Big Head Press Forum

Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: NotDebonair on September 09, 2009, 01:18:19 am

Title: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: NotDebonair on September 09, 2009, 01:18:19 am
Posting five pages of good art every week, week after week, amazing!  Good writing, too.

As for the libertarian assumptions in the story, while I quite disagree that it is the one ideal way for people to live, in frontier societies it will just happen.  If you want to build stories around a specific set of technologies that will make a libertarian society ideal for everybody every where, I can suspend disbelief to enjoy.  I do it all the time with Iain Banks galactic socialist government, too.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: KBCraig on September 09, 2009, 03:54:26 am
++ on the art and the story.

It's entertaining, without patronizing.

It's my favorite BHP story so far, although Roswell, Texas comes pretty close. As does The Probability Broach, of course.

I think EFT works so well because both the art and the storylines fit the web-based comic forum perfectly. Too many comics stick to the portrait orientation found in dead-tree versions. I always appreciate a story that takes advantage of horizontal layout.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 09, 2009, 07:49:15 am
Posting five pages of good art every week, week after week, amazing!  Good writing, too.

Music to our ears!

As for the libertarian assumptions in the story, while I quite disagree that it is the one ideal way for people to live, in frontier societies it will just happen.  If you want to build stories around a specific set of technologies that will make a libertarian society ideal for everybody every where, I can suspend disbelief to enjoy.  I do it all the time with Iain Banks galactic socialist government, too.

Actually, in anarcho-libertarianism people live in a bewildering array of different ways. The difference from all other social structures is that no one may force others to bend to their will. So it is the reality of Mao's "Let a hundred flowers bloom." (Of course, in his case it was a fraud used to get "dangerous elements" to expose themselves so the could be silenced.) So in an AL society, your Muslim neighbor, for example, is free to try to persuade you to convert to Islam as long as he does not initiate force.

Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 09, 2009, 07:55:20 am
... It's my favorite BHP story so far, although Roswell, Texas comes pretty close. As does The Probability Broach, of course....

Damn! In your face, Neil!

(Actually, I love what we are doing, but L. Neil Smith has inspired me ever since I read his book, The Probability Broach all these many years ago. He is the Man.)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Jtuxyan on September 09, 2009, 12:07:57 pm
Quote
Actually, in anarcho-libertarianism people live in a bewildering array of different ways. The difference from all other social structures is that no one may force others to bend to their will. So it is the reality of Mao's "Let a hundred flowers bloom." (Of course, in his case it was a fraud used to get "dangerous elements" to expose themselves so the could be silenced.) So in an AL society, your Muslim neighbor, for example, is free to try to persuade you to convert to Islam as long as he does not initiate force.

Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?

The fact that it has never worked that way. Ever. Never ever. It would be great if humans ticked that way, but we don't. We are not a species mentally geared to accept a fair society.

When the man upstream of me is pumping radioactive waste into the water and is not open to suggestions he discontinue this practice, I'm left with a choice between using force to dissuade him and accepting that my water may kill me. If I choose the former, he is left with a choice of giving up -- or of calling upon whatever support he can muster to "force" me right back. Soon we have two groups shooting at eachother. People die, there are hard feelings, grudges form -- the violence continues long after the radioactive waste plant is nothing more than a bombed out shell.

Of course, such things don't happen every time. But they only have to happen a tiny fraction of times to turn the society around them to shit. And history has shown that while everyone around them *could* band together to stop this madness, they don't. Humans tend to sit back and do nothing, pretending it isn't their problem until it's much too late to stop things.

I like Escape from Terra, but as I've said before, I think it could not be more wrong. As the above poster, I like it for the same reason I might like Atlas Shrugged, or any of the socialist Utopian novels, even though those are completely wrong.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 09, 2009, 03:16:01 pm
...When the man upstream of me is pumping radioactive waste into the water and is not open to suggestions he discontinue this practice, I'm left with a choice between using force to dissuade him...

Your argument is a straw man. Under the Zero Aggression Principle, radioactive man is the aggressor. You certainly may use force in self-defense. However, I am a bit mystified why you think every such scenario will end in blood vendettas and violence. That is not the way it works in the real world. People do talk about mutual problems, you know. If they cannot agree, they usually seek third-party resolution. Why? Because nobody wants to get in a shootout. This is in stark contrast to our world of governmental force where polluters can get pollution permits from the EPA which give them the power to pollute your property and takes away your say in the matter.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Jtuxyan on September 09, 2009, 03:33:50 pm
If he doesn't consider it attacking me, the situation is upheld. A better analogy might be if he's putting a chemical into the water which he believes to be harmless and I believe causes cancer. He insists that the water is *fine* and I can't persuade him otherwise, whereas I insist that he's making my house unliveable. And no, they don't usually seek third party resolution, they usually seek to force the other person to comply with their will by some form of coercion. The only reason that third party appeal is the standard is because we *have* reliable public bodies that serve as third parties, called governments.

...When the man upstream of me is pumping radioactive waste into the water and is not open to suggestions he discontinue this practice, I'm left with a choice between using force to dissuade him...

Your argument is a straw man. Under the Zero Aggression Principle, radioactive man is the aggressor. You certainly may use force in self-defense. However, I am a bit mystified why you think every such scenario will end in blood vendettas and violence. That is not the way it works in the real world. People do talk about mutual problems, you know. If they cannot agree, they usually seek third-party resolution. Why? Because nobody wants to get in a shootout. This is in stark contrast to our world of governmental force where polluters can get pollution permits from the EPA which give them the power to pollute your property and takes away your say in the matter.


As an amendment to my above post, I'd point out that the EPA doesn't take away my say in the matter. If there was no government, my say in the matter would be: "I can persuade you. I can bribe you. I can threaten you. Or I can appeal to a third party to do one of those three things." I can still do all of those if the EPA gives him a pollution permit.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on September 09, 2009, 11:02:46 pm
Use a realistic Analogy,

City A uses the local river for sewage and drinking water.  City B does the same.  A simple dispute arises due to the nearness of the Cities.

City A claims the distance is sufficient for the sewage to settle, degrade and otherwise become as safe to drink as any river water can be.

City B claims this simply isn't the case.

One option is to vastly upgrade City A's sewage treatment plant and City B's water treatment plant.

Another option is to extend City A's sewage system to hook into City B's sewage system.

Both of these solutions do however cost money.

Who should pay?

What if City A simply refuses to admit a problem exists.

What if citizens in City B start to die of Cholera and similar diseases related to poor drinking water.

If City A moves from refusing to admit there is a problem because of the cost and the genuine belief to refusing to admit there is a problem because they don't want to feel guilty about the deaths, then war is perhaps the only way for City A to be corrected.

And correction in the instance is necessary.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 10, 2009, 01:43:00 am
Historically, the government used "pollution regulations" to reduce your protection against trespass-by-pollution - for the "greater good", of course. Because most people are educated by way of government-approved texts, this is seldom part of one's knowledge - just as a great many other inconvenient facts which refute common "justifications" for government misconduct are conveniently dropped down the memory hole.

In common law, riparian rights protect the quality of water. If you have a drinkable water supply, you have a right to expect that nobody will introduce poisons into your water. This right is perfectly compatible with libertarian society.

In a politicized society, whoever has more political pull than you can take away that expectation at will - allegedly to create jobs and all "for the greater good" - and damn you for objecting, the government will throw you into jail if you cause any trouble.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Insane on September 10, 2009, 02:56:34 am
I like the web comic because its very entertaining, is an interesting example of how a libertarian society might function and remind me to some extent of Robert Heinlein's novel 'The moon is a harsh mistress.'
Is the comic in some way inspired by that novel?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SotarrTheWizard on September 10, 2009, 06:52:03 am
Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?

My guess ?  Because humans are pack animals, and all too many have not developed to the point where:

 (1) Enough of us are able to act AS individuals and remain operating that way.  We still tend to attack the "pink monkeys", be they another race, religion, or other differentiator.  Not sure if/when we'll evolve out of that sufficiently to allow large-scale libertarian societies to exist peacefully.

(2) The current system tends to prevent differing too much from the norm, and gives incentives for leaders to keep us in the herd.

In my opinion, the ONLY reason the US formed a significantly more libertarian culture, at least initially, was that technology made the US sufficiently distant in time and effort from the old-style cultures of Europe.  As technology decreased travel time and eased trade and contact, libertarian aspects of American society began to wane, leading us to the situation today.  I'm convinced of this sufficiently to argue it over the adult beverage of any opponent's choice. . .    ::)

EFT is believable because the Ceres society operates at a significant distance in time and space from the United World.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 10, 2009, 08:21:13 am
... And no, they don't usually seek third party resolution, they usually seek to force the other person to comply with their will by some form of coercion.

Unsupported and unsupportable nonsense. Do you really go shoot your neighbor if his oak tree dangerously overhangs your house? No, you talk to him about it first. If that doesn't work you seek a third-party resolution. In San Francisco, that often means "Community Boards" which are private mediation/arbitration services provided by member of the community for free. Other places, courts are used. Neither is necessarily that reliable, but we use them for another quite important reasons. Dispute resolution agencies provide closure. Often, any resolution is better than no resolution at all. How many times have you heard comments like, "Well, I think the judge was wrong, but I had my day in court, so I accept his decision"? People do not want to fight. That is why every government everywhere uses real or fraudulent pretexts to whip people up. Essentially every war the US has been involved with used some pretext to fan people's passions sufficiently to get them to fight. A future EFT will examine a very telling example of people's usually non-aggressive inclinations. It happened during WWI...

The only reason that third party appeal is the standard is because we *have* reliable public bodies that serve as third parties, called governments.

Otherwise we would just shoot the fuckers? This sounds suspiciously like the anti-gunners standard line, "If we allow people to carry concealed weapons, there will be carnage in the streets. Of course, in every instance where US states have issued more concealed carry permits, violent crime has decreased. You seem to share the anti-gun liberal premise that people cannot be trusted to act rationally in their own best interest and need someone to beat them into line. (Thus putting guns and the power to use force only in the hands of our moral inferiors.)

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Jtuxyan on September 10, 2009, 09:36:13 am
Quote
Unsupported and unsupportable nonsense. Do you really go shoot your neighbor if his oak tree dangerously overhangs your house? No, you talk to him about it first. If that doesn't work you seek a third-party resolution. In San Francisco, that often means "Community Boards" which are private mediation/arbitration services provided by member of the community for free. Other places, courts are used. Neither is necessarily that reliable, but we use them for another quite important reasons. Dispute resolution agencies provide closure. Often, any resolution is better than no resolution at all. How many times have you heard comments like, "Well, I think the judge was wrong, but I had my day in court, so I accept his decision"? People do not want to fight. That is why every government everywhere uses real or fraudulent pretexts to whip people up. Essentially every war the US has been involved with used some pretext to fan people's passions sufficiently to get them to fight. A future EFT will examine a very telling example of people's usually non-aggressive inclinations. It happened during WWI...

Irrelevant. No, of course I talk with him first. And yes, a vast majority of disputes would be reasonably resolved that way ("Look, everyone knows your chem-lab is killing the groundwater. Quit it."). The problem is when one party denies that a problem exists and refuses to take action on that basis. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how many third parties I get to glare at someone --  harsh words never made anyone do anything. To get a determined person to stop doing what they're doing, you have to either use bribery or force. And since few people would be willing to steadily pay someone off not to pollute their groundwater, that realistically means force.

Now, if the entire neighborhood thinks the guy is a jerk, that works out fine. But if it's split 50/50? Or if he has friends with more guns? This is when the situation spirals out of control. And as I said before, I don't feel all cases or even a majority of cases would go this way. But only a very small fraction of disputes have to end in violence for a society to turn to shit. That stuff snowballs.

Quote
Otherwise we would just shoot the frackers? This sounds suspiciously like the anti-gunners standard line, "If we allow people to carry concealed weapons, there will be carnage in the streets. Of course, in every instance where US states have issued more concealed carry permits, violent crime has decreased. You seem to share the anti-gun liberal premise that people cannot be trusted to act rationally in their own best interest and need someone to beat them into line. (Thus putting guns and the power to use force only in the hands of our moral inferiors.)

While I'm aware I am the exception and not the rule, I ask which you think terrifies me more:

Who has guns in this situation is irrelevant. The cops and government may have their problems, but for forcing someone who won't budge to cease harming you, my choices are essentially a group of Occasionally Unreasonable Professionals or a group of random people with all the intelligence of a mob, many of whom don't like me. This isn't a statement about guns, it's a statement that I don't trust my neighbors to resolve the situation reasonably.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 10, 2009, 02:12:47 pm
Then why are YOU living there?
I want neighbors I can trust.  With my lawnmower.  With my back.  With my kids.

Personally, I'd invite him over for lemonade.  Let him get about half way through the pitcher and inform him it was made with well water.  But it's okay, because he swears the stuff is "safe".
Lots of things are "safe" for others.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Jtuxyan on September 10, 2009, 02:44:53 pm
Quote
Then why are YOU living there?

Because it's near my work and classes and affordable.

Quote
I want neighbors I can trust.  With my lawnmower.  With my back.  With my kids.

And I want a zeppelin.

Quote
Personally, I'd invite him over for lemonade.  Let him get about half way through the pitcher and inform him it was made with well water.  But it's okay, because he swears the stuff is "safe".
Lots of things are "safe" for others.

He shrugs and goes "Okay." And finishes the lemonade.

If he's just going "It's safe for others." He's violating the premise by knowingly harming another. If he *honestly believes it is safe*, then there is a problem.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: pendothrax on September 10, 2009, 03:32:54 pm
An instance of non aggression in WWI?  would this be the famous soccer match/swap meet perchance?  ;)  i look forward to references of that incident.  And perhaps of the christmas season bombardments for the rest of the war as well.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 10, 2009, 03:55:58 pm
I like the web comic because its very entertaining, is an interesting example of how a libertarian society might function and remind me to some extent of Robert Heinlein's novel 'The moon is a harsh mistress.'
Is the comic in some way inspired by that novel?

Sorry, I meant to answer this earlier. Hell, yes! BEST. BOOK. EVER. (Well, my favorite, anyway.)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 10, 2009, 03:58:47 pm
An instance of non aggression in WWI?  would this be the famous soccer match/swap meet perchance?...

Uh... maybe.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 10, 2009, 04:54:12 pm
...When the man upstream of me is pumping radioactive waste into the water and is not open to suggestions he discontinue this practice, I'm left with a choice between using force to dissuade him...

Your argument is a straw man. Under the Zero Aggression Principle, radioactive man is the aggressor. You certainly may use force in self-defense.

That is fine as a moral argument for what is OK for a good moral libertarian to do. But it leaves us with the situation that two good moral libertarians can simply have a disagreement about what it's OK for one of them to do on his own property, and about how much it affects the other one, and there is no defined way to resolve that. Whether it's better to have a method defined that is known in practice to often give undesirable results versus not have any method at all ....   If you say you'd rather leave it up to them to find an ad hoc reasonable approach, I won't say you're wrong.

Quote
However, I am a bit mystified why you think every such scenario will end in blood vendettas and violence. That is not the way it works in the real world. People do talk about mutual problems, you know. If they cannot agree, they usually seek third-party resolution. Why? Because nobody wants to get in a shootout.

If they can find a single third party that they each think will decide things their own way, then they're likely to do that. Then the disappointed one has to decide what to do afterward, and community standards imply that if he doesn't back down after he promised he would follow the arbitrator's decision, nobody will agree to arbitration with him later.

If they can't agree on an arbitrator then they're likely to have a continuing dispute for a long time. People get into lots of chronic arguments that are not worth killing somebody over.

Quote
This is in stark contrast to our world of governmental force where polluters can get pollution permits from the EPA which give them the power to pollute your property and takes away your say in the matter.

When it's you versus Union Carbide, how much say do you get in the matter without government courts etc? I consider these unresolved issues. If I see a society that consistently handles them in a way I consider fair I'll be very impressed.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 10, 2009, 05:41:05 pm
This sounds suspiciously like the anti-gunners standard line, "If we allow people to carry concealed weapons, there will be carnage in the streets. Of course, in every instance where US states have issued more concealed carry permits, violent crime has decreased.

Statistics on this sort of thing are notoriously unreliable, to the point that I tend to discount any statistics intended to promote gun control or gun freedom.

Part of the problem is that places where people want gun control tend to be large compact urban areas, where it's obvious that a lot of social control is needed. So when they perceive a problem with increasing crime they tend to push for gun control.

Other places, when people perceive a problem with increasing crime they tend to push for harsher sentences, particularly harsher sentences for people who use firearms during their crimes.

For the most part, neither approach is effective.

Here is what appears effective to me, although it would be hard for me to point to the studies that show it:  When the rate of increase in police funding slows, there are more reported crimes and police report a crime wave. When the rate of increase in police funding increases, there are fewer reported crimes for awhile. I don't know why police report more crimes when they are understaffed and underfunded, the natural thing would be for them to do less reporting. But it does seem to go that way.

At any rate, places tend to get gun control only when they perceive a serious crime problem, and so if you compare them to places which have not yet had a serious crime problem they will look worse. Places which do not issue concealed carry permits tend not start issuing them while they have a serious perceived crime problem. If they issue permits and the problem goes from minor to insignificant, that is not particularly important.

Statistical evidence for gun control or gun freedom or harsh sentences affecting crime are all very weak. What is clear, though, is that perceived high crime rates cause gun control in some places and cause harsh sentences in other places.

Quote
You seem to share the anti-gun liberal premise that people cannot be trusted to act rationally in their own best interest and need someone to beat them into line. (Thus putting guns and the power to use force only in the hands of our moral inferiors.)

I'd say it's quite clear that some people cannot be trusted to act rationally in their own best interest. Otherwise we would not have so many drug addicts or tobacco smokers or coffee drinkers. But they don't necessarily do better with somebody to beat them into line.

It's just one of those things. There are a lot of stupid people who're going to cause a lot of trouble for everybody else. You can't prevent it by controlling them. You can't prevent it by letting them run wild.

Every now and then you have to be the schlemazel and there's nothing you can do about it. Just clean up and keep going.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 10, 2009, 06:41:54 pm
... Statistics on this sort of thing are notoriously unreliable, to the point that I tend to discount any statistics intended to promote gun control or gun freedom.

"Notoriously" adds null content to your argument. If you can quote some unreliable pro-gun statistics and say why they are unreliable, I would be interested in hearing it. Have you examined any of the statistics and peer reviewed studies offered by John Lott or Don Kates? (BTW, Don is not only the pre-eminent authority on gun control and gun violence in the US, he is also a personal friend (I have baby sat for his perrot, Ché) and he is totally scrupulous in his examination of gun/crime statistics. Don has argued before the Supreme Court and is respected even by those who support more gun control than we have now.)

Part of the problem is that places where people want gun control tend to be large compact urban areas, where it's obvious that a lot of social control is needed. So when they perceive a problem with increasing crime they tend to push for gun control.

Really? Citations, please. As you probably do not know, gun control really got started in the rural South as part of its racist Jim Crow laws. Of course, it was used to disarm blacks, not whites. It also existed more in the Old West than in the East, where most every gentleman had a special holster sewn into his suit coat.

No offense, but I have read the books and know the people. You have made a great many unsubstantiated claims, some clearly erroneous. I think it would be a good idea for you to arm yourself with more information. Tell you what, I will read any anti-gun rights book or study you ask me too, if you will read either Lott's More Guns, Less Crime or Kates' Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out. Oh yeah, Kates is a card-carrying liberal, who earned his chops as a civil rights lawyer and Freedom Rider in the South in the '60s. Kates sees the right to effective self-defense as the most important of all civil rights. I agree.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 10, 2009, 07:42:41 pm
Sandy:  Would by any chance the non-violence episode of WWI that you were previously mentioned be the Christmas truce of 1916?  I remember reading just a few months ago that the last survivor (British) died that had participated in it.  If I remember my history correctly the high command of both sides just about had a fit when all their soldiers stopped fighting and feasted and drank together like they were long lost brothers until the next morning.  Their so called "superiors" made sure that it didn't happen again the year after that.   :'(
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 10, 2009, 07:57:07 pm
Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?

Wrong question?

Why would anyone prefer even a democratic society where the government can pretty much charge as much as it (or your fellow citizens) likes in taxes, to fritter away as it will? Where the government can impose rules about behavior that doesn't harm others? Where the government can force you to go off to some distant jungle or desert to get shot at or blown up?

If the alternative of taking away those powers from the government had no bad consequences, indeed, who wouldn't go for it?

When could such a situation have bad consequences?

Let's say the country you live in is like Holland or like New Orleans. It needs walls to keep the place from being flooded. (Either it's the only inhabitable spot on the planet, or the rest of the world has tough immigration restrictions.) Because of the competitive hurly-burly of life, while people intellectually recognize the necessity of keeping the dikes in good repair, the voluntary donations to the repair fund... have been inadequate of late.

And you don't have enough money single-handedly to solve that problem all by your own generosity.

If people, for some reason, feel it important to try as hard as they can to have more disposable income than the next person - but would be willing to contribute to the common good if they could be sure that everyone else was pulling his weight too - then a government with the power to levy taxes would suit such people.

I guess you could argue that such lazy and greedy people deserve whatever bad situation they end up in (either too much government or the dikes failing) but libertarianism is the system for free men.

If people are free to move out to the open frontier, the government should not ask too much of them, or they'll all run away. But if people face common dangers that must be met - whether it's keeping the dikes plugged, or maintaining an insanely expensive military deterrent to keep real tyranny away - and there's no "elsewhere" to run to, because the whole world is full.... then the choice isn't just between government having, or not having, certain powers.

The choice also involves what will happen, because of human nature, if the government doesn't have those powers to fill the gap.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 10, 2009, 08:07:59 pm
Sandy:
     You know both Don Kates and Annette Haven?  You must run in some interesting circles.  ;D
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 10, 2009, 08:17:05 pm
Part of the problem is that places where people want gun control tend to be large compact urban areas, where it's obvious that a lot of social control is needed. So when they perceive a problem with increasing crime they tend to push for gun control.

Other places, when people perceive a problem with increasing crime they tend to push for harsher sentences, particularly harsher sentences for people who use firearms during their crimes.

For the most part, neither approach is effective.

I will address this from my experience in Canada. In 1962, people who committed first-degree murder were executed by hanging, and the crime rate was much lower than it is today.

In 1968, Pierre Trudeau was elected Prime Minister, and he brought in many controversial changes to our laws. He changed us over to the metric system, and he abolished capital punishment, and he brought in gun control laws (even in 1962, guns were more restricted in Canada than in most of the U.S., of course).

After our crime rate peaked in 1971, it has since declined due to demographic changes, but it is still much higher than in 1962.

Gun control places restrictions on law-abiding citizens, since it limits what they can do to defend themselves, and it makes it easier for the government to crush resistance if it decides not to hold the next election. Trudeau expresses admiration for Mao Tse-Tung back in his student days, and in various other ways made many Canadians nervous. Gun control may not stop drug pushers from getting guns, but it does make life safer for police officers dealing with domestic violence complaints, so there is one case where it is protecting some people from crime.

Harsh sentences for criminals, in themselves, at least only hurt the criminals.

If you really want to avoid crime, the solution, though, would be: ensure just about every young man who leaves high school can get a job that pays well enough to start a family.  We had that situation in 1962, thanks to the economic boom, and thanks to the country having lots of wide open space. Now, the economy has changed, and we've let in a great many immigrants despite elevated levels of unemployment.

If the steel mills and the car factories have shut down, so that a young man trying to start out in life doesn't have a chance of earning a reasonable living through honest labor - and a reasonable living means the ability to support a wife and children - then instead of being content to work merely to survive for the rest of his life, that at least a fraction of them will opt for drugs and guns and causing trouble is only to be expected.

People need to be kept in line by force when there isn't enough to go around. So the solution to crime, and the way to avoid a harsh repressive regime, are the same: plan ahead, make sure this situation does not arise.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 10, 2009, 08:24:15 pm
As you probably do not know, gun control really got started in the rural South as part of its racist Jim Crow laws. Of course, it was used to disarm blacks, not whites.

Doesn't surprise me. But Angelinos who are made nervous by the people of Watts, or New Yorkers who are made nervous by the people of Harlem, aren't necessarily racist. This doesn't mean the resulting gun control laws aren't racist in their results... because the honest, but poor, black people who have no choice but to live in the bad neighborhoods have the most urgent need to defend themselves, and so the effective result is to make being black a crime.

Essentially, the demand for gun control in the big cities comes from: 1) a very pressing problem with crime, and 2) a desperate search for whatever solutions are allowed (i.e. by the courts) to be used. The Second Amendment doesn't seem to be in the Constitution as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, but a lot of other stuff is very much in there, limiting the options available.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 10, 2009, 11:07:40 pm
... Statistics on this sort of thing are notoriously unreliable, to the point that I tend to discount any statistics intended to promote gun control or gun freedom.

"Notoriously" adds null content to your argument. If you can quote some unreliable pro-gun statistics and say why they are unreliable, I would be interested in hearing it. Have you examined any of the statistics and peer reviewed studies offered by John Lott or Don Kates?

I have only a slight acquaintance with Lott's work. I did coursework in epidemiology, so when I looked at an epidemiologist's website I understood the language and the ideas. I was interested in some ideas about risk factors for diabetes, as I recall, and he had done some work with that. Then I saw that he was posting a lot about Lott because he was having some sort of dispute with Lott about guns. He criticised Lott's methodology. He criticised Lott's data-handling. He criticised Lott's ethics. He criticised Lott for posting under a pseudonym, pretending to be a woman who supported Lott's positions.

I looked at some of Lott's work, enough to see that a couple of the damning criticisms were true. Then I dropped it. The epidemiologist looked reputable, and he did not make claims about gun control that disagreed with Lott. He did not say that Lott's conclusions were wrong, only that his methods to arrive at those conclusions were bogus. I went back to looking at his diabetes work and since then I've misplaced the links. A quick Google search didn't turn it up.

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(BTW, Don is not only the pre-eminent authority on gun control and gun violence in the US, he is also a personal friend (I have baby sat for his perrot, Ché) and he is totally scrupulous in his examination of gun/crime statistics. Don has argued before the Supreme Court and is respected even by those who support more gun control than we have now.)

It's possible he might have found something valid.

Part of the problem is that places where people want gun control tend to be large compact urban areas, where it's obvious that a lot of social control is needed. So when they perceive a problem with increasing crime they tend to push for gun control.

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Really? Citations, please. As you probably do not know, gun control really got started in the rural South as part of its racist Jim Crow laws. Of course, it was used to disarm blacks, not whites. It also existed more in the Old West than in the East, where most every gentleman had a special holster sewn into his suit coat.

I haven't seen studies on those, and they don't look like they would apply much to today's problems.

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No offense, but I have read the books and know the people. You have made a great many unsubstantiated claims, some clearly erroneous. I think it would be a good idea for you to arm yourself with more information. Tell you what, I will read any anti-gun rights book or study you ask me too, if you will read either Lott's More Guns, Less Crime or Kates' Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out. Oh yeah, Kates is a card-carrying liberal, who earned his chops as a civil rights lawyer and Freedom Rider in the South in the '60s. Kates sees the right to effective self-defense as the most important of all civil rights. I agree.

I don't have any anti-gun studies I care about. My claim, which I do not want to substantiate, is that gun laws of any sort have minimal effect on crime compared to a number of other variables which have much larger effects. There is no smoking gun, so to speak. Because of this it is hard to do valid statistical work that demonstrates an effect, and quite unlikely to find statistics that will demonstrate a large effect.

My conclusion is that guns simply don't matter much, so we should not go to big efforts to control them. Most gun owners do not shoot anybody with their guns. Most criminal gun owners also do not shoot anybody. If we could get rid of all the guns we would have at best minor improvements in the public health which could not possibly justify the effort and the backlash.

There's a vocal minority that treats gun ownership almost like a religion, and it might simplify things if we could get gun control classed as religious persecution and be done with it.

I don't want to justify my opinions. I do this sort of work for a living, it's tedious to do well, and a gun/crime relation looks like an unpromising area to get valuable results. To my way of thinking the burden of proof should be on people who want to spend public resources. Unless there's good reason to think that the benefits will outweigh the costs, we shouldn't attempt gun control. And people i trust say that there's little evidence that it would have much benefit at all.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Azure Priest on September 10, 2009, 11:43:19 pm
Those in favor of "gun control" laws need to remember that criminals as a rule tend to ignore laws, that's why they're CRIMINALS. Limiting what law abiding people can do to defend themselves has AT BEST, minimal impact on the criminal. It's just logic and common sense. Any other argument tends to be based on emotion, "it's not the criminal who killed my (relative, friend or loved one) it's the GUN. Get rid of it now!" While this premise is entirely understandable, it's completely flawed! If guns were not available, as in, somehow every last gun, gun factory, and gun maker in existence was found, collected, and systematically destroyed, the criminal who wants to rob, rape or kill you will still want to do so and will just find a new, creative way to do it. They'll make IEDs, take "tools" like TNT and strap them on children to set loose in shopping malls, or highjack airplanes and fly them into buildings! As for those who might argue, "knives never go off 'unloaded' or 'while being cleaned'!" Yes, yes they do.

As to why I like the comic, it is essentially a struggle between the "free men" of Ceres and the authoritarians of the UW. The struggle between freedom and tyranny always makes for a good story.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 11, 2009, 02:27:14 am
Even in more recent times, race is still the reason for many gun control laws. I remember a spate of laws against "saturday night specials" - cheap guns, which tend to be favored by poor people with brown or black skin. The very name comes from a song about an eight-day week supposedly enjoyed by blacks, the eighth "day" being saturday night.

There's a bit of the civil rights era which is seldom reported. NPR, to its credit, did put together a special which I have been told about, the Deacons for Defense. They were a black militia group, largely comprised of war vets, organized by Rob Williams, who wrote a book called Negroes With Guns. It's a slim book about an important, seldom-told part of our history. In those days the KKK was a serious menance, often assembling thousands or even tens of thousands of people at their rallies. Quite often, the local sheriff and his deputies were members. During the day, the sheriff would make gun raids, enforcing those supposedly color-blind anti-gun laws against selected blacks who were too "uppity." By night, the KKK would raid that defenseless family's home.

Rob Williams organized a militia to defend their homes. He did not start a war. If I recall correctly, he did not actually have to kill anyone. He and other members had to demonstrate their resolve and ability to defend themselves. In the face of that determined resistance, the KKK backed down. Today, they are a shadow of their former selves. The book is slim and well worth reading.

One of my former neighbors was a black pharmacist who grew up in the Deep South. He also spent a lot of time in the infamous Watts area of Los Angeles. He said he never went there without a piece. Concealed carry is effectively illegal in Los Angeles ( permits are almost impossible to obtain ), but it is practiced by those who value their safety more than the ideals of know-nothing politicians. He also told me what prompted California to pass stricter gun control laws; it was the appearance of openly armed Black Panthers in the chambers of the Assembly. Open carry of loaded weapons was banned after that incident. In his words, "They couldn't let niggers carry guns into the Assembly."

Another friend is a card-carrying Democrat, who works for the city government, belongs to a union, and so forth. He was chased by an anti-gay group all the way home, where his partner met the gang with a shotgun and drove them off. In his ( and my ) home state, Pennsylvania, Democrats and Republicans alike oppose gun control.

Rob Williams makes a telling point in his book. Bullies fear those who defend themselves. If one believes that blacks or gays are "inferior", then one is less likely to risk one's "superior" life versus theirs. A credible threat to defend oneself is sufficient to warn off such bullies.

I helped to start chapters of Pink Pistols in several places - Atlanta, Orange County, and Pittsburgh. A bit of googling should turn up some rather nice interviews in two of those places which showed up in the alternative, usually left-wing press.
 
California law is a bit weird. CCW permits are at the discretion of sheriffs and police chiefs; very difficult to obtain in Los Angeles ( practically impossible ), but easier in some other counties. It is not difficult to obtain a security guard license to carry loaded weapons openly on the job, the same as police do; it is common to see armed security guards. If you have no such license, it is legal to carry an unloaded weapon. The police have the power to stop you to determine if the weapon is unloaded. This can be quite a nuisance in some jurisdictions; in others, the police are pretty professional about it. Often, the man ( or woman ) on the beat is quite sympathetic. When asked why he carries a weapon openly, a young black recently answered "It's a dangerous world out there, and I can't carry a cop."

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: NotDebonair on September 11, 2009, 05:16:47 am
Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?

Nothing to disagree with at all.  It is such an attractive idea that some people must have tried it already.  Who and where?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 11, 2009, 10:20:43 am

"People need to be kept in line by force when there isn't enough to go around. So the solution to crime, and the way to avoid a harsh repressive regime, are the same: plan ahead, make sure this situation does not arise. "

Quadibloc your leaving out one teenie tiny thing.  The reason that is "not enough to go around" is because the government controls, taxes and regulates everything to death.  From minimum wage laws to enviromental regulations to business taxes, there is almost nothing that they don't have their hooks into.  It's like the old saying that government breaks your leg, gives you a crutch and then expects you to be grateful to them for giving you the means to walk.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on September 11, 2009, 12:05:58 pm
It is such an attractive idea
Some of us find it attractive, but many people don't.  I find it puzzling why so many people (including most of my friends) find the idea of large-scale voluntary cooperation unattractive, since they voluntarily cooperate with a wide variety of people in their day-to-day lives.  I've heard several plausible explanations, but I don't understand psychology well enough to judge them.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 11, 2009, 03:28:03 pm

"People need to be kept in line by force when there isn't enough to go around. So the solution to crime, and the way to avoid a harsh repressive regime, are the same: plan ahead, make sure this situation does not arise. "

Quadibloc your leaving out one teenie tiny thing.  The reason that is "not enough to go around" is because the government controls, taxes and regulates everything to death.

That's certainly a factor. But how much is enough? A whole lot of people in india get by with what we would consider sub-poverty standard of living -- no meat, barely enough grain, polluted water, inadequate shelter, etc -- and many of them don't feel particularly deprived. They are used to a high population density and we are not. It helps that they live in a place where it gets too hot but not so cold....

People naturally tend to divide whatever resources there are and then use them up. And there are usually some who will have enough children to make the population increase, up until the resources for more people just aren't there.

If we had a world where there were enough resources for everbody to get 2000 calories a day, there would always be people who arrange to collect enough rocket fuel to get into space.

It isn't just government. But government is a great big factor.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 11, 2009, 07:46:13 pm
Historically, the government used "pollution regulations" to reduce your protection against trespass-by-pollution - for the "greater good", of course.

Absolutely right.

And the government makes other kinds of "pollution" possible as well.

A bank can lend money to a business - and when the business runs into trouble, the bank gets to call in its loans, and get its money back first, whereas creditors of the business, who were not in as good a position as the bank to know the company was having trouble, are left holding the bag.

These two things come from the same source. If government didn't give permission for pollution, it would be as illegal for you to put carbon monoxide in the air I breathe as arsenic in the tea I drink - so no one could drive a car. Without laws that protect banks, and stockholders in limited liability companies, we wouldn't have big factories that could build tanks and airplanes.

So the armies of some country less solicitous of individual liberty would come along... and the libertarian experiment would suffer the same fate as the American Indian.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 12, 2009, 03:41:26 am
Is this one of those "you are required to pay nearly half your income in order to defend your liberty" jokes passed off as "truth" by the great political pundits? I find it amazing that so many people actually take this seriously.

Even a poor country like Afghanistan is perfectly capable of making life miserable for a large, well-funded invader. Have you ever turned that around and ask how well a rich country such as America could do against a less rich invader?

This EFT strip gave a bit of an updated illustration of the thesis. Big, well-funded battleship crippled by the equivalent of the family car equipped with a mining laser. In Afghanistan today it's cheap IEDs crippling multi-million-dollar tanks.

What tools would a free people devise  in their defense? We'll never know because first, half of our wealth is taken from us to "defend our freedom", and secondly because we're not free to devise firearms and explosives. We're basically free to be helpless victims. Do you envision this as a desirable outcome?

As the guy said, I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop. Freedom except where prohibited is not freedom. A recent article mentioned that the prices of AK-47s in Iran have risen from $250 to $450. Here in "the land of the free", we who-are-wards-of-the-State can't legally buy an AK-47 at any price, but we are enslaved in order to export freedom to other countries?

Shouldn't we keep some for ourselves and export the surplus?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Gillsing on September 12, 2009, 10:55:46 am
IEDs may be dangerous, but have they really stopped the invaders? Aren't the invaders still there, trying to force their democracy upon the locals? And what if these invaders were as brutal and determined as the Soviets? I don't know for sure, but weren't the locals getting crushed by HIND gunships? That is, until someone gave them Stinger missiles. Which are hardly improvised explosive devices, and certainly not produced or invented by the locals. It may actually take a big government to stop another big government. Or: "Every country has an army; its own or someone else's!"

A government might indeed be the top criminal in any given nation, and there's a reason for that. Because if there were no government, someone would eventually take power and create their own government. If you give everyone freedom, some people will use that freedom to restrict your freedom. You may die trying to stop them, as many people have in the past, but eventually a group of people with better weapons, better training, better tactics, and/or better politics will come out on top and enforce whichever laws they can get away with. And peace through supreme firepower leads to more powerful societies than societies where everyone is constantly training for battles due to the need to defend themselves from the rest of society.

Spending resources on weapons and spending time on training with these weapons is costly, and there's only a net gain of resources if you actually use your weapons and training to acquire more resources than you spent. The less resources you spend on defense, the more you'll have to spend on developing new technology and infrastructure. And the more of that you build up, the better your society will be, at least from a material standpoint. And when it comes to future power struggles with other societies, the material standpoint carries a lot of weight, as many unfortunate societies have found out during the history of our world.

Thus I claim that while we may not need a government to tell us how to live our lives, we do need one to tell certain other people not to ruin our lives. And whether or not we need a government, one will eventually come to exist, much like life appeared on this planet. Much like molds appear in the shower if you don't scrub them away. It's simply a natural evolution of a society.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: deadasdisco on September 12, 2009, 12:16:08 pm
Alright, I know we abandoned the original thrust of the thread some time ago to quibble about the usual political points (I don't think its not important, I just don't think reasoning has ever persuaded anyone of anything, its too emotional, but if it makes you happy to shout at the wind, go right ahead...), however, since I only get on the net once a week at best, so you'll have to excuse my necroposting...

Anyway, whether I believe what the author does isn't important to me as a writer, only that the author believes it.  See, if you want to get into what I believe,I believe that a writer has to write what's in him if he's going to be worth a damn.  Granted I'm not a writer myself, but I am an experienced reader, and I can tell when the passion is there.  If EFT is a fun strip, then that's because Scott, Sandy and LEE! are having fun with it.  Fiction's a weird thing, on the one hand, we know it's made-up, but we can also tell when its not being Honest, and its one of the few places where the two aren't mutually exclusive...  If libertarianism's (or socialism or whatever else...) in the writer then it will be in the writing, somewhere, under the surface, and SHOULD be, IMHO.

Besides, I can't imagine how small and boring a universe I would live in if I only read stuff that agreed with  me, even I get tired of my POV sometimes...  ;)

(See, this is why I should never post before lunch)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 12, 2009, 01:12:45 pm
Is this one of those "you are required to pay nearly half your income in order to defend your liberty" jokes passed off as "truth" by the great political pundits? I find it amazing that so many people actually take this seriously.

Even a poor country like Afghanistan is perfectly capable of making life miserable for a large, well-funded invader. Have you ever turned that around and ask how well a rich country such as America could do against a less rich invader?

Given that the most likely invaders of the United States have ICBMs with nuclear warheads in their posession, and the ones the U.S. has are the results of its being able to carry out taxation, I manage to find your position difficult to take seriously. Big armies really do make it possible for a nation to live in peace, hold on to its wealth, and concentrate on productive activity - instead of fighting a guerilla war against a conqueror. And wars aren't only fought to steal wealth - countries that mistreat people within their borders have a tendency to start wars against countries in which the people might disapprove of such behavior.

I suppose a libertarian society is even less likely to invade foreign countries as part of a moral crusade... but just as Northern disapproval of slavery led to the Civil War, American disapproval of Japan's behavior in China led to Pearl Harbor. Free people, by their very existence, are a threat to evil men.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 12, 2009, 01:22:26 pm
Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?

As I've noted, there is the practical objection that perhaps some outside threat - whether floodwaters or foreign armies - needs a response, and the only way to mount an adequate response is for everyone to do his share. If individuals are free to allocate their resources to their own concerns, and to the pressing external crisis, even if they agree the crisis is real, one can have a Tragedy of the Commons.

But there is another fundamental objection. A government without the power to initiate force is a logical contradiction.

Don't slaughterhouses initiate force against beef cattle?

Didn't some Nazi propaganda suggest that Jews weren't... quite... human?

So if you have a government with the power to react to others who initiate force, presumably at least when it was founded (it is possible to have a Constitution that can't be amended) it had to be agreed against exactly whom we're prohibiting the initiation of force.

One could say this is a trifling or unserious objection, not likely to occur in practice, since we all know who people are. We could leave out the issue of parents being able to discipline their children. We could say that all the past mistakes like the treatment of black people, or of women, as less than full persons are behind us.

But then I can point at the abortion issue to show that who are the people who have rights is not a perfectly settled question, even today.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 12, 2009, 01:25:47 pm
If EFT is a fun strip, then that's because Scott, Sandy and LEE! are having fun with it.

It is a fun strip, and that's why, although in the past I've taken some part in political debate, I've tended to hold back somewhat in presenting the... usual... criticisms of Libertarianism. It seems ungrateful or ungracious. As it happened, though, in a post in this thread, the point came up.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on September 12, 2009, 07:09:14 pm
The story is FUN!  It's well told and shows a hope for the future.  Maybe our idealized culture can only exist on a frontier.  Maybe not.  We'll just have to wait and see.

A point about Gun Control:  IT IS NOT ABOUT CONTROLLING GUNS!

It is the direct attempt to control individuals and prohibit civil rights.  Not just the ownership and use of firearms, but association, speech, religion, health and property.  The Socialist Ideal was introduced into our colleges in the early 1900's.  With the growth of college socialist influence, individualism has been degenerated and socialist group think and power have been advanced.  This movement has been advancing for 100+ years.    Free Speech and the rest of our civil rights are dead on college campuses.

CIVIL RIGHTS, ONLY EXIST WHERE THEY ARE NOT PROHIBITED.

Exercise them at your own risk!
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 12, 2009, 08:19:39 pm
The Socialist Ideal was introduced into our colleges in the early 1900's.  With the growth of college socialist influence, individualism has been degenerated and socialist group think and power have been advanced.

I thought that black people in the U.S. were unlucky because by the time their equal rights in law became a practical fact, in the 1970s, the economy had gone down the tubes, and so without the economic conditions of the early 1960s, it was not possible for them to achieve economic equality from legal equality.

Now, I see it is worse than that. Apparently freedom was on the way out in the United States before they managed to get a fair share of what there was.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 12, 2009, 09:05:42 pm
Truly, why would anyone want to live in a society where the initiation of force is considered a legitimate way to force others to act as you believe they should? Libertarians will leave you alone to live as you wish. They only ask that you leave them alone too. What is there to disagree with about that?

As I've noted, there is the practical objection that perhaps some outside threat - whether floodwaters or foreign armies - needs a response, and the only way to mount an adequate response is for everyone to do his share. If individuals are free to allocate their resources to their own concerns, and to the pressing external crisis, even if they agree the crisis is real, one can have a Tragedy of the Commons.

We don't know what the only way is. It might be possible to set up a society that uses minimal force against its members and still responds forcefully to outside threats. It's potentially useful to think about how to do it, although actually belling that cat looks pretty hard.

Quote
But there is another fundamental objection. A government without the power to initiate force is a logical contradiction.

Don't slaughterhouses initiate force against beef cattle?

It's worse than that. When you try to stop people from using force against each other by using force against them, there is room for lots and lots of gray areas. How do you document that the force they initiated against somebody justified the force you used against them? Who will review the evidence and decide what to do about it?

Without a bureaucracy to enforce rules, it turns into a question of custom and tradition, and the more inflexibly you establish customs and traditions to limit initiation of force the harder it is for the society to adapt to new circumstances.

However, arguing that we can never have a perfect utopian society is kind of beside the point, right? If at some time and place we get a large group of people who agree on a set of libertarian ideals, they might do themselves a whole lot of good for awhile. Even if there are various injustices, even if they are muddled in their thinking, they might have a good time until the situation changes so far that they can no longer make their ideals work well enough to keep going.

A bunch of people who agree on their ideals might make a better society for awhile almost no matter what the ideals are. I think I'd like to visit a libertarian society and maybe live there, and if it failed to prevent me from ever getting dominated by somebody who had better social standing and advanced firepower -- well, what else is new?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Amendall on September 13, 2009, 01:17:01 pm
Well, hell, son, I can build you a zeppelin.  Or, at least, a dirigible - don't know if I can mount enough LEDs on it or use the name.

Not sure where Sandy can go to find trustworthy neighbors.  Pallas, maybe, after kicking the UN out.

Boston in 1774 was a free city without a central state.  They kicked the Brits out shortly after the tea party in December 1773 and Bostonians ran their own city until the Brits arrived with 8,000 or so troops in October.  You might enjoy reading the diaries and letters of people who lived there, then.  They were all impressively civilized and pleasant to their neighbors.

For most of human history, North America has been run without a central state.  Trade and commerce flourished in its absence, both while the natives were running their own lives and when the frontierspeople were running theirs. 

Somalia currently persists without a central state.  And they have hundreds of years of culture favoring smaller government, mostly ad hoc.  No standing courts to send pigs around to demand you obey stupid traffic laws.  When the Somalis need a court, they form one, and when the case is resolved, they dissolve the court.  Same for militia, so they don't have a standing army.

The history of the world is replete with examples of people running their own lives and not paying obeisance to a central state.  The problem with statists is, their pubic schools never learn them how to read.  lol
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on September 13, 2009, 06:45:49 pm

My claim, which I do not want to substantiate,


Jeez I cry, you must really want to "work" for the government.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 14, 2009, 12:48:32 am
When governments build ICBMs and other defenses, they do so with resources taken from the private sector. Since defense is a common value, people in a free society would certainly provide for it. They would do so with the same resources which were taken by the government, and would obtain better results, given the efficiency of the free market compared to the government.

Read between the lines of the budget disputes, and you'll realize that government procurement is terribly inefficient. Vast programs are actually opposed by the military, but bought and paid for because Congress wants money to flow to their districts. This does not improve our safety, but it does improve the safety of their jobs. Our re-election rate is higher than the House of Lords.

Not only would a free people use a given amount of money more efficiently for defense, they'd also have a much greater pool of wealth to work with, when the brakes of government waste and inefficiency are taken off. At one time, Hong Kong was among the poorest of countries. When the Governor instituted reforms based on the ideas of Adam Smith, getting rid of all sorts of bureaucracy and taxation and other encumbrances, the HK economy took off. Shortly before China regained control of the island, folks in HK had a per capita income 1/3 higher than those in GB. Brits
were emmigrating to HK for better opportunities.

If we were to adopt similar reforms - or better yet, go further and become a truly free people, instead of one enslaved by federal, state and local governments to the tune of 45% of GDP - we would also see a swiftly rising standard of living. We'd have no trouble at all shooting down ICBMs - and we would not be wasting hundreds of billions of dollars blowing up people halfway across the world.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 14, 2009, 07:59:06 am
When governments build ICBMs and other defenses, they do so with resources taken from the private sector. Since defense is a common value, people in a free society would certainly provide for it. They would do so with the same resources which were taken by the government, and would obtain better results, given the efficiency of the free market compared to the government.

That is precisely the assertion I claim is known to be unfounded. It is not certain that people in a free society will provide for something simply because it is a common value.

This is because in providing for a common value, costs and benefits are not in sync. Whenever you expend resources or effort to provide for the common value, you bear 100% of those costs, but you only receive your own tiny fraction of the benefits. A free market works when there's a business model - where you can charge money for the benefits of what you do or produce. Absent that, while free people not burdened by heavy taxation will indeed be more generous donors to charity... the Prisoner's Dilemma guarantees a Tragedy of the Commons if there is a need for a common good that isn't cheap.

So having a government that can't ever impose taxes is inherently unsafe. In general, rules with no exceptions fail to allow for contingencies; not allowing for a contingency we see all about us is not reasonable.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 14, 2009, 11:58:18 am
This is because in providing for a common value, costs and benefits are not in sync. Whenever you expend resources or effort to provide for the common value, you bear 100% of those costs, but you only receive your own tiny fraction of the benefits. A free market works when there's a business model - where you can charge money for the benefits of what you do or produce.

The business model is insurance. It protects every individual's personal self-interest and thereby collectively protects the (largely imaginary) "common interest." If you want to know how this would work in practice for "national" defense, please consult the many libertarian books and papers on the subject.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on September 14, 2009, 03:29:14 pm
I don't disagree with Sandy's last post.  I expect that insurance-based defense would be more effective than what we have now.  But even if it wasn't, there wouldn't be a problem.

It is not certain that people in a free society will provide for something simply because it is a common value.

Nothing in the future is certain.  But it's reasonable to assume that in a given situation, people will behave somewhat as they have in similar situations.

Americans (for example) give significant wealth to various causes without personal benefits.  Do you think that, in general, they wouldn't contribute to the defense of their society?  Some people (maybe including those that you know well) wouldn't, but I expect that the contributions would be more than enough for defense (a tiny fraction of what the US government now spends on the military), given the incentives (an organization that pays $100 for $2 screwdrivers would not get many donations) and the focus on actual defense.

This ignores the greater wealth that would be available in a free society.  It also ignores the greater technological development and more appeals for research funding, but I think that defense would still be important to many people.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 14, 2009, 06:56:19 pm
When governments build ICBMs and other defenses, they do so with resources taken from the private sector. Since defense is a common value, people in a free society would certainly provide for it. They would do so with the same resources which were taken by the government, and would obtain better results, given the efficiency of the free market compared to the government.

That is precisely the assertion I claim is known to be unfounded. It is not certain that people in a free society will provide for something simply because it is a common value.

This is because in providing for a common value, costs and benefits are not in sync. Whenever you expend resources or effort to provide for the common value, you bear 100% of those costs, but you only receive your own tiny fraction of the benefits. A free market works when there's a business model - where you can charge money for the benefits of what you do or produce. Absent that, while free people not burdened by heavy taxation will indeed be more generous donors to charity... the Prisoner's Dilemma guarantees a Tragedy of the Commons if there is a need for a common good that isn't cheap.

There's no guarantee that there is a need for a common good. Maybe the business model would work well enough by accident. So for example, if nobody regulates how many ducks and wild geese get shot as they try to migrate, likely they will go extinct. We would then have to do without them and likely we would do just fine without them.

Currently, anything that requires cooperation between governments is chancy at best. But we survive. We could probably survive a system that required cooperation among individuals the same way.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 14, 2009, 07:44:58 pm
This is because in providing for a common value, costs and benefits are not in sync. Whenever you expend resources or effort to provide for the common value, you bear 100% of those costs, but you only receive your own tiny fraction of the benefits. A free market works when there's a business model - where you can charge money for the benefits of what you do or produce.

The business model is insurance. It protects every individual's personal self-interest and thereby collectively protects the (largely imaginary) "common interest." If you want to know how this would work in practice for "national" defense, please consult the many libertarian books and papers on the subject.

Look at how easy it is to get insurance against "acts of war".

The business market for insurance involves getting a steady income stream by protecting customers against rare events. Typically the insurance company has much better data about the risks than their customers do, too. They can charge what the market will bear, and if that isn't enough then don't insure. Sometimes they can refuse to pay, and if catstrophic circumstances arise they can declare bankruptcy and give most of their assets to their primary creditors. And in the meantime, of course, the more money and power they concentrate the more powerful they are. Of course if you don't like how they play the game you can start your own insurance company and compete with them. Insurance is one of the games where economy of scale has the biggest effect....

Insurance does not have to be a scam, but that's a natural way for it to go.

So, you want an insurance company that will pay off if you get into a war? You pay your war premiums until the war starts, and then they win it? Well, it might not be any worse trusting an insurance company plus military contractors to do that, than the government plus military contractors.

What would be ideal is if you could win wars without a lot of centralised power. Once you need centralised power to win the war, you have trouble leading up to the war and trouble after it. If you can win the war with a volunteer army that gets volunteer supplies, then you don't get the inevitable loss of freedom that comes from supporting real armies.

So I figure if you're going to go to the trouble of trying to set up a libertarian society you might as well find out whether you can survive with a strictly volunteer military. Because if you can't, you lose regardless. You almost might as well lose a war to foreigners as find yourself with a bona fide government protecting you.

I don't know whether a libertarian army can win a war, but if you want a libertarian society you might as well find out. Better than assuming you can't.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 14, 2009, 09:06:13 pm
The business model is insurance. It protects every individual's personal self-interest and thereby collectively protects the (largely imaginary) "common interest."

In other words, insurance companies would fund a national defence by a process somewhat analogous to the one that led to the existence of Underwriters' Laboratories?

I will admit that possibility did not occur to me.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 14, 2009, 11:21:16 pm
To add one more factor: much of what we spend on so-called "defense" is outright corporate welfare. Can anybody believe that the defense needs of the US of A actually require spending as much as the rest of the world combined? Our so-called enemies have budgets which are a tiny fraction of what the US of A spends - and they're making our boys downright miserable.

Therefore, I have no trouble at all believing that a genuinely free economy would easily provide for a perfectly adequate defense. In addition to not funding umpty-seven boondoggles, it would not fund the deaths of millions of people. I think most of us could appreciate a world with fewer boondoggles and fewer of the mass-murder events which were all too popular in the last century.

Absent government coercion (taxes, borrowing, and inflation) to extract the costs, wars would tend to self-limit a lot faster. Winston Churchill himself described WW II as "The unnecessary war" -- if it were not so easy to wage war with taxpayer money, if one had to actually show a profit or go out of business, odds are that we would not do such foolish and stupid things. We'd find cheaper and more effective solutions.

Turning our own economy into a thinly-disguised form of fascism is hardly a moral or pragmatic solution; it was a strategy of desperation based upon a quasi-religious faith in the divine powers of governments.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 14, 2009, 11:32:14 pm
And it's not a coincidence that using gold and silver as a currency was basically discontinued just about the time that World War I started.  If say Germany or Britain was forced to pay for war material, personnel and so on with a gold backed currency they wouldn't have been able to do much.  And both sides knew it. 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 15, 2009, 12:08:16 am
Look at how easy it is to get insurance against "acts of war".

Pretty easy, it seems:

http://www.worldtravelcenter.com/eng/information/cm_category_products.cfm?sCategory=warrisk

http://www.clements.com/international/high_risk/overview.asp

http://www.travelinsurancecenter.com/

http://www.travelinsuranceisrael.com/

http://anarchism.tribe.net/thread/6fa508d5-9753-4b3e-a396-2ec90d0067fb

Now some of these may be the same folks, but they were all on page one of my Google search.

The business market for insurance involves getting a steady income stream by protecting customers against rare events. Typically the insurance company has much better data about the risks than their customers do, too. They can charge what the market will bear, and if that isn't enough then don't insure. Sometimes they can refuse to pay, and if catstrophic circumstances arise they can declare bankruptcy and give most of their assets to their primary creditors. And in the meantime, of course, the more money and power they concentrate the more powerful they are. Of course if you don't like how they play the game you can start your own insurance company and compete with them. Insurance is one of the games where economy of scale has the biggest effect....

Insurance does not have to be a scam, but that's a natural way for it to go.

So, you want an insurance company that will pay off if you get into a war?

No, I want them to be ready to go to war and do so if necessary. You do not understand private defense agencies. You might want to read some of the literature on the subject.

...If you can win the war with a volunteer army that gets volunteer supplies, then you don't get the inevitable loss of freedom that comes from supporting real armies.

Let's get past on apparent misconception on your part. "Volunteer" does not mean provided free or altruistically by the soldier. It just means he voluntarily contracts with an insurance company to fight for pay. When soldiers fight voluntarily under professional warriors, they constitute a far more "real" army than conscripted slave soldiers.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 15, 2009, 01:59:02 am
Just thinking here.
Invasion for resources, including land, mineral wealth, food, slaves, or right of way, is piracy.
In a free society, piracy would be a threat.  If a foreign power decided to "expand", the wealthier entities would back an army to protect their resources.  They may not protect everyones resources, but everyone else would benefit from proximity.  Because they would want to have the most effective army for the least cost, they'd coordinate.  Because the threat would face more than corporate interes...let's say BUSINESS interests, (since corporate can refer to the people composing it,)  individuals would volunteer to protect their own interests.  Those interests could be ideals, family, property, whatever.  Now, these volunteers could be in for pay, as adventurers, or they could be unpaid volunteers, as you see in rural fire departments.  Most likely, the nucleus of the group would be a few paid experts, fleshed out as needed with "temps."  Most likely, unpaid volunteers would be uncommon as a man has to eat, and buy food.  Unpaid volunteers may not be able to stick it out for the long term.  They'd need to get home and back to paying work.
The army would probably be fronted by corporations, but the pay itself would probably come from insurance or even loans.  Loans?  Sure.  You beat the aggressor, and you keep his stuff.
Now, as to staying home.  No.  I've heard a defensive war is a losing war, and the south certainly learned that.  After repelling the invaders, the defenders would need to claim reparations.  Either in territory or materiel.  This punitive march would be when most of your unpaid, or low-paid, volunteers would leave.  Some might, however, join at this point for a share of the loot.  Somehow you'd need to welcome them, while informing them existing claims against the enemies property would be honored.
In the end, you'd need to cost the enemy more than they gained.  Preferably also more than you lost, both as a percentage and in absolute terms.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 15, 2009, 10:54:25 pm

So, you want an insurance company that will pay off if you get into a war?

No, I want them to be ready to go to war and do so if necessary. You do not understand private defense agencies. You might want to read some of the literature on the subject.

Well, no. You and I do not share all the same fantasies, and I am not interested in that one.

...If you can win the war with a volunteer army that gets volunteer supplies, then you don't get the inevitable loss of freedom that comes from supporting real armies.

Let's get past on apparent misconception on your part. "Volunteer" does not mean provided free or altruistically by the soldier. It just means he voluntarily contracts with an insurance company to fight for pay. When soldiers fight voluntarily under professional warriors, they constitute a far more "real" army than conscripted slave soldiers.[/quote]

OK, your fantasy involves mercenary armies paid by giant corporations that control the wealth of the society. Each to his own.

Imagine what a bland world it would be if we all had the same dreams and nightmares. It's differences like this that make conversation interesting. For myself, I don't think I'd particularly like a world run by large corporations having corporate wars. They might likely consider civilians just part of the terrain while they fight.

The other day I bought something at K-Mart and nobody at Wal-Mart reacted the least little bit. No threats, no warnings, they just let me do it. And a few years ago I switched my car insurance from one large corporation to another and the one I was leaving sent me a postcard and asked me to describe how they could improve their service. They didn't act like they had private armies at all, much less the private army that controlled the region I lived in. I'd hate to lose that. But it could happen.

Get the largest corporations thinking they do better without a government, and they just might disband the government and run things themselves. i guess if that happened I'd buy stock in the company that controlled the place I lived, and I'd probably vote in the annual corporate elections. I think I'd be nostalgic for elections. The illusion that the government is responsible to its citizens is a pleasant one, and it would be gone.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 16, 2009, 12:34:27 am
[So, you want an insurance company that will pay off if you get into a war?
... Well, no. You and I do not share all the same fantasies, and I am not interested in that one.

Oh, now I understand your logic. Knowing nothing about the subject of private defense agencies, keeps your half-baked preconceptions pure and untainted by reason or fact. Good one. I guess we have nothing more to discuss. Your uneducated opinions trump any evidence to the contrary. As an old girl used to say, "Live in darkness."
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 16, 2009, 07:14:15 am
Absent government coercion (taxes, borrowing, and inflation) to extract the costs, wars would tend to self-limit a lot faster.

I don't deny that, but I'm working on the assumption that we have a world with governments like those of Hitler and Stalin, and the only choice on the table is: shall Britain and the United States continue with their present system of government, or will they switch to a libertarian one, because they're the societies where people can make a decision to choose something better. So only the war-making abilities of the side that retains some semblance of freedom is limited - the other side still has its ICBMs and nuclear submarines in profusion.

From that perspective, the idea looks far too dangerous to attempt to implement.

Of course, this leads to another way a libertarian type of society could spread - we could impose that, rather than our own style of democracy, on defeated enemies. And then be last, rather than first, to give up the ability to tax for war.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Insane on September 16, 2009, 07:20:07 am
quadibloc, why do you assume a libertarian society would be unable to defend itself against a fascist state?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 16, 2009, 07:41:18 am
[So, you want an insurance company that will pay off if you get into a war?
... Well, no. You and I do not share all the same fantasies, and I am not interested in that one.

Oh, now I understand your logic. Knowing nothing about the subject of private defense agencies, keeps your half-baked preconceptions pure and untainted by reason or fact. Good one. I guess we have nothing more to discuss. Your uneducated opinions trump any evidence to the contrary. As an old girl used to say, "Live in darkness."

Well, no. I know a little bit about private corporations that rent out mercenaries, and private corporations that rent out rent-a-cops. And of course we've all heard some spectacular stories about our mercenaries in iraq and in New Orleans back in the time after Katrina when the mercenaries were clearing out private individuals who had guns from parts of the city.

I don't need to be educated about somebody's fantasies about what a society run by mercenaries rented by large corporations would look like. I'm sure these fantasies have some vague resemblance to libertarian ideas about a free society ... but no thank you.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 16, 2009, 08:18:10 am
quadibloc, why do you assume a libertarian society would be unable to defend itself against a fascist state?

I'll answer that my way.

If we assume that to defend against a totalitarian state we need conventional armies and ICBMs with nuclear warheads etc, then such things are very very expensive.

So a libertarian state might arrange to pay for those things anyway, and chances are it would do so by some sort of collective action. Like, you have a power company that a whole region depends on, and they raise their rates and donate the extra to a military, and everybody pays for the military if they want power. Or a telecommunications company. Anybody who can impose a bottleneck on the economy can tax everybody who needs the things that pass through that bottleneck.

And then the military difference between what we have now versus that libertarian society is that we get to vote for the people who impose the taxes, while they just live with it.

On the other hand a libertarian society might not find a way to collect the tremendous sums of money needed, and then might fail.

My own thought is different. A libertarian society might find it can defend itself without spending lots and lots of money. If it needs a conventional army armed by giant contractors, then things will probably go pretty much as they do now. The waste built into the current system would still be there regardless who ran the wasteful system. But that might not be necessary.

If we look weak we won't be the ones starting arms races. Sometimes it's easier to stay out of a fight when people are not afraid of you.

But if we look too weak others may try to exploit us. Only -- they can't dominate our government if we don't have one. They can't impose unfavorable treaties if we don't make treaties, or unfavorable terms of trade if we don't sign trade agreements.

They'd have to actually come into liberty-land and take stuff. And it doesn't take a giant investment in destruction to keep that from being profitable.

Say it doesn't work perfectly and a foreign army does march in and take over. They don't win much with a permanent occupation, what they want is to set up a puppet government and then quickly pull out the bulk of the troops -- as the USSR did in czechoslovakia a few times, and hungary and poland etc, and the USA is attempting in iraq and afghanistan and did successfully recently in panama etc. What happens in liberty-land when the foreign army sets up a puppet government and pulls out most of the troops?

Currently we have a military R&D program that takes 20 to 30 years to bring new stuff online. Who can look ahead 20 years to the military needs of the future? We assume that when a new warplane etc is ready we will find a use for it. Tremendously expensive. Slow. Lots of cost overruns because as time goes by the requirements change and it's maybe more expensive to warp the existing half-baked product to fit new needs than it would be to start fresh....

If we just invested in our regular economy and we kept an eye out for how to use the stuff we already have, we might get a lot of results a whole lot cheaper. Would that be good enough? I don't know. The less we spent on expensive military stuff that's totally a drain on the economy, the more raw materials we'd have left over to do everything else. And that might make us more of a target, if it looked like we couldn't defend it. Or maybe not.

I say that if you're going to build a libertarian society anyway, you might as well find out whether you can get by without a conventional army and ICBMs etc. Nobody really knows whether those things are necessary, and if they aren't then you have great big benefits.

Costa Rica has a more-or-less traditional government, and they've done without a military since 1948. They had a problem with coups, and they finally decided to just get rid of that problem at the source. Nobody's invaded them and they haven't had a civil war since 1948. But they did let the USA bully them into letting the Contras operate from Costa Rica for awhile, and when they finally stopped that we were pretty annoyed at them. It isn't beyond belief that you might survive without a traditional military.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Frank B. on September 16, 2009, 08:50:41 am
I don't need to be educated about somebody's fantasies about what a society run by mercenaries rented by large corporations would look like. I'm sure these fantasies have some vague resemblance to libertarian ideas about a free society ... but no thank you.

I'm fascinated by this perspective, in that it is so widely held.   During the course of the 20th century government run, tax payer paid for armies, murdered upwards of 100M people (WWI, WWII, etc).   Private security firms have killed a small fraction of a percent of that in the same amount of time (including the firms hired by governments - their biggest customers).  And yet, it is private security that is considered the rapacious murdering group.  I use to wonder if this is because 100M is such a large number, we can't get our heads around it, and regard it like a natural disaster.  However, if a handful of innocents get killed in the street from a stupid dust up (like what happened with Blackwater in Baghdad), we can get our heads around that and get irate about it.   There is also a large element of blind faith in the equation.  The notion is that the actions of government are motivated by moral purpose and therefore above reproach (blind patriotism), and all sins forgivable in pursuit of a noble cause. Whereas a private security firm is motivated by money, and money = greed, therefore nothing good can possibly come from that.   This is very flawed reasoning, but this is what I encounter on a daily basis from otherwise intelligent and well educated people.

But, when you do the math, and compare the numbers, government armies have killed and destroyed many orders of magnitude more than any private group.   Bottom line, if you want mass murdering, nobody comes close to what a government can do.  And despite the evidence, most folks refuse to even consider it.  Human psychology is an interesting thing indeed. 


Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 16, 2009, 10:48:55 am
The other day I bought something at K-Mart and nobody at Wal-Mart reacted the least little bit. No threats, no warnings, they just let me do it. And a few years ago I switched my car insurance from one large corporation to another and the one I was leaving sent me a postcard and asked me to describe how they could improve their service. They didn't act like they had private armies at all, much less the private army that controlled the region I lived in. I'd hate to lose that. But it could happen.

Get the largest corporations thinking they do better without a government, and they just might disband the government and run things themselves. i guess if that happened I'd buy stock in the company that controlled the place I lived, and I'd probably vote in the annual corporate elections. I think I'd be nostalgic for elections. The illusion that the government is responsible to its citizens is a pleasant one, and it would be gone.


They also didn't tell you that because you bought something from a competitor, you were no longer eligible for any discounts or specials.  The two corporations both want to WIN your business.  They are in competition, and your preference is what they're competing after.

Heck, even Microsoft doesn't lock your computer because they discover ITunes on it.  They can't afford the backlash.

Sony doesn't manufacture their DVD players to reject MGM disks.  Would they, if they could without backlash?  Yes, as evidenced by their gaming systems, which are all proprietary systems.

Corporations wouldn't field armies because they were cool to have, or usually because they were beneficial to society.  They'd field armies because their own interests, their stores, their employees, their shipping, need protection and they would field the minimum necessary to extract the maximum profit.  If that is 1 in 10 trucks fitted with claymores so carjackers get a face full of ball bearings when they try to take a truck, that's what they'd do.  If that is a tag along diesel submarine in pirate infested waters, that's what they'd do.  They can't afford to antagonize the populous too much.  They need the people to buy.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 16, 2009, 06:29:00 pm
I don't need to be educated about somebody's fantasies about what a society run by mercenaries rented by large corporations would look like. I'm sure these fantasies have some vague resemblance to libertarian ideas about a free society ... but no thank you.

I'm fascinated by this perspective, in that it is so widely held.   During the course of the 20th century government run, tax payer paid for armies, murdered upwards of 100M people (WWI, WWII, etc).   Private security firms have killed a small fraction of a percent of that in the same amount of time (including the firms hired by governments - their biggest customers).  And yet, it is private security that is considered the rapacious murdering group.

People want to believe that their governments are responsible and can be held responsible etc. To a large extent that is not so, but people want to believe it. They rightly doubt that private corporations acting in corporate interest will do much better.

I can imagine there's a way to change the rules of the game so that corporations will consider the long-run good of the society before their own short-term benefit. Maybe large corporations could be trusted with military power under a setup like that. But my default view is to trust large corporations no more than governments. Currently we have governments to keep corporations from acting too much like governments. So corporations don't get to run their own police and armies or require citizens to become their customers -- except when they do.

If we didn't have a government, but we did have a few very powerful corporations, what would keep those corporations from turning into unelected governments? I say, if the citizens are strong enough to fight off the mercenary army the corporation/government wants to "protect" them with, then they're probably strong enough to fight off foreign armies too.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 16, 2009, 09:11:29 pm
I think part of the problem with the trustworthiness of corporations is we have government letting them act like puppet individuals.
Imagine a puppet, with a foul mouth on the arm of a preacher.  Imagine no one blinking because it's not the PREACHER cursing.  That's the situation we have with corporations.  Corporations act like sociopathic individuals, not because the individuals running it are sociopathic, but because their decisions are divorced from their identity.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 16, 2009, 10:35:05 pm
I'm fascinated by this perspective, in that it is so widely held.   During the course of the 20th century government run, tax payer paid for armies, murdered upwards of 100M people (WWI, WWII, etc).   Private security firms have killed a small fraction of a percent of that in the same amount of time (including the firms hired by governments - their biggest customers).  And yet, it is private security that is considered the rapacious murdering group.

The governments of Nazi and Communist countries are indeed rapacious and murdering.

The governments of democratic nations, though, are accountable to their people. They went to war to defend freedom against Nazism and Communism, and by doing so they did not demonstrate any rapacious and murdering tendencies. They did what had to be done so that the freedom we enjoy could survive.

Private security firms that are accountable only to the corporations that hired them - because there are no police - are considered dangerous for the simple reason that the people in general don't have any direct control over them, the way the people have direct control over the government by being able to vote.

Thus, I fail to see how using raw numbers divorced from their context shows that this attitude is irrational. Private security firms today don't go around, for example, shooting down strikers in displays like that at Tienanmen Square because the police won't let them. They're subject to the same laws as we are, laws we control with our votes. Replacing that with a situation where they are the law and we have no vote is obviously not in our interests.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on September 17, 2009, 12:09:48 am
I can imagine there's a way to change the rules of the game so that corporations will consider the long-run good of the society before their own short-term benefit.
No way.  First, there is no "society", only individuals who have different ideas about what is in their interest.  Second, like anyone else, the people who run corporations (and other organizations) consider their interests at all time scales, discounting the future according to their preferences.

People who run companies typically think on much longer time scales than people who run governments.  A politician rarely thinks beyond the next election.  A bureaucrat may want to keep his job for the rest of his life, which will mean taking the safest course (that typically bears no relationship to what is "in the public interest").

In an uncertain environment, people (including those who run organizations) will discount the future heavily.  If the government may impose controls in the future, then people will think shorter term.

Currently we have governments to keep corporations from acting too much like governments.
No, the opposite.  Governments encourage governmental (criminal) behavior.  In a free society, the only way that organizations can prosper is to do what customers want--typically selling goods and services that customers think are a good value.  When government can prevent people from voluntarily cooperating as they wish to, organizations can prosper by getting governments to do their bidding.  In many cases, the biggest supporters of government control of an industry are the large corporations in that industry.  The more power the government has, the more that corporations can gain by controlling that power and directing it against their competitors.

If we didn't have a government, but we did have a few very powerful corporations,
That's extremely unlikely.  All firms have both economies of scale and diseconomies of scale, so there is a firm size that is most efficient.  (This varies greatly in different industries.)  With government controls, the optimum firm size is much larger, for several reasons.  Following regulations has fixed costs.  Controls often deliberately favor large firms, since a few large firms are easier for a government to control than a bunch of small firms.  And large firms are the most likely to "capture" government and use it in their interests.

I'd expect that the average firm size in a free society would be much smaller than in American society today.  In some industries, I'd expect large/medium corporations to disappear entirely.

People who've studied this think that the optimum size of a defense agency would be fairly small, perhaps up to a few thousand customers.

what would keep those corporations from turning into unelected governments?
Among other things, the employees.  In a free society, every person is responsible for his/her actions.  If the people running a firm decide to go criminal (whether or not they intend to become a government), orders would be given for some employee to aggress against a peaceful person.  If the employee followed the order, he/she would become a criminal.  I doubt that many people would do that for an employer.  A government, once formed, might be difficult to eliminate (especially if it ran schools and controlled broadcast media), but forming a government in a free society would not be easy.

Also, a firm would become large only by serving customers (in a free society).  The skills required to do that are not the same as the skills required to run a government or other criminal enterprise.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 17, 2009, 06:21:28 am
Oddly enough, lots of countries in the world consider themselves reasonably safe against ICBMs even though they have niether A) ICBMs of their own, nor B) an anti-ICBM weapon.

Why is this?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 17, 2009, 07:41:23 am
The governments of Nazi and Communist countries are indeed rapacious and murdering.

The governments of democratic nations, though, are accountable to their people. They went to war to defend freedom against Nazism and Communism, and by doing so they did not demonstrate any rapacious and murdering tendencies. They did what had to be done so that the freedom we enjoy could survive. The Nazi were democratically elected, so too have been communists in a number of countries. On the other hand, some democracies keep going to war in spite of the people being reluctant. Never fear, though, the "democratic" governments will find a pretext into fooling the people whom you seem to think they are accountable to. Sometimes the pretexts are real, but blown out of proportion ("Remember the Alamo!"), provoked (The Boston Massacre), facilitated (Lusitania, Pearl Harbor), falsely characterized (The Maine), misused (9/11 used to justify Iraq) or completely fabricated (Tonkin Bay).

Let's take that last one for an example of "democratic accountability." The US government lied to the American public about an attack on a US vessel that never happened. This was the pretext to attack Viet Nam, which resulted in the loss of 55,000 American lives, hundreds of thousands of Viet Names--a high proportion of which were non-combatant women, children, old men--billions of taxpayer dollars, social unrest, unconstitutional laws, etc. And, BTW, they still lost the war.

Okay, how about accountability? What happened to the people in government who told the murderous lies? Who was executed? Who went to prison? Who lost their job? Who was fined? Nobody. Your lies kill a million people, create sorrow and misery beyond comprehension, cost your people billions and besmirch your countries respect in the eyes of everyone. Are you held accountable? Hell no! You are given a fat pension, 24/7 secret service guards for life and a library.

Private security firms that are accountable only to the corporations that hired them...

Nonsense. The businesses (not necessarily corporations* or "big corporations") that hires defense agencies (not the same thing as a "private" security firm) are responsible to their shareholders and customers, which in most cases would largely be the same people).

* Corporations are a creatures of the state. They simply could not exist in a stateless society, or even a minarchy. Joint stock companies could exist; even ones with limited liability. However, without government protection (regulatory overhead and other barriers to entry for competing new companies), businesses experience diseconomies of scale and stop growing when they have reached their optimal (most profitable) size.
 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 17, 2009, 07:47:22 am
Oddly enough, lots of countries in the world consider themselves reasonably safe against ICBMs even though they have niether A) ICBMs of their own, nor B) an anti-ICBM weapon.

Why is this?

I thought it was because of the benign power of the United States of America, and its commitment to defend freedom anywhere in the world. Not that they don't have anything worth stealing, or the ability to wage guerilla war against an occupier, which I imagine, perhaps wrongly, to be the usual Libertarian answer.

Corporations are a creatures of the state. They simply could not exist in a stateless society, or even a minarchy. Joint stock companies could exist; even ones with limited liability. However, without government protection (regulatory overhead and other barriers to entry for competing new companies), businesses experience diseconomies of scale and stop growing when they have reached their optimal (most profitable) size.

Yes, it's quite true that the government, by favoring banks over other creditors, by establishing legal forms for limited liability (how a Libertarian society could limit liability is something I've missed), encouraged the growth of big companies. But this is because they felt that certain things - originally, wooden sailing ships of war, but this applies to missiles and battleships and airplanes as well - needed huge companies to make them in the desired quantities.

Minarchy does make war less likely, so it would be wonderful for humanity... if there were a way to make the other guy do it first. As long as the totalitarian nations are well-equipped for war, I don't think it will help human freedom for the imperfect, but more free, democracies of today to shake off the disfigurements of their political system that result from constant preparation for war.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on September 17, 2009, 11:56:29 am
Oddly enough, lots of countries in the world consider themselves reasonably safe against ICBMs even though they have niether A) ICBMs of their own, nor B) an anti-ICBM weapon.

Why is this?

I thought it was because of the benign power of the United States of America, and its commitment to defend freedom anywhere in the world. Not that they don't have anything worth stealing, or the ability to wage guerilla war against an occupier, which I imagine, perhaps wrongly, to be the usual Libertarian answer.

I've been in some pretty crazy discussions over the years, but this may top them all.  I find it hard to imagine anyone (libertarian or not) who would argue that guerrilla warfare is an effective response to (presumably nuclear-armed) ICBMs.  I admit that your imagination may be better than mine, but I worked at it and eventually succeeded: someone who thinks that either ICBMs or nuclear weapons don't exist.  Perhaps you imagined something more plausible than that.

Anyway, I highly doubt that you've heard anyone (libertarian or not) argue that guerrilla warfare is an effective response to ICBMs.  If you had reported that you dreamed that, we could have laughed and admired the dream's weirdness.  But you didn't do that: you said that you imagined that it was the usual libertarian answer, and suggested (with "perhaps wrongly") that you considered it reasonably likely to be true.  Do you really think that?

Looking at another recent reply of yours, I see these phrases: "Canadians feel", "it is felt that", "know it in their bones", "really tough sell", "It is imagined that", "those who feel", and "find it hard to see".  Sure, lots of people feel that institutionalized aggression against peaceful people is justified.  But I don't consider feelings or imaginings to be a valid argument.  Since it appears that you do, I'll probably stop responding to your posts.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 17, 2009, 01:22:42 pm
The governments of Nazi and Communist countries are indeed rapacious and murdering.

The governments of democratic nations, though, are accountable to their people. They went to war to defend freedom against Nazism and Communism, and by doing so they did not demonstrate any rapacious and murdering tendencies. They did what had to be done so that the freedom we enjoy could survive.

Private security firms that are accountable only to the corporations that hired them - because there are no police - are considered dangerous for the simple reason that the people in general don't have any direct control over them, the way the people have direct control over the government by being able to vote.

I think it's safe to say at this point that the right to vote is utterly inadequate as a guide to government. It's like, imagine that you're riding in a horse-coach and once an hour the passengers get to vote to decide which horse will be the lead horse that decides the way....

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Thus, I fail to see how using raw numbers divorced from their context shows that this attitude is irrational. Private security firms today don't go around, for example, shooting down strikers in displays like that at Tienanmen Square because the police won't let them. They're subject to the same laws as we are, laws we control with our votes. Replacing that with a situation where they are the law and we have no vote is obviously not in our interests.

But the problem is, Tienanmen Square happened because the chinese public *approved* of it. They'd seen the trouble they had with students demanding to run things, they'd been through the Red Guards and the Cultural Revolution and they didn't want anything like that to happen again.

When the air-traffic controllers went on strike and Reagan told them they couldn't, the public approved. If the ATC guys had made picket lines Reagan could have had them bodily carted off and if some of them had been shot resisting arrest, probably the public would have approved of that too. And so there was no defense and no attempt at resistance. They knew they were beaten.

Many of the atrocities of the past that look like governments oppressing their people happened largely with the approval of those people. During the purges in russia, the people were afraid of saboteurs. Kind of like after 9/11 but more so. And when they found out about problems they still tended to approve of the government. "Oh, if only papa Stalin knew what was being done in his name!" We tend to forget how much support the nazi government had in germany. It's true they did throw active opponents into concentration camps so it's hard to tell how much of their support was fake, but it was clearly not just a case of the Emperor's New Clothes.

I argue that most of the real government oppression comes from governments that are supported by foreign armies. When it's governments oppressing their own people on their own initiative usually a large minority of the public actively campaigns for the oppression and the large majority of the public acepts it.

And so the problem isn't that some people who have giant concentrations of power call themselves governments, and the solution isn't to hold elections. To my way of thinking, you cannot solve this problem unless you can prevent giant concentrations of power and also you would need a lot of people who step up to protect the weak from the powerful, even when it is not their own direct business and when they aren't individually that powerful themselves.

And even then you get whatever injustices the large majority of the population approves of.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 17, 2009, 01:47:51 pm
I can imagine there's a way to change the rules of the game so that corporations will consider the long-run good of the society before their own short-term benefit.
No way.

Well, you might easily be right. I can imagine that there's a way, but I haven't imagined a way that i'd trust my life with.

Currently we have governments to keep corporations from acting too much like governments.

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No, the opposite.  Governments encourage governmental (criminal) behavior.  In a free society, the only way that organizations can prosper is to do what customers want--typically selling goods and services that customers think are a good value.  When government can prevent people from voluntarily cooperating as they wish to, organizations can prosper by getting governments to do their bidding.  In many cases, the biggest supporters of government control of an industry are the large corporations in that industry.  The more power the government has, the more that corporations can gain by controlling that power and directing it against their competitors.

I find I agree with you right down the line on that. Still, governments discourage corporations from collecting taxes, from raising private armies that attack other corporations or do anything much off of corporate property, etc. And without government to prevent those things you'd need some other mechanism to prevent them or at least to keep them from getting too much out of hand.

If we didn't have a government, but we did have a few very powerful corporations,

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That's extremely unlikely.  All firms have both economies of scale and diseconomies of scale, so there is a firm size that is most efficient.  (This varies greatly in different industries.)  With government controls, the optimum firm size is much larger, for several reasons.  Following regulations has fixed costs.  Controls often deliberately favor large firms, since a few large firms are easier for a government to control than a bunch of small firms.  And large firms are the most likely to "capture" government and use it in their interests.

I'd expect that the average firm size in a free society would be much smaller than in American society today.  In some industries, I'd expect large/medium corporations to disappear entirely.

People who've studied this think that the optimum size of a defense agency would be fairly small, perhaps up to a few thousand customers.

Again you could easily be right. We won't know until we try. So, I want to consider what might happen if we had no government but a few very large corporations, and you don't want to consider that possibility because you think it is unlikely. Fair enough.

what would keep those corporations from turning into unelected governments?
Among other things, the employees.  In a free society, every person is responsible for his/her actions.  If the people running a firm decide to go criminal (whether or not they intend to become a government), orders would be given for some employee to aggress against a peaceful person.  If the employee followed the order, he/she would become a criminal.  I doubt that many people would do that for an employer.[/quote]

A whole lot of employees do that today, discounting the chance of getting arrested by the government. Would that be more unlikely if there was no government to arrest them? I can imagine it might help if tradition said that corporations were not allowed to keep any secrets, that anybody could research what happened, if large corporations had real-time videos going on all their employees all the time published on the web or something. I can sort of imagine various approaches that would help reduce loyalty to corporations. I don't think it's dependable to educate everybody about libertarian ideals. People are variable. You cannot depend on teaching them all what not to do.

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A government, once formed, might be difficult to eliminate (especially if it ran schools and controlled broadcast media), but forming a government in a free society would not be easy.

Depending on how free it was etc. The russians had wonderful ideals about what their system was going to be like, but somehow when they found themselves with a brutal government despite their ideals they didn't know what to do about it. I would like it if we had lots of separate libertarian societies so we could study what approaches worked best.

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Also, a firm would become large only by serving customers (in a free society).  The skills required to do that are not the same as the skills required to run a government or other criminal enterprise.

Provided the public was vigilant about shutting down corporations that started to set up bad practices, sure. Get rid of the criminals who start criminal enterprises before they get too big, that's much easier than stopping them after they become a serious threat.

I don't say that any bad results are inevitable, as you seem to say that they are "unlikely".

I'm concerned about the OODA loop. Criminals exploit loopholes in the system as fast as they find them. The system needs to plug those loopholes. A system that runs on custom and tradition and ideology may be slow to plug the loopholes that weren't anticipated ahead of time. So either make sure you've thought out all the details in advance, or come up with some way to shorten the OODA loop....
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 17, 2009, 04:51:04 pm
Yes, it's quite true that the government, by favoring banks over other creditors, by establishing legal forms for limited liability (how a Libertarian society could limit liability is something I've missed)...

Actually the answer is quite simple, though the question is invalid since it assumes facts not in evidence. I will get to that after I draw my line in the sand.  ;)

BTW, the following is NOT directed at Quadibloc (for the most part). I just thought now would be a good time to limit my participation in arguments that extend too far beyond EFT.

Two things:

WHAT I WILL NOT DISCUSS: I have no interest in arguing libertarianism with government apologists who are ignorant of libertarianism and are apparently proud of their ignorance. Like most libertarians I have taken the time to study and think about the concept of government. To discuss government vs. libertarianism, you have to study and think about both. What's the point in arguing with no-nothings? As Heinlein said, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Get the facts and get them right and we will then have the basis for a discussion on the merits.

WHAT I WILL DISCUSS: ZAP, the Zero Aggression Principle, pretty much as enunciated by L. Neil Smith. This is the basis for social interactions in EFT's Belt and Mars and some enclaves. So the philosophical underpinnings and practical function of the ZAP are relevant topics of discussion. 

Okay, lets talk about limited liability in a libertarian society. The reason I say your question is invalid is that it assumes "society" can limit anything. "Society" is a fiction. It does not live, breath or act. It is an abstractions, as is "government," "culture" and many other intellectual constructs we use as shorthand for collective concepts.

So the correct questions is, "How can there be limited liability in a libertarian society?" I think this would be a good time to leave this as an exercise for the student. If nobody figures it out after a few stabs, I will tell you how. BTW, it is embarrassing simple and obvious.

Why am I doing this, instead of answering the question? I think one of the best was to encourage critical thinking is to encourage people to actually think. In this case, you have to think about something you do not believe is possible, yet I say it is and that I will prove it later. Up to the challenge anyone? How would you establish limited liability in a libertarian society?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 17, 2009, 06:25:55 pm
So the correct questions is, "How can there be limited liability in a libertarian society?" I think this would be a good time to leave this as an exercise for the student. If nobody figures it out after a few stabs, I will tell you how. BTW, it is embarrassing simple and obvious.

I think I am embarrassed indeed.

What is limited liability? A company is allowed to exist as an independent legal entity, and is required to document its assets as separate from those of its owners. If the company can't pay off its debts, the owners aren't pursued, because liability for the debts is limited to the company.

While this soft of thing exists in our world with a history going back to royal charters and grants of monopoly that are forcible exactions, those things aren't essential.

One thing that annoys me about bankruptcy and usury laws is that they encompas all debts. Including, for example, the debt someone has incurred through committing a criminal act leaving a victim with an out-of-pocket expense. If these laws merely regulated people formally engaged in lending as a business, and applied to no one else, that would be a different matter. You could choose to lend out money under these terms, with extra risks attached, or not.

So, as long as a limited liability company tells people it asks to lend it money that it is a limited liability company, so they know what they're getting into, then no force or fraud is present. Silly me.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 17, 2009, 08:07:45 pm
So, as long as a limited liability company tells people it asks to lend it money that it is a limited liability company, so they know what they're getting into, then no force or fraud is present. Silly me.

Damn! I am impressed! That's it, the joint stock company or trust or whatever, just declares itself to have limited liability. This is why corporations have to have Ltd., Corp., Inc, etc. in their name. It tells you that if you do business with them and a law suit arises, you can only look to the entity for recourse. In other words, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. As a consequence, you might choose not to do business with them. This is why Lloyd's of London Names historically accepted unlimited personal liability. It would the same way in a free society.

Now there are still issues concerning criminal acts, tort liability, Respondeat superior, piercing the veil, etc., but they all have anarcho-libertarian solutions.

Well done, Quadibloc!
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 17, 2009, 08:45:27 pm
Private firms do not engage in wholesale violence on anything like the scale routinely organized by governments, so I fail to understand the disdain expressed by some individuals against private defense. Even the Mafia does less damage than the government of the US of A, to say nothing of the former USSR.

Now, am I to understand that the only reason Switzerland is safe from ICBMs is because the US of A has nukes? I would not want to misunderstand your argument before I kick it to the curb.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on September 17, 2009, 10:07:34 pm
Flip through this article here

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1738098,00.html

Imagine an entire country working to make as much money as fast as possible, without a bloated bureaucracy, without people working on things that don't make money just because other people think they ought to be done.

No welfare and more importantly without the costly mass of bureaucrats needed to run it.

Imagine the power that country would wield.  How it's pure capitalism would outstrip the, by comparison with it's minimum wage, workers compensation, public schools, safety regulations, workers rights and a hundred other simple niceties, Socialist United States.

They say that there will be 10 20th centuries worth of history in the 21st century.  I don't think it's going to be our history though.

I think Libertarianism, or something very similar, is the way of the future for a lot of the world.  I just kind of wish it wasn't.

And that's why we can't let go of Iraq or Afghanistan until we know they won't turn into...   Possessions of the true Capitalists?  Yes that's the best way I have to describe this thing.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 17, 2009, 10:49:37 pm
You're right.  Guerrilla war is totally inadequate for combating ICBMs.  The same can be said for combating Guerrilla war with ICBM's.
Nuclear weapons are big, expensive, tend to be area denial, and generally aren't good choices for hitting small targets.  They're terrible if you want to use the property afterwards.

Would nations use nukes on a governless society?  Yes, if they thought they could intimidate the society into capitulating and becoming good subjects of that nation.  Yes, if they felt threatened by that society, and feared the ideals spreading into their own area, and to their existing subjects.  No, if they planned to grow crops there, or make slaves of the survivors afterwards.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 18, 2009, 12:36:54 am
So what does the big bad US of A use to counter other ICBMs? Other ICBMs, threat thereof.

Now, just how hard it it to build an ICBM? North Korea, one of the poorest nations in the world, has managed to do so. Why could not a group of wealthy libertarians do likewise, if they considered it in their best interest to do so? Considering that they'd be putting up their own money ( or money obtained voluntarily from others ), they probably would find more efficient solutions.

I totally reject the notion that nothing less than $600 billion per year would keep America safe. In any case, that $600 billion is not pulled from Bush or Obama's armpit; it is taken from your wallet and mine. If this were a truly free country, and we could choose what to do with our property, we'd do whatever it takes to defend ourselves - but skip the corporate welfare waste. We'd get the job done better and more cheaply by far.

Why would wealthy people lay out for common defense? Wealthy people depend on large-scale operations for their wealth. Of what use is America to a Bill Gates, for instance, if it is in ruins? He needs his customers. Odds are that he'd lay out a good chunk to keep the peace, as would Warren Buffet and others like them.

One of our critics claims that corporations would lay waste to the earth ... but where's the profit in that? Governments have a demonstrated track record of slaying millions of people, deploying nuclear weapons, and so forth -- whatever corporations do is on a much smaller scale. When they are involved in killing - as in Iraq - they are funded by the government, not by voluntary private contributions. If Dick Cheney and George Bush and Barack Obama had to fund the war out of their own pockets, would there be such a massive American presence in the Middle East? I sure doubt it.
The corporations are over there for one reason only: to loot the taxpayers. In a libertarian society, most of us would be saying "Guys, knock yourselves out ... on your dime. It's not doing a thing for me."
 
Nobody actually wants to use an ICBM - it's too big a mess to clean up after. They exist for deterrent reasons only. A libertarian society would have to deal with those monstrosities only until the last government went out of business - and with a bit of creativity might find cheaper solutions.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 18, 2009, 01:39:24 am
Private firms do not engage in wholesale violence on anything like the scale routinely organized by governments, so I fail to understand the disdain expressed by some individuals against private defense. Even the Mafia does less damage than the government of the US of A, to say nothing of the former USSR.

Once again we wind up arguing counterfactuals.

Is the reason that private firms do so much less violence than governments, that governments stop them? (But governments can't stop other governments without destructive wars....) Maybe....

What would happen if the governments weren't there? Hard to tell. For all of recorded history there have been governments intervening in stuff, except in places that were unimportant enough that governments didn't bother. If the wealth of governments got funnelled into a few giant corporations, or a few rich individuals, what would they do? Who knows? How could anybody possibly know that?

We can agree about what would be their best interest. But they might not agree. We can agree what they would do if they held an enlightened philosophy. But they might not. We can look at how corporations have kept their hands clean when they had governments to do their dirty work for them. We can make logical rational arguments on utterly inadequate data.

But unless you can do lots of controlled experiments, try things out and change them around and try them again, you just don't know. At some point you check your parachute as best you can, and then you jump into the unknown.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 18, 2009, 08:08:15 am
Regarding the ICBM mess -- recently declassified documents underscore what some of us have been saying for decades:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/brennan/brennan19.1.html

The Cold War was a hoax, driven not by genuine defense needs, but by the corporate welfare queens of the military-industrial complex.

We should continue to support these fraudsters why, exactly?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on September 18, 2009, 02:20:51 pm
Still, governments discourage corporations from collecting taxes, from raising private armies that attack other corporations or do anything much off of corporate property, etc.
No, governments sometimes hire firms to collect taxes.  To the government, this has advantages: more efficient collection and diversion of resentment onto the collectors.

Also, governments pay firms to raise private armies.  Ever hear of the firm formerly known as Blackwater?  I don't know if it attacked other firms, although I wouldn't be surprised (since the US administration of Iraq did shut down companies providing services such as cell phones, so it could reward favored firms with monopolies).

Besides, when government has control, the distinction between the government and politically powerful firms (typically including all large firms in highly-regulated industries such as finance) is blurred.  Politically-connected people rotate through corporate, governmental, and academic jobs, ensuring that government will work in their interest.  In just the last year, the US government gave trillions of dollars to some politically powerful corporations that had made colossal blunders.  People have joked that the US Treasury is a department of Goldman Sachs, and there's a lot of truth in that.  None of this institutionalized corruption could exist in a free society.

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I want to consider what might happen if we had no government but a few very large corporations, and you don't want to consider that possibility because you think it is unlikely. Fair enough.
A few corporations collecting most of the wealth of a free society is unlikely in the same sense that 90% of the world's people committing suicide in the same week is unlikely.  It could happen, but everything we know says it won't.

As Sandy suggests, if you are ignorant of the work on this subject (much of it not libertarian, just mainstream economics and history) then you might benefit from a little research.

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A whole lot of employees do that today, discounting the chance of getting arrested by the government.
You misunderstand.  I'm discussing wholesale criminality, not petty theft.

Consider a crime that may occur thousands of times a day.  Stripped to essentials: a peaceful person who (as far as we know) has harmed nobody is locked in a cage; if he tries to defend himself he is killed.

Consider a crime that may occur millions of times a day.  Stripped to essentials: money is demanded from a peaceful person who (as far as we know) has harmed nobody; if the money isn't produced she is locked in a cage; if she tries to defend herself she is killed.

Do a whole lot of corporate employees (not counting those working for corporations that are hired by governments) commit crimes like that today?  No, and there is no reason to think that they would in a free society.

My opinion is that crime of all sorts would be much less frequent in a free society, but not everyone agrees.  I've heard the suggestion that some small fraction of people are born with criminal tendencies, and since government power attracts many of those people, non-governmental crime might actually be greater in a free society.

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Would that be more unlikely if there was no government to arrest them?
Yes.  Voluntary cooperation is far more efficient.  For example, there is no way that Bernie Madoff could have run his scam for as long as he did without the SEC's cover.

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The russians had wonderful ideals about what their system was going to be like,
What ideals by what Russians?  The Marxist ideal that individuals exist only to serve society (as directed by those who run the government)?  Do you really think that that ideal is wonderful?

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Provided the public was vigilant about shutting down corporations that started to set up bad practices, sure.
That's one of the great things about letting people voluntarily cooperate--people being vigilant in their own interest benefit everyone else.  In a free society, if a firm (of any sort) provides poor goods or services, it quickly fails.  But if government is in control, such a firm might be rewarded (depending on the amount of political power it holds).

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I'm concerned about the OODA loop. Criminals exploit loopholes in the system as fast as they find them. The system needs to plug those loopholes. A system that runs on custom and tradition and ideology may be slow to plug the loopholes that weren't anticipated ahead of time. So either make sure you've thought out all the details in advance, or come up with some way to shorten the OODA loop....
Obviously, you can't think out all the details in advance.  That's a reason to avoid government control, which cannot hope to equal the responsiveness of voluntarily cooperating people.  I don't think it's a major reason--I consider avoiding mass murder and avoiding mass plunder to be more important--but if ordinary crime suppression leads you to support a free society, I won't argue.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 19, 2009, 05:01:35 am
Still, governments discourage corporations from collecting taxes, from raising private armies that attack other corporations or do anything much off of corporate property, etc.
No, governments sometimes hire firms to collect taxes.  To the government, this has advantages: more efficient collection and diversion of resentment onto the collectors.

Also, governments pay firms to raise private armies.  Ever hear of the firm formerly known as Blackwater?  I don't know if it attacked other firms, although I wouldn't be surprised (since the US administration of Iraq did shut down companies providing services such as cell phones, so it could reward favored firms with monopolies).

Yes, and also reduce the chance of unmonitored communication.... The link between government and big business is pretty strong. Wouldn't those businesses attempt to continue business as usual?

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Besides, when government has control, the distinction between the government and politically powerful firms (typically including all large firms in highly-regulated industries such as finance) is blurred.

Agreed. To have a functioning libertarian society it is not enough to educate the people and destroy the government and re-educate the government workers. It would be necessary also to destroy the politically powerful corporations and re-educate their employees.

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I want to consider what might happen if we had no government but a few very large corporations, and you don't want to consider that possibility because you think it is unlikely. Fair enough.

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A few corporations collecting most of the wealth of a free society is unlikely in the same sense that 90% of the world's people committing suicide in the same week is unlikely.  It could happen, but everything we know says it won't.

I hope you're right. Government provides a rather ineffective way to ameliorate that sort of thing. It would be good to have a better way to reduce the power of too-powerful corporations, as opposed to no way at all.

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A whole lot of employees do that today, discounting the chance of getting arrested by the government.

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You misunderstand.  I'm discussing wholesale criminality, not petty theft.

So am I.

[/quote]Consider a crime that may occur thousands of times a day.  Stripped to essentials: a peaceful person who (as far as we know) has harmed nobody is locked in a cage; if he tries to defend himself he is killed.

Consider a crime that may occur millions of times a day.  Stripped to essentials: money is demanded from a peaceful person who (as far as we know) has harmed nobody; if the money isn't produced she is locked in a cage; if she tries to defend herself she is killed.

Do a whole lot of corporate employees (not counting those working for corporations that are hired by governments) commit crimes like that today?  No, and there is no reason to think that they would in a free society.[/quote]

Traditionally if you borrow money from the Mafia and fail to pay it back, they do not lock you in a cage because they don't want to pay the overhead. They do something quick to severely discourage that sort of thing, and they publicise it.

The mafia is not necessarily the model for how to enforce your rights without a government legal system. But it is not necessarily not the model either.

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My opinion is that crime of all sorts would be much less frequent in a free society, but not everyone agrees.

You could be right. I expect that crime would be less frequent in a society where most people have lots of opportunities. There was a time in the USA where a person without a whole lot of tools could start a farm on land that didn't cost him much.  A lot of people died doing that, but a lot of them were successful too. The impression I have is that there wasn't a whole lot of economic crime around those farms, the thieving and such was more around the canal boats and river boats and in the cities. My own grandfather was stil living that way past WWI. He had a wagon and some livestock, and he found a place to live in the mountains, and nobody bothered him much. Then he sold the farm and moved closer to a city, he set up a distillery and put 8 children through at least 2 years of business school. The WPA built a bridge across the river and the people who bought his farm for $500 sold it for $5000.

It takes a special attitude to live by robbery when you have everything you need to live in freedom instead.

When there are more than enough *opportunities* to go around, I expect people will tend not to cause trouble. When it gets highly competitive, then you're going to see a lot of unethical competitors and the cooperation starts breaking down.

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Would that be more unlikely if there was no government to arrest them?

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Yes.  Voluntary cooperation is far more efficient.  For example, there is no way that Bernie Madoff could have run his scam for as long as he did without the SEC's cover.

There were big ponzi schemes before governments got heavily involved with regulating them. That was the excuse for the government to regulate them. The era of unregulated banking is an example.... I don't think it works to say that he would have inevitably been shut down faster without the SEC. And ideally we'd collect statistics about how many such things the government did shut down before they got real big. Definitely the government made some bad moves.

Our government acts to preserve the stock market system, on the claim that this is somehow good for the country. If libertarians considered it all a scam that they could gamble on like a casino and if they lose it's their own fault for playing, we probably wouldn't be any worse off than we are now.

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The russians had wonderful ideals about what their system was going to be like,
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What ideals by what Russians?  The Marxist ideal that individuals exist only to serve society (as directed by those who run the government)?  Do you really think that that ideal is wonderful?

Their Constitution is in many ways much better than ours. Protection for civil liberties, etc. Except that they didn't follow it....

They started out with a lot of idealists who wanted to make a wonderful society. One of the things they wanted to do was to educate people to do the right things, they said that once the new generation was educated they wouldn't need a government. A lot of those idealists wound up in soviet concentration camps....

Somehow when they didn't have anybody in charge they didn't have anybody who could keep somebody from taking over. The guys who took over were pretty bad and then Stalin took over from them and he was worse. The government failed to wither away. Things went bad.

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Provided the public was vigilant about shutting down corporations that started to set up bad practices, sure.

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That's one of the great things about letting people voluntarily cooperate--people being vigilant in their own interest benefit everyone else.  In a free society, if a firm (of any sort) provides poor goods or services, it quickly fails.  But if government is in control, such a firm might be rewarded (depending on the amount of political power it holds).

Say a firm provides loans, and then it breaks the legs of its debtors who cannot pay. Are they within their rights? Will people voluntarily cooperate in shutting them down? What if the debtors all agreed to it when they took the loans? People who can't get loans elsewhere.... Is there a place for the Mafia in a libertarian society?

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I'm concerned about the OODA loop. Criminals exploit loopholes in the system as fast as they find them. The system needs to plug those loopholes. A system that runs on custom and tradition and ideology may be slow to plug the loopholes that weren't anticipated ahead of time. So either make sure you've thought out all the details in advance, or come up with some way to shorten the OODA loop....

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Obviously, you can't think out all the details in advance.  That's a reason to avoid government control, which cannot hope to equal the responsiveness of voluntarily cooperating people.  I don't think it's a major reason--I consider avoiding mass murder and avoiding mass plunder to be more important--but if ordinary crime suppression leads you to support a free society, I won't argue.

Suppose that you're minding your own business and a group of voluntarily cooperating people decide you're doing something bad and you need to be shut down. Ideally they will let you explain why what you do is not really bad, and they will listen to reason and go away. Maybe you have friends who are more numerous and/or better armed and who can persuade them to go away even if they are not convinced. Frankly I am not convinced that voluntarily cooperating people will consistently do better. There might be an element of pot luck.

I think they might likely do better than what we have now. But asking whether a libertarian system would do better than a governmental system is like asking whether an englishman can beat a frenchman in a fistfight. The devil is in the details.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on September 19, 2009, 03:58:29 pm
Wouldn't those businesses attempt to continue business as usual?
Of course.  With some notable exceptions, people who run large corporations want government controls.  Without government, many of them would quickly fail, and most of the rest would face much stiffer competition.

Naturally, in a free society, more of the people who run large firms would want a free society, but I'd expect some of them to want government controls.  After all, it's easier to get money if government hobbles your competitors (or rips off the populace for you in some other way), which is why many big businesses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries worked hard to have the US government control their industries.  But without a government, that would just be a dream, and (assuming that they wanted to continue to make money) firms would have to continue to give customers what they want.

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Agreed. To have a functioning libertarian society it is not enough to educate the people and destroy the government and re-educate the government workers. It would be necessary also to destroy the politically powerful corporations and re-educate their employees.
"Re-educate" is too ominous for my taste.  But I agree that to endure, any society requires most of the people to accept it, either as good or as inevitable.  A free society is no different.

Without a government, what does political power mean?  If a society becomes free, corporations that had depended on political power would either start giving customers what they want or fail.

How people might transition to a free society is a topic which I don't think we should get into here.  It has been widely discussed without general agreement.  Speculation can be fun, but I'd only want to do that with someone who knows something about the working of a free society.

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Traditionally if you borrow money from the Mafia and fail to pay it back, they do not lock you in a cage because they don't want to pay the overhead. They do something quick to severely discourage that sort of thing, and they publicise it.
There's an easy way to avoid having your kneecaps broken by the Mafia for not paying back a loan: don't borrow from the Mafia.  This sort of solution may be hard for government-schooled people to discover, but I assure you that given the chance to work on the problem, someone would come up with it, and word would get around.

Organized crime is made possible by government controls.  People who provide things that the government prohibits (such as gambling or prostitution) must buy off cops, judges, politicians, and other government agents to operate on a large scale.  With that kind of government support, moving into actual crime (such as extortion) is easy.  And of course, they would be in position to exploit whatever new controls government tries--the US Mafia got a huge boost from alcohol prohibition.

People take loans from the Mafia when they can't get them from anyone else.  Part of this is because governments heavily control finance.  In a free society, some of those people would be able to get traditional loans, perhaps at a high interest rate, but at better terms than the Mafia would give.  Given the increased wealth of a free society, and the variety of solutions possible without government controls, most people wouldn't have trouble getting a traditional loan.  There would be so few destitute people that charity could easily handle it.  I'd expect that in a free society, people would be more benevolent, even though less charity would be needed.  (In a controlled society, everyone is a potential threat to everyone else, so benevolence is discouraged.)

Don't forget: government prohibition of kneecap-breaking for non-payment doesn't prevent it from happening.  Get rid of government, and people no longer have the need to sacrifice their kneecaps.

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There were big ponzi schemes before governments got heavily involved with regulating them.
I didn't say that ponzi schemes wouldn't be possible in a free society--they would.  They'd be harder to pull off, since people wouldn't (naively) expect the government to prevent them.

Off topic: there is nothing criminal about a ponzi scheme, if the investors know that it is a ponzi scheme.  In a free society, Madoff's crime would be considered fraud.  US Social Security is a crime not because it is a ponzi scheme (since most people know that it is), it is a crime because people are compelled to participate at the point of a gun.

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The era of unregulated banking is an example
An example of what?  It's been quite a few years since I studied banking history, and I think some pretty good research has been done since then, so this is minimal.  As I remember, state governments had significant control of banks during the so-called free banking era in the US.  While this might have been better than a central bank (since some people could move their money into states which had less-bad controls), that isn't much comfort to most people in states with worse controls.  As I remember, there was a period of fairly free banking in Scotland, which worked very well.

There can certainly be bank failures, runs, crises, and other problems in a free financial system, which is good--badly run banks should fail.  One problem with government controls is that it prevents the failure of bad banks (at least those run by people with enough political clout), and so increases systemic risk.  The expectation of such bailouts encourages risky behavior, increasing the chance of both local and systemic failure.  In addition, controls in general almost always favor the bankers (at the expense of the public).  This is good?

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I don't think it works to say that he would have inevitably been shut down faster without the SEC.
Every report I've read agrees on the essentials.  Several well-regarded people, independently, announced to the world that Bernie Madoff was running a scam, with details.  They gave their data and analysis to the SEC.  There were very specific accusations and possible checks--for example, one of the accusations was that Bernie Madoff's brokers did not make enough trades in a particular time period to generate the profits he said he made during that period.  (It would be very easy for the SEC to check those accusations.)  Eventually, the SEC did investigate, and (eventually) announced that Bernie Madoff was clean.  I suppose it's possible that the SEC's endorsement had no effect, but do you believe that?

Did the SEC cover Bernie Madoff because of corruption, incompetence, malevolence, or something else?  I don't know.  I don't care.

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ideally we'd collect statistics about how many such things the government did shut down before they got real big.
No.  Ideally, people would be allowed to invest their money in the way that they thought best.  Ideally, people who used violence or the threat of violence to prevent that would be treated as the criminals that they are.

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Their Constitution is in many ways much better than ours.
I don't know anything about the Russian constitution, but I doubt that there is a significant difference.  Wouldn't Spooner's criticism of the US constitution apply as well to the Russian?

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They started out with a lot of idealists who wanted to make a wonderful society. One of the things they wanted to do was to educate people to do the right things,
Stop right there.  Unless they mean voluntary education, that is step 1 of the standard recipe for hell on earth.  And you think it's wonderful!

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Things went bad.
No.  Things started out bad.  Eventually, the badness became obvious.

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Say a firm provides loans, and then it breaks the legs of its debtors who cannot pay. Are they within their rights?
As long as everyone involved consents, sure.  Sometimes a doctor breaks a patient's leg, which is OK if the patient consents.

Of course, Break-A-Leg-Loan-Service couldn't do enough business in a free society to survive.

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Will people voluntarily cooperate in shutting them down?
No.  If someone agrees to having her legs broken, it's her legs.  Who are you to say she can't do what she wants with her legs?

A possibly interesting question is: let's say that a mediator is asked to adjudicate a dispute between Break-A-Leg-Loan-Service and a customer who hadn't repaid her loan.  Would he rule that her legs had to be broken?  I don't know.  Perhaps the mediator would refuse to adjudicate.  I don't much care, since I don't expect the situation to occur.

Look at it this way.  Let's imagine that in a free society, once a month someone would take a loan, offer his legs as collateral, not repay the loan, and suffer broken legs.  The alternative is mass murder, mass plunder, mass incarceration of innocents, and prohibition of offering legs as collateral (which isn't enforced very well, so legs are broken once a week).  Which would you choose?

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Suppose that you're minding your own business and a group of voluntarily cooperating people decide you're doing something bad and you need to be shut down.
Sounds like what cops do today.  What happens?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe the cops get raises and promotions.

In a free society, each person who "shut down" (assuming that that involves the initiation of force) someone would be considered a criminal by society at large.  If the aggressors didn't pay restitution, they would become outlaws.  It's not a step that most people would take lightly.

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There might be an element of pot luck.
Luck is always a factor.  If you read this, it means that an earthquake didn't strike this area while I was writing it--I was lucky.

In a government-controlled society, luck is a much greater factor.  If a cop doesn't like the way you look at him, you could be beaten to a pulp.  If a politician runs into your car, you could be found guilty of reckless driving.  If a politically-connected developer wants your property, it could be declared blighted, condemned, taken in exchange for a token payment, and given to the developer.  Etc.

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But asking whether a libertarian system would do better than a governmental system is like asking whether an englishman can beat a frenchman in a fistfight.
No, it's more like asking whether Garry Kasparov could play better chess than a rhododendron.

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The devil is in the details.
If you think that, then you should learn some details, both about libertarianism and about governments.

I think I'll follow Sandy's example.  No more discussion with anyone who doesn't know the basics.

To everyone: I'm sorry if this extended discussion has detracted from the story.  Vote for EFT!
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 19, 2009, 05:47:03 pm
... If you think that, then you should learn some details, both about libertarianism and about governments.

As Heinlein wrote, "What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!"

To everyone: I'm sorry if this extended discussion has detracted from the story.  Vote for EFT!

Don't worry about it. A certain amount of controversy is good counterpoint to EFT. After all, Guy was a government minion until he got a chance to see a working alternative. It didn't happen over night, but once he saw the emperor without clothes, his intellectual honest didn't allow him to believe the party line any longer. Even after folks learn the basics, there will be controversy over some aspects and applications of libertarian principles. But I agree with you, you cannot argue about that which you do not know.

By the way Brugle, your command of the subject, analysis and spot-on examples are superb. Please keep up the good work.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 19, 2009, 07:05:08 pm
Consider a crime that may occur thousands of times a day.  Stripped to essentials: a peaceful person who (as far as we know) has harmed nobody is locked in a cage; if he tries to defend himself he is killed.

Consider a crime that may occur millions of times a day.  Stripped to essentials: money is demanded from a peaceful person who (as far as we know) has harmed nobody; if the money isn't produced she is locked in a cage; if she tries to defend herself she is killed.

Yes, many times a day, governments lock people up for using drugs, and they force people to pay taxes. Because we're used to it, we don't think of it as crime - and, furthermore, if we didn't like the government doing that, we could vote in a government that didn't. We could vote in a party that would legalize drugs and abolish taxes, but we don't want to.

So one reason we non-Libertarians don't think of it as a crime is because we're complicit in that crime - we vote for the parties that promise to keep committing such crimes. Why?

We're afraid of the big bad Russian and Chinese armies marching in. So we want a government that can command massive armies, an economic system that can build fleets of airplanes and aircraft carriers and missiles, and we want to prohibit people from abusing substances that might render them unfit for military service.

Given the kind of real crimes the Russian armies committed when they marched through Eastern Europe, or the German armies committed marching through all of Europe, crimes of great cruelty and violence, I am not so sure we're wrong in making that choice.

I would like to hear serious and well-thought out arguments that really address the objections to cutting back on government - arguments that convincingly demonstrate that if we switch over, we will be safe from foreign aggression, our country will stay quiet and peaceful, and we will be less likely, not more likely, to be called upon to take up arms in defence of our freedom - and if we are so called, we will be more likely, not less likely, to emerge victorious.

Arguments that are persuasive to someone who is already convinced that a minarchy is the best way, or other systems of government are inherently morally wrong, won't be persuasive to people who aren't already convinced. Maybe it is unfair to ask someone proposing a change to work out all the details. But if a proposal for change has a clear and obvious potential for very serious risks, that is a point that has to be addressed very thoroughly before such a new idea has a chance to be given real consideration.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 19, 2009, 07:41:27 pm
... I would like to hear serious and well-thought out arguments that really address the objections to cutting back on government - arguments that convincingly demonstrate that if we switch over, we will be safe from foreign aggression, our country will stay quiet and peaceful, and we will be less likely, not more likely, to be called upon to take up arms in defence of our freedom - and if we are so called, we will be more likely, not less likely, to emerge victorious.

I think those are reasonable questions, but I have one quibble. I think you mean "safer from foreign aggression." In my experience, most foreigners like Americans as individuals, but they fear and even hate its government. Foreign military interventions have decreased, not increased our safety. That's why Americans go to the head of the line to be shot in hijackings and hostage situations.

Also, our country is not quiet and peaceful now. I think that is largely due to government intrusion into every level of civil life. Listen to the pols. If engendering class envy isn't part of their agenda, that certainly is the effect.

As to winning wars, the best way to win is not to go to war. In personal combat, ensconced defenders are said to have a 3 to 1 advantage over their attackers. I suspect the ratio is even greater in the case of an invading army and heavily armed defenders. But I'm not Sun Tzu. YMMV.

Whether or not we let government wither away completely, I think we can all agree that we have way to much now and we are getting more all the time. Let's carve it back. If we decide not to go all the way to anarchism, at least we will be better off than we are now. My guess is, though, that if government were cut in half, the resulting prosperity would make it easier for the government apologists to consider cutting it further. Works for me.  ;)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 20, 2009, 05:54:57 am
My guess is, though, that if government were cut in half, the resulting prosperity would make it easier for the government apologists to consider cutting it further. Works for me.  ;)

Could be. Also, if I'm convinced that the U.S. government is doing good work abroad with its foreign interventions, well, as it happens, I live in Canada. If Canada were to abandon its socialist ways and become Libertarian, it's hardly likely that the NATO alliance would collapse without us.

It is unfair, I suppose, in any case, to demand of advocates of smaller government that their arguments be good enough to convince people who are paralyzed by fear. Whether it's fear of being invaded by China, or fear of being unable to afford medical care. (Canada likely would not legalize marijuana on its own, given that border delays caused by 9/11 already strike terror into our hearts. But most of the Libertarian program would be unobjectionable in that regard.)

But if the goal is to win through the ballot box in normal times, that's just what minarchists face.

Cutting government in half as a first step, though, is realistic. While many Americans might fear the unknown, there is a large number of people in America who would like to see the government return to the principles set by the Founding Fathers, to see it return to operating under the Constitution as it is written.

Perhaps the scenario set in EFT is not so far-fetched after all. Not in the scientific details (while in general the science is sound, one off-stage slip up, to my mind, is this: how on Earth or Ceres did Guy ever afford to pay his own way to Ceres to return there... but then, Ceres might have an indenture program) but in the more basic principle that it's reasonable for a frontier society to have very little government, and to be filled with people who believe in freedom. So an open frontier lets someone set an example.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 20, 2009, 07:31:29 am
... one off-stage slip up, to my mind, is this: how on Earth or Ceres did Guy ever afford to pay his own way to Ceres to return there...

Guy's bosses clearly believed he "lost" Ceres when he brought back the Treaty of Mutual Indifference. So as a face-saving gesture, Guy asked for an "indefinite leave of absence" for "personal reasons." As his last duty he was sent him back to Ceres to deliver the the Treaty to the King in person. In truth, Guy being sent to the UW's version of a diplomatic post in Haiti. By appearing to honor the Treaty, the UW bought time to, organize and implement its sneak attack on the "runaway colony."

but then, Ceres might have an indenture program) but in the more basic principle that it's reasonable for a frontier society to have very little government, and to be filled with people who believe in freedom. So an open frontier lets someone set an example.

Ceres doesn't have any programs. Of course, if someone freely contracts to be an indentured servant, that is his right. If an indentured servant were to break his contract, no one would or could force him into slavery. However, breaking your word in the Belt has very serious consequences. Mars Inc., on the other hand, does have a program to front passage to colonists with specific skills or qualifications. This will be explained in greater detail in a upcoming EFT strip.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 20, 2009, 10:27:24 am
Whether or not we let government wither away completely, I think we can all agree that we have way to much now and we are getting more all the time. Let's carve it back. If we decide not to go all the way to anarchism, at least we will be better off than we are now. My guess is, though, that if government were cut in half, the resulting prosperity would make it easier for the government apologists to consider cutting it further. Works for me.  ;)

This is where specifics of methodology become vitally important.

A large fraction of the US public believes that government is too big and should be cut back. It has been a central theme in five of the last eight presidential elections. In each case the candidate who promised to cut back government won the election. Reagan promised us small government, but his government spending was bigger than ever. He promised small government again and got elected again and spent even more. Bush senior too. And Bush junior twice. Each time they promised small government and got elected, they gave us bigger government.

On the other hand Clinton did not particularly promise small government, but faced with a Republican congress he did keep government spending increasing slowly. Was the moderate prosperity we had under Clinton due to that, or was it because of the dot.com bubble? Expert economists argue at great length in great detail about such things, with no obvious winner.

The last time I checked the USA consumed about 1/4 of the world's oil, and about 1/4 of the other resources. What do we produce for others which is worth that? Not enough. Our labor is not on average competitive. People in the third world can produce the same things cheaper, people who don't eat as well and don't get much health care etc. Apart from reducing government, the obvious solution is to adjust the US standard of living downward until we can compete with the cheapest labor in the world. This solution is not popular. A second possibility would be to reduce our imports and make more stuff ourselves. But we stilll can't afford to import the oil etc we'd need, so standard of living would still fall.

The solution that has been attempted is to try whatever works in the short run and hope something good happens later. So the government has heavily subsidised the US economy, which kept us afloat for awhile. And until recently one of our best growth industries involved getting foreigners to pay us to help them invest in US scams.

We're collectively living beyond our means. On average we don't want the government to keep expanding, but the more it expands the less of anything else is left to support people. The more people get dependent on government for their subsistence, the less willing they'll be to threaten that subsistence.

Maybe it would help to vote for Libertarians instead of Republicans? Surely the LIbertarian Party would do the right thing if they got a majority in both houses of congress and the presidency.... If we had a big Depression, worse than the last one, people wouldn't accuse a Libertarian president of being like Hoover, they'd gladly accept that it was time for government to bow out of the recovery business and let them shift for themselves. Wouldn't they?

All the things that influence whether government shrinks or grows -- every single one except public opinion -- are stacked on the side of more government and not less government.

Maybe it would be better to set up a libertarian society somewhere else, and maybe try to export it to america after the collapse.

Unless you have some special method in mind.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 20, 2009, 10:36:19 am
I think I'll follow Sandy's example.  No more discussion with anyone who doesn't know the basics.

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Josh Billings
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 21, 2009, 12:05:29 pm
Whether or not we let government wither away completely, I think we can all agree that we have way to much now and we are getting more all the time. Let's carve it back. If we decide not to go all the way to anarchism, at least we will be better off than we are now. My guess is, though, that if government were cut in half, the resulting prosperity would make it easier for the government apologists to consider cutting it further. Works for me.  ;)

This is where specifics of methodology become vitally important.

A large fraction of the US public believes that government is too big and should be cut back. It has been a central theme in five of the last eight presidential elections. In each case the candidate who promised to cut back government won the election. Reagan promised us small government, but his government spending was bigger than ever. He promised small government again and got elected again and spent even more. Bush senior too. And Bush junior twice. Each time they promised small government and got elected, they gave us bigger government.

On the other hand Clinton did not particularly promise small government, but faced with a Republican congress he did keep government spending increasing slowly. Was the moderate prosperity we had under Clinton due to that, or was it because of the dot.com bubble? Expert economists argue at great length in great detail about such things, with no obvious winner.

The last time I checked the USA consumed about 1/4 of the world's oil, and about 1/4 of the other resources. What do we produce for others which is worth that? Not enough. Our labor is not on average competitive. People in the third world can produce the same things cheaper, people who don't eat as well and don't get much health care etc. Apart from reducing government, the obvious solution is to adjust the US standard of living downward until we can compete with the cheapest labor in the world. This solution is not popular. A second possibility would be to reduce our imports and make more stuff ourselves. But we stilll can't afford to import the oil etc we'd need, so standard of living would still fall.

The solution that has been attempted is to try whatever works in the short run and hope something good happens later. So the government has heavily subsidised the US economy, which kept us afloat for awhile. And until recently one of our best growth industries involved getting foreigners to pay us to help them invest in US scams.

We're collectively living beyond our means. On average we don't want the government to keep expanding, but the more it expands the less of anything else is left to support people. The more people get dependent on government for their subsistence, the less willing they'll be to threaten that subsistence.

Maybe it would help to vote for Libertarians instead of Republicans? Surely the LIbertarian Party would do the right thing if they got a majority in both houses of congress and the presidency.... If we had a big Depression, worse than the last one, people wouldn't accuse a Libertarian president of being like Hoover, they'd gladly accept that it was time for government to bow out of the recovery business and let them shift for themselves. Wouldn't they?

All the things that influence whether government shrinks or grows -- every single one except public opinion -- are stacked on the side of more government and not less government.

Maybe it would be better to set up a libertarian society somewhere else, and maybe try to export it to america after the collapse.

Unless you have some special method in mind.

  The one that I've argued for is to have enough people in this country not just vote Libertarian Party but not to vote for ANY REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT.  If a certain government job offers only a republican or democrat then write at the bottom of the ballot "None Of The Above".   Imagine how that would play out.  The establishment can't argue that the vote totals are down and that's the reason that not as many people voted for the R's or D's.  They can't explain away how the minor party is gaining in vote totals.  They can see the writing on the wall.  Either they stop what they're doing and go back to a Constitutionally limited government or the next election the vote totals for the Libertarians will be even bigger and they'll be out of a job.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 21, 2009, 08:11:03 pm
Unless you have some special method in mind.

[/quote]  The one that I've argued for is to have enough people in this country not just vote Libertarian Party but not to vote for ANY REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT.  If a certain government job offers only a republican or democrat then write at the bottom of the ballot "None Of The Above".   Imagine how that would play out.  The establishment can't argue that the vote totals are down and that's the reason that not as many people voted for the R's or D's.  They can't explain away how the minor party is gaining in vote totals.  They can see the writing on the wall.  Either they stop what they're doing and go back to a Constitutionally limited government or the next election the vote totals for the Libertarians will be even bigger and they'll be out of a job.
[/quote]

That looks like a good plan to me. It's cheap. If it doesn't work it's unlikely to cause any big problem by failing that we would not have had anyway. It might do some good and it's very unlikely to do much harm.

It does seem like a plan that should have multiple backups.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 22, 2009, 09:48:58 am
The last time I checked the USA consumed about 1/4 of the world's oil, and about 1/4 of the other resources. What do we produce for others which is worth that? Not enough. Our labor is not on average competitive.

My solution to that problem is one that strikes at one area of free market economics which is currently the accepted wisdom, unlike other parts of Libertarianism. Go back to high tariffs to keep out cheap imports. By forcing people to buy otherwise uneconomic made-in-America cars, computers, and TV sets, income would be more equally distributed in America, but to people willing to work, not welfare recipients.

This would maintain our independent manufacturing capability - we can't equip our troops with made-in-China binoculars for an invasion of China.

Government should be doing the sort of thing we have government for - otherwise, what's the point?

As for energy resources, well, if we convert to home-made nuclear power and away from imported oil, we'll do just fine, and the planet will be happier too with lower carbon emissions.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 22, 2009, 10:48:15 am

That looks like a good plan to me. It's cheap. If it doesn't work it's unlikely to cause any big problem by failing that we would not have had anyway. It might do some good and it's very unlikely to do much harm.

It does seem like a plan that should have multiple backups.

Not quite sure what you mean by multiple backups?  As an aside, the reason for the NONE OF THE ABOVE is so that a liberal group like Acorn can't come along and punch the ballots for the democract after the fact.  I had forgot to mention that in the eariler post.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 22, 2009, 02:38:14 pm

That looks like a good plan to me. It's cheap. If it doesn't work it's unlikely to cause any big problem by failing that we would not have had anyway. It might do some good and it's very unlikely to do much harm.

It does seem like a plan that should have multiple backups.

Not quite sure what you mean by multiple backups?

It's a good plan. There's hardly any downside if it goes wrong, except that it fails to solve the original problem. It's unlikely to have bad side effects, except possibly bad unforeseen side effects if it's effective. And given the problems it's dealing with, I'll take the new problems sight unseen.

My concern is that it's likely to fail. The US public is likely not to follow the plan. They are likely to decide that we need less government and vote for Republican thieves, or decide that only government can solve the crises and elect Democrat do-gooders.

So I think we should follow as many other plans also as we can manage, provided that they don't interfere too badly with each other. This one is unlikely to interfere much with other plans, and other plans are not very likely to interfere with it. So we don't lose a lot by following other approaches at the same time.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 22, 2009, 09:01:25 pm
If I had the money (which I don't) I would put a one full page ad in every newspaper in the country with a circulation of over say 25,000,  put commercials on every medium and large radio stations and place ads in every place on the internet that was suitable.  I would lay out the following facts in detail.  One, the real reason that government exists is to enrich the already wealth and well connected.  Look at the conclusions in the book "The rise and fall of the roman empire" by Edward Gibbon.  Two, the REAL debt is not just $11,000,000,000  but something on the order of 4 to 5 times that.  Very shortly, this country is not even going to be bringing in enough money (fiat currency) to even pay the interest on it, let alone pay off the principal.  The american dollar is doomed, unless the congress of the U.S. (where spending bills originate) starts drastic cuts in government.  (There's a better chance that I'm going to marry Paris Hilton than that happening)
Three, you now have just three choices.  Either vote out the Republicans and Democrats and put the Libertarians in charge, take out of the country as much money as you can leave the country and learn Chinese or lastly start stockpiling cat food and start looking for a bridge underpass to live under soon.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 23, 2009, 01:16:20 am
I was a big-L Libertarian activist for a lot of years, but eventually I realized that even if we actually won office, we'd have so many candidates who were of the "yeah, I'm with you guys, but I'm not a radical who wants to actually cut the federal budget" variety.

I don't believe it is possible to confine government to narrow limits. Anything beyond minarchy ( police, courts, defense ) becomes a welfare program to benefit somebody at the expense of others. Even these limited-government functions can easily perverted to something other than the general welfare. I asked my Dad how opium came to be illegal; it used to be perfectly legal in America. He said, I used to work on the railroads, there was hardly any work in those days ( this was when FDR was busily "saving" America from the Great Depression ), and it was hard work. A man couldn't keep doing that kind of work for ten, twelve hours a day. But these Chinamen would come along, they'd smoke a little opium, and they could keep working all day, and we didn't want the competition for our jobs. So they passed a law to make it harder for the Chinese to compete. Majority rules, right?

FDR criminalized the ownership of gold, and confiscated it. He had this mad theory that if he controlled the price of gold, he could boost the price of farmers' goods. So his advisers would come to his bedroom and suggest a 10 or 12 cent raise, and he said it should be 21 cents. Why? Because 3 times 7 is a lucky number. You can see why the Americans of his generation loved him so. <rolling eyes>

Anyhow, I'm not real fond of the "replace the bums with better bums" theory of political change. I prefer "throw the bums out out out - we don't need them anyway" theory. Toward that end, I home schooled my kids, they're continuing the tradition, I encourage others to do likewise. I learned to shoot, bought guns and ammo, and encourage others to do the same. I do what I can to improve my financial security so that I am never tempted to plunder the pockets of others by proxy. If those three things are widely provided by voluntary means, the State will wither away, having been rendered useless.


 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 23, 2009, 09:47:38 pm
Terry:
       Everything that you said was a nice thought and in a perfect world that's how it might play out except this isn't a perfect world and we're running out of time to save America.  Even it things started turning back to what this country used to be like TODAY it's unlikely to be enough time.  I too was a Libertarian Party activist (13 years).  I used to be the LP county chairman of Allen County (Fort Wayne) Indiana and was the speechwriter for Jo Jorgensen the VP candidate in 1992.  One of the things that I learned was that quick change almost never happens in government unless a real crisis happens like 9/11/2001 or 12/7/1941.  It's like a big ocean liner traveling at a fairly quick speed.  A little bit at a time is all you can hope for.  I've been criticized on this forum for my opinion that unconstitutional gun laws will only be removed a little bit at a time.  Some have written that they want it all at once but if you look at history that's not the way that freedom ever happens.  What happens is when you try for everything you almost always end up with nothing.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 24, 2009, 06:12:34 am
In a perfect dream world, politicians would be angels ... we know how that fantasy plays out. In the real world, politicians connive to benefit themselves at our expense. If we truly believe that we don't need the government, we need to build the practices which would replace it. That's why more and more people are schooling their own children and defending their own families and communities. These are steps which we can take now, regardless of what the State thinks.  Independence will come when the State becomes frivolous. In a generation, we'll look around, notice the empty classrooms, and ask why we pay taxes to support government indoctrination centers. We'll realize that just about everyone is packing, and wonder why the police and military don't get real jobs like the rest of us. And what are we paying those doofuses in Congress for? We'll be trading with gold and silver and their electronic equivalents instead of faith-based paper. 

New book recommendation. ( Can't help it, I love to read ) The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism, by Ismael Hossein-Zadeh.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Scott on September 24, 2009, 06:57:53 pm
Quote
My solution to that problem is one that strikes at one area of free market economics which is currently the accepted wisdom, unlike other parts of Libertarianism. Go back to high tariffs to keep out cheap imports. By forcing people to buy otherwise uneconomic made-in-America cars, computers, and TV sets, income would be more equally distributed in America, but to people willing to work, not welfare recipients.

This was tried before. In 1930, in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and ensuing financial panic, Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, with the intent of protecting American jobs. What resulted was that our trading partners also raised their tariffs, which cut our exports; and American consumers facing job layoffs because foreigners were buying less of our goods were faced with higher prices for the goods that had been imported. Rather than pay the higher prices, they made do without as much as humanly possible. The Act is widely regarded as having exacerbated the financial crisis and contributed to the Great Depression.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 24, 2009, 09:00:37 pm
Or in the words of the revered philosopher Ringo Starr (really, I'm not making this up) "Everything that the government touches turns to s**t."  ;D
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 25, 2009, 12:43:28 am
I think it was Bastiat who observed that, in times of war, enemies would blockade our ports. Tariffs have a similar beneficial effect on the economy, retarding the flow of goods, elevating prices, and reducing the standard of living. As producers, we all want high prices, but we must eat to live; as consumers, we like lower prices.

America's productivity has not gone overseas because of lack of tariffs; it has gone overseas because we tax labor, we tax land, we tax incomes, we tax sales, we tax every step of the process of production. We could do a great deal to boost our competitive advantage if we were not carrying a $3.8 trillion federal burden, and nearly as much for state and local governments.

It is easy to forget just how expensive our "free" government services are, until we compare our costs to those of other countries. We may have the biggest GDP by far, but we also carry the biggest government budget by far. That's the worst problem with a mixed economy - the more free it is, the more it grows, and the bigger it grows, the more can be siphoned off for parasitic bureaucrats, who eventually choke it to death.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 25, 2009, 11:02:42 am
I think it was Bastiat who observed that, in times of war, enemies would blockade our ports. Tariffs have a similar beneficial effect on the economy, retarding the flow of goods, elevating prices, and reducing the standard of living. As producers, we all want high prices, but we must eat to live; as consumers, we like lower prices.

America's productivity has not gone overseas because of lack of tariffs; it has gone overseas because we tax labor, we tax land, we tax incomes, we tax sales, we tax every step of the process of production. We could do a great deal to boost our competitive advantage if we were not carrying a $3.8 trillion federal burden, and nearly as much for state and local governments.

It is easy to forget just how expensive our "free" government services are, until we compare our costs to those of other countries. We may have the biggest GDP by far, but we also carry the biggest government budget by far. That's the worst problem with a mixed economy - the more free it is, the more it grows, and the bigger it grows, the more can be siphoned off for parasitic bureaucrats, who eventually choke it to death.
    That's a pretty good description of the situation.  Did you happen to notice that when the banking crisis hit a year ago that all kinds of solutions were proposed publically except for THE ONE SOLUTION THAT WOULD HAVE ACTUALLY HAVE WORKED?  I speak of cutting drastically the size and costs of the federal and state governments.  When I say drastic I'm not speaking about a 5 or 10 per cent cut in size but something on the order of 90 to 95 percent.  I imagine that if someone actually stood on the floor of the House of Rodents, errrrr I mean Representives and proposed that they would strip him of every committee assignment, take his parking space and pubically censor and disown him.  As long as the D's and R's are in charge the American people are totally screwed.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on September 28, 2009, 06:53:23 pm
The last time I checked the USA consumed about 1/4 of the world's oil, and about 1/4 of the other resources. What do we produce for others which is worth that? Not enough. Our labor is not on average competitive.

My solution to that problem is one that strikes at one area of free market economics which is currently the accepted wisdom, unlike other parts of Libertarianism. Go back to high tariffs to keep out cheap imports. By forcing people to buy otherwise uneconomic made-in-America cars, computers, and TV sets, income would be more equally distributed in America, but to people willing to work, not welfare recipients.

This would maintain our independent manufacturing capability - we can't equip our troops with made-in-China binoculars for an invasion of China.

Government should be doing the sort of thing we have government for - otherwise, what's the point?

As for energy resources, well, if we convert to home-made nuclear power and away from imported oil, we'll do just fine, and the planet will be happier too with lower carbon emissions.

A long time ago Canada put up a tariff big enough to protect it's own economy and prevent Canadians from buying foreign goods.  Then the US followed suit with it's own tariff because they thought it was a good idea.

And then every one else hopped on the bandwagon, Because they thought it was a good idea or just to say "screw you" to everyone who was suddenly refusing to buy their exports.

International trade ground to crawl and the Great Depression began.

Russia managed to survive decades without a lot of trade, but that's really only because Russia is a big, resource and industry rich nation.  (Her biggest problem has always been mismanagement)

The US however isn't terribly resource rich.

As for nuclear power, In both active and prospective and currently inactive uranium mines, Canada outstrips the US in production and number.  Without the ability to purchase said uranium for the change over (Inability would come from the Tariff) it would be nearly impossible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_mines

The US needs access to external markets to function.  It needs goods from China, labor from Mexico and resources from Canada.

Yes, you can go to war with China with binoculars made in China.  I'm sure more then one American soldier has been cut down from fire from genuine enemies using American made weapons and more then one American Helicopter has been shot down with a rocket with "Made in America" proudly stamped on it's side.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 28, 2009, 08:13:39 pm
That's a very good point.  Right now the Chinese government has something like 95% of the rare earth resources locked up in different parts of the world.  Most Americans have no idea what that means.  Rare Earth resources are responsible for a lot of new technology like MP3 players, electric and hybrid cars as well as the more technical pieces of military hardware like "smart" bombs just to name a few things.  Obama is right now trying to start a trade war with China over low cost auto and light truck tires to placate his union buddies.  That idiot doesn't a clue what he's doing.  (On this ONE point I agree with George W. Bush who just said the same thing about him).  China has a trillion dollars of our money on reserve and have spent the last several years going around the globe making deals with anyone for oil, natural gas, gold, silver, uranium, diamonds, farmland and rare earth elements.  We need them and they don't need us.  And now we're doing our best to screw up what little goodwill that we have with them.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 28, 2009, 11:21:11 pm
> The US however isn't terribly resource rich.

You have got to be joking. The US has vast resources. It is not a tiny Hong Kong or Japan. We have 3.79 million square miles of land, and vast amounts of forest, agricultural and mineral resources.

Nonetheless, it would be stupid to seal our borders. China is not that dumb - at least not lately. They tried that experiment, and their culture stagnated. The West leapfrogged past them.

We are falling apart not because of low tariffs, but because of too much freaking government. While our government is getting bigger and more expensive, other countries are rolling back theirs and becoming more free.

We are locked into a mercantilist death trap. The more I read about China, the more I wonder if they and India will not leapfrog past the West. Have a look at this article about shanzhai:

http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=284

open-source innovation applied to technology, multiplied by millions of bright engineers and entrepreneurs, multiplied by the internet. Could this be the seeds of a modern renaissance?





Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on September 29, 2009, 05:52:15 am
> The US however isn't terribly resource rich.

You have got to be joking. The US has vast resources. It is not a tiny Hong Kong or Japan. We have 3.79 million square miles of land, and vast amounts of forest, agricultural and mineral resources.

I wasn't actually talking about arable land or room.

For its size, population and appetites the US isn't terribly resource rich.  It isn't resource poor, but it really doesn't have enough of anything other then food to sustain it's current resource intake.

I just don't think the US could survive 10 years of embargo.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 29, 2009, 11:37:05 am
Basically the new Japanese government is anti-western compared to the old political party that has been in charge in Japan since the end of WWII and Japan and China are beginning to work more closely together. (This is another situation that the U.S. Government SHOULD HAVE SEEN COMING but didn't)  Together Japan and China hold nearly two trillion American dollars between them.  Guess what happens to the American dollar if (more likely when) the two countries begin dumping dollars on the open market.  We just gave two foriegn powers the ability to end the U.S. economy any time they want to.  And now Obama is playing chicken with the Chinese over some lousy truck tires and risking everything.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: n4zhg on September 29, 2009, 04:46:07 pm
OK, which statist wannabe dillweed is in charge off the array?  I think the person in charge has some explaining to do at this point, given the circumstances.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on September 29, 2009, 09:19:40 pm
OK, which statist wannabe dillweed is in charge off the array?  I think the person in charge has some explaining to do at this point, given the circumstances.

Are you sure you know what the circumstances are?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 29, 2009, 09:39:03 pm
OK, which statist wannabe dillweed is in charge off the array?  I think the person in charge has some explaining to do at this point, given the circumstances.
Okay, I'm assuming that the statist wannabe dillweed in question is Obama.  Explaning to do?  No.  The only way that he is going to face the consequences of his actions is in 2012 when he runs for re-election.  Look at McNamara when he died recently.  All of his screw ups were hidden behind the veil of "We must not speak ill of the dead"  Go to Doug Casey's and look up what he thought of the individual who brought us the "Edsel", the Vietnam War, the world bank and so on.  That's the problem when your the president and you put poll numbers ahead of what's best for the country.  The most he can see is eight years in the future.  After that they all think that it's someone elses problem.  The Chinese play it like a chess game where they plan their moves well in advance, sometime decades.  They're willing to sacrifice a pawn short term in order to capture a knight or rook a few moves later.  That's why although they have plenty of problems of their own but most experts think that like the 19th century belonged to the British and the 20th century belonged to the U.S. that the 21st is going to belong to the Chinese.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 29, 2009, 11:36:19 pm
I'm amused by the fact that they're LOOKING FOR non-terrestrial origin intelligence, but they automatically discount evidence they're not looking for, and punish the revealers of this information.

If they're so convinced they're not going to get an answer, why pay to ask the question?

Although, I have to wonder if there is a more mundane cause.  Say, the rarefied, but heavy, atmosphere whistling by any protruding parts of the dome.  Although, in the latter case, such phenomena should be well understood by the students and the general populous of Mars.

Oh, sorry, Rocketman, we got back on topic.  As to Obama, hopefully he'll be a lame duck in about 1 1/2 years.

I don't know whether or not to hope its sooner as his parties faithful abandon him to keep their own jobs, or hope they stick it out with him and we throw all the bums out.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on September 29, 2009, 11:59:09 pm
I'm amused by the fact that they're LOOKING FOR non-terrestrial origin intelligence, but they automatically discount evidence they're not looking for, and punish the revealers of this information.

I'm not amazed at all by that. They're wrong to punish people who note they're hearing this strange music, yes. A phenomenon does not cease to be real because only grad students, instead of tenured professors, are in a position to hear it. But that the explanation is indeed mundane is, I would think, a certainty.

Looking for radio signals from distant life is legitimate science, but still somewhat dubious as to respectability, so one would expect scientists bold enough to engage in it to be very sensitive about protecting their credibility, and to make very sure no one would have grounds to suspect them of believing in ghosts or flying saucers and so on. That isn't wrong in itself, although in this instance they've crossed the line in how they're doing it.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on September 30, 2009, 12:59:20 am
I didn't say amazed.  Unfortunately, I would expect such behavior myself.  I said amused.  Humored.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on September 30, 2009, 01:39:24 am
> The Chinese play it like a chess game where they plan their moves well in advance, sometime decades.  They're willing to sacrifice a pawn short term in order to capture a knight or rook a few moves later. 

The Chinese play Wei Qi, which we in the West know as Go -- and sacrifice is an integral part of planning. Their metaphors for warfare include a keen understanding of the need for a healthy economy to support the warriors. It's a much more holistic view of competition than ours.

In Chess, one must checkmate the king to win; a loss is symbolized by knocking the king over, a catastrophic capitulation. in Go, one may win a long drawn-out game by just 1/2 point, being just that little bit better than one's opponent. If one is too far behind, one may symbolically indicate defeat by playing two moves consecutively - admitting that one is unable to keep pace with one's opponent.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on September 30, 2009, 03:34:18 am
Disregard for copyright law, (Damn you "we copyrighted the idea for transmitting Email's through the Air a decade ago, now the guys from Blackberry owe us millions after they pioneered the technology and built the market" worthless leaches) is definitely an advantage for Chinese innovation.

It isn't all politics and it isn't all long term planning vs the short life span of US Presidents.

The west in general and the US in particular are simply getting rule heavy and coming down hard on non-conformists.  I point to the start of this decline as the removal of the porn shops around times square in New York.

China is suddenly finding it's self with a lot of sons who will probably never marry and is growing inclined, for the past decade or so, to allow those sons a lot of free reign.

The trick is who really has the freedom to benefit from their own ingenuity.

PS:  Allowing a war between the US and China would to incredible folly, it would be another world war and all the big pieces would move again.  The US landed on top last time the dice rolled.  Rolling the dice again after the game has been won only allows the chance to loose.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 30, 2009, 08:43:05 am
> The US however isn't terribly resource rich.

You have got to be joking. The US has vast resources. It is not a tiny Hong Kong or Japan. We have 3.79 million square miles of land, and vast amounts of forest, agricultural and mineral resources.

I wasn't actually talking about arable land or room.

For its size, population and appetites the US isn't terribly resource rich.  It isn't resource poor, but it really doesn't have enough of anything other then food to sustain it's current resource intake.

I just don't think the US could survive 10 years of embargo.

The USA could survive OK as a population. It wouldn't be the same USA we live in, though.

Like, I talked with a woman who lives nearby. She's the widow of a police officer, who she says died in the line of duty. She is a drug addict. She has very bad asthma and she smokes heavily. To deal with her asthma she depends on many applications of an inhaler at $20+ a pop.

Her insurance company denied her one of her inhalants and she was outraged. She says she'll die without it. She can't possibly buy enough of those on her pension. I sugggested she might reduce her allergy problems by giving up smoking, but she insisted she can't do that, she can't give up her cigs while she's under all this stress. And she needs the clonazepam for the stress too, even though it affects her memory and leaves her sometimes forgetting whether she's already taken it or not so she wakes up and it's all gone, and then she has withdrawal symptoms until the next prescription comes through. She needs the narcotics because her insurance refuses to fix her teeth and she'd be in constant pain without them. She needs the amphetamines....

I don't want to say bad things about the widow of a police officer who died defending society against criminals with guns, but if we had a severe recession and her insurance and pension were cut way back, she might quite likely live longer. If she survived withdrawal and got a couple of roommates who were in a similar situation, if she lacked the money for tobacco and went onto a cheap but basicly healthy diet, at that point she'd be a whole lot better off. And if she did die then the economy would be better off, though that isn't adequate reason for her to die.

We have an economy with a whole lot of fat. We eat way too much beef because we can afford it and we like it. We use way too much gasoline, ditto. We use way too many recreational drugs, prescribed or not. The newest games require the newest expensive game-machines to play them. Etc. As a population we'd do just fine to cut way back on all of that. Reduce medical care about about 70%, reduce beef production 90%, reduce beer production 50%, etc. We'd probably be better off. But we wouldn't like it. I'd hate to have to work two jobs and give up the time I spend puttering on the internet, to bring in less money than I do now. But I could do it. Most of us would do OK apart from the resentment.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 30, 2009, 08:55:13 am
OK, which statist wannabe dillweed is in charge off the array?  I think the person in charge has some explaining to do at this point, given the circumstances.

Quote
Okay, I'm assuming that the statist wannabe dillweed in question is Obama.

I think he was asking about the ET project in the comic strip, not about current politics at all.

Explaning to do?  No.  The only way that he is going to face the consequences of his actions is in 2012 when he runs for re-election.  Look at McNamara when he died recently.  All of his screw ups were hidden behind the veil of "We must not speak ill of the dead"  Go to Doug Casey's and look up what he thought of the individual who brought us the "Edsel", the Vietnam War, the world bank and so on.  That's the problem when your the president and you put poll numbers ahead of what's best for the country.  The most he can see is eight years in the future.  After that they all think that it's someone elses problem.

And that problem is inherent in our system of government. It wouldn't be that way if we made him absolute dictator for life. Then we'd get a completely different set of problems, particularly if we could somehow make him immortal....

Maybe we could have a yearly election, and when somebody wins the presidency he knows that every year for the rest of his life there will be an election and if the majority of the public holds him sufficiently responsible for his actions he would be executed? That would give us a different set of problems too. Probably the average age of presidents would rise considerably, and we'd get a lot more censorship.

Quote
The Chinese play it like a chess game where they plan their moves well in advance, sometime decades.  They're willing to sacrifice a pawn short term in order to capture a knight or rook a few moves later.  That's why although they have plenty of problems of their own but most experts think that like the 19th century belonged to the British and the 20th century belonged to the U.S. that the 21st is going to belong to the Chinese.

So the self-appointed chinese government plays the game a lot better than the elected US government? What if we didn't have any government at all, would it be easier or harder for the chinese government to win that game? Would private individuals choose to sacrifice pawns now to capture a rook later? Would they need to? Is this one of those games where you win if you don't play?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 30, 2009, 06:35:50 pm
And that problem is inherent in our system of government. It wouldn't be that way if we made him absolute dictator for life. Then we'd get a completely different set of problems, particularly if we could somehow make him immortal....
Maybe we could have a yearly election, and when somebody wins the presidency he knows that every year for the rest of his life there will be an election and if the majority of the public holds him sufficiently responsible for his actions he would be executed? That would give us a different set of problems too. Probably the average age of presidents would rise considerably, and we'd get a lot more censorship.
 
     Your missing an important point which is rational self interest of the individual who is not the dictator.  Right now this is the government that we have, although Obama is trying to change it. We have the choice of a Republican Party who is Fascist in nature or a Democrat who is Marxist in nature affecting our individual decision making.  That keeps us from making better decisions than the Chinese make because we not only have to look out for the best decisions for ourselves we also have to look out for how the government is going to have to regard our decisionmaking in the form of extra taxes and regulations.
would private individuals choose to sacrifice pawns now to capture a rook later? Would they need to? Is this one of those games where you win if you don't play?
Your taking to an individual who's doing that right now.  I've made some investments in my stock portfolio that short term is costing me money in order to be ready to cash in later when I expect them to take off.  And no I'm not going to say what those investments are.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on September 30, 2009, 07:54:41 pm
And that problem is inherent in our system of government. It wouldn't be that way if we made him absolute dictator for life. Then we'd get a completely different set of problems, particularly if we could somehow make him immortal....
Maybe we could have a yearly election, and when somebody wins the presidency he knows that every year for the rest of his life there will be an election and if the majority of the public holds him sufficiently responsible for his actions he would be executed? That would give us a different set of problems too. Probably the average age of presidents would rise considerably, and we'd get a lot more censorship.
 
     Your missing an important point which is rational self interest of the individual who is not the dictator.  Right now this is the government that we have, although Obama is trying to change it. We have the choice of a Republican Party who is Fascist in nature or a Democrat who is Marxist in nature affecting our individual decision making.  That keeps us from making better decisions than the Chinese make because we not only have to look out for the best decisions for ourselves we also have to look out for how the government is going to have to regard our decisionmaking in the form of extra taxes and regulations.

The GOP is not fascist. They only think they are. Compare Bush to Mussolini, it's like a chihuahua compared to a rottweiler. And the Democrats are not marxist, Stalin is to Obama like a pit bull to a a banana cream pie.

Americans care so much about having leaders who look harmless and ineffectual that we seem not to mind getting leaders who are actually ineffectual.

would private individuals choose to sacrifice pawns now to capture a rook later? Would they need to? Is this one of those games where you win if you don't play?
Your taking to an individual who's doing that right now.  I've made some investments in my stock portfolio that short term is costing me money in order to be ready to cash in later when I expect them to take off.  And no I'm not going to say what those investments are.
[/quote]

Yes, you're willing to risk some money hoping to make more money later. But given the chance, how much would you risk -- how much would you *sacrifice* -- to stop the chinese from interfering in the US economy?

Incidentally, if you've already made your investment choices, you might as well check whether it hurts or helps your position for you to tout the stocks. If other people who respect your choices buy too, is that better or worse for you?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on September 30, 2009, 09:50:18 pm
"The GOP is not fascist"  Let's look at George W. Bush the leader of the GOP from Jan. of 2001 to Jan. of 2009.  He gave us warrentless searches, the patriot act and the military commissions act.   I could go on but you get the idea, or at least you should.  "The democracts are not marxists"  The current leader of the Democracts is Obama.  He wants to socialize about 1/7 of this nations economy by having the federal government take over healthcare.  He gave away a substantial part of the shares of General Motors and Chrysler away from the bond holders who legitmately owned them and gave them to the labor unions who helped him get elected.  Again, I could go on but you get the idea or at least you should.  Maybe we're not talking Stalin or Hitler here but when both of them are the leaders of your party and you don't make any effort to speak up and denounce what is by an reasonable standard unamerican behavior then your part of the problem.
  When Bob Barr won the Libertarian Parties nomination in 2008 I originally gave him the benefit of the doubt that he had changed and was no longer a republican.   When it became clear to me that he hadn't I denounced him as loudly as I could in what few online blogs that I could and voted for Chuck Baldwin.

  Lastly, My investments are my own business and not giving away the hours and hours of research time that I've spent on my stocks is for my own personal reasons and no one elses.  Not to mention that the  SEC has laws on it's books concerning "unregistered investment advisors".
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 01, 2009, 12:25:03 am
GOP vs Democrat comparisons miss the fact that they share 99% of the same DNA. They're both into fascism in a big way. That's how we got to the point where our government (state, local, and federal) consumes 45% of GDP, as opposed to only 30% in China. If you read the Art of War, you'll be thinking, can a nation long endure carrying so much deadweight?

I am currently reading Buchanan's Unnecessary War book, about WW I and II. He is of the opinion that Britain blundered its was into both of those wars, and that they were at best Pyrrhic victories - as in "another victory like this, and we are doomed."

The United States is engaged in a similar war in the Middle East. Even if we win, by some definition of "victory", the cost will bankrupt us. It is considered rude to admit this in public, but the US military industrial complex is a freaking huge proportion of our society; we spend more than all other nations combined. Our schools devote a large fraction of their resources to military research; our "homeland security" is now a big industry in its own right. I recently picked up a "jobs wanted" weekly, and half the space was devoted to military, police, and guard positions. It was not a deliberate theme - that's where the jobs are today.

The Democrats protest war only when Republicans are in control. The GOP protests welfare expenditures only when the Democrats are in control. We are fools to let this political theatre distract us from the bloated budget, the deprivation of rights, the cost in human lives.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on October 01, 2009, 04:14:44 am
GOP vs Democrat comparisons miss the fact that they share 99% of the same DNA. They're both into fascism in a big way. That's how we got to the point where our government (state, local, and federal) consumes 45% of GDP, as opposed to only 30% in China. If you read the Art of War, you'll be thinking, can a nation long endure carrying so much deadweight?

Socialism, A government with high taxes and high promised return (Paying taxes to a government is like any other fiscal transaction, a return in goods and/or services of similar value is expected) that is interrupted by a thick band of bureaucracy is one of the hallmarks of a socialist government.

It's just that Fascism and Communism are both isolated objects in the broad sea of things Socialist.

I am currently reading Buchanan's Unnecessary War book, about WW I and II. He is of the opinion that Britain blundered its was into both of those wars, and that they were at best Pyrrhic victories - as in "another victory like this, and we are doomed."

The United States is engaged in a similar war in the Middle East. Even if we win, by some definition of "victory", the cost will bankrupt us. It is considered rude to admit this in public, but the US military industrial complex is a freaking huge proportion of our society; we spend more than all other nations combined. Our schools devote a large fraction of their resources to military research; our "homeland security" is now a big industry in its own right. I recently picked up a "jobs wanted" weekly, and half the space was devoted to military, police, and guard positions. It was not a deliberate theme - that's where the jobs are today.

Beefing up police forces is a tried and true method of dealing with economic crisis.  You put money into the economy and it helps you deal with those pesky soup kitchen riots.  By taking someone out of the mob and making that person deal with the mob.

But the US governments eagerness to beef up their secret police force and the US citizens eagerness to embrace those secret police for protection is...  Well it's distressingly telling that the average US citizen has no idea of how close the US has come to stepping over that line and having things "That just don't happen in America" happen in America.

The Democrats protest war only when Republicans are in control. The GOP protests welfare expenditures only when the Democrats are in control. We are fools to let this political theatre distract us from the bloated budget, the deprivation of rights, the cost in human lives.

Funny thing is that very few American's take outside political parties seriously.  They genuinely believe it's a two party system and that is how things should be.

Just try to imagine the Republican Or Democratic parties dissolving one day.  In the absence of the possibility of defeat, there is no accomplishment.  Neither party can screw up so badly that they'd have to disband and get real jobs.  At worst all they have to do is wait 8 years.

I'd recommend the Australian method of voting for first, then second and then third favorite parties except I fear that would fail horribly.  It might not be to complex for the average US voter, but it would certainly be to complex for the average US voting official.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 01, 2009, 06:44:51 am
GOP vs Democrat comparisons miss the fact that they share 99% of the same DNA.

Exactly. The only purpose of this faux competition is to keep everyone else out. It's "Coke vs. Pepsi" which casts the competition with a false dichotomy that conveniently ignores, RC cola, Shasta Cola, Dixie Cola and all the other colas and soft drinks that also are in the competition.

The lie of the "two party system" is the biggest political scam of the 20th and now 21st century.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 01, 2009, 12:39:20 pm
The Democrats protest war only when Republicans are in control. The GOP protests welfare expenditures only when the Democrats are in control. We are fools to let this political theatre distract us from the bloated budget, the deprivation of rights, the cost in human lives.

Funny thing is that very few American's take outside political parties seriously.  They genuinely believe it's a two party system and that is how things should be.

Just try to imagine the Republican Or Democratic parties dissolving one day.  In the absence of the possibility of defeat, there is no accomplishment.  Neither party can screw up so badly that they'd have to disband and get real jobs.  At worst all they have to do is wait 8 years.

I'd recommend the Australian method of voting for first, then second and then third favorite parties except I fear that would fail horribly.  It might not be to complex for the average US voter, but it would certainly be to complex for the average US voting official.

I do recommend that. But I get essentially no interest from the politicians I've asked about it. I think they feel like they're the ones who're currently succeeding under the existing rules, so why ruin a good thing? they might not do as well with new rules. Particularly if they identify with one of the two parties.

So I tried it a step subtler. If one party set up that voting system for their primaries and at their convention, they would be far more likely to get a candidate who represented the center of their party. Less likely to choose a Goldwater or McGovern. The primary candidates would have less incentive to do negative campaigning. As it is, if two candidates appeal too much to the same fragment of the voters they have reason to attack each other. But if they aren't direct competitors, they don't. Get the voters who like the other guy to put your name directly under his and you get their votes provided he washes out before you do. No need to antagonise them. And after he's gone you get a lot of them for campaign workers with no hard feelings. For a variety of reasons a party that did its own voting with IRV or similar system could expect to win more.

But the major parties don't seem to be at all interested in that either. Maybe there are hidden players who want to control who's candidate, and that's harder with the better voting system.

I think it's very hard to get significant change while the existing parties run things.

As Voltaire almost said, "The barely adequate is the enemy of the best.".


Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Insane on October 01, 2009, 12:44:09 pm
\
I'd recommend the Australian method of voting for first, then second and then third favorite parties except I fear that would fail horribly.  It might not be to complex for the average US voter, but it would certainly be to complex for the average US voting official.

As an Australian, I would also recommend the Australian voting system (usually called "First past the post" here). :D
I don't think its really *that* complicated for the voting officials, all they have to do is successively work out who got the least votes and then allocate those votes to their next preference.
Repeat until someone has > 50% of the vote.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on October 01, 2009, 01:49:47 pm
The primary candidates would have less incentive to do negative campaigning.
You seem to think that that would be good.  In general, negative campaigning is the only type of political discourse with a significant fraction of truth, and the more negative ("my opponent is a lying slimeball") the more truthful.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on October 01, 2009, 10:57:52 pm
It's my opinion that things are only going to change for the better in this country after there is a third and possibly fourth major political party that isn't beholden to special interest groups, big money financiers and voting blocks like teachers unions.  The key I think will be to get that third or fourth party into the nationally televised presidential debates.  Unfortunately, I think that the Republican and Democrat parties understand that as well and have done for the last 40 years or so everything that they can to keep any third party out.  That will only change when the head of the Republican or Democrat parties say to each other.  "We don't have a choice."  "We have to let in the _____ party or everyone in the country will know that this election is all a fraud."
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 01, 2009, 11:16:20 pm
It's my opinion that things are only going to change for the better in this country after there is a third and possibly fourth major political party that isn't beholden to special interest groups, big money financiers and voting blocks like teachers unions.

In short, never.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on October 02, 2009, 12:07:22 am
In the context of this comic, proposing dialectical materialism and the labor theory of value as subjects of discussion is a joke, and a funny one too. But with Earth united and Mars likely similar to Ceres in philosophy, I'm surprised such notions survive (that is, under a window-dressing different from the one used on Earth)... but, indeed, academe would be their last hiding place.

On the subject of politics, I happened to be searching for when the British pound was devalued, and found a graphic illustration of the price of living in a society at least partly unfree. (Paid by Americans in 1933 instead of 1947, of course.)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: KBCraig on October 02, 2009, 01:41:08 am
In the context of this comic, proposing dialectical materialism and the labor theory of value as subjects of discussion is a joke, and a funny one too.

I took it as a joke about discussion forums, this one included.  ;) ;D
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: KBCraig on October 02, 2009, 01:43:23 am
As an Australian, I would also recommend the Australian voting system (usually called "First past the post" here). :D
I don't think its really *that* complicated for the voting officials, all they have to do is successively work out who got the least votes and then allocate those votes to their next preference.
Repeat until someone has > 50% of the vote.

It's not complicated at all, if the goal is honest elections. It's very complicated if the goal is to fraudulently manipulate the voting outcome to reflect the pre-determined winner.

In other words, it would never work in America.  >:(
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 02, 2009, 06:40:48 am
There would be problems with any voting system whatsoever. I refer you to research by Kenneth Arrow.

<quote>
In social choice theory, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, or Arrow’s paradox, demonstrates that no voting system can convert the ranked preferences of individuals into a community-wide ranking while also meeting a certain set of reasonable criteria with three or more discrete options to choose from. These criteria are called unrestricted domain, non-imposition, non-dictatorship, Pareto efficiency, and independence of irrelevant alternatives.
</quote>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%27s_impossibility_theorem
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 02, 2009, 06:44:37 am
Why do two-party systems suck so much? There's something called Hotelling's Law.

http://www.economyprofessor.com/economictheories/hotellings-law.php

Hotelling's Law states that competitors differentiate their goods and services as little as possible in order to maximize demand from the public.

The law explains why retailers (department stores, newsagents and restaurants) tend to cluster together, and why airlines adopt similar flight schedules.

It also explains why the two "major" parties are nearly indistinguishable.

 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 02, 2009, 06:51:36 am
See also http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/dcstevens/entry/the_hotelling-downs_model/

... which explains the Median Voter Theorem - political parties tend to gravitate toward the "median voter".

There is an even bigger problem: any theory which lines up voters' preferences on a single one-dimensional line is rubbish, but that's the underlying premise of the political system. You don't get to choose policies A, F, and Y; you get to choose between candidates who claim to stand for policies A, I, L and X versus B, F, Q and Z. You actually detest policies I and F. Which candidate do you pick?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 02, 2009, 07:29:16 am
In the context of this comic, proposing dialectical materialism and the labor theory of value as subjects of discussion is a joke, and a funny one too. But with Earth united and Mars likely similar to Ceres in philosophy, I'm surprised such notions survive (that is, under a window-dressing different from the one used on Earth)... but, indeed, academe would be their last hiding place.

Irina is a Russian, so dialectical materialism and the labor theory of value are part of her historical education. We know she does not believe in it because her favorite movie is Ninotchka, the 1939 classic starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031725/). It was one of the funniest indictments of communism ever to come out of Hollywood. In 1940, it was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, but that was the year Gone With the Wind swept the Academy Awards. If you have never seen Ninotcha, make the effort to do so. Even the throwaway lines are hilarious.

By the way, proposing the discussion of communist economics was Irina's joke.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on October 02, 2009, 07:37:32 am
It was one of the funniest indictments of communism ever to come out of Hollywood. In 1940, it was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, but that was the year Gone With the Wind swept the Academy Awards. If you have never seen Ninotcha, make the effort to do so. Even the throwaway lines are hilarious.

Ah. Since Reggie had clearly not seen Ninotchka, context failed to relieve my ignorance. I had heard the name of the movie, but I assumed that, as it was made during World War II, it was praising our heroic Russian allies. Perhaps that sort of thing only happened after Pearl Harbor.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 02, 2009, 06:25:46 pm
There would be problems with any voting system whatsoever. I refer you to research by Kenneth Arrow.

<quote>
In social choice theory, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, or Arrow’s paradox, demonstrates that no voting system can convert the ranked preferences of individuals into a community-wide ranking while also meeting a certain set of reasonable criteria with three or more discrete options to choose from. These criteria are called unrestricted domain, non-imposition, non-dictatorship, Pareto efficiency, and independence of irrelevant alternatives.
</quote>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%27s_impossibility_theorem

If you look at it in detail, Arrow's theorem does not have reasonable criteria. If you look at a proof, it at least appears to me that "non-dictatorship" means that no one person's vote actually counts. Seriously. They say that if one person makes the difference in who wins, then that person is the only one who's vote counted which is supposed to be a bad thing to be avoided!

Further, Pareto efficiency looks like a desirable goal but demanding that it must always be fulfilled is pretty steep.

And to require independence of irrelevant alternatives is to eliminate a big chunk of the most effective advertising techniques. It just is not going to happen. it would be a sort of ideal thing if third parties never influence which of the major candidates win. One of the objections to our current voting system is that third parties distort the results. When people who would otherwise vote Republican instead vote Libertarian resulting in a Republican loss, by this theory that is a bad thing. If only the Libertarian had the decency to bow out so the Republican could win....

People complain about this for the Australian system too. If you knew how everybody else was going to vote, you could do "strategic voting". When you only get one choice, then that's your choice. Settle for the second-worst candidate so you won't throw your vote away, and that's it. But when the system elimiantes the least-popular candidate, you can vote for one or more minor candidates that you don't actually want first, hoping that by keeping them in the race longer you will distort the order of losses and change the final result. I haven't seen a plausible scheme for it, but a change in the order that minor candidates get eliminated could affect the final result, particularly when there are three major candidates. I personally consider it fair enough if somebody gets elected that the majority voted for, and nobody gets to manipulate the result to choose which one wins.

But it isn't the ultimate fairest system if a third candidate can affect which of the two major candidates win, or if it doesn't always elect the candidates that the public would most want as opposed to candidates that the majority votes for, or if there can be a tie which leaves one persons vote the deciding one.

Saying that it isn't fair unless it's absolutely perfect is going a little too far. But that's what Arrow's theorem appears to do. Maybe if I studied it more carefully it would look better.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 02, 2009, 07:20:19 pm
Ah. Since Reggie had clearly not seen Ninotchka...

Huh? Of course he had seen Ninotchka. That's where he got the joke he was trying to tell Irina. What led you to believe otherwise?

I had heard the name of the movie, but I assumed that, as it was made during World War II, it was praising our heroic Russian allies. Perhaps that sort of thing only happened after Pearl Harbor.

WWII started on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. The movie was released October 6, 1939. I assume primary photograph was completed before the war started. Russia was not involved in WWII until Germany invaded Russia on June 22, 1941. Before that, the only Americans who were sympathetic to Russian were commies.

As an interesting aside, I knew an American lawyer who was a communist, labor agitator, etc. during the '30s. Then he went to Russia. He came back a profound anti-communist.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on October 02, 2009, 07:55:42 pm
Huh? Of course he had seen Ninotchka. That's where he got the joke he was trying to tell Irina. What led you to believe otherwise?

His reaction to Irina identifying the film as her favorite; he didn't draw the conclusions from that which you noted should be drawn. Yes, I was not thinking.

Russia was not involved in WWII until Germany invaded Russia on June 22, 1941.

That isn't quite true. After all, Russia invaded Poland shortly after Germany did. So Russia was involved... but on the wrong side... until Russia invaded it. I thought that happened in 1940 for some reason.

One of the objections to our current voting system is that third parties distort the results. When people who would otherwise vote Republican instead vote Libertarian resulting in a Republican loss, by this theory that is a bad thing. If only the Libertarian had the decency to bow out so the Republican could win....

This is not actually a bad thing to ask of a voting system. If people who strongly preferred the Republicans to the Democrats could still chose the Libertarians as their first preference, secure in the knowledge that if the Libertarian doesn't happen to win, they would not lose the power of their vote to influence the Republican/Democrat race - well, I think that a lot more people might not be afraid to vote Libertarian.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on October 03, 2009, 01:29:40 am
I'd like to see N candidates, and (n^2-n)/2 combinations of those candidates.

If there were 5 people running, Able, Baker, Charlie, Doug, and Edward.  And you actually preferred them to serve in that order, the ballot would simply be a listing of those 5 names.  The actual tally would look like...
Able over Baker
Able over Charlie
Able over Doug
Able over Edward
Baker over Charlie
Baker over Doug
Baker over Edward
Charlie over Doug
Charlie over Edward
Doug over Edward

It would definitely be an argument for Diebold.
In this, ties could still happen, but they'd be rare, and they'd only occur when those two candidates, if running just the two of them, would still tie.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on October 03, 2009, 02:43:16 am
One of the objections to our current voting system is that third parties distort the results. When people who would otherwise vote Republican instead vote Libertarian resulting in a Republican loss, by this theory that is a bad thing. If only the Libertarian had the decency to bow out so the Republican could win....

Unless you had a system where the 2nd and 3rd largest parties if together are larger then the 1st largest party, in some kind of "minority government," could force bills and laws that they both agree on past the 1st party and similarly halt bills of the 1st party that they similarly disagreed with.  Thus affording a representative distribution of power among the parties that represents the numbers and interests of the people who voted for them.

But such a fantastic form of government where people are better off voting for the candidate they think represents their values surely cannot exist.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 03, 2009, 08:21:41 am
One of the objections to our current voting system is that third parties distort the results. When people who would otherwise vote Republican instead vote Libertarian resulting in a Republican loss, by this theory that is a bad thing. If only the Libertarian had the decency to bow out so the Republican could win....

This is not actually a bad thing to ask of a voting system. If people who strongly preferred the Republicans to the Democrats could still chose the Libertarians as their first preference, secure in the knowledge that if the Libertarian doesn't happen to win, they would not lose the power of their vote to influence the Republican/Democrat race - well, I think that a lot more people might not be afraid to vote Libertarian.

I agree.

However, Arrow's theorem says it is not fair if the third party candidate has any influence whatsoever on the choice between the two major party candidates. And that can in theory happen with some of the voting systems that let you vote twice. It looks like a silly theory to me, involving stupid hypothetical situations.

It works something like this: Imagine that in a hypothetical election, we get the following voter preferences:

31% Republican only
20% Libertarian, Republican second
39% Democrat only
10% Green, Democrat second

If that's how it is, first the Green candidate is eliminated, then the Libertarian candidate is eliminated, then the Republican candidate wins.

But if instead some of the Democrats look at the choices and vote smart, we get:

31% Republican only
20% Libertarian, Republican second
12% Libertarian, Democrat second
27% Democrat only
10% Green, Democrat second

Then first the Greens are eliminated, bringing Democrats up to 37%.
Then Republicans are eliminated.
Then Democrats win, 37% to 32%.

All it takes is for 1/3 of the Democrats to secretly vote for a party they want to lose, while everybody else just votes their hearts, and they can steal the election.

Of course, in this case if just 6% of Republicans have the grace to vote Libertarian second then the strategy loses for Democrats and the Libertarians win. Or if by some accident 15% of Democrats vote Libertarian instead of 12%....  To make it work you need one party to know the details of everybody's voting preferences and act precisely, while everybody else is oblivious.

I have seen this argument seriously proposed as an objection to this form of voting. Third parties can still distort the results. They say it means it is not the best possible voting system, and so if we have any change at all it should be to something that is so complicated we cannot easily find examples like this. I say it's spinach and I say the hell with it.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 03, 2009, 08:31:35 am
I'd like to see N candidates, and (n^2-n)/2 combinations of those candidates.

If there were 5 people running, Able, Baker, Charlie, Doug, and Edward.  And you actually preferred them to serve in that order, the ballot would simply be a listing of those 5 names.  The actual tally would look like...
Able over Baker
Able over Charlie
Able over Doug
Able over Edward
Baker over Charlie
Baker over Doug
Baker over Edward
Charlie over Doug
Charlie over Edward
Doug over Edward

It would definitely be an argument for Diebold.
In this, ties could still happen, but they'd be rare, and they'd only occur when those two candidates, if running just the two of them, would still tie.

I prefer IRV because it's simple and its flaws are not important. But if we were to have an IRV vote for what voting system to use, I'd vote for your system second.

If it was a combinatorial vote i'd vote

IRV over combinatorial
IRV over traditional
combinatorial over traditional

And if your method won I wouldn't be at all upset.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on October 03, 2009, 09:28:25 pm
It looks like a silly theory to me, involving stupid hypothetical situations.

There's nothing wrong, when doing mathematics, with trying to cover all the possibilities, no matter how unlikely. What would be wrong would be to conclude that simply because absolute mathematical perfection is not possible, why bother.

However, I was inspired to think a bit further about electoral systems by some of the things written about the mathematics of it.

A simple preferential voting system, where you mark your preferences in order 1, 2, 3... and the candidate with the least votes is eliminated in each round, does indeed have one relatively obvious flaw.

It could happen that a compromise candidate that, in a later round, would be preferred by a majority of the voters to any of the candidates then available, might be eliminated in the first round of voting.

A relatively simple modification of preferential voting would address this issue (although not providing a perfect solution). When a candidate is "eliminated", although that candidate's votes flow to other candidates, the number of votes received for that candidate is still recorded, and the candidate remains in the running, but as a "dead" candidate.

Votes that appear for that candidate in a later round are counted for that candidate, but they immediately fall through to the voter's next preference - since that candidate is believed to have been eliminated. But if such a candidate happens to have the most votes, since these votes passed through that candidate, and thus are earlier preferences, it is valid to allow that candidate to win.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 04, 2009, 05:25:20 pm
It looks like a silly theory to me, involving stupid hypothetical situations.

There's nothing wrong, when doing mathematics, with trying to cover all the possibilities, no matter how unlikely. What would be wrong would be to conclude that simply because absolute mathematical perfection is not possible, why bother.

Sure, but when it comes time to argue about which system is worth adopting, the mathematical objections that are stupid in practice are worth ignoring then.

Quote
A simple preferential voting system, where you mark your preferences in order 1, 2, 3... and the candidate with the least votes is eliminated in each round, does indeed have one relatively obvious flaw.

It could happen that a compromise candidate that, in a later round, would be preferred by a majority of the voters to any of the candidates then available, might be eliminated in the first round of voting.

Each voting system is best, if you choose your criteria to fit what it does. It could be argued that the guy who is nobody's first choice is not the best candidate even if he's everybody's fifth choice. I don't actually argue that this is the best way, but I do want to point out that at some point you're making choices based on minor subtle points, and I figure that the simplicity of the system as a whole overrides the minor subtleties.

Quote
A relatively simple modification of preferential voting would address this issue (although not providing a perfect solution). When a candidate is "eliminated", although that candidate's votes flow to other candidates, the number of votes received for that candidate is still recorded, and the candidate remains in the running, but as a "dead" candidate.

I think your idea is not very different from "acceptance voting" where you vote for everybody you're willing to vote for, and the winner is the one with the most votes. But it looks like yours is somewhat different in that only one vote for a live candidate counts at a time, and only votes for dead candidates that rank above that vote. So if somebody wins before all your votes have been counted (which happens when all but one of your candidates have been eliminated) then your last choices aren't counted at all.

I like it better than acceptance voting, but it looks a little complicated.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on October 04, 2009, 05:38:09 pm
You might be interested in knowing that voting for the least appealing candidate from the other party has already been done.  About 20 years ago in the fifth congressional district in Indiana (which is strongly republican) a whole bunch of cross over republican voters voted in the democractic primary and got as the nominee a cross dressing felon who was working at a fast food resturant to be the democractic contender to Congressman Dan Burton.  An Indianapolis television news crew even interviewed him while at work.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 05, 2009, 09:04:43 am
All this talk about voting for "the One" made me wonder -- why in the world should our choices be limited to just One of Two competing parties? When I buy a computer, or shoes, or food, I get to pick from more than two competing options. I don't engage in a voting process where other people influence my choice. I just plunk my money down and take home whatever I want.

What is so Magickal about "voting" and "majority rule" that we keep trying to fix the numerous flaws?

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on October 05, 2009, 11:15:16 am
Terry:  The Republicans and Democracts only want you to have two choices.  Them.  That's why the co-chairs of the presidential television debate commission are the former heads of the Republican and Democractic parties.  Here in Indiana before the Libertarian Party of Indiana got on the ballot with at least 3 percent of the total votes for Indiana Sect. of State, we had to go out every election and canvas household to get petitions to get on the ballot.  Back then if you were an R or D you only needed 500 signatures to get on the ballot for a statewise post like Governor but if you were third party you needed over 32,000.  It's not the people who decide who gets on the ballot it's the politicans, damn them all.  >:(
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on October 07, 2009, 08:11:28 am
I don't engage in a voting process where other people influence my choice. I just plunk my money down and take home whatever I want.

What is so Magickal about "voting" and "majority rule" that we keep trying to fix the numerous flaws?

Decisions have to be made that are binding on everyone. Something either is the law, or it is not the law. If everyone picked which government they would subscribe to, what would resolve disputes between subscribers to different governments?

Your system does already exist in a way; this is what applies when people engage in "voting with their feet".
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 07, 2009, 09:32:57 am
Decisions have to be made that are binding on everyone...

Do they? Even if so, are you certain that this requires a government?

... If everyone picked which government they would subscribe to, what would resolve disputes between subscribers to different governments?

Well this is how the New Hebrides did it:

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hebrides

The Condominium had a French government and an English government between which to choose. They had three court systems, French, English and a Native Court. The presiding judge of the Native Court was appointed by the King of Spain. That's a lot of governments having some dominion over the islands.

This all begs the question of why should we have governments. So the concept of "choosing a government" already assumes facts not in evidence, to wit, that we need governments at all.

In today's world, many clever and practical systems of conflict resolution have arisen spontaneously when need. Why? Because it is in everyone's interest to keep dispute resolution orderly. For example insurance companies have come up with a free, easy and non-governmental way to resolve conflicts between them. Can you guess what it is?

Your system does already exist in a way; this is what applies when people engage in "voting with their feet".

Which is a Hobson's Choice, i.e., no real choice at all. Let's be realistic here. Why should you have to get out of Dodge when you object to third-parties telling you what you can and cannot do in your own home? How about "US out of my home" instead of having to move yourself to yet another repressive government system?

Of course I did move out of the States. I now live in a freer country; not de jure, but at least de facto.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 07, 2009, 10:32:37 am
Decisions have to be made that are binding on everyone...

Do they? Even if so, are you certain that this requires a government?

I strongly doubt that it requires a government. However, when people are ready to have governments they will have governments.

In 1300 if a bunch of peasants decided they didn't want a nobility, then their first task was to get rid of their nobles who had the expensive professional weapons and the expensive professional armies and the money etc and also the aquiescence of most of the peasants. After they handled that part, then their next task was to keep the other nobles from conquering them and grabbing their land. A barony that didn't belong to anybody was an open invitation for nobles to take it, and so the peasants would have to prove repeatedly that they could drive off outside armies -- hardest at harvest season when the invaders could burn the crops if they could get to them. And then if they looked like a threat to the concept of nobles, they'd have to fight off whatever coalition of nobles considered them enough of a threat that it was worth killing everybody and destroying everything to stop the promise....

A bunch of swiss did just that. They had occasional tyrants but largely kept up a democracy for hundreds of years, and they're still at it. But most europeans didn't have what it took to do without an aristocracy until they got new technology and new ideas.

And of course, it was only after the aristocrats became unimportant that it was possible to make the king unimportant too. There's no necessity for a monarchy but most of the world has had monarchs for all of recorded history. It didn't have to be that way but it was.

We didn'd have to have kings and nobles. But we did. We don't have to have governments at all. But we do. If you can take the next step then more power to you. I approve. I don't have high hopes about it reducing tyranny much. My guess is that in a libertarian society I'd have a bunch of busybodies trying to make sure I raised my children to their satisfaction as good libertarians and not statists, etc. If you really don't want people telling you what to do, you need to be a hermit. But done well, a libertarian society could still be a whole lot better than what we have now.

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If a man can resist the influences of his townsfolk, if he can cut free from the tyranny of neighborhood gossip, the world has no terrors for him; there is no second inquisition."
                                  John Jay Chapman


Your system does already exist in a way; this is what applies when people engage in "voting with their feet".

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Which is a Hobson's Choice, i.e., no real choice at all. Let's be realistic here. Why should you have to get out of Dodge when you object to third-parties telling you what you can and cannot do in your own home? How about "US out of my home" instead of having to move yourself to yet another repressive government system?

If they are highly opinionated and more heavily armed than you, it's better to leave than try to kill them all and live here by yourself. But if it's widely believed that you and your neighbors can and will take on all comers, then you have as good a chance as the people of afghanistan do....

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Of course I did move out of the States. I now live in a freer country; not de jure, but at least de facto.

It's a start.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 08, 2009, 07:55:37 am
Irish tuatha, for hundreds of years, were voluntary associations led by "kings." People could easily switch allegiance without physically moving. As a result, the "kings" ruled lightly. As for "what is law?" the body of mercantile law was originally created by merchants themselves, not by the kings; it was fast and reasonably priced and accessible to all. Kings took over the law business in order to gather revenues and to control the law; to judge themselves exempt from the law.

Money was invented by private traders. There have been private minters for centuries. Sovereigns granted themselves a monopoly on mintage in order to collect a fee for minting coins, and eventually to water down the coinage. In particularly serious cases, the sovereigns force people to accept paper as if it were "as good as gold", when it is clearly nothing of the sort. See "inflation, Zimbabwe" for the end result of that ploy.  During the War of Northern Aggression, California and other western states had private mints and used gold coinage in preference to the Union greenbacks; the greenbacks were accepted at a discount or not at all; contracts were written in terms of gold, which terms were enforceable until the Federal government under FDR "judged" such clauses away and actually made private ownership of gold illegal. Gold was confiscated.

 
 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: ObscureDragom on October 08, 2009, 08:02:59 pm
Maybe the problem with Voting is that it's not as much a purchase as it is a lottery.  1 vote doesn't equal total governmental control / Total voting populace of the county.

Maybe if it was a total volume vote and every 1% of the total vote equaled one Seat in a Congress or Parliament.  The President or Prime Minister would be the person at the head of the largest party or could wrangle the largest Coalition among the seats.

I think you'd get a very representative government that would be a lot easier to live under then the standard majority rules version.

until the Federal government under FDR "judged" such clauses away and actually made private ownership of gold illegal. Gold was confiscated.

Curiously I could never figure out why gold is so valuable.  The argument I often is hear is "You only need a little gold to make something really valuable like a gold ring."  However this is a circular argument as most pieces of jewelry like a ring has a value equal to the material used to make it.  A gold ring is really valuable because it's made of gold.

In the end, gold is only valuable because you think other people will always think it's valuable.

Remember that as you levy your saving on the mythos of gold.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 08, 2009, 11:01:23 pm
In the end, gold is only valuable because you think other people will always think it's valuable.

Remember that as you levy your saving on the mythos of gold.

There are a number of reasons gold makes an excellent medium of exchange. In the end, though, those reasons are irrelevant. The fact is, the subjective value placed on gold by actors in the market has consistently valued it as a money, whether or not it "makes sense." Throughout all recorded history, the market has consistently put a high value on gold money. Sure, tomorrow actors in the market might all wake up and say, "Hey, it's only a dense yellow metal. I think I will convert to money based on casaba melons instead," but I'm betting on the inertia of gold over the mythos of paper money backed by nothing more than government promises.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 09, 2009, 12:18:50 am
Irish tuatha, for hundreds of years, were voluntary associations led by "kings." People could easily switch allegiance without physically moving. As a result, the "kings" ruled lightly.

The data is real sketchy about that, and more analysis doesn't actually help all that much. There wasn't a lot of attention paid to the peasants who were the large majority of the population either, and the "king" who rules lightly over his armed cutthroats may be letting them trample heavily over the mass of the people.

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As for "what is law?" the body of mercantile law was originally created by merchants themselves, not by the kings; it was fast and reasonably priced and accessible to all. Kings took over the law business in order to gather revenues and to control the law; to judge themselves exempt from the law.

Mercantile law was created by powerful merchants after there *were* powerful merchants. Partly, kings took over the law business to gather revenues and to weaken the aristocracy who had been running the law stuff before. It went every which way, and hard to draw firm ideological conclusions from it all.

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Money was invented by private traders.

Tradition has it that money was invented by a king. I believe Herodotus hd a name for the king, Croesus maybe. The place was definitely Lydia. The Midas story comes from those times.

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There have been private minters for centuries. Sovereigns granted themselves a monopoly on mintage in order to collect a fee for minting coins, and eventually to water down the coinage. In particularly serious cases, the sovereigns force people to accept paper as if it were "as good as gold", when it is clearly nothing of the sort. See "inflation, Zimbabwe" for the end result of that ploy.  During the War of Northern Aggression, California and other western states had private mints and used gold coinage in preference to the Union greenbacks; the greenbacks were accepted at a discount or not at all; contracts were written in terms of gold, which terms were enforceable until the Federal government under FDR "judged" such clauses away and actually made private ownership of gold illegal. Gold was confiscated.

A whole lot of what you say here is true. Private money issuers were not in general trustworthy, but neither have been governments. Finding somebody we can trust to issue money is an unsolved problem.

The basic problem is that we want a definite promise for the future, and there aren't any. Ideally you could sell a loaf of bread today and get a guarantee that you could get more than a loaf of bread back sometime next year or year after next or 20 years from now. But the world is somewhat chaotic and there's no guarantee that there will be anywhere near enough bread in 20 years. How can we guarantee that a promise made today will be worth what it ought to be in 20 years? We simply cannot. Gold at least won't rust or evaporate. But there have been occasional gold strikes that much increased the amount of gold available, and results varied -- there was inflation, but sometimes the economies had been *limited* by the amount of money in circulation and sometimes there were economic booms that more than made up for the inflation -- in some places, and possibly because of the extra gold. Or was it coincidence?

It might actually be easier if we had a system where it's completely obvious that attempts to "save" money are in fact gambles that might pay off later, and money itself must be spent before it becomes worthless. If we fully adapted to that idea we might be better off. Attempts to get governments or anybody else to keep their promises to maintain the value of money are problematic, and basing the money supply on accidents of mining is not much better.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 09, 2009, 12:24:15 am
Sure, tomorrow actors in the market might all wake up and say, "Hey, it's only a dense yellow metal. I think I will convert to money based on casaba melons instead," but I'm betting on the inertia of gold over the mythos of paper money backed by nothing more than government promises.

By exactly the same logic, it's predictable that the public will not wake up and discard their governments.

Even in places where the governments have created hyperinflation and the population was reduced to barter and foreign currency, they might have gotten rid of the particular governments which did that but they went right out and got themselves new governments right away.

Inertia is powerful, and the more comfortable you are with the status quo the more that inertia works for you rather than against you.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on October 09, 2009, 01:35:40 pm
it's predictable that the public will not wake up and discard their governments.

Of course.

My wife's son once made a similar comment, apparently considering it an argument against our preference for voluntary cooperation.  I responded something like "I would be extremely surprised to ever see a free society; I don't expect you to see one either; I think it unlikely that your children will; but your grandchildren might have a good chance".  He didn't respond, perhaps thinking that I was crazy.

I would be overjoyed to be proven wrong.  Seasteading?  EFTesque space settlement?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on October 09, 2009, 07:56:42 pm
it's predictable that the public will not wake up and discard their governments.

Of course.

My wife's son once made a similar comment, apparently considering it an argument against our preference for voluntary cooperation.  I responded something like "I would be extremely surprised to ever see a free society; I don't expect you to see one either; I think it unlikely that your children will; but your grandchildren might have a good chance".  He didn't respond, perhaps thinking that I was crazy.

I would be overjoyed to be proven wrong.  Seasteading?  EFTesque space settlement?

I used to think that possibly seasteading would work, in fact there are actually a few people who have attempted it and one was actually successful.  Problem is that it probably won't be long until the "law of the sea" gets passed in the U.S. Senate and then you can forget about it.  What it does is to make the U.N. the ruler of all of the seas that aren't controlled by individual nations is any seasteading is tresspassing on U.N. "property".   >:(
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 09, 2009, 08:42:34 pm
I used to think that possibly seasteading would work, in fact there are actually a few people who have attempted it and one was actually successful.  Problem is that it probably won't be long until the "law of the sea" gets passed in the U.S. Senate and then you can forget about it.  What it does is to make the U.N. the ruler of all of the seas that aren't controlled by individual nations is any seasteading is tresspassing on U.N. "property".   >:(

It is in no nation's best interest to overturn freedom of passage on the open seas. All that is left is for your vessel to be nominally under the control of some country. This is where "flags of convenience" comes into play. Panama, Nigeria, Cyprus and a few other countries have "open ship registries." They will promiscuously register anyone with the ducats. 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 09, 2009, 09:13:28 pm
Given a choice, people select the more trustworthy mints. The Mormons in the late 1800s were peddling junk coins and traded at a discount compared to coins from Bechtier and Moffat. But government uses force to require people to accept their coins (or paper), regardless of how diluted they may be. Older codgers like me remember when dimes and quarters actually contained 90% silver. Then about 1964, those were replaced with junk metal by that much-vaunted "trustworthy" pile of goofs that we call a "government."

If a private mint pulled that stunt, they would go out of business. This actually happened in the past; junk mints lost customers. Junk governments have the guns to keep themselves in business by force.

One may buy a bag of so-called "junk silver", which is "junk" only in that the coins have no value beyond the silver, for approximately ten times the face value. This is inversely proportional to the degree of "value" imputed to that vaunted government coinage.

As for the value of gold and silver ... they have had value for centuries because they are durable, attractive, divisible, portable, and are not created by printing presses. They have some industrial and cosmetic applications, but the major part of the perceived value is due to being a convenient means of trade. It is easier to trade "two oz of gold" instead of "two cows" or "two barrels of oil."  If ever an alchemist figures out how to create gold on demand, in the way that Ben Bernanke creates faith-based paper currency on his printing press, the value of gold will plummet just as the value of faith-based paper currency has.

Value is in the eye of the beholder.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on October 10, 2009, 09:06:47 am

As for the value of gold and silver ... they have had value for centuries because they are durable, attractive, divisible, portable, and are not created by printing presses. They have some industrial and cosmetic applications,


Actually, the single largest industrial use of silver is passing fast, with the replacement of film by digital cameras, both motion and still.  Just a couple of months back was the announcement that they're going to take the Kodachrome away.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on October 10, 2009, 11:10:24 am

Actually, the single largest industrial use of silver is passing fast, with the replacement of film by digital cameras, both motion and still.  Just a couple of months back was the announcement that they're going to take the Kodachrome away.
  Actually that's a common fallacy.  While your right that they're not using much silver for photographs any more there are all kinds of new uses for silver being discovered.  For example, I read recently that silver works as a broad spectrum virus killer.  It seems that silver ions actually loosens the chemical bonds of viruses which helps keep the viruses from multiplying and spreading.  Silver coated facemasks have been developed to help keep you from getting colds.  And that's just one example.

Sandy:  As a lawyer I'm sure that you know more about this than I do, but it's my understanding that the "law of the sea" treaty" allows the U.N. to tax any vessel that traverses the seas.  They can tax out of existence any nation that depends on marine commerce.  The old saying that the power to tax is the power to destroy is applicable here.  >:(
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 10, 2009, 03:49:09 pm
If ever an alchemist figures out how to create gold on demand, in the way that Ben Bernanke creates faith-based paper currency on his printing press, the value of gold will plummet just as the value of faith-based paper currency has.

Value is in the eye of the beholder.

If we got cheap gold we would be a lot better off, apart from its use as a medium of exchange. There are lots of things that would benefit from goldplating or being made of solid gold, that we currently can't afford.

Given the technology, we could do barter without a lot of inconvenience. Say you own a few tons of wheat. You want to buy a pair of shoes. You go online and see who'll trade something for your wheat, and who'll trade something for that, and the network traces a path of trades from you to the guy with the shoes. If either of you thinks it's too expensive then no sale, maybe try again later.

Some things would trade easily and quickly. Some would hold value well. You don't have money, you have stuff that you hope somebody wants.

There would be no guarantee that whatever you have will keep its value. Paintings by grand masters get more and less valuable as fashions shift. Grain gets more and less valuable as people have more or less time available to drink alcohol products. No guarantees, you take your chances like everybody else. If there's a government they can tax your stuff or outright confiscate it. They can temporarily decrease the resale value of your wheat by taking their strategic wheat reserve and dumping it on the market. But there's a subtle difference between that and the government printing money.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 10, 2009, 06:55:38 pm
Sandy:  As a lawyer I'm sure that you know more about this than I do, but it's my understanding that the "law of the sea" treaty" allows the U.N. to tax any vessel that traverses the seas.  They can tax out of existence any nation that depends on marine commerce.  The old saying that the power to tax is the power to destroy is applicable here.  >:(

News to me. I'm not saying your are wrong. I just don't know either way. (If I had to guess, though, either no such power exists or even if it does, no one would comply with it.) Also, as far as I can tell, there isn't a nation on earth that doesn't depend on marine commerce. So it is in nobody's best interest to give the UN such a power.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on October 11, 2009, 11:40:45 am
Sandy:  As a lawyer I'm sure that you know more about this than I do, but it's my understanding that the "law of the sea" treaty" allows the U.N. to tax any vessel that traverses the seas.  They can tax out of existence any nation that depends on marine commerce.  The old saying that the power to tax is the power to destroy is applicable here.  >:(

News to me. I'm not saying your are wrong. I just don't know either way. (If I had to guess, though, either no such power exists or even if it does, no one would comply with it.) Also, as far as I can tell, there isn't a nation on earth that doesn't depend on marine commerce. So it is in nobody's best interest to give the UN such a power.

It's there.  It just isn't much enforced.  Like a lot of laws.  Reread Rand.  Those who claim to rule need productive "guilty" people available for the next crackdown.  Like having a ten year old parking ticket brought up when you try to register a five year old "new" car.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 11, 2009, 11:46:34 am
It's there.  It just isn't much enforced.  Like a lot of laws.

Anybody got an actual citation?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on October 11, 2009, 01:18:16 pm
It's there.  It just isn't much enforced.  Like a lot of laws.

Anybody got an actual citation?
The full text is at  <http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm>.  It's a bit thick (as in pile it higher and deeper, like the Patriot Act and the Obamacare Bill) and I haven't read it all the way through in over two decades (nor am I going to now), so there may be amendments I've missed.  Not a big priority for a computer geek whose main source of seafood is cans.  (wdg2nd and wdg1st were seriously into deep-sea fishing, mostly off Baja, but if I really want fresh fish, I prefer to use explosives that the DHS is making it hard to buy without a permit --  I'm not a sportsman like my ancestors were but my baby sister [she's 50] has a picture of those two assholes with some dead swordfish or something on her myspace page).


Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on October 11, 2009, 01:24:59 pm
I got the following for "The New American"

"Moreover, LOST may conger upon the UN, for the first time, the ability to tax Americans directly without congressional approval."
"Many Americans have experienced firsthand just how burden U. S. regulation of our own waterways, including wetlands regulations can be.  But how about international  regulation of our waterways?"  "What national interest can be served by subjecting ourselves to the regulatory ministrations and taxing authority of UN bureaucrats and judges and the legational ploys of foriegn dictators and anti-american NGO's."  "Obviously, none."  "Nonetheless, Senate ratification of LOST is a 'top priority' for the new Obama administration."  
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on October 11, 2009, 02:37:53 pm
The full text is at  <http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm>.  It's a bit thick (as in pile it higher and deeper, like the Patriot Act and the Obamacare Bill) and I haven't read it all the way through in over two decades (nor am I going to now)...

Nor do I. I have neither the time or burden of proof. However, if anyone can point to an actual citation of the relevant chapter and verse, I will be happy to address it.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: quadibloc on October 12, 2009, 11:51:42 am
Tradition has it that money was invented by a king. I believe Herodotus hd a name for the king, Croesus maybe. The place was definitely Lydia.

Yes, but paper money was invented in China. Only the fiercely dictatorial rule of the Chinese Emperor could institute such a thing originally.

Asteroid mining, or gold from seawater as a byproduct of desalination and uranium extraction, could indeed cause the value of gold to decline, but we probably have some time before that happens.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: J Thomas on October 12, 2009, 04:38:20 pm
Tradition has it that money was invented by a king. I believe Herodotus hd a name for the king, Croesus maybe. The place was definitely Lydia.

Yes, but paper money was invented in China. Only the fiercely dictatorial rule of the Chinese Emperor could institute such a thing originally.

The romans did something vaguely like that at some point, it may have been pieces of leather to represent cows or something similar. it isn't just autocrats, there are times when people really want to run things on promises. When they see opportunities to create a whole lot of wealth, but they can't pay to develop it yet, only after the development is done....  A lot of times people are willing to work for promises but they want to have those promises very clearly made and they like it if they can sell the promises too. So money -- not valuables to barter with, but money -- is consistently a promise. It's worth as much as people's faith that it will pay off someday, plus the convenience of having it to circulate today.

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Asteroid mining, or gold from seawater as a byproduct of desalination and uranium extraction, could indeed cause the value of gold to decline, but we probably have some time before that happens.

Gold as money depends on there not being too much gold mining to dilute the value. Sometimes it's better to depend on the vagaries of miners and markets than to depend on whoever gets to issue money as promises. Anybody who gets to pay for things with promises might at some point violate the trust people have in them....

But the more gold we have available to use for actual uses, the better off we are. Get the price of gold down to, say, $5/pound and a whole lot of our machines can be redesigned to work better. We would be rich in a completely different way than just owning something that people want.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on October 12, 2009, 06:56:21 pm
there are times when people really want to run things on promises. When they see opportunities to create a whole lot of wealth, but they can't pay to develop it yet, only after the development is done
Lending at interest is certainly easier with money, but doesn't require it.  "If you buy me a hamburger today, I'll give you two hamburgers on Tuesday."

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money -- not valuables to barter with, but money -- is consistently a promise
No, money is anything that is used as a medium of exchange.  Valuables have often been used for money, and still are in some places.  Traditional banknotes are promises, typically to redeem the note on demand for a specified amount of a precious metal, although I wouldn't be surprised to see other standardized goods used as backing for banknotes in the future.  Federal reserve notes are neither inherently valuable nor have promises to redeem them for anything, but are still used as money (since people expect that nearby stores will trade valuable goods for them).

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Gold as money depends on there not being too much gold mining to dilute the value. Sometimes it's better to depend on the vagaries of miners and markets than to depend on whoever gets to issue money as promises.
Gold (or anything else) is useful as money if (among other things) its relative value is fairly constant in the short term.  When I sell something (such as my labor) for money and use the money to pay the rent, I don't care whether the same money would pay the rent 20 years from now (unless I signed a 20-year lease, of course).

If I want wealth in the future, I might collect some precious good (perhaps money), start a business, educate myself to increase my earning power, or something else.  Depending on money to retain or increase its value might work out well or might not, just as any investment decision might work out well or might not.

All else being equal, a good that is expected to retain its value for a long time would be a better money than a good that is expected to lose some value in the same time, but all else is seldom equal.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on October 13, 2009, 07:09:41 pm
Before gold clauses were abrogated in the 1930s, it was common practice to write contracts in terms of gold. Some even specified a reputable private mint. Such contracts are an excellent hedge against inflation, under most conditions; governments can print paper, but they can't print gold.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Frank B. on October 14, 2009, 05:04:48 pm
Before gold clauses were abrogated in the 1930s, it was common practice to write contracts in terms of gold. Some even specified a reputable private mint. Such contracts are an excellent hedge against inflation, under most conditions; governments can print paper, but they can't print gold.

Well, they use to (debasing the metal in the coin), but paper is infinitely more inflatable.  :)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: browncoat4 on December 16, 2009, 11:02:10 am
Yes, i see several correlations to Heinlein's the moon is a harsh mistress, the state of social anarchy is interesting in such an environment. Anarchy may not be the best idea (do libertarians have building inspectors?) but it is infinitely preferable to the state of social repression that would be found in a world run by the UN and others of their worthless, incompetent ilk. However i do not think that what we saw in this beautiful and well written comic was actually anarchy. It seemed to be more like a state of self governance, like democracy with out the middle man. if you pooped in the drinking water, everyone who didn't like it was going to gather around and beat you with sticks. there you go, democracy, majority rules.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on December 16, 2009, 12:45:51 pm
Yes, i see several correlations to Heinlein's the moon is a harsh mistress, the state of social anarchy is interesting in such an environment. Anarchy may not be the best idea (do libertarians have building inspectors?)...

Yes, but not in the coercive sort of way. Whenever a question like this comes up, I ask the person, "Okay, assuming there were no government building inspectors, how would you solve this problem? It turns out that most statists are completely stymied. They cannot even conceive of the existence of a solution that does not involve coercion. Every once in a while, though, I see a light go on as the questioner has an "aha" moment. Now I am not accusing you of being a statist. That was just an extreme example. So, if there were no building inspectors and you thought there should be, what could you, or someone else, do to rectify this situation? (This question goes for anyone else who wants to jump in.)

... However i do not think that what we saw in this beautiful and well written comic was actually anarchy. It seemed to be more like a state of self governance, like democracy with out the middle man. if you pooped in the drinking water, everyone who didn't like it was going to gather around and beat you with sticks. there you go, democracy, majority rules.

You used one important word, "everyone," i.e., individuals. Some people wouldn't care, some would care, but not enough to do any thing about it. Those that did beat you with a stick, had better have an airtight self-defense argument ready, when you take them to arbitration.

You also labeled this self-help as democracy. Well, it isn't. The demos (people) do not rule anyone but themselves. They, and they alone, are responsible for their acts. A group of people with sticks is no more "majority rule" than one guy with a stick.

Self-defense, is a universally recognized right. However, it might be a stretch to whack a guy with a stick to stop him from defecating in your drinking water and he refused when you asked him nicely to stop polluting your water. Then I can envision a possible need for the stick. Otherwise, no.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Sean Roach on December 16, 2009, 01:12:33 pm
Simple.  If I didn't trust my neighbor to keep a tight lid on his place, I'd make sure the seal between me and him worked real well.
There are no building inspectors for fences between properties.  If your neighbor can't keep his fence tight, and you have a problem with mingling between your property and his, your put up your own just outside his.  There are many cases of parallel fences in the area where I live.  Of course, frequently BOTH are down.  Cattle are like that.

If it was being built for ME, by a contractor I didn't already trust, I'd probably turn to Angie's List or even the BBB.  I'd ask around to see who got a good deal on a good dome.

If it was being provided to me as a part of another service, (perhaps I was enrolling kids and wanted to know they wouldn't suddenly breathe vacuum, but the place wasn't mine, nor was it a neighbor,) I'd ask to see documentation that the dome was secure; the mark or signature of a trusted inspector or construction firm.

I might simply say that if it's safe enough for my neighbor, it's safe enough for me, and go on with my life too.  If my neighbor starts agitating, I'd become more receptive to criticisms of the dome, and at a point chosen by me, I'd decide it was potentially too dangerous to ignore.  I'd either do a little research of my own, or just take the short way out, and change service providers.  I'd call this the natural way.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on December 17, 2009, 04:36:52 pm
What about building inspectors? Well, let's start by asking "who cares?"

Seriously. Who cares? Well, the owner cares. He wants a sound building. Might he call the equivalent of Underwriters Laboratories ( a privately-funded organization which certifies that electrical equipment is safe to use, and many other important issues ) to inspect the building? Who else cares? The builder does - he wants a good reputation. Buildings which collapse don't help. So he is likely to call a competent inspector. UL is hired by the manufacturers for similar reasons - they want to preserve their reputations.

Who else cares? The people who live and work in the building. If they see a "Seal of Approval" from the Building Inspector's Labs, they'll feell a lot safer.

In short, there is no reason why building inspection - or any other service - must be provided by a government agency, and there are many reasons not to do so. Everything we know about the disadvantages of monopolies vis a vis customers - high cost and low quality - applies particularly to agencies which can not be fired - that is, government agencies.

If it were not for the government, you would have your choice of cable companies and phone companies and so forth. In fact, when ATT's patents expired, thousands of phone companies sprang up. ATT invented a lot of specious reasoning about "natural monopolies" to justify government grants of monopoly power, to squeeze out their competitors. It was sold as a benefit to the customers, but it was really a benefit to ATT.  This is a well-established branch of economic research known as "regulatory capture."
 

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: KBCraig on December 18, 2009, 05:09:00 am
What about building inspectors? Well, let's start by asking "who cares?"

Seriously. Who cares? Well, the owner cares.

And that's where the concern should end.

A recent series of articles out of New Hampshire have dealt with a small group of homeless men who have built their own shack on private property (with the owner's permission), with donated materials. They have asked for nothing from the government, except to be left alone.

Wouldn't you know it, the local government is hassling them over fire code and occupancy permit violations. Because they're "concerned for their safety", of course; kicking them out of this shack would mean they have to turn to government homeless shelters, where their property is stolen and they are subject to assault.

The most recent article:
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?articleId=f6af31da-eab0-483e-9d39-7a992c2768fe
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on December 24, 2009, 08:29:27 pm
Theft and assault must be considered "minor inconveniences", compared to the benefits of keeping tabs on those ungrateful wretches.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on December 26, 2009, 02:33:23 am
Governments work hard to justify their actions.  At the same time they enact rules to protect the ruling class.

Supposedly one of the major causes of the failure of the Articles of Confederation and the arise of the Constitution was state by state interference with trade.This interference was through tolls and taxes.  A primary purpose of the Constitution was the elimination of the interference through the "Commerce Clause".

Today the Federal Government uses the  "Commerce Clause of the Constitution" to restrict trade and technology instead of insuring free trade between the states.

Under Emanate Domain, select government officials are  not subject to criminal or civil suit when they deliberately violate their oath of office.  I suspect the courts have held the oath is not binding or actionable.

The primary source of control of wayward politicians is the election process.  However, incumbents have rigged the election rules to the point an incumbent is hardly ever defeated.

The rule of law and the non-aggression principle arose with the spread of easily operated, effective personal arms.  It is cheaper and safer to go through arbitration.

Today, the government seeks to prohibit  personal arms due to a fear of the citizen.  Today's Politically Correct Thought is the "Common Man" is incompetent and can not be trusted to "Properly" use personal weapons.  The more this myth grows, the greater the government's reach for power.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on December 26, 2009, 11:41:58 am
Supposedly one of the major causes of the failure of the Articles of Confederation and the arise of the Constitution was state by state interference with trade.
I've heard the same, but the source (a government-approved textbook) was highly suspect.  What little I've read since suggests that the truth is precisely opposite.  From the point of view of politicians, the failure of the Articles of Confederation was that trade controls (tariffs, etc.) were easy to avoid by smuggling between the states.  With the Constitution, trade controls enforced over the whole group of states would be harder to avoid.  (Of course, the Constitution also enabled politicians to increase their power in other ways.)
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on December 26, 2009, 11:54:16 am
That's partly it Brugle but the main reason was that the Articles of Confederation gave the states in the eyes of the federalists too much power at the expense of the federal government which in comparison was weak.  As long as the AC was in force the federal government didn't have the wiggle room that it needed to grow.  That's why we have the Constitution now.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on December 27, 2009, 12:46:27 am
Brugle, What you read was not incorrect. You are partly right.  With strict government controls, black markets and smuggling expand exponentially.  [Alcohol Prohibition gave organized crime major footholds throughout the US.  This set the stage for the War on Drugs.  (Neither one worked as publicly intended.)]  From the various Government positions, the problem was the governments were not getting their cut of the profits.  They acted to insure they would.  And set the stage for the rise of their competition. 

Government Officials act through eminent domain and  sovereign immunity, enacting laws patently unconstitutional.  They know under existing law they may not be brought to task for their actions, but may only be removed from office.  Unless they commit a publicly abhorred offense, they will will not suffer for the loss of their job.

The Democrats have shown they are willing to risk the loss of their individual jobs in order to secure power which they plan to use to control the government and population, by any means necessary.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on December 27, 2009, 11:08:07 am
I would add to what Dough just said by looking at legal gambling also known as the Lottery.  If you and a friend place a twenty dollar bet on a football game you have just broken the law, but you can take your entire weekly paycheck and go to the grocery store and put it on a chance of one in say twenty million of winning the lottery.  The difference is that the state gets a substantial cut so that makes it legal, of course you and your friend betting on odds of roughly 50/50 with no cut for the state is illegal.  See how government works?  >:(
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on December 28, 2009, 10:22:22 pm
I have to toss in a GrammarNazi alert.

Sovereign Immunity means government agents can do what they like because they are the government and you are not.

Eminent domain means the government can take your land and pay you beans for it.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on December 30, 2009, 05:00:37 pm
I have to toss in a GrammarNazi alert.

Sovereign Immunity means government agents can do what they like because they are the government and you are not.

Eminent domain means the government can take your land and pay you beans for it.
Terry, you almost got it right.  You forgot to add "because they are the government and you are not."   At the end of the eminent domain sentence.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on December 31, 2009, 04:20:09 am
Terry, you're right. I have misused Sovereign Immunity and Imminent Domain interchangeably .  Rocketman, To either term, you can add:  They have more guns than you do and are not reluctant to use them.

Telling isn't it, how they restrict access to specialized ammunition, firearms, sighting, night vision and thermal sighting / imagining equipment.  Not to mention certain types of body armor and surveillance equipment.

The entire focus of the Second Amendment, was the citizen having equipment equal to or better than the government.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on December 31, 2009, 10:48:06 am
100 percent in agreement with that last post.  If we had the 2nd amendment that our founding fathers wanted us to have people could own F-15's loaded with cluster bombs and sidewinders, M-1A1 Abrams with a 120 smoothbore cannons or Ageis cruisers loaded with tomahawk missles.  The only problems being how can we pay for the upkeep and how do we keep the keys from junior so he doesn't pick up his prom date in the Abrams. 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on January 01, 2010, 12:24:43 am
Back in the day, there actually were hundreds, even thousands of privately-owned warships. They sold shares, dividing the cost among many people. No reason why we could not do the same. They were driven out by rent-seeking navies.

Who would pay for big, expensive systems in a voluntaryist world? I imagine that people like Bill Gates who own vast enterprises would have an interest in large-scale defense, since their interests are not tied to one particular storefront or factory - it is important to have customers, after all.

Many theorists focus on insurance companies; they'd certainly have an interest in a peaceful environment.

I rather think that wealthier entrepreneurs would organize and provide a lot of funding for militia in their communities. There would be shooting competitions and war games. Think of today's laser-tag / air gun / three-gun matches extended to include exercises with tanks, mortars, IEDs, and so forth. 
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on January 01, 2010, 11:07:33 am
100 percent in agreement with that last post.  If we had the 2nd amendment that our founding fathers wanted us to have people could own F-15's loaded with cluster bombs and sidewinders, M-1A1 Abrams with a 120 smoothbore cannons or Ageis cruisers loaded with tomahawk missles.  The only problems being how can we pay for the upkeep and how do we keep the keys from junior so he doesn't pick up his prom date in the Abrams. 

Where's the problem with the kid dating in the back seat of the vehicle he likes best?  (The back seat of an Abrams is safer to screw in than the back seat of a Warthog).
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on January 01, 2010, 11:49:45 am
Back in the day, there actually were hundreds, even thousands of privately-owned warships. They sold shares, dividing the cost among many people. No reason why we could not do the same. They were driven out by rent-seeking navies.

Who would pay for big, expensive systems in a voluntaryist world? I imagine that people like Bill Gates who own vast enterprises would have an interest in large-scale defense, since their interests are not tied to one particular storefront or factory - it is important to have customers, after all.

Many theorists focus on insurance companies; they'd certainly have an interest in a peaceful environment.

I rather think that wealthier entrepreneurs would organize and provide a lot of funding for militia in their communities. There would be shooting competitions and war games. Think of today's laser-tag / air gun / three-gun matches extended to include exercises with tanks, mortars, IEDs, and so forth. 

El Neil has spoken and written (I think I watched him talk about it before it was in TLE, way back at LFSCon) on things like local SDI.  Yes, county (or smaller territory), depends on how things are disorganized where you live) level ways to take out orbital missiles and other falling debris.  At far less cost (especially in self-esteem and local independence) than the central government models that depend on the USAF or even less competent NASA.  I won't claim that the USAF is incompetent, just basing things on my [four years] experience several decades ago and the recent record (I think the evidence is fairly clear, but even a fucking idiot knows that NASA makes a mud brick look smart [they make landings on the moon boring, when they have pilots who could _land_ a mud brick at Edwards if it had stripes painted on it and then go change pants before meeting the Press]).
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on January 01, 2010, 12:13:58 pm

Where's the problem with the kid dating in the back seat of the vehicle he likes best?  (The back seat of an Abrams is safer to screw in than the back seat of a Warthog).

First, the A-10 unlike most attack jets or fighter jets wasn't designed in a two seat version.  A design analyst that I worked with at Pratt had previously worked on the A-10 design and he told me that it was an extremely simple (for a attack jet) to fly.  So simple that if you had gone through basic and advanced flight school that you shouldn't have any trouble flying it at all.  Second, can you imagine the damage that a 120,250 lb (combat weight) M1A1 could do to the neighbor's new birdbath if instead of paying attention to the road Junior was a lot more concerned about getting to second or even third base with Candi from down the street?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on January 01, 2010, 01:40:17 pm

Where's the problem with the kid dating in the back seat of the vehicle he likes best?  (The back seat of an Abrams is safer to screw in than the back seat of a Warthog).

First, the A-10 unlike most attack jets or fighter jets wasn't designed in a two seat version.  A design analyst that I worked with at Pratt had previously worked on the A-10 design and he told me that it was an extremely simple (for a attack jet) to fly.  So simple that if you had gone through basic and advanced flight school that you shouldn't have any trouble flying it at all.  Second, can you imagine the damage that a 120,250 lb (combat weight) M1A1 could do to the neighbor's new birdbath if instead of paying attention to the road Junior was a lot more concerned about getting to second or even third base with Candi from down the street?

Yeah, you're right.  No back seat.  Beautiful frickin' plane to watch (I spent a week TDY at Edwards with a MAC team from Travis to strip a C-5 that made a harder-than-it-should-have landing there and would have no further future than a tow into the desert sands) during the first test flights and that oogly plane was flying circles around the pace car.  I wanted (and want) one for commuting.  (Couple years later, another TDY, they were in service at Eglin, things of ugliness^wbeauty in production).  I _still_ don't understand what "laws" of aerodynamics let it fly (a long way from what I learned as a kid).  I guess it's the bumblebee principle (_they_ don't know science says they can't fly, so let'em go for it).
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on January 01, 2010, 09:24:15 pm
wdg3rd:  Check this out if you want to see something that will give every pilot a "I got to get me one of those!"  ;D   www.samsonmotorworks.com  It's called the switchblade.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on January 02, 2010, 05:46:13 pm
wdg3rd:  Check this out if you want to see something that will give every pilot a "I got to get me one of those!"  ;D   www.samsonmotorworks.com  It's called the switchblade.

Yeah, caught the pointer to that reading www.register.co.uk  (I just read the site for the BOFH stories, but other interesting stuff shows up).

Definitely wouldn't turn one down.  La Esposa is a long-time Harley rider and she sometimes mocks me for staying on four wheels.  Though my real dream machines are lighter than air.  (I've been designing zeppelins as a hobby since the mid 70s).

But yeah, I want a flying car or motorbike.  We're nine years into the 21st century and I still don't have one.  When I was a kid (half a century back) I was promised that and hotels on the moon by the end of the 20th century.  Somebody lied.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on January 02, 2010, 06:53:56 pm
.
But yeah, I want a flying car or motorbike.  We're nine years into the 21st century and I still don't have one.  When I was a kid (half a century back) I was promised that and hotels on the moon by the end of the 20th century.  Somebody lied.
That brings up an interesting couple of memories.  I'm roughly the same age as you and can remember watching television back around the very late 50's and early 60's.  The television used to have old films from the 1930's that they would show how life in the distant future of say 1990 was going to be.  We would all live in metal domed houses, everything would be automated and we would only have to work 20 hours a week to have enough money to take care of ourselves and our families.  What happened?  One word- GOVERNMENT.  Back about 20-30 years ago or so I watched a television show that supposedly had interviews with whistleblowers on UFO's.  One individual who was in shadow when he was asked "What kind of government do these gray aliens have?"  His reply was that the aliens don't have a government.  My thought back then (and still is) is "No wonder these guys are so advanced compared to us!!!"
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on January 03, 2010, 02:35:45 am
Heinlein and his flying cars really were ahead of their time.  I remember a backpack helicopter in Popular Mechanics or Science back in the late 60's / early 70's.  The guy who owns Trapper Mufflers still hasn't got his vehicle in production and projected costs are now up to $500,000 each.

I built model moon bases and space stations, under sea cities etc.... for science fairs as a kid.  Used to blow the judges minds.  They had no concept of what I was talking about.

At the time NASA Projections were for a continued investment equal to or greater then the Apollo and Mercury Programs combined, with associated acceleration in technology.  What happened?  The government cut the funding and has acted to keep private industry out of space.  What happens to big oil with beamed power from space.  Orbit a nickle/iron asteroid and start refining steel, with gold and platinum separated as  an impurity.  Materials and processes not possible here on earth.  Who could compete?

Once we're firmly in space and remembering the greedy fingers of government, how long do you think it will take for the people taking the risks and building a future to tell the earthbound governments to pound sand?  Don't thing those good little socialists haven't read at least some speculative fiction.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on January 04, 2010, 11:09:52 am
Which fits my theory very neatly that whoever the first colonists are going to be they will have to have a LIBERTARIAN mindset.  Any colony that depends on advice from its home country back on earth is going to be doomed.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on January 04, 2010, 12:43:44 pm
Regarding "why don't we have hotels on the moon yet", you might find the novel King of the High Frontier of interest.

The basic thesis is that the problem is not lack of funding for NASA; it's that NASA exists at all, and diverts resources from the private sector, which would be much more efficient.

The gov't may have funded some explorations of what used to be the "Wild West", but did they fund the mass migrations, the trains of connestoga wagons? Heck, in many cases the pioneers were actually fleeing government interference.

NASA is a political animal, not an entrepreneurial one. Major decisions are made, not because of sound economics or engineering principles, but because A Congressritter wanted loot for his district. Why is there an expensive control center in Houston? Thank Lyndon Baines Johnson for that one.

The private sector is perfectly able to fund multi-billion-dollar projects whenever it sees the potential for profit. Having a massive government agency claim the field merely displaces private-sector efforts which would probably be more efficient.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Brugle on January 04, 2010, 03:23:14 pm
The basic thesis is that the problem is not lack of funding for NASA; it's that NASA exists at all, and diverts resources from the private sector, which would be much more efficient.

The gov't may have funded some explorations of what used to be the "Wild West", but did they fund the mass migrations, the trains of connestoga wagons?
It's over 7 years old, but How the West Wasn't Won (http://www.spacefuture.com/vehicles/how_the_west_wasnt_won_nafa.shtml) is appropriate and amusing.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Zilabus on February 11, 2010, 06:18:42 pm
I like escape from Terra because it's for the most part a well thought out, well drawn, well done comic that is updated often. In mixes a fair amount of adventure with some bits of comedy and mystery, and it comes out pretty well. The references to our time are interesting, although they often feel joltingly out of place.

I don't like escape from Terra simply because I wish some of the characters where deeper or better done. I'm not trying to say it's not a well written story, I just wish it wasn't so blarringly obvious that A.) All terrans (Running under the socialist government) are evil, bad, corrupt, and in general madmen. These characters feel as though they have extremely little past their face value, which is that they are arrogant, evil, snobbish, brutes that serve no purpose other then to be outwitted or converted by the good frontiersmen. B.) Like I touched on earlier, all of the frontiersmen type characters are good or clever, and even with lesser weaponry or training, they endlessly save the day and outwit evil authoritatian Terran officers. There has yet to be a 'main character that have broken these molds. Is it so impossible to have a terran that's actually a nice, reasonable person that actually manages to stay more then one arc without pulling a heel-face turn to the side of the 'goodguys'?

Maybe I'm asking too much, I'm just saying that as someone who has studied the art of language and storytelling for many years, it turns me off on a story when I see these ultra-simple 'dummy' characters appearing so often.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: SandySandfort on February 11, 2010, 08:59:11 pm
I like escape from Terra because it's for the most part a well thought out, well drawn, well done comic that is updated often. In mixes a fair amount of adventure with some bits of comedy and mystery, and it comes out pretty well. The references to our time are interesting, although they often feel joltingly out of place.

Thanks, Mom.   ;D

I don't like escape from Terra simply because I wish some of the characters where deeper or better done. I'm not trying to say it's not a well written story, I just wish it wasn't so blarringly obvious that A.) All terrans (Running under the socialist government) are evil, bad, corrupt, and in general madmen. These characters feel as though they have extremely little past their face value, which is that they are arrogant, evil, snobbish, brutes that serve no purpose other then to be outwitted or converted by the good frontiersmen. B.) Like I touched on earlier, all of the frontiersmen type characters are good or clever, and even with lesser weaponry or training, they endlessly save the day and outwit evil authoritatian Terran officers. There has yet to be a 'main character that have broken these molds. Is it so impossible to have a terran that's actually a nice, reasonable person that actually manages to stay more then one arc without pulling a heel-face turn to the side of the 'goodguys'?

You might recall that Guy started out as a bad guy, but experienced a sea change due to his experiences on Ceres. Also, a fifth of the crew members opted out of the UW navy when given the opportunity. I promise you will see more sympathetic characters in future arcs, but this is a comic. Historically, adventure/action comics have always featured characters that personify good and evil locked in an eternal, epic battle for the hearts and minds of Man. The original prose stories are slightly more nuanced, but they still deal with the reality of evil and the heroes who fight it. The history of English literature, from Beowulf on, is replete with iconic characters--much more so than EFT.

Maybe I'm asking too much, I'm just saying that as someone who has studied the art of language and storytelling for many years, it turns me off on a story when I see these ultra-simple 'dummy' characters appearing so often.

Well, as one who has also studied the art of language and story telling for many years, I can only say, that's why there are horse races... difference of opinion. It was my judgment to establish the relative morality of the main characters early on. We have all the time in the world to round out their personalities, but first we need to know who they are. Certainly, Reggie's outer/inner monologues on Mars hinted at a more complex character with past actions he anguishes over.

Be patient, he and the others will reveal themselves more fully over time. Think about how much you know about the characters already. Then realize that they will grow and change as we all do. The good guys will err, some bad guys will have misgivings. In fact, it has already happened.

In any case, I thank you for your well thought out comments and suggestions. You obviously care about EFT. Hopefully, you will find more nuance as the strip progresses. Please continue to contribute to the forum. You have certainly made a good start.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: NotDebonair on February 12, 2010, 02:19:46 am
Which fits my theory very neatly that whoever the first colonists are going to be they will have to have a LIBERTARIAN mindset.  Any colony that depends on advice from its home country back on earth is going to be doomed.

You mean that the first successful colonists will have a libertarian mindset.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on February 12, 2010, 08:58:28 am

You mean that the first successful colonists will have a libertarian mindset.
Ya got me Not Debonair.   ;D That is what I mean.  I have very little doubt that statist governments will send out colonies with sheeple controlled by political officiers in the beginning, but when those go belly up even they will realize to really be effective out their you need people who can think for themselves on a moments notice.  If the sheeple are smart, they'll dump the political officer out of an airlock and report back in say two or three years that there has been an unfortunate "accident".   ;D
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on February 13, 2010, 12:45:40 pm
Just like the Mayflower.  The colony started out Collectivist and nearly staved to death.  After the collectivist Mayflower Compact was thrown out , people began working in their own best interest.  With implied self interest and the profit motive firmly entrenched, the colony succeeded.   :)

Just look what we've done with all that hard work and sacrifice.   ::)

I define the nanny minded as those who will not risk their lives or anything else important to them.  They fear the possibility of catastrophic failure and what they might lose.  They value lack of risk and personal safety.  They transfer their fear to others.  If they can not risk catastrophic failure, how can someone else?  They see their fear as reasonable.  They see people who strive and risk, as someone who must be protected from themselves.   At the same time they have an overriding desire for power.  Power used to impose their fears on others.  Power used to control others, trying to make them as small minded as the controllers.  Nanny minded fear someone who despite restrictions and controls, succeeds.  The last thing they want to do is to see themselves as they are.

People died and will continue to die while getting things done.  I'll lay a bet that each of us have successes we value most for what we risked.  I'll also bet we failed at least once, before we succeeded.  That's the way it should be.

Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on February 13, 2010, 04:55:23 pm
Just like the Mayflower.  The colony started out Collectivist and nearly staved to death.  After the collectivist Mayflower Compact was thrown out , people began working in their own best interest.  With implied self interest and the profit motive firmly entrenched, the colony succeeded.   :)


My ancestor was on the second boat (that aimed for Massachusetts and got there, rather than aiming for Virginia and missing "by this much").

Quote
Just look what we've done with all that hard work and sacrifice.   ::)

I didn't do it.

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I define the nanny minded as those who will not risk their lives or anything else important to them.  They fear the possibility of catastrophic failure and what they might lose.  They value lack of risk and personal safety.  They transfer their fear to others.  If they can not risk catastrophic failure, how can someone else?  They see their fear as reasonable.  They see people who strive and risk, as someone who must be protected from themselves.   At the same time they have an overriding desire for power.  Power used to impose their fears on others.  Power used to control others, trying to make them as small minded as the controllers.  Nanny minded fear someone who despite restrictions and controls, succeeds.  The last thing they want to do is to see themselves as they are.

People died and will continue to die while getting things done.  I'll lay a bet that each of us have successes we value most for what we risked.  I'll also bet we failed at least once, before we succeeded.  That's the way it should be.

I've failed several times.  My next success/failure is a restaurant up in New Hampshire.  Ask El Neil if my chili is a possible success (and the last time he, Cathy and Rylla ate it, I was great but not nearly as good as I am now -- a decade of practice [and a gagload of feedback, like prize money] does help). 

Ward

What have you done lately?  Whether for others or more importantly for yourself?
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on February 15, 2010, 04:26:47 am
According to one of my sister-in-laws, one of our ancestors was a cobbler on the Mayflower.  Interesting if true. But knowing my sister-in-law, a large grain of salt should be applied.

I'm 11 years into my third career and working on a fourth with a couple of friends to develop and market several products related to firearms and gaming systems.  I bring up ideas and they poked holes in them.  We work to patch the holes and make the systems function smoothly.  We're getting there, but it's taking time.

In the mean time I'm raising two daughters and getting ready to do some home remodeling.

What's the name of the restaurant and where is it?  Used to get up that way when I drove semi's.

I didn't do it either, and  don't like the results.  I really don't like what those results could mean for my kids.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on February 15, 2010, 05:50:54 pm

What's the name of the restaurant and where is it?  Used to get up that way when I drove semi's.


The planned name for the restaurant (and it'll be at least a year or two before opening) is simply "Fire!".  Two reasons.  One is that chili is considered a fairly spicy foodstuff in some circles.  The other is that there will be a standard 10% discount to anyone carrying an effective means of self-defense (which does not include certificates from Tiger Schulman's Karate School).  That includes cops -- they don't get the 50% discount I recall from my time as a cadet with the Laconia PD, a cop is just another armed civilian, whether he thinks so or not.

Planned location is Tilton, convenient to I-93.  Would have preferred Laconia, but Laconia is 10 miles from I-93 access, whether north to Meredith of south to Tilton.  I want to be able to catch the summer tourists on their way to the lakes and the winter tourists on their way to the slopes, and the hunters in the fall, and the NASCAR fans in racing season and the bikers during their week (which has stretched to more than two weeks in recent years).

All test runs I've made at FSP (http://www.freestateproject.org) Porcfests (http://www.freestateproject.org/festival) have been great successes.  Funny, it tends to be the New Hampshire natives who say it could use a bit hotter seasoning while visitors from places like Texas and Louisiana (this included Michael Badnarik one year) don't say anything, they just wolf it down.  Back in my teens in Laconia, New Hampshire cuisine was famous for being bland (though the word "subtle" was often used).  My maternal grandmother (the one whose ancestor settled in Plymouth MA) only knew of two seasonings for savory foods, and those were salt and pre-ground black pepper.  A great cook despite that limitation (and a fine baker, a branch of bio-chemical engineering I've never mastered -- cornbread is my limit on that front, so it's a good thing it goes well with chili).

Back in the early 70s, pizza was about as ethnic as food got in Laconia (though the Grand Union market did carry some Old El Paso brand products).  Nowadays, there's a (small, but damned good food) Thai restaurant next-door to the high school.  (Hmm, no drool icon).

The decor theme for my place will be Texican-revolution era San Antonio, a town later considered the birthplace of chili as we know it.  Hopefully, after a couple of years of obscene profits, the first major redecoration (and expansion), I'll be able to hire Scott to do some artwork for the place (the stuff I use at first will probably be based on movies, mainly the one with Mike Morrison as former congressman Crockett).  Hopefully, that redecoration will include a basement pistol range (no, I'm not willing to buy and dig under enough land to have a basement rifle range -- and trap shooting is right out).

Oh, yeah.  No "purely" decorative plants in the place (I'm not a big fan of flowers, unless they produce edible fruit or are edible on their own, like squash flowers).  I won't plant anything I can't eat.  Chile bushes have their own special beauty.  So do tomato and tomatillo vines and bushes, as well as cilantro, mexican oregano (not related to the mediterranean variety, but works better in chili) and comino.  Really hot chiles don't grow well outdoors in New Hampshire's short season (moderate hot chiles don't do spectacular even down here in Jersey unless you have a greenhouse, and that would violate zoning in this sorry-ass town -- I don't know of any municipality in New Hampshire that discourages greenhouses, but I haven't been everywhere.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: terry_freeman on February 15, 2010, 11:04:12 pm
Good luck with the chili venture - and I totally love the 10% discount for effective means of self-defense.

Just read a book - I think it was Molon Labe! - where the Wyoming legislature decides to exempt anyone openly carrying a firearm from sales tax. The measure was designed partly to encourage open carry and reduce crime, but also to discourage hoplophobes from moving in.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on February 16, 2010, 04:02:12 am
w d g 3 r d.  Sounds like my kind of place.  I'd like to get my wife up to speed so we could take Massad Ayoob's school together.  We get up that way and I'll definitely stop .  She is so going to kick my rear. 

A local gun-shop has a 100 yard rifle range in the basement.  Unfortunately it's currently inoperative.  Too many customers kept shooting the support beams in the ceiling.  Then some jerk used AP Ammunition and really messed up the deflection plates and destroyed several of the mounting brackets.  Unfortunately the owner is in the VA Home in  Cleveland, Ohio.  The store is leased to a couple of pretty good guys and there is an empty building on the property that used to be restaurant.

I believe the place was built back in the 1950's.  Back then their neighbors were the village proper, a stock car track and commercial party/picnic setup.  The track and picnic place are a housing development and the range and restaurant are surrounded by high dollar homes.  The village council tried to close them down as an undesirable business, but the local court had already decided that issue when a local trap club  was sued for noise pollution by their new neighbors.  The judge at the time asked if the home owners knew the trap club was there when they built their homes.  They said yes and he issued a ruling protecting the trap club.  This ruling carried over to the gun-shop and range.  Both facilities, in a effort to get along with their new neighbors have either changed their hours or in the case of the shop no longer allow magnum level loads in the pistol range which is located above ground.

At one time the owner offered to sell me the ranges, shop and restaurant.  I couldn't raise the financing I'd have needed, but I still wish and wonder what might have been.  Good luck with your dream.  They make life worth living.   
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: wdg3rd on February 16, 2010, 11:00:47 pm
Good luck with the chili venture - and I totally love the 10% discount for effective means of self-defense.

Just read a book - I think it was Molon Labe! - where the Wyoming legislature decides to exempt anyone openly carrying a firearm from sales tax. The measure was designed partly to encourage open carry and reduce crime, but also to discourage hoplophobes from moving in.

Know the book well (and despise what he said about the FSP in it, he who publicly became the 5000th member [for the vote] and has since been an asshole.  Boston taught shooting courses at several Liberty Round Table conclaves (which is where I first started doing large batches of chili for anarchists -- the second Conclave at Rocky Mountain National Park above Estes Colorado is where El Neil (and his beautiful wife and daughter [I think Rylla was maybe nine years old]) ate my chili.  (I made two pots, one for men [highly spiced] and one for women and kids [less highly spiced], but the brats (Rylla, Lobo's kids, Greg's kids) ate the hot stuff, leaving me [the cook eats last] with the bland stuff and a jar of habanero powder).  (I stopped making two batches after that -- and that may be why Boston doesn't like me, as he doesn't deal well with hot spices, and he started coming to the LRT Conclaves a year or two later).  I miss the LRT Conclaves, but I try to make up the difference at Porcfest (I missed last year--  medical situation -- but I'll be there this year).  New Hampshire is a nice place, and I don't just say that because I have several centuries of ancestors (on my mother's side) buried there.  I did my first New Hampshire winter after fifteen years in Los Angeles (straight from an L.A. summer to a NH winter, way back in 1970 -- from 110 degreesF in LA to negative 33F -- I'll admit I didn't go outside that night, the coldest I ever spent outside was only -19F, with a 30mph wind from across the lake, and as a pump jockey I couldn't stay indoors -- brrr doesn't only refer to Griswold's).
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on February 17, 2010, 03:05:14 am
Central Ohio can be bad enough, but Fort Harrison, on the Northeast corner of Indianapolis in the winter has to be experienced to be believed.  We directed traffic in front of the Army's Finance Center (where all the checks are issued).  Temperatures would be below zero and chill factors would be around 50 and 60 degrees below zero.  Full arctic gear including the face mask, a fifteen minute time limit for exposure to conditions, and we still had people with cold injuries.
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: Rocketman on February 17, 2010, 09:11:27 am
Dough: I live about 35-40 miles north of where you describe and I can vouch for that.  We had one really bad year, I think it was 1977, where one Janurary night it got down to -62F including the wind chill.  Even the police and fire were not on the road that night because if their car stalled out they would freeze to death before help could arrive.  Absolutely nothing was moving that night.
I remember coming back from W. Palm Beach Florida for Christmas vacation in 1984 I think.  When I left WPB it was around 75F or so.  When I got into Indianapolis International about 3 hours later it was -10F.  My body damn near went into shock.  I was wearing the warmest coat that I had taken to WPB and it was no where near warm enough.  My teeth were chattering and the fluid in my eyes were freezing.  I NEVER want to go through anything like that ever again!   :o
Title: Re: Why I Like Escape From Terra
Post by: dough560 on February 18, 2010, 08:52:55 am
Believe me, I understand.  Makes the weather we're getting now, look almost balmy.  I spent the winter of 76/77 at Fort Monroe, Va, watching the Chesapeake Bay freeze over with Ice twenty plus feet thick. Ice breakers were brought in to keep the Norfolk Naval Base open.  I don't remember being as cold there as I was in Ft. Harrison.