J Thomas on August 26, 2010, 06:01:36 pm
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Boy, where have you been?  Capitalism is friendly?  You must not have read any history, or any of the recent business magazines.
Capitalism is winner-take-all, cutthroat competition that tends towards monopoly and the utter destruction of all rivals.  And thats *with* government supervision.

The Gilded Age of Laissez Faire Capitalism was not called The Age of the Robber Barons for nothing you know.  I take it that you have never heard of Standard Oil Co.

Or Enron.

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.

You are overstating the case. It's easy to make a theoretical argument that under ideal conditions no regulation of any sort is necessary, beyond preventing violence. It is impossible to get winner-take-all because there is no way for a company to fail except by providing inferior services or products. As soon as a business gets too profitable, inevitably new businesses must immediately spring up and provide perfect competition.

So, for example, suppose that one business shuts out its competition by selling below cost until they are all driven out of business. He is being nice to his customers though not to his competitors. He might think he can then raise prices enough to more than make up for the money he spent selling below cost. But it can never ever work. As soon as he raises prices, it is 100% guaranteed that new competitors will immediately rise up and compete with him, and the money he lost selling below cost can never be repaid. Monopolies can never ever exist in a free market, it violates the rules of economics. Only violence can allow monopoly, typically government violence.

Once violence is eliminated, the economy is perfect almost by definition. Market forces will optimise the economy toward it's highest perfection, and while there is some slight inefficiency (because the market cannot respond to this second's prices until the next second, and the delays allow inefficiency), still it is provably the most efficient possible mechanism. No possible alternative could work as well.

As a side issue, consider that for any fixed voting system with more than two candidates, IRV or Condorcet or whatever, it's possible to find perverse cases where the voting will result in a win by the candidate that the majority of voters consider the worst choice. It can be proven that this is true for any voting system. But it is not true for free markets! It can be proven that with free markets, every individual gets everything he is entitled to, and at the lowest cost he is entitled to also.

What if someone discovers a market inefficiency and works to take advantage of it? Say that you realise there will be a shortage of apples in February so you buy apples in October and store them to sell during the shortage? Then you make money and you reduce the inefficiency. You make the shortage less, and the average price less. What if instead you do it the other way round? Like, you might know about the looming shortage so you buy up apples now to make the shortage worse, so that prices for your stored apples will be even higher. It is proven that this cannot ever work. Any time you try to increase market inefficiency rather than reduce it, the result will be that market inefficiency will be reduced anyway and no one will suffer except you.

Perhaps you might argue that the assumptions required for these proofs do not fit the real world. Of course they don't fit the real world! We have governments in the real world that distort economies! If we create a world that fits the postulated economic assumptions, then the economy will have no choice but to behave perfectly.

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This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.

Well, but it's possible. People do attempt boycotts even today. If the people were educated to all boycott businesses that did socially-unacceptable things, then businesses would be careful not to get caught doing socially-unacceptable things.

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That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.

By definition, if you can teach all the lions not to commit violence, then they will not kill wildebeests. You can't argue with that, can you?

Now take it one step further. If all the wildebeest were armed, what could the lions do? They'd better learn to eat carrots.

Brugle on August 26, 2010, 07:01:29 pm
Once violence is eliminated, the economy is perfect almost by definition. Market forces will optimise the economy toward it's highest perfection, and while there is some slight inefficiency (because the market cannot respond to this second's prices until the next second, and the delays allow inefficiency), still it is provably the most efficient possible mechanism. No possible alternative could work as well.

I will take this as an announcement by J Thomas that he is a troll.
Am I the last to know?

Brugle on August 26, 2010, 07:57:42 pm
I will let Terry chew you a new one on the details, if he is so inclined.
I'm not Terry, but I'll try anyway.

Capitalism is winner-take-all, cutthroat competition that tends towards monopoly and the utter destruction of all rivals.  And thats *with* government supervision.
More true than you realize.  In this, you are talking about a government-controlled economy, which typically encourages (and sometimes requires) monopolies.  Laissez-faire capitalism does not.

Many big businesses tried to form monopolies and cartels in later 19th century and early 20th century.  They failed.  As a result, many big businesses tried to get government to control their industries to eliminate (or at least hobble) competition.  To a great extent, with the help of "progressive" politicians, they succeeded.  If this is what you consider "capitalism", then we do not support "capitalism"--we support laissez-faire.

The Gilded Age of Laissez Faire Capitalism was not called The Age of the Robber Barons for nothing you know.
We know.  Government and big business propaganda (aided by the mainstream media) is not a new invention.

There were certainly many businessmen who received massive government subsidies and other assistance that deserve to be called "Robber Barons".  Among those are the corrupt officials of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads.

There were also many businessmen who did not receive significant government subsidies or other assistance that do not deserve to be called "Robber Barons".  Among those is the builder of the Great Northern railroad, James J. Hill.

Does it surprise you that government-approved textbooks laud the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads while describing James J. Hill (if he's mentioned) as a "Robber Baron"?

I take it that you have never heard of Standard Oil Co.

Or Enron.

I take it that you have heard of those companies but know little about them.  Standard Oil was an example of a laissez-faire company.  It kept improving its efficiency and lowering prices of kerosene and other refined petroleum products, saving consumers lots of money.  That's bad?  It drove competitors out of business, increased its sales, and saved more consumers even more money.  That's bad?  Some of its politically-powerful competitors got the US government to prosecute it, costing consumers (and taxpayers) money.  That's good?

Enron was an example of a non-laissez-faire company.  It depended on government controls for much of its business.  It bet heavily that the Kyoto Protocol would result in government control on carbon (cap-and-trade or something similar), and lost big when that didn't happen.  After California's elimination of the electricity market (and what remained of the free-market regulation), it took advantage of the corruption opportunities that California created, and was caught.  I agree that that was bad, but what does Enron have to do with free-market capitalism?

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.
Partly true.  Businesses will not regulate themselves--if given the opportunity, they will use whatever means they have to maintain and increase their profits.  In a free market, the only method for businesses to make profits is to satisfy customers.  When government controls their market, it's often much easier for a business to make profits by satisfying the politically powerful.  (And, of course, businesses try to get political power to use for their own benefit directly.)

The reason that government controls businesses is because it is in the interest of politically powerful people (including big businessmen).

This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
You misunderstand.  No government does not mean no laws, it means that laws apply to everyone equally.  Government control does not mean regulation, it means the elimination of free-market regulation and (often disastrous) control by the politically powerful (such as big businesses).

Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.
You are confusing political power with free markets.  In a free market, a business that does not satisfy customers will fail.  In a government-controlled market, a business that does not satisfy the politically powerful will fail.  There's a difference.

That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.
What can a business use against customers?  MacDonalds cannot force me to give them money, so I don't.  Costco cannot force me to give them money, but they sometimes offer me good value, so in those cases I do.  Governments can send thugs to force me to give them money, so even though I'd rather not, I do.  A government can take someone's property and give it to a politically powerful businessman, and I hope that never happens to me.

« Last Edit: August 26, 2010, 08:07:09 pm by Brugle »

J Thomas on August 26, 2010, 09:07:58 pm
Once violence is eliminated, the economy is perfect almost by definition. Market forces will optimise the economy toward it's highest perfection, and while there is some slight inefficiency (because the market cannot respond to this second's prices until the next second, and the delays allow inefficiency), still it is provably the most efficient possible mechanism. No possible alternative could work as well.

I will take this as an announcement by J Thomas that he is a troll.
Am I the last to know?

I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.

terry_freeman on August 26, 2010, 10:06:30 pm
Dude, the Robber Barons are what is known as "political entrepreneurs" - people who used the political system to their advantage, as opposed to free marketeers, who rely upon persuasion and consent.

Can I help alleviate your towering ignorance in any other ways? Are you ready to deal with your lack of humility and respect?

J Thomas on August 27, 2010, 08:54:13 am
I was being a bit sarcastic, sorry.

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.

You are overstating the case.

I stand by this. Businesses sometimes regulate their own behavior quite well. It deserves considerable research to find out what conditions make that work better, and what conditions make it work worse. Here's one thing -- large masses of people with poor communication have trouble coordinating their actions.

So for example when large numbers of people try to do a boycott because they are offended at a business's behavior, what would be ideal would be that when the business does a little better then boycott it a little less, and when it does a little worse they boycott it a little more, and when it does what they want they call off the boycott entirely. But what actually used to happen was that they announced the boycott and many of the people who would participate were late to find out. Then they called it off and some supporters didn't find out about it for years. So the signal they wanted to send was blurred and delayed. Boycotts don't work very well.

Businesses regulate themselves OK when they are relatively small cartels doing the regulation. But those also tend to break down. The easiest way for businesses to be regulated is with markets. That has breakdowns when businesses do not have to pay for things they use up etc. Things like pollution and such, where a collection of businesses can create high costs for a collection of people, and it's hard to assign the costs well. Markets face problems when it's hard to establish easy ways to pay for things people would be willing to pay for. (Like, the discomfort of paying cash at toll roads is a big annoyance for customers, and running the tollbooths is a significant expense.) There can be various sorts of market imperfections, but the things the markets do well, they do better than any known alternative. And the things they do badly may also be done badly by some alternatives.

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So, for example, suppose that one business shuts out its competition by selling below cost until they are all driven out of business. He is being nice to his customers though not to his competitors. He might think he can then raise prices enough to more than make up for the money he spent selling below cost. But it can never ever work. As soon as he raises prices, it is 100% guaranteed that new competitors will immediately rise up and compete with him, and the money he lost selling below cost can never be repaid. Monopolies can never ever exist in a free market, it violates the rules of economics. Only violence can allow monopoly, typically government violence.

This was sarcasm. An argument somewhat similar to this can be made. I consider it panglossian. Monopolies and oligopolies might sometimes last long enough to make a lot of money, even without using violence. The attempt to create an oligopoly might sometimes pay off handsomely. They are not completely stable, but they don't need to be. Still, monopolies do tend to be eventually destroyed. And despotic governments tend to eventually be overthrown.

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As a side issue, consider that for any fixed voting system with more than two candidates, IRV or Condorcet or whatever, it's possible to find perverse cases where the voting will result in a win by the candidate that the majority of voters consider the worst choice.

That was overstated. There are however perverse cases available for any voting system. There are perverse inputs available for most feedback systems. People generally walk well, but a small piece of gravel at just the wrong place can make them fall down. People who say that free markets provide feedback and therefore they have to work well for some particular purpose, are being silly. It's like saying that evolution has to produce some particular result.

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It can be proven that this is true for any voting system. But it is not true for free markets! It can be proven that with free markets, every individual gets everything he is entitled to, and at the lowest cost he is entitled to also.

I've seen silly circular panglossian arguments like that. Since free markets are guaranteed to be perfect, whatever you get must be what you ought to get. I don't want to accuse anybody here of making that travesty.

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Perhaps you might argue that the assumptions required for these proofs do not fit the real world. Of course they don't fit the real world! We have governments in the real world that distort economies! If we create a world that fits the postulated economic assumptions, then the economy will have no choice but to behave perfectly.

I've seen this argument from communists and libertarians. Both tend to assume that the evils of the present day come from one particular source, and after that source of evil is removed we will have only good. Both have some valid points about at least some of the sources of the things they disapprove of. Both tend to assume that there are no other sources of badness.

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This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.

Well, but it's possible. People do attempt boycotts even today. If the people were educated to all boycott businesses that did socially-unacceptable things, then businesses would be careful not to get caught doing socially-unacceptable things.

I was again being ironical. When you buy something, all the market gives you is the price, and you have a concept of the expected quality. You won't find out whether what you buy is actually what you want or need until after you use it, though. If you care about anything other than price and predicted product quality, you are stepping outside the market. You can try to arrange boycotts etc to educate other consumers about the things you care about which are not reflected in the price.

In general when there are small numbers of sellers and large numbers of buyers, or vice versa, the market will favor the smaller side.

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That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.

By definition, if you can teach all the lions not to commit violence, then they will not kill wildebeests. You can't argue with that, can you?

Now take it one step further. If all the wildebeest were armed, what could the lions do? They'd better learn to eat carrots.
[/quote]

This sounds ridiculous, but I stand by it. Of course it would be difficult to teach all the lions not to commit violence. And I don't see how anybody could make a profit by arming wildebeest. But both might be practical when it's human beings instead of lions and wildebeest.

ContraryGuy on August 27, 2010, 10:33:47 am
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I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.


One of my pet peeves as an educated person (public schools, no less!) is when people mis-use words simply because they dont know any better.
"ironical" doesnt exist outside of comedy routines; if one expects to be taken seriously, one needs to communicate properly.

If I, with said public school education, can point out said mis-use, imagine what a an "actual" educated person might think.


ContraryGuy on August 27, 2010, 10:35:41 am
Dude, the Robber Barons are what is known as "political entrepreneurs" - people who used the political system to their advantage, as opposed to free marketeers, who rely upon persuasion and consent.

Can I help alleviate your towering ignorance in any other ways? Are you ready to deal with your lack of humility and respect?


I'm sorry, but I cannot take the advice of anyone who uses the term "dude" seriously.
Why dont you go back to surfing and leave the discussion to the adults.

J Thomas on August 27, 2010, 01:25:23 pm
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I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.


One of my pet peeves as an educated person (public schools, no less!) is when people mis-use words simply because they dont know any better.
"ironical" doesnt exist outside of comedy routines;

I'm sorry, but you are incorrect about this.

See for example
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony

But more important, apart from anyone who claims authority about the language and how it should be used, in fact people communicate the way they do, and not particularly in ways that experts say they should. When somebody says they know how the language ought to be used and that the common use is wrong, they are claiming an authority they do not have. The actual standard is: if you succeed in communicating, then you have used the language correctly. If you do not succeed in communicating, then you have not.

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if one expects to be taken seriously, one needs to communicate properly.

I'll agree with that. If one communicates in a way that leaves one's target audience not taking one seriously enough to bother to understand, then one fails at communication with that target audience.

The burden is on the communicator to present his ideas in a way they can be understood by his target audience. If that audience reaches out and makes an effort to understand things that he should not have expected them to, then that's a good and merciful action on their part. But he should not expect it.

The person who is trying to communicate has some idea how much value there is in his ideas. Those who are being communicated with don't know what they're getting and they won't know until after they get it. So they have no way to tell how valuable it will be or how much effort is justified on their part.

terry_freeman on August 27, 2010, 01:41:21 pm
ContraryGuy, if you choose to get all hung up on the word "dude", that's merely a way to avoid admitting your enormous ignorance about Robber Barons and other matters of economics. But whatever floats your rubber ducky, child.

ContraryGuy on September 04, 2010, 12:14:09 pm
ContraryGuy, if you choose to get all hung up on the word "dude", that's merely a way to avoid admitting your enormous ignorance about Robber Barons and other matters of economics. But whatever floats your rubber ducky, child.

Terry, 1) I was merely pointing out that I find it hard to take seriously people who use surfer lingo.  I assume this was on purpose as I have not seen you use it before.
2) Unlike you(and others) I have never proclaimed myself an expert on anything except perhaps contrariness.

Brugle on September 04, 2010, 01:50:34 pm
I have never proclaimed myself an expert on anything except perhaps contrariness.
It's hard to consider someone parroting government propaganda as contrary.

ContraryGuy on September 04, 2010, 04:18:24 pm
I have never proclaimed myself an expert on anything except perhaps contrariness.
It's hard to consider someone parroting government propaganda as contrary.

Please explain, in detail, where I am parroting government propaganda.  Unlike some members of our august company, I do not watch Fox News, nor do I regurgitate Glen Beck.

Neither am I a shill for statism; I am no more than i appear, just a guy trying to improve or elucidate the ideas presented on this forum by playing the 'contrary guy'.

When Mutual Admiration Societies develop, they must have that one person who plays the opposite side so they can see where they might be wrong.

Brugle on September 05, 2010, 01:28:25 pm
Please explain, in detail, where I am parroting government propaganda.  Unlike some members of our august company, I do not watch Fox News, nor do I regurgitate Glen Beck.

I did, in my previous post in this thread.  I gave 7 quotes from you, and ignoring the last (which is an analogy, and I don't remember whether I've heard an analogy like that used in that way before), the first 6 were essentially the same propaganda that most Americans have heard many times in government schools.  For each quote, I explained your error.  If you want more details, look them up yourself.  As for parroting, every person I've heard repeat such propaganda has had no understanding of it.  (Some, for example, knew nothing about Standard Oil except that it had something to do with oil and was EVIL.)  I have enjoyed discussions with informed people who criticized many of my conclusions, but none of them would have parroted government propaganda as you did.

I have taught myself some history, and it has been clear that aside from the barest facts (such as that the Volstead Act was passed in 1919), much of "history" taught in government schools (and many private schools which follow government-approved curricula) is crude propaganda.  An important part of learning history is to reject that propaganda.

Also, how about your suggestion (in the quote above) that there is a significant difference in the major television networks?  All of the mainstream media, including Fox, report government press releases as if they were true.  All of them generally support government's increasing aggressive war, government's increasing control of people's lives (public and private), government's increasing extraction of wealth from the populace, and government's increasing transfer of wealth to the politically powerful.  Sure, some media people (and perhaps some media organizations) may lean toward increasing government control of people's lives in one way while others may lean toward increasing government control of people's lives in a different way.  And also sure, occasionally some media people (such as your Glenn Beck) support reducing government's power in one area while increasing it in another area.  But it is extremely rare for any mainstream media person to not support increasing government power in major ways.

Or look at local issues.  A mainstream media outlook might express disapproval when a policeman empties his gun into the back of a person who (according to multiple witnesses) committed no crime and did nothing threatening.  But as soon as a government official explains that the policeman "followed procedures", such a story is almost always dropped.  Practically the only time that such a story is not dropped is when a witness makes a video of the encounter which "goes viral".

As far as I can tell (from the experience of me, my friends, my child, and my friends' children), government schools support the fiction that there are significant differences between mainstream media organizations.  "Social studies" classes discuss "current events", based on mainstream media reports.  The discussions almost always center upon trivialities, but the children are taught that such discussions make good citizens.  So, those children who accept the propaganda grow up to discuss Fox vs MSNBC around the water cooler (and feel virtuous doing it), not to discuss whether it is good for government agents to mass murder, maim, torture, destroy, and impoverish.

Neither am I a shill for statism;
If not, you are a very good imitation.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 01:43:50 pm by Brugle »

Brugle on September 05, 2010, 01:40:10 pm
Oops, I did it again. :( I think I know why, so this should be the last time.