state, and most of these powerful institutions and corporate crime syndicates would collapse.

I've proposed the same solution many times. And all that I get is that without government, all these little warlords will pop up and take over. If we keep our Federal system, this is not a worry. The States are more than equipped to protect people against force or fraud. Besides, we live in a modern age. Businessmen know that running private armies is more costly that just satisfying their customers.

Quote jrodefeld:

But by perpetuating the myth of democracy and an expansive role for government, so many progressives unwittingly give strength to the corporate class and the looting of the majority by the minority.

I have more points I want to raise, but I think this is more than enough to start a conversation. I used to be left leaning and I still think that many Progressive’s hearts are in the right place. They want good outcomes. But I think it is tragic that so many promote policies that so frequently backfire on the most vulnerable in society and benefit the oligarchs that can harness the power of government force to loot the rest of us.

That is not to say that many Progressives don’t have some good ideas and values, but that until they recognize the need to limit government and reduce its role in the economy dramatically, I don’t see the conditions that we deplore changing for the better.

Bring on the discussion.

Great post! I agree with you almost 100%.

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Bush_Wacker:

Relating to number 1 on your list above. You yourself painted "businessmen" with a broad paintbrush of creating a product, taking chances, working hard etc. In reality those are very few and far between. Most businessmen take advantage of somebody else's creation of a product and working hard. Only the very few that are willing to take a chance on a new product or service. Most jump into the frey after a product or service has shown worthiness. Business men themselves can be divided up into so many types and personalities that you can't just claim that "most" are hard working chance takers that create jobs.

I think the OP is saying that there are two groups of businessmen. Those who get wealthy satisfying the customer and those who get wealthy by using the government. Until this is sorted out, we'll get nowhere.

Quote Bush_Wacker:

Relating to number 2. The debt problem isn't really understood by anyone in this country. It is a complex situation that can't be addressed with something as simple as "stop spending". There are tremendously good reasons for most of that spending and to simply stop would wreak havok on many Americans from the poor on up to the very important entrepeneur.

Actually, it is that simple. If you're revenue is $100, you only spend $100. I think your second point is indicative of you misunderstanding of economics. Of course, if you cut, it is going to affect people. But you're not looking far enough. Whatever is cut is now back in the hands of other people. Since the private economy is more productive than the public economy, the money will be put to better use. Besides, there is nothing stopping the State governments from picking up the shortfall for the poor and there's nothing stopping anyone from helping the poor out voluntaryily

Quote Bush_Wacker:

We all have a tendency to make light of the very complex role of government spending, regulating, law making and the many other things involved with a government of the people by the people. It's not an easy game to play but we post on blogs with such a simplistic approach to all of it. We are very disingenuous in our praisings and disapprovals of what most of us know very little about in detail.

I don't pretend to know everything but I've read several books on economics and political economy. I feel I have a good philosophical and economic grasp of what is going on

Quote Bush_Wacker:

I look at forums such as this as more of entertainment mixed with a little bit of enlightenment, knowing full well that most of us don't have the information needed to do a very good job of critiquing. We are all experts at everything from the Constitution to the Social Security system.

If we're not experts then what makes you qualified to vote for people who are going to make these decisions for everyone else?

All the knowledge in the world doesn't do us any good if we don't know what is going on behind the scenes. That is what I was eluding to about not knowing. There are many decisions being made based on intimate knowledge but we only get to see final result. Just because we are not experts doesn't mean we are stupid.

"If you judge a fish by how well he climbs a tree he will go through life believing he's stupid". A. Einstein

Bush_Wacker's picture
Bush_Wacker
Joined:
Jun. 25, 2011 7:53 am

Great post, but you could have saved some time and posted “Cut government, don’t tax the job creators, cut regulations, stick the poor and middle class with the bill,” like most of your contemporaries do……LOL….but seriously, a good, thoughtful post even though I disagree with most of your opinions here. Sure beats the re-posted viral email crap some of your colleagues seem to favor……

Quote jrodefeld:

I have long felt that too many progressives paint an incredibly simplistic picture of “the rich” vs the poor or middle class. Partisan Republicans have called this “class warfare” but I would agree to the degree that a great number of the rich in this country have been looting the American people. We do have a corporate class that has largely taken advantage of the rest of us through special favors from government, tax exemptions, circumventing the law and getting bailouts and subsidies from the taxpayers. No libertarian I know would support such things. The problem is that there are two types of wealthy individuals. The businessmen that the market picks, meaning those that have worked very hard and gambled a great deal on an unproven idea to have success in meeting a need such that people voluntarily purchase their product or service is something to be thankful for. Such businesses, of which there are unfortunately fewer and fewer all the time, are a tremendous asset to society. These individuals are actually “job creators”. I don’t believe our rhetoric should target these individuals, instead we should criticize the “crony capitalists” or “corporate fascists” that live off of government and the taxpayer.

For the most part I agree with this. However, many times the former (legitimate market picks the winner) morphs into the latter (crony capitalist). Many of what we would consider crony capitalists now were once legitimate value producing businesses. Look at Apple, or AT&T. They once provided quality products, and quality jobs for Americans. But, once their power and size grew, they used their power to lobby for rigged trade deals that sent every job they could to foreign, sometimes authoritarian countries. While the quality and innovation of the products are still there, they have used crony capitalism to circumvent the American labor force in favor of the artificially cheap labor provided by an authoritarian boot. Would a smaller Washington stop that? No.

Quote jrodefeld:

So, So, instead of a blanket statement like “the rich have done so well so we should target them all for tax increases or criticize them all as exploiters and parasites”, you need to understand that the market economy is an antidote to the type of crony capitalism and fascist abuses that Wall Street firms have foisted on the American people. The true entrepreneur, who gets no special benefits, and has no access to force or coercion is a tremendous benefactor to society, in fact I would argue far more than most government programs ever could be.

I would say the division between “crony capitalists” and “free market capitalists” divides at size and therefore coercive power over government. Problem is, these days, small, profitable businesses that show promise are snapped up by hedge funds and therefore into the “crony capitalist” phase pretty quickly. The local, “free market” part is almost skipped entirely, therefore not providing local jobs or tax base.

Quote jrodefeld:

So, the focus should be on removing all special benefits from corporations, prosecuting firms for fraud if warranted, removing all subsidies and any cozy relationship to government. Those that produce nothing and are truly parasites will go bankrupt within a year. Many cannot exist independent of government guarantees. We want the scarce resources that have been locked up in government and parasitical banks and Wall Street firms to be freed up to be used by market oriented entrepreneurs and businesses that need to satisfy consumer demands and preferences or face bankruptcy. This is a productive use. Such market economic activity actually produces wealth and creates productive jobs, rather than non-productive jobs as when workers are hired by the government. We should seek to encourage this type of economic activity, rather than criticize all “rich” people equally.

Problem is, there are many gray areas that are destructive that aren’t “fraud.” Just look at the 2008 financial meltdown. Nobody prosecuted. Do you really believe a small, neutered Washington would have the muscle to go after global corporations with unlimited means? No way. Liberals don’t criticize all “rich” people equally, although they need to work on that message. It’s the parasitic “rich” ie Big Oil, Pharma, Insurance, Big outsourcers, Big Finance, etc. etc. and those who financially benefit from practices destructive to the public and national interest who libs denounce.

Quote jrodefeld:I do assume that many of you are recognizing the reality that we do have a sovereign debt problem and a huge budget shortfall that needs to be addressed, correct? Most progressives I have talked to have admitted as much, but they tend to resist much overall spending cuts. They will usually say that much of the problem is due to the “Bush tax cuts” and we need to cover most of the shortfall by tax increases on the “wealthy”. However, that is actually not possible when looking at statistics. Studies have been done to examine revenue based on tax rates over multiple decades. Obviously, a tax rate that is too high will discourage too much economic activity and will cause many to take their capital overseas. However, an exhaustive study of the situation has uncovered the reality that regardless of the tax rate, the revenue that can be generated will only vary between 18% to 20% of GDP. That is a hard limit on the revenue that can be squeezed from an economy regardless of the tax rate.

What are you saying here?….just a fancy way of saying “The middle class has to pay – hands off the job creators!” Sorry, I couldn’t disagree more. Just because taxing the “wealthy” alone won’t balance the budget doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tax them more. Those who have benefited the most from the current set of economic conditions – many of THEIR making – SHOULD pay a little more to lift us out of this rut. However, I agree we should ALL pay, in some way shape or form. Raising Medicare and SS ages, or some type of means testing would be fine with me. However…..and a big HOWEVER…is the “wealthy” need to belly up too. They caused this fu*king mess. In the absence of a bulletproof method of making THEM pay up, I refuse to support ANY cuts to ANY services or benefits to the middle class. And, to those who will “take their capital overseas,” well, they must hate America, they’re taking it there anyway. Fu*k those dirtbags.

Quote jrodefeld:Therefore, any increase in tax rates on the wealthy will do almost nothing to cover the shortfall. It is actually almost irrelevant. With that understood, spending cuts will need to take place and they will be very politically unpopular. The debate needs to be how can we make these budget cuts fairly and not target those who are most dependent.

That’s like saying, “Well, taxing ME won’t make a difference in overall deficit reduction, so why does the government insist on taxing ME?…Tax THEM!”

Quote jrodefeld:I do believe there are a number of areas of government that a reasonable progressive could support cutting, like the Defense budget. Or farm subsidies. However, it will have to be acknowledged that Medicare in particular will need significant cuts as well.

Agreed on Defense and farm subsidies. Our industrial competitors enjoy the cost savings that our military protection and oil supply protection provides them, and they use the savings to kick our a** in manufacturing and education. Medicare – I think it’s reasonable to move up the age on Medicare considering we all live longer, and some type of means testing, but not the Ryan voucher plan. Just curious – How old are you? Are you at risk of getting screwed by the Ryan voucher plan? Are you willing to give your more generous traditional Medicare up, and let the “job creators” merrily skate away with yet another tax break they don’t need, and use it to create jobs in China?

Quote jrodefeld:That is simply the reality of the situation. So any honest progressive should abandon the call to increase taxes to increase revenue. You might make an argument for “fairness” or to punish those who cheated somehow, but the idea that you will get significantly more revenue to shrink the deficit is a fallacy that all respectable economists have given up on.

Your "reality" is simply an opinion. “All respectable economists” have NOT given up on a balanced view of revenue generation AND tax cuts, in fact, in the NON POLITICAL REALM, most economists suggest this balanced approach. I support selective tax increases for everyone, weighted toward the top earners. I support common sense taxes on Wall Street transactions. We all need to take a hit to get us out of this hole, especially those dirtbags on Wall Street.

Quote jrodefeld:The conventional view of conservatives and liberals is that conservatives view government as the gravest threat to liberty, and liberals view corporations as the gravest threat. Underlying this idea from the progressive side is the notion that governments and corporations are opposing forces. The idea is that if we reduce the size of government to a limited role, then corporate power will grow in proportion to the shrinking of government power.

I agree with the progressive view. When one side’s only task in life is to exploit, there needs to be an opposing balance. Granted, government has been somewhat tepid in their balance, but that’s only because corporate pollution of Congress. To believe that we’d all live a kumbaya world under unchecked corporate power is naïve and a conservative’s view of utopia. Smaller government = bigger and more powerful business, and unchecked corporate exploitation.

Quote jrodefeld:

I completely reject this idea. Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government. Once you endorse a system of broad central economic planning and wealth redistribution, the special interests and the most powerful entities will always come out ahead of the middle class or the poor. Not only that, but this system of government that progressives so readily champion, actually perpetuates wealth inequality and distorts the market economy irrevocably, making it more profitable to go to Washington to lobby for benefits and favors than to compete honestly for consumers to buy their products. Even those that resist the temptation to lobby for government know full well that their competitors will, putting them at a serious disadvantage. It is this stage when corporate and business power becomes a parasite on society. No longer are businesses trying to produce products that people want and need, instead they get your money for doing almost nothing through government force.

I completely embrace this idea. If the government we have now is “this system of government that progressives so readily champion,” then why have the number of lobbyists, and therefore corporate influence, exploded since 1980, when modern Reagan-type conservatism took root? Why have Tea Party Congressmen been just as involved with lobbyists, maybe even moreso, than those they replaced? Those last 30 years have marked a conservative renaissance inasmuch as conservatives in general have never had as much power the last 30 years since the 1920’s. Laissez faire business and deregulation leads to more corporate power and regulatory and government capture. The answer is not weaker government, not bigger government, but stronger and effective government that balances out the greed and self-interest of the private sector. Left unchecked, that greed and self-interest will only end in disaster, and anyone who doesn’t see that is either a predator themselves, or just naïve.

Quote jrodefeld:Therefore, if you truly are opposed to wealth inequality and the concentration of corporate power, you should be focused on reducing the size of government and getting rid of the redistribution of wealth entirely because even if that means cutting off redistribution that purports to help the poor, in relation to all the welfare and benefits being sucked up by a corrupt corporate and banking class, the poor and middle class will come out ahead.

Are you ready to live in a country that has millions living in desperate poverty? Can you afford a gated community and a security system? Have kids and a wife to provide bait for criminals and kidnappers? I don’t really understand your reasoning here, yet you state it as if it is a fact. It’s debatable, but not a fact.

Quote jrodefeld:Everyone says that money is corrupting politics and everyone talks about how congressmen are bought off by business interests. But few get to the heart of the problem. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce government to the extent that it no longer has favors to pass out or money to redistribute.

The answer is not 1 or 0. It’s 1.5. Do we get rid of the cancer by killing the patient?

Quote jrodefeld:If we do that, then think of all that money and resources that will be freed up for productive economic activity. Think of the reality that businesses will once again have to produce things of value and try to satisfy consumers rather than pandering to politicians.

That “productive economy” goes to CEO’s, hedge funds’ and their shareholders’ pockets, then it goes to China, Vietnam, India, or some other country where they can cut a deal with a dictator, then wave the American flag and crow “freedom” and “liberty” as they profit from authoritarianism, dodge U.S. taxes, and keep their money hidden in offshore bank accounts. If you believe that’s the “productive economy,” then there’s no hope.

Quote jrodefeld:I prefer to have consumers decide the proper allocation of scarce resources and determine which businesses succeed and which go bankrupt rather than corrupt politicians that simply don’t give a fuck about you or the economy.

And the CEOs and hedge funds give a fuck?

Quote jrodefeld:Related to my last point, many progressives will acknowledge the problems I have mentioned, namely that government today is not “by the people, for the people” but rather has become overrun by corruption and corporate money and influence. The problem is that their solutions involve the notion of working people “rising up” and taking back our government through a variety of means. The idea is that through the democratic process we can organize labor, or poor or middle class to the extent that we can recover what was looted from us and have it redistributed back to the middle class. The idea is that we can have a functioning expansive State that will work in the interest of a majority of Americans rather than a narrow segment of ultra rich corporations and Oligarchs.

I don’t really see a “rising up,” because corporate media has done a good job of dividing us. What I see is another Great Depression coming, due to private sector greed, as in the 1920’s. That will open people’s eyes about the destructive effects of an out of control banking and private sector ,massive inequality, and hoarding and speculation at the top. Hopefully we’ll see the same results – another 40 years of conservatives on the outside looking in. It just may be worth it then. Just so happens during those 40 years we created the largest middle class the world has ever known and became the world’s most powerful country.

Quote jrodefeld:I'm telling you right now that this goal is completely impossible and unobtainable. Even if democracy was a desirable form of government, which it certainly isn’t, governments always and everywhere are working against the interests of a majority for the interests of a minority. It has always been that way. Not only that, but democracy is a horrible form of government because it proposes that a narrow majority can trample on the rights of a minority.

And you really believe unchecked corporate power won’t lead to even worse trampling?

Quote jrodefeld:I favor, as did the founders, a Republic where our government is constrained by the law, which in this case is the US Constitution. Government thus should have a limited role and wealth redistribution is not one of its functions.

Let’s return to the Gilded age, or Dickensian England.

Quote jrodefeld:I think many progressives have an idealized vision of government that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all cost calls to strictly limit the power of the State. Many would claim that if only we could get “the right people” in charge we could have a functioning government that would look out for the welfare of the poor and not give welfare to rich, and be honest and competent.

I think many libertarians have an idealized vision of business that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all costs to strictly regulate the worst excesses of the corporate sector. Many would claim that if only we could get government out of the way, the fair minded, consciensciouis, and patriotic corporate sector could bloom, and they would of course be interested in hiring Americans, paying fair wages and benefits, paying their share of taxes, maintaining safe workplaces, and practicing environmental responsibility, of course. The fact is the reason government is not honest and competent is due to bribery from the corporate sector dirtbags.

Quote jrodefeld:I favor the view of Frederick Bastiat, who argued in The Law that no government should be allowed to do anything that you or I cannot do. Force is only justified in response to a violation of someone’s liberty through just and moral laws that govern all in society equally. No one is above the law. It needs to be applied to all people the same way.

And you believe a teeny, tiny, impotent federal government, or even more teeny, tiny, state governments would have the means to enforce ANYTHING against a mammoth corporate sector with global power, scale and unlimited means? What’s more likely is MORE influence in those teeny, tiny governmental micro-units….much like…..a bug on the bottom of their shoe…...Uh, I don’t buy it, sorry. It makes no sense.

Quote jrodefeld:But so many Progressives seem caught up in a certain myth about government, which Bastiat eloquently wrote about, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."

They try but in truth government force is used for the benefit of the corporate class, and especially the bankers who loot the rest of the American people. Their power is artificial. It only comes because of government force and coercion. Take away the power of the state, and most of these powerful institutions and corporate crime syndicates would collapse.

But by perpetuating the myth of democracy and an expansive role for government, so many progressives unwittingly give strength to the corporate class and the looting of the majority by the minority.

OK, I get it. Per Bastiat, there should be no states, no countries, no governments, only corporations, everyone out for their own. Without government, even government that’s compromised by corporate criminals, is better than nothing. Why do you think that giant corporations would just dissolve if there were no government? They would be even more corrupt. Again, I don’t get it.

Quote jrodefeld:I have more points I want to raise, but I think this is more than enough to start a conversation. I used to be left leaning and I still think that many Progressive’s hearts are in the right place. They want good outcomes. But I think it is tragic that so many promote policies that so frequently backfire on the most vulnerable in society and benefit the oligarchs that can harness the power of government force to loot the rest of us.

Without government, wouldn't oligarchs just loot us directly?

Quote jrodefeld:That is not to say that many Progressives don’t have some good ideas and values, but that until they recognize the need to limit government and reduce its role in the economy dramatically, I don’t see the conditions that we deplore changing for the better.

The only way I could see this and potentially support it is if the government could use their double constitutional hammers of control of interstate commerce and import tariffs, and use it with an iron fist. Even though that would be constitutional, you don’t think the corporate sector would corrupt Washington to subvert those Constitutional rights to regulate interstate commerce and imports? No way. They’ve already corrupted it, so what’s the difference? How does cutting government fix that? It doesn’t..

How bout this - Get rid of the social safety net, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, GONE. OK fine. The government could then use its constitutional right to raise tariffs to provide jobs instead of safety nets. You think the corporate sector would sit still for that? HAH! Use the commerce clause to keep corporations small enough to maintain control by the much smaller Washington. Would business sit still for that? Uh, no. In a perfect, rational world, the corporate sector would abide by and observe those constitutional principles. But you know and I know it doesn’t work that way.. Government needs to be the large stick, albeit an imperfect one, to keep those who would destroy the common good for profit in line.

*****

I just don’t see how no regulation and no social safety net will stop businesses from behaving badly, because history shows time and time again, they will. You will need to explain that one better. We will always disagree because Liberals always will believe in the possibility of good government. I believe the ONLY way to clean up Washington is either public financing of elections, or at least full disclosure of campaign, PAC and Super PAC donations.

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al3
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I don't think your argument about corporate-government collusion is complete without violating some of the sacred tenets of libertarianism. Corporations have not won out in the struggle for power merely because they got some tax breaks here and there. They did it because progressives were never able to implement reforms such as land reform. What has come to the fore in all of this today are the results of a deregulated financial market. There is no clear-cut distinction between "good" job-creating corporations and "bad" trough-feeding ones. Corporations conform to a specific model of action which is explicitly and qualifiedly anti-democratic and non-egalitarian in its profit motive. Their size is what "distorts" the economy, as it is absurd to discuss them in abstract terms the same way as you would talk about a shoe-cobbler plying their trade. Corporations are institutions whose function is to create a legal and economic context in which those who control the wealth of talent and skills of the workers and the materials these workers use exist solely for the benefit of those whose only contribution to the system is to create and exploit it.

Government is not merely exploited by parasitic corporations, corporations undermine government and seek to eliminate it in order to preserve the parasitic system of capitalism. When you say "Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government." you go on to seemingly suggest that corporations require government for "central planning" and "redistribution of wealth." The reality is that corporations, through their social nexuses including lobbyists, think tanks, secret societies, etc., have been doing both without government and it is only by convincing people of libertarian rhetoric that we find ourselves today confronted with the obvious fact that the result of implementing the libertarian paradigm is the subverting of government to the corporate agenda.

Libertarians, including yourself, all rely on the same formulaic definition of government. Like many others, you come to the conclusion that republicanism is superior to democracy. If you had a deeper understanding of progressivism you would realize that democracy is the best option for limiting government to its most useful function. Of course we are a long way from democracy, but there is no minority which naturally dwells in the middle-range of socioeconomic demographs of society which will comprise some sort of natural republican social vanguard and Eternal Guarantors of Liberty. The minority of the powerful which abuse the trust of the complacent and the naive are those who are the minority oppossed to the natural agenda of the society at large. The majority has no reason to fear itself.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote al3:

I don’t really see a “rising up,” because corporate media has done a good job of dividing us. What I see is another Great Depression coming, due to private sector greed, as in the 1920’s. That will open people’s eyes about the destructive effects of an out of control banking and private sector ,massive inequality, and hoarding and speculation at the top. Hopefully we’ll see the same results – another 40 years of conservatives on the outside looking in. It just may be worth it then. Just so happens during those 40 years we created the largest middle class the world has ever known and became the world’s most powerful country.

I'd like to think that we have already spent our 40 years wandering in the desert. Perhaps we are just a little slow on the uprising due to such a thorough job done by not just the corporate media, but corporate lobbyists as well in their part on allowing the media to operate with impunity. That Progressive Promised Land is just on other side of this raging river we are looking at.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote jrodefeld:.. I have always been willing to engage those I don’t agree with in discussion ...

Right. I am still waiting for all the responses to my posts which you abandonded long ago.

The fundemental contradiciton of LIbertarianism is that it uses government to protect man from one another but does not use governmet to protect man from nature.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Quote jrodefeld:...The problem is that there are two types of wealthy individuals. The businessmen that the market picks, meaning those that have worked very hard and gambled a great deal on an unproven idea...

You mean like Paris Hilton?

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Quote jrodefeld: ...So, So, instead of a blanket statement like “the rich have done so well so we should target them all for tax increases or criticize them all as exploiters and parasites”, you need to understand that the market economy is an antidote to the type of crony capitalism and fascist abuses that Wall Street firms have foisted on the American people.

The reason why that is false is because justice requires information, which is not free. Thus, the wealthy will be able to commit fraud and lie in a free market.

And everyone who has actually been to a market knows that it is full of misinformation, lies and fraud.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote jrodefeld:... Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government.

Corporations are going to corrupt even a small government. In fact, it is much more likely. That is basically what a 3rd world country is: free markets and a small proportion bribes the government to stay out of the way.

But you are really missing an essential point. The size of our government is mainly due to medicare, social security and such - in short charities. It is not the regulation. The regulation part costs very little and in many cases not effective - especially since the free market types have had their way with much of it.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote jrodefeld:...The idea is that we can have a functioning expansive State that will work in the interest of a majority of Americans rather than a narrow segment of ultra rich corporations and Oligarchs. IOI I'm telling you right now that this goal is completely impossible and unobtainable.

A libertarian, telling us that we are too idealistic?

Right.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Bush_Wacker:

...The debt problem isn't really understood by anyone in this country. It is a complex situation that can't be addressed with something as simple as "stop spending". There are tremendously good reasons for most of that spending and to simply stop would wreak havok on many Americans from the poor on up to the very important entrepeneur.

Actually, it is that simple. If you're revenue is $100, you only spend $100. I think your second point is indicative of you misunderstanding of economics. Of course, if you cut, it is going to affect people. But you're not looking far enough. Whatever is cut is now back in the hands of other people. Since the private economy is more productive than the public economy, the money will be put to better use. Besides, there is nothing stopping the State governments from picking up the shortfall for the poor and there's nothing stopping anyone from helping the poor out voluntaryily

How can he 'misunderstand' economics if you agree with his point and say 'Of course, if you cut, it is going to affect people'.?

The liberal economic theroy is to have debt precisely in those periods when there is unemployment and the money is not put to better use. Yes, I know you disagree, but you happen to disagree with most textbook economics.

And you statement on local governments is simply horrifying - one of the reasons many people think the recessionary period has lasted so long is the huge cuts in state and local government employment.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Bush_Wacker:

...The debt problem isn't really understood by anyone in this country. It is a complex situation that can't be addressed with something as simple as "stop spending". There are tremendously good reasons for most of that spending and to simply stop would wreak havok on many Americans from the poor on up to the very important entrepeneur.

Actually, it is that simple. If you're revenue is $100, you only spend $100. I think your second point is indicative of you misunderstanding of economics. Of course, if you cut, it is going to affect people. But you're not looking far enough. Whatever is cut is now back in the hands of other people. Since the private economy is more productive than the public economy, the money will be put to better use. Besides, there is nothing stopping the State governments from picking up the shortfall for the poor and there's nothing stopping anyone from helping the poor out voluntaryily

How can he 'misunderstand' economics if you agree with his point and say 'Of course, if you cut, it is going to affect people'.?

The liberal economic theroy is to have debt precisely in those periods when there is unemployment and the money is not put to better use. Yes, I know you disagree, but you happen to disagree with most textbook economics.

And you statement on local governments is simply horrifying - one of the reasons many people think the recessionary period has lasted so long is the huge cuts in state and local government employment.

Those textbook economists are the ones who have supported policies for the past 100 years that have put us in the fix we're in now.

It is obvious that if someone is getting a subsidy and it stops, that somebody will be "hurt". But on the other side of things, the productive will no longer subsidize the unproductive. The productive will produce more and the unproductive will have to start being productive, which serves his fellow man.

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LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:

Those textbook economists are the ones who have supported policies for the past 100 years that have put us in the fix we're in now.

My point is intead of saying 'you don't understand economics' you should have said 'I disagree with the standard economics you understand so well'.

As to your '100 year' theory - I might remind you once again that the US became an economic and military superpower in those years.

As to your economic theory of 'malinvestment' I have shown that to be false elsewhere. It requires the financial industry to be irrational - which contradicts your 'Free Markets Are Better Than Sex' theory.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote chilidog:
Quote jrodefeld:

I just think that a limited, Constitutional government with no redistribution of wealth and clear laws against fraud, and just courts would prevent these problems with concentrated power.

I think this is the cornerstone of the problem: Justice oft leans to the side where the purse pulls.

I agree and this has been a problem since the beginning of civilization. However, collectively our focus needs to be on ensuring our government and legal system are functioning in a proper manner. How can any of us possibly understand our regulatory system or our government given the needless complexity and confusion that results from no limits on the concentration of power?

A limited government, with a moral basis for the rule of law, as spelled out by Bastiat, would allow us to effectively monitor the government. The goal need not be "regulating" corporations in the sense of prior restraint restrictions on economic activity.

Rather, the goal is to prevent government from granting favors or special deals. Everyone can and should be able to understand the Constitution and Bill or Rights. The concepts that our country was founded upon can be ensured only in a transperant and limited government.

No system will be perfect and unfortunately the rich and powerful have always tended to get a better deal from the legal system. I just believe that a system that I am describing will be the most able to prevent such abuses.

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jrodefeld
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Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:

Those textbook economists are the ones who have supported policies for the past 100 years that have put us in the fix we're in now.

My point is intead of saying 'you don't understand economics' you should have said 'I disagree with the standard economics you understand so well'.

As to your '100 year' theory - I might remind you once again that the US became an economic and military superpower in those years.

As to your economic theory of 'malinvestment' I have shown that to be false elsewhere. It requires the financial industry to be irrational - which contradicts your 'Free Markets Are Better Than Sex' theory.

Keynesianism, Marxism, interventionism, socialism, fascism and mercantalism are all failed economic theories. We have never had a truly freed market, but anytime the market has been somewhat free, been allowed to work somewhat, there was great prosperity.

Government spending to create jobs is ALWAYS wasteful. Government created "jobs" destroy more than they create. All that you're doing is taxing money from the people, spending it somewhere else, and taking a cut for the bureaucracy.

Read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt. He'll answer all of your questions.

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LysanderSpooner
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Quote Laborisgood:
Quote chilidog:
Quote jrodefeld:

I just think that a limited, Constitutional government with no redistribution of wealth and clear laws against fraud, and just courts would prevent these problems with concentrated power.

I think this is the cornerstone of the problem: Justice oft leans to the side where the purse pulls.

And those Supreme Justices leaned towards the pull of the corporate purse in Citizens United. Our government must be at least big enough to fight against that. How big of a gov't would be needed for that task? Any portion of the gov't that benefits corporations over the people cannot be counted towards the size of a gov't of the people. That part of the gov't is too big. How do we cut out that parasitic growth that feeds the fascists while keeping the host gov't of the people alive?

You seem to be missing the point of my article. The "bigness" and power that so many corporations have is precisely due to the government granting monopolies and "merging" with the business sector, which as you point out is correctly termed fascism.

If we look back in our history to when we had a more limited federal government and a (relatively) free market, you will see that corporatism was far less of a problem. If you look at 1880 through 1960, for example, we had a robust industry and produced products and services that made our lives better. We built the strongest and most vibrant middle class that the world had ever seen and, unlike today, it was not even disputed during that time period that the United States was the best country in the world to live in.

During that time frame we had virtually no "anti poverty" programs federally, no Medicare, no Department of Education, and so much of our government today did not yet exist.

However, since 1971 when our dollar was delinked from gold and government spending became almost unlimited due to the Fed's ability to monetize debt, we have witnessed the rise of Corporatism and Fascism unchecked. Since that time we have seen the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, the trading of worthless derivatives and phony scams on Wall Street that replaced actual products that used to be produced. This has nothing to do with a "free market run amuck", but rather an embrace of no limits on government spending that encouraged the parasitic corporate class to descend like locusts on Washington to devour all the wealth this country had produced in decades prior.

But the fundamental problem with your world view is that you want to selectively cut the "fascist" part of government, the part that benefits corporations, but keep in place a robust and expansive state that redistributes to the poor and middle classes.

What I am trying to tell you is that if you embrace that ideology in favor of government "by the people, for the people" you will always get a government that inevitably favors the rich.

Not only that, but if you look at the time period I referenced earlier, from 1880 to 1960 or so, poverty rates dropped continually during that time. People were lifted out of poverty faster due to a market economy functioning relatively as it is supposed to. In fact, once Lyndon Johnson started "The Great Society" and the Federal Government embraced the mandate of a "war on poverty", we have witnessed poverty rates stagnate and remain flat. So you cannot possibly maintain the moral high ground suggesting that the Progressive program of redistribution directed at the poor is the best, when the facts actually make the case for the market economy, sound money, and a limited government as the true humanitarian system.

jrodefeld's picture
jrodefeld
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Quote jrodefeld:

and a limited government as the true humanitarian system.

That's rich.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

http://catallaxyfiles.com/2011/10/03/well-done-lbj-great-society-programs-perpetuate-poverty/

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camaroman
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May. 9, 2012 11:30 am
Quote camaroman:

The main objective of government should the "securing and guaranteeing the rights of the individual real person" as we are "endowed with by our creator" as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Unlike Obama who has continually omitted the word "ceator" when quoting this document, as if those rights come from the federal government.

Yes and it is important to elaborate on the concept of "Natural Rights", especially for those atheists and non-christians who might feel threatened by language used by the framers and early Americans such as "creator" or "God given", etc. It is not necessary to be a religious person to understand the importance of this philosophic concept regarding our rights.

Many of our founders WERE Christians but they never meant to create a theocracy or anything of the sort. The point was to emphasize a higher inspiration for what they were trying to accomplish with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. And a critical point they wished to emphasize was "inalienable" rights, meaning personal rights that were not given by any government and therefore could not be taken away by government.

Natural Rights can mean "given by God" to a believer or it can mean rights that are inherent in our humanity, as a function of nature, for the atheist. The point is the philosophic principle that forms a critical foundation for any free society.

jrodefeld's picture
jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am
Quote Bush_Wacker:

Relating to number 1 on your list above. You yourself painted "businessmen" with a broad paintbrush of creating a product, taking chances, working hard etc. In reality those are very few and far between. Most businessmen take advantage of somebody else's creation of a product and working hard. Only the very few that are willing to take a chance on a new product or service. Most jump into the frey after a product or service has shown worthiness. Business men themselves can be divided up into so many types and personalities that you can't just claim that "most" are hard working chance takers that create jobs.

I am not saying businessmen are just or moral people. Like most of humanity, I feel that most businessmen are selfish and have every human fault that the rest of us possess. The point is that a just society should not impose upon them the use of force or coercion unless they are harming another.

The point is that a just society would likewise deny a businessman the ability to influence government or gain any unfair advantage over anyone else. If those conditions are met, some businessmen would succeed and others would fail. Many would no doubt still be assholes, but the point is that they would not be able to do any widespread harm to individuals or to the economy,

Another critical point is that a free market emphasizes the importance of the consumer being king. The consumer should dictate who succeeds and who fails. The consumer should be the one dictating the proper allocation of scarce resources.

The only other alternatives are corporations making arbitrary decisions without accounting for consumer preference because they lobby for no bid government jobs or are beneficiaries of government largess or politicians and bureaucracies making decisions affecting the whole economy though central planning.

I would hope it would be obvious and self evident that the best outcomes occur in a market economy where the consumer gets to have the final say.

Quote Bush_Wacker:Relating to number 2. The debt problem isn't really understood by anyone in this country. It is a complex situation that can't be addressed with something as simple as "stop spending". There are tremendously good reasons for most of that spending and to simply stop would wreak havok on many Americans from the poor on up to the very important entrepeneur.

What do you mean "isn't understood by anyone in this country"? I happen to read a number of very brilliant economists and commentators who understand the problem of debt quite well, far better than you or I. The real problem is the desire by some to make the problem more complicated than it really is.

Also, you seem to fall into the fallacy of thinking that if government is doing something, there must be "a tremendously good reason" for it to do so and we could never get along without a specific function or program. I think the reality is that the motivations for government control of a specific sector of the economy are usually one of two things. One option is politicians think they can gain some political capital by championing an interest group or creating a dependency for a group of voters that will ensure their continued reelection. Another common reason for government seizing control is to benefit certain corporate interests, like with the Obamacare bill being written by the Insurance companies and big Pharma.

It is so common for government to carelessly create a new program or department without due thought being given to the unintended consequences and without a true debate on the merits of that program or policy. Then, regardless of the success or failure of that program, it becomes unthinkable that we could ever live without it. Even if it is failing miserably at its stated goal and horribly bankrupt.

Quote Bush_Wacker:We all have a tendency to make light of the very complex role of government spending, regulating, law making and the many other things involved with a government of the people by the people. It's not an easy game to play but we post on blogs with such a simplistic approach to all of it. We are very disingenuous in our praisings and disapprovals of what most of us know very little about in detail.

I look at forums such as this as more of entertainment mixed with a little bit of enlightenment, knowing full well that most of us don't have the information needed to do a very good job of critiquing. We are all experts at everything from the Constitution to the Social Security system.

I don't claim to be an expert at anything. I do have quite a bit of economic knowledge and I study US history as a personal hobby so I think I have every right to an informed opinion on these matters.

If you take issue with a specific thing I have said, I can address that individually.

jrodefeld's picture
jrodefeld
Joined:
Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:

Those textbook economists are the ones who have supported policies for the past 100 years that have put us in the fix we're in now.

My point is intead of saying 'you don't understand economics' you should have said 'I disagree with the standard economics you understand so well'.

As to your '100 year' theory - I might remind you once again that the US became an economic and military superpower in those years.

As to your economic theory of 'malinvestment' I have shown that to be false elsewhere. It requires the financial industry to be irrational - which contradicts your 'Free Markets Are Better Than Sex' theory.

Keynesianism, Marxism, interventionism, socialism, fascism and mercantalism are all failed economic theories. We have never had a truly freed market, but anytime the market has been somewhat free, been allowed to work somewhat, there was great prosperity.

Government spending to create jobs is ALWAYS wasteful. Government created "jobs" destroy more than they create. All that you're doing is taxing money from the people, spending it somewhere else, and taking a cut for the bureaucracy.

Read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt. He'll answer all of your questions.

See this is just a lie. I have been reading through this entire thread and thinking about how to thoughtfully respond and when it all comes down to it, it seems these discussions always come back to some basic lies Libertarians tell themselves and this is the worst.

The policies that led to BOTH the Great Depression and our recent Great Recession were identical - deregulate financial markets, lower top marginal tax rates, repress labor conditions, etc. etc. This combination has and always will and forever lead to economic collapse. The rise of the middle class in this country and the US as a superpower coincided with three things - the GI bill and other massive investment human resources of the country, the raising of the top marginal tax rates for INDIVIDUALS (corporate and capital gains were not so high) - and we are talking about in teh 70-90% range, and, finally, strong labor and civil rights movement (IE - investment in, rather than repression of, labor).

The moment those things changed in the 1980s, you begin to see the fall of the middle class - lower salaries, smaller numbers, and lower standards of living. Not only that but you see other economies, such as China, begin to overtake us.

None of this is a mistake and your claim is a flat out lie.

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

When I look at the tax facts it appears that the more the rich are taxed, the more economic growth we get. Here's a link about national deficts, if you care...which means it's not as big of a deal as some would have us believe

"What I am trying to tell you is that if you embrace that ideology in favor of government "by the people, for the people" you will always get a government that inevitably favors the rich." - jrodefeld

You can tell us that, but we're not going to believe that it's that simple, or true. Maybe you should try a little reading about corporate personhood

I just don't see how a limited government can maintain integrity and sovereignty when it is pressured by multinational corporations (that are governed by rich people) that account for more than half of the world's largest economies... how does a small and limited government protect its citizens from them?

MEJ's picture
MEJ
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote jrodefeld:

If we look back in our history to when we had a more limited federal government and a (relatively) free market, you will see that corporatism was far less of a problem. If you look at 1880 through 1960, for example, we had a robust industry and produced products and services that made our lives better. We built the strongest and most vibrant middle class that the world had ever seen and, unlike today, it was not even disputed during that time period that the United States was the best country in the world to live in.

Seriously? You think the period 1880-1900 is part of the period 1880-1960?

chilidog
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I know others have responded and there is an ongoing discussion, but I thought I would start with the OP. al3 and Dr Econ, in particular, have voiced many of my concerns but I will put some of it in my own words. I still do not think that either jrod or LS have adequately addressed their critiques.

Quote jrodefeld:

From what I have gathered over the last several years I would wager that many non-partisan progressives and many libertarians such as myself have much common ground in terms of identifying the problems that are plaguing our politics and our economy. Yet we come up with vastly different solutions on how to resolve these problems. I have always been willing to engage those I don’t agree with in discussion in an attempt to ascertain a different perspective and broaden my political views in an attempt to uncover the truth in regards to achieving sound economic policy and good government.

As such I have a few points I want to raise for discussion.

1. I have long felt that too many progressives paint an incredibly simplistic picture of “the rich” vs the poor or middle class. Partisan Republicans have called this “class warfare” but I would agree to the degree that a great number of the rich in this country have been looting the American people. We do have a corporate class that has largely taken advantage of the rest of us through special favors from government, tax exemptions, circumventing the law and getting bailouts and subsidies from the taxpayers. No libertarian I know would support such things. The problem is that there are two types of wealthy individuals. The businessmen that the market picks, meaning those that have worked very hard and gambled a great deal on an unproven idea to have success in meeting a need such that people voluntarily purchase their product or service is something to be thankful for. Such businesses, of which there are unfortunately fewer and fewer all the time, are a tremendous asset to society. These individuals are actually “job creators”. I don’t believe our rhetoric should target these individuals, instead we should criticize the “crony capitalists” or “corporate fascists” that live off of government and the taxpayer.

So, So, instead of a blanket statement like “the rich have done so well so we should target them all for tax increases or criticize them all as exploiters and parasites”, you need to understand that the market economy is an antidote to the type of crony capitalism and fascist abuses that Wall Street firms have foisted on the American people. The true entrepreneur, who gets no special benefits, and has no access to force or coercion is a tremendous benefactor to society, in fact I would argue far more than most government programs ever could be.

So, the focus should be on removing all special benefits from corporations, prosecuting firms for fraud if warranted, removing all subsidies and any cozy relationship to government. Those that produce nothing and are truly parasites will go bankrupt within a year. Many cannot exist independent of government guarantees. We want the scarce resources that have been locked up in government and parasitical banks and Wall Street firms to be freed up to be used by market oriented entrepreneurs and businesses that need to satisfy consumer demands and preferences or face bankruptcy. This is a productive use. Such market economic activity actually produces wealth and creates productive jobs, rather than non-productive jobs as when workers are hired by the government. We should seek to encourage this type of economic activity, rather than criticize all “rich” people equally.

The only people that I can honestly think of in recent history that made money because of an individual idea that grew into a massive business is someone like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. I think it was al3 that brought this up but he is correct that most of the time, the innovation is done by employees of large firms that have nothing to do with actually developing new ideas independently. As an example, my bro works as an R&D guy for hybrid and electric cars in the auto industry. He writes about 6-10 patents a year for his work and his employer owns them all – he gets a meager salary and a benefits package and that is it. His ideas and those of his team (and likewise those ideas from the employees from competing companies) are why you have hybrid cars. And might I add the companies themselves had little to do with that as they were not investing in this technology until GOVERNMENT stepped in and put regulation targets on emissions and provided them with research grants.

In reality, you are oversimplifying a typical progressive viewpoint on the rich. You comment that “our view” is simplistic and then you give an extremely reductive account of what “our view” really is. So, I will spit it to you from my personal perspective.

Rich people aren’t parasites, Capitalists are. I have said it many times – the only difference between a Capitalist and a Welfare Queen is an imaginary thing we made up in our heads called property rights. Both sit on their ass. Both leech profit from other peoples’ work. Both make little to no contribution to society. Now before I move on, it should be noted that both of these “people” are actually abstractions – they don’t really exist in 100% purity. Welfare recipients have work requirements and many capitalists also work – although not all. So, really these abstractions are placeholders for certain types of legal, economic, and political relationships between people.

That said, one of your biggest over simplifications here is that you seem to believe that we simply want to tax the wealth out of spite. This is incorrect. We want to tax the wealthy because it is smart economics. Wealthy individuals only spend about 20% of their income. Now, from a habit standpoint, this part of why they may have become rich in the first place. But in order to do this you actually have to have expendable income you can bank instead of spend on necessities. But, in short, this creates economic stagnation. This is precisely Keynes critique of Says Law. Now you may disagree with Keynes recommendations but his analysis was dead on. Taxing the wealthy and using it for reinvestment in either low income people (who spend the money back into the economy), infrastructure (which also goes into the economy but also bolsters future economic growth – making goods easier to transport and the like), or making precision economic investments in technologies or products deemed of social benefit (like hybrid cars, nuclear energy, the internet, etc. – none of which would have existed, or been developed when they were, without being supported by public investment).

Quote jrodefeld:

2. I do assume that many of you are recognizing the reality that we do have a sovereign debt problem and a huge budget shortfall that needs to be addressed, correct? Most progressives I have talked to have admitted as much, but they tend to resist much overall spending cuts. They will usually say that much of the problem is due to the “Bush tax cuts” and we need to cover most of the shortfall by tax increases on the “wealthy”. However, that is actually not possible when looking at statistics. Studies have been done to examine revenue based on tax rates over multiple decades. Obviously, a tax rate that is too high will discourage too much economic activity and will cause many to take their capital overseas. However, an exhaustive study of the situation has uncovered the reality that regardless of the tax rate, the revenue that can be generated will only vary between 18% to 20% of GDP. That is a hard limit on the revenue that can be squeezed from an economy regardless of the tax rate.

Therefore, any increase in tax rates on the wealthy will do almost nothing to cover the shortfall. It is actually almost irrelevant. With that understood, spending cuts will need to take place and they will be very politically unpopular. The debate needs to be how can we make these budget cuts fairly and not target those who are most dependent.

I do believe there are a number of areas of government that a reasonable progressive could support cutting, like the Defense budget. Or farm subsidies. However, it will have to be acknowledged that Medicare in particular will need significant cuts as well.

That is simply the reality of the situation. So any honest progressive should abandon the call to increase taxes to increase revenue. You might make an argument for “fairness” or to punish those who cheated somehow, but the idea that you will get significantly more revenue to shrink the deficit is a fallacy that all respectable economists have given up on.

I think it was al3 that hit this on the head, too. If we accept the idea that taxing the rich to spur on economic growth is true (which the post-war era proves beyond a doubt), then taxing absolutely makes sense. Let me walk you through a basic math problem –

You are taxing the wealthy at 30%. Your GPD is $100. Your governmental revenue is 20% of your GDP. What is your total governmental revenue? If you answered $20, you are smart!

Now let’s see if we can make the leap…. You tax the wealthy at 40%. This allows you to invest in the economy money that the wealthy would have normally sat on. Now your GDP is $150. Your governmental revenue is 20% of GDP. What is your total governmental revenue? If you answered $30, you are brighter than you seem. Not only that but if you held everything else equal (IE you did not spend any more money in scenario 2 other than the additional revenue from the tax increase), then your debt as a % of GDP ratio would go down…

In short, in scenario 2, you revenue is still 20% of the GDP but the GDP Is larger, your revenue is therefore larger, and your GDP to debt ratio is smaller. Now tell me with a straight face that just because the revenue will never be more or less than 18-20% of GDP, taxation doesn’t matter….

This is very basic math that is quite obvious – even if you disagree with my original premise and think that the exact opposite would happen (GDP would get smaller – which it won’t if we look at history honestly), then you CANNOT make that claim with a straight face.

Quote jrodefeld:

3. The conventional view of conservatives and liberals is that conservatives view government as the gravest threat to liberty, and liberals view corporations as the gravest threat. Underlying this idea from the progressive side is the notion that governments and corporations are opposing forces. The idea is that if we reduce the size of government to a limited role, then corporate power will grow in proportion to the shrinking of government power.

I completely reject this idea. Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government. Once you endorse a system of broad central economic planning and wealth redistribution, the special interests and the most powerful entities will always come out ahead of the middle class or the poor. Not only that, but this system of government that progressives so readily champion, actually perpetuates wealth inequality and distorts the market economy irrevocably, making it more profitable to go to Washington to lobby for benefits and favors than to compete honestly for consumers to buy their products. Even those that resist the temptation to lobby for government know full well that their competitors will, putting them at a serious disadvantage. It is this stage when corporate and business power becomes a parasite on society. No longer are businesses trying to produce products that people want and need, instead they get your money for doing almost nothing through government force.

Therefore, if you truly are opposed to wealth inequality and the concentration of corporate power, you should be focused on reducing the size of government and getting rid of the redistribution of wealth entirely because even if that means cutting off redistribution that purports to help the poor, in relation to all the welfare and benefits being sucked up by a corrupt corporate and banking class, the poor and middle class will come out ahead.

Everyone says that money is corrupting politics and everyone talks about how congressmen are bought off by business interests. But few get to the heart of the problem. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce government to the extent that it no longer has favors to pass out or money to redistribute.

If we do that, then think of all that money and resources that will be freed up for productive economic activity. Think of the reality that businesses will once again have to produce things of value and try to satisfy consumers rather than pandering to politicians.

I prefer to have consumers decide the proper allocation of scarce resources and determine which businesses succeed and which go bankrupt rather than corrupt politicians that simply don’t give a fuck about you or the economy.

I have addressed this with you several times. Here is the logic you have currently outlined.

A = Government, B = Corporations, C = society.

A controls C and is all powerful because it has the power of the gun.

B either controls (strong version) or manipulates (weak version) A.

Therefore B controls C.

Solution – remove A and B cannot control C.

Am I the only one that can see the obvious contradictions in this logic? First off, if A were all powerful, then B should theoretically NEVER be able to control or manipulate it. If we admit to ourselves that B is controlling or manipulating A, then we have to come to one of two conclusions: Corporations are either as strong or stronger than our government.

Not only that, but Corporations have both the will and the capability to not only influence government but to use it to control and influence us. This capacity and desire WILL NOT magically disappear when government is removed. THE ONLY LOGICAL CONCLUSION one could make is that if you remove A, then B will simply directly control or manipulate C. You would have to be a complete idiot to believe otherwise.

For my part, I don’t believe that corporations completely control government. Representatives have some autonomy but make choices based on the incentive structures our system provides. And, of course, you still have to get voters in the booths to mark a sheet of paper. If I were to outline the relationships I would say that all three of these entities manipulate and influence each other in different ways and the issue here is about weighting – who has the most influence and creating a structure that promotes freedom, equity, justice, and all of those things we want to commit to as a society.

This gets into some heavy heavy political philosophy that I will not indulge to a great degree, but I will summarize my view. Right now corporations have too much influence over government and society in general. The problem with that is that corporations only pursue profit at the sacrifice of everything else – freedom, equity, justice, etc. They don’t give a crap about any of that. Corporations exist for one purpose – make money at ALL costs. Therefore, of the 3 entities, they should have the LEAST amount of power. There are actually two ways to do this and my preference is different from most progressives but I will outline them both-

First, you could create a structure where corporations have NO influence over government. Money is not speech, lobbying is illegal (but individuals petitioning and assembly is not), corporations have no speech but the constituent employees do (you know, actual people). You could go further and make it illegal for politicians to be on committees that provide oversight for industries in which they previously worked and also make it illegal for them to work in industries for which they provided oversight for a minimum of 10 years after they leave office. There are SOOO many legal structures we could be pursuing to eliminate corporate influence in government but instead people vote for Tea Party corporate cronies. The resultant structure here would be that corporations influence society, society has greater influence of government, and government has greater influence of corporations – a type of round robin checks and balances.

The second option would be allowing society to have more influence or control over corporations. In short, eliminate capitalism and make everything worker owned. Market socialism, essentially. This is my preference for many reasons but I will not hash that out again here.

Quote jrodefeld:

4. Related to my last point, many progressives will acknowledge the problems I have mentioned, namely that government today is not “by the people, for the people” but rather has become overrun by corruption and corporate money and influence. The problem is that their solutions involve the notion of working people “rising up” and taking back our government through a variety of means. The idea is that through the democratic process we can organize labor, or poor or middle class to the extent that we can recover what was looted from us and have it redistributed back to the middle class. The idea is that we can have a functioning expansive State that will work in the interest of a majority of Americans rather than a narrow segment of ultra rich corporations and Oligarchs.

I'm telling you right now that this goal is completely impossible and unobtainable. Even if democracy was a desirable form of government, which it certainly isn’t, governments always and everywhere are working against the interests of a majority for the interests of a minority. It has always been that way. Not only that, but democracy is a horrible form of government because it proposes that a narrow majority can trample on the rights of a minority.

Your first paragraph is fine but the second is not. These are all, of course, completely irrational claims. Not really based in reality at all and show a blatant lack of knowledge of basic social contract theory. I’ll address this after the next comment:

Quote jrodefeld:

I favor, as did the founders, a Republic where our government is constrained by the law, which in this case is the US Constitution. Government thus should have a limited role and wealth redistribution is not one of its functions.

Yeah this is sorta where you go off the deep end a little. I know you all like to quote that one meme “What kind of Govermnent did you give us? A REPUBLIC if you can keep it!!” The fact is that the term “Republic” was used to denote basically any type of government that was not a totalitarian Monarchy. And if you actually READ “The Republic” where this concept came from, Plato described an ideal Republic being equal parts Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy. This is, in part, how we ended up with three branches of government with checks and balances over one another. Furthermore, the entire idea behind the social contract is that you engage in a limited democracy in which certain individual rights (human or civil rights) are protected by the Constitution (the term of the contract) and can never be violated by democratic rule. They are limiting principles, in other words.

Read it sometime… - http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html

Quote jrodefeld:

I think many progressives have an idealized vision of government that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all cost calls to strictly limit the power of the State. Many would claim that if only we could get “the right people” in charge we could have a functioning government that would look out for the welfare of the poor and not give welfare to rich, and be honest and competent.

It’s not about the right people but the right systemic relationships. And no our idea of government is not idealized. If it were, we wouldn’t bitch so much. Our notion of government is far less idealized than the Libertarian notion of a coersiveless society where all people engage in completely voluntary exchange and where markets perfectly distribute goods and therefore there is no inequality in the word… Can I get a K/UMBAYA AMEN…. Lol…

Quote jrodefeld:

I favor the view of Frederick Bastiat, who argued in The Law that no government should be allowed to do anything that you or I cannot do. Force is only justified in response to a violation of someone’s liberty through just and moral laws that govern all in society equally. No one is above the law. It needs to be applied to all people the same way.

But so many Progressives seem caught up in a certain myth about government, which Bastiat eloquently wrote about, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

They try but in truth government force is used for the benefit of the corporate class, and especially the bankers who loot the rest of the American people. Their power is artificial. It only comes because of government force and coercion. Take away the power of the state, and most of these powerful institutions and corporate crime syndicates would collapse.

But by perpetuating the myth of democracy and an expansive role for government, so many progressives unwittingly give strength to the corporate class and the looting of the majority by the minority.

I actually don’t disagree with this assessment in many ways but I still think your post was way off base for the numerous reasons listed above.

Quote jrodefeld:

I have more points I want to raise, but I think this is more than enough to start a conversation. I used to be left leaning and I still think that many Progressive’s hearts are in the right place. They want good outcomes. But I think it is tragic that so many promote policies that so frequently backfire on the most vulnerable in society and benefit the oligarchs that can harness the power of government force to loot the rest of us.

That is not to say that many Progressives don’t have some good ideas and values, but that until they recognize the need to limit government and reduce its role in the economy dramatically, I don’t see the conditions that we deplore changing for the better.

Bring on the discussion.

You cannot start a true discussion on the premise of “if the other guy would simply accept my entire argument then we would get somewhere.” I think there is a lot of room for discussion among Libertarians and progressives but the discussion is often misplaced. You want us to accept your final conclusion – that government needs to be limited – without even being remotely self-reflective about the assumptions that got you there – many of which al3, dr econ, myself, drc, and others have constantly pointed out to you are fundamentally incorrect. We provide numerous bits of history and evidence to this effect and your response is to start a new thread like this instead of dealing with it. This makes your call to a discussion seem extremely dishonest.

As an example, there might be some really good reasons to limit government but operating under the expectation that corporations that seemingly have the power to not only buy members of Congress, SCOTUS Justices, and even Presidents will simply wither and have no power. That is just naïve. You have to get out of the stale arguments at some point and come to terms with reality. Own up to the false assumptions – keep your ideals and convictions – but own up to the false assumptions and false historical information and THEN we can have a discussion about where to go next.

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

ah2 is correct. The only thing to add is on #3.

The OP goes on how corporate power, and the rich always control the govt. Which is patently false. They never controlled FDR, and they never controlled Truman. The rich and powerful never controlled JFK and LBJ. A govt run by John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich would have a very different relationship with coal and oil lobbyists than one run by a member of the Bush family.

The best way to combat this control by the rich is to pass a VAT half of which gets rebated back to each citizen, every month. Pass bills that do the one thing that conservatives fear the most, redistribution of wealth. Why do they fear it? Racism? Greed? The need to know they are better off then someone? Who knows, but if that is what they fear, that is what we should do.

"3. The conventional view of conservatives and liberals is that conservatives view government as the gravest threat to liberty, and liberals view corporations as the gravest threat. "

Phaedrus76's picture
Phaedrus76
Joined:
Sep. 14, 2010 8:21 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:

Those textbook economists are the ones who have supported policies for the past 100 years that have put us in the fix we're in now.

My point is intead of saying 'you don't understand economics' you should have said 'I disagree with the standard economics you understand so well'.

As to your '100 year' theory - I might remind you once again that the US became an economic and military superpower in those years.

As to your economic theory of 'malinvestment' I have shown that to be false elsewhere. It requires the financial industry to be irrational - which contradicts your 'Free Markets Are Better Than Sex' theory.

Keynesianism, Marxism, interventionism, socialism, fascism and mercantalism are all failed economic theories. We have never had a truly freed market, but anytime the market has been somewhat free, been allowed to work somewhat, there was great prosperity.

Government spending to create jobs is ALWAYS wasteful. Government created "jobs" destroy more than they create. All that you're doing is taxing money from the people, spending it somewhere else, and taking a cut for the bureaucracy.

Read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt. He'll answer all of your questions.

You obviously can't.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote jrodefeld:

You seem to be missing the point of my article. The "bigness" and power that so many corporations have is precisely due to the government granting monopolies and "merging" with the business sector, which as you point out is correctly termed fascism.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with the growth of government charity.

But I respect your admission that the rise of the US as economic superpower took place with anti-monopoly and high tax rates on the top earners completely and uttlerly destroys your Libertarian model.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The source LS wants us to read: http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf

I am working through it now.

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote ah2:

The source LS wants us to read: http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf

I am working through it now.

Thanks for the link!

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote al3:

Great post, but you could have saved some time and posted “Cut government, don’t tax the job creators, cut regulations, stick the poor and middle class with the bill,” like most of your contemporaries do……LOL….but seriously, a good, thoughtful post even though I disagree with most of your opinions here. Sure beats the re-posted viral email crap some of your colleagues seem to favor……

Well, I at least appreciate your efforts to respond to what I posted even if I tend to think you are buying into the mainstream propaganda.

Your summary does not at all do justice to my point of view. Yes i support cutting FEDERAL government down to the Constitutional limits imposed upon it. Remember that document, that Bush referred to as "a goddamn piece of paper", that is supposed to be the supreme law of the land, a contract between the people and their government?

I only support limiting our government to the letter of the law, can you really be opposed to that? How else can your liberties be secured?

Second, cut "regulations" does not do justice to the question of how to police legitimate abuses. The vast majority of regulations are are written by and passed for the benefit of large corporations who use the complexity of the legal system and regulatory apparatus to sabotage their competitors and screw consumers through government force.

I don't favor "prior restraint" regulations. I want decentralized power in the economy. The only way to prevent abuses is to keep government out of the free economy unless and until there is actual harm or aggression against another individual. Once that happens, the government should step in and exert every extent of its power to bring justice to the aggressor, especially if that person is a businessman or corporation. But the government should stay away from peaceful people involved in cooperative transactions and economic activity where there is no victim.

"Prior restraint" rules and regulations are heaped upon the economy and indiscriminantly affect all individuals whether they are trying to start a small business or are an established company or are even merely a consumer who is looking to engage in voluntary economic activity. So when libertarians say we want to get rid of regulations, THIS is what we are referring to. We fully endorse and expect the legal system to bring justice to polluters, fraudulent banks and scams, and any corporation that brings harm to another without preferential treatment.

As to "stick the poor and middle class with the bill", I never said anything of the sort. This is the type of comment that you might make when you have a weak argument and are forced to simply make something up to bolster your side of a debate.

The truth is the current situation is one in which the poor and middle class are being stuck with the bill. Individuals like Ron Paul and the Austrian economists who correctly predicted the financial collapse were the ones who said that we should NOT bail out the banks and we should allow them to fail. In fact, Alan Greenspan should have never helped to inflate this bubble and our political class should never have passed legislation encouraging people to buy houses that could not afford it.

The crisis that people on my side of the argument warned about came as predicted and then the politicians proceeded to bailout the criminal bankers, charge no one with fraud and we witnessed so many losing their homes while the toxic assets were transferred from the banking sector to the taxpayers. That is absolutely not fair.

Yet the reason we are in a depression and have such suffering for the poor and middle classes today is precisely because conventional "wisdom" chose to ignore our warnings and proceeded to embrace a lot of the ideas that Progressives champion. Progressives absolutely NEED a central bank printing money and manipulating interest rates to fund the programs they desire to "help" the poor and middle class. Progressives have championed the ideas of subsidizing the middle class through legislation like the Community Reinvestment Act and Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.

I don't doubt that many progressives are now able to be critical of the Federal Reserve and didn't approve of ALL the government intervention and programs that caused this crisis, but the underlying ideology of government intervention and central bank inflationist policies and interest rate manipulations are things that progressives have promoted all along. And before you even say it, there were no government regulations that could have done much to prevent this crisis, not when so much of federal policy was designed to promote growth of the housing sector of the economy and the Federal Reserve is allowed to operate in complete secrecy.

I don't recall many (or any) democrats or progressives getting to the heart of the problems in the economy BEFORE the crisis hit.

Good intentions do not always translate into good outcomes. You might have the best of intentions but the ideology you seem to embrace (significant government involvement in the economy, Federal Reserve inflationary policies) are more directly responsible for the suffering that is now being experienced by the poor and middle classes.

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I have long felt that too many progressives paint an incredibly simplistic picture of “the rich” vs the poor or middle class. Partisan Republicans have called this “class warfare” but I would agree to the degree that a great number of the rich in this country have been looting the American people. We do have a corporate class that has largely taken advantage of the rest of us through special favors from government, tax exemptions, circumventing the law and getting bailouts and subsidies from the taxpayers. No libertarian I know would support such things. The problem is that there are two types of wealthy individuals. The businessmen that the market picks, meaning those that have worked very hard and gambled a great deal on an unproven idea to have success in meeting a need such that people voluntarily purchase their product or service is something to be thankful for. Such businesses, of which there are unfortunately fewer and fewer all the time, are a tremendous asset to society. These individuals are actually “job creators”. I don’t believe our rhetoric should target these individuals, instead we should criticize the “crony capitalists” or “corporate fascists” that live off of government and the taxpayer.

For the most part I agree with this. However, many times the former (legitimate market picks the winner) morphs into the latter (crony capitalist). Many of what we would consider crony capitalists now were once legitimate value producing businesses. Look at Apple, or AT&T. They once provided quality products, and quality jobs for Americans. But, once their power and size grew, they used their power to lobby for rigged trade deals that sent every job they could to foreign, sometimes authoritarian countries. While the quality and innovation of the products are still there, they have used crony capitalism to circumvent the American labor force in favor of the artificially cheap labor provided by an authoritarian boot. Would a smaller Washington stop that? No.

Yes you are right that there are definitely times when legitimate good businessmen turn to being corrupt cronies over time. But of course, if you prevent government from regulating the economy or passing out favors, then this no longer becomes an option for a corporation. The only remaining options are to continue to satisfy consumer demand, lose market share to a better competitor or go out of business. This is as it should be. Consumers being the final word on economic success and failure. This is how a society becomes wealthy.

The real issue you need to understand is that unless the government is STRICTLY restrained from its control over the economy then the trend will be for more and more corporations to go to government for favors and care less and less about the consumer over time. You cannot say you want heavy government subsidization over a certain economic good (such as supposed "green" jobs) because this invites rampant cronyism and corporate welfare.

What ends up happening is that even genuinely honest businesses will witness their competitors getting an advantage through government help. They will either lose out big time and possibly go bankrupt or they will have to try to lobby government as well so as to remain on a level playing field with their competitors.

Think about it. If you were a small businessman and the government offered you a check for two million dollars would you take it? Even if you would consider it morally objectionable to take taxpayer money you didn't rightfully earn, if you didn't accept the money someone else would surely take it instead.

So wouldn't it be better that it be you instead of someone worse? And since government wastes so much money already, surely you could use that money for better things that the politicians?

So goes the moral justifications. I can guarantee that 99% of all Americans would take the money.

That is why we need to keep the government out of the economy altogether or else we will end up will total fascism and no semblance of a market economy. I would submit that that is where we are today.

Your argument against a smaller Washington not being able to stop its own corruption is nonsensical if you think about it logically.

What you are saying is that we need a big government to prevent itself (politicians and bureaucrats) from being bought off. But all government is essentially is a big auction for redistributed wealth. No matter what size the government, it will always be this way at least as long as redistribution of wealth takes place.

Therefore, a smaller government would by definition be less able to funnel money to the corporate class thus leading to less corporatism and less fascism.

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So, So, instead of a blanket statement like “the rich have done so well so we should target them all for tax increases or criticize them all as exploiters and parasites”, you need to understand that the market economy is an antidote to the type of crony capitalism and fascist abuses that Wall Street firms have foisted on the American people. The true entrepreneur, who gets no special benefits, and has no access to force or coercion is a tremendous benefactor to society, in fact I would argue far more than most government programs ever could be.

I would say the division between “crony capitalists” and “free market capitalists” divides at size and therefore coercive power over government. Problem is, these days, small, profitable businesses that show promise are snapped up by hedge funds and therefore into the “crony capitalist” phase pretty quickly. The local, “free market” part is almost skipped entirely, therefore not providing local jobs or tax base.

I think I have already addressed this but you seem to be a bit confused about the root cause of the problem. The free market is what occurs in the absense of government intervention. The "cronyism" takes place entirely due to government action.

The only way to stop the crony capitalism and promote the free market capitalism that is beholden to the consumers is to strictly limit government involvement in the economy to enforcing laws against aggression, enforcing contracts and prosecuting fraud.

You keep thinking that we can stop crony capitalism by growing government and having more government regulations to prevent itself from selling out. That is absurd if you actually took the time to think about it logically.

This is the very definition of the fox guarding the hen house. The corporations own the government, yet the government is expected to regulate the corporations. It is not possible.

What you need is to have a radical separation of State and corporate power. This means a small, limited government (which does not mean impotent) which stays out of the economy and its role as arbitor of disputes is clearly defined and understood. This is called a free market and it is the antithesis of the fascist state that we see today.

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So, the focus should be on removing all special benefits from corporations, prosecuting firms for fraud if warranted, removing all subsidies and any cozy relationship to government. Those that produce nothing and are truly parasites will go bankrupt within a year. Many cannot exist independent of government guarantees. We want the scarce resources that have been locked up in government and parasitical banks and Wall Street firms to be freed up to be used by market oriented entrepreneurs and businesses that need to satisfy consumer demands and preferences or face bankruptcy. This is a productive use. Such market economic activity actually produces wealth and creates productive jobs, rather than non-productive jobs as when workers are hired by the government. We should seek to encourage this type of economic activity, rather than criticize all “rich” people equally.

Problem is, there are many gray areas that are destructive that aren’t “fraud.” Just look at the 2008 financial meltdown. Nobody prosecuted. Do you really believe a small, neutered Washington would have the muscle to go after global corporations with unlimited means? No way. Liberals don’t criticize all “rich” people equally, although they need to work on that message. It’s the parasitic “rich” ie Big Oil, Pharma, Insurance, Big outsourcers, Big Finance, etc. etc. and those who financially benefit from practices destructive to the public and national interest who libs denounce.

Okay, and you should be aware that libertarians and defenders of the free market are right with you in denouncing the "parasitic" rich like the banks, big pharma, big oil, etc. However, a distinction that needs to be understood is that from our perspective we don't go after people or criticize people based on income. I think terms like the "1%" vs the "99%" are a little misleading and supposes that anyone lucky enough to make it into the 1% though an honest means should feel guilty and it preys upon emotions like envy and also tends to preface a later call for socialistic redistribution from those who have more to those who have less.

Such a scenario in the long run can only lead to greater poverty as Mises pointed out socialism is bound to fail because of something terms "The Economic Calculation Problem". The problem is how we can rationally distribute resources in an economy? The only way is through the price mechanism in the free market. Prices in a free market contain information about desirability of a resource or the abundance which allows corrections that prevent surpluses or shortages of that good.

Short of a free market pricing mechanism there is absolutely no way to prevent gross misallocation of resources and huge shortages. I feel that so many on the left really endorse central economic planning but they just wish that the redistribution was directed differently that it currently is.

The mantra seems to be tax the rich more and redistribute more to the poor and middle class. That is not really the answer and will only distory markets and lead to gross shortages and increased poverty in the long run.

What you should be favoring is an actual market economy where consumers dictate everything through price signals and nobody has any artificial power and every consensual economic activity is allowed without prior restraint.

I noticed that without exception, every example of the "parasitic" rich are from sectors of the economy that are the most regulated by government and the least free.

By the way, there was a tremendous amount of fraud that was committed on Wall Street in recent years that certainly could have been prosecuted under libertarian politicies. The true source of the fraud was fraud perpetrated by the Federal Reserve system, but that is a topic for later.

The most important thing we could have done would be to allow the banks to go bankrupt, have the bad debt wiped from the books and remove the "moral hazard" implicit in the system that encouraged the banks to behave to recklessly.

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Quote jrodefeld:I do assume that many of you are recognizing the reality that we do have a sovereign debt problem and a huge budget shortfall that needs to be addressed, correct? Most progressives I have talked to have admitted as much, but they tend to resist much overall spending cuts. They will usually say that much of the problem is due to the “Bush tax cuts” and we need to cover most of the shortfall by tax increases on the “wealthy”. However, that is actually not possible when looking at statistics. Studies have been done to examine revenue based on tax rates over multiple decades. Obviously, a tax rate that is too high will discourage too much economic activity and will cause many to take their capital overseas. However, an exhaustive study of the situation has uncovered the reality that regardless of the tax rate, the revenue that can be generated will only vary between 18% to 20% of GDP. That is a hard limit on the revenue that can be squeezed from an economy regardless of the tax rate.

What are you saying here?….just a fancy way of saying “The middle class has to pay – hands off the job creators!” Sorry, I couldn’t disagree more. Just because taxing the “wealthy” alone won’t balance the budget doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tax them more. Those who have benefited the most from the current set of economic conditions – many of THEIR making – SHOULD pay a little more to lift us out of this rut. However, I agree we should ALL pay, in some way shape or form. Raising Medicare and SS ages, or some type of means testing would be fine with me. However…..and a big HOWEVER…is the “wealthy” need to belly up too. They caused this fu*king mess. In the absence of a bulletproof method of making THEM pay up, I refuse to support ANY cuts to ANY services or benefits to the middle class. And, to those who will “take their capital overseas,” well, they must hate America, they’re taking it there anyway. Fu*k those dirtbags.

Okay, what you are doing is a gross generalization that turns off so many from movements like "Occupy". The "rich" didn't cause our problems. A small percentage of the rich, mostly bankers in collusion with politicians and the federal reserve, caused this problem.

The average rich person, the owner of a small business, who is worth maybe 3 million did not cause this crisis. It is these "rich", who are not cronies and who actually have some remaining capital that the government hasn't yet taxed away and blown on unproductive crap, that we desperately need to invest in actual productive economic endevours.

In a real market economic, growth and investment does not come from debt or a printing press. Instead it comes from savings. The "phony" economy needs to collapse and entrepreneurs and those wealthier and lucky enough to actually have a bit of savings are the ones we need to invest in a real recovery.

I really understand the desire to punish those that caused this crisis. But taxation is not the way to do it because the upper income bracket includes a great many people (the VAST majority) who had nothing to do with the economic crisis.

Those who favor raising taxes on the "rich" will no doubt point to some mega bank whose CEO takes advantage of a loophole and is only paying 14% or so in taxes.

Personally, I believe we should abolish in Income Tax altogether because I view it as immoral and the worst form of taxation. However, for that to be feasible we would need a Constitutional sized government. Then we could get along fine without an income tax. In fact we could excel.

Of course that is not possible without the size of government and the debt level at present. However, I would agree that whatever we determine the top tax rate is, all those in that tax bracket should pay the same and there should be no special deals.

But while Warren Buffet might want you to focus on the CEO of Goldman Sachs who is getting some special deal on his taxes, I can show you numerous individuals who are not cronies in the top income bracket that are paying huge amounts in taxes at present. There are many who try to go it alone without government help. A small business owner who makes $500,000 a year, once you ad up federal, state and local taxes is paying nearly 50% of his income in taxation right now. And this does not even account for the cost of regulations and other impediments to economic growth that the federal government has imposed.

I would say that the "regular" rich are paying plenty. If you understand my point that we cannot hope to squeez much more revenue from the economy by raising tax rates, and this is a verifiable fact, then what economic sense does it make to confiscate more money from the few remaining individuals in this society who have any money to invest into productive economic activity and trasfer it to politicians who will promptly waste that money?

Now, if you reduced the scope of your "tax increase" argument merely to verifiable cronies and big banks that actually were involved in causing the economic collapse, I might be able to agree with you somewhat.

However, it still would not raise any revenue of note and would be more of a publicity stunt than anything.

One other thing you need to understand when you hear people like Buffet arguing for higher taxes on "the rich". Many people who make this case actually have sinister motives.

A larger business or corporation will either be able to easily cover an increased tax rate or they will be able to get a loophole that will prevent them paying their taxes. However, their smaller competitors will be hurt by the tax increase. Many of the ultra rich, including Warren Buffet, have much more to gain by destroying their would be competitors than by paying a bit more in taxes.

I favor low tax rates for everyone but preventing all the corporate socialism and cronyism while prosecuting those that actually did harm to others. The tax increase argument is really a canard and serves only to distract us from real necessary reforms.

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Quote jrodefeld:Therefore, any increase in tax rates on the wealthy will do almost nothing to cover the shortfall. It is actually almost irrelevant. With that understood, spending cuts will need to take place and they will be very politically unpopular. The debate needs to be how can we make these budget cuts fairly and not target those who are most dependent.

That’s like saying, “Well, taxing ME won’t make a difference in overall deficit reduction, so why does the government insist on taxing ME?…Tax THEM!”

No, what I am saying is that we need to cut government spending enough so that we can begin to allign our government with the Constitution.

And we don't have to unfairly target those dependent on Medicare or Social Security. I honestly think that we can honor the commitments to current recipients and those soon to retire ONLY if we make drastic cuts elsewhere. Those younger individuals like myself (I'm in my 20s) will have to accept that I will not get social security and medicare and plan for that and opt out of the system.

If we do nothing, a calamity will come and nobody will be warned enough to prepare. Within a decade current seniors will really be hurting unless we make provisions NOW. Current recipients WILL be in jeopardy if we cannot save the dollar from a precipitous decline.

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Quote jrodefeld:I do believe there are a number of areas of government that a reasonable progressive could support cutting, like the Defense budget. Or farm subsidies. However, it will have to be acknowledged that Medicare in particular will need significant cuts as well.

Agreed on Defense and farm subsidies. Our industrial competitors enjoy the cost savings that our military protection and oil supply protection provides them, and they use the savings to kick our a** in manufacturing and education. Medicare – I think it’s reasonable to move up the age on Medicare considering we all live longer, and some type of means testing, but not the Ryan voucher plan. Just curious – How old are you? Are you at risk of getting screwed by the Ryan voucher plan? Are you willing to give your more generous traditional Medicare up, and let the “job creators” merrily skate away with yet another tax break they don’t need, and use it to create jobs in China?

I'm 27. I don't favor the Ryan plan. I think its hypocritical that he wants to INCREASE military spending yet he is trying to only cut social programs for the elderly.

I actually think reforms of Medicare and Social Security are needed even in excess of what Ryan has proposed, but it could be handled in a better way. And it is horrible politics to only cut programs that benefit older people.

I favor a plan like the one Ron Paul envisions. He proposed a budget that would cut 1 trillion dollars in one year without touching Medicare and Social Security. The idea would be to drastically cut military spending. Cut farm and corporate subsidies. End the Departments of Education, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. Cut the CIA budget.

Then have a transition period where we can keep promises to current seniors while allowing people my age to opt out entirely.

I don't think there is another way to do this honestly.

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Quote jrodefeld:That is simply the reality of the situation. So any honest progressive should abandon the call to increase taxes to increase revenue. You might make an argument for “fairness” or to punish those who cheated somehow, but the idea that you will get significantly more revenue to shrink the deficit is a fallacy that all respectable economists have given up on.

Your "reality" is simply an opinion. “All respectable economists” have NOT given up on a balanced view of revenue generation AND tax cuts, in fact, in the NON POLITICAL REALM, most economists suggest this balanced approach. I support selective tax increases for everyone, weighted toward the top earners. I support common sense taxes on Wall Street transactions. We all need to take a hit to get us out of this hole, especially those dirtbags on Wall Street.

Maybe I should have chosen my words a bit differently. The truth is that the profession of economics is one of the most corrupt of all the sciences. That is why I subscribe to the Austrian school of economics. These economists I believe understand the fundamentals of our economy far better than the CNBC stooges or people like Krugman.

I think that whether you feel like admitting it yet, this period in history will be looked at as a final refutation of the theories of Keynes. They will exhaust all the tools at their disposal and it won't revive this economy, We can no longer look to John Maynord Keynes for solutions.

By the way, can you honestly name a single economist or politician who advocates a so called "balanced approach" that has proposed actual, tangible spending cuts? I don't mean decreases in the increase of spending, I mean next year we spend less than we do this year. I have not heard a single one.

I believe this "balanced approach" rhetoric is an admission that the debt has gotten too high for the Keynesians to ignore so they pretend to cut, but the real idea is to raise taxes while printing huge amounts of money.

The tax increases are real but the spending cuts are fictitious.

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Quote jrodefeld:The conventional view of conservatives and liberals is that conservatives view government as the gravest threat to liberty, and liberals view corporations as the gravest threat. Underlying this idea from the progressive side is the notion that governments and corporations are opposing forces. The idea is that if we reduce the size of government to a limited role, then corporate power will grow in proportion to the shrinking of government power.

I agree with the progressive view. When one side’s only task in life is to exploit, there needs to be an opposing balance. Granted, government has been somewhat tepid in their balance, but that’s only because corporate pollution of Congress. To believe that we’d all live a kumbaya world under unchecked corporate power is naïve and a conservative’s view of utopia. Smaller government = bigger and more powerful business, and unchecked corporate exploitation.

Neither I nor any libertarian advocates "unchecked" corporate power. The issue is who or what mechanism keeps them in check. The government has almost always been an accomplice in the crime or corporate fascism rather than an opponent.

The best and only thing that will keep corporate power in check is decentralized economic and political power structures. If we all accept that we can be ruled over by one city and we accept the authority of the Federal Government and a system of mass redistribution of wealth and centralized power, that allows great abuses of power by the State and by the Corporate class.

However, if we have a smaller federal government and more state sovereignty and local governments authority over problems, we have multiple smaller power structures counterbalancing each other to some degree. Therefore any harm that a corporation or business could do will remain relatively contained and localized. As the centers of power get smaller and closer to the people, the threat to liberty becomes less and less.

Also, the consumers become the single greatest check on corporate power. Unless they have the explicit backing of government and the force of law behind their actions, no corporation can take your money or impose on you in any way. We can all use our resources as we see fit and businesses work at our benefit rather than working to influence politicians.

We need smaller centers of power, both governmental and economic. I understand your confusion, but if you understood the actual structure of a free market, with no central bank and local governments taking up some slack vs a diminished federal government you would understand that such a system is inherently more fair and less prone to corruption and abuse.

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I completely reject this idea. Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government. Once you endorse a system of broad central economic planning and wealth redistribution, the special interests and the most powerful entities will always come out ahead of the middle class or the poor. Not only that, but this system of government that progressives so readily champion, actually perpetuates wealth inequality and distorts the market economy irrevocably, making it more profitable to go to Washington to lobby for benefits and favors than to compete honestly for consumers to buy their products. Even those that resist the temptation to lobby for government know full well that their competitors will, putting them at a serious disadvantage. It is this stage when corporate and business power becomes a parasite on society. No longer are businesses trying to produce products that people want and need, instead they get your money for doing almost nothing through government force.

I completely embrace this idea. If the government we have now is “this system of government that progressives so readily champion,” then why have the number of lobbyists, and therefore corporate influence, exploded since 1980, when modern Reagan-type conservatism took root? Why have Tea Party Congressmen been just as involved with lobbyists, maybe even moreso, than those they replaced? Those last 30 years have marked a conservative renaissance inasmuch as conservatives in general have never had as much power the last 30 years since the 1920’s. Laissez faire business and deregulation leads to more corporate power and regulatory and government capture. The answer is not weaker government, not bigger government, but stronger and effective government that balances out the greed and self-interest of the private sector. Left unchecked, that greed and self-interest will only end in disaster, and anyone who doesn’t see that is either a predator themselves, or just naïve.

I seem to be repeating myself on this post but you have a few fallacious ideas you spout in this paragraph. First, apart from Ron Paul and the libertarian movement, the Tea Party is today nothing more than a rebranding of social conservatism and corporate republicanism. There are a few that are honest and better than the rest, but not many.

We have NOT had laissez faire policies or significant deregulation in the modern era. If modern conservatives showed the error of my views as you seem to imply, then wouldn't they have cut government spending significantly? Of course they did the exact opposite.

If you suppose that conservative policies have caused the problems with corporatism and lobbying and so forth, what were those policies? If you look at the facts, they embraced Keynesian economics (of the Supply Side variety), and massive deficit spending and growth in government. Modern conservatives are NOT supporters of the free market.

If you look over the last thirty years, the greatest spending presidents have been Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. That would seem to support my argument of corporatism rising as government grows.

Here is what progressives need to understand. Many tout all the problems that have occured since Reagan took office. They talk about the declining middle class, the growing income gap, and the rise of corporatism and cronyism in government. All those things are absolutely correct.

However they erroneously blame these problems on the "free market" as if Republicans had supported anything of the sort.

The truth is that the growing income gap, the rise in government spending and growth and the parasitic corporate and banking class that has engulfed this nation is due primarily to the monetary system.

The source of our problems can be traced back to 1971 when Nixon closed the Gold Window and we embraced a worldwide fiat currency standard, where there was no longer any restraint on government spending or printing of money.

Prior to that time our dollar was linked to gold which kept government growth in check. What you need to realize is that corporatism thrives on fiat money. Who provided the easy credit and cheap money for all the scams and fraud that went on on Wall Street these past ten years? The Federal Reserve.

Government spending and deficits have exploded since 1971. Furthermore, inflation robs the poor and middle class and transfers that money to the well connected rich. People don't even realize it is happening.

The central bank is the ultimate collusion between government and business. Under a fiat currency it is expected that you will see the deterioration of the middle class and the growth of a parasitic corporate class. The free economy is destroyed.

THAT is the source of the problems we have witnessed in the last couple of decades.

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Quote jrodefeld:Therefore, if you truly are opposed to wealth inequality and the concentration of corporate power, you should be focused on reducing the size of government and getting rid of the redistribution of wealth entirely because even if that means cutting off redistribution that purports to help the poor, in relation to all the welfare and benefits being sucked up by a corrupt corporate and banking class, the poor and middle class will come out ahead.

Are you ready to live in a country that has millions living in desperate poverty? Can you afford a gated community and a security system? Have kids and a wife to provide bait for criminals and kidnappers? I don’t really understand your reasoning here, yet you state it as if it is a fact. It’s debatable, but not a fact.

What you don't understand is that under a free market with a sound currency, you will see the slow decline of poverty rates and increasing standards of living generation after generation. That is the expected outcome and we saw poverty rates continually decline from 1870 to 1960. During this time we built the strongest middle class the world has ever known. Not accounting for technology, you could do quite well for yourself in 1950 on a single income compared to today.

After Lyndon Johnson instituted the "war on poverty", we have seen poverty rates stagnate and remain flat while prior to such government action, the rates had declined significantly each decade starting almost a century before.

I am not suggesting we cut all these programs immediately. But the idea that we cannot do without them or that we would see millions living in desperate poverty is simply not true.

The problems of poverty today are greatly caused by government and monetary debasement.

A free people with a sound currency can create far more wealth and take care of those that need help much more effectively.

We have evidence for that.

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Quote jrodefeld:Everyone says that money is corrupting politics and everyone talks about how congressmen are bought off by business interests. But few get to the heart of the problem. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce government to the extent that it no longer has favors to pass out or money to redistribute.

The answer is not 1 or 0. It’s 1.5. Do we get rid of the cancer by killing the patient?

I don't want to be too simplistic, but the government is the cancer and WE are the patient. If the government doesn't spend money, that money doesn't "disappear" it is available for productive use in the economy for the first time.

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Quote jrodefeld:If we do that, then think of all that money and resources that will be freed up for productive economic activity. Think of the reality that businesses will once again have to produce things of value and try to satisfy consumers rather than pandering to politicians.

That “productive economy” goes to CEO’s, hedge funds’ and their shareholders’ pockets, then it goes to China, Vietnam, India, or some other country where they can cut a deal with a dictator, then wave the American flag and crow “freedom” and “liberty” as they profit from authoritarianism, dodge U.S. taxes, and keep their money hidden in offshore bank accounts. If you believe that’s the “productive economy,” then there’s no hope.

What could have possibly led you to believe that what I am describing currently exists in this country? A closer approximation of "the productive economy" is the economy that existed at one time in this country, four or five decades ago and longer.

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Quote jrodefeld:I prefer to have consumers decide the proper allocation of scarce resources and determine which businesses succeed and which go bankrupt rather than corrupt politicians that simply don’t give a fuck about you or the economy.

And the CEOs and hedge funds give a fuck?

In a market economy, the CEO's NEED to care about consumer desires or they go out of business.

It should be quite obvious that the incentives for politicians vs businessmen, provided they are not colluding with government, are completely different. If a business fails, they lose everything and go bankrupt. If government fails, they increase the budget.

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Quote jrodefeld:Related to my last point, many progressives will acknowledge the problems I have mentioned, namely that government today is not “by the people, for the people” but rather has become overrun by corruption and corporate money and influence. The problem is that their solutions involve the notion of working people “rising up” and taking back our government through a variety of means. The idea is that through the democratic process we can organize labor, or poor or middle class to the extent that we can recover what was looted from us and have it redistributed back to the middle class. The idea is that we can have a functioning expansive State that will work in the interest of a majority of Americans rather than a narrow segment of ultra rich corporations and Oligarchs.

I don’t really see a “rising up,” because corporate media has done a good job of dividing us. What I see is another Great Depression coming, due to private sector greed, as in the 1920’s. That will open people’s eyes about the destructive effects of an out of control banking and private sector ,massive inequality, and hoarding and speculation at the top. Hopefully we’ll see the same results – another 40 years of conservatives on the outside looking in. It just may be worth it then. Just so happens during those 40 years we created the largest middle class the world has ever known and became the world’s most powerful country.

The policies of Democrats and Republicans are not very far apart. A great depression is not coming, its here now.

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Quote jrodefeld:I'm telling you right now that this goal is completely impossible and unobtainable. Even if democracy was a desirable form of government, which it certainly isn’t, governments always and everywhere are working against the interests of a majority for the interests of a minority. It has always been that way. Not only that, but democracy is a horrible form of government because it proposes that a narrow majority can trample on the rights of a minority.

And you really believe unchecked corporate power won’t lead to even worse trampling?

Quote jrodefeld:I favor, as did the founders, a Republic where our government is constrained by the law, which in this case is the US Constitution. Government thus should have a limited role and wealth redistribution is not one of its functions.

Let’s return to the Gilded age, or Dickensian England.

Is this an admission that you advocate that we knowingly pursue government policies that are contrary to the US Constitution? How can your liberties possibly be secure with that attitude?

I don't know what you mean by "Gilded age" but this ideology, Classical Liberalism that emerged from the great philosophers of the Rennaissance and refined by the founders, provided the foundation for the most prosperous and greatest nation in the history of the world.

And it was based on the document you seem to have so little respect for.

Quote al3:
Quote jrodefeld:I think many progressives have an idealized vision of government that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all cost calls to strictly limit the power of the State. Many would claim that if only we could get “the right people” in charge we could have a functioning government that would look out for the welfare of the poor and not give welfare to rich, and be honest and competent.

I think many libertarians have an idealized vision of business that is so far removed from reality. They tend to resist at all costs to strictly regulate the worst excesses of the corporate sector. Many would claim that if only we could get government out of the way, the fair minded, consciensciouis, and patriotic corporate sector could bloom, and they would of course be interested in hiring Americans, paying fair wages and benefits, paying their share of taxes, maintaining safe workplaces, and practicing environmental responsibility, of course. The fact is the reason government is not honest and competent is due to bribery from the corporate sector dirtbags.

I've gone over this so many times in this response. If you don't yet understand the mechanisms of the corruption between state and corporate sector, there is not much more I can do.

Quote al3:

Quote jrodefeld:I favor the view of Frederick Bastiat, who argued in The Law that no government should be allowed to do anything that you or I cannot do. Force is only justified in response to a violation of someone’s liberty through just and moral laws that govern all in society equally. No one is above the law. It needs to be applied to all people the same way.

And you believe a teeny, tiny, impotent federal government, or even more teeny, tiny, state governments would have the means to enforce ANYTHING against a mammoth corporate sector with global power, scale and unlimited means? What’s more likely is MORE influence in those teeny, tiny governmental micro-units….much like…..a bug on the bottom of their shoe…...Uh, I don’t buy it, sorry. It makes no sense.

Okay, why don't you tell me how a corporation is going to oppress me if they had no collusion with the government and the law protected me from aggression?

Let me ask you this, which phone call would you feel most comfortable ignoring, a sales call from Apple or a call from the IRS?

This should be evident which is the greater threat to your liberties. Now, the third option is that the IRS uses force to take your money and then gives it to Apple in the form of a subsidy. This is equally wrong, but it is still the government doing the aggression.

Quote al3:
Quote jrodefeld:But so many Progressives seem caught up in a certain myth about government, which Bastiat eloquently wrote about, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."

They try but in truth government force is used for the benefit of the corporate class, and especially the bankers who loot the rest of the American people. Their power is artificial. It only comes because of government force and coercion. Take away the power of the state, and most of these powerful institutions and corporate crime syndicates would collapse.

But by perpetuating the myth of democracy and an expansive role for government, so many progressives unwittingly give strength to the corporate class and the looting of the majority by the minority.

OK, I get it. Per Bastiat, there should be no states, no countries, no governments, only corporations, everyone out for their own. Without government, even government that’s compromised by corporate criminals, is better than nothing. Why do you think that giant corporations would just dissolve if there were no government? They would be even more corrupt. Again, I don’t get it.

A great number of a parasitic rich and large corporations would fail or go bankrupt without government guarantees and handouts. Others would lose market share rapidly to more competant competitors.

Now, some corporations would be sleezy and corrupt but they would be unable to use force, so their behavior would usually result in their bankruptcy. Even if it didn't you could easily never have to deal with a business you didn't like.

Quote al3:

Quote jrodefeld:I have more points I want to raise, but I think this is more than enough to start a conversation. I used to be left leaning and I still think that many Progressive’s hearts are in the right place. They want good outcomes. But I think it is tragic that so many promote policies that so frequently backfire on the most vulnerable in society and benefit the oligarchs that can harness the power of government force to loot the rest of us.

Without government, wouldn't oligarchs just loot us directly?

How? There wouldn't be no government, just a limited one. The government would be tasked with protection of liberty so no one has the right to loot anyone.

Quote al3:

Quote jrodefeld:That is not to say that many Progressives don’t have some good ideas and values, but that until they recognize the need to limit government and reduce its role in the economy dramatically, I don’t see the conditions that we deplore changing for the better.

The only way I could see this and potentially support it is if the government could use their double constitutional hammers of control of interstate commerce and import tariffs, and use it with an iron fist. Even though that would be constitutional, you don’t think the corporate sector would corrupt Washington to subvert those Constitutional rights to regulate interstate commerce and imports? No way. They’ve already corrupted it, so what’s the difference? How does cutting government fix that? It doesn’t..

How bout this - Get rid of the social safety net, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, GONE. OK fine. The government could then use its constitutional right to raise tariffs to provide jobs instead of safety nets. You think the corporate sector would sit still for that? HAH! Use the commerce clause to keep corporations small enough to maintain control by the much smaller Washington. Would business sit still for that? Uh, no. In a perfect, rational world, the corporate sector would abide by and observe those constitutional principles. But you know and I know it doesn’t work that way.. Government needs to be the large stick, albeit an imperfect one, to keep those who would destroy the common good for profit in line.

*****

I just don’t see how no regulation and no social safety net will stop businesses from behaving badly, because history shows time and time again, they will. You will need to explain that one better. We will always disagree because Liberals always will believe in the possibility of good government. I believe the ONLY way to clean up Washington is either public financing of elections, or at least full disclosure of campaign, PAC and Super PAC donations.

I believe in the possibility of good government, I just think the chance is so remote that we would be better served to limit it to the essentials of a free society. I truly believe the perfect form of government might me an "enlightened" dictatorship. If Jesus Christ could wield huge power and not abuse it, we might live in a Utopia. Or Ghandi or some other enlightened or highly spiritual person could handle power.

But that is a fiction. Highly spiritual people never seek power, usually the corrupt and vain people seek power. THAT is why good government is highly unlikely.

Even IF you were to get, for a short period of time, the right people in power you could attain "good government" for a short time. But on the whole, the vast majority of the time you will get corrupt vain people abusing power.

That is all I have to say on this subject.

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jrodefeld
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Quote jrodefeld: That is all I have to say on this subject.

Are you serious? You think someone is going to read all that garbage? I guess I know why you don't answer my posts.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote ah2:

The source LS wants us to read: http://www.hacer.org/pdf/Hazlitt00.pdf

I am working through it now.

It is crap.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote LysanderSpooner: Read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt. He'll answer all of your questions.

But he does nothing of the sort. He reiterates the standard 'classical' model - before even rational expectations and real business cycle theory. He even ignores market externalities and market power, and assumes that what is true in individual level is true in the aggregate. His wonderful naive faith in technology is sobering - and I can't help thinking how FOXCONN slaves are repeating this free market myopia while the US surrenders her manufacturing and turns into a third world country.

Read Hazlitt? Why? Why not read Keynes, Marx, Fischer, or now Krugman and Minsky? Do you actually think any of these writers did not learn all this silly free market stuff in their first year of undergraduate economics?

I have already proved some of the arguements that you have brought up before - and just as you ignore those posts you will ignore this one.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote jrodefeld:... The vast majority of regulations are are written by and passed for the benefit of large corporations who use the complexity of the legal system and regulatory apparatus to sabotage their competitors and screw consumers through government force.

How can you possibly say this because all you have read are CATO handoouts on examples of bad regulations?

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Dr. Econ
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A People's History Of The United States by Howard Zinn

Chapter 11: ROBBER BARONS AND REBELS

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinnbaron11.html

I certainly wasn't taught this in high school History. I wonder why? No wonder history has a tendency to repeat itself.

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diffdrummer
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Jul. 16, 2012 8:16 pm
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner: Read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt. He'll answer all of your questions.

But he does nothing of the sort. He reiterates the standard 'classical' model - before even rational expectations and real business cycle theory. He even ignores market externalities and market power, and assumes that what is true in individual level is true in the aggregate. His wonderful naive faith in technology is sobering - and I can't help thinking how FOXCONN slaves are repeating this free market myopia while the US surrenders her manufacturing and turns into a third world country.

Read Hazlitt? Why? Why not read Keynes, Marx, Fischer, or now Krugman and Minsky? Do you actually think any of these writers did not learn all this silly free market stuff in their first year of undergraduate economics?

I have already proved some of the arguements that you have brought up before - and just as you ignore those posts you will ignore this one.

This was my general first impression through the first few chapters. He makes the initial deliniation between a "good" economist and a "bad" economist in saying that a "good" economist will look beyond short term effects of POLICIES and also to effects outside of the target group of certain POLICIES.

The interesting thing is that he seems to think that we don't need to do the same thing for MARKETS. Markets are notoriously short sighted and vritually always sacrifice long term benefits or effects for short term profit. Additionally, classical libertarianism virtually always ignores externality effects of market exchange.

It seems like a rather contradictory position to hold that we need to look at long term effects and externalities when considering POLICY but we should ignore these things when it comes to MARKET outcomes.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

Excellent criticism. Plus, I am amused when referred to an author or source who will "answer all my questions." It can be a start, but I rarely find the "answers" all that great. What really helps is when they help me see the question differently or appreciate why "the answer" is just another clue that raises other questions.

My example is David Graeber and DEBT, A 5000 Year History. It does not answer as many questions as it changes how you think about economics and human social reality. It puts a lot of questions in context and helps us reframe what economics has led us to miss.

LS and many Libertarians strike me as converts who are have found "the Lord" and want to share his love with others. As a phase, it is fine. As a stopping place, not so good.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm
Quote nimblecivet:

I don't think your argument about corporate-government collusion is complete without violating some of the sacred tenets of libertarianism. Corporations have not won out in the struggle for power merely because they got some tax breaks here and there. They did it because progressives were never able to implement reforms such as land reform. What has come to the fore in all of this today are the results of a deregulated financial market. There is no clear-cut distinction between "good" job-creating corporations and "bad" trough-feeding ones. Corporations conform to a specific model of action which is explicitly and qualifiedly anti-democratic and non-egalitarian in its profit motive. Their size is what "distorts" the economy, as it is absurd to discuss them in abstract terms the same way as you would talk about a shoe-cobbler plying their trade. Corporations are institutions whose function is to create a legal and economic context in which those who control the wealth of talent and skills of the workers and the materials these workers use exist solely for the benefit of those whose only contribution to the system is to create and exploit it.

Government is not merely exploited by parasitic corporations, corporations undermine government and seek to eliminate it in order to preserve the parasitic system of capitalism. When you say "Corporate power, at least in the sense that it is detrimental to society, goes completely hand in hand with the growth in government." you go on to seemingly suggest that corporations require government for "central planning" and "redistribution of wealth." The reality is that corporations, through their social nexuses including lobbyists, think tanks, secret societies, etc., have been doing both without government and it is only by convincing people of libertarian rhetoric that we find ourselves today confronted with the obvious fact that the result of implementing the libertarian paradigm is the subverting of government to the corporate agenda.

Libertarians, including yourself, all rely on the same formulaic definition of government. Like many others, you come to the conclusion that republicanism is superior to democracy. If you had a deeper understanding of progressivism you would realize that democracy is the best option for limiting government to its most useful function. Of course we are a long way from democracy, but there is no minority which naturally dwells in the middle-range of socioeconomic demographs of society which will comprise some sort of natural republican social vanguard and Eternal Guarantors of Liberty. The minority of the powerful which abuse the trust of the complacent and the naive are those who are the minority oppossed to the natural agenda of the society at large. The majority has no reason to fear itself.

There is so much here that is highly misinformed. How is it possible to secure individual rights and the liberties of the minority in a democracy? Our country was designed to be a Republic by our founders.

To argue otherwise that we need to be a democracy is to argue that the Constitution is meaningless. And, if at some point in our history we transitioned from being a Constitutional Republic to being a pure democracy, when did that happen? As I recall, government and banks slowly began to accumulate power by subverting the Constitution until it became essentially meaningless.

You are absolutely wrong when you say that democracy is the best way to reduce government to its most useful functions. Democracy inevitably leads to tyranny. Each individual is compelled to use the power of the state to loot his fellow American for his own personal benefit. Thus, government keeps growing and everyone is looted and abused by state power. Not only that, but pollsters can ask leading questions and politicians can produce surveys that claim a "mandate" to pursue any policy they choose not matter how authoritarian or contrary to liberty it might be.

Remember that a majority of Americans supported the Iraq War in early 2003. But it was still based on lies, was blatantly immoral and unconstitutional. But, as I said, a little propaganda and government can claim a democratic mandate to pursue any number of horrible policies and atrocious wars of aggression.

The other thing that you said that is absolutely false is the idea that corrupt corporations are seeking to eliminate government in order to have pure capitalism. The parasitic corporations love government and they love regulations. Many businessmen loath the free market and always seek to form some unnatural system of power to insulate themselves from competition or risk. The ONLY way a corporation or business can exploit you or me is if they can use force and coercion. Absent that, they pose no threat and the incentive is to compete for my dollars in an honest way.

You don't even seem to understand libertarian ideology. You attribute corporatism and the present state of the economy to libertarianism. In fact, if that was accurate, we would see far less government spending, less corporate influence in government, no wars, no subsidies for anyone and a free market economy with a sound currency and a limited government.

Of course, the trend for the last forty years has been precisely the opposite of libertarianism in nearly every respect.

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jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote jrodefeld:.. I have always been willing to engage those I don’t agree with in discussion ...

Right. I am still waiting for all the responses to my posts which you abandonded long ago.

The fundemental contradiciton of LIbertarianism is that it uses government to protect man from one another but does not use governmet to protect man from nature.

For every thread I create here I try to answer every question I can. I don't spend all my time online and I actually have a life.

I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about when you say government should "protect man from nature". This seems like a completely meaningless statement.

Here is libertarianism as I understand it.

We believe in self ownership which means each individual should have the right to read, think or consume anything they want as long as they don't harm another.

We believe in the non-aggression principle which holds that civilized society can only exist on a cooperative basis where no one has the right to use force or coercion against another. Another term for such a society is "voluntarism" which means people should be persuaded to change behavior and individuals should work together on a voluntary basis to solve our mutual problems. Government force and mandates and coercion and threats of violence are inconsistent with a peaceful, voluntarist society.

The only moral function of government is to protect individual liberty and the individual from aggression or violence from another. Government should not be allowed to do what you or I cannot do. It is hypocritical for government to pass laws against fraud but then participate in fraud through the Federal Reserve system. Government should not pass laws against stealing and then have IRS thugs do the exact same thing, looting the American people for half their paychecks each year.

This is morally inconsistent.

Actually, you should read Murray Rothbard about this accusation that people who believe in liberty or the free market are really advocating "dog eat dog" or the "rule of Jungle" which implies that such a society would be chaotic and barbaric. In fact it is precisely the opposite.

In the jungle, it is each man for himself. It is truly a zero sum game. Everyone exists and the expense of everyone else. There are no laws and it is everyman for himself. There is no standard of living or no cooperation. All men live at a subsistance level in constant fear,

The market economy is the polar opposite. It is the very definition of civilization based on mutual cooperation. In a market economy the only way to achieve success is to help others. I satisfy a consumer and they help me at the same time. Mutual satisfaction is how the economy grows. People don't succeed at the expense of others they succeed by serving others.

As long as all transactions are voluntary and nobody can use force or violence against another, a libertarian society is the most peaceful and tolerant. It is the absolute opposite of "law of the jungle" or, as you put it, "nature".

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jrodefeld
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Oct. 15, 2011 2:24 am
Quote Dr. Econ:

Quote jrodefeld: ...So, So, instead of a blanket statement like “the rich have done so well so we should target them all for tax increases or criticize them all as exploiters and parasites”, you need to understand that the market economy is an antidote to the type of crony capitalism and fascist abuses that Wall Street firms have foisted on the American people.

The reason why that is false is because justice requires information, which is not free. Thus, the wealthy will be able to commit fraud and lie in a free market.

And everyone who has actually been to a market knows that it is full of misinformation, lies and fraud.

You don't see how it is possible to find out if lies or fraud have been committed? Let's say you buy a drink that claims it will cure baldness and it turns out to be a scam. That is fraud, it doesn't work and those that knowingly made that false claim should be punished for that act.

The problem occurs when government insulates corporations from justice. That happens all the time unfortunately.

When have you "been to a market"? I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. In any economy or any conditions imaginable it is possible to lie or commit fraud. Just as it is possible to murder someone or steal in any society on the planet.

The point is that in a free market those things are illegal and governments have an impartial role to bring justice on behalf of the victim.

I don't see how you are making a case against the free market when it should be self evident that the bigger problem is the "partnerships" between government are corporate power which cause a miscarriage of true justice due to conflicts of interest.

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jrodefeld
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Currently Chatting

Our kids are counting on us to reverse austerity.

According to UNICEF, even in the world's richest countires, children remain “the most enduring victims” of the recession. In the last six years, 2.6 million more kids have fallen below the poverty line, and more than half of them live right here in the United States.

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