NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on November 28, 2010, 03:48:49 pm
But I'm not talking about getting rid of the poor or getting rid of opportunities for them that don't measure up to our standards!
[Emphasis mine].

"Our" is an interesting word.  There is an implicit assumption that others' standards are identical to yours.  Clearly, this is not universally true; for example, most of the folks posting in this thread oppose using force on others' person and property -- even if the property in question is a restaurant whose owner refuses to serve native Antarcticans.



J Thomas on November 28, 2010, 07:27:28 pm
I just want the black people to be able to eat at any restaurant they like, yesterday. For a value of yesterday that equals July 4, 1776 A.D.. If that takes Martians with ray guns enforcing their laws with a rod of iron, well, then, that's what it takes in order that freedom and justice may reign.

So instead of government pointing guns at the heads of blacks and saying, "You can't eat here!", you prefer the government point guns at the heads of restaurant owners and saying, "You have to let blacks eat here!". Where's the 'freedom' in that?

Why not put the guns away?

If an old, retired Christian lady is trying to supplement her limited income by leasing out some of the space in her house left after her spouse has died and her kids have left the nest,  will you point your gun at her head to make her rent to Satanists?

No to your last question. There should be limits which distinguish between major businesses and employers and minor ones.

Why? Isn't the principle the same whether it's Grandma renting out a room, 'Joe's Diner' serving meals, or Best Buy selling cell phones, etc.?

And who sets the limit? It's OK for Grandma to not rent a room to Satanists. How about 10 rooms? 100? 1000? 10K? She's providing the same accommodations in each case, it's only the scale that changes. How, then, does the principle change?

I don't think governments really follow principles, and they probably do better not to.

After WWII the US economy found some large third-world nations to develop that more-or-less spoke English, that had been conquered a long time ago and were legally under US law but had never been developed. Entrepreneurs set to work exploiting the various unused resources and people. They had a problem with local people who didn't get along with each other, and they got the US government to help fix it, enough they could develop the area. The result wasn't that racism ended, and it wasn't perfect equality of any sort, but it was worth having. Would we have had a lot of violence without that? Who knows? Hardly anybody was following the Zero Aggressioin Principle.

I think the government did something that time which did more good than harm. It did that sort of slowly and inefficiently, but nobody else was ready to do anything similar, and the result was better than a lot of other possibilities. In an ideal world of AnCaps none of that would have been necessary or useful, but it was useful at that particular place and time.

The Federal government coerced various people. But they did not feel the need to follow principles and coerce old ladies into taking Satanists into their homes. Our government is not that consistent, and in this particular case I'm glad it wasn't.

quadibloc on November 28, 2010, 10:02:57 pm
"Our" is an interesting word.  There is an implicit assumption that others' standards are identical to yours.
In this case, I'm thinking of the standards of the typical American who reads the Boston Globe and Ms. and votes Democratic. As I thought was obvious from context.

The point of my post is that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the level of freedom many on these boards seek - or even the somewhat lower level in a minarchist society, or that in the real-world U.S. back when the Constitution meant something - is dependent on favorable external conditions. If one isn't prepared to maintain those conditions, but is instead going to let nature take its course, and bring about the overcrowding that ends up forcing most people to enter into unequal relationships with employers and landlords and so on... well, then, one can't have real freedom for very long.

But perhaps an animatronic version is possible, where, from their secret underground hiding places, the Secret Masters of Fabian Socialism put something in the drinking water to control your fertility, and cause volcanoes to frustrate the plans of your foreign enemies so that the people of the United States can continue to exist as an illustrative example of what freedom, rugged individualist style, only could be - if only it could work in the real world.

In other words, I feel insufficient attention is being given to pessimistic scenarios of the potential consequences of your actions. Assuming AnCap will just luck out is all very well, but it doesn't encourage people to entrust the real world to your plans.

J Thomas on November 29, 2010, 07:50:43 am

The point of my post is that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the level of freedom many on these boards seek - or even the somewhat lower level in a minarchist society, or that in the real-world U.S. back when the Constitution meant something - is dependent on favorable external conditions. If one isn't prepared to maintain those conditions, but is instead going to let nature take its course, and bring about the overcrowding that ends up forcing most people to enter into unequal relationships with employers and landlords and so on... well, then, one can't have real freedom for very long.

I think you're right.

But so what? There are a lot of external conditions that we cannot control. So whether we get happy endings depends on how we luck out with those. That's life. It's good to be ready to grab opportunities when they come, and if they don't come then too bad.

We could try to control more, with the result that we get to take responsibility for our mistakes instead of blaming the result on God or the Market or whatever. So for example, we are  unwilling to control our technology. As a result there is no guarantee how many jobs will be available. In the extreme case we could eventually automate almost everything, and then you're set for life if you own enough automated equipment, and there are no jobs for you otherwise. (In practice people could get jobs telling the automated equipment what to do so an owner doesn't have to, just like slave plantations hired overseers. So you work hard to make everything come out how the owner wants, after he tells you in general terms what he wants. "You idiot! My bathwater is 29 degrees! You should have known I wanted it at 31." "But last time you told me 29." "I shouldn't have to tell you what I want! I pay you to figure out things for me, if I wanted to program my bathtub myself I wouldn't need you!"

There are economic theories that say there are always jobs available at some wage. These theories are true in principle, but often not in reality. Still there are often opportunities of some sort. "I want a throne made out of human skills. So I will pay you a dollar apiece for 300 human skills. I don't care where you get them, but I prefer they be skills from murdered people."

Instead of accept that there are owners and then there are surplus people, we could instead control the technology and make sure there are jobs for people -- jobs that could be better done by machines. Or we could have a government that owns everything and that provides services to everybody for free, or for votes. I don't see any good solution to that problem if it arises, every solution looks bad to me.

But we don't face insoluble problems all the time. Take the good with the bad. Enjoy the good times even though you know they won't last forever.

And if the good opportunities never come, at least you were ready in case they did come. Consider the poor Iraqis. They had a dictator. It isn't easy to revolt against that. When everything's lined up and the mass of the people rise up at once, the dictator is stuck and must take his money and run. But one little slip and some people rise up too soon and get killed, and then the dictator starts killing people on suspicion, and the second try is much harder. Before the Gulf War we tried to get Iraqis to revolt. We promised we'd support them. Then the war came, and they revolted, and after we won the war but it looked impractical to invade Iraq we dumped them. Saddam killed a whole lot of them. We applied sanctions which hurt Iraqis a lot, they couldn't get clean drinking water or antibiotics etc. We said it served them right for not getting rid of Saddam. "And Saddam's a monster. He kills his own people." Then we invaded Iraq and bombed a whole lot of civilians. "If they didn't want to get bombed they should have gotten rid of Saddam. And anyway the numbers have to be wrong because we wouldn't kill those people, we're the good guys. We'll pay for new numbers that prove they didn't die." 

I prefer democracies to every alternative government I've seen. There have been times when Americans were ready to die "to make the world safe for democracy". Would you die for the democracy we have now? I would, to oppose some particular alternatives that I would consider worse. But that's to stop something else more than to preserve what we have. The number of people who're ready to lay down their lives to protect a system, has something to do with that system's survival. But not enough. You can still lose it no matter how many people try to keep it going.

But ideas are important. Ideas aren't everything, but they make a big difference. It's hard for people to make something big happen when they're unclear on the concept. Democracy was once a compelling idea that people were willing to sacrifice for. Marxism likewise. And christianity -- there was a time, hundreds of years, maybe a thousand years when the mass of people tried to be good christians and it changed the world. The histories are about the people who didn't try, the aristocrats and high church authorities, each of whom lived as a wolf among wolves. But the mass of the people were christians and it made a big difference. ZAP could have a similar effect. If enough people come to believe in the Zero Aggression Principle, it will change the world as much as christianity did. We could get a thousand years of governments that dare not admit they govern.

quadibloc on November 29, 2010, 08:10:17 am
I'll admit my rant was silly in one very important aspect.

Humans keep other humans as slaves, but never as pets.

So freedom has to be real, not artificial. In fact, since some people might argue "who needs to get involved in politics", an important reason why freedom is valuable is that it provides people with a way to defend themselves against being enslaved or exploited.

As for ZAP changing the world the way Christianity did: I hadn't thought in terms of that scenario. I may be viewing AnCap through too narrow a lens.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 08:12:10 am by quadibloc »

SandySandfort on November 29, 2010, 08:35:03 am
The point of my post is that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the level of freedom many on these boards seek - or even the somewhat lower level in a minarchist society, or that in the real-world U.S. back when the Constitution meant something - is dependent on favorable external conditions. If one isn't prepared to maintain those conditions, but is instead going to let nature take its course, and bring about the overcrowding that ends up forcing most people to enter into unequal relationships with employers and landlords and so on... well, then, one can't have real freedom for very long.

Ah yes, it is becoming clear who you are and why you are so active on this forum. At heart, you are a Mathusian, despite the fact that Rev. Malthus has been proven wrong over and over. Well good luck with that fantasy.

I had been wondering why a collectivist was reading an individualist serial. It seemed odd to me, because  EFT stands for everything you fear and oppose. Now it becomes clear from you statement above. You are an evangelist; the Jehovah's Witness of conservative collectivism. Given the people who read and enjoy EFT, you have a very tough row to hoe. (If we give you 10 for your version of The Watch Tower, will you go away?)  ::)

 

J Thomas on November 29, 2010, 10:50:14 am

Humans keep other humans as slaves, but never as pets.

Why not? People sometimes keep monkeys as pets, why not other humans? People occasionally keep dogs as pets, or horses, or even lions though it usually isn't practical to keep lions and they tend to do it badly. Why are humans so much harder?

quadibloc on November 29, 2010, 12:09:45 pm
I had been wondering why a collectivist was reading an individualist serial. It seemed odd to me, because  EFT stands for everything you fear and oppose.
I like freedom. I wish we could all have more of it. Think of it as a love-hate relationship. AnCap entices me with its promise of greater freedom, but I feel I've been disappointed too many times before.

SandySandfort on November 29, 2010, 02:08:22 pm
The point of my post is that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the level of freedom many on these boards seek - or even the somewhat lower level in a minarchist society, or that in the real-world U.S. back when the Constitution meant something - is dependent on favorable external conditions. If one isn't prepared to maintain those conditions, but is instead going to let nature take its course, and bring about the overcrowding that ends up forcing most people to enter into unequal relationships with employers and landlords and so on... well, then, one can't have real freedom for very long.

Ah yes, it is becoming clear who you are and why you are so active on this forum. At heart, you are a Mathusian, despite the fact that Rev. Malthus has been proven wrong over and over. Well good luck with that fantasy.

I had been wondering why a collectivist was reading an individualist serial. It seemed odd to me, because  EFT stands for everything you fear and oppose. Now it becomes clear from you statement above. You are an evangelist; the Jehovah's Witness of conservative collectivism. Given the people who read and enjoy EFT, you have a very tough row to hoe. (If we give you 10 for your version of The Watch Tower, will you go away?)  ::)

 

jamesd on November 29, 2010, 09:46:30 pm
The point of my post is that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the level of freedom many on these boards seek - or even the somewhat lower level in a minarchist society, or that in the real-world U.S. back when the Constitution meant something - is dependent on favorable external conditions. If one isn't prepared to maintain those conditions, but is instead going to let nature take its course, and bring about the overcrowding that ends up forcing most people to enter into unequal relationships with employers and landlords and so on... well, then, one can't have real freedom for very long.

I had been wondering why a collectivist was reading an individualist serial. It seemed odd to me, because  EFT stands for everything you fear and oppose. Now it becomes clear from you statement above. You are an evangelist; the Jehovah's Witness of conservative collectivism.

My diagnosis is that quadibloc accepts progressive ideas - particularly those progressive ideas that derive from the denied and theoretically repudiated fascist past of progressivism:  He is not an evangelist for those ideas, but accepts them as a true account of the world, an account that implies progressive/fascist conclusions  Therefore, rather than denouncing him as a religious fanatic, find out where his ideas about how the world works are in error.

Hence I debate him on sweatshops and the allegedly racist past when supposedly a black man could be lynched for whistling at a white woman.

To him, it is obvious that since private citizens were so evil and so oppressed, a wise and virtuous government is needed to put them right, as it so successfully did, according to the heroic account of the great successes of government in remedying the terrible wickedness of private citizens and rescuing them from horrid oppression, that all schoolchildren are taught.

SandySandfort on November 29, 2010, 10:30:28 pm
... He is not an evangelist for those ideas, but accepts them as a true account of the world...

Are you asserting that these terms are mutually exclusive? They are not.

Therefore, rather than denouncing him as a religious fanatic, find out where his ideas about how the world works are in error.

I neither said he was a religious fanatic, nor did I denounce him. I merely stated my conclusions about his motives. You really, really, have to learn to read and think critically.

quadibloc on November 30, 2010, 01:43:12 am
... He is not an evangelist for those ideas, but accepts them as a true account of the world...
Are you asserting that these terms are mutually exclusive? They are not.
I don't see where the conclusion that he was making that assertion is particularly strongly implied. Certainly, as he has charged, I do accept the conventional version of history, such as how the free market was unable to allow people to purchase food that was safe to eat, and so government meat inspectors came to our rescue. Maybe certification would have been better, so that there would be something in between today's expensive meat and dog food, but I'd tend to look on that as theoretical, and not terribly important.

It does make moral sense that even the majority doesn't have the right to steal from or enslave non-aggressing members of the society. I can see that, but I fear this is too Utopian to work in our dangerous real world.

I see the 1790s and the 1960s as having their good points in different ways in the history of American democracy. And, yes, I'm Malthusian in the sense that I recognize physical limits in the environment: technology and capital can do a lot in making those limits less limiting, but I see no reason to expect that they can solve every problem. New discoveries come when they can - not necessarily when we want them. We still grow old.

terry_freeman on November 30, 2010, 04:17:52 am
Quadibloc, it is statism which is utopian. You and your band of merry statists keep singing the praises of these miraculous saintly incorruptible omniscient Planners.

If you believe that nonsense, you know nothing about who is attracted to power and what they do. You know nothing about Public Choice 101; you probably never spent a single day of your sorry life observing real politics in action as it is practiced in the real world.

Get out of your ivory tower. Real politicians are human beings; they are corruptible; they do not promote virtue, but the opposite.

Your narrative claims that government's hands are white as snow, and evil individuals enslaved the rest of the world. You ignore the fact that slavery requires externalizing the cost of recapturing escaped slaves - that whole Fugitive Slave Act thing. You ignore the fact that Jim Crow laws externalized the costs of racism. You ignore the fact that government - not independent individuals acting on their own - sent vast armies to slaughter the indigenous population of America.  You are ignorant about many other aspects of history, whether American or otherwise. You want us to believe that some magical angels will "Plan" away all the ills of this world.

If there is a more utopian vision than statism, I do not know what it is.

Anarchists, on the other hand, accept that people are fallible, and take care not to provide people with weapons - namely, the privileged status of exempting themselves from moral scrutiny ( aka sovereign immunity ) - which tend to exacerbate the effects of individual weakness. It is one thing to be a solitary individual with a moral weakness; it is another to isolate that individual from negative feedback which could ameliorate that weakness.

In a nutshell, statism isolates immoral individuals from the natural negative consequences of their actions. Where they would normally lose customers, revenues, and profits, the statist relies on force to expand revenues and compel customers. Where they would normally face the risk of being injured or killed for their aggression, statists rely upon organizing the biggest and most "legitimate" force on their behalf.

You may try to sugarcoat your evil utopian vision by calling statists "planners" and prating about the "social good", but that's merely putting lipstick on a pig; she still can't dance and she still smells like manure.

jamesd on November 30, 2010, 02:38:22 pm
Certainly, as he has charged, I do accept the conventional version of history, such as how the free market was unable to allow people to purchase food that was safe to eat, and so government meat inspectors came to our rescue.

Back in the days when everyone killed their own turkey for thanksgiving, when in a city there were thousands of businesses that slaughtered cattle, the meat inspection act was a big government and big business attack on small scale farming and small scale slaughter, aimed at forcing everyone to work for giant megacorporations, rather than get meat from the person who raised the animal by the shortest and most direct route.  It substantially reduced the quality of meat, by lengthening the chain between killing and consumption - more hands on the meat, more delay, more transportation, and more diseconomies of scale
See:  MEAT INSPECTION, Theory and Reality:  by Gabriel Kolko

The history you have been taught is as ludicrously distorted as Winston Smith's account of capitalism.  The government tells you how good the government has been. and how bad ordinary people have been.  Should you not be a little bit suspicious?  If one lie, all lies:  The story about blacks being lynched for whistling at a white women is not true, therefore you should disbelieve everything the government tells you.

The big packers were half the meat industry and falling.  The meat packing act made them 100%.  Should that not make you a teensy bit suspicious?  Perhaps the past was not giant robber barons oppressing the little man, who got liberated by virtuous progressive government.  Perhaps, rather, the present is giant robber barons oppressing the little man?

The official story is that the giant meat packers were extremely evil, so wise and good government made them virtuous - yet somehow, their punishment for being so sinful was their smaller competitor's heads on a platter, much as today's government punishes the evil banks for their misconduct by giving them trillions of dollars.  Does this not smell a little bit fishy?

mellyrn on December 01, 2010, 07:50:25 am
Quote
government meat inspectors came to our rescue.

Oh, dear, there's my big laugh for the day.  I just wish it was funnier.  http://current.com/news/91815978_yummy-ammonia-treated-pink-slime-now-in-most-u-s-ground-beef.htm


I think part of the difficulty in this discussion lies in the very word, "government".  It's a noun, so it sounds like a thing, we mentally process it as a material thing, capable of acting.  It isn't, of course.  "Government" is verbal shorthand for "all those individuals who, through a byzantine complex of agreements [real, implied, assumed, imagined, ... ] among a society's individuals, have been empowered to act in certain ways." 

Comparing "the individual" to "the government" is not comparing "granny smiths" to "winesaps", it's more like comparing "this granny smith" to "the idea of fruit".  The idea of fruit does not feed anyone; it's the actual apple that does that.

"The Government" can do only what the individuals who are defined as "government agents" can do. 

The result is still a bunch of individuals doing whatever it is they do.  When anarchy is recognized, Joe is free to tell Jim just what Jim can do with Jim's demands that Joe do something else; when we hallucinate "a government", we subvert our own moral judgments to whatever acts that byzantine complex of agreements demands -- acts for which no one can be held genuinely accountable.

Sooo, I think I've just said that "government" is a mechanism for individuals to evade accountability.  And as Little BabbeLibby has shown, it takes guts to accept accountability.