Teleporter: Good or bad?

Good! People must be free!
13 (65%)
Bad! I like knowing that bombs won't appear in my house one day.
7 (35%)

Total Members Voted: 19

J Thomas on September 21, 2009, 10:37:44 am
In short, if you think that government is a device which equalizes opportunity, you seem to be arguing against the facts of history.

I tend to agree. However, government has also traditionally provided a sort of safety valve for the protests of the poor. In athens they set up the government so that the rich (who were proportionately not so rich as in later societies) mostly ran things but the poor had some say. In rome the poor nearly had a revolt, and they got up a system with tribunes to represent them -- the tribunes got a veto. And that headed off the revolt.

When government fails too severely we get things like the french revolution and the russian revolution. The poor take over, and at least usually a new government quickly arises which is even worse but without its previous parasites.

It is not uncommon for the poor to believe that the government helps protect them from the worst depredations of somebody else. In the late medieval times, there was a common theory that the king protected the peasants from the nobility. And sometimes he did, a little -- but he was far away and the local lord was nearby.

It's easy to argue that the government makes us poorer. I'll do it -- let's suppose for the moment that  lot of our military expenditures are not needed. Then the steel we use for unneeded military stuff, and the plastic, and the oil, and the lives of soldiers who could be doing something productive, is all wasted.

To argue in favor of our military you have to say we need it for insurance. If a giant threat comes up we'll need a miltary that's ready now, with traditions and experience. And then once we have it and don't need it at the moment, we might as well use it for trivial purposes rather than let it go to waste and anyway the soldiers need the experience. So we invade the Dominican Republic again or something.

So OK, we get rid of the government and all the resources the government uses are freed up, ready to be used for something better. What happens if it turns out that those resources are owned by rich people who choose not to use them?

Rich man: "We need to conserve oil so it won't run out so fast, so let's just not pump as much of it. It's worth more in the ground than it is sold today. And we need nature preserves more than we need lumber. We sure don't need so many TV sets, let's just make fewer of them."

Me: "But what about all the middle-class people who want to buy those things. Don't you want to make a profit off of them?"

Rich man: "Excuse me? We just shut down a whole lot of stuff and those people are looking for work, they aren't a profitable market. We'll give them charity but we sure can't make a profit at it."

People aren't going to support a big change unless they feel like they can do OK in the new system. What good is it to have a libertarian society if you wind up homeless and competing for jobs that aren't there?

A libertarian society with a few super-rich people is a libertarian society that exists on the sufferance of those people. If you can't get rid of the super-rich people then you're stuck.

And it doesn't matter what combination of ethical horse-trading and unethical coercion they used to get rich. They're in control, and many poor people still feel like the government is their best chance at restraining them, weak though it is. Without the government they can do anything they want and nobody will stop them. With the government it's practically the same way but they try to be discreet.

terry_freeman on September 21, 2009, 08:29:01 pm
I would say that with the government, the rich use the government to make themselves richer. Consider the recent financial crisis. Who got the bailouts? The rich, including Warren Buffet, who gained at least $10 billion. Did the homeowners get any bailouts? No, they did not. This is the way government works. It is not the ideal "public servant" which we are told about in the government-run schools. It is a servant of the rich, for the rich. Voting and welfare programs are just a sideshow meant to entertain the masses.

Rocketman on September 22, 2009, 10:55:11 am
Nicely said Terry.  It's really no different from the bread and circuses of the roman empire.  And will likely end up the same way.  :'(