terry_freeman on November 05, 2010, 02:49:01 am
I would not describe "retracing the path of uncountable failed empires" as "success", not when the USSA is so clearly on the downward arc as it is now. The government is pursuing bankruptcy with mad abandon, matched only - for now - by the rate at which "Helicopter" Ben is willing to create faith-based paper (or digital) money out of thin air.

Have a look at "This time is different: 800 years of financial folly" - it could be viewed as a recipe book for "how to destroy the credibility of a currency" - which the Powers That Be seem to take as a prescription, rather than as a cautionary tale. More likely, they - as so many have before - believe that "this time is different", that they have (once again) reinvented economics, brought an end to history, or by some other magical means have somehow managed to repeal those pesky laws of economics.

As jamesd just reminded us, all governments rely upon fear for their continued operation. When people stop fearing the government, it loses power. This merely restates what Gustav de Molinari observed a few centuries ago.
 

J Thomas on November 05, 2010, 07:17:42 am
I would not describe "retracing the path of uncountable failed empires" as "success", not when the USSA is so clearly on the downward arc as it is now. The government is pursuing bankruptcy with mad abandon, matched only - for now - by the rate at which "Helicopter" Ben is willing to create faith-based paper (or digital) money out of thin air.

Have a look at "This time is different: 800 years of financial folly" - it could be viewed as a recipe book for "how to destroy the credibility of a currency" - which the Powers That Be seem to take as a prescription, rather than as a cautionary tale. More likely, they - as so many have before - believe that "this time is different", that they have (once again) reinvented economics, brought an end to history, or by some other magical means have somehow managed to repeal those pesky laws of economics.

I think they see no real choice. Each step makes them a little worse off, but the alternatives all involve doing something so unpopular they lose power and get replaced by somebody else who'll do the bad thing anyway.

Quote
As jamesd just reminded us, all governments rely upon fear for their continued operation. When people stop fearing the government, it loses power. This merely restates what Gustav de Molinari observed a few centuries ago.

When a whole lot of people need to cooperate, they work out adequate details quicker when somebody gets the final say and can force them. When it just doesn't work they say so, when it isn't great but acceptable they go along. They recognize that they need to get organized and they don't object too much when somebody powerful uses threats to help them along, provided the result is adequate.

Then comes the time they don't actually need to cooperate but the authority is still there telling them what to do for his own benefit. They don't put up with that nearly as well.

Governments rely on fear at the margin, but the amount of force they can apply is usually pretty limited -- not a whole lot more than they need, and they don't usually need very much. I guess banks are kind of that way, they keep just enough reserves to cover contingencies.

For most people they rely more on ignorance than fear. Like, how many Americans realize that the US military budtget for 2011 is over a trillion dollars? And before the purges in the early USSR got into full swing, a whole lot of people didn't even know about them. They took suspects to prison in fake meat trucks. People asked, "Why are there so many meat trucks and so little meat?". People who loved Stalin who got purged and for the first time found out about the purges, said "If only Father Stalin knew what's going on in his name, he would fix it.".

When a whole lot of people fear their government something has gone seriously wrong.

SandySandfort on November 05, 2010, 09:19:49 am


    Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
    The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
    I know of no reason
    Why the Gunpowder Treason
    Should ever be forgot.
*


Happy Guy Fawkes Day!


* The rest of the rhyme suggest that foiling the plot and saving the King and Parliament was a "good" thing. I just like the first part.   ::)

quadibloc on November 06, 2010, 12:17:44 am
When a whole lot of people need to cooperate, they work out adequate details quicker when somebody gets the final say and can force them. When it just doesn't work they say so, when it isn't great but acceptable they go along. They recognize that they need to get organized and they don't object too much when somebody powerful uses threats to help them along, provided the result is adequate.

Then comes the time they don't actually need to cooperate but the authority is still there telling them what to do for his own benefit. They don't put up with that nearly as well.
Precisely. This is why I am so willing to settle for just getting democracy to work right, and keeping it honest, and am nervous about shooting for the improvement in freedom offered by AnCap when there's so much risk of it going badly wrong.

dough560 on November 06, 2010, 03:46:09 am
Two steps forward, one step back.  Those who live in fear of failure, never succeed.

J Thomas on November 06, 2010, 08:40:17 am
Two steps forward, one step back.  Those who live in fear of failure, never succeed.

Sure. And yet, there's nothing wrong with persuading people toward better democracy and AnCap both. Whatever results you get on either front is progress.

in that line I would like to encourage US elections of all sorts toward acceptance voting.

The idea is, when there are more than two candidates you vote for all the ones you want, and all your votes count. The candidate with the most votes wins. (Ideally if nobody gets a majority then there's nobody the majority finds acceptable, and perhaps we should then leave the position open, or have another election.)

What could be fairer? You vote for all the candidates you want. If you like all but one, vote for all but one. No need to vote just for the second-worst candidate because he's the only one who can keep the worst candidate from winning.

Simple. Obvious. Clear. Fair.

quadibloc on November 06, 2010, 10:54:08 am
Two steps forward, one step back.  Those who live in fear of failure, never succeed.
Getting rid of taxes is two steps forward, and being invaded by China is one step back? Your counting will be disputed. Yes, fear of trying anything new is a bad thing, but so is recklessness.

J Thomas on November 06, 2010, 01:47:58 pm
Two steps forward, one step back.  Those who live in fear of failure, never succeed.
Getting rid of taxes is two steps forward, and being invaded by China is one step back? Your counting will be disputed. Yes, fear of trying anything new is a bad thing, but so is recklessness.

Wouldn't China be likely to invade Siberia first? It has a number of advantages -- like, they can walk there. And if they want to invade the USA they could almost walk to Alaska, much easier than sending their Marines to land on the beach heads of Los Angeles.

So there would probably be some warning.

And it isn't clear what the best responses would be, it would depend a whole lot on circumstance, right?

Like, I can imagine a chinese army arriving at, say, San Diego from the mexican border, and a whole bunch of job recruiters rush up. "Did you know we have a labor shortage? Come work for us! We pay in gold. Did you know the male/female ratio is much better here than it is in china? Say, I'll give you 10 grams of gold for that souvenir weapon you're holding there."

If the first invading armies just melted away to become AnCaps, that might give the chinese generals a great big hesitation right there.

You can hypothesize chinese armies invading the USA, and I can hypothesize job recruiters. Who's less plausible?

SandySandfort on November 06, 2010, 03:08:45 pm
The idea is, when there are more than two candidates you vote for all the ones you want, and all your votes count. The candidate with the most votes wins. (Ideally if nobody gets a majority then there's nobody the majority finds acceptable, and perhaps we should then leave the position open, or have another election.)

What could be fairer? You vote for all the candidates you want.

Hardly. Unless there is the possibility of a write-in, you don't get to vote for all the candidates you want. Also, it's still winner-take-all. If my candidates don't get elected, I am stuck with someone I don't consider qualified to represent me. When I "vote" for a Toyota in the marketplace and you "vote" for a Chevy, we both get what we want. Political democracy and freedom are natural enemies.

If you like all but one, vote for all but one. No need to vote just for the second-worst candidate because he's the only one who can keep the worst candidate from winning.

Simple. Obvious. Clear. Fair.

"Fair." Now there is a word that means everything, so means nothing. "Fair and Balanced," "a fair wage," "fair prices," "fair trade coffee" are all Rorschach words; they mean what you want them to mean. In my experience, it is almost axiomatic that anyone using the word "fair," is either trying to bamboozle you or is unclear on the concept.

SandySandfort on November 06, 2010, 03:20:11 pm
Like, I can imagine a chinese army arriving at, say, San Diego from the mexican border, and a whole bunch of job recruiters rush up. "Did you know we have a labor shortage? Come work for us! We pay in gold. Did you know the male/female ratio is much better here than it is in china? Say, I'll give you 10 grams of gold for that souvenir weapon you're holding there."

Very funny and certainly more realistic than a Chinese invasion of the US. Actually, China is the one usually getting invaded, not the other way around. Ironically, your whimsical scenario is pretty much what happened to all the invaders that have tried to take over China. Over time, China just absorbed them.

J Thomas on November 06, 2010, 04:35:38 pm
The idea is, when there are more than two candidates you vote for all the ones you want, and all your votes count. The candidate with the most votes wins. (Ideally if nobody gets a majority then there's nobody the majority finds acceptable, and perhaps we should then leave the position open, or have another election.)

What could be fairer? You vote for all the candidates you want.

Hardly. Unless there is the possibility of a write-in, you don't get to vote for all the candidates you want. Also, it's still winner-take-all. If my candidates don't get elected, I am stuck with someone I don't consider qualified to represent me. When I "vote" for a Toyota in the marketplace and you "vote" for a Chevy, we both get what we want. Political democracy and freedom are natural enemies.

If we have a government at all, elected governments are better than unelected governments. I see no problem with looking for ways to improve government and looking for ways to avoid government both at the same time.

Quote
If you like all but one, vote for all but one. No need to vote just for the second-worst candidate because he's the only one who can keep the worst candidate from winning.

Simple. Obvious. Clear. Fair.

"Fair." Now there is a word that means everything, so means nothing. "Fair and Balanced," "a fair wage," "fair prices," "fair trade coffee" are all Rorschach words; they mean what you want them to mean. In my experience, it is almost axiomatic that anyone using the word "fair," is either trying to bamboozle you or is unclear on the concept.

Well, voting for everybody you want is better than voting for one of the two who appear from the media to have the best chance.

It's fairer than that.

I had been pushing for IRV, which at least gives people the chance to vote for as many as they want and is fairly simple. But that method lets you vote first for the one you want most, with the result that sometimes you can mess up.

Like, here are 10 votes. 9 of them have a first choice and then a second choice.

A E
B E
C E
D E
A E
A E
B E
C E
D E
E

First the 1st place votes are counted:  A 3  B 2  C 2  D 2  E 1

Then E is eliminated. Then A wins with 3 votes out of 10.

7 voters did not want A at all. 10 voters thought E was OK. A won.

But with acceptance voting, you mark everybody you think is OK, never mind first and second choices. Then the votes go:

E 11   A 3   B 2   C 2   D 2

And E wins. E and A could both get a majority, and you choose the one with the bigger majority.

"Fair" is a slippery concept, but if you want voting with more than one candidate this is one of the better ways to do it.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 04:37:22 pm by J Thomas »

dough560 on November 07, 2010, 01:08:59 am
J Thomas, you have and absolute talent for saying. "What about this!" and going farther out to left field.  Give it a rest already.

Want to talk about voting and general government organization in an An-Cap Society?  Why not start a separate thread.

terry_freeman on November 07, 2010, 09:20:56 am
It is that god Democracy which is the root of our problems, not the solution.

If people believed not so much in Democracy, if they did not overlook her many foibles, we'd have sound currency and sound banks; we'd not be burdened by taxes; we'd have more actual security and justice and education than we do today.

You often hear that voters are ignorant - but who educated those voters, if not the schools which are operated by governments which are elected by voters? If Democracy were so fine a solution, would not the schools improve over the course of time? Would not the quality of voters improve over time?

Compare and contrast with computers or automobiles, which are not provided by governments. The computer of today is a far better thing than that which was available in 1978, when I bought my first Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I. The car of today is better than my first, a 1964 Beetle.

How about security? Anyone old enough to remember the 70s knows that the rate of crime was a large concern. Two things happened: more resources were invested in prisons and police, and gun laws (especially CCW laws) were liberalized. More and more Americans purchased handguns and rifles and ammo and learned to use them to defend themselves and the people they cared about. According to John Lott, this liberalization of gun laws is more highly correlated with the drop in violent crimes than any other - and it is working against another factor, known to Milton Friedman and other researchers to increase violent crime; namely, the increased efforts at prohibiting politically incorrect substances.

Any honest reading of political history would strongly suggest that we greatly reduce the role of democracy, and increase the role of peaceful, voluntary cooperation.

Smarter, better-fed, healthier, safer, wealthier - what's not to like?
 

J Thomas on November 07, 2010, 11:18:46 am
It is that god Democracy which is the root of our problems, not the solution.

If people believed not so much in Democracy, if they did not overlook her many foibles, we'd have sound currency and sound banks; we'd not be burdened by taxes; we'd have more actual security and justice and education than we do today.

You make good points.

Still, to the extent we have democracy, i'd prefer it work as well as it can. And we would do better if voters got a real choice among more than two parties who provide two candidates.

I've found myself voting for Democrats because the particular Republicans I could choose instead looked even worse. And I expect a lot of people have been voting for Republicans they didn't particularly like because the Democrats looked even worse to them. Two choices is like a duopoly. A product you can't avoid buying, and you can let somebody else get all the choice, or you can choose the one that competes by being a little bit better than the single alternative, on the particular issues you care about most.

Extra candidates are better. If you want less government, you get a better chance at that with more than two choices. We had Reagan and his republicans promising less government, and they gave us more government. What did less-government voters do then? They voted for more Republican politicians who promised less government. What better choice was there, vote Democrat? That gave them Bush and his Republicans who promised less government and who gave us more government. So now we have the Tea Party politicians who loudly  promise less government. A politician who promises loud is better than one who just promises, right?

That didn't come out like a strong defense of representative democracy, did it. Still, better voting can't hurt, and it might do some good.

terry_freeman on November 07, 2010, 12:56:36 pm
Having only two real choices is not a mere accident; it's an innate part of winner-takes-all voting.

When there are three parties, of approximately equal strength, and elections can pick only one winner, voters tend to rationally compute the strength of the three. They are likely to have an ordered set of preferences, a > b > c. Perhaps they prefer a to both b and c, but estimate the chance of a winning to be less than those of c; they'll vote for b instead. Every Libertarian or Green Party candidate knows about this dynamic; most voters  would rather amputate an arm or leg with a rusty saw than "waste their vote" on a 3rd party candidate.

Countries with proportional representation do not punish 3rd parties to this degree, but winner-takes-all is how it works in America, in almost every election. A few municipal elections use some form of preference voting.

In addition, there are severe ballot constraints which limit 3rd parties; these were put in place democratically ( let us all sing the praises of that false god ) in order to protect the two "major" parties against any possible threats.

It would be obvious to an impartial Martian that American voters are deeply dissatisfied with the D and R choices, and overdue for a switch, but existing democratically-enacted laws give many unfair advantages to the two halves of the duopoly.

Contrast this with how free markets work. Sure, we often have a few big players in any given field, but people are still free to enjoy the benefits of lesser suppliers. Beer drinkers are not forced to choose only betwixt Anheuser-Busch and Miller -- they can choose from other suppliers, and don't pay a tax to support the two big players. It's even possible to brew your own, thanks to the government backing off some of  their anti-freedom regulations in the 70s ( which spawned the micro-brewery movement ).


 

anything