Is Libertarianism Extreme? by Jacob G. Hornberger

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Is Libertarianism Extreme?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Statists oftentimes accuse libertarians of holding extreme views. One reason for that is that since we have all been born and raised in a society based on welfare and warfare, the libertarian philosophy, which stands in opposition to socialism, interventionism, and imperialism, seems extreme to statists.

Consider, for example, the right to keep one’s own money and decide what to do with it. To a libertarian, that’s just as normal as, say, the right to decide what which books to read or the right to attend church or not. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?

But to the statist, the notion that a person has a right to the fruits of his earnings is extreme. In his eyes, it’s perfectly normal that people’s income is subject to the superior authority of government to seize whatever percentage of the income it wants.

Consider charity. Libertarians believe that people should be free to decide whether or not to give their money away to charity. Statists, on the other hand, go ballistic over such a suggestion, saying that that’s extreme. Since modern-day Americans have been born and raised in a society based on the welfare state, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, they see any deviation from that notion as extreme.

Consider the warfare state, including the vast military-industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA, the empire of foreign military bases, the war on terrorism, the national-security state apparatus, torture, assassination, kangaroo military tribunals, or indefinite incarceration in military prisons or concentration camps.

Statists see nothing abnormal about any of that. That is their world, the world in which they were born and raised.

But to libertarians, it’s the exact opposite. Libertarians view all that militarism and imperialism as an aberrant way of life. To us, a normal society would be one based on a limited-government, constitutional republic, one without a vast permanent military and intelligence apparatus.

Consider paper money and the Federal Reserve System. For libertarians, it’s a no-brainer. Let the free market determine the best media of exchange, whether it be gold and silver coins or anything else. Moreover, ditch the Federal Reserve, which is nothing more than central planning, a form of monetary socialism.

Statists immediately recoil against such ideas, arguing that they’re just too extreme. Again, since they’ve been born and raised under a regime of paper money and a central bank, the notion that society would be better off without them is considered too extreme.

Consider public schooling, or more appropriately called government schooling, which includes government-licensed private schools. Libertarians say: Let’s totally separate school and state in the way our ancestors separated church and state. Let’s end all state involvement in education.

Statists go bonkers over that one, especially given that they are products of the public-school system, where, not so coincidentally, they were inculcated with the notion that statism is normal and that it actually constitutes “freedom.”

Consider drug laws. Libertarians ask: Why shouldn’t a person be free to ingest anything he wants, no matter how unhealthy or dangerous the substance might be?

That question shocks the statists. Having been brought up during the era of the drug war, the notion that society shouldn’t have any drug laws is, well, just so extreme. Of course, the government should have the authority to punish people for ingesting non-approved items, the statists say, for otherwise everyone would go on drugs.

Given that we’ve all been born and raised under a welfare-warfare state and, further, the fact that the public schools and government-approved schools indoctrinate children into believe that statism is normal and constitutes “freedom,” it’s not surprising that statists would look upon libertarianism as extreme.

But what if today’s American statists and today’s American libertarians were transported back in time to, say, 1885 America. That’s the era in which Americans lived without income taxation and the IRS, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid, drug laws, torture, a welfare state, a warfare state, public schooling, a military-industrial complex, an empire of foreign military bases, drug laws, and public schooling.

Obviously, in that case the statist would be considered extreme by most everyone else, given the near universal rejection of statism by our American ancestors.

Or to make the point another way: If today’s American statists and today’s American libertarians were to be transported to, say, North Korea today, the North Koreans would join up with the American statists in labeling libertarians as extreme, given that that North Koreans have also been born and raised under statism and believe in in it as fervently as today’s American statists do.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Comments

Quote LysanderSpooner:.. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?

Certainly he is free to keep it, and move to another state.

Government is the vehicle for individuals to purchase public goods.

This is why most people are freer and more prosperous when there are sufficient public goods.

For example, in the foundation of this country, the government stole most of the land and gave it to the citizens, who then used this as the means of production of their wealth. The huge amount of land created high wages which led to industrial growth (helped also by tariffs the government put on to 'limit' a person's freedom in buying foreign goods over domestic ones.

Today, the government provides education, health and safety and other services so people can be more productive and free than in any other time in history (Ok, maybe before the 1980's).

But, I am repeating myself. You have not responded anytime to these arguments, and I doubt you ever will.

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Dr. Econ
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I am so tired of beating this shit down. Lysander, go respond to one of the 3981758943719823487 threads you've already started where we have ripped shit like this to pieces instead of posting it again and again. I am going to start a Word file on my computer of all the threads where you get made a fool and then leave hanging so that I can copy and paste the links into every thread you start.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:.. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?

Certainly he is free to keep it, and move to another state.

The old love it or leave argument. However, moving to another state isn't a bad argument except we no longer have a Federal system. Incidentally, you don't support a decentralized polity.

Quote Dr. Econ:

Government is the vehicle for individuals to purchase public goods.

At least you are honest in that you differ with Jefferson as to what the role of gov't is.

Please define public goods.

I'll remind you that every good and service "provided" by the gov't has at one time or another throughout history been provided by the market, i.e individuals operating voluntarily

Quote Dr. Econ:

This is why most people are freer and more prosperous when there are sufficient public goods.

That is an assertion. Where is your evidence? What does sufficient mean? Who decides what is sufficient?

Again. Your definition of freedom is different than that of many of the founders.

Quote Dr. Econ:

For example, in the foundation of this country, the government stole most of the land and gave it to the citizens, who then used this as the means of production of their wealth. The huge amount of land created high wages which led to industrial growth (helped also by tariffs the government put on to 'limit' a person's freedom in buying foreign goods over domestic ones.

I agree that a significant portion of the land was stolen. Do you agree with me that the land should be returned to its rightful owners? Wealth is not solely the result of having land. Capital goods, made possible through savings, are what increases production and in turn increases wages. It is also a fallacy that tariffs lead to higher industrial growth. How does restricting trade, which benefits both parties, increase growth?

Quote Dr. Econ:

Today, the government provides education, health and safety and other services so people can be more productive and free than in any other time in history (Ok, maybe before the 1980's).

If you want to defend government provision of these services, be my guest. What services shouldn't the government provide?

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LysanderSpooner
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Chat rooms and the chat in them.

anonymous green
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It is rather amusing to observe the number of threads created by "libertarians" in the continual search for the justification of greed and selfishness....

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norske
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Quote LysanderSpooner:.. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?
Quote Dr. Econ: Certainly he is free to keep it, and move to another state.
Quote LysanderSpooner:. The old love it or leave argument. However, moving to another state isn't a bad argument except we no longer have a Federal system. Incidentally, you don't support a decentralized polity.

"State" as in "Statism", i.e., he could move to a different country.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote Dr. Econ: For example, in the foundation of this country, the government stole most of the land and gave it to the citizens, who then used this as the means of production of their wealth. The huge amount of land created high wages which led to industrial growth (helped also by tariffs the government put on to 'limit' a person's freedom in buying foreign goods over domestic ones.
Quote LysanderSpooner:...I agree that a significant portion of the land was stolen. Do you agree with me that the land should be returned to its rightful owners?

I am using this an example of how the people exercise their freedom to have the government produce public goods.

Quote LysanderSpooner:. How does restricting trade, which benefits both parties, increase growth?

I am using this as another example of how the people exercise their freedom to have the government produce public goods.
There are lots of other examples, of course.

But I am sure you must have debated the infant industry argument before.

Quote Dr. Econ:..Today, the government provides education, health and safety and other services so people can be more productive and free than in any other time in history (Ok, maybe before the 1980's).

[quote=LysanderSpooner]...If you want to defend government provision of these services, be my guest. What services shouldn't the government provide?

The government should provide goods until the cost outweighs the benefit.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote ah2:

I am so tired of beating this shit down. Lysander, go respond to one of the 3981758943719823487 threads you've already started where we have ripped shit like this to pieces instead of posting it again and again....

Are you saying Lysander does not hold his beliefs because of logic and reason, but rather because of some psychological or emotional condition? Thus, all my facts, logic and reason is completely worthless?

damn!

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Dr. Econ
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Quote norske:

It is rather amusing to observe the number of threads created by "libertarians" in the continual search for the justification of greed and selfishness....

Please define greed. Please define selfishness.

While I have huge disagreements with the late Milton Friedman, I think this will rebut your assertion.

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LysanderSpooner
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Quote Dr. Econ:

[quote=Dr. Econ] For example, in the foundation of this country, the government stole most of the land and gave it to the citizens, who then used this as the means of production of their wealth. The huge amount of land created high wages which led to industrial growth (helped also by tariffs the government put on to 'limit' a person's freedom in buying foreign goods over domestic ones.

Quote LysanderSpooner:...I agree that a significant portion of the land was stolen. Do you agree with me that the land should be returned to its rightful owners?

I am using this an example of how the people exercise their freedom to have the government produce public goods.

Quote LysanderSpooner:. How does restricting trade, which benefits both parties, increase growth?

I am using this as another example of how the people exercise their freedom to have the government produce public goods.
There are lots of other examples, of course.

But I am sure you must have debated the infant industry argument before.

Quote Dr. Econ:..Today, the government provides education, health and safety and other services so people can be more productive and free than in any other time in history (Ok, maybe before the 1980's).
Quote LysanderSpooner:...If you want to defend government provision of these services, be my guest. What services shouldn't the government provide?

The government should provide goods until the cost outweighs the benefit.

How is cost and benefit measured? Are they objective?

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LysanderSpooner
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Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:.. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?
Quote Dr. Econ: Certainly he is free to keep it, and move to another state.
Quote LysanderSpooner:. The old love it or leave argument. However, moving to another state isn't a bad argument except we no longer have a Federal system. Incidentally, you don't support a decentralized polity.

"State" as in "Statism", i.e., he could move to a different country.

When Did I sign This "Social Contract"? (5 minutes 50 Seconds)

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LysanderSpooner
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Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote ah2:

I am so tired of beating this shit down. Lysander, go respond to one of the 3981758943719823487 threads you've already started where we have ripped shit like this to pieces instead of posting it again and again....

Are you saying Lysander does not hold his beliefs because of logic and reason, but rather because of some psychological or emotional condition? Thus, all my facts, logic and reason is completely worthless?

damn!

You've made many assertions. I don't know about all the facts and logic.

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LysanderSpooner
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That's right Linda, you don't know about facts and logic.

-Montag

anonymous green
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Quote LysanderSpooner:

When Did I sign This "Social Contract"? (5 minutes 50 Seconds)

I didn't watch the movie - I never watch the movies.

But here's a thought:

When I turned 17 I went to the Post Office and registered for Selective Service. Now I suppose at that time, or at a later time if I changed my mind and wanted revocation, I could have sent a letter to the Department of Defense identifying myself and my address, declaring that I refuse to register. And I think an appropriate punishment would be imprisonment.

chilidog
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Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:.. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?
Quote Dr. Econ: Certainly he is free to keep it, and move to another state.
Quote LysanderSpooner:. The old love it or leave argument. However, moving to another state isn't a bad argument except we no longer have a Federal system. Incidentally, you don't support a decentralized polity.

"State" as in "Statism", i.e., he could move to a different country.

When Did I sign This "Social Contract"? (5 minutes 50 Seconds)

What do you mean 'social contract'?

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Dr. Econ
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asdfasdf

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Lysander, I found a resource you might find helpful: www.dictionary.com

The fact that you don't know what a public good is signals to me that you have never even had an economic 101 class: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good

ah2
Joined:
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Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote Dr. Econ:
Quote LysanderSpooner:.. When a person earns his money by offering goods and services to others, the money belongs to him. Why shouldn’t he be free to keep it?
Quote Dr. Econ: Certainly he is free to keep it, and move to another state.
Quote LysanderSpooner:. The old love it or leave argument. However, moving to another state isn't a bad argument except we no longer have a Federal system. Incidentally, you don't support a decentralized polity.

"State" as in "Statism", i.e., he could move to a different country.

When Did I sign This "Social Contract"? (5 minutes 50 Seconds)

What do you mean 'social contract'?

As in social contract theory

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

Lysander, I found a resource you might find helpful: www.dictionary.com

The fact that you don't know what a public good is signals to me that you have never even had an economic 101 class: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good

My asking someone else to define a public good does not necessarily mean that I don't know what one is. It's just that people have different definitions and I try to make sure I know what other people are trying to talk about.

http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Public_goods

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LysanderSpooner
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Libertarians never cease to amaze me. Pay your ******* taxes and forget about it. It would be a lot less trouble than writing the equivalent of 50,000 "War and Peaces" trying, huffing, puffing, cramming, craning, twisting, to figure out a way to morally justify personal greed.

It takes a village. Get used to it.

With all due respect - I doubt you've changed any minds here at all.

"It's all about ME!"

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al3
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Lies and er... Spoonerisms, you cute little mole.

Monkeys typing will never write anything but King Edward Lear.

anonymous green
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Quote anonymous green:

Lies and er... Spoonerisms, you cute little mole.

Monkeys typing will never write anything but King Edward Lear.

OMG. Shut the fuck up if you are not going to offer anything constructive. You make liberals look like fucking idiots when you do this shit and I don't appreciate it. Don't do us any God damn favors. If you can't pull your head out of your ass long enough to come up with a coherent thought, remain silent. You dumb us down to their level when you act like a child and it really pisses me off.

ah2
Joined:
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Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote ah2:

Lysander, I found a resource you might find helpful: www.dictionary.com

The fact that you don't know what a public good is signals to me that you have never even had an economic 101 class: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good

My asking someone else to define a public good does not necessarily mean that I don't know what one is. It's just that people have different definitions and I try to make sure I know what other people are trying to talk about.

http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Public_goods

Sigh... you are going to make me do it again aren't you. Fine. Yet again I will attempt to explain basic economics and reality to you. Here are the criticisms from your link:

there is no way of knowing what is the "optimal" amount of the good produced

  • many other goods can be to some degree considered public with the imprecise definition
  • the presence of the state changes the incentive structure. Companies may declare their product for a public good to receive taxpayer funding.[2]
  • many of the 'public goods' are successfully produced in the private sector
  • the theory does not at all prove that the government should produce these goods
  • many of the goods government actually does produce do not correspond to the economist's definition of public goods, so the theory poorly explains the government's actual role in the economy[3]

First off, the definition of a public good is not vague. The concepts of excludeability and rivalry are pretty damn clear. The fact that the definition covers a large range of goods does not diminish its theoretical clarity. Second, it really isn't that hard to determine the proper deployment of most public goods - you produce enough until the desired purpose of the good has been fullfilled or you stop gaining maximal social benefit. Now, that said, there are other properties of all goods that your Mises site ignores that are important in determining how we should deal with public goods. There are also socio-historical conditions that must be considered when looking at their examples and how these same issues can or cannot be dealt with in modern society.

So, for example, in the lighthouse exercise, the proper number of lighthouses is the number you need to stop ships from crashing into the rocks and shore and no more. Pretty simple. As for levies - build what you need to levy the river. Done. This is not really as tricky as they make it sound. Additionally, some public goods aren't produced at all but are natural resources. Governmental involvement has a lot more to do with regulating usage rather than producing a particular amount.

One of of the other properties of goods you have to consider is the level of congestion it might accrue or create in other areas. This concept is connected to the one previous. Example: If you have a area people are settling in with a complex river delta (sound like a town we know?), you could levy only part of the river but then people would all settle near the levy and congest the land (a common good) below that levey in the delta. Thus, it would be prudent to build another. Now this common sense explanation doesn't discount that someone or a group of people may build a new levy on their own but congestion manifests itself in different ways which produce different considerations for how you must solve the issue of certain public goods and their complexities. The fact that Mises-pedia doesn't even have an entry for congestion does not surprise me. The folks over at Mises seem pretty friggen oblivious to basic economic concepts.

It is true that many public goods are produced in the private sector but the nature this takes is often complicated and the Mises folks don't really explore any of it. Let's even use the example they posit in their post. Lighthouses built privately were often done so not because there was a market that produced an opportunity for profit by building the light house but because those who built them sought profit elsewhere. For example, the first lighthouse in England was initiated by a private citizen, Henry Winstanley at Eddystone Rocks. Winstanley was a merchant who had lost 5 of his ships at that particular spot and endeavored to build a lighthouse there to secure safe passage for his real enterprise - shipping goods by boat through that region. Incidientally, even though Witstanley was the private citizen who allegedly paid for the building of the lighthouse, the British Fleet in the area helped him do it - in other words, he sought out governmental help to do it. If the information on wiki is correct, the lighthouse operated at a significant loss (almost double the cost of what it earned) and eventually killed Winstanley when it collapsed on him during a storm 5 years after it was built. An inspiring story of private ingenuity to be sure.

It would have been great if they had even provided one historical example of a completely privately built and run lighthouse but they didn't. Most information I have found suggest they were built by lords which isn't exactly private or by entire towns.

The last three points are somewhat unconvincing. Yes, some public goods are produced in the private sector. If it works fine. But just because they are produced there does not mean that it garners the best benefit for society. The theory of public goods does not, in and of its self, suggest that the government should produce or manage all public goods. Public goods that are naturally occurring and have very low congestibility, for example, would have no need for intervention.

Finally, no one said that public goods are the only rational reason for government's involvement in the economy. The last statement on the list is a fallacy. Public goods are ONE reason a government might get involved in the economy. To suggest that people attempt to use the concept of public goods to explain all governmental involvement and actions is not only disingenious. It make Mises-pedia look stupid.

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

Lies and er... Spoonerisms, you cute little mole.

Monkeys typing will never write anything but King Edward Lear.

OMG. Shut the fuck up if you are not going to offer anything constructive. You make liberals look like fucking idiots when you do this shit and I don't appreciate it. Don't do us any God damn favors. If you can't pull your head out of your ass long enough to come up with a coherent thought, remain silent. You dumb us down to their level when you act like a child and it really pisses me off.

Go ahead and argue with the hypnotized.

Explain carefully, define each word, go to great lengths to prove your point.

You'll find that arguing with liberals is a conservative's favorite game.

anonymous green
Joined:
Jan. 5, 2012 11:47 am
Quote ah2: trying to teach LysanderSpooner about negative/positive externatilites in 'public goods'

It doesn't matter. I think the facts are - which of course he could not respond to - is that the people having been using government to produce government goods since...well, since civilization began. And if he doesn't like it, he can move somewhere else.

He tells me when I can't get a job to go somewhere else.

He tells me when I can't afford health care I can go somewhere else.

He tells me when I buy a product that kills or maims me I could choose another product.

He tells me if I can't afford education I can go somewhere else.

I think it is time that if he wants to totally change soceity, that he go somewhere else.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Left wing libertarianism is extreme. Right wing libertarianism is extreme. What we have now is extreme...a channeling of as much wealth as possible to a few at the expense of the many.

Austerity is a term from economics that describes a policy where nations reduce living standards. Not all members of society will be participating in that...just 99 and 9/10ths of a per cent.. It's a policy to protect and further enhance the wealth of a few. Austerity...reduction of a nation's living standards... is an extreme measure to do that.

Every governmental system can be looked upon as extreme depending on where you sit when you define it.

King George undoubtably thought the American Republic was extremist. From where he sat, it was.

From where I sit, what we've morphed into is extremist.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote ah2:
Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote ah2:

Lysander, I found a resource you might find helpful: www.dictionary.com

The fact that you don't know what a public good is signals to me that you have never even had an economic 101 class: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good

My asking someone else to define a public good does not necessarily mean that I don't know what one is. It's just that people have different definitions and I try to make sure I know what other people are trying to talk about.

http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Public_goods

Sigh... you are going to make me do it again aren't you. Fine. Yet again I will attempt to explain basic economics and reality to you. Here are the criticisms from your link:

there is no way of knowing what is the "optimal" amount of the good produced

  • many other goods can be to some degree considered public with the imprecise definition
  • the presence of the state changes the incentive structure. Companies may declare their product for a public good to receive taxpayer funding.[2]
  • many of the 'public goods' are successfully produced in the private sector
  • the theory does not at all prove that the government should produce these goods
  • many of the goods government actually does produce do not correspond to the economist's definition of public goods, so the theory poorly explains the government's actual role in the economy[3]

First off, the definition of a public good is not vague. The concepts of excludeability and rivalry are pretty damn clear. The fact that the definition covers a large range of goods does not diminish its theoretical clarity. Second, it really isn't that hard to determine the proper deployment of most public goods - you produce enough until the desired purpose of the good has been fullfilled or you stop gaining maximal social benefit. Now, that said, there are other properties of all goods that your Mises site ignores that are important in determining how we should deal with public goods. There are also socio-historical conditions that must be considered when looking at their examples and how these same issues can or cannot be dealt with in modern society.

So, for example, in the lighthouse exercise, the proper number of lighthouses is the number you need to stop ships from crashing into the rocks and shore and no more. Pretty simple. As for levies - build what you need to levy the river. Done. This is not really as tricky as they make it sound. Additionally, some public goods aren't produced at all but are natural resources. Governmental involvement has a lot more to do with regulating usage rather than producing a particular amount.

One of of the other properties of goods you have to consider is the level of congestion it might accrue or create in other areas. This concept is connected to the one previous. Example: If you have a area people are settling in with a complex river delta (sound like a town we know?), you could levy only part of the river but then people would all settle near the levy and congest the land (a common good) below that levey in the delta. Thus, it would be prudent to build another. Now this common sense explanation doesn't discount that someone or a group of people may build a new levy on their own but congestion manifests itself in different ways which produce different considerations for how you must solve the issue of certain public goods and their complexities. The fact that Mises-pedia doesn't even have an entry for congestion does not surprise me. The folks over at Mises seem pretty friggen oblivious to basic economic concepts.

It is true that many public goods are produced in the private sector but the nature this takes is often complicated and the Mises folks don't really explore any of it. Let's even use the example they posit in their post. Lighthouses built privately were often done so not because there was a market that produced an opportunity for profit by building the light house but because those who built them sought profit elsewhere. For example, the first lighthouse in England was initiated by a private citizen, Henry Winstanley at Eddystone Rocks. Winstanley was a merchant who had lost 5 of his ships at that particular spot and endeavored to build a lighthouse there to secure safe passage for his real enterprise - shipping goods by boat through that region. Incidientally, even though Witstanley was the private citizen who allegedly paid for the building of the lighthouse, the British Fleet in the area helped him do it - in other words, he sought out governmental help to do it. If the information on wiki is correct, the lighthouse operated at a significant loss (almost double the cost of what it earned) and eventually killed Winstanley when it collapsed on him during a storm 5 years after it was built. An inspiring story of private ingenuity to be sure.

It would have been great if they had even provided one historical example of a completely privately built and run lighthouse but they didn't. Most information I have found suggest they were built by lords which isn't exactly private or by entire towns.

The last three points are somewhat unconvincing. Yes, some public goods are produced in the private sector. If it works fine. But just because they are produced there does not mean that it garners the best benefit for society. The theory of public goods does not, in and of its self, suggest that the government should produce or manage all public goods. Public goods that are naturally occurring and have very low congestibility, for example, would have no need for intervention.

Finally, no one said that public goods are the only rational reason for government's involvement in the economy. The last statement on the list is a fallacy. Public goods are ONE reason a government might get involved in the economy. To suggest that people attempt to use the concept of public goods to explain all governmental involvement and actions is not only disingenious. It make Mises-pedia look stupid.

Private Lighthouses

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Quote LysanderSpooner: Private Lighthouses

As ah2 said, no one said that public goods are the only rational reason for government's involvement in the economy.

But do tou think we would be swayed by "The Journal of Austrian Economics"? The sole reason that journal exists is to published biased results. They get paid to comb the historical literature and find examples which proves them right and everyone else wrong. I don't quote passages from the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics or Journal Of Marixan Economics. You would not believe those.

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

Looking over that link all I see is proof that privately built and run lighthouses existed. He states, citing Coase, "economists should not use the lighthouse as an example of a service which could only be provided by the government." To my knowledge no economist has ever said that these goods could only be provided by government but that they should. There is no information here, for example, on the issue of the free rider. How many people skated by the lighthouses that were privately owned and never paid a dime? They also include no information on whether these were profitable enterprises. The one bit of information I found on this showed the lighthouse I discussed above to have operated at a significant loss. The only reason it was maintained is because the owner used it for his own business which was profitable - the lighthouse was chalked up as a business expense to maintain his shipping fleet.

In fact, the article seemed to indicate, "The owners of these structures gained their revenue from fees paid by shipowners, who benefited enormously from the service, so much so that they regularly petitioned the government to permit new lighthouses to be built" (p. 11). If this practice was such a profitable enterprise and the government was clearly resisting in getting involved, would not the free market have supplied all the lighthouses the shipowners needed? The only reason they would have been petitioning the government to build more is because the market was not providing sufficient supply. To me this indicates a CLASSIC free rider issue.

Because lighthouses were public goods, the demand was being unrepresented in the market due to free riders. Even if all the shipowners paid their dues, free riders will induce the lighthouse owners to keep dues lower than the "real" demand would dictate. If they raised it to what market demand would be on a private good, people would free ride to avoid steep fees. If the information I found was any indication, these facilities either operated at a loss or a very narrow profit margin. As such, the private market did not supply enough of these facilities and the shipowners were left to petition their governments to help.

In short, just because the British government was not producing lighthouses at the time does not mean that the private market of lighthouses was functioning well or "properly." Had it been sufficient, you would not have seen any petitions to the government at all.

What should be looked at here is the gap between how many lighthouses there were and how many would have been needed to prevent or significantly reduce the frequent ship accidents near the shorelines of Britain. This shortfall is where the government could and probably should have been intervening but weren't. The fact that they failed to do so at this time, is not a justification for ignoring free rider issues or maldistribution of public goods in a private market.

Additionally, I might add that most Libertarian arguments regarding governmental programs follows a standard logical fallacy. They provide a governmental program to examine. They posit some criticisms of the program and then indicate because of these criticisms that the program is a COMPLETE failure (logical fallacy one) and then go on to say that not only is this program a complete failure but this example is also the rule - government can do NOTHING correctly (logical fallacy two). Simply because the government doesn't get things 100% correct does not mean the program was a failure but simply that it could be improved. The second fallacy is actually formulated as a null hypothesis which can be summarily discarded by looking at the success of municipal fire fighters, the military in WWII, the 1990s cap and trade program, and the numerous other examples of where governmental programs and activities have succeded in pretty significant ways.

When it comes right down to it, the question is not whether the government can do something perfectly or not (it can't because it is comprised of fallible human beings). The question is, could the government do this better than the market. The problem with this question for Libertarians is that they ASSUME the market is perfect and never prove this is so.

The funny thing about this is that Libertarians are more than willing to criticize the maldistribution and free riding that happens when the government takes something like a common or toll good and distributes it as if it were a public good (as part of the commons). They LOVE to talk about that. But then when the GOOD ITSELF has these innate properties of being nonexcludeable and nonrivalrous, all of a sudden they LOVE to pretend that these same issues magically disappear. Quite hypocritical and utterly nonsensical....

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

Lies and er... Spoonerisms, you cute little mole.

Monkeys typing will never write anything but King Edward Lear.

OMG. Shut the fuck up if you are not going to offer anything constructive. You make liberals look like fucking idiots when you do this shit and I don't appreciate it. Don't do us any God damn favors. If you can't pull your head out of your ass long enough to come up with a coherent thought, remain silent. You dumb us down to their level when you act like a child and it really pisses me off.

Go ahead and argue with the hypnotized.

Explain carefully, define each word, go to great lengths to prove your point.

You'll find that arguing with liberals is a conservative's favorite game.

Look I have no delusions that I am going to convice LS of anything. The issue green is that independents and inquisitive yet noninformed people may come to these baords looking for information or even to be swayed into deciding which party to vote for by looking at topics that discuss issues that are important to them. When they come into the boards and look at a post by one of the Libertarians and the first response they see is you saying some stupid shit like you posted here, then who do you think they are going to believe. You have sabatoaged the entire God damn thread before it even gets started and that person who we DO have a chance at convincing now thinks that all the liberals here are complete asswipes. Worse yet, what if they come on here and look at one of these threads before any of us who are actually contributing real information has posted and all they see is your first jackass response? Do you think that might have a negative impact? Do you think they might leave the boards and never come back? Do you think they might leave the boards and have a really bad opinion of liberals and their seeming inability to have a mature and logical conversation (given that all they have seen is your response)?

None of that helps us. None of that helps the potential visitor figure out what is really going on with the issue being discussed. It is a distraction. And one with only negative consequences for "the cause." Think about it...

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

Okay LS. See you in a couple of days in a new thread where we discuss the same effing points over again and you get painted back into the same effing corner as always....

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

Small "l" libertarians never say that the market is perfect. They only say that it is the best way to produce goods and services at the highest quality and the lowest price.

As far as free rider goes, I don't see the big deal about someone reaping a benefit from something they didn't pay for. It happens everyday. It is no justification for taxing people to pay for the benefit or having the gov't supply the good or service.

ah2,

"The only reason they would have been petitioning the government to build more is because the market was not providing sufficient supply. To me this indicates a CLASSIC free rider issue." I think you answered your own question. The market was obviously not free if the gov't has to be petitioned for permission!!!!

Dr Econ,

"

He tells me when I can't get a job to go somewhere else.

He tells me when I can't afford health care I can go somewhere else.

He tells me when I buy a product that kills or maims me I could choose another product.

He tells me if I can't afford education I can go somewhere else.

I think it is time that if he wants to totally change soceity, that he go somewhere else."

Your conflating a couple things. Small "l" libertarians believe that you (or someone on your behalf if you're dead) should be able to take legal action if a product maims or kills you(assuming you used said product as it was intended).

You also make an error equation asking someone to leave when they want to be left alone and suggesting you patronize another business on the free market. You are not coerced by the free market to pick a certain school or health care provider. These are not monopolies on the free market. However, the gov't is a monopoly. You are forced to live under a certain gov't if you choose to live in a certain geographical area. Now, if the political system was very decentralized I would agree with you that people should vote with their feet. But, we don't really have that now. And people like you would advocate for a highly centralized monopoly government.

I also noticed that nobody actually responded to and countered any major point that Mr. Hornberger made in the OP.

Another comment on public goods. The Constitution does allow for the big public good called national defense. The State gov't provide a legal system. What other public goods do you thing have to be provided by the gov't? Is Welfare a public good? Social Security? Education?

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

historically, there have been two general world views. Hierarchal ones and non-hierarchal ones.

Our hierarchal view has manifisted itself in this way:

"The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards."

"Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us."

Non-hierarchal world-views tend to manifest this way:

"Native societies, in which people redistributed wealth to gain respect, and in which those who hoarded were detested, upheld a communal ethic that had to be obliterated and replaced with the greed, ceaseless exploitation and cult of the self that fuel capitalist expansion. Lewis Henry Morgan in his book “League of the Iroquois,” written in 1851 after he lived among them, noted that the Iroquois’ “whole civil policy was averse to the concentration of power in the hands of any single individual, but inclined to the opposite principle of division among a number of equals. …” This was a way of relating to each other, as well as to the natural world, that was an anathema to the European colonizers."

The full Chris Hedges article is here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/time_to_get_crazy_20120702/

If our society lasts as many centuries as the Iroquois Confederation did, we'll be doing well.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote polycarp:

Left wing libertarianism is extreme. Right wing libertarianism is extreme. What we have now is extreme...a channeling of as much wealth as possible to a few at the expense of the many.

Ouch--and that's with me defining myself as a 'leftist libertarian' ever since I came to Thom's board over 5 years ago. But, again, I define my own form of 'leftist libertarianism' as the primary purpose of government being 'securing and guaranteeing individual rights (to real individuals)'. I didn't know that was considered 'extreme' even in thomland until recently.....

LysanderSpooner, I don't have a lot of problems with many of your points in principle--but, I suspect that I differ with you in how those priorities are recognized and enacted upon in reality. Your position against the 'welfare-warfare state' is an interesting one--and one that I might find some elements to agree upon. However, against this 'welfare-warfare state', what is your proposed solution? The free market? What, to you, is a 'free market'? If a 'free market' is, to you, 'open trade competition', I would suggest that the result of such a competition will be anything but 'free'. Is there a difference between a 'free market' and a 'fair market'--or is that always, to you, to be determined in court? And, does the 'competition in court' really determine 'fairness'--or is that more a detemination made by who can afford the highest-priced lawyers and, perhaps, economically influence unscrupulous judges and juries?

There were some similar statements being made on the 'Letter to a conservative' thread with Austro-Libertarian and rbs a year or two ago. Looking back over that thread, I noted the statements made by the abolitionist Stephen Pearl Andrews as was quoted by the Southern sympathizer George Fitzhugh in his pre-Civil War book, Cannibals All!--Or, Slaves Without Masters, concerning the newly burgeoning Industrial Revolution. Andrews, the Northern abolitionist, and Fitzhugh, the Southern sympathizer (two 'extremes'?), seemed to agree that what the Industrial Revolution (especially its 'financial market' underpinning) was about to do to the 'free market' was going to be anything but 'free'--or 'fair'. Here's Fitzhugh's quote of Andrew's in that book (bolden emphases are mine):

The intrinsic wrongfulness of the principal axioms and practice of existing commerce will appear to every reflecting mind from the preceding analysis. It will be proper, however, before dismissing the consideration of the Value Principle, to trace out a little more in detail some of its specific results.

The principle itself being essentially iniquitous, all the fruits of the principle are necessarily pernicious.

Among the consequences which flow from it are the following:

I. It renders falsehood and hypocrisy a necessary concomitant of trade. Where the object is to buy cheap and sell dear, the parties find their interest in mutual deception.........................A frank disclosure, by the merchant, of all the secret advantages in his possession, would destroy his reputation for sagacity as effectually as it would that of the gambler among his associates. Both commerce and gambling, as professions, are systems of strategy......

II. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.---Trade being, under this system, the intellectual correspondence to the occupation of the cutthroat or conqueror under the reign of physical force--....enables them to accumulate more than their share of wealth.....

III. It creates trade for trade's sake, and augments the number of non-producers, whose support is chargeable under Labor. As trade under the operation of this principle, offers the temptation of illicit gains and rapid wealth at the expense of others, it creates trade where there is no necessity for trade--not as a beneficent interchange of commodities between producers and consumers, but as a means of speculation......Hence the interminable range of intermediates between the producer and consumer, the total defeat of organization and economy in the distribution of products, and the intolerable burden of the unproductive classes upon labor, together with a host of the frightful results of pauperism and crime.

IV. It degrades the dignity of Labor. Inasmuch as trade, under the operation of this principle, is more profitable, or at any rate is liable to be, promises to be, and in a portion of cases is more profitable than productive labor, it follows that the road to wealth and social distinction lies in that direction. Hence "Commerce is King." Hence, again, productive labor is depreciated and contemned.....

V. It prevents the possibility of a scientific Adjustment of Supply to Demand. It has been already shown that speculation is the cause why there has never been, and cannot now be any scientific Adaptation of Supply to Demand. It has also been shown, at various points, that speculation, or trading in chances and fluctuations in the market has its root in the Value Principle, and the Cost Principle extinguishes speculation.......

If a 'free market' isn't a 'fair market', why should it be something that preempts every other element of society as its manner of functioning, LysanderSpooner?

Kerry's picture
Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Kerry:
Quote polycarp:

Left wing libertarianism is extreme. Right wing libertarianism is extreme. What we have now is extreme...a channeling of as much wealth as possible to a few at the expense of the many.

Kerry replied: Ouch--and that's with me defining myself as a 'leftist libertarian' ever since I came to Thom's board over 5 years ago. But, again, I define my own form of 'leftist libertarianism' as the primary purpose of government being 'securing and guaranteeing individual rights (to real individuals)'. I didn't know that was considered 'extreme' even in thomland until recently.....

poly replies: Every society can be viewed as extreme, depending on where you are sitting when you define it. Probably one that I would envision would be extreme as well...depending on where one sits when they define it.

Personally, I have a lot of views in common with leftist libertarians, and have a world-view more like that of the Iroquois than those of American libertarians, Dems or Republicans.

"Native societies, in which people redistributed wealth to gain respect, and in which those who hoarded were detested, upheld a communal ethic that had to be obliterated and replaced with the greed, ceaseless exploitation and cult of the self that fuel capitalist expansion. Lewis Henry Morgan in his book “League of the Iroquois,” written in 1851 after he lived among them, noted that the Iroquois’ “whole civil policy was averse to the concentration of power [which comes through wealth or support by wealth] in the hands of any single individual, but inclined to the opposite principle of division among a number of equals. …” This was a way of relating to each other, as well as to the natural world,"

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/time_to_get_crazy_20120702/

While actions of the self were more "free" than those we have today, they didn't include the freedom to claim land as a personal property or to exploit another's labor....the basis for all wealth inequality beginning with the first human society that allowed it.

The "freedeom" to exploit another was outside of their vision of the world, It was outside of their wishes. They maintained democratic functioning longer than we've been a nation...and gave the women the right to vote 400 years before we did.

Whenever concentrations of wealth and the power that comes with it are encouraged, wealth ultimately captures government to serve itself. When in history has that not been so? That's were I differ with libertarians. The view itself leads to the internal collapse of one society after another.

The only time that doesn't happen is with egalitarian societies. Exceptions to internal collapse have environmental causes.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Kerry:
Quote polycarp:

Left wing libertarianism is extreme. Right wing libertarianism is extreme. What we have now is extreme...a channeling of as much wealth as possible to a few at the expense of the many.

Ouch--and that's with me defining myself as a 'leftist libertarian' ever since I came to Thom's board over 5 years ago. But, again, I define my own form of 'leftist libertarianism' as the primary purpose of government being 'securing and guaranteeing individual rights (to real individuals)'. I didn't know that was considered 'extreme' even in thomland until recently.....

LysanderSpooner, I don't have a lot of problems with many of your points in principle--but, I suspect that I differ with you in how those priorities are recognized and enacted upon in reality. Your position against the 'welfare-warfare state' is an interesting one--and one that I might find some elements to agree upon. However, against this 'welfare-warfare state', what is your proposed solution? The free market? What, to you, is a 'free market'? If a 'free market' is, to you, 'open trade competition', I would suggest that the result of such a competition will be anything but 'free'. Is there a difference between a 'free market' and a 'fair market'--or is that always, to you, to be determined in court? And, does the 'competition in court' really determine 'fairness'--or is that more a detemination made by who can afford the highest-priced lawyers and, perhaps, economically influence unscrupulous judges and juries?

There were some similar statements being made on the 'Letter to a conservative' thread with Austro-Libertarian and rbs a year or two ago. Looking back over that thread, I noted the statements made by the abolitionist Stephen Pearl Andrews as was quoted by the Southern sympathizer George Fitzhugh in his pre-Civil War book, Cannibals All!--Or, Slaves Without Masters, concerning the newly burgeoning Industrial Revolution. Andrews, the Northern abolitionist, and Fitzhugh, the Southern sympathizer (two 'extremes'?), seemed to agree that what the Industrial Revolution (especially its 'financial market' underpinning) was about to do to the 'free market' was going to be anything but 'free'--or 'fair'. Here's Fitzhugh's quote of Andrew's in that book (bolden emphases are mine):

The intrinsic wrongfulness of the principal axioms and practice of existing commerce will appear to every reflecting mind from the preceding analysis. It will be proper, however, before dismissing the consideration of the Value Principle, to trace out a little more in detail some of its specific results.

The principle itself being essentially iniquitous, all the fruits of the principle are necessarily pernicious.

Among the consequences which flow from it are the following:

I. It renders falsehood and hypocrisy a necessary concomitant of trade. Where the object is to buy cheap and sell dear, the parties find their interest in mutual deception.........................A frank disclosure, by the merchant, of all the secret advantages in his possession, would destroy his reputation for sagacity as effectually as it would that of the gambler among his associates. Both commerce and gambling, as professions, are systems of strategy......

II. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.---Trade being, under this system, the intellectual correspondence to the occupation of the cutthroat or conqueror under the reign of physical force--....enables them to accumulate more than their share of wealth.....

III. It creates trade for trade's sake, and augments the number of non-producers, whose support is chargeable under Labor. As trade under the operation of this principle, offers the temptation of illicit gains and rapid wealth at the expense of others, it creates trade where there is no necessity for trade--not as a beneficent interchange of commodities between producers and consumers, but as a means of speculation......Hence the interminable range of intermediates between the producer and consumer, the total defeat of organization and economy in the distribution of products, and the intolerable burden of the unproductive classes upon labor, together with a host of the frightful results of pauperism and crime.

IV. It degrades the dignity of Labor. Inasmuch as trade, under the operation of this principle, is more profitable, or at any rate is liable to be, promises to be, and in a portion of cases is more profitable than productive labor, it follows that the road to wealth and social distinction lies in that direction. Hence "Commerce is King." Hence, again, productive labor is depreciated and contemned.....

V. It prevents the possibility of a scientific Adjustment of Supply to Demand. It has been already shown that speculation is the cause why there has never been, and cannot now be any scientific Adaptation of Supply to Demand. It has also been shown, at various points, that speculation, or trading in chances and fluctuations in the market has its root in the Value Principle, and the Cost Principle extinguishes speculation.......

If a 'free market' isn't a 'fair market', why should it be something that preempts every other element of society as its manner of functioning, LysanderSpooner?

Since the free market is just people, any values that the actors feel are important, above monetary concerns, are part of the market. A free market, to me, is just a metaphor for the millions of voluntary transactions that people enter into. Any forced trades, which are considerable in our current system, are outside market relations.

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

Small "l" libertarians never say that the market is perfect. They only say that it is the best way to produce goods and services at the highest quality and the lowest price.

As far as free rider goes, I don't see the big deal about someone reaping a benefit from something they didn't pay for. It happens everyday. It is no justification for taxing people to pay for the benefit or having the gov't supply the good or service.

If you see no problem with people reaping benefits for things that they didn't pay for, I expect all of your criticisms of redistributive programs to end immediately on that basis.

Additionally, if the market produced the best good at the lowest price, we wouldn't be spending 17% of our GDP on healthcare and getting some of the worst outcomes of all industrialized nations. Our health care system is LESS regulated than all of the other countries except for Australia and they get cheaper prices and better health outcomes.

Walmart wouldn't be the worlds largest corporation given that they sell cheap crap in their stores - and I mean low quality. Your theory simply doesn't hold water when looking at reality.

ah2,

"The only reason they would have been petitioning the government to build more is because the market was not providing sufficient supply. To me this indicates a CLASSIC free rider issue." I think you answered your own question. The market was obviously not free if the gov't has to be petitioned for permission!!!!

They weren't petitioning to get permission. They were asking the government to do it.

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

LysanderSpooner, we also went through 'voluntarism in the market' in that 'Letter to a conservative' thread with Austro-Libertarian and rbs. How would you define a 'forced trade'? Is that without any coercion--or just without someone putting a gun or knife to your head to 'force the trade'? Also, in considering this completely 'free trade' option, is a distant third party determining the nature of the trade 'free' to you? Man, that takes me back several years here in thomland when I was talking with sawdust making the proposition that a totally 'free trade' is when two traders are determining the specifics of their transaction at the time of the trade (ie. a 'barter trade')--and 'trading behind a price tag' (determined by a distant third party) wasn't free....

polycarp, I think the problem behind the concentration of power and wealth were known even at the time of the American Revolutionn (the discussion between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson at George Washington's cabinet meetings as depicted by the HBO film series, John Adams, comes to mind, on the nature of the central bank and concentrating national debt implying the concentration of power and its ability to be abused as such--something that, at Washington's table, Jefferson warned about and Hamilton endorsed in that HBO film...)--and, certainly, the 'caucus system' of the Iroquois Nation was something that was used as one example for the American's 'separation of power' in their new constitution. There has always been those interested in concentrating wealth for their own gain--and using whatever instrument they could to do so--even in America. At one point, that was kept checked by emphasizing the fundamentals of democracy including 'individual rights' (with 'majority rule considering minority rights' always a part of the American political lexicon--realizing that the 'smallest minority' is 'the individual'). But, apparently today, that's either to be replaced by corporatism or communalism--with the two having more in common with each other to me than either with real individualism. And, as you know from my viewpoint, private property is the only practical way to apply the right to privacy--with the door to private property being the one barrier that any authoritarian implementation will at least have to hesitate at to justify its actions before entering....but, that's even removed when you remove all private property.....

I'm not sure why Ayn Rand is considered to be the ultimate authority on individuality and corporate personhood is considered to be the ultimate individual right--but, it appears that corporatists and communalists address them in that same manner--and, to me, as such, deter from real individuality and individualism (with government's priority to 'secure and guarantee such rights') when they do so....,.

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

Left wing libertarianism is extreme. Right wing libertarianism is extreme. What we have now is extreme...a channeling of as much wealth as possible to a few at the expense of the many.

Ouch--and that's with me defining myself as a 'leftist libertarian' ever since I came to Thom's board over 5 years ago. But, again, I define my own form of 'leftist libertarianism' as the primary purpose of government being 'securing and guaranteeing individual rights (to real individuals)'. I didn't know that was considered 'extreme' even in thomland until recently.....

LysanderSpooner, I don't have a lot of problems with many of your points in principle--but, I suspect that I differ with you in how those priorities are recognized and enacted upon in reality. Your position against the 'welfare-warfare state' is an interesting one--and one that I might find some elements to agree upon. However, against this 'welfare-warfare state', what is your proposed solution? The free market? What, to you, is a 'free market'? If a 'free market' is, to you, 'open trade competition', I would suggest that the result of such a competition will be anything but 'free'. Is there a difference between a 'free market' and a 'fair market'--or is that always, to you, to be determined in court? And, does the 'competition in court' really determine 'fairness'--or is that more a detemination made by who can afford the highest-priced lawyers and, perhaps, economically influence unscrupulous judges and juries?

There were some similar statements being made on the 'Letter to a conservative' thread with Austro-Libertarian and rbs a year or two ago. Looking back over that thread, I noted the statements made by the abolitionist Stephen Pearl Andrews as was quoted by the Southern sympathizer George Fitzhugh in his pre-Civil War book, Cannibals All!--Or, Slaves Without Masters, concerning the newly burgeoning Industrial Revolution. Andrews, the Northern abolitionist, and Fitzhugh, the Southern sympathizer (two 'extremes'?), seemed to agree that what the Industrial Revolution (especially its 'financial market' underpinning) was about to do to the 'free market' was going to be anything but 'free'--or 'fair'. Here's Fitzhugh's quote of Andrew's in that book (bolden emphases are mine):

The intrinsic wrongfulness of the principal axioms and practice of existing commerce will appear to every reflecting mind from the preceding analysis. It will be proper, however, before dismissing the consideration of the Value Principle, to trace out a little more in detail some of its specific results.

The principle itself being essentially iniquitous, all the fruits of the principle are necessarily pernicious.

Among the consequences which flow from it are the following:

I. It renders falsehood and hypocrisy a necessary concomitant of trade. Where the object is to buy cheap and sell dear, the parties find their interest in mutual deception.........................A frank disclosure, by the merchant, of all the secret advantages in his possession, would destroy his reputation for sagacity as effectually as it would that of the gambler among his associates. Both commerce and gambling, as professions, are systems of strategy......

II. It makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.---Trade being, under this system, the intellectual correspondence to the occupation of the cutthroat or conqueror under the reign of physical force--....enables them to accumulate more than their share of wealth.....

III. It creates trade for trade's sake, and augments the number of non-producers, whose support is chargeable under Labor. As trade under the operation of this principle, offers the temptation of illicit gains and rapid wealth at the expense of others, it creates trade where there is no necessity for trade--not as a beneficent interchange of commodities between producers and consumers, but as a means of speculation......Hence the interminable range of intermediates between the producer and consumer, the total defeat of organization and economy in the distribution of products, and the intolerable burden of the unproductive classes upon labor, together with a host of the frightful results of pauperism and crime.

IV. It degrades the dignity of Labor. Inasmuch as trade, under the operation of this principle, is more profitable, or at any rate is liable to be, promises to be, and in a portion of cases is more profitable than productive labor, it follows that the road to wealth and social distinction lies in that direction. Hence "Commerce is King." Hence, again, productive labor is depreciated and contemned.....

V. It prevents the possibility of a scientific Adjustment of Supply to Demand. It has been already shown that speculation is the cause why there has never been, and cannot now be any scientific Adaptation of Supply to Demand. It has also been shown, at various points, that speculation, or trading in chances and fluctuations in the market has its root in the Value Principle, and the Cost Principle extinguishes speculation.......

If a 'free market' isn't a 'fair market', why should it be something that preempts every other element of society as its manner of functioning, LysanderSpooner?

Since the free market is just people, any values that the actors feel are important, above monetary concerns, are part of the market. A free market, to me, is just a metaphor for the millions of voluntary transactions that people enter into. Any forced trades, which are considerable in our current system, are outside market relations.

And you would be incorrect. The market is inherently coersive. Those who own the means of production set the terms of labor agreements AND they also get to decide what types of products are brought to the market. In ALL situations the products that are brought to market are NOT the best solution to the needs and desires that produce demand. They are solutions that ALWAYS benefit the capitalist and produce the most profit for them - it is like going to the casino; 9/10 the house wins. Simply by manipulating the available choices, capitalists virtually elminate any MEANINGFUL choice a consumer might make - funneling them always into coersive agreements and transactions without them even knowing it.

How many decades do you think went by where both electric and hybrid vehicle technology were readily available for R&D and subsequent consumer availability? And how many years do you think these technologies were not brought to market because capitalists wanted us addicted to oil based gasoline? The technology to use hydrogen based fuel has been around for at least a decade and we don't pursue it. Why? This would be a far better solution to the consumer at this point. Having a solar array a natural solar water heater and a personal windmill in my front yard would be a much better method for most families to get their energy needs. Why aren't these technologies more developed? Why haven't they been produced in mass quantities all the way through thte 1990s when everyone had so much expendable income? Because the capitalists didn't want us getting persistent free energy. They want us sucking on their coal and nuclear teets for all time so we can give them a nice continual revenue stream.

Markets have the potential to produce real choices. But that will never come to pass as long as Capitalism exists. Capitalist "free" markets are inherently hierarchical and coersive.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

Quote Dr. Econ:

He tells me when I can't get a job to go somewhere else.

He tells me when I can't afford health care I can go somewhere else.

He tells me when I buy a product that kills or maims me I could choose another product.

He tells me if I can't afford education I can go somewhere else.

I think it is time that if he wants to totally change soceity, that he go somewhere else.

Quote LysanderSpooner:..Your conflating a couple things. Small "l" libertarians believe that you (or someone on your behalf if you're dead) should be able to take legal action if a product maims or kills you(assuming you used said product as it was intended).

Thanks for that. I'll be sure to tell my lawyer, if I can afford him.

Quote LysanderSpooner:... You are forced to live under a certain gov't if you choose to live in a certain geographical area.

No one is forcing you to live in a certain geographical area. If you don't like it, leave.

Quote LysanderSpooner:...Another comment on public goods. The Constitution does allow for the big public good called national defense. The State gov't provide a legal system. What other public goods do you thing have to be provided by the gov't? Is Welfare a public good? Social Security? Education?

I don't care too much about public good theory except that it tells us - as you admit - the market is not perfect (which you already admit). Welfare is generally not considered a 'public good', nor is Social Security. Education is. I think welfare is because there is a huge negative externality in giving to the poor.

I think most people would say the state has to allow an environment so the economy can flourish. I think the founders thought that when they subconsciously realized that the most important input in a person's economic production was land, and that was often furnished by the government (or stolen by) nearly for free. Consider that what began the spark of the revolution was that people were up in arms over bankers, which they tarred and feathered. And there was the tea party - a terrorist attack on a foreign corporation dumping products on the continent. And, there was Hamilton, who of course believed in a much larger definition of 'welfare' than you do. I think the founders soon realized the importance of education, which is why Jefferson was so torn about the idea of Federal college, and why Franklin helped found the first state hospital of Pennsylvania. Paine was already recommending unemployment like subsidies, and we all know about Adams health care for seamen.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote ah2:

And you would be incorrect. The market is inherently coersive. Those who own the means of production set the terms of labor agreements AND they also get to decide what types of products are brought to the market.

Forgive me but this is nonsense.

In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business. The consumer is sovereign. It is he who directs production by his buying and abstention from buying. As far as labor agreements go, as long as there is competition (a free market), businesses have to compete with businesses for labor. They cannot pay workers less than what they are worth for fear that their competitors are going to snatch them up.

Quote ah2:

In ALL situations the products that are brought to market are NOT the best solution to the needs and desires that produce demand. They are solutions that ALWAYS benefit the capitalist and produce the most profit for them - it is like going to the casino; 9/10 the house wins. Simply by manipulating the available choices, capitalists virtually elminate any MEANINGFUL choice a consumer might make - funneling them always into coersive agreements and transactions without them even knowing it.

In a free market, businessmen can only profit if they satisfy the customer. Please name me one company that forces you to do business with them, even now in our corporatist economy. And I guess that government gives you non coercive choices?

Quote ah2:How many decades do you think went by where both electric and hybrid vehicle technology were readily available for R&D and subsequent consumer availability? And how many years do you think these technologies were not brought to market because capitalists wanted us addicted to oil based gasoline? The technology to use hydrogen based fuel has been around for at least a decade and we don't pursue it. Why? This would be a far better solution to the consumer at this point. Having a solar array a natural solar water heater and a personal windmill in my front yard would be a much better method for most families to get their energy needs. Why aren't these technologies more developed? Why haven't they been produced in mass quantities all the way through thte 1990s when everyone had so much expendable income? Because the capitalists didn't want us getting persistent free energy. They want us sucking on their coal and nuclear teets for all time so we can give them a nice continual revenue stream.

I honestly don't know what technologies would be best. I don't support patents, though. They are a monopoly grant by gov't. Without patents, these alternative technologies that you cite could have been offered in competition to the internal combustion engine. I favor open competition with no subsidies or privileges granted by the gov't. Whichever tech. wins out will be decided by the people

Quote ah2:Markets have the potential to produce real choices. But that will never come to pass as long as Capitalism exists. Capitalist "free" markets are inherently hierarchical and coersive.

If by capitalism you mean corporatism, then I agree

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LysanderSpooner
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Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote ah2:

And you would be incorrect. The market is inherently coersive. Those who own the means of production set the terms of labor agreements AND they also get to decide what types of products are brought to the market.

Forgive me but this is nonsense.

In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business. The consumer is sovereign. It is he who directs production by his buying and abstention from buying. As far as labor agreements go, as long as there is competition (a free market), businesses have to compete with businesses for labor. They cannot pay workers less than what they are worth for fear that their competitors are going to snatch them up.

If I have a need or desire that I do not have the skills to fullfill, I am left to the market to choose from. What I can choose from are only those products which are manufactured by the means of production. The only products that are manufactured by the owners of the means of production are those which give them leverage to milk as much profit out of me as possible. There are instances where this happens to be the best product for my need/desire but this is not always the case. The product that gets the most profit for capitalist and the best product for consumers is not always the same thing. When this is the case, the product that would be best from consumers is often never produced by any capitalist. As long as they have reasonable assurance or probability to expect that their competitors will not do so, they can continue with the status quo. This happens more frequently than you expect because the capitalist all recognize that they all benefit more by continuing with the status quo then attempting to rock the boat. Once one company switches, they all do and they are stuck right back competing with each other but now they have lost the possibility of the continual revenue stream they had before. The incentive structure is quite obvious. You simply choose to pretend it doesn't exist.

Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote ah2:

In ALL situations the products that are brought to market are NOT the best solution to the needs and desires that produce demand. They are solutions that ALWAYS benefit the capitalist and produce the most profit for them - it is like going to the casino; 9/10 the house wins. Simply by manipulating the available choices, capitalists virtually elminate any MEANINGFUL choice a consumer might make - funneling them always into coersive agreements and transactions without them even knowing it.

In a free market, businessmen can only profit if they satisfy the customer. Please name me one company that forces you to do business with them, even now in our corporatist economy. And I guess that government gives you non coercive choices?

There is a difference between direct and indirect coersion. Anyone who is a parent has direct experience with this. Ask a 3 year old what they want to drink "I want chocolate milk!!"

"You can't have chocolate milk. What do you want to drink?"

"Chocoloate milk chocolate milk chocolate milk!!!"

"Do you want juice or water?"

"Juice."

Did my child choose what to drink? Yes. Did she get what she wanted? No. Did I coerse her choice? Absolutely. Did I chose for her? No. This is indirect coersion. Sometimes it is called "negative selection." I remove choices from your field of options and give you a "choice" between the things I want you to choose from. Capitalist markets don't force me to choose anything. They simply don't give me all the options available and certainly not the best ones.

Government is democratic in nature. From a strict standpoint, I have more input into available governmental programs than I do in many Capitalist markets because I can vote for people who will support programs I want.

Now, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are certain private goods that distribute and respond very well to markets. These typically are high turnover industries. Restaurants are great examples. These are always very tight markets and extremely responsive to consumer input. There are several reasons for this - they are often local, they require brick and mortar in the community, these goods are highly excludeable and rivalrous, there is typically a very rich market of competition, they require very low levels of technical and professional knowledge (in comparison to, say, computers), and the barriers to entry are very difficult to seal off by companies who attempt monopolistic behavior. Other Capitalist markets that do not share these properties can be highly leveraged in the favor of the Capitalist.

Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote ah2:How many decades do you think went by where both electric and hybrid vehicle technology were readily available for R&D and subsequent consumer availability? And how many years do you think these technologies were not brought to market because capitalists wanted us addicted to oil based gasoline? The technology to use hydrogen based fuel has been around for at least a decade and we don't pursue it. Why? This would be a far better solution to the consumer at this point. Having a solar array a natural solar water heater and a personal windmill in my front yard would be a much better method for most families to get their energy needs. Why aren't these technologies more developed? Why haven't they been produced in mass quantities all the way through thte 1990s when everyone had so much expendable income? Because the capitalists didn't want us getting persistent free energy. They want us sucking on their coal and nuclear teets for all time so we can give them a nice continual revenue stream.

I honestly don't know what technologies would be best. I don't support patents, though. They are a monopoly grant by gov't. Without patents, these alternative technologies that you cite could have been offered in competition to the internal combustion engine. I favor open competition with no subsidies or privileges granted by the gov't. Whichever tech. wins out will be decided by the people

Lol so you are a Libertarian that doesn't believe in intellectual property rights? Awesome...

Quote LysanderSpooner:
Quote ah2:Markets have the potential to produce real choices. But that will never come to pass as long as Capitalism exists. Capitalist "free" markets are inherently hierarchical and coersive.

If by capitalism you mean corporatism, then I agree

They are one and the same.

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

From above:

If by capitalism you mean corporatism then i agree.

Reply: they are one and the same.

poly replies: Actually, they aren't the same. Capitalism existed before corporations. it was just applied differently.

We've become used to thinking that Capitalism is our peculiar application of it. It isn't the only application. Every human society from day one has utilized it....applications differ.

Even communal monasteries utilize capitalism. it's just applied differently.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Communal monastaries are not capitalist. They are communal which is by definition not Capitalist. They all share the fruits of their labor. That isn't Capitalist at all.

Free markets and Capitalism are not synonymous.

The only defining characteristic of Capitalism is the existence of capitalists - people who own the means of production and siphon profits from labor who use the means of production. That is it. Every other aspect that people commonly attribute to Capitalism - private property, markets, etc. - all exist in other economic systems.

However, let me clarify my statement. Corporatism is the natural result of Capitalism. Even if you temper the heirarchical nature of Capitalism with democratic governance, the fact of the matter is that the distribution of resources is inherently heirarchical and, thus, coersive in nature. Corporatism is the natural endstate of Capitalist economic systems as a result. So, I suppose you could say they aren't the "same" but one begets the other and is subsumed by the other. From here we have a few options - Fascism, Plutocracy, or a transition to a democratic economy (IE: socialism). The wonder days of Capitalism in its infancy are far behind us.

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

In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business. The consumer is sovereign. It is he who directs production by his buying and abstention from buying. As far as labor agreements go, as long as there is competition (a free market), businesses have to compete with businesses for labor. They cannot pay workers less than what they are worth for fear that their competitors are going to snatch them up........In a free market, businessmen can only profit if they satisfy the customer. Please name me one company that forces you to do business with them, even now in our corporatist economy. And I guess that government gives you non coercive choices?

Does any market 'force' you to buy the product, LysanderSpooner? Can you describe a market that does that? And, in whatever market you come up with that's not 'free' in that sense, do they 'force' you not to buy a product, also? Or, does that consumer still choose whether to buy or not? I'm having a hard time following any distinction that you are claiming here by starting the description off with the preposition 'In a free market'--how would any other market work other than by a consumer choosing to buy or not to buy? What does a 'non-free market' make the consumer do?

And, since capital is centralized in a corporatist market, and since business is centralized in a corporatist market, how is the de-centralization of labor factor into this 'free market' scenario? Just like Stephen Pearl Andrews said in those quotes from George Fitzhugh, 'labor' just becomes another manipulation of the commodities involved in the production where the corporatist tries to 'buy low and sell high'.

I think that it is the centralization of the market forces that create the skewing effect that your 'pure free market', otherwise, may try to claim, LysanderSpooner. As I pointed out before, if your 'free market' is 'open trade competition', I think the results of that competition will be anything but free. Just like recognizing that centralizing and organizing wins in war, the same issue creating a 'corner on the market' wins in market competition. In bygone days, the American government used to counter that tendency with anti-trust, anti-monopolizing laws--but, perhaps, you might think that is government tinkering with the 'free market' today (as if any government intervention contradicts the 'free market', no?)--and, besides that, mergers have become welcomed by the present government (I guess now claiming 'that's just another free market initiative')--offering more and more centralizing of money and power to coelesce into 'too big to fail' market entities (almost like a cancer on government, don't you think?--if they 'die', the government that supports them 'dies'....).

But, again, this tendency in the markets to be 'cornered' in 'open competition' is not a new concept. The Southern sympathizer, George Fitzhugh, quotes the Northern abolitionist, Stephen Pearl Andrews, in Fitzhugh's book, Cannibals All!--Or Slaves Without Masters (again, from the 'Letter to a conservative' thread):

I. Suppose I am a wheelwright in a small village and the only one of my trade. You are travelling with certain valuables in your carriage, which breaks down opposite my shop. It will take an hour of my time to mend the carriage. You can get no other means of conveyance, and the loss to you, if you fail to arrive at the neighboring town in season for the sailing of a certain vessel, will be $500, which fact you mention to me, in good faith, in order to quicken my exertions. I give one hour of my work and mend the carriage. What am I in equity entitled to charge--what should be the 'limit of price' upon my labor?

Let us apply the different measures, and see how they will operate. If Value is the limit of price (made 'more valuable by scarcity'--my addition), then the price of the hour's labor should be $500. That is the equivalent of the value of the labor to you. If cost is the limit of price, then you should pay me a commodity, or commodities, or a representative in currency, which will procure me commodities having in them one hour's labor equally as hard as the mending of the carriage, without the slightest reference to the degree of benefit which that labor has bestowed upon you; or, putting the illustration ijn money, thus: assuming the twenty-five cents to be an equivalent for an hour's labor of an artizan in that particular trade, then, according to the 'Cost Principle,' I should be justified in asking only twenty-five cents, but according to the 'Value Principle,' I should be justified in asking $500.

The 'Value Principle,' in some form of expression, is, as I have said, the only recognized principle of trade throughout the world. "A thing is worth what it will bring in the market." Still, if I were to charge you $500, or a fourth part of that sum, and, taking advantage of your necessities (and 'scarcities'--my addition), force you to pay it, everybody would denounce me, the poor wheelwright, as an extortioner and a scoundrel. Why? Simply, because this is an unusual application of the principle. Wheelwrights seldom have a chance to make such a 'speculation,' and therefore it is not according to the 'established usages of trade.' Hence its manifest injustice shocks, in such a case, the common sense of right (you could put 'moral and ethical' in here--my addition). Meanwhile, you, a wealthy merchant, are daily rolling up an immense fortune by doing business upon the same principle which you condemn in the wheelwright, and nobody finds fault. At every scarcity in the market, you immediately raise the price of every article you hold. It is your 'business' to take advantage of the necessities of those with whom you deal, by selling to them according to the 'Value' to them, and not according to the 'Cost' to you. You go further. You, by every means in your power, create those necessities, by buying up particular articles and holding them out of the market until the demand becomes pressing, by circulating false reports of short crops, and by other similar tricks known to the trade. This is the same in principle, as if the wheelwright had first dug the rut in which your carriage upset, and then charged you the $500. (my emphases)

Yet hitherto no one has thought of seriously questioning the principle, namely, that "Value is the limit of price," or, in other words, that "it is right to take for a thing what it is worth." It is upon this principle or maxim, that all 'honorable' trade professes now to be conducted, until instances arise in which its oppressive operation is so glaring and repugnant to the moral sense of mankind, that those who carry it out are denounced as rogues and cheats. In this manner a sort of conventional limit is placed upon the applicaiton of a principle which is equally 'the principle' of every swindling transaction, and of what is called legitimate commerce. The discovery has not hitherto been made, that the principle itself is essentiallly vicious, and that in its infinite and all-pervading variety of applications, this vicious principle is the source of the injustice, inequality of condition, and frightful pauperism and wretchedness which characterize the existing state of our so-called civilization. Still less has the discovery been made, that there is another simple principle of traffic which, once understood and applied in practice, will effectually rectify all those monstruous evils, and introduce into human society the reign of absolute equity in all property relations, while it will lay the foundations of universal harmony in the social and moral relaitons as well.

II. Suppose it costs me ten minutes' labor to concoct a pill which will save your life when nothing else will (again, the element of 'scarcity'--my addition): and suppose, at the same time, to render the case simple, that the knowledge of the ingredients came to me by accident, without labor or cost. It is clear that your life is worth to you more than your fortune. Am I, then, entitled to demand of you for the nostrum the whole of your property, more or less? Clearly so, if it is right to take for a thing what it is worth, which is theoretically the highest ethics of trade.

Forced, on the one hand, by the impossibility, existing in the nature of things, of ascertaining and measuring positive values, or of determining, in other words, what a thing is really worth, and rendered partially conscious by the obvious hardship and injustice of every unusual or extreme application of the principle that it is either no rule or a bad one, and not guided by the knowledge of any true principle out of the labyrinth of conflicting rights into which the false principle conducts, the world has practicallly abandoned the attempt to combine Equity with Commerce, and lowered its standard of morality to the inverse statement of the formula, namely, that, "A thing is worth what it will bring"; or, in other words, that it is fitting and proper to take for a thing when sold whatever can be got for it. This, then, is what is denominated the Market Value of an article, as distinguished from its actual value. Without being more equitable as a measure of price, it certainly has a great practical advantage over the more decent theoretical statement, in the fact that it is possible to ascertain by experiment how much you can force people, through their necessities, to give. The principle, in this form, measures the price by the degree of want on the part of the purchaser, that is, by what he supposes will prove to be the value or benefit to him of the commodity purchased, in comparison with that of the one with which he parts in the transaction. Hence it becomes immediately and continually the interest of the seller to place the purchaser in a condition of as much want as possible; "to corner" him, as the phrase is in Wall Street, and force him to buy at the dearest rate. If he is unable to increase his actual necessity, he resorts to every means of creating an imaginary want of his goods. Hence the usages of forestalling the market, of confusing the public knowledge of Supply and Demand, of advertising and puffing worthless commodities, and the like, which constitute the existing commercial system--a system which, in our age, is ripening into putrefaction, and coming to offend the nostrils of good taste no less than the innate sense of right, which, dreadfully vitiating as it is, it has failed wholly to extinguish.

Free, and open, markets eventually get captured by centralizing interests--and, it doesn't matter whether that centralizing force is government or corporate (more likely today both government and corporate), the way it 'corners the market' will create the same skewing factors apart from the premise that a 'free market' sells products in a conjunction where value relates to cost. It doesn't do so. The centralizing market forces do their best to adjust the costs down (including labor) as they ramp the value up (buy low, sell high)--and the more they control the aspect of the market they are addressing, the better they can enact such manipulations.....so, in that context, where is LysanderSpooner's 'free market' today? Does even LysanderSpooner have an answer?

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

[quote=LysanderSpooner]... As far as labor agreements go, as long as there is competition (a free market), businesses have to compete with businesses for labor. They cannot pay workers less than what they are worth for fear that their competitors are going to snatch them up. [quote=ah2]

What if consumers were quite happy with a single oil company, producing low cost oil?

Then that company would compete for no one for oil workers, and thus could pay them less than they were worth.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote LysanderSpooner:...In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business. The consumer is sovereign.

Only the marginal consumer is 'sovereign' in a free market. There's people who would pay more for the product and there's people who pay less.

More importantly, since costs decline for each unit sold as more people buy, there are lots of unhappy people who would prefer and could afford another set of goods. These people could be sovereign, but are not, because of the vagraties and arbitrary nature of the market. This is why consumer movements are often started.

And, what happens when there are start up costs and firms don't have to compete to the last marginal consumer? Then the firm raises prices or lowers quality on a product (increasing profit), thus reducing the sovereignty of the consumers that would have bought the product at a lower price or higher quality.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote LysanderSpooner:...In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business.

If someone owns the resources, then they don't have to compete at all.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:...In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business.

If there are start up costs, then the firm only has to compete until someone else pays the start up costs. They thus can raise price or lower quality until that point, and they will not go out of business.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner: ...In a free market system, any business that brings products to market that people don't like and/or at prices they don't like goes out of business.

As long as no one enters a complimentary business. But would someone enter a market if another firm was making products at a lower quality and higher price? Only if he figures that the firm could not start doing the same. Because then both firms compete away profits to zero.

So, firms can make plenty of goods that people don't like, that they put up with, because a firm would not want to compete away profits to zero.

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Dr. Econ
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Currently Chatting

Should public radio program in the public interest?

NPR is supposed to be our national public radio, but they're barely covering climate issues that are in the public's interest.

Only one month ago, a national New York Times/CBS News poll found that half of all Americans think that global warming is already having a serious impact. Sixty percent of those surveyed even said that protecting our environment should be a priority “even at the risk of curbing economic growth.”

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