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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 10:30:59 am

Title: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 10:30:59 am
http://news.searchina.ne.jp/disp.cgi?y=2011&d=0103&f=national_0103_093.shtml

To summarise it for those who can't use Google translate.
Chinese pet shop owners stock diseased animals and instead of treating them pump them full of stimulants then sell them. The animals then die or become ill not long after sale.

Unsurprisingly they do rather well from it.

So. In your envisioned utopia what stops them succeeding? They obviously do well enough as is despite living in China. So how will your system without any form of regulation stop them?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 03, 2011, 10:47:04 am
Firstly, it's not a utopia, it's only "better than what's been tried before".

Secondly, why stop them?  If you don't like their product, don't buy it.  What's it to you if I keep buying their animals only to have them die on me?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 03, 2011, 10:48:26 am
http://news.searchina.ne.jp/disp.cgi?y=2011&d=0103&f=national_0103_093.shtml

To summarise it for those who can't use Google translate.
Chinese pet shop owners stock diseased animals and instead of treating them pump them full of stimulants then sell them. The animals then die or become ill not long after sale.

Unsurprisingly they do rather well from it.

Why do you say unsurprisingly?  Are people not aware of what's happening?  Is there a news blackout?   If I bought a pet from a pet store and it died soon after buying it, I'd want to know why, and, finding out, would not buy from that pet store any more.  Furthermore, I'd let all my friends, neighbors and relatives know about the pet store, too.  And I imagine that if the SPCA and other pet groups got wind of it, they would publicize the stores doing it and discourage business with the stores.  And I'm just talking about today's society, not even some "envisioned utopia".

So really, what's happening in China needs more information, and deserves a closer scrutiny to fully understand why "they do rather well from it", since they shouldn't, as a normal conseqence, be able to do well for any length of time.  Only then can a good answer be given.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 10:56:19 am
Why do you say unsurprisingly?  Are people not aware of what's happening?  Is there a news blackout?   If I bought a pet from a pet store and it died soon after buying it, I'd want to know why, and, finding out, would not buy from that pet store any more.  Furthermore, I'd let all my friends, neighbors and relatives know about the pet store, too.  And I imagine that if the SPCA and other pet groups got wind of it, they would publicize the stores doing it and discourage business with the stores.  And I'm just talking about today's society, not even some "envisioned utopia".

So really, what's happening in China needs more information, and deserves a closer scrutiny to fully understand why "they do rather well from it", since they shouldn't, as a normal conseqence, be able to do well for any length of time.  Only then can a good answer be given.


You assume malice on the part of the state to protect pet shop owners?
Isn't it obvious what's happening? There are lots of people who want animals and so these people sell them animals cheap. The fact that the animals are falling apart is irrelevant.

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 03, 2011, 11:10:44 am


You assume malice on the part of the state to protect pet shop owners?

No, I merely assume I don't know enough to give more than a generalized answer.  Deliberate state protection of shop owners is only one possible answer.  More likely is that the state has taken actions that unintentionally protect shop owners, instead of being deliberate. Coercive actions often have unintended consequences.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 11:22:35 am
No, I merely assume I don't know enough to give more than a generalized answer.  Deliberate state protection of shop owners is only one possible answer.  More likely is that the state has taken actions that unintentionally protect shop owners, instead of being deliberate. Coercive actions often have unintended consequences.

It's more the state doesn't care and doesn't get involved.
No animal protection laws.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 03, 2011, 11:52:59 am
If you want to rescue animals, do so.  Why do you think society should be required to?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 03, 2011, 12:01:34 pm
No, I merely assume I don't know enough to give more than a generalized answer.  Deliberate state protection of shop owners is only one possible answer.  More likely is that the state has taken actions that unintentionally protect shop owners, instead of being deliberate. Coercive actions often have unintended consequences.

It's more the state doesn't care and doesn't get involved.
No animal protection laws.

I'm so glad to hear that you have detailed, knowledgeable information on this--care to share those details?  In general, you seem to be saying that people are knowingly and willingly buying animals that are diseased from pet shop owners.   If this is the case, I'm not sure why this should be stopped, unless the diseased animals are a health threat to third parties like neighbors or such.

If they were unknowingly buying diseased animals from pet shops, then why would they not figure this out and take the actions I proposed in my first post?  Are we to suppose that Chinese people are stupid, or is something else complicating the story that keeps them from learning what is really happening??
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 03, 2011, 01:04:33 pm
If you want to rescue animals, do so.  Why do you think society should be required to?
It would seem that the situation would be corrected in an open society, including an AnCap one, since the purchasers are being defrauded, and information would get around quickly.

In China, efforts to prevent news about abuses by corrupt officials from travelling widely has, no doubt, produced an umbrella under which crooked pet shop owners take shelter - as someone noted, but not explicitly.

However, as far as rescuing animals, except by buying them, without society doing something, that would be impossible. After all, the animals are property, not persons, and so for a private individual to "rescue" them would be an act of theft.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 02:06:03 pm
All I'm pointing out is that the Chinese market is not heavily regulated. Few if any standards laws or minimum wage laws or workers rights.
You want to see an AnCap workers life? Look in China.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: jamesd on January 03, 2011, 02:40:50 pm
http://news.searchina.ne.jp/disp.cgi?y=2011&d=0103&f=national_0103_093.shtml

To summarise it for those who can't use Google translate.
Chinese pet shop owners stock diseased animals and instead of treating them pump them full of stimulants then sell them. The animals then die or become ill not long after sale.

Unsurprisingly they do rather well from it.

What stops them from doing it the US today?  Do you think police bother with such stuff when they will not even show up when you were burgled and you know who burgled you?  Do you think police will stop them when the SEC ignored Bernie Maddoff.  Do you think police will stop them when police ignored the Green River Killer?

In practice, what usually stops people from doing such things is reputation.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 02:55:20 pm
what stops them from doing it the US today?  Do you think police bother with such stuff when they will not even show up when you were burgled and you know who burgled you?  Do you think police will stop them when the SEC ignored Bernie Maddoff.  Do you think police will stop them when police ignored the Green River Killer?

In practice, what usually stops people from doing such things is reputation.


In the USA? Hmm perhaps not but the USA is generally a bad place to live anyways due to the crap in the food.
In Europe? Britain especially. You'd have the police on you inside a week and the animals would be carted off by the RSPCA to be rehomed, treated or put down as their individual cases dictated.

You know maybe this is why that whole libertarianism thing has never caught on outside the USA?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 03, 2011, 04:24:15 pm
All I'm pointing out is that the Chinese market is not heavily regulated. Few if any standards laws or minimum wage laws or workers rights.
You want to see an AnCap workers life? Look in China.

So, let me see if I've got this, Sv DHolt. Repressive, totalitarian, statist China (oh, excuse me, the Workers' Paradise), is the role model for market anarchy? Is this January Fools' Day and nobody told me?  ::)

(What is this guy smoking?)
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 04:36:23 pm
[So, let me see if I've got this, Sv DHolt. Repressive, totalitarian, statist China (oh, excuse me, the Workers' Paradise), is the role model for market anarchy? Is this January Fools' Day and nobody told me?  ::)

(What is this guy smoking?)

Role model? Hardly.
The reality? Most certainly. Just replace the Chinese government with some giant corp.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 03, 2011, 04:49:27 pm
[So, let me see if I've got this, Sv DHolt. Repressive, totalitarian, statist China (oh, excuse me, the Workers' Paradise), is the role model for market anarchy? Is this January Fools' Day and nobody told me?  ::)

(What is this guy smoking?)

Role model? Hardly.
The reality? Most certainly. Just replace the Chinese government with some giant corp.

That's one possibility. You could get a single giant corporation that takes over all the roles of government that it finds profitable, and discards the rest.

But it is unlikely to be the only way an AnCap society could turn out.

If you had asked about democracy in 1774, we would have had basicly 1 example, Switzerland. Pretty much the rest of the world had monarchies. And large numbers of the Swiss wanted monarchy and plotted for it. They were not a shining beacon showing the wonderful advantages of democracy.

But by 1974 there were lots of nations with at least democratic trappings, and the number of monarchs was very low. There were lots of dictators too, but they usually didn't succeed in passing their nations down to their sons. In 1776 a whole lot of people agreed that it was *right* for a ruler to die and be replaced by his closest living relative. Within 200 years that idea was dead in most of europe, asia, africa, and the western hemisphere.

Democracy hasn't in general produced utopias, but democracies are often more free than monarchies. And we have gone from one example to many.

It's easily possible that within 200 years from now we will have a large number of AnCap societies that vary in various ways. If we're around then we can discuss which of them we like better, and why. Today is a little soon to argue about which AnCap model is the only one that can exist.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 05:06:48 pm
That's one possibility. You could get a single giant corporation that takes over all the roles of government that it finds profitable, and discards the rest.

But it is unlikely to be the only way an AnCap society could turn out.

If you had asked about democracy in 1774, we would have had basicly 1 example, Switzerland. Pretty much the rest of the world had monarchies. And large numbers of the Swiss wanted monarchy and plotted for it. They were not a shining beacon showing the wonderful advantages of democracy.

But by 1974 there were lots of nations with at least democratic trappings, and the number of monarchs was very low. There were lots of dictators too, but they usually didn't succeed in passing their nations down to their sons. In 1776 a whole lot of people agreed that it was *right* for a ruler to die and be replaced by his closest living relative. Within 200 years that idea was dead in most of europe, asia, africa, and the western hemisphere.

Democracy hasn't in general produced utopias, but democracies are often more free than monarchies. And we have gone from one example to many.

It's easily possible that within 200 years from now we will have a large number of AnCap societies that vary in various ways. If we're around then we can discuss which of them we like better, and why. Today is a little soon to argue about which AnCap model is the only one that can exist.


One thing though.

The Constitutional Monarchies tend to score better in the UN human development index and have more robust freedom of speech and human rights laws in comparison to democracies though. Some democratic states rank among the most dangerous places on Earth.

As for how AnCap societies could work out at least you seem to accept the possibility a corp could replace the government.
After all some can argue we really are in an anarchist state and the only reason we think there's government is because these guys with big clubs have convinced us they are the government.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 03, 2011, 05:52:49 pm

The Constitutional Monarchies tend to score better in the UN human development index and have more robust freedom of speech and human rights laws in comparison to democracies though. Some democratic states rank among the most dangerous places on Earth.

Sure. Democracy is not enough to guarantee a utopia. But it used to be, most people accepted monarchy as just the natural way of things. Many of them couldn't imagine that democracy might be better. Now very few people believe in divine right of kings, and when a nation has a coup and the new ruler declares himself president-for-life, people tend to grant him the authority his army gives him. They reserve the right to judge him, and if he gets too unpopular his army will melt away. It's a difference in general belief.

Quote
As for how AnCap societies could work out at least you seem to accept the possibility a corp could replace the government.
After all some can argue we really are in an anarchist state and the only reason we think there's government is because these guys with big clubs have convinced us they are the government.

If you give them legitimacy, if you say they are your government, then they are. If you do not agree that they are your government then they are guys with big clubs who can hurt you unless you go along.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: jamesd on January 03, 2011, 06:15:44 pm
what stops them from doing it the US today?  Do you think police bother with such stuff when they will not even show up when you were burgled and you know who burgled you?  Do you think police will stop them when the SEC ignored Bernie Maddoff.  Do you think police will stop them when police ignored the Green River Killer?

In practice, what usually stops people from doing such things is reputation.

In the USA? Hmm perhaps not but the USA is generally a bad place to live anyways due to the crap in the food.
In Europe? Britain especially. You'd have the police on you inside a week and the animals would be carted off by the RSPCA to be rehomed, treated or put down as their individual cases dictated.

I observe that in Britain, someone who is a well known burglar can burgle, burgle an occupied home, get in a confrontation with the homeowner, and not go to jail, burgle the same home again, and get in another confrontation with the same home owner, and still not go to jail, which inclines me to doubt that British police are markedly more industrious than US police.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 03, 2011, 08:20:36 pm
The reality? Most certainly.Just replace the Chinese government with some giant corp.

You do realize that there can be no such thing as a corporation in an market anarchy, don't you? I.e., "an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members."

There are other associations that act collectively, but they do not meet the legal definition of a corporation. So WTF are you talking about?

Holt, what market anarchist (anarcho-capitalist) literature have you read? Please be specific. What books, what authors? My working assumption is that the answer is zero, since you are so uneducated on the subject. Read a book, then come back with some intellectual ammunition and we can talk. Arguing with an ignoramus is a waste of my time.

“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Robert Heinlein
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 03, 2011, 08:20:51 pm
All I'm pointing out is that the Chinese market is not heavily regulated. Few if any standards laws or minimum wage laws or workers rights.
You want to see an AnCap workers life? Look in China.

So, let me see if I've got this, Sv DHolt. Repressive, totalitarian, statist China (oh, excuse me, the Workers' Paradise), is the role model for market anarchy? Is this January Fools' Day and nobody told me?  ::)
Well, it's true that the People's Republic of China is hardly an anarchy. But while it professes Communism, an ideology originated by demagogues who stirred up the poor against the rich, right now, the conditions of workers in China's factories remind us (although they're not as bad as) those of workers in Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Laissez-faire capitalism. Classical liberalism.

Thus, the agents of statism who want to prevent the AnCap message from being heard, don't exactly have to exert themselves to hold up the conditions of workers in China as a bogeyman to the working class in America, to tell them that this is what their government is protecting them from, and those protections are what AnCap would strip away.

In Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution, though, the government did a lot to protect the rich against the poor at the expense of the poor. In Blackstone's Commentaries, while you will find stuff about the right of the people to bear arms, you will also find an observation that the normal status of an employee is that of a servant, who cannot leave his job at will any more than a soldier could quit the military at will (and the other state of affairs would be unfair to the men in the military). This is one example of why neither Britain then, nor China now, is really anything like an AnCap society.

Even so, while the argument may be dishonest scaremongering, people trying to persuade the masses that AnCap is good for them should... flesh out... just how a real free market would indeed not lead to the inequalities in market power between employers and the employed which, in the history we know, were only remedied when labor union thuggery became legalized. (Will labor unions exist under AnCap, although without the ability to enforce picket lines? What government interference played a major role in tilting the game in favor of employers?)

Given that the bad old days seem to be as recent as the Great Depression, if Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath wasn't left-wing propaganda so far from the truth as to be science fiction, that the laboring masses "know in their bones" that Big Business is out to exploit them the first chance it gets is a fact, even if they're under an out-of-date misconception - and so this is a point that needs very careful attention in the AnCap argument. Not handwaving - for example, economies of scale are a real natural phenomenon, and not a result of government paperwork requirements.

You do realize that there can be no such thing as a corporation in an market anarchy, don't you? I.e., "an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members."
Now that's an interesting point.

I had not thought of that in connection with the discussions here, but of course you're right.

Britain, in the context of its maritime rivalry with Holland, and as the result of such things as the South Sea Bubble, brought in laws that let people organize themselves collectively to create large business enterprises - and gain personal immunity from the debts those large business enterprises might run up.

This was naked government initiation of force against creditors.

It was done so that Britain would have the world's biggest shipyards so as to be militarily superior to other countries. And we have joint-stock corporations to the present day because our military-industrial complex has proven to be a handy thing to have when dealing with Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia.

This may partially answer my question of how AnCap is supposed to prevent businesses from growing too large. There won't be a shield that protects stockholders, giving them anonymity (S. A. stands for Societé Anonyme, of course), if they own part of a company that's too big for them to fully participate in supervising. But then big companies could grow by selling bonds instead of stock... although that obligates them to pay the bonds back on time; presumably bonds that are "really" stock but bonds in name only would be prevented on some basis (are you sure there's no government if you've got laws this complicated?)...
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on January 03, 2011, 08:58:30 pm
Sure. Democracy is not enough to guarantee a utopia. But it used to be, most people accepted monarchy as just the natural way of things. Many of them couldn't imagine that democracy might be better. Now very few people believe in divine right of kings, and when a nation has a coup and the new ruler declares himself president-for-life, people tend to grant him the authority his army gives him. They reserve the right to judge him, and if he gets too unpopular his army will melt away. It's a difference in general belief.

In the case of a constitutional monarchy it seems to be more the monarchy acts as a check against the democratic element, while the democratic element gives the monarch little reason to enter into politics. Like Hegel pointed out the system came about as a natural result of those countries flitting between two polar opposites and finding neither worked and instead met the middle ground. Trying to get the best of democracy combined with the best of tyranny/monarchy/autocracy/whatever you want to call it.


If you give them legitimacy, if you say they are your government, then they are. If you do not agree that they are your government then they are guys with big clubs who can hurt you unless you go along.


Isn't that government is at the very core?
Everyone started out like that. All it takes is one or two generations being raised under it and they'll accept it as normal. Two or three generations and they'll probably support it.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 03, 2011, 10:47:43 pm
...the conditions of workers in China's factories remind us (although they're not as bad as) those of workers in Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Laissez-faire capitalism. Classical liberalism.
...
In Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution, though, the government did a lot to protect the rich against the poor at the expense of the poor.

Where to begin... "Laissez-faire" capitalism or the government protecting the rich? Sorry, quad, you contradict yourself; you cannot have it both ways. Which is it?

The reason that workers today, have it better than they did in the past is because of progress, the largest part of which was because of the Industrial Revolution. Workers streaming in from the countryside were doing so, because it improved their lives, or why else would they have done so? Nobody put a gun to their heads.

In Blackstone's Commentaries, while you will find stuff about the right of the people to bear arms, you will also find an observation that the normal status of an employee is that of a servant...

"Servant" is a legal word of art. It does not mean "slave."

... who cannot leave his job at will...

That is purest bullshit. Absent some contractual obligation to the contrary, employees certainly could leave their jobs at will under British law. Put up or shut up. Citation, please.

P.S. Société Anonyme is also a word of art. It just means "limited company" and has nothing to do with anonymity.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 03, 2011, 11:42:56 pm

Workers streaming in from the countryside were doing so, because it improved their lives, or why else would they have done so? Nobody put a gun to their heads.

This is misleading, although it could often also have been true.

After WWII we had a lot of new mechanized agriculture in the US south. As a result we had far less need for sharecroppers. Where did the surplus sharecroppers take their families? Into Yankee cities, where they created a gigantic social problem that led to Welfare as a temporary fix. It improved their lives compared to being jobless and landless in the south, but....

Similarly I've read that british textile mills needed wool, and so lots of british farms got converted to sheep pastures which required much less hand-tool farmwork. So the excess farmers went to the cities to look for work, which improved their lives compared to the countryside where there was nothing at all for them.

You could be right that they were better off compared to their lives before the changes. Though the mortality rate in cities was far higher etc. But their previous lives were forever lost, whether they were better or worse. They had no choice but to look for whatever urban opportunities they could, and it is no evidence that they were better off than before.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 04, 2011, 02:07:34 am
That is purest bullshit. Absent some contractual obligation to the contrary, employees certainly could leave their jobs at will under British law. Put up or shut up. Citation, please.
Having actually read this, I can point you here (http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blackstone/william/comment/book1.14.html).

"3. A THIRD species of servants are laborers, who are only hired by the day or the week, and do not live intra moenia , as part of the family; concerning whom the statute so often cited (Statute 5 Elizabeth c. 4) has made many very good regulations; 1. Directing that all persons who have no visible effects may be compelled to work: 2. Defining how long they must continue at work in summer and winter: 3. Punishing such as leave or desert their work: 4. Empowering the justices at sessions, or the sheriff of the county, to settle their wages: and 5. Inflicting penalties on such as either give, or exact, more wages than are so settled."

It, however, will take a bit longer to find the specific section I recalled which compared the situation of laborers under the law to that of soldiers and sailors, noting that it would be inappropriate to have the latter as the only group of people bound to their work, since it is not in 1.13 or in 1.1, where I expected to find it.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 04, 2011, 06:06:35 am
"3. A THIRD species of servants are laborers, who are only hired by the day or the week...

Nice try. At least you are getting in the spirit of things. However, obviously it is not the laborers who could not leave their jobs.

... concerning whom the statute so often cited (Statute 5 Elizabeth c. 4) has made many very good regulations; 1. Directing that all persons who have no visible effects may be compelled to work: 2. Defining how long they must continue at work in summer and winter: 3. Punishing such as leave or desert their work: 4. Empowering the justices at sessions, or the sheriff of the county, to settle their wages: and 5. Inflicting penalties on such as either give, or exact, more wages than are so settled."

So, your original thesis (the Industrial Revolution was laissez-faire capitalism) is defeated by your own evidence. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 04, 2011, 11:18:47 am
So, your original thesis (the Industrial Revolution was laissez-faire capitalism) is defeated by your own evidence. Quod erat demonstrandum.
I should probably have stated my thesis more clearly.

Whether or not the Industrial Revolution was laissez-faire capitalism in fact is not my point. My point is that it is reputed to be an example of such - and, therefore, it has sullied the reputation of laissez-faire capitalism in people's minds. Perhaps, as you note, quite unfairly.

My point is that the features of AnCap that will give workers the ability to negotiate with employers from a stronger position than in historic periods where employers were free from the kind of government regulation we have now... are not obvious to most people, and will need to be pointed out (specifically, and repeatedly) when one tries to make the case for AnCap to the general public.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 04, 2011, 11:22:40 am
What stops them? Reputation. Wherever you are, reputation matters more than regulation. You delude yourself if you believe otherwise. China has one billion people, give or take a few. There are certainly bound to be examples of shoddy goods somewhere, which can trigger all sorts of statist moaning and whining.

However, to call China an "unregulated anarchy" is to engage in blatant falsehood. Perhaps, if I were a statist, I would sue you for the propagation of falsehood. Instead, I'll be content to note that your reputation just took a hit, thanks to your own sorry actions.

A more likely explanation is that a politically-connected vendor wishes to find a way to put "unregulated" competitors out of business, by means of stronger politically-motivated "regulations" which are really a thinly-disguised way to put barriers in front of competitors. This explanation fits history better than the laughable theory about Communist China being an anarchist utopia.

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: geekWithA.45 on January 05, 2011, 07:33:47 am
So what stops this?


Look to the USA for an example. Folks offering "statist animal protection laws", as their answer are directed to collect their dunce caps and sit in the corner.

While examples of abuse worthy of prosecution by such laws certainly exist, by and far the primary thing that *prevents* that sort of abuse is a small collection of interlocking factors, all of which are consistent with minarchy or arbitrated ancap, and the most powerful of which are driven by the market and consumer.

1) Sufficient prosperity and market valuation of pet health that supports a widespread and robust veterinary medicine establishment.  This provides standards of pet health and enough veterinarians (and competition) such that no single vet will corner the market, or risk their reputation signing off on sick pets.  It also provides the consumer with their choice of source of professional opinion in the evaluation of their purchases.

2) Contingent sales: general purpose regulation of the "fair, open, level playing field" sort provides for a period of inspection, during which the goods can be independently evaluated by a veterinarian.

3) The market value of reputation, and the means of communicating experiences affecting reputation

4) A system of documenting the goods: any dog you buy comes with lots of papers, tracing its origins, medical treatments, and so forth. Reputable pet shops have veterinarians on call who evaluate and care for the goods, and whose reputations thus become entwined with the shop.

5) When all else fails, a method of redress. If you buy a pet from a dealer that asserts, and therefore warrants the pet to be healthy, and it is not, you have a fraud case.

6) An educated consumer, who knows better than to buy from dealers who make no representation as to the quality of their goods.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 05, 2011, 09:09:13 am

While examples of abuse worthy of prosecution by such laws certainly exist, by and far the primary thing that *prevents* that sort of abuse is a small collection of interlocking factors, all of which are consistent with minarchy or arbitrated ancap, and the most powerful of which are driven by the market and consumer.

Such things are in fact not prevented in the USA.

So for example, before I met her in person my wife bought a kitten. She bought it from a San Francisco street person who sold kittens. There was nothing particularly legal about the transaction. The cost was probably $20, although I'm reasonably sure he could have been talked down to $10.

After she met me she wanted me to have a cat and I agreed, so we went back to the street vendor. But we could not find him. Perhaps it was my clothing, or my polished shoes, or my eyeshades. Everybody we met seemed to think I was an undercover cop or something. Various street people talked about how this guy kept lots of pregnant cats in cages and mistreated them, and how terrible it was. But nobody would tell us how to contact him.

The SPCA would sell me a neutered cat for $150, guaranteed to be in good health, after a background check to make sure I would be a responsible owner. Similarly for other official sources. It was ridiculous.

When we moved to the DC area the situation was similar. There were barrels of dead cats that had been gassed because they could not find homes and the authorities were not willing to let them fend for themselves. But to buy a cat from the pound I had to pay $200 and get an extensive background check. They would inspect my home to make sure it was suitable for a pet. They would check my credit rating to make sure I could afford a cat. They would check whether I had ever been accused of mistreating a pet. They wanted me to promise I would not let my cat go outdoors, and I could get in trouble if I did not keep up the inoculations and required veterinary fees.

It looked like I could foster a cat much easier. See, they had people who kept cats who would otherwise be killed, hoping to find an owner. Those people had more cats than they could easily take care of, and they eagerly looked for volunteers to join them. They were so overburdened that they didn't require background checks etc for recruits. But I would have had to go to meetings....

Then one night my wife came home with a kitten. She found it in a pet store. It was dirty because it had been kept in a dirty cage. It had been the smallest kitten in the cage so it was left there when the other cats were all sold. It looked like it might be sick. She paid $150 for it, but they threw in a couple of gift cards for stuff we could buy at their overpriced store. It had not had any vaccinations etc. I said, "This does not look like a good store to me. They don't look like reputable businessmen." She said, "She was in a dirty cage! They were mistreating her! I had to get her away from them!" I looked them up online. There were various horror stories about them. They did various things that sounded bad to me, but the thing that most of the complainants thought was most horrible was that they sold cats. Since there are more cats than anybody can find homes for, it was considered disgraceful that they would sell cats and compete with the county pound and the SPCA etc.

When we put out food for it, the kitten would hiss and growl and try to fight if anybody got close. It took a few weeks before it got the idea it didn't have to fight for food. The eye infection cleared up right away and so did everything else. But if that kitten had died I doubt it would have kept my wife from rescuing another kitten from that store, if they had another kitten.

They had a workable sales method. They made it look like their pets were hostages that the new owners could ransom. Sales were brisk. I doubt that their reputation bothered them.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 05, 2011, 09:23:41 am


Such things are in fact not prevented in the USA.


So, in short, you're saying that U.S. laws on animal treatment don't work?
;-)
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 05, 2011, 10:41:14 am
quadibloc, I am convinced that you law awake nights, looking for the most idiotic and false anti-capitalist propaganda you can find, just for the pleasure of regurgitating it.

In reality, Great Britain was never a laissez-faire country; there were vast impositions of force involved. Read about, for example, the Enclosures - the stealing of land from peasants and enclosure into "private" land "owned" by nobles. This was roughly equivalent to today's use of "eminent domain" to seize property and award it to Donald Trump and other wealthy "developers."

For all that, workers during the Industrial Revolution were treated better than the peasants - this is why people left the farms to work in the factories. Standards of living did improve; people were able to afford cheap clothing. Many anti-market regulations ( such as strict control on wool products ) were repealed or relaxed, enabling a great spurt in the economy.

Fundamental to free-market theory is the notion of a voluntary exchange - which improves the well-being of both parties. A free economy comprised of voluntary exchanges is Pareto-optimal - no exchange reduces public welfare; every exchange either leaves things as they were, or improves it.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 05, 2011, 03:56:09 pm
A free economy comprised of voluntary exchanges is Pareto-optimal - no exchange reduces public welfare; every exchange either leaves things as they were, or improves it.
This is true. Inequities of market power, however, can still lead to the increase in public welfare being received in what some might subjectively perceive as a lopsided manner.

You are right that it's incorrect to view England in the past as a true libertarian-style society. But because it resembled that in some superficial ways, that's still the bogeyman AnCap advocates will have to very carefully and thoroughly demolish to get their message across. Maybe I'm saying stuff you already know, but it has seemed to me that many people on this forum have spent so much time speaking to the converted that they're not quite as aware as they should be of just where they will have to start in getting the message out.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: GaTor on January 05, 2011, 06:41:12 pm
Well I'm a bit confused I linked to that site several times and when I did a translation it involved a story about people abandoning their pets when moving.  It also touched on rabies.   Did a few cursory searches and came up with nothing regarding the original premise of this thread.   Moving on. 

Animal cruelty, Michael Vick comes to mind.  I thought it totally inappropriate that Vick was tried in court and sent to jail.   That he suffered personal and financial losses to his career was pretty much in line.  What should have happened was this:

NFL Boss me Ga'Tor: Come on in Mike and siddown.  Not going to beat around the bush, you're fired.
Vick:  WTF!!??
Me:  See I like animals Mike and particularly dogs.  Been hearing more and more about how you run your dog fighting ops and it sucks.  I also got a lot of complaints from fans and their wives, plus most of the team thinks you're an asshole because of it.  So, you're out.
Vick:  You can't do that, I'll sue. 
Me:  Heh, good luck with that, AnCap rules plus your contract says I can fire you if you fart in my general direction.   Don’t bother with any of the other teams ‘cause they feel pretty much the same way.   Now look kid, you’re a damn fine quarterback with a lot of potential.   So here’s the deal.  You clean up your act,  work with those PETA mooks,  see a shrink and  get your head right.  You come back in a couple of years  and we’ll talk.   
Vick:  &@!!*$/
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 06, 2011, 07:53:17 am
Regarding that lame-o "inequity" argument. Let us ask two questions. First, can everything be magically distributed equally? Second, can that equality be maintained in a free society?

To distribute everything "equally", we'd have to ignore major issues. Which is of more value, an acre of land in the desert, or a '57 Chevy in good condition? How do you compare all of the various forms of wealth? How do you divide them equitably? What do you do with items of large value which are indivisible - such as, for example, the original Mona Lisa painting? How do you deal with different values held by different people? Remember what happens on Christmas, when your great Aunt finds "just the right gift" ( in her eyes ) and it's a useless bit of junk in your eyes? This redistribution scheme would be a thousand times worse.

But suppose we pull it off - the equity mooks are finally satisfied, their horrible fears are laid to rest, this once; we are all equally wealthy. Then what?

Imagine that Ricky Martin hosts a concert. This requires the organization of a few hundred people, tons of equipment, a venue, and so forth. 5000 people value his performance enough to shell out $100 apiece. Darn, that's inequitable, $500,000 has shifted from 5000 people to, for example, 200 people. Even if Ricky Martin is a perfect socialist and distributes $2500 checks to each of the 200, including himself, the carefully equal distribution is out of whack.

Multiply this by millions of voluntary transactions, and you'll realize that perfect equality is a) not possible to accomplish even once, and b) not possible to sustain, absent some forcible redistribution.

There is a third objection: the process of preventing inequity removes the incentives which otherwise cause people to do good things on behalf of each other. As Adam Smith famously put it,  "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

Or as Walter Williams put it, "Do you think that a farmer in Iowa goes out in the middle of a blizzard to bring a calf home in order to provide steak for New Yorkers out of love for New Yorkers? The farmer does it in order to improve his life. New Yorkers are able to enjoy steaks because of the farmer's greed."

Likewise, New Yorkers send money to the farmer, to help maintain the outbuildings and equipment and to send his kids through college, not out of love for the farmer, but out of love for his steaks.

The desire to improve one's life is the spur for a productive economy. Prevent that, and the economy augurs into the ground. This is why Communist China and Soviet Russia were unable to feed their own people, in spite of having vast tracts of fertile land which - before and after their collectivist episodes - produced abundant food.

Life Magazine published a picture of Soviet soldiers helping bring in the harvest. It showed a long line of soldiers, each carrying one or two large melons, walking to some destination. No wheelbarrows, trailers, tractors, trucks - not even a beast of burden; just man reduced to the role of slowly carrying food from one place to another. In short, this was a picture of a capital-free society - which starved millions.

Productivity requires the accumulation of capital; redistribute everything "equitably", and the ability to accumulate capital is destroyed.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 06, 2011, 08:48:13 am
Regarding that lame-o "inequity" argument. Let us ask two questions. First, can everything be magically distributed equally? Second, can that equality be maintained in a free society?
...

Excellent post! It brought to mind a curious double standard of modern liberal, anti-market hypocrites. This is especially true for the Hollywood types and their fans. They complain bitterly about executives making million-dollar annual salaries, but there was never a peep out of them when the cast of Friends demanded, and got, a million dollars per episode. Nobody ever said, "That's excessive. Nobody is worth a million a week!"

I got a good laugh when during some award show, Jim Carrey brought this home by saying something like, "I come from an alien planet where the minimum wage is $20 million." He only got nervous laughter. I saw him say it, but I cannot find the quote anywhere. Wonder why...
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 06, 2011, 09:00:43 am
Regarding that lame-o "inequity" argument. Let us ask two questions. First, can everything be magically distributed equally?

No, not without magic. Maybe with the right spells Albus Dumbledore could do it. We can't.

Quote
Second, can that equality be maintained in a free society?

If we had a way to do it, maybe we could do it over again every 30 years, or every generation or something. Since we can't do it at all, I can't guess whether we could maintain it if we could do it.

You have ably described the problems with the extreme approach of trying to keep everybody somehow equal. Now let's consider the opposite extreme.

Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?

You go up to him and say "How come you own everything and I have nothing?".

And he laughs tolerantly and orders a scribe to look up your records. "Here we go. Nine generations ago, my grandmother-nineth was married to the guy who owned everything and he left it to me. But your grandmother-nineth was just somebody he saw on the street and decided he wanted, so he left you nothing. That's how come."

By law you are totally dependent on his mercy. Every breath you take is his air, there is nothing you can own that doesn't already belong to him. You owe him your life many times over and by god you ought to be grateful!

Is there any reason you and your friends shouldn't boot him out and set up a more equal system, if you can get away with it?

If we agree that the endpoints are neither of them ideal, is there something inbetween that might be better?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 06, 2011, 10:18:55 am
Quote
Regarding that lame-o "inequity" argument. Let us ask two questions. First, can everything be magically distributed equally? Second, can that equality be maintained in a free society?

If there were something like a magic spell to do that, we'd probably die off from sheer boredom.  Whether I do, or I do not, I neither gain nor lose.  Gee, thanks.


Quote
Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service.

I don't even have to consider the problem.  What it's fishing for is a principle that will solve all problems (of its type) ahead of time, so we can all go back to sleep knowing everything is settled.  That ain't life.

I already own everything and you all live at my service.  My service is so good, you don't even know that I own everything.  Look, I alone can't take care of it all; that's what you are for.  Thank you, good job, to some of you.

Quote
You go up to him and say "How come you own everything and I have nothing?"

Oh, wait -- you guys don't believe I own everything.  The hypothetical guy "owns everything" because everyone believes that he does.  His ownership is only as strong as the belief of his community.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on January 06, 2011, 10:54:28 am
Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?

You go up to him and say "How come you own everything and I have nothing?".

And he laughs tolerantly and orders a scribe to look up your records. "Here we go. Nine generations ago, my grandmother-nineth was married to the guy who owned everything and he left it to me. But your grandmother-nineth was just somebody he saw on the street and decided he wanted, so he left you nothing. That's how come."

By law you are totally dependent on his mercy. Every breath you take is his air, there is nothing you can own that doesn't already belong to him. You owe him your life many times over and by god you ought to be grateful!

Is there any reason you and your friends shouldn't boot him out and set up a more equal system, if you can get away with it?

If we agree that the endpoints are neither of them ideal, is there something inbetween that might be better?


That isn't so hard,  you can have a world like ours , where new stuff is more valuable than old stuff, people who write new music or computer programs , people who grow new vegitables or build new cars will sell their skills even if they start with no capitol at all.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 06, 2011, 11:48:24 am

Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?

You go up to him and say "How come you own everything and I have nothing?".

And he laughs tolerantly and orders a scribe to look up your records. "Here we go. Nine generations ago, my grandmother-nineth was married to the guy who owned everything and he left it to me. But your grandmother-nineth was just somebody he saw on the street and decided he wanted, so he left you nothing. That's how come."

By law you are totally dependent on his mercy. Every breath you take is his air, there is nothing you can own that doesn't already belong to him. You owe him your life many times over and by god you ought to be grateful!

Is there any reason you and your friends shouldn't boot him out and set up a more equal system, if you can get away with it?

If we agree that the endpoints are neither of them ideal, is there something inbetween that might be better?

That isn't so hard,  you can have a world like ours , where new stuff is more valuable than old stuff, people who write new music or computer programs , people who grow new vegitables or build new cars will sell their skills even if they start with no capitol at all.

You can't grow new vegetables when he owns all the land and will only give you access if you are his employee and whatever you produce belongs to him. Similarly you can't make computer programs that belong to you using his computers. You can't build new cars without his factories, or his tools, or his raw materials, none of which he has any obligation to sell to you. If he hires you to make cars he can give you everything you need to do it but the cars will belong to him.

If you discover iron ore and smelt it yourself, and make your own plastic, and build all the tools yourself to make cars, you are still doing it with his land and his iron ore etc and he didn't give you permission to take all that.

You can make new music, but you can't copyright it with his legal system and people who like it can't pay you with his debit cards. But if he likes your music he can gift you with whatever consumables he likes, or even lend you a house and a refrigerator and so on.

If you steal anything he doesn't want to lend you, his police will carry you off to be subject to his justice etc. As long as they do their jobs, you don't have a chance. If enough of them get the idea they don't have to work for him, then all bets are off.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 06, 2011, 09:23:11 pm
They complain bitterly about executives making million-dollar annual salaries, but there was never a peep out of them when the cast of Friends demanded, and got, a million dollars per episode.
I remember, many, many years ago, a letter to the editor appearing in my local newspaper by someone complaining about how it was wrong that a pro hockey player was paid more money than a doctor. After all, doctors save lives, and what the hockey player did was less important.

I thought that viewpoint was bizarre and laughable. Yes, a doctor saves lives. But he can only save one life at a time, while a hockey player entertains millions of people at once. And so the hockey player sells TV commercials that are worth a lot of money.

If there is any unfairness, it is that the hockey players get only a small fraction of the money that comes in, with the team owners who aren't actually the ones doing the work getting most of the money. Surely in all industries, the proportion of money spent on worker salaries should be bigger than the part that is the return on capital - even though capital legitimately does deserve a return!

Now, maybe I was under the influence of socialist brainwashing for thinking that. But the letter-writer was also viewing things in a non-free-enterprise manner, based on a much older mind-set (basically, feudal) currently very unfashionable.

Executives are still workers, even if they're supervisory workers. So, if they're worth high salaries to the people hiring them, then there's no unfairness. News stories about high CEO salaries and golden parachutes and the like make one suspect that something is wrong in some industries - basically, companies are being run by their executives, and the Board of Directors is just sitting around looking pretty instead of pinching stockholder pennies. But that's rooting for capital, not rooting against it.

A person works for a living, and saves some money, and buys himself a cab or a set of power tools or a hot dog stand. Since he bought those things with money he earned, it's not sensible or fair to say that the addition those things make to his earning power ought to be shared with the whole country rather than belonging to him. There's nothing inherently immoral or wrong about "private ownership of the means of production", which is the aspect of capitalism the Marxists wish to abolish.

What makes socialism seem attractive is that a few people seem to own everything while most people own almost nothing in comparison. That tended to originate historically with a lot of government help - especially in Europe. Not quite as much so in the United States. The "robber barons" in the United States were a figure of speech - many business owners in Europe are descended from the real thing.

Of course, as the Soviet Union or the French Revolution demonstrated, following demagogues does not lead to the poor profiting at the expense of their former masters, but rather their new masters replacing their old masters. That shows that socialism is not the solution. But while AnCap talks about individuals having greater freedom to go into business for themselves without needing permits, and about big corporations only growing big because of government... basically, it gives the impression of not being directed at the perceived problem that is the impetus demagogues take advantage of.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 07, 2011, 07:06:10 am
Quote
You are right that it's incorrect to view England in the past as a true libertarian-style society. But because it resembled that in some superficial ways, that's still the bogeyman AnCap advocates will have to very carefully and thoroughly demolish to get their message across.

I think you run with an unusual crowd.  I work with some seriously overeducated people, and apart from a handful, most of them are only dimly aware that England had a past (and even that, mostly by inference), much less what it was like.  Joe Sixpack, the same.

I think the big obstacle is the "better the devil we know than the devil we don't" motto.  People can put up with an awful lot of familiar before they'll seek <shudder> change.

And there's the "if it didn't happen to me, it didn't happen" challenge.  Maybe as more people get groped or otherwise offended, there will be a more receptive audience growing.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 07, 2011, 10:08:41 am

You have ably described the problems with the extreme approach of trying to keep everybody somehow equal. Now let's consider the opposite extreme.

Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?


Thanks for conceding my point.

Now I must ask under what sort of circumstances would this hypothetical be even remotely possible.

In a free society, every transfer of property is the result of a voluntary exchange. What manner of fools would choose to simply give away all their property?

Are you positing some form of story which begins "18 generations ago, my grandfather-to-the-ninth slaughtered all opposition and took all property, and left it to his son, who left it to his son, and so on and forth?

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 07, 2011, 11:39:30 am

You have ably described the problems with the extreme approach of trying to keep everybody somehow equal. Now let's consider the opposite extreme.

Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?

Thanks for conceding my point.

Now I must ask under what sort of circumstances would this hypothetical be even remotely possible.

You and I have agreed that the society where everybody is forced to be equal would not be a good thing, and that it would not be possible.

I'm now interested in the question whether this opposite situation would be a good thing. I don't care whether it's possible at the moment, and it may not be possible.

I don't expect we could start from an AnCap society and get to that without any force being applied, but of course we couldn't get from an AnCap society to enforced equality without force either.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 07, 2011, 12:47:30 pm
Don’t bother with any of the other teams ‘cause they feel pretty much the same way.   Now look kid, you’re a damn fine quarterback with a lot of potential.   So here’s the deal.  You clean up your act,  work with those PETA mooks,  see a shrink and  get your head right.  You come back in a couple of years  and we’ll talk.
Now, for Michael Vick to be fired from pro sports because the audience for pro sports disapproves of animal fights, and thus his presence would diminish ratings, is legitimate and not unfair.

But your little story did suggest to me that an AnCap society could replace animal cruelty, or other evils, by something worse.

While the kind of government regulation that requires businesses to prove they aren't discriminating is oppressive, it is also oppressive if social norms are allowed free reign - that, basically, your neighbors are not only free, but are in fact likely, to refuse to trade with you if they disapprove of something about you (such as legal activities on your part that don't violate the ZAP).

The proper cure is the presence of a diverse population, so that the only things that almost everyone disapproves of - instead of just a minority you can safely ignore - are things that really are bad. This helps if the recognition that people are dependent on the ability to trade creates a social norm that says that too many reasons to shun people is a bad thing, because it deprives people of privacy, it creates a society that isn't in practice what an AnCap society was supposed to be - a place to be free.

And, of course, people who shun others for too many reasons put themselves at a market disadvantage. So one could hope that it would be self-correcting, although history has shown this doesn't work that effectively in practice (secondary shunning, refusing to trade with those who trade with taboo-breakers and not just the taboo-breakers themselves, is a significant reason why).

I know that raising this point makes it sound like I'm demanding that AnCap solve every possible problem. But I think it's worth pointing out that expecting social norms to solve those problems that the free market might not solve by itself... is relying on an instrument that leaves a lot to chance.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 07, 2011, 02:16:02 pm

While the kind of government regulation that requires businesses to prove they aren't discriminating is oppressive, it is also oppressive if social norms are allowed free reign - that, basically, your neighbors are not only free, but are in fact likely, to refuse to trade with you if they disapprove of something about you (such as legal activities on your part that don't violate the ZAP).

The proper cure is the presence of a diverse population, so that the only things that almost everyone disapproves of - instead of just a minority you can safely ignore - are things that really are bad.

That is the situation that's most likely to give you a lot of freedom. I don't know if it should be called a "solution". Except that when you hear about places which have a lot of diversity, you could arrange to move there -- increasing the diversity that much more -- and then it's a temporary solution for you personally.

But yes, if social norms say that people shouldn't trade with you because of who you are, then you are worse off than you would be if all those people weren't even there. Because they own pretty much everything. If they didn't, you'd have whatever unimproved resources were lying around that you could claim and use. But when there's very little that's free and nobody will trade with you, you'd better be real good at recycling what you've already got until you can leave.

Quote
I know that raising this point makes it sound like I'm demanding that AnCap solve every possible problem. But I think it's worth pointing out that expecting social norms to solve those problems that the free market might not solve by itself... is relying on an instrument that leaves a lot to chance.

Social norms are presumably good for the people who create and maintain those norms. If you want to change those norms then you are putting yourself up against the biggest movers and shakers in the society, the people who had the clout to establish norms which favored them and which hurt you. Good luck with that.

You can't expect a philosophy to overcome that sort of thing. Once the local social norms declare that you are that place's equivalent of a palestinian, there isn't much you can do to improve it.

So anyway, there's no particular reason for AnCap societies to all fit your preferences. So what if a bunch of racists make an AnCap society where they completely avoid force on each other, and shun the people they're racist against. A racist AnCap society will probably be a lot better than an otherwise-similar racist government society. Similarly with all the other stuff you disapprove of that doesn't involve obvious coercion. An AnCap society of pederasts who don't actually rape anybody would probably be better than an otherwise-similar government-run society of pederasts.

If you agree not to damage or coerce anybody, you still aren't obligated to do business with somebody you hate -- unless you've agreed to a contract that you will. But what if they'll die without your transaction? You have extra air, they don't have enough, they'll die unless you sell them some. Would people think you have an implicit contract to sell in that case? What if you demand something they normally would never give you. Say it's a woman you hate, and (for no reason connected to you) she'll die unless you sell her air, and you demand something utterly degrading.... Does that count as coercion, that she'll die unless she does what you want?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Big.Swede on January 07, 2011, 05:39:51 pm
This whole cruelty towards animals brought to the forefront of my mind something i have been thinking about. Wild animals and land.

Tigers for example have been hunted damn near to extinction and it has taken a heck of a lot of work to try and save them. Now before we start of with the arguments, a lot of that work has been by volounteers and funded by donations from the private sector (IE Joe Schmoe and/or corporations, trustfunds, whatnot.) so it is quite possible, maybe even probbable? That some close to extinct animals would be taken in by some rich benefactors to be kept safe. But in the wild? Any wild tiger not on private property or marked as private property would be fair game, and we see how hard it is now to keep them from going extinct. And this goes for hundreds of other animals as well with percieved "economic value".

Working more along this line, we come to land. Or rather owned and unowned land. Unowned land would be open for exploitation/claiming by anyone. Fair deal i say, noone else was using it. Problem though, what happens when the person exploting/claiming it decides to do major or ireversable harm to that area? Say cut down a significant percentage of the Amazon jungle for example, or stripmine a mountain.

Now bear in mind, i´m not making claims this is not something an An-Cap society can´t sort out. I´m just saying it would be troublesome, just like it is now with the systems we have, so it does deserve some thinking on by those that wish for an An-Cap world. I mean, we are all seeing these problems today, even under a "goverment" system.

I will freely admit i have not read much of the books that are being tossed around here, neither am i asking for a solution here and now how such a potential situation might play out. I´m just throwing out ideas and wonderings. I´m purely a layman, wondering from a laymans point of view.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on January 07, 2011, 09:10:52 pm

Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?


That isn't so hard,  you can have a world like ours , where new stuff is more valuable than old stuff, people who write new music or computer programs , people who grow new vegitables or build new cars will sell their skills even if they start with no capitol at all.

You can't grow new vegetables when he owns all the land and will only give you access if you are his employee and whatever you produce belongs to him.


I think you are starting to describe a king, we have a lot of history that shows how kings behave.

Even pretty bad kings needed other people the land is useless without someone to till it, the mines are useless without someone to mine them, if you were like the pharos of early Egypt and controlled mostly everything that mattered, you still need people to help you enjoy the stuff.

In this comic Reggie is somehow the first successful settler of Ceries and gets the nickname of "King Reggie" another caricter seems to own his own little world because he alone has the resorces to develop it into a livable environment, both of these guys sought out more settlers and offered them a square deal , that is the smart thing to do, I dont think it unlikely at all.

Tyrants that opress get overthrown , if you ever become King I advise you to become a figurehead, your dynasty will last longer .
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 08, 2011, 07:04:27 am
In this comic Reggie is somehow the first successful settler of Ceries and gets the nickname of "King Reggie"...

You mean you actually believe the yarn that Guy Caillard was told when he arrived on Ceres? Reggie was a relatively late comer to Ceres and "King Reggie" was never his nickname. That was just used as part of the ruse to fool Guy and the UW. Your thesis about kings isn't bad, but Reggie does not support it in any way.

... another caricter seems to own his own little world because he alone has the resorces to develop it into a livable environment, both of these guys sought out more settlers and offered them a square deal , that is the smart thing to do, I dont think it unlikely at all.

Tobi doesn't have settlers, per se, on TLP. He has employees and independent contractors. TLP is simply a "company town," albeit a really nice one. But again, he still has to rule with a light hand. In fact, he has put a fail-safe mechanism in place to make sure he does not become a tyrant. We will see it in action in a future arc.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 08, 2011, 07:17:12 am
Hans Hermann Hoppe makes the case that kings, on average, tend to rule more lightly than democracies.

The trouble with democracy is that people are far too likely to believe that "we govern ourselves", therefore "we" can legitimately do anything that "we" want.

If a king pushes too far, it is psychologically easier to see the king as an outsider, rather than the embodiment of "we." Rival kings may exploit this and engineer a takeover.

Consider war between kingdoms. Rival armies make a point not to be too hard on noncombatants, since the noncombatants are the labor force which "puts the bacon on the table" - they, as much as the land itself, are the prize which is being fought over. In addition, the locals can make life hard or easy for an invading army, as soldiers have discovered in Afghanistan.

An oppressive king will have little support from "his" peasants. A "generous" king who tries to bribe the people will deplete his treasury. A king who rules with a light hand will rule over a prosperous land, and his people will support him in times of war.

I still favor "no rulers" to "rule by kings", but Hoppe may have a point when he suggests that kings, by and large, are kinder to the people than the various forms of democracy which have been tried. You may think your favorite bread-and-circuses democracy is a great deal, but they are in hock up to their ears, and the current financial crises are certain to expose the financial rot of much of Europe and the USSA. The time for "kicking the can down the road" is near an end; there's no more road.

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 08, 2011, 07:26:18 am

Say we got a world where one person owned everything and everybody else lived at his service. Is that acceptable?

That isn't so hard,  you can have a world like ours , where new stuff is more valuable than old stuff, people who write new music or computer programs , people who grow new vegitables or build new cars will sell their skills even if they start with no capitol at all.

You can't grow new vegetables when he owns all the land and will only give you access if you are his employee and whatever you produce belongs to him.

I think you are starting to describe a king, we have a lot of history that shows how kings behave.

Sure. So, review the bidding. Terry described a society where total equality was enforced. If you get a little bit more than somebody else then the controllers take it away from you so you'll be equal. Very bad.

So I tried to think what the opposite would be, and one person owning everything seemed like an opposite which isn't good either.

Maybe this other thing is a better opposite: One group of people is the lenders, and another group is the debtors. Debtors can't own anything until they get out of debt, which they can never do. Debtors must work at whatever tasks they are assigned, getting paid against their debts, and if they are deeper in debt when they finish working that is no excuse not to work.

So debtors can be pretty much equal, and lenders can perhaps be pretty much equal, but the number of pairwise comparisons of absolute inequality is not 1 x N but M x N.

I say, we don't want a society with too much equality, and we probably don't want a society with too much inequality either.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 08, 2011, 08:01:13 am
In the Real World, absent the use of coercion, those who would own everything, and those who would own the banks, tend to self-limit. History is full of people who inherit vast wealth and squander it.

In an AnCap society, the defense of land falls upon the landowner alone. Do you want to "own" an unclaimed piece of land as big as Pennsylvania? ( The state of Pennsylvania was originally a land grant from the King of England to William Penn; the King conveniently ignored the fact that other people already lived there. ) In an AnCap society, you don't get to ignore those other people; they are armed as you are. ( There is a reason why the colonies restricted exports of weapons to the natives. )

If William Penn himself had to defend all of Pennsylvania, out of his own resources, then he'd need to either a) put the land to productive use in order to fund the defense, or b) deplete his capital to defend the land. Obviously, over a long enough time, b tends to diminish such large holdings.

What does it mean to "put the land to productive use?" In an AnCap society, it means to engage in voluntary exchanges which benefit both parties. If you try putting serfs to work on starvation rations, they won't be very productive, and they'll be inclined to rebel - and there are no weapons control laws in AnCap society.

How about lenders taking advantage of borrowers? How much control can lenders have, when people can refuse to borrow? Borrowing is not a necessity of life. There is a growing movement of people who are cutting up their credit cards, paying down their debt, and refusing to borrow. This is making bankers very nervous; the only "people" who are reliably willing to borrow nowadays are governments.

In some countries, it is the norm to pay cash for land and homes. I often hear of Amish farmers paying for big-ticket items with sacks of cash. They who do not borrow live better than others, because they pay no interest to the bankers, and are more careful shoppers. When you must decide between holding on to a few thousand in cash (which can be used for some other purpose) or spending it on a camera, TV, or computer, you tend to weigh it a bit more carefully than the decision to add a few dollars more per month to your home equity loan or credit card.

An AnCap society is highly unlikely to be a debt-based society - especially when one considers that money itself will not be debt-based, when people are free to choose. Interest rates will be higher; they will not be suppressed by government fiat.
 
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: GlennWatson on January 08, 2011, 08:15:57 am
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Consider war between kingdoms. Rival armies make a point not to be too hard on noncombatants,


I am new here so please don’t take this as an arrogant correction or aggressive argument, but I don't think you are correct about civilian deaths in war.  In most wars peasants get the worst of it.  Think of the 100 Years War, the Thirty Years War, WWII, the Crusades or Hannibal roaming through Italy.

Despite Sherman's March to the Sea, more soldiers than civilians died in the American Civil War but that seems more the exception than the rule.  The large number of killed soldiers was caused by changing technology that did not match the old Napoleonic tactics, the same with WWI.

I never thought, or taught, that armies were particularly careful about civilian populations.  They should be for moral and long term economic reasons but they weren't because in the short term its better to kill everyone and take their stuff.

I guess we could both  pick out examples of wars where civilians or soldiers suffered more, but in the long run the hippy who said “war is not good for children and other living things,” was right.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on January 08, 2011, 08:17:03 am
In this comic Reggie is somehow the first successful settler of Ceries and gets the nickname of "King Reggie"...

You mean you actually believe the yarn that Guy Caillard was told when he arrived on Ceres? Reggie was a relatively late comer to Ceres and "King Reggie" was never his nickname. That was just used as part of the ruse to fool Guy and the UW. Your thesis about kings isn't bad, but Reggie does not support it in any way.


How embarrassing that I am no more difficult to trick than a fictional foil written to be gulled.


What is the procedure for stakeing claim on asteroids in this story? I don't see an authority involved is there some sort of registry without authority?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on January 08, 2011, 08:49:05 am
Hans Hermann Hoppe makes the case that kings, on average, tend to rule more lightly than democracies.

...An oppressive king will have little support from "his" peasants. A "generous" king who tries to bribe the people will deplete his treasury. A king who rules with a light hand will rule over a prosperous land, and his people will support him in times of war.



According to Michavelli , cruelty has advantage over generosity. A generous gesture becomes the norm and is soon expected maintaining "generosity" as a reputation requires topping yourself on a regular basis.
Cruelty doesn't nessacerily need to be increased each time just to make an impression , the rulers worst cruelty is remembered longer than his best generosity.
As Evidence we can consider Draco the tyrant and Vlad the Impaler, both of these guys are remembered well and fondly many generations later. they even contribute their names to our language.and culture ;"Draconian"and " Dracula". A tyrant can earn respect by thuggery with much greater ease than by intelligence or generosity.

   Thugs are not a rare human type and in human history, a thug with ambition winds up being the ruler just as often as any other sort of person. IN "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, " a minor incident was the arrival of a Thug with his minions . The Moon dwellers assinated him easily before he got started . I wonder if this is how anarchy is maintained in the belt? Does this story adress the question of thugs leading gangs?

Left alone a little while ,Thugs seem to gather gangs just as a matter of normal human behavior.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 08, 2011, 09:04:10 am
Quote
In addition, the locals can make life hard or easy for an invading army, as soldiers have discovered in Afghanistan.

Can anyone here reconnect me with a wonderful little ditty called "Rhododendron Honey and Amanita Stew"?  I heard it once years ago, and the only hit I could find was a poster on DailyKos using the title as a handle.

For those who have never heard of it, it's a tale of a village that's repeatedly overrun by one conqueror or another, and who greet their new overlords with a welcoming feast of the local "specialties".


Economic historian Frederick Lane considered the motives & incentives of businesses who were, variously, proprietor-controlled (think monopoly), employee-controlled, and customer-controlled, and then applied those concepts to government:  who controls the government?  And what does that have to say about how the government behaves?

He gave as an example of a customer-controlled government that of the medieval merchant republics like Venice.  The businesses were genuinely customers of government protection services; no one firm could get sole control because of the competition from the others.  Apparently the merchants could take their business elsewhere; ergo, a government was forced to be competitive, to provide the best quality services at the lowest price.

Kings could be either customer-controlled (and would be the ones who had to rule lightly), or proprietor-controlled, aka dictators.

Quote
The trouble with democracy is that people are far too likely to believe that "we govern ourselves", therefore "we" can legitimately do anything that "we" want.

Yep.  Democracies are employee-controlled, and tend to fatten themselves with little concern for its effect on their customers.  Or should I say, "vote to fatten themselves now, and be all surprised at the negative effects later."

Quote
Thugs are not a rare human type and in human history . . . [followed by good points]

As I keep saying about psychopaths.  Smack me when I get too redundant.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 08, 2011, 11:39:01 am
How embarrassing that I am no more difficult to trick than a fictional foil written to be gulled.

Hey, I was completely snookered by The Sixth Sense. No other movie ever tricked me that well.

What is the procedure for stakeing claim on asteroids in this story? I don't see an authority involved is there some sort of registry without authority?

This was obliquely referenced in the "Big Head" arc. An ISO standard was adopted. There is also a back story that explains how claims are recognized and enforced. Think of it in terms of how land and mining claims were recognized in the Old West.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 08, 2011, 01:49:49 pm
In an AnCap society, the defense of land falls upon the landowner alone. Do you want to "own" an unclaimed piece of land as big as Pennsylvania?
Getting back to the original point that started the discussion, though, this seems to lead to an admission of defeat.

An AnCap society is supposed to be based on the ZAP. The ZAP includes "Thou Shalt Not Steal" as part of it.

So, it was asked: if, somehow, through being very good at free-market exchanges, through coming up with a really valuable invention, or some other legitimate means, someone got so rich that he "owned everything", how would that problem be dealt with.

And basically, the reply is that, if it were a problem, absent a government-scale army of policemen... gosh, we would just steal everything back.

So this is an admission that totally abolishing evil thieving socialism really is impractical after all!

Or, at least, this is how that could be understood by an ill-disposed cur who just can't get into the spirit of the exciting quest for more freedom with AnCap, perhaps. I'm just getting profoundly confused here.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 08, 2011, 05:09:37 pm
An AnCap society is supposed to be based on the ZAP. The ZAP includes "Thou Shalt Not Steal" as part of it.

So, it was asked: if, somehow, through being very good at free-market exchanges, through coming up with a really valuable invention, or some other legitimate means, someone got so rich that he "owned everything", how would that problem be dealt with.

No, you were told that a free market transaction is an exchange of value. Hence, one cannot own everything. He traded away something to get everything he has, so the other guys still have something. Ergo, you mythical trader does not have everything, by definition. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

Your logical fallacy is similar to the old chestnut, "If an irresistible force is applied to an immovable object which wins?" or "If the barber shaves everyone in town except those who shave themselves, who shaves the barber? The fallacy in inherit in the question's premises, not in the answer. Nice try, though.

A friend of mine once stated, "Of course socialism can work. It works in Oz... of course, it needs magic."
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 08, 2011, 05:34:27 pm
If the barber shaves everyone in town except those who shave themselves, who shaves the barber?
Of course, in practical terms, everyone realizes that the barber doesn't have to be a woman. Everyone in town who is a clean-shaven man either comes to the barber shop and sits down in the barber's chair, to be shaved by the barber who is standing there behind him, or shaves himself at home in front of the bathroom mirror. The barber, because he can't be in two places at once, must be in the latter category.

However, in abstract terms, that was not a fruitless question to ask. If you ask, concerning a set S, "does the set S include itself", that is a well-defined question, with a simple, well-defined answer.

Therefore, if one attempts to define a set as "the set of all sets that do not include themselves", it would seem like this is a properly phrased definition of a set. But that set only includes itself if it doesn't. Thus, this proved that it is not generally the case that the class of all sets S such that a proposition concerning a set, applied to that set, is true is itself a set.

This was important in the development of axiomatic set theory.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 08, 2011, 08:04:58 pm
This was important in the development of axiomatic set theory.

But with absolutely no relevance to your "man who owns everything" fantasy.  ::)

You can run, but you can't hide.  ;D
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 08, 2011, 08:27:33 pm
An AnCap society is supposed to be based on the ZAP. The ZAP includes "Thou Shalt Not Steal" as part of it.

So, it was asked: if, somehow, through being very good at free-market exchanges, through coming up with a really valuable invention, or some other legitimate means, someone got so rich that he "owned everything", how would that problem be dealt with.

No, you were told that a free market transaction is an exchange of value. Hence, one cannot own everything. He traded away something to get everything he has, so the other guys still have something. Ergo, you mythical trader does not have everything, by definition. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

We started with a mythical government which enforce equality in all things. Of course we agreed that this was bad even though there is no way it could actually happen. After all, who equalizes the equalizers?

I proposed the other extreme, a society in which utter inequality was enforced. And you and Terry have failed to say anything about how good that would be, but only insist that it couldn't happen in an AnCap society.

You have gone so far as to make an argument that nobody can ever go bankrupt in an AnCap society, in the process of claiming that it isn't possible for one person to own everything.

See, nobody can ever go bankrupt because every time they trade anything, the other person must give them something in exchange. So they will always own something, no matter what.

If it's possible for one person to go bankrupt, then it's also possible for a second person to go bankrupt, and by finite induction it is then possible for all but one to go bankrupt.

So if your argument holds to prevent one person from owning it all, it must follow that no single individual can ever lose everything.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 08, 2011, 09:06:48 pm
But with absolutely no relevance to your "man who owns everything" fantasy.  ::)
Actually, it was someone else's. I agree, it's not really possible for someone to own absolutely everything. The only example of that I can think of was in a Donald Duck cartoon.

But it is possible, and it has happened, for a few people to own a lot, and for most of the rest of the people to own very little, and to be at a huge disadvantage in trading their labor for anything. And those who own can even believe that taking maximum advantage of the situation is the humane thing to do: "The Iron Law of Wages" had said that if the rich were so foolish as to pay the poor more than a bare subsistence, that would just let them breed until one could no longer afford to pay them more than a bare subsistence - thus increasing the sum total of human suffering.

Which suggests that wages rose when the government decided it needed more cannon fodder.

The fact that an exaggerated form of that scenario was proposed that really couldn't arise in practice doesn't change the basic issue; noncoercive free markets can allow very gross inequalities to persist, to be perpetuated.

One response is to ask just how much of a bad thing that is. It isn't bad if a few people are very rich when everyone else is comfortable. And if a lot of people are very poor, usually that isn't because of what the rich have managed to take for themselves - a few people have managed to be comfortably well-off in an environment where there just isn't enough for everyone, even if it were split equally.

But because poor and desperate people will often resort to stealing, even if disparities weren't caused by initiation of force with the connivance of government, tyranny and repression usually aren't far behind in that sort of situation - first, the rich create a government that serves their interests, then demagogues create a new one that only changes the faces of the masters, not the situation of the poor.

Sorting out who is to blame for starting the situation sometimes isn't easy - population versus resources, success building on success in the free market, or government corruption. But such situations usually led to the collapse of whatever freedom had existed in the affected society. (This is even an argument used by socialists for welfare measures - they prevent harmful unrest and disaffection.)

Democratic governments can tax and redistribute to reduce inequality, and thus gently correct a situation of extreme inequality. The question was posed - how does an AnCap society cope? So far, the answer seems to be that people get fed up and use their guns. In other words, ZAP gets thrown out the window, respect for private property is replaced by what usually goes by the name of anarchy.

Noting that one man owning everything is a fantasy is well and good, but it's evading the original question.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 09, 2011, 07:39:01 am
You have gone so far as to make an argument that nobody can ever go bankrupt in an AnCap society, in the process of claiming that it isn't possible for one person to own everything.

See, nobody can ever go bankrupt because every time they trade anything, the other person must give them something in exchange. So they will always own something, no matter what.

If it's possible for one person to go bankrupt, then it's also possible for a second person to go bankrupt, and by finite induction it is then possible for all but one to go bankrupt.

So if your argument holds to prevent one person from owning it all, it must follow that no single individual can ever lose everything.

You logical error is your assumption that each subsequent is equivalent to the one before. That is not true. Each subsequent bankruptcy changes the whole economic system, incrementally and makes it more difficult for the next to happen and so on.

Your argument is the equivalent of "if I add one mile per hour, I will eventually reach and surpass 186,282 miles per hour.

There are a number of reasons successive bankruptcies resulting in trades with a given guy would be more difficult, but the easiest to imagine are bidding wars and economic shunning of the guy who was trying to own everything. Either of those are sufficient to expose the fallacy of your assumptions, thus obviating your conclusion.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 09, 2011, 07:52:43 am
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"The Iron Law of Wages" had said that if the rich were so foolish as to pay the poor more than a bare subsistence, that would just let them breed until one could no longer afford to pay them more than a bare subsistence - thus increasing the sum total of human suffering.

Ironically, people produce fewer children when they are materially comfortable.  Under stressful -- i.e. "poor" -- conditions, humans, like any other animals, reproduce a lot, as if to insure that at least one or two offspring survive.  (Below a certain point, of course, they fail to breed at all.)  Let them live in at least comfortable conditions, and they'll have smaller families on average.

Quote
The fact that an exaggerated form of that scenario was proposed that really couldn't arise in practice doesn't change the basic issue; noncoercive free markets can allow very gross inequalities to persist, to be perpetuated.

"Inequalities" in the sense that one cookie-cutout "person" has more and another has less but, when the actual unique individual and his unique traits and characteristics are considered, those "inequalities" -- in a free market -- are probably pretty representative of his relative contributions.

What will he do with it?  If he loved and respected his kids, he wouldn't leave them a damned thing, but he's probably softheaded enough to leave it all to them anyway.

And one of them is a chip off the ol' block, and continues aggregating.  Even then, he can only acquire by providing value.  Still, let's say he's acquiring land.

He can't possibly use it all himself.  He can't keep out squatters all by his onesie.  So he hires people.

One of his hireling "foremen" decides that he'd rather use the land he's overseeing for some other purpose.  The owner objects, and calls for arbitration.

Remember that there are no laws here.  There is respect for property -- and no law defining once and forever just what "property" is.  A court of arbitration might very well decide in the foreman's favor, and observe that the original owner's claim of property is based only on a rather tenuous chain of agreement, whereas the foreman's claim lies in "I'm here, I can control it myself, and I'm providing the community this new value".

When you can't control it personally, in what sense is it yours?  Without a law saying that it is, I mean.

Or perhaps the original acquisitor was acquiring not land, but gold.  He eventually has all the gold . . . until he needs to pay someone for something.  Maybe he manages to get by on barter until he does have all the gold.  Bwahaha.  Then the community agrees to use wampum instead.  Currency is, after all, whatever's current.

There will be poor people.  There can be desperately poor people.  A society that allows desperation to arise deserves what it gets; that's the price of short-sightedness.  Ain't saying that the desperately poor are then "right" to use force; rather, that that's a foreseeable and therefore preventable outcome.  It won't be like it's any great surprise.

But there is no preventing poverty -- regardless of the governing system -- until we become the Borg and all individuality is lost, because there will always be the, well, "negative-sigma" of the distribution of traits.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 09, 2011, 08:17:43 am
An AnCap society is NOT based upon ZAP. It is based on there being no rulers.

ZAP is a natural outgrowth of an AnCap society - but nothing in ZAP requires one to take suicide pills if one's great-great-to-the-nth grandfather foolishly agreed to such a provision in a contract. Nor, if someone merely asserts ownership of a vast tract of land, does ZAP require that assertion to be honored. You can assert ownership if you can convince others to respect your claim. If you can defend your claim, you'll have no trouble gaining such respect. If you make a modest uncontested claim, no trouble.

However, if you claim an estate the size of Pennsylvania, and do not defend it, squatters will wander in and make use of it.

The principle of squatters taking possession of undefended land has been part of Common Law for centuries. It is preserved in legal systems today, but the State permits one to externalize the cost of defense - you need do nothing more than send a scary letter to the squatter to "defend" your claim, in the eyes of the courts. Based on that scary letter, the courts will send big men with guns to evict the squatter.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 09, 2011, 10:12:05 am
You have gone so far as to make an argument that nobody can ever go bankrupt in an AnCap society, in the process of claiming that it isn't possible for one person to own everything.

See, nobody can ever go bankrupt because every time they trade anything, the other person must give them something in exchange. So they will always own something, no matter what.

If it's possible for one person to go bankrupt, then it's also possible for a second person to go bankrupt, and by finite induction it is then possible for all but one to go bankrupt.

So if your argument holds to prevent one person from owning it all, it must follow that no single individual can ever lose everything.

You logical error is your assumption that each subsequent is equivalent to the one before. That is not true. Each subsequent bankruptcy changes the whole economic system, incrementally and makes it more difficult for the next to happen and so on.

Your argument is the equivalent of "if I add one mile per hour, I will eventually reach and surpass 186,282 miles per hour.

There are a number of reasons successive bankruptcies resulting in trades with a given guy would be more difficult, but the easiest to imagine are bidding wars and economic shunning of the guy who was trying to own everything. Either of those are sufficient to expose the fallacy of your assumptions, thus obviating your conclusion.

No, I'm using your logic only.

Every time you make a trade, the other guy has to give you something. Therefore you will always own something.

That is your argument, applied to one person. Therefore no single person can ever go bankrupt.

Quote
No, you were told that a free market transaction is an exchange of value. Hence, one cannot own everything. He traded away something to get everything he has, so the other guys still have something. Ergo, you mythical trader does not have everything, by definition. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

Since one person must always trade away something to get something else, he can never own everything. He cannot drive everybody else bankrupt.

Since everybody else must always trade away something with one person, he can never own nothing. They cannot drive him bankrupt.

Do you see that logically it is the same argument?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 09, 2011, 12:26:24 pm
Since everybody else must always trade away something with one person, he can never own nothing. They cannot drive him bankrupt.
Actually, the argument is valid. If all people ever did was trade, they could never become bankrupt.

To become bankrupt, and own nothing, a person must do something else besides trading. One of these two things would suffice: consuming, or borrowing.

He could trade what he owns for some food... and then eat it, as is required to survive.

He could borrow money, using what he owns for collateral... and the value of his collateral could decrease, and the money from the loan which he invested could work out badly.

Now that I've shown it's possible for a person to become bankrupt, then all that has to happen is for everyone else but one person in a society to become bankrupt for one person to own everything. Isn't it better to explicitly point out the fallacy than merely to give an existence proof which some people might not accept?

An AnCap society is NOT based upon ZAP. It is based on there being no rulers.

ZAP is a natural outgrowth of an AnCap society - but nothing in ZAP requires one to take suicide pills if one's great-great-to-the-nth grandfather foolishly agreed to such a provision in a contract.
Now this may be a source of my confusion.

I figure that in these forums, the position I'm arguing with isn't really one official position, but rather the different related views of people belonging to three different schools of thought; AnCap, libertarianism, and minarchism.

And common to the first two, at least, I had thought, was the idea that, as a moral principle, nobody has the right to initiate force. Not even the democratic majority.

I took that as a starting point, because it seemed to me that it didn't make sense to view it in another way. Only if you believe that something is true as a moral principle would you not be swayed to abandon it by an argument from consequences. (If we don't have conscription, and taxes to pay for a giant fleet of nuclear submarines, then we're likelier to have to defend ourselves from the bad old Russians, and that would entail some unpleasantness.)

And so I assumed that anarcho-capitalism had very little in common with old-fashioned anarchism, which talked a lot about tearing down the rich for the sake of the poor. That could be completely wrong; maybe AnCap is really old-fashioned anarchism with a little respect for the good things capitalism can do for you, on a small enough scale at least, grafted on. Or the reality could be somewhere in between.

In any case, I assume that a political school of thought starts from a small set of fundamental moral premises, playing the role of statements like "only one straight line may be drawn through any point that is parallel to a second straight line not intersecting that point", and all cases are handled through deductive logic. More or less. In the human world of politics, there has to be some room for the ad hoc.

If, instead, ZAP is just a rule that's followed most of the time, but not having rulers is what's followed all of the time, yes, then one is looking at something different. So there would be different arguments against it. One problem that comes to mind is that the society is likely to be... unstable. There's no guarantee that the ZAP would be put aside quickly enough to prevent levels of inequity that lead the people, foolishly, to follow a statist demagogue. But, of course, guarantees are what statist societies with their rule by the iron fist are in the business of, not anarchies of any kind.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on January 09, 2011, 12:57:40 pm
Every time you make a trade, the other guy has to give you something. Therefore you will always own something.

That is your argument, applied to one person. Therefore no single person can ever go bankrupt.

Wrong again. Think it through logically. All I have a gold coin; I trade it for a banana; I eat the banana. I am now bankrupt. Q.E.D.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 09, 2011, 02:44:46 pm
You have gone so far as to make an argument that nobody can ever go bankrupt in an AnCap society, in the process of claiming that it isn't possible for one person to own everything.

See, nobody can ever go bankrupt because every time they trade anything, the other person must give them something in exchange. So they will always own something, no matter what.

If it's possible for one person to go bankrupt, then it's also possible for a second person to go bankrupt, and by finite induction it is then possible for all but one to go bankrupt.

So if your argument holds to prevent one person from owning it all, it must follow that no single individual can ever lose everything.

You logical error is your assumption that each subsequent is equivalent to the one before. That is not true. Each subsequent bankruptcy changes the whole economic system, incrementally and makes it more difficult for the next to happen and so on.

Your argument is the equivalent of "if I add one mile per hour, I will eventually reach and surpass 186,282 miles per hour.

There are a number of reasons successive bankruptcies resulting in trades with a given guy would be more difficult, but the easiest to imagine are bidding wars and economic shunning of the guy who was trying to own everything. Either of those are sufficient to expose the fallacy of your assumptions, thus obviating your conclusion.

No, I'm using your logic only.

Every time you make a trade, the other guy has to give you something. Therefore you will always own something.

That is your argument, applied to one person. Therefore no single person can ever go bankrupt.

Quote
No, you were told that a free market transaction is an exchange of value. Hence, one cannot own everything. He traded away something to get everything he has, so the other guys still have something. Ergo, you mythical trader does not have everything, by definition. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

Since one person must always trade away something to get something else, he can never own everything. He cannot drive everybody else bankrupt.

Since everybody else must always trade away something with one person, he can never own nothing. They cannot drive him bankrupt.

Do you see that logically it is the same argument?


Jamesd, have you ever borrowed money? Are you acquainted with the concept of negative net worth? People who go bankrupt owe more money than they are worth. They may have, for example, bought a house for $700,000, mostly borrowed, but the same house can only be sold for $300,000 nowadays. Such bizarre valuations are, of course, more likely in a system where the value of currency fluctuates due to fractional reserve banking, inflation, and other manipulations.

Now, if one does not borrow, negative net worth is much harder to accomplish, is it not?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 09, 2011, 10:48:59 pm
Every time you make a trade, the other guy has to give you something. Therefore you will always own something.

That is your argument, applied to one person. Therefore no single person can ever go bankrupt.

Wrong again. Think it through logically. All I have a gold coin; I trade it for a banana; I eat the banana. I am now bankrupt. Q.E.D.

Agreed. Your argument was wrong.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 10, 2011, 04:34:28 am
Regarding this "one person claims the world" theory, which has been constructed to find a way to poke holes in the ZAP.

Let us consider a scenario. Robinson and Friday and two babes land on an unclaimed planet. The Robinson Family and the Friday Family "mix their labor with the soil" and thereby homestead the land. It becomes a convention that, to claim land, one must fence the land. For purposes of this scenario, the two plots of fenced-in land are contiguous.

One day, Mrs. Robinson proposes an ambitious Plan to the Mister. He balks. She says sweetly, 'Do you enjoy plowing my furrow, Mr. Robinson? You'll plow no more of my furrow if you do not follow my Plan, Mr. Robinson."

So Mr. Robinson begins to construct a fence just outside the Friday fence - all the way around the Friday lands - until he circles completely around and eventually joins up with the Robinson lands again. In short, the Robinsons now own the entire world, except for that bit already claimed by the Fridays.

In a society where the Fridays must honor any property claim, however great, the Fridays are now doomed to live within their claim, for generations to come, no matter how many Fridays there may eventually be - or pay rent to the Robinsons. If there be a government to extract taxes, the Fridays must even pay for the defense of the Robinson claim. By claiming the world, and claiming the right to charge the Fridays for defense of that claim, the Robinsons claim to rule the Fridays.

In a society where the Robinsons and the Fridays own what they are willing and able to defend on their own account, they would not be able to claim the entire world; they would not bite off more than they could chew. Reasonable claims practically defend themselves; the Robinsons and Fridays would not require fortified fences and machine-gun emplacements - but if the Robinsons did claim the world, there would come a day when the population of the Fridays would press against the defenses.

In a more reasonable world, such vast claims would tend to be abandoned as they become indefensible.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 10, 2011, 06:31:47 am
Regarding this "one person claims the world" theory, which has been constructed to find a way to poke holes in the ZAP.

Ah! That's why nobody has been willing to explore the idea.

You pointed out that it's  undesirable (and impossible) to make everything equal for everybody, using an extreme case. On the other side, I claim that it is undesirable to let things get too unequal. I make no claim that an AnCap society would necessarily make things too unequal, and I do not claim that the most extreme case is possible.

I have heard explanations how AnCap societies might moderate extreme inequalities. For example, in some cases person X might go to an arbitrator and say "Person Y officially owns this resource here, and he isn't developing it much. I can develop it more effectively" and the arbitrator might rule that it now belongs to person X. Or if somebody has more stuff than he can defend, others might just take it from him.

It occurs to me that if you had two big groups of people who disagree about this sort of thing, they might fight over it. The society breaks down into warfare. That is not a flaw in AnCap societies, it's a flaw in societies where large numbers of people disagree about something enough to fight over it. The USA had this precise problem when we disagreed about slavery, and some of us were ready to fight to take away others' human property. Particular AnCap societies might be better or worse at resolving this sort of problem -- I don't see anything in the basic philosophy that says how to resolve it.

And an AnCap society does not have to have a perfect solution to every possible problem, to be way better than what we have now.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 10, 2011, 06:58:06 am
Quote
it is undesirable to let things get too unequal.

Seems to be a self-correcting problem.  Absent some external-to-society mechanism, the have-nots die off (and the issue shifts to imbalance in the remaining population), or they resort to violence, or the far-sighted haves find use for what they have in at least meliorating the deprivation -- though hopefully not so meliorating it as to cripple the recipients.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 10, 2011, 07:21:45 am
In a more reasonable world, such vast claims would tend to be abandoned as they become indefensible.
In your specific example, yes, this could not exist in a society in which the ZAP was honored.

Land and natural resources that simply exist in a state of nature are, initially, no one's property. Were I, sitting in my chair, to proclaim that anyone who wished to mine for minerals on the Moon must first pay me for the privilege, any attempt on my part to enforce such a claim would constitute an initiation of force on my part.

On the other hand, if I am in such a natural place, and I begin to plough the land, or dig a mine, then if someone were to vandalize these workings, that would be an initiation of force on his part.

So what I own is not the land itself, but my workings upon the land; the crops I have planted, the pit I have dug, and so on.

Absent any initiation of force, however, the time shall eventually come in the development of any new world where unused land that may be put to productive use without large expenditures of capital is no longer available. Some people will fare better than others, or be more diligent to others, at their labors. Some families will produce more than one child, more than two children, or more than one son. Newcomers might even still come to the world, although it no longer has a raw frontier.

Through all these causes, the event shall come to pass that the society will contain within it persons whose only means of sustenance is trading their labor for income.

History has shown that when such a point is reached, there are evils attendant thereon. Such people are likely to be at such a disadvantage in bargaining that they will be ripe prey for demagogues. It's all very well to say that with no ruler, excess inequality is self-correcting.

But the likely event is that an inequality not created by theft will end up leading to a society based upon theft - and only if everyone is very lucky will the outcome be a stable, democratic government which merely levies some taxes for the purpose of poor relief, sets minimum wages, prevents employers from combining in restraint of trade... and similar initiations of force on behalf of the common rabble.

The more probable outcome of a successful demagoguery is the French Revolution and the Terror, or the Bolshevik Revolution, or some such thing.

Combine that with most new worlds on the Earth being in the reach of rapacious neighbors with well-organized states and standing armies... that the general sentiment is that one should avoid the risk, and start from the beginning with a government, but a benign one, before either one is imposed by a foreign invasion, or results from an uprising of the proletarians, which would be far worse... is not surprising.

And, although I hate to keep repeating myself, so far, it seems to me, that all the arguments in favor of AnCap presented here have done nothing to refute the sentiment that this common perception is entirely correct and prudent.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 10, 2011, 08:29:22 am
Regarding this "one person claims the world" theory, which has been constructed to find a way to poke holes in the ZAP.

Ah! That's why nobody has been willing to explore the idea.

You pointed out that it's  undesirable (and impossible) to make everything equal for everybody, using an extreme case. On the other side, I claim that it is undesirable to let things get too unequal. I make no claim that an AnCap society would necessarily make things too unequal, and I do not claim that the most extreme case is possible.

I have heard explanations how AnCap societies might moderate extreme inequalities. For example, in some cases person X might go to an arbitrator and say "Person Y officially owns this resource here, and he isn't developing it much. I can develop it more effectively" and the arbitrator might rule that it now belongs to person X. Or if somebody has more stuff than he can defend, others might just take it from him.

It occurs to me that if you had two big groups of people who disagree about this sort of thing, they might fight over it. The society breaks down into warfare. That is not a flaw in AnCap societies, it's a flaw in societies where large numbers of people disagree about something enough to fight over it. The USA had this precise problem when we disagreed about slavery, and some of us were ready to fight to take away others' human property. Particular AnCap societies might be better or worse at resolving this sort of problem -- I don't see anything in the basic philosophy that says how to resolve it.

And an AnCap society does not have to have a perfect solution to every possible problem, to be way better than what we have now.


In an AnCap society, the arbitrators are not rulers; you don't get to make eminent domain claims, no matter how prettily you frame your arguments. However, if you see a spot of land which is not being used, and you do your due diligence and find that it has not been used for X years, and homestead it, and someone pops up later and says "My Great Grandfather homesteaded this and willed it to me and you owe me back rent", then an arbitrator might, depending on the facts of the case, rule in favor of the squatter, on the grounds that the putative owner had not defended his property for X years.

If things develop as in the "Robinsons claim the world" scenario, an arbitrator is likely to tell Mrs. Robinson to stop being such an ass.

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 10, 2011, 09:05:43 am
Regarding that lame-o "inequity" argument. Let us ask two questions. First, can everything be magically distributed equally? Second, can that equality be maintained in a free society?


Imagine that Ricky Martin hosts a concert.

Heh--Robert Nozick made a similar argument, but with Wilt Chamberlain, IIRC.  Another way to put it is that they see equality as an end state--but life is an ongoing process, not an end state.  As Mises stressed, man acts, and he acts to remove some felt unease.  A man who does not act is either in a coma or dead--no further action is possible.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 10, 2011, 09:35:10 am

But it is possible, and it has happened, for a few people to own a lot, and for most of the rest of the people to own very little, and to be at a huge disadvantage in trading their labor for anything. And those who own can even believe that taking maximum advantage of the situation is the humane thing to do: "The Iron Law of Wages" had said that if the rich were so foolish as to pay the poor more than a bare subsistence, that would just let them breed until one could no longer afford to pay them more than a bare subsistence - thus increasing the sum total of human suffering.

Which suggests that wages rose when the government decided it needed more cannon fodder.

Strange, I thought wages rose when productivity increased, as the industrial age developed. How could government increase productivity?  Or even increase wages without causing unemployment in other areas?

Quote
The fact that an exaggerated form of that scenario was proposed that really couldn't arise in practice doesn't change the basic issue; noncoercive free markets can allow very gross inequalities to persist, to be perpetuated.

One response is to ask just how much of a bad thing that is. It isn't bad if a few people are very rich when everyone else is comfortable. And if a lot of people are very poor, usually that isn't because of what the rich have managed to take for themselves - a few people have managed to be comfortably well-off in an environment where there just isn't enough for everyone, even if it were split equally.

But because poor and desperate people will often resort to stealing, even if disparities weren't caused by initiation of force with the connivance of government, tyranny and repression usually aren't far behind in that sort of situation - first, the rich create a government that serves their interests, then demagogues create a new one that only changes the faces of the masters, not the situation of the poor.
....
Democratic governments can tax and redistribute to reduce inequality, and thus gently correct a situation of extreme inequality. The question was posed - how does an AnCap society cope? So far, the answer seems to be that people get fed up and use their guns. In other words, ZAP gets thrown out the window, respect for private property is replaced by what usually goes by the name of anarchy.


There are standard answers for these questions.  Governments can tax and redistribute, but only at some other cost or unintended consequence--increased unemployment, as I suggested above. 
More importantly, without government, it is easier for people to find ways to increase productivity and be better off--fewer difficulties in starting new businesses, for example, and thus more competition among employers for employees.  Thus, even if you have a few ultra-wealthy people like Bill Gates or Warren  Buffet in an ancap society, the people at the bottom are indeed less likely to be in poverty, much less extreme poverty that would cause them to resort to theft or other desperate actions.  Those who are in poverty, because of disability or disease or such, will find private charity sufficient to take care of them, because people can more easily and willingly afford such charity in a world without taxes and licensing and such.  And because it is private charity, and not public charity, able-bodied people will find it difficult to ride on charity when jobs are plentiful, and privately-administered charities are watching where their money is going to.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on January 10, 2011, 09:58:18 am
This whole cruelty towards animals brought to the forefront of my mind something i have been thinking about. Wild animals and land.

Tigers for example have been hunted damn near to extinction and it has taken a heck of a lot of work to try and save them. Now before we start of with the arguments, a lot of that work has been by volounteers and funded by donations from the private sector (IE Joe Schmoe and/or corporations, trustfunds, whatnot.) so it is quite possible, maybe even probbable? That some close to extinct animals would be taken in by some rich benefactors to be kept safe. But in the wild? Any wild tiger not on private property or marked as private property would be fair game, and we see how hard it is now to keep them from going extinct. And this goes for hundreds of other animals as well with percieved "economic value".

Working more along this line, we come to land. Or rather owned and unowned land. Unowned land would be open for exploitation/claiming by anyone. Fair deal i say, noone else was using it. Problem though, what happens when the person exploting/claiming it decides to do major or ireversable harm to that area? Say cut down a significant percentage of the Amazon jungle for example, or stripmine a mountain.

Now bear in mind, i´m not making claims this is not something an An-Cap society can´t sort out. I´m just saying it would be troublesome, just like it is now with the systems we have, so it does deserve some thinking on by those that wish for an An-Cap world. I mean, we are all seeing these problems today, even under a "goverment" system.


There are answers, though how persuasive people find those answers depends upon their viewpoint.  It's mainly a matter of understanding the incentives provided.  With property rights, people have incentives to maintain and protect their property.  Where property rights are not allowed or are not protected, people have incentives to ignore the long-term results and focus on getting as much as they can as soon as they can. 
Federal regulations on logging in public forests allowed for so much clear-cutting to occur, for example, at below market cost even, while companies that own and utilize private forests have the incentive to care for their forests, including self-limiting how many trees they cut down and replanting forests for future lumber needs, in order to maximize their gains and profits from the forests.  Because they own them, they have reasons to look at more long-term measures, and not simply short-term gains.
Even wild animals could be "owned" in a wildlife preserve, and similar incentives would apply to privately-owned wildlife preserves, to care for and manage their wildlife. 
This is necessariy only a brief answer--there are books and studies that go into greater detail into these kinds of things.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on January 10, 2011, 11:35:33 am
The so-called "iron law of wages" is not a law, it is merely a Mathusian speculation. By now, it should be evident to all but brain-dead ivory tower theorists that the masses are not, contrary to Mathus, dying of starvation.

First off, increased capital leads to increased productivity in all endeavors, including agriculture. Better farming techniques, more water, more fertilizer, better seeds, breeding of livestock, all lead to greater agricultural productivity.

Second, the belief that the masses breed without limit has been proven to be false.

Third, the "rich" compete for laborers; this competition drives up the wages paid to labor. This is why few people are driven to live at subsistence levels. Before whining about the lack of "living wages", bear in mind that many people manage to live on much less than these theoretical numbers, and they are not starving, nor do they sleep on the streets. Therefore, the theoretical exposition which requires such-and-such a home and steak at ever meal is proven false by the facts on the ground.

Such expositions are designed to be forever mathemetically flawed. If a "living wage" is defined as "able to pay the average rent or price for housing", then by definition everyone who earns less than the average income will not have a "living wage" - no matter how high the minimum wage is, until the minimum and maximum wages are equal. Why? Because the minimum wage will always be less than the average wage. The only people who could fall for this "outrageous problem" are the mathematically illiterate.



Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: mellyrn on January 10, 2011, 05:26:15 pm
Very few people in America live in homes with dirt floors.  Dirt floors used to be commonplace, and can become quite hard and solid and kept clean.

Very few people in America have to fetch all their water from a well or cistern.

Very few people in America have to go to bed at sunset to save on candles or lamp oil.

Very few people in America have only one or two changes of clothes or shoes.

Even the poor in America can flip a switch on a box and see a play or a movie or a sport event, even one happening on the far side of the world.

Even the poor have more light at the flip of a switch than Henry VIII had at the snap of his fingers -- since it would have taken an army of servants just to get all those candles lit, much less lit at once.

Tday's American poor live in luxury unimagined by their not-so-distant ancestors.  I am not suggesting that they just be satsified with that -- dear heavens, no, I hope they go on reaching for the stars!

What I'm suggesting is that probably no one on this forum qualifies as really poor, so if the poor have wealth they're not noticing (because, comparatively, it doesn't look like wealth), how much more do you have, that you could appreciate if you took a moment?

When I tear off a piece of plastic wrap to wrap a sandwich, but especially when I unwrap the sandwich and throw the plastic away, I like to imagine said Henry VIII's likely opinion of that plastic:  look, a piece of fabric that looks and feels like water.  Presenting a handerchief-sized piece to His Majesty would either get me burned as a witch, or one hell of a royal welcome.

But today we see it as trash.  Which means we are not seeing most of just how damned wealthy we are -- even our poor.

I think appreciating how far we've come is likely to spur accomplishment greater still.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on January 10, 2011, 10:28:29 pm

But it is possible, and it has happened, for a few people to own a lot, and for most of the rest of the people to own very little, and to be at a huge disadvantage in trading their labor for anything. And those who own can even believe that taking maximum advantage of the situation is the humane thing to do: "The Iron Law of Wages" had said that if the rich were so foolish as to pay the poor more than a bare subsistence, that would just let them breed until one could no longer afford to pay them more than a bare subsistence - thus increasing the sum total of human suffering.

Which suggests that wages rose when the government decided it needed more cannon fodder.

Strange, I thought wages rose when productivity increased, as the industrial age developed. How could government increase productivity?  Or even increase wages without causing unemployment in other areas?

Economic systems are feedback systems. But which feedback happens in detail? That is mostly not studied. It is assumed, instead. Economists tell stories that sound plausible, and then they assume the stories are true.

It makes sense to me that wages should increase when supply of the particular kind of worker is low relative to demand. Wages should increase generally when there are more jobs of all sorts than people to do them.

Wages should also increase when the money supply increases relative to production, but wages will tend to increase last. And jobs for which there is a shortage of workers will increase fastest and most among jobs, while jobs for which there is a surplus of workers will increase slowest or not at all.

How would productivity affect wages? If MacDonalds switches from cash registers where workers must calculate prices and make change to smart registers where they punch the pictures of the meals and the register tells them and the customer how much money to pay and how much change to return, the workers can work faster and are then more productive. Should they be paid more? Probably not, it means that more people are qualified to do the job. The more workers are available compared to the number of jobs, the lower the wages.

If an automated assembly line needs two engineers to keep the line in repair rather than 100 assembly-line workers, will wages go up? Sure! Highly-trained engineers should make more than assembly line workers. Unless the line workers are union and the engineers are not.

Increased productivity might raise wages or it might not. It depends.

Well, these are all stories that are supposed to make sense. What actually happens? I guess it would make sense to look and find out, if you can. I'm not really in a position to look at a particular US factory and find out when wages go up -- lots of times management tries to keep that secret, and they want employees to keep their pay scale secret from other employees, much less the public. And if I went to corporate management and asked them why somebody's pay went up I doubt they'd tell me. But I can easily make guesses about what ought to happen.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on January 10, 2011, 10:38:54 pm
If the barber shaves everyone in town except those who shave themselves, who shaves the barber?
Of course, in practical terms, everyone realizes that the barber doesn't have to be a woman. Everyone in town who is a clean-shaven man either comes to the barber shop and sits down in the barber's chair, to be shaved by the barber who is standing there behind him, or shaves himself at home in front of the bathroom mirror. The barber, because he can't be in two places at once, must be in the latter category.

However, in abstract terms, that was not a fruitless question to ask. If you ask, concerning a set S, "does the set S include itself", that is a well-defined question, with a simple, well-defined answer.

Therefore, if one attempts to define a set as "the set of all sets that do not include themselves", it would seem like this is a properly phrased definition of a set. But that set only includes itself if it doesn't. Thus, this proved that it is not generally the case that the class of all sets S such that a proposition concerning a set, applied to that set, is true is itself a set.

This was important in the development of axiomatic set theory.

Hey
Wasn't this one of Bertrand Russels favoriates?

I think he moved from this to a proof that a set need not be equal to itself.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on January 11, 2011, 01:24:46 am
If a "living wage" is defined as "able to pay the average rent or price for housing", then by definition everyone who earns less than the average income will not have a "living wage" - no matter how high the minimum wage is, until the minimum and maximum wages are equal. Why? Because the minimum wage will always be less than the average wage. The only people who could fall for this "outrageous problem" are the mathematically illiterate.
Indeed, and they probably won't see the joke about Lake Wobegon either.

Of course, someone could use a definition such as "able to pay the median rent for housing, if they didn't spend any money on groceries" for a poverty line, and that might be too high, but at least it wouldn't be a priori absurd.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: MacFall on January 13, 2011, 11:49:34 am
What stops it is a free press, which China significantly lacks.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: wdg3rd on January 13, 2011, 02:43:30 pm
Quote
In addition, the locals can make life hard or easy for an invading army, as soldiers have discovered in Afghanistan.

Can anyone here reconnect me with a wonderful little ditty called "Rhododendron Honey and Amanita Stew"?  I heard it once years ago, and the only hit I could find was a poster on DailyKos using the title as a handle.

For those who have never heard of it, it's a tale of a village that's repeatedly overrun by one conqueror or another, and who greet their new overlords with a welcoming feast of the local "specialties".

That song is on the long out-of-print cassette "Firestorm!: Songs of the Third World War" by Leslie Fish published by Firebird Arts and Music.  Most of Leslie's work is out of print with Off Centaur Publications and Firebird (as far as I can tell, though the web page exists, most of the links are broken) being defunct.  Some more recent stuff is available from Random Factors such as the highly recommended "Lock and Load" (you'll absolutely love "They Were Having a Sale at the Gun Store"), lyrics here (http://www.lawfulpath.com/ref/jukes.shtml), as well as a combo of her first two albums from the 70s.  I'd love to see all of her published stuff (not to mention many hours of unpublished stuff) out on CD or even MP3 (thouoh as an open source type I prefer OGG files).  I don't know what her current plans are, La Espose keeps in closer touch with her than I do.

I've mentioned elsewhere that my ideal pick-up band at a science fiction convention would be L. Neil Smith on the "right-anarchist" side, Spider Robinson on the "left-anarchist" side and Leslie for the "non-Euclidean-anarchist" side.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Holt on February 05, 2011, 09:10:45 pm
Third, the "rich" compete for laborers; this competition drives up the wages paid to labor. This is why few people are driven to live at subsistence levels. Before whining about the lack of "living wages", bear in mind that many people manage to live on much less than these theoretical numbers, and they are not starving, nor do they sleep on the streets. Therefore, the theoretical exposition which requires such-and-such a home and steak at ever meal is proven false by the facts on the ground.


Ok that one made me laugh. Considering right now we have more people than jobs? Most of those jobs not even being full time?
Oh yeah they are sooooo competing for labourers.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 06, 2011, 03:17:21 am
http://news.searchina.ne.jp/disp.cgi?y=2011&d=0103&f=national_0103_093.shtml

To summarise it for those who can't use Google translate.
Chinese pet shop owners stock diseased animals and instead of treating them pump them full of stimulants then sell them. The animals then die or become ill not long after sale.

Unsurprisingly they do rather well from it.

So. In your envisioned utopia what stops them succeeding? They obviously do well enough as is despite living in China. So how will your system without any form of regulation stop them?

Call PETA and let them mount protests in front of every single of those pet shop ... or my favorite is to go the shop and make a huge fucking scandal until I get my money back

Do you really think that a serial cheater will get his way unless his customers are complete dumb ass ?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 06, 2011, 11:47:34 am
http://news.searchina.ne.jp/disp.cgi?y=2011&d=0103&f=national_0103_093.shtml

To summarise it for those who can't use Google translate.
Chinese pet shop owners stock diseased animals and instead of treating them pump them full of stimulants then sell them. The animals then die or become ill not long after sale.

Unsurprisingly they do rather well from it.

So. In your envisioned utopia what stops them succeeding? They obviously do well enough as is despite living in China. So how will your system without any form of regulation stop them?

Call PETA and let them mount protests in front of every single of those pet shop ... or my favorite is to go the shop and make a huge fracking scandal until I get my money back

Do you really think that a serial cheater will get his way unless his customers are complete dumb ass ?

"Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence/taste of the American public." HL Mencken

That's probably not true, probably many people have lost money underestimating those things. But after they do that they don't like to call attention to themselves.

Anyway, lots of people buy stuff online without doing much checking up on the vendor. I have often bought books online without checking up on the particular bookstore, and I've never had a problem. But for other products it's more likely to be fraud.

Incidentally, if you don't mind me putting in a plug for a company, for Christmas I bought an ulu from The ULU Factory in Anchorage, Alaska. The price was reasonable, shipping was included and it arrived in 3 days by USPS! The ulu works well. It needs sharpening more often l expected but it's worth it. The product may not be as good as an ulu you make yourself, but it's better than the ulu I made myself. They don't appear to be frauds at all.

http://shop.theulufactory.com/
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 06, 2011, 11:59:52 am

"Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence/taste of the American public." HL Mencken

That's probably not true, probably many people have lost money underestimating those things. But after they do that they don't like to call attention to themselves.

Anyway, lots of people buy stuff online without doing much checking up on the vendor. I have often bought books online without checking up on the particular bookstore, and I've never had a problem. But for other products it's more likely to be fraud.

Incidentally, if you don't mind me putting in a plug for a company, for Christmas I bought an ulu from The ULU Factory in Anchorage, Alaska. The price was reasonable, shipping was included and it arrived in 3 days by USPS! The ulu works well. It needs sharpening more often l expected but it's worth it. The product may not be as good as an ulu you make yourself, but it's better than the ulu I made myself. They don't appear to be frauds at all.

http://shop.theulufactory.com/


See the scenario of the first post of this thread :

A pet shop see half-dying customers after injecting them a boosting vitamine soup ... poor kittens and doggies die after few days and crying owner go back to buy more corpse at the same petshop

The scenario in itself is competly stupid, crooks by definition don't stay long in business, because they don't want to get caught and especially if their wares have a life of mere days.

Saying that a free market will be the paradise of crooks is stupid, because in the long run only good business makes money, by providing good services and making customers loyal.

There will always be opportunistics crooks, people selling useless stuff and such ... heck if people are buying ''Original Jedi cult Hoodies'' or ''hats with rabbits ears'' then maybe there should be left alone in their weirdness
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Brugle on February 06, 2011, 02:01:05 pm
Third, the "rich" compete for laborers; this competition drives up the wages paid to labor. This is why few people are driven to live at subsistence levels. Before whining about the lack of "living wages", bear in mind that many people manage to live on much less than these theoretical numbers, and they are not starving, nor do they sleep on the streets. Therefore, the theoretical exposition which requires such-and-such a home and steak at ever meal is proven false by the facts on the ground.


Ok that one made me laugh. Considering right now we have more people than jobs? Most of those jobs not even being full time?
Oh yeah they are sooooo competing for labourers.

I assume that terry_freeman is discussing a free market, which applies to us only to the extent that the market around us is free.  With the massive and increasing government barriers to hiring, it's remarkable how many people are actually being hired nowadays.

For example, quite a while ago I was in business for myself, and a customer said that he would give me more work if I hired a few employees.  I looked into it, and found that hiring just one person would have meant a huge amount of government-required paperwork, which could (and probably would) change arbitrarily without notice.  I decided that I probably could make more money by hiring a few people but wouldn't enjoy it, so I didn't.  (In a free market I would have jumped at the chance.)  Now, the barriers to hiring are considerably worse.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 06, 2011, 09:08:00 pm

A pet shop see half-dying customers after injecting them a boosting vitamine soup ... poor kittens and doggies die after few days and crying owner go back to buy more corpse at the same petshop

The scenario in itself is competly stupid, crooks by definition don't stay long in business, because they don't want to get caught and especially if their wares have a life of mere days.

Saying that a free market will be the paradise of crooks is stupid, because in the long run only good business makes money, by providing good services and making customers loyal.

There will always be opportunistics crooks, people selling useless stuff and such ... heck if people are buying ''Original Jedi cult Hoodies'' or ''hats with rabbits ears'' then maybe there should be left alone in their weirdness

Try this one -- I moved to a new town and had car trouble. My girlfriend's brother-in-law suggested an auto repair shop that he said had always done good work for a good price. He said to tell them he sent me there. So I did that. When the car was ready I was at work and my girlfriend took the bus on a rainy day to pick it up. They charged $400+ dollars. She tried to drive it home and it barely made it. The car was not fixed at all.

This particular shop wanted my girlfriend's brother-in-law's business. They did not want my business. Or maybe they thought they could do it, but when they tried they found out it was just too hard. When I took it to the dealer they told me that an incorrect part had been installed. Maybe they made a mistake, paid for the wrong part, and rather than eat the cost of the wrong one that nobody else wanted and the bad labor, they just gave up.

And yet they were doing a good business with lots of satisfied customers.

So maybe -- maybe all of sudden a whole lot of chinese feel prosperous enough they want pets. But the supply has not caught up to demand because it takes a minimum time to ramp up supply. So there just are not enough pets to go around. So when unsold pets get sick, they naturally try to sell them anyway. Because there just aren't enough to go around so somebody will buy. Give them antibiotics, give them vitamins, maybe they'll recover. If the new pet gets sick and the owner spends a lot on vet bills, well, they wanted a pet. Provided the veterinarian services have ramped up enough....

Doesn't it make sense that selling standards go down in a seller's market? You sell your whole stock. People wave money under your nose and want more. If you're good you raise prices on the good stuff and don't sell anything that fails your stringent quality control. If you're bad you raise prices and sell whatever the customers will buy....
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on February 06, 2011, 09:25:58 pm
... for Christmas I bought an ulu from The ULU Factory in Anchorage, Alaska.... 

That's where I bought my ulu. It may show up in a prequel to EFT. It will be used in a martial art called "ulu fu."  :D
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 07, 2011, 09:18:37 am
Try this one -- I moved to a new town and had car trouble. My girlfriend's brother-in-law suggested an auto repair shop that he said had always done good work for a good price. He said to tell them he sent me there. So I did that. When the car was ready I was at work and my girlfriend took the bus on a rainy day to pick it up. They charged $400+ dollars. She tried to drive it home and it barely made it. The car was not fixed at all.

This particular shop wanted my girlfriend's brother-in-law's business. They did not want my business. Or maybe they thought they could do it, but when they tried they found out it was just too hard. When I took it to the dealer they told me that an incorrect part had been installed. Maybe they made a mistake, paid for the wrong part, and rather than eat the cost of the wrong one that nobody else wanted and the bad labor, they just gave up.

You point ? I could complicate this scenario by adding that the mechanic wanted your wife for himself and because of that made a petty act of vengeance against you.

When you go confronting him you find him dead with markings of being sucked to death by a vampire ...

See there is no way of having a perfect world ... in case of customer not being satisfied he can always try to come to term with the service provider, since this one have something to lose, which is its reputation.

Losing his reputation will make him lose business, since remember that your brother-in-law made free publicity of the mechanic to you.

The real question here is how likely is to have ''crooks'' in a free market, if the incidence is low than we could tolerate the occasional instance in which it happens, although this doesn't mean that the victim doesn't have rights to ask for compensation for breach of contract.

Are you trying to tell me that enforcing those standard will put the incidence of fraud and crookery to ZERO ? Don't you know that enforcing those standards will have a cost.

Doesn't it make sense that selling standards go down in a seller's market? You sell your whole stock. People wave money under your nose and want more. If you're good you raise prices on the good stuff and don't sell anything that fails your stringent quality control. If you're bad you raise prices and sell whatever the customers will buy....

What do you call a seller's market ? You will be hard pressed to find a single product for which offer can't be increased in at least 6 months in a free market.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on February 07, 2011, 02:46:40 pm
You will be hard pressed to find a single product for which offer can't be increased in at least 6 months in a free market.

Would you please restate this?  It doesn't scan grammatically, and I can't figure out what you intended to say.  I think a couple of words are missing between "which" and "offer".
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 07, 2011, 03:11:57 pm
Try this one -- I moved to a new town and had car trouble. My girlfriend's brother-in-law suggested an auto repair shop that he said had always done good work for a good price. He said to tell them he sent me there. So I did that. When the car was ready I was at work and my girlfriend took the bus on a rainy day to pick it up. They charged $400+ dollars. She tried to drive it home and it barely made it. The car was not fixed at all.

This particular shop wanted my girlfriend's brother-in-law's business. They did not want my business. Or maybe they thought they could do it, but when they tried they found out it was just too hard. When I took it to the dealer they told me that an incorrect part had been installed. Maybe they made a mistake, paid for the wrong part, and rather than eat the cost of the wrong one that nobody else wanted and the bad labor, they just gave up.

You point ? I could complicate this scenario by adding that the mechanic wanted your wife for himself and because of that made a petty act of vengeance against you.

When you go confronting him you find him dead with markings of being sucked to death by a vampire ...

See there is no way of having a perfect world ... in case of customer not being satisfied he can always try to come to term with the service provider, since this one have something to lose, which is its reputation.

Losing his reputation will make him lose business, since remember that your brother-in-law made free publicity of the mechanic to you.

Yes. My girlfriend's brother-in-law was a repeat customer and could bring in more repeat customers. I was somebody who lived some distance away who might come in a few more times if I liked the results. If cheating me got the BIL mad at him, that was bad. If I was mad at him it wouldn't matter much.

Quote
The real question here is how likely is to have ''crooks'' in a free market, if the incidence is low than we could tolerate the occasional instance in which it happens, although this doesn't mean that the victim doesn't have rights to ask for compensation for breach of contract.

Sure. We can't expect to reduce it to zero, the best we can hope for is a low incidence.

Quote
Are you trying to tell me that enforcing those standard will put the incidence of fraud and crookery to ZERO ? Don't you know that enforcing those standards will have a cost.

Yes, agreed. There are always ants at a picnic, and if you get rid of all your dog's fleas you're likely doing something which may have bad side effects.

Quote
Doesn't it make sense that selling standards go down in a seller's market? You sell your whole stock. People wave money under your nose and want more. If you're good you raise prices on the good stuff and don't sell anything that fails your stringent quality control. If you're bad you raise prices and sell whatever the customers will buy....

What do you call a seller's market ? You will be hard pressed to find a single product for which offer can't be increased in at least 6 months in a free market.

Well, like pets in a nation which 40 years ago had to eat their pets.

20 years ago I talked with chinese students who said that a cat is a much better pet than a dog. "If you don't have any food so you don't share food with your cat, the cat will go away. The dog won't go away, he'll stay with you and starve. Cats are smarter than dogs and they are better pets." When I asked them, they said they didn't have any pets and their families didn't have any pets. This was a story they'd heard.

So OK, you're in China and you sell cats. Lots of people want cats and you have X number of cats for breeding stock. Your cats can have 2 litters a year, that's 5X kittens in 6 months. If you want to sell 4X of them and keep 1X for breeding, that's 6X more kittens in 12 months.

You can get your money quicker if you sell the kittens at 6 weeks old instead of 8 weeks, and most of them will live if you sell them at 4 weeks. That's 4 weeks you don't have to feed them, and 4 weeks they might get sick or die on you before you sell them. And your customers will hardly know the difference, a 4-week kitten is as adorable as an 8-week kitten. Just not as healthy and its mother won't have trained it as well....

So if you cut some corners you can increase the kittens for offer in only 5 months instead of 6 months, and you won't have a whole lot of customers complaining that you wronged them. You sold them kittens when they had trouble finding kittens.

It's all temporary and soon enough there will be plenty of pets and anybody who keeps expanding production expecting the boom to last will have to kill some of his livestock. But in the short run, people who sell inferior cats aren't doing fraud, they're just doing their best to meet the demand.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 07, 2011, 03:35:01 pm
What do you call a seller's market ? You will be hard pressed to find a single product for which offer can't be increased in at least 6 months in a free market.

Well, like pets in a nation which 40 years ago had to eat their pets.

20 years ago I talked with chinese students who said that a cat is a much better pet than a dog. "If you don't have any food so you don't share food with your cat, the cat will go away. The dog won't go away, he'll stay with you and starve. Cats are smarter than dogs and they are better pets." When I asked them, they said they didn't have any pets and their families didn't have any pets. This was a story they'd heard.

So OK, you're in China and you sell cats. Lots of people want cats and you have X number of cats for breeding stock. Your cats can have 2 litters a year, that's 5X kittens in 6 months. If you want to sell 4X of them and keep 1X for breeding, that's 6X more kittens in 12 months.

You can get your money quicker if you sell the kittens at 6 weeks old instead of 8 weeks, and most of them will live if you sell them at 4 weeks. That's 4 weeks you don't have to feed them, and 4 weeks they might get sick or die on you before you sell them. And your customers will hardly know the difference, a 4-week kitten is as adorable as an 8-week kitten. Just not as healthy and its mother won't have trained it as well....

So if you cut some corners you can increase the kittens for offer in only 5 months instead of 6 months, and you won't have a whole lot of customers complaining that you wronged them. You sold them kittens when they had trouble finding kittens.

It's all temporary and soon enough there will be plenty of pets and anybody who keeps expanding production expecting the boom to last will have to kill some of his livestock. But in the short run, people who sell inferior cats aren't doing fraud, they're just doing their best to meet the demand.


I will not pull a deus Ex machina that the invisible hand will solve it, sure in this scenario people might be buying low quality pets.

There are some things that might correct the situation, provided people act, either by seizing the business opportunity and importing Kittens from somewhere, either the high value of the said pets, due to the scarcity, will prompt costumers to be inquisitive. These are not deus Ex machina scenerio and depends on people acting

Let me bring a personal
I live in an African country, where I sometime went to buy a cellphone at a huge open air market, this was when multimedia cell phone first came out. They were rare and expensive, so much that a common ploy was to sell you a second hand one for the prize of a new one after changing the external cap.

I bough cellphones at three occasions ... bough a bad one at the first attempt and sold it to another victim ... I'm not proud of that. Well it was a gamble, when you buy something at the market you get a verbal ''7 day guaranty'', coupled with the fact that in case of fraud getting the police involved will be more expensive than the phone

The other times I went myself to the market, spend 3 hours analysing the merchandise in the most minimal details and observing the vendors ... to finally make my purchase of a cellphone so good I still use it to this day.

Sure the cellphone came out more expensive, since atop the price I had to spend 3 hours to select it because of the low reputation of the vendors, but had the time I had no job so I lost no income  ;D

The alternative would have been to go to an agency and pay 3x the prices for 100% sure cellphone.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 07, 2011, 04:29:55 pm

I will not pull a deus Ex machina that the invisible hand will solve it, sure in this scenario people might be buying low quality pets.

And they mostly prefer the pets they buy to no pets at all. But it's sad to buy a pet who turns out to be sick who dies right away. Particularly an expensive one.

Quote
There are some things that might correct the situation, provided people act, either by seizing the business opportunity and importing Kittens from somewhere, either the high value of the said pets, due to the scarcity, will prompt costumers to be inquisitive. These are not deus Ex machina scenerio and depends on people acting

Yes. and also in the short run maybe there isn't much wrong. When demand is much higher than supply, prices rise and the people who want the product enough to pay the most, get it. If somebody figures out a way to increase supply then that's good, if not then that's just how it is.

Quote
Let me bring a personal

<snip great story>

Sure the cellphone came out more expensive, since atop the price I had to spend 3 hours to select it because of the low reputation of the vendors, but had the time I had no job so I lost no income  ;D

The alternative would have been to go to an agency and pay 3x the prices for 100% sure cellphone.

Let me try out some ideas here, I don't know whether they fit. In the USA there's a rule-of-thumb that people who run shops can usually expect to sell for about twice what they pay. Half the money goes to buy the product in bulk, and the other half pays for the parking lot, and the rent or mortgage+maintenance on the building, and wages, and maybe a third goes to the government, and so on.

If the shopkeeper buys for 1.5x and sells for 3x, what would he have to do to sell for 1x? He can sell in an open-air market and not pay for parking lot or building. He can do it himself and not pay employees. He can keep no records and not pay government. But he can't buy for 1.5x and sell for 1x.

Maybe african shops have a higher markup? Or maybe the easiest way to sell on the open market is to sell second-hand. Or stolen. Steal a cell phone that has been used and it is second hand. Steal a case of cell phones off the dock and they are new. They can be sold for less because it costs less to steal them than to buy them, if it works.

I don't know anything about it. I made up a story that seemed plausible to me, when I don't know anything except what you tell me and I know a little bit about the USA. Does my story seem likely to you?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 07, 2011, 04:50:49 pm
Let me try out some ideas here, I don't know whether they fit. In the USA there's a rule-of-thumb that people who run shops can usually expect to sell for about twice what they pay. Half the money goes to buy the product in bulk, and the other half pays for the parking lot, and the rent or mortgage+maintenance on the building, and wages, and maybe a third goes to the government, and so on.

If the shopkeeper buys for 1.5x and sells for 3x, what would he have to do to sell for 1x? He can sell in an open-air market and not pay for parking lot or building. He can do it himself and not pay employees. He can keep no records and not pay government. But he can't buy for 1.5x and sell for 1x.

Maybe african shops have a higher markup? Or maybe the easiest way to sell on the open market is to sell second-hand. Or stolen. Steal a cell phone that has been used and it is second hand. Steal a case of cell phones off the dock and they are new. They can be sold for less because it costs less to steal them than to buy them, if it works.

I don't know anything about it. I made up a story that seemed plausible to me, when I don't know anything except what you tell me and I know a little bit about the USA. Does my story seem likely to you?


Well you are wrong in your acesment, which is normal because you don't have knowledge of the ground like you admitted.

The motive for the open market trading is the low entry price, getting a spot and paying the monthly fee is generally cheaper, publicity is free because in the four corners of town everybody know which market to go to for buying X kind of stuff.

The reason of the low price in relation to shops is that these have high entry costs, with huge licensing fees and legal fees, so it is generally easy to undersell them. Another factor for low prices is the ''illegal'' importation of wares in people coming from Europe, my self have got in some 1000$ worth in stuff ... I piss on the custom office as much as I can.

Stolen items will inevitably find their ways one way of another and criminals always sell stolen goods at extremely low prices, although it is safe to consider this to be only a marginal part of the whole.

The reason why generally people seek huge margin of profits, sometimes 3x the acquisition price, is insecurity both economical and personal.

A government agent can at any moment descend upon you and get all your stuff for himself, anything beyond a 6 month horizon is uncertain, your health could fade away, a tragedy could occur, a sudden spike of inflation could wipe out you savings and if you live in sensible areas you could have have your home seized.

In short any time possible make money and make it fast.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 07, 2011, 05:31:26 pm

Well you are wrong in your acesment, which is normal because you don't have knowledge of the ground like you admitted.

The motive for the open market trading is the low entry price, getting a spot and paying the monthly fee is generally cheaper, publicity is free because in the four corners of town everybody know which market to go to for buying X kind of stuff.

The reason of the low price in relation to shops is that these have high entry costs, with huge licensing fees and legal fees, so it is generally easy to undersell them. Another factor for low prices is the ''illegal'' importation of wares in people coming from Europe, my self have got in some 1000$ worth in stuff ... I piss on the custom office as much as I can.

OK! So it looks like the government takes a bigger share than in the USA. They collect a lot for legal imports, and they collect a lot from legal businesses with known locations, and that increases the difference in price versus less official businesses.

Quote
Stolen items will inevitably find their ways one way of another and criminals always sell stolen goods at extremely low prices, although it is safe to consider this to be only a marginal part of the whole.

The reason why generally people seek huge margin of profits, sometimes 3x the acquisition price, is insecurity both economical and personal.

A government agent can at any moment descend upon you and get all your stuff for himself, anything beyond a 6 month horizon is uncertain, your health could fade away, a tragedy could occur, a sudden spike of inflation could wipe out you savings and if you live in sensible areas you could have have your home seized.

In short any time possible make money and make it fast.

So, it's something of a seller's market and as a result sellers can pass on the costs of uncertainty to buyers. But the difference between the open-air market and the official businesses looks like it would be due to the disadvantages of the official businesses. What you mentioned for that sounded like all government -- licenses. legal fees, tariffs, and government agents who can confiscate your money and unsold stock.

Inflation and home seizure are government actions that would affect both.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 08, 2011, 03:04:35 am
So, it's something of a seller's market and as a result sellers can pass on the costs of uncertainty to buyers. But the difference between the open-air market and the official businesses looks like it would be due to the disadvantages of the official businesses. What you mentioned for that sounded like all government -- licenses. legal fees, tariffs, and government agents who can confiscate your money and unsold stock.

Inflation and home seizure are government actions that would affect both.

From my experience the sellers always transfer the cost of uncertainty to the customers, for example when the police goes into ''operation'' ie making every single taxi in town stop and asking them for ''a fee'' of 100$, which is the whole day earning of a small taxi, the price of the journey double.

Sure there is a ethnical group who engage in trade that are famous for their greed and dishonesty ... so much that for them I'll say that they like sellers markets
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 08, 2011, 06:42:12 am

Sure there is a ethnical group who engage in trade that are famous for their greed and dishonesty ... so much that for them I'll say that they like sellers markets

I have read that when there are multiple ethnic groups in an area, they tend to get predictable stereotypes. There will be one that is considered greedy, one that is stingy, one that is dirty and stupid, etc.

In western europe it was the scottish who were considered stingy, the irish who were thought dirty and stupid, the jews who were supposed to be greedy, the prussians who were humorless and who worked too hard, etc. In central europe it was the polish who were thought dirty and stupid, the czechs who were supposed to be sexually promiscuous, the slovenes stingy, the swiss who were humorless and worked too hard, etc.

I read that in some parts of east africa it was the Indians who were considered greedy, while in southeast asia it was chinese.

Which ethnic group is the greedy one where you are?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 08, 2011, 08:57:47 am
Which ethnic group is the greedy one where you are?

The Congolese are seen has the greedy ones, from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo)

This is caused by some xenophobic reflexes, the great success of these people in business and the fact that many among them want so badly to move to Europe that they are willing to engage in the craziest schemes.

Most come with hopes of getting Angolan passports and flying to Paris, but they end up staying here.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on February 08, 2011, 09:46:22 am
I have read that when there are multiple ethnic groups in an area, they tend to get predictable stereotypes. There will be one that is considered greedy, one that is stingy, one that is dirty and stupid, etc.
  There is a Scandinavian comic that exploits this concept.

http://satwcomic.com/
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on February 12, 2011, 10:06:06 pm
I have read a few times about consumable products in China being diluted or adulterated.

The punishments can be severe , but I consider it thus established that a draconian regime does not completely eliminate fraud.

Perhaps nothing does , is it possible to compare the rate at which fraud is perpetuated in diffrent social circumstances?

I would expect it to be very hard to collect the data , bad data is in the very nature of the crime.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on February 17, 2011, 12:45:06 am
Back to the original post. It appears to be that a large part of the problem - if I believe some of the subsequent posts - is that customers know next to nothing about pets, initially. It doesn't take long for customers to educate themselves, however; scams can only last until word gets out.

With ever-cheaper communications costs, word gets out even faster. For the purposes of EFT, we're assuming that tanglenet is like the internet, only better; it can't be blocked or censored - it would, therefore, be a lot more useful for consumer education than the version in China, or even in today's USSA.

It's always possible to find an unscrupulous businessman somewhere - especially when one reads newspapers. What's the news value of "Customers flock to pet shop, are happy with prices and pets?" - would such a story be printed? Would it "go viral?"

John Lott did some extensive research in the way the media reports defensive uses of firearms, versus mass shootings. The defensive uses are rarely reported, and only locally reported. Mass shootings are widely reported, not just once, but multiple times, and spread widely. Even if reporters were not biased against guns, this is expected, since "if it bleeds, it leads" is a maxim which does sell papers.

A similar principle applies to commerce. You go to a store and are happy with the outcome? Great! It happens every day. Not going to write an article about it, unless you are writing a "review" piece. Have a bad experience? Now that is news. A particularly bad experience? Then the news will travel.

"News value" is, sadly, inversely related to the frequency of occurrence of any activity; it is quite dangerous to generalize from news reports to reality.
 
I prefer to admit the limits of knowledge. Since I do not live in China, and do not read the language, I know next to nothing. I do have a few friends who live there, and some who used to; I have learned a tiny bit as a result of conversations with them.
 
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: spudit on February 23, 2011, 01:01:10 pm
The voices on the radio say the price of gas will spike soon because of events in Libya. It needn't but it will.

Even in our pre tanglenet world I'd dearly love to see note taken of who jacks up their prices and by how much. Rerelease the names and numbers when the price drops.

By that the gas stations should be judged.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: happycrow on February 25, 2011, 08:53:16 am
@Terry,

I'd suggest something more basic.
There are two ways to make a living selling something.  The easy way, and the good way.
The easy way is to sell on price.  The good way is to sell on value.

Once you sell on price, it's over.  You're interchangeable with any other shopkeeper or salesman -- you told the customer so.

Selling on value, on the other hand, lets you, for instance:
1.  Advertise on how much healthier your animals are than your competitors'.
2.  Show birthdays, Lunar New Years, and other photos of happy families and children, with pets which were sold several years previous -- and updated every year!
3.  Lets your customers see you taking extra steps, long after money changed hands, to make sure that they're happy for having done business with you.

China doesn't need bureaucrats to solve this problem.  China simply needs businessmen who aren't still stuck in the statist/socialist "screw the other guy first" mentality, and are willing to take less profit in the short term and put in a lot more short-to-midterm effort in order to eventually eat the competition raw.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on February 26, 2011, 12:16:14 am
The voices on the radio say the price of gas will spike soon because of events in Libya. It needn't but it will.

Even in our pre tanglenet world I'd dearly love to see note taken of who jacks up their prices and by how much. Rerelease the names and numbers when the price drops.

By that the gas stations should be judged.

   It isn't a bad idea to anticipate price rises. If you are running a gas station you don't only have to think of what it cost to fill your storage tanks last week , you also have to think about what it will take to fill it again next week..
  Charge too little and you are stuck, charge too much and you sell less, but you still have the gas.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on February 26, 2011, 01:14:48 am
The voices on the radio say the price of gas will spike soon because of events in Libya. It needn't but it will.

Even in our pre tanglenet world I'd dearly love to see note taken of who jacks up their prices and by how much. Rerelease the names and numbers when the price drops.

By that the gas stations should be judged.

   It isn't a bad idea to anticipate price rises. If you are running a gas station you don't only have to think of what it cost to fill your storage tanks last week , you also have to think about what it will take to fill it again next week..
  Charge too little and you are stuck, charge too much and you sell less, but you still have the gas.


The "voices" always blame everything except the increase in the supply of "money" for rising prices. War and other shocks can increase relative prices of one thing A compared to other things B, C, etc. They can't increase general price levels, which is what we are actually experiencing. Food and energy costs are rising. We in America are somewhat insulated, but many other countries have experienced large increases in food prices; indeed, these increases are probably a significant trigger for the crises in the Middle East.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: spudit on February 26, 2011, 02:16:56 am
Why the price of Libyian oil, now unstable, should effect the price of gas here in a country which imports most of it's oil via pipeline from Mexico and Canada escapes me. Yes, I know it's one big happy commodities market. My point was that Joe, of Joe's gas station, should be noted and remembered as a price gouger later when all is well.

No big and deep reason, nothing for Smith or Marx to comment on. just because Joe is a jerk.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: sams on February 26, 2011, 03:56:20 am
Why the price of Libyian oil, now unstable, should effect the price of gas here in a country which imports most of it's oil via pipeline from Mexico and Canada escapes me. Yes, I know it's one big happy commodities market. My point was that Joe, of Joe's gas station, should be noted and remembered as a price gouger later when all is well.

No big and deep reason, nothing for Smith or Marx to comment on. just because Joe is a jerk.

If Libya go down poor Europe loose 30 % of their oil, they will try to outbid the Americans providers to get some oil ... thus driving the price up.

Beware of the ''Rose happy good times'' fallacy ... life have downs and up, looking for scapegoats ain't change it.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: GlennWatson on February 26, 2011, 07:48:30 am
Gas stations in America charge as much for their product as they can and so do you.  They are profit maximisers, not gougers. 

Why is it bad for gas sellers to charger as much as they can for their produce but not bad for you to charge as much as you can for your time or labor?  Are you gauguin when you ask for a raise.  Of course not.

If a producer is charging what others think is too much then new producers will enter the market and supply will increase, causing price to drop to equilibrium.

This is called capitalism or more precisely the law of supply and demand and it works pretty well
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: spudit on February 26, 2011, 11:24:26 am
Not my scenario at all. So here goes it again.

These are just nice round numbers, leave them alone please.

Gasman Gas pays a tax adjusted for simplicity's sake $3.00 a gallon from a wholesaler. The wholesaler has a contract with a refinery, ignore any intermediate steps please, he pays $2,75 tax adjusted.. He has a contract for say 100 truck loads for that price. The refinery buys from the oil well people who charge the going commodity rate which averages say $2.50 a gallon tax adjusted. That's the average and a gamble. Smart gamblers get rich on the commodities exchange.

Ok back to the pump. Gasman has a thousand gallons of gas which cost him three bucks a gallon on hand. On Monday he charges $3.25 for the gas. On Tuesday the biggest refinery in Holland burns down and the world commodity price for gasoline spikes, on Friday it is back down. If Gasman charges based on what he paid or a reasonable long term replacement price for his gas he is a nice guy. If he cranks it up to $4.00 a gallon on Wednsday and Thursday then drops it back down Friday he is surely being a capitalist, good for him. But he is also being a jerk.

That was my point, not capitalisim, it's about manners. Greed is good but rudeness is uncalled for.

Just a quick treatment of the subject.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: GlennWatson on February 26, 2011, 03:09:44 pm

Let’s say you are an engineer specializing in toothbrushes.  You find that the demand for toothbrush engineers goes up and there seems to be a shortage of qualified workers ready to fill those positions.  Are you gouging if you ask for a higher wage or are you being smart?

It’s funny now no one who sake for more money every thing they are gouging.  It’s always the other guy.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: spudit on February 26, 2011, 06:02:35 pm
Toothbrush engineer?
Toothbrush engineer?
Toothbrush engineer?

Good example, lots of those about.

I have known, socially only, 3 midget prostitutes in this sordid and seedy life. I have met quite a number of engineers socially and professionally. But a toothbrush engineer?

Ok, a toothbrush engineer, meets these 3 midget hookers... Not funny, one of them was found dead in a dumpster. In the dumpster behind my building it happens. Damned shame, cute little crack ho.

Anyway.

Anyone doing any job has a right to get what money they can. Of freaking course they do. Want a paycheck analogy. A plumber charging quadruple rates because he knows you need the water on for a toothbruish engineer's wedding.

But I wasn't talking about paychecks. I was talking about one of the most common commodities on the planet and some jerk cranking the retail price up during a short term squeeze. What I said was that note should be taken and that dealer shunned later as a jerk.

That's it.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on February 26, 2011, 09:54:56 pm

Anyone doing any job has a right to get what money they can. Of freaking course they do. Want a paycheck analogy. A plumber charging quadruple rates because he knows you need the water on for a toothbruish engineer's wedding.

But I wasn't talking about paychecks. I was talking about one of the most common commodities on the planet and some jerk cranking the retail price up during a short term squeeze. What I said was that note should be taken and that dealer shunned later as a jerk.

That's it.

I don't think this will work.

Competion is what you really want , if Joe is running the only gas station in the area he is prone to charge a lot , but his high prices attract compeditors to this area and then if he is easily undersold he is forced to lower his prices by the lack of customers.

If I were the only plumber in town I would always charge a lot because chargeing too little would keep me too busy . If I were the only plumber in New York , New York I would charge a million a visit , but I would not go without competition very long at that rate.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on February 26, 2011, 10:03:42 pm
Why do people whine about gas prices going up, but never notice when prices go down?

Get over it already. Joe the gas station owner is just trying to feed his kids, same as you are. He can't give away gas for free and stay in business. If he believes the next tank load is going to cost more, he has to charge more now in order to afford to buy that next load.

If he charges too much, people will drive to some other station to buy gas cheaper.

Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: GlennWatson on February 27, 2011, 07:27:28 am
But I wasn't talking about paychecks. I was talking about one of the most common commodities on the planet.>>>>

You want to know what is an even more common commodity than oil?  Labor. 

Economists break down the world into four factors of production, land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship.  Oil would be in the land category. 

You are making a false distinction between labor and land.  You say that if a person charges more for land he is greedy but if he charges more for labor he is not? 

That is incorrect.  Everyone will charge as much as they can for any factor they possess and everyone pays a little as they can when they want to purchase a factor.  This is called the invisible hand, and it works better than the command economy you seem to want where the government tells gas station owners what is “fair.”

When you talk about displeasure with gouging you are correct that producers should take it into account.  But don’t act like charging more is some sort of moral failing.  It’s not.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on February 27, 2011, 12:13:57 pm
China doesn't need bureaucrats to solve this problem.  China simply needs businessmen who aren't still stuck in the statist/socialist "screw the other guy first" mentality, and are willing to take less profit in the short term and put in a lot more short-to-midterm effort in order to eventually eat the competition raw.
China will get that kind of businessmen the same way that, oh, say, Africa will get them. When long-term thinking pays, because property tenure is secure, instead of at the mercy of kleptocrats.

At least China is trying - instituting, within narrow limits compatible with a totalitarian dictatorship, the concept of the rule of law. If it wasn't a human tragedy, it would be funny.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 27, 2011, 09:52:15 pm
Why do people whine about gas prices going up, but never notice when prices go down?

They notice. They go to the place that charges less. if they at all can.

Quote
Get over it already. Joe the gas station owner is just trying to feed his kids, same as you are. He can't give away gas for free and stay in business. If he believes the next tank load is going to cost more, he has to charge more now in order to afford to buy that next load.

Because Joe has insufficient access to capital.

If Joe actually can't afford to buy the next tank load of gas, he can buy as much as he can and then sell it for what he can get.

If Joe doesn't have a line of credit that lets him make up the difference, then what's wrong with Joe? And doesn't he have a deal with his suppliers? 90 days same as cash? Why not? Did he stiff them before?

Quote
If he charges too much, people will drive to some other station to buy gas cheaper.

That's where he gets problems. If the price is going up and he doesn't raise prices, he gets lots of business at his cheap price, maybe he runs out sooner than expected. He has to pay more for the next batch so he raises his price to reflect that. Then he has to pay even more for the batch after that, and he raises his price then. Etc.

Then when the prices come down, he has a tank full of expensive gasoline. He can't sell it at that price because everybody goes to the cheaper places. He can sit there with his expensive gas until the price goes back up, or he can cut the price and lose some profit, possibly even sell at a loss. Then the next tank costs him less, but before he's sold it all prices go down more around him and he has to sell cheaper again. Etc.

So if he charges a fixed markup on what he pays, he's always out of step. It gets him lots of business but not lots of money while the price is rising, and then it hurts his business and reduces his income when prices fall.

So he needs to basicly do what his competitors are doing. And they have to coordinate their prices without letting the government see them coordinate their prices because it's illegal for them to do that.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on February 27, 2011, 10:10:23 pm

So he needs to basicly do what his competitors are doing. And they have to coordinate their prices without letting the government see them coordinate their prices because it's illegal for them to do that.



   Really ? I didn't know there was a law against this.

  Don't the owners of gas stations drive around and see the other stations prices? Are they forbidden to discuss prices with fellow businessmen?

  I don't doubt you tho, this would not be the first dumb law ever.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 28, 2011, 05:54:47 am

So he needs to basicly do what his competitors are doing. And they have to coordinate their prices without letting the government see them coordinate their prices because it's illegal for them to do that.



   Really ? I didn't know there was a law against this.

  Don't the owners of gas stations drive around and see the other stations prices? Are they forbidden to discuss prices with fellow businessmen?

  I don't doubt you tho, this would not be the first dumb law ever.

It's legal for them to drive around and see each other's prices. It isn't legal for them to get together and agree on what prices to set. This is called "price-fixing". If there is evidence they have done that, the government could take them to court and if it's decided they really did do that, they can get in serious trouble. The theory is that they are supposed to do "free competition" and not set up cartels.

Robert Townsend suggested that executives of all sorts should clear out their old records every year. Throw out everything they aren't reasonably sure they'll need. Get rid of all old emails they don't actively need. He said if the government ever goes through your old records they will find something that looks like price-fixing whether you really did it or not.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on February 28, 2011, 08:19:37 am
So if he charges a fixed markup on what he pays, he's always out of step. It gets him lots of business but not lots of money while the price is rising, and then it hurts his business and reduces his income when prices fall.

So he needs to basicly do what his competitors are doing. And they have to coordinate their prices without letting the government see them coordinate their prices because it's illegal for them to do that.
Well, he can approximate what his competitors are likely to do, even before he drives around and has a look at their signs, simply by charging a fixed markup... on the spot price of oil in the commodities market, instead of what he paid. So he charges by what the gas he has is worth now, rather than what it cost in the past.

That shouldn't be considered price-gouging, whether it's done by a gas station or a jewelry store.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: happycrow on February 28, 2011, 08:38:09 am
China will get that kind of businessmen the same way that, oh, say, Africa will get them. When long-term thinking pays, because property tenure is secure, instead of at the mercy of kleptocrats.

At least China is trying - instituting, within narrow limits compatible with a totalitarian dictatorship, the concept of the rule of law. If it wasn't a human tragedy, it would be funny.

My understanding from folks on the ground is that it's very possible for a small businessman to do his work with minimal harassment, so long as he's got a roof.  Otherwise, I agree completely with your statement.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 28, 2011, 10:50:07 am

Well, he can approximate what his competitors are likely to do, even before he drives around and has a look at their signs, simply by charging a fixed markup... on the spot price of oil in the commodities market, instead of what he paid. So he charges by what the gas he has is worth now, rather than what it cost in the past.

That shouldn't be considered price-gouging, whether it's done by a gas station or a jewelry store.

"Price-gouging" is an emotional thing. Like, you live in New York City and for five years you buy things from the little corner store. Canned food, fruit, etc. When you need a little oil for your door hinges you get it there. You are friendly with the couple who live over their store and who work pretty much all the time there.

Then there is a blackout. You carefully go downstairs in the dark and you walk down the dark street to the corner store. They have battery powered lights on. You go to buy a flashlight and it's $100. You look at the candles and they're $40. You don't want to walk four blocks in the dark to the next place where the flashlight might be only $80. You thought they were your friends, and now it's an emergency and they're taking advantage of you. Next week when the lights are back on they'll get a new shipment of flashlights and they'll sell them for $3.50.

Likely you'll still feel kind of mad at them. You thought they were your friends and when you needed help they wanted a whole lot of money because you were desperate.

On the other hand, maybe as somebody who lives in NYC you don't expect anything else.

The feeling isn't supposed to particularly make economic sense. Friendly people should give each other a break sometimes. When they charge more then you want to pay they aren't being your good friend.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: macsnafu on February 28, 2011, 11:07:39 am

Well, he can approximate what his competitors are likely to do, even before he drives around and has a look at their signs, simply by charging a fixed markup... on the spot price of oil in the commodities market, instead of what he paid. So he charges by what the gas he has is worth now, rather than what it cost in the past.

That shouldn't be considered price-gouging, whether it's done by a gas station or a jewelry store.

"Price-gouging" is an emotional thing. Like, you live in New York City and for five years you buy things from the little corner store. Canned food, fruit, etc. When you need a little oil for your door hinges you get it there. You are friendly with the couple who live over their store and who work pretty much all the time there.

Then there is a blackout. You carefully go downstairs in the dark and you walk down the dark street to the corner store. They have battery powered lights on. You go to buy a flashlight and it's $100. You look at the candles and they're $40. You don't want to walk four blocks in the dark to the next place where the flashlight might be only $80. You thought they were your friends, and now it's an emergency and they're taking advantage of you. Next week when the lights are back on they'll get a new shipment of flashlights and they'll sell them for $3.50.

Likely you'll still feel kind of mad at them. You thought they were your friends and when you needed help they wanted a whole lot of money because you were desperate.

On the other hand, maybe as somebody who lives in NYC you don't expect anything else.

The feeling isn't supposed to particularly make economic sense. Friendly people should give each other a break sometimes. When they charge more then you want to pay they aren't being your good friend.


But you have to consider the economic aspects--If the store only has a dozen flashlights and 100 people want to buy flashlights, who should get them?  Who needs them the most?  Do you just sell them first come, first serve until they're gone, or maybe you wonder who has a more urgent need for a flashlight?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: J Thomas on February 28, 2011, 11:31:54 am

But you have to consider the economic aspects--If the store only has a dozen flashlights and 100 people want to buy flashlights, who should get them?  Who needs them the most?  Do you just sell them first come, first serve until they're gone, or maybe you wonder who has a more urgent need for a flashlight?

That's up to the seller. He can do whatever he wants. I might want to reserve a couple in case friends with an urgent need show up.

If there's some easy way to hold an auction that's good. Everybody bids as much as they want and the highest bidders get it. Nobody should feel particularly aggrieved that there was a higher bidder. But that's hard to do in a blackout.

If you tell people the price is $100 or $50 they will not like it. They will call you a price-gouger. You can live with that, or you can do things some other way. When you're the seller who has something which is greatly in demand, you get to choose.

You might choose to organize a neighborhood watch. Get a dozen energetic people tho walk around looking for problems they can help fix. A lot of people might like that and praise you for it. But if you can sell 12 flashlights for $100 each instead, you'll be out $1200 if you do the thing that gets you all that praise.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on February 28, 2011, 12:20:12 pm
During a blackout, the seller can reasonably anticipate that everyone who was too dumb to stock up on candles, matches, flashlights, and batteries, will swarm his store.

Obviously, he can't stock up enough to please everybody; he has to pay for inventory, he has to pay rent for space to store it. So he has a tough choice. He can leave prices the same as they are, and within minutes, his stock will be sold, and you won't be asking "Do I spend $20 for this pack of batteries, or do without?" -- you'll be faced with an empty shelf. First one gets the goodies. Tough luck to you, sluggard. How's them apples?

To avoid this, the shopkeeper raises prices. This causes customers to re-evaluate their needs. How much do they really need a flashlight, or candles? It also sends a signal to imprudent customers: think ahead.

If the shopkeeper sets prices too high, nobody would buy. At the end of the blackout, his shelves would be full of over-priced goods - so he tries his best to balance supply and demand.

Consider a longer-duration problem, such as hurricane Katrina. A great deal of damage is caused. People want to repair broken windows immediately. How do you get somebody in Ohio to load a truck with plywood and glass and send it to New Orleans quickly, when he could sell that product to local customers at "normal" prices? Answer: you offer him enough money to make it worth his while. The effect of this is to shift resources from lower-valued uses to higher-valued uses. The customer in Ohio was thinking "It's a nice weekend, maybe I'll work on a deck or sun room." - the sort of project which can be postponed a bit. He sees empty shelves, he delays his project a bit. The guy in New Orleans is thinking "I have a gaping hole in my roof and I really need to do something about it." He goes to the shop, and they have plywood, but it costs more than usual. Given the priority of his needs, that's better than the shop being empty. He pays the price and fixes the problem.

Calling it "price gouging" gets in the way of people trying to solve problems. Setting limits on prices will lead to that person not finding plywood or candles or fresh water or whatever at any price.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: SandySandfort on February 28, 2011, 01:34:51 pm
The feeling isn't supposed to particularly make economic sense. Friendly people should give each other a break sometimes. When they charge more then you want to pay they aren't being your good friend.

Actually, feelings are part of economic calculations; everything is. As I have said before, it's not just about money. That is why when any business is valued, there is a figure for "good will." In a free society, Mom & Pop can charge whatever they want in an emergency. But if the are intelligent actors, there are real limitations as to what they can reasonably charge. A million dollars for a AA battery? Lots of luck. The upper limit is pretty much the clearing price people will pay. But another upper limit is good will. Soon enough, the emergency will end, but people's memories will continue. In most cases, you can charge something more, without infuriating regular customers, but charge too much and when the emergency is over, they will vow never to shop with you again. Instead, they will walk another block to an almost identical little store and spend their money there. You lose, Buckwheat. So, good will has monetary value. Mom & Pop will ignore it at their peril. If they choose wrong, tough apples. In the immortal words of Super Chick, "They new the job was dangerous when they took it."
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: quadibloc on March 01, 2011, 02:02:27 am
Likely you'll still feel kind of mad at them. You thought they were your friends and when you needed help they wanted a whole lot of money because you were desperate.
Trying to get rich off of an emergency is a bad thing. Raising prices, in some cases, might indeed help to direct emergency supplies to those who need them most, but it is presumed by most people today that such decisions are better made by relief agencies, firemen, police officers.

Maybe we're statist sheep to think that the state does a better job than the market.

The state could have prevented Katrina from destroying New Orleans (by keeping the dam in repair - in time for a natural 50-year hurricane cycle), but it didn't. That would have involved the statist act of spending tax money.

On the other hand, the state could have prevented the last big New York City blackout by letting the market operate. If New Yorkers want to get their electricity from Quebec, they should have paid for the wires to carry that electricity to them - instead of expecting all the states in between, who didn't need that much electricity, to increase the capacity of their power transmission systems for free.

Instead of it being paid for by the electricity bills of New Yorkers, of course, it could also be paid for by Federal taxes, so a statist solution is possible. What was actually the case, though, was that the Federal government sort of expected New England to be generous and comradely although it was not as wealthy as New York, and just pay for it themselves without complaining. I presume the problem did come about because government got in the way, although I don't have enough detailed knowledge to prove it wasn't just New Yorkers being cheap when it came to electricity.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: KBCraig on March 01, 2011, 03:22:49 am

So he needs to basicly do what his competitors are doing. And they have to coordinate their prices without letting the government see them coordinate their prices because it's illegal for them to do that.



   Really ? I didn't know there was a law against this.

  Don't the owners of gas stations drive around and see the other stations prices? Are they forbidden to discuss prices with fellow businessmen?

  I don't doubt you tho, this would not be the first dumb law ever.

It's legal for them to drive around and see each other's prices. It isn't legal for them to get together and agree on what prices to set. This is called "price-fixing". If there is evidence they have done that, the government could take them to court and if it's decided they really did do that, they can get in serious trouble. The theory is that they are supposed to do "free competition" and not set up cartels.

Personal experience: About 20-21 years ago, I spent a couple of years driving a soft drink route. Hard work, not bad money for unskilled labor (beyond having a CDL), but definitely hard work.

Anyway, my district manager was suddenly absent one morning. The director was tight-lipped, only said that the DM was no longer employed by the company, and that was to be our only response if asked.

Turns out, one of the grocery store managers in our district had long suspected the two major soda distributors were colluding, because other stores at the fringe of his sales area were able to sell soft drinks below his purchase cost. So, he used the store's cameras to catch the Soda C and Soda P district managers meeting in the parking lot for almost an hour one day, sitting in one of their company vehicles and talking the whole time, comparing papers, etc. Then he took the video to the FTC, along with documentation of price discrepencies.

I don't know about Soda C, but my Soda P guy was fired on the spot and faced federal charges; I never heard what came of that, but the company itself wasn't sanctioned.

*note*: I don't support the government intervention noted above, nor the government restrictions that allowed major corporations to monopolize trade within certain geographic areas. I'm just confirming that yes, price collusion is seriously illegal.
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: Plane on March 01, 2011, 10:17:39 am
Is that smart or dumb law?
Title: Re: So what stops this?
Post by: terry_freeman on March 01, 2011, 01:08:49 pm
Likely you'll still feel kind of mad at them. You thought they were your friends and when you needed help they wanted a whole lot of money because you were desperate.
Trying to get rich off of an emergency is a bad thing. Raising prices, in some cases, might indeed help to direct emergency supplies to those who need them most, but it is presumed by most people today that such decisions are better made by relief agencies, firemen, police officers.

Maybe we're statist sheep to think that the state does a better job than the market.

It may be presumed by people, such as yourself, who are demonstrably ignorant of economics, that the state can do a better job than the market. As for the rest of us, no.

In Real Life, your fantasies don't work as you wish they would. The State actually disrupts markets. FEMA, for example, turned away trucks full of goods which were needed for relief efforts. Beging a statist sheep, you may bleat something about that being an "exception to the rule", and that "next time, of course, a better-regulated State will make better decisions", but you have yet to show us any mechanism which - in the real world - actually improves the behavior of the State as efficiently as the spur of profit-and-loss has been shown to improve the behavior of entrepreneurs.

If you were honest, you would wave your hands and say that "the democratic process will allow us to cast one vote out of a million which, if we are lucky enough to persuade half a million other people to vote with us, will elect a candidate whom we hope will change the actions of a bureaucracy of millions of people who have no particular economic incentive to improve efficiency."

Or, you could just stick with the handwaving and histrionics.