SandySandfort on January 17, 2011, 07:53:33 am
When I say that you are making claims about reality, for which the burden of proof would be on you, it is not my poor reading skills that lead me to make that claim.

And once again, I am not denying making claims sometimes. All this was ever about is the unsupported claims made by quad. If you want to start a thread about my claims, knock yourself out. But do not pollute this thread with other issues. I await your new thread on any claims you feel I have made and which you would like to see supported. (NOTE: Stories aren't "claims" they are stories and therefore require no proof.)

I'm getting the sense that you are unusually crabby just now, and whatever is doing that is probably affecting your thinking.

I will stipulate that I have been intemperate, of late. However, the issues that are making me intemperate are not affecting my thinking in a negative way. In fact, I am at the top of my game, mentally. I have to be. What is being affected is my mood. I have less time or motivation to suffer fools. So yes, I am "crabby." Deal with it.

J Thomas on January 17, 2011, 10:39:36 am
When I say that you are making claims about reality, for which the burden of proof would be on you, it is not my poor reading skills that lead me to make that claim.

And once again, I am not denying making claims sometimes. All this was ever about is the unsupported claims made by quad.

In the course of poking at Quadribloc's unsupported claims, you made contradictory claims. You claimed that some of his assumptions could not be true.

For him to prove that AnCap can't work, he has to prove that the problems he proposes are inevitable and horrible. But you said that his argument can't work and you made particular claims to show that his argument can't work. You say he must prove your claims wrong or his argument fails.

It looks to me like you are using two-valued logic. His claim is true or false, unless he can prove it's true then it is false.

But logicly we should use five-valued logic. His claim is true or false or neither or both, and it may be undetermined.

Here is a true statement: Heavy things are heavy.

Here is a false statement: White things are always black.

Here is a neither statement: Water is solid. (Sometimes water is solid and sometimes it isn't.)

Here is a both statement: This statement is false.

Goldbach's conjecture is an example of an undetermined statement. It may be true or false, nobody seems to know yet. Someday somebody may find an example where it is not true, or someday somebody may find a proof.

I say that Quadribloc's conjecture is undetermined. He has not proven it will happen, and you have not proven it won't.

I expect it is undetermined. Some AnCap societies could find ways to prevent the bad things he hypothesizes without using coercion. Some will not.

SandySandfort on January 17, 2011, 04:29:19 pm
In the course of poking at Quadribloc's unsupported claims, you made contradictory claims. You claimed that some of his assumptions could not be true.

Here's an idea. Instead of interpreting what you think I said/meant, quote me. Hoist me on my own petard. Then I will be more inclined to respond.
 
It looks to me like you are using two-valued logic. His claim is true or false, unless he can prove it's true then it is false.

Well, you need to look again. All I am saying is that his claims are not supported by any evidence or logic. Whether they are true or false isn't really at issue.

J Thomas on January 17, 2011, 09:12:47 pm
In the course of poking at Quadribloc's unsupported claims, you made contradictory claims. You claimed that some of his assumptions could not be true.

Here's an idea. Instead of interpreting what you think I said/meant, quote me. Hoist me on my own petard. Then I will be more inclined to respond.

I've quoted you repeatedly.
 
Quote
It looks to me like you are using two-valued logic. His claim is true or false, unless he can prove it's true then it is false.

Well, you need to look again. All I am saying is that his claims are not supported by any evidence or logic. Whether they are true or false isn't really at issue.

Well, here's what he said:

Quote
I have raised the subject of the poor being exploited by big businesses that would have an advantage in market power. That's because, in our existing statist system, the only obvious remedies to that problem which have ever been tried are socialistic in nature. So I ask the question - what does AnCap have to offer them? ....

Of course, the same thing that would really solve the problems of those who live by selling their labor is also the thing that would make AnCap viable (even if only temporarily) as a political system. An open frontier. Accessible enough for people to get there, inaccessible enough not to be exposed to the danger of conquest by the state next door.

I'm seeing AnCap, therefore, not as a political solution, but as a political phase. Something that could rise up if our existing system does collapse, but not something that could be voted in and start fixing things - yes, I know it's philosophically the wrong route, but it's nonviolent and could be used to facilitate a gradual transition. It still seems to me that if we tried going to AnCap in our present circumstances, it risks making things much worse instead of better - but that it could be a far better way to live under the right circumstances makes sense to me too.

He thinks that when there is a labor surplus, poor people who have nothing to sell except their cheap labor will not do well, government or no government. I consider that unproven but quite plausible. There is no necessary relationship between the number of people available for work and the work available for people. There can be limiting factors which determine total productivity, and when those limiting factors are something other than available workers, you get surplus workers.

http://www.avocadosource.com/tools/FertCalc_files/liebigs_law.htm

But when there is a labor shortage, likely AnCap can allow everybody to exploit his own potential better than with governments interfering.

So he says AnCap should be very good for some situations, and for others it can run into problems it does not necessarily solve. Plausible but unproven. Other possibilities are that AnCap can never work well (although Terry Freeman pointed out that the Amish have an AnCap system, though one based on authoritarian elders and intense religious control). Or that AnCap will work perfectly for anybody anywhere, and can never generate social tensions no matter what happens.

You responded:

Quote
If you mean "General Motors" big, there is every reason to believe enterprises that large would be impossible in a free market, due to the many dis-economies of scale and the lower barriers to entry by new, leaner, quicker, smarter businesses.

The only way that a business that size is possible, is when it is preferentially upheld and protected by government action. No business entity that large has ever existed on the face on the earth, without government interference in the marketplace. None. Show me a business big enough to exploit anyone and I will show you the man behind the curtain, whom you conveniently ignore.

Until you can show me a business large enough to "exploit" (another weasels word) anyone, that has ever existed without government protection, the assumptions underlying your question fail. Thus the question has no relevance to the real world.

You did not say that his assumptions are unproven. You said that his assumptions are false. You said the only possible way to get a large business is with government interference. You said that his question has no relevance to the real world, meaning no relevance to hypothetical AnCap societies which have never yet existed.

But later you said,

Quote
I would have the burden of proof (what you are implying), if I were trying to convince you of something. I'm not. Frankly, whether you get it or not is of little consequence to me.

However, it is you who is trying to convince me and others that "big business" can "exploit" others, absent a government. So the burden, in that regard, is yours.

So you say you were not trying to convince him. Who were you trying to convince? Yourself? You claimed definitively that no business can ever exploit anybody without a government.

Quadribloc is concerned that under certain circumstances bad things can happen in some AnCap societies. You insist that those things can never ever happen and the burden of proof is on him to show they can happen.

I say if he wants to claim that they definitely will happen then it's his job to prove they will. And if you want to claim that they definitely can't happen, as you have claimed in responding to him, then it's your job to prove they cannot happen.

SandySandfort on January 17, 2011, 09:19:41 pm
I never used the word "false." I am convinced you just want my attention. Sorry you lose.

In the course of poking at Quadribloc's unsupported claims, you made contradictory claims. You claimed that some of his assumptions could not be true.

Here's an idea. Instead of interpreting what you think I said/meant, quote me. Hoist me on my own petard. Then I will be more inclined to respond.

I've quoted you repeatedly.
 
Quote
It looks to me like you are using two-valued logic. His claim is true or false, unless he can prove it's true then it is false.

Well, you need to look again. All I am saying is that his claims are not supported by any evidence or logic. Whether they are true or false isn't really at issue.

Well, here's what he said:

Quote
I have raised the subject of the poor being exploited by big businesses that would have an advantage in market power. That's because, in our existing statist system, the only obvious remedies to that problem which have ever been tried are socialistic in nature. So I ask the question - what does AnCap have to offer them? ....

Of course, the same thing that would really solve the problems of those who live by selling their labor is also the thing that would make AnCap viable (even if only temporarily) as a political system. An open frontier. Accessible enough for people to get there, inaccessible enough not to be exposed to the danger of conquest by the state next door.

I'm seeing AnCap, therefore, not as a political solution, but as a political phase. Something that could rise up if our existing system does collapse, but not something that could be voted in and start fixing things - yes, I know it's philosophically the wrong route, but it's nonviolent and could be used to facilitate a gradual transition. It still seems to me that if we tried going to AnCap in our present circumstances, it risks making things much worse instead of better - but that it could be a far better way to live under the right circumstances makes sense to me too.

He thinks that when there is a labor surplus, poor people who have nothing to sell except their cheap labor will not do well, government or no government. I consider that unproven but quite plausible. There is no necessary relationship between the number of people available for work and the work available for people. There can be limiting factors which determine total productivity, and when those limiting factors are something other than available workers, you get surplus workers.

http://www.avocadosource.com/tools/FertCalc_files/liebigs_law.htm

But when there is a labor shortage, likely AnCap can allow everybody to exploit his own potential better than with governments interfering.

So he says AnCap should be very good for some situations, and for others it can run into problems it does not necessarily solve. Plausible but unproven. Other possibilities are that AnCap can never work well (although Terry Freeman pointed out that the Amish have an AnCap system, though one based on authoritarian elders and intense religious control). Or that AnCap will work perfectly for anybody anywhere, and can never generate social tensions no matter what happens.

You responded:

Quote
If you mean "General Motors" big, there is every reason to believe enterprises that large would be impossible in a free market, due to the many dis-economies of scale and the lower barriers to entry by new, leaner, quicker, smarter businesses.

The only way that a business that size is possible, is when it is preferentially upheld and protected by government action. No business entity that large has ever existed on the face on the earth, without government interference in the marketplace. None. Show me a business big enough to exploit anyone and I will show you the man behind the curtain, whom you conveniently ignore.

Until you can show me a business large enough to "exploit" (another weasels word) anyone, that has ever existed without government protection, the assumptions underlying your question fail. Thus the question has no relevance to the real world.

You did not say that his assumptions are unproven. You said that his assumptions are false. You said the only possible way to get a large business is with government interference. You said that his question has no relevance to the real world, meaning no relevance to hypothetical AnCap societies which have never yet existed.

But later you said,

Quote
I would have the burden of proof (what you are implying), if I were trying to convince you of something. I'm not. Frankly, whether you get it or not is of little consequence to me.

However, it is you who is trying to convince me and others that "big business" can "exploit" others, absent a government. So the burden, in that regard, is yours.

So you say you were not trying to convince him. Who were you trying to convince? Yourself? You claimed definitively that no business can ever exploit anybody without a government.

Quadribloc is concerned that under certain circumstances bad things can happen in some AnCap societies. You insist that those things can never ever happen and the burden of proof is on him to show they can happen.

I say if he wants to claim that they definitely will happen then it's his job to prove they will. And if you want to claim that they definitely can't happen, as you have claimed in responding to him, then it's your job to prove they cannot happen.


J Thomas on January 17, 2011, 11:42:23 pm
I never used the word "false." I am convinced you just want my attention. Sorry you lose.

In the course of poking at Quadribloc's unsupported claims, you made contradictory claims. You claimed that some of his assumptions could not be true.

Quote
The only way that a business that size is possible, is when it is preferentially upheld and protected by government action.

You made the firm claim that single large corporations can never arise or continue to exist in an AnCap society.

You argued as if you believed that single large corporations are required for Quadribloc's hypothetical situation, though I expect he could do without them.

But I'll drop it. It's only a question of logic, and lots of people don't really have the concept.

SandySandfort on January 18, 2011, 07:07:22 am
But I'll drop it. It's only a question of logic, and lots of people don't really have the concept.

Agreed.  ::)

terry_freeman on January 18, 2011, 09:29:43 am
What does "labor surplus" mean? More people than jobs.

Considering the unlimited wants of people, why should there ever be more people than jobs?

In all of my experience, labor surpluses have been artificially engineered. For instance:

Minimum wage laws: you and another party may wish to trade labor for other goods, but you can't, because it would violate minimum wage laws. This is based upon the theory that it is better to have no job at all than to have a low-paying job. Considering that most people climb a ladder from low pay to slightly higher pay to higher still, as they gain experience, minimum wage laws effectively saw off the bottom rungs of the ladder.

Licensing laws: you would like to do X for paying customers, but first you must take hundreds of hours of instruction, pay fees, get certified, etc. This artificially limits your options.

Income taxation. You and someone else agree that your labor is worth X dollars to the employer. After taking taxes, you get only X-Y in take-home pay. This reduces the number of jobs on which you can make your preferred income.

Social InSecurity: one of those taxes is a ponzi scheme called "social security". If you were able to keep the taxes for that purpose, you'd be able to invest in a better financial safety net for your purposes - an option which is taken away from you.

I could go on at length, but the short answer is: the worst problems faced by labor are not employers, but the government itself.





ContraryGuy on January 18, 2011, 12:14:07 pm
What does "labor surplus" mean? More people than jobs.

Considering the unlimited wants of people, why should there ever be more people than jobs?

A job is anything that someone is willing to pay a person to do.  Therefore, there will always be more people than jobs.  The money supply is not infinite; if it were, money would be worth nothing.  There can never be more willing employers than employees.

Quote
In all of my experience, labor surpluses have been artificially engineered. For instance:

Minimum wage laws: you and another party may wish to trade labor for other goods, but you can't, because it would violate minimum wage laws. This is based upon the theory that it is better to have no job at all than to have a low-paying job. Considering that most people climb a ladder from low pay to slightly higher pay to higher still, as they gain experience, minimum wage laws effectively saw off the bottom rungs of the ladder.
Min. wage laws have been created to prevent employers who wish for maximum work and minimum payout.  Since you do not remember the world before minimum wage laws, you believe that they stifle employment.
The old saw in Econ. 101 about min. wage laws increasing unemployment has been repeatedly disproven over the last 20 years (to borrow a line from Sandy, look it up yourself).

Quote
Licensing laws: you would like to do X for paying customers, but first you must take hundreds of hours of instruction, pay fees, get certified, etc. This artificially limits your options.

A license merely proves to some standard that you know what you are doing.  Some occupations have lowers standards than others because in most cases the standards for licensing is set by organizations of existing businesses(lawyers, carpenters, contractors. etc.).

Quote
Income taxation. You and someone else agree that your labor is worth X dollars to the employer. After taking taxes, you get only X-Y in take-home pay. This reduces the number of jobs on which you can make your preferred income.
So suggest something else to be taxed.  Unless you are one of those people who thinks that everyday things you take for granted just magically appear and will continue to magically appear without taxation.

Quote
Social InSecurity: one of those taxes is a ponzi scheme called "social security". If you were able to keep the taxes for that purpose, you'd be able to invest in a better financial safety net for your purposes - an option which is taken away from you.

I see that you dont keep up on financial news.  Over the last 40 years, more money has been lost by investing in a "sure thing" than has been made.
Can we say Michael Millken, junk bonds, Enron, Worldcom, Tycho, Bernie Madoff, CDOs, securitization, financial meltdown?
Sure we can.   These events have hurt those same people you suggest are more knowledgeable in investing for their old age needs.  Saving for retirement/old age is tougher than people think.
And, when a panic or a schemer comes along every 10 years or so, investing in the market doesnt always provide the best returns.

Quote
I could go on at length, but the short answer is: the worst problems faced by labor are not employers, but the government itself.

And in the misty past of golden nostalgia, before the buttinsky government made everyone behave, there was forced child labor, company towns, sweatshops, disposable labor.
I also could go on.  There is a need for oversight and some regulation.  History shows us that business will not regulate itself.

J Thomas on January 18, 2011, 12:53:50 pm

Quote
I could go on at length, but the short answer is: the worst problems faced by labor are not employers, but the government itself.

While many of the details you have suggested are at best way oversimplified, still there's something to your conclusion. Even when the problem is basicly employers, it gets worse when government enforces the employers' side. There's a folk tradition that Republicans used to be solidly in favor of employers against employees, while Democrats sometimes backed employees somewhat, but I suspect it was never that way. Employers paid good money to get the laws and enforcement they wanted, to any politicians who could deliver. And it was the rare business that could contribute a few million dollars in campaign contributions and bribes to get billions in subsidies.

Quote
And in the misty past of golden nostalgia, before the buttinsky government made everyone behave, there was forced child labor, company towns, sweatshops, disposable labor.
I also could go on.  There is a need for oversight and some regulation.  History shows us that business will not regulate itself.

History shows that business does regulate itself, when it needs to. Business regulates itself about employees when there is a labor shortage.

So for example, in the old days of press gangs, there was enough of a labor shortage that lots of people had good jobs, and hardly anybody wanted to be sailors subject to bad food, floggings, etc. So it was necessary for british ship owners to hire groups of thugs to kidnap sailors who then might be kept for a couple of years at a time. The claim was that they would be paid at the end of their term, but sometimes they were instead held on the ship and involuntarily signed up for another term. with the whole sum due at the end. Cheaper than paying them. Sailors who did not cooperate well enough could be killed, and other sailors did not have much sympathy for incompetent or shirking men -- the work you didn't do they had to do. The laws and the public mostly put up with it, because they needed ships and they couldn't afford to pay what the job was worth, and mostly the people getting kidnapped weren't anybody that important people cared about.

The jobs that people could walk away from got better pay and better conditions, because they couldn't keep people in those jobs otherwise. Business regulated itself when it had to, and not when it didn't have to.

Then and now, government's record at improving things is -- spotty.

J Thomas on January 18, 2011, 01:47:35 pm
What does "labor surplus" mean? More people than jobs.

Considering the unlimited wants of people, why should there ever be more people than jobs?

We can't use examples from published history, because they all come from times when there were governments, and there will always be some way to claim that any job shortage came because of government coercion.

So I will create a story from fantasy, and you can say that it is unrealistic, and thus we can both feel that we win.

Imagine that you have a place in the Belt. It belongs entirely to you and everything there belongs entirely to you, and for this story we will suppose that nobody requires you to prove you can defend it against all comers. You own the rocks, you own the oxygen, you own the machines, everything. And there are 200 people who are "visiting" you, that you could hire if you want to. They could move on if you don't have jobs for them, but they are all eager to find work.

You hire one expert engineer to run the factory that builds automated machinery for you.
He builds machinery that produces food for 220 people, and you hire one person to run that machinery.
He builds machinery that cleans corridors and everything else that needs cleaning, and you hire one person to run that machinery.
He builds machinery that provides expert medical care for 220 people, and you hire one person to run that machinery.

Continuing this way, you might find yourself hiring as many as 19 men to provide the necessities for well over 200.

The 20 of you might then hire as many as 40 exotic dancers/masseuses. On average, one man doesn't need more than two masseuses, and more just cause trouble. Lots of men get by with one.

You might want to improve the cultural tone of the place, so you could hire as many as 10 actors, 2 painters, 2 sculptors, and 2 webcomic designers.

At this point we have 76 employees. Could we get more? Sure. Like, if everybody prefers to get haircuts done by hand rather than by a machine, and if they're willing to spend one percent of their income on it, then you could support a barber. And if you personally prefer handwoven clothing, you could hire a weaver. Weaving is so labor-intensive that nobody else could afford hand-woven on what you pay them, but you could. You could hire a cobbler to make handmade shoes for you, if you want. You could hire a doctor to listen to your chest with a stethoscope and grunt. You could hire an astrologer to do your horoscope. If everybody wants a horoscope and the employees all pay 1% of their income for it, they could keep an astrologer without you.

Nobody can compete with you, because you own everything. How much should you charge for stuff? Charge more for things that are in short supply, and less for things you produce a surplus of. Pay people enough that your employees can afford say twice what it takes them to live in a suitable style. Then they might hire enough barbers and masseuses and astrologers etc to double the number of people employed. And you can hire as many people as you want. That's the job supply. Do you hire 100 people to do a job that one man with an automated factory can do better? Probably not.

So if you hire 19 people, that gives us maybe 38 people with jobs, plus the extra jobs you choose to create. Maybe it's 70 people total, if you want footmen and a harem of upstairs maids and such. The other 130 people drift off.

Then 400 more people come through looking for jobs. If you wanted to, could you equip them for an expedition to Saturn's moons? Maybe they'd find great ore to mine and bring back a sphere of pure gold a kilometer in diameter! Can't you just hire as many people as you want? Well, it depends. If you have enough of everything else, you can. If you have enough stuff to make food from, and enough oxygen, and enough rocket fuel, and enough raw materials of all kinds, then you can expand the work to fit however many people you choose to hire to do whatever you want done.

But if you don't have enough rocket fuel and you can't get it, then you can't send 400 people to Saturn. If you don't have enough oxygen then you can't provide air to unlimited people. Etc. If there is any limiting resource other than the number of people, you can't hire surplus people to do anything which uses that limiting resource. And if it's a limit on the number of people you can support, then any surplus people need to leave as quickly as possible.

If you can only get breathing air for 200 people, then you can't put 400 people to work. You just can't. Even as actors. Even as mimes. Whenever you run into a limiting resource other than workers, then you have an absolute limit on productivity and a limit on jobs.

Are there any absolute limits? Can't we go into space and find unlimited amounts of everything? Can't we do scientific research and find substitutes for anything we don't have enough of? Yes. Sometimes. After awhile. But until we do find a way to get past the current limiting factor, it's limiting. And when we get past that one, we can expand until we get to the next one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebig%27s_law_of_the_minimum

macsnafu on January 18, 2011, 02:47:36 pm
Until you can show me a business large enough to "exploit" (another weasels word) anyone, that has ever existed without government protection, the assumptions underlying your question fail. Thus the question has no relevance to the real world.
You're the one who is proposing a new order of things.

Businesses that have had government protection have exploited people, and businesses have hired their own security guards.

Exploit doesn't mean oppress or enslave. It merely means to noncoercively take advantage of a buyer's market in labor.

If that isn't acceptable behavior under the ZAP, this comes as a surprise to me.

Basically, when a voluntary exchange benefits both parties - but one greatly, and one to a small extent, it can happen that the latter party will grumble ungratefully. The moral justice of that is irrelevant to noting that such situations can have consequences inimical to the continued existence of a free society. Discontent attracts demagogues to exploit it the way blood attracts sharks.

This whole "market power" thing greatly confuses me.  Why would the latter grumble ungratefully?  If he had a better choice or a better trading partner, he would choose that trade instead of this trade. 
Naturally, I'm sure you're aware of the caveat in your statements--in today's society, big businesses may well have benefited not simply from selling better and/or cheaper products and services, but also from governmental measures that limit their competition.  In an Ancap society, such limits on competition wouldn't exist, or could only exist if businesses engage in criminally coercive activity.

Thus, the question: what is market power?  Does it really exist, or is it merely an illusion brought on by the current status quo, and not really a feature of a free market?  True, big businesses may benefit from economies of scale, that's a real market phenomenon, but then they may also suffer from increased middle-management bureaucracy, which would reduce their competitive effectiveness in the market. Other factors?


I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

mellyrn on January 18, 2011, 06:25:13 pm
Quote
The old saw in Econ. 101 about min. wage laws increasing unemployment has been repeatedly disproven over the last 20 years (to borrow a line from Sandy, look it up yourself).

Don't mind if I do.  I've read a lot in the last few hours; the following pretty much sums it up:

Quote
[wikipedia]From the time of their introduction, minimum wage laws have been highly controversial politically, and have received much less support from economists than from the general public.
and
Quote
[also wikipedia]Despite decades of experience and economic research, debates about the costs and benefits of minimum wages continue today.

(emphasis added in both)

The best you can say is, it's still debated.  And economists evidently are less impressed with it than Joe Public is.  So, your "repeatedly disproven" is, as far as I can tell, your personal fantasy.  Can you cite even one study to support your "disproven" claim -- let alone "repeatedly disproven"?

Quote
And in the misty past of golden nostalgia, before the buttinsky government

You have the gall to suggest we are not old enough to remember a time before minimum-wage laws -- yet you write of a time "before government"?  The time "before government" was hunter-gatherer days, hon.

As for "forced child labor":
Quote
    In 1909 a factory inspector did an informal survey of 500 working children in 20 factories. She found that 412 of them would rather work in the terrible conditions of the factories than return to school.
    — Helen Todd, "Why Children Work," McClure’s Magazine (April 1913)

    In one experiment in Milwaukee, for example, 8,000 youth...were asked if they would return full-time to school if they were paid about the same wages as they earned at work; only 16 said they would.
    — David Tyack, Managers of Virtue (1982)

Only 16 out of 8000.  Something to consider.


J Thomas on January 18, 2011, 07:06:33 pm

Basically, when a voluntary exchange benefits both parties - but one greatly, and one to a small extent, it can happen that the latter party will grumble ungratefully. The moral justice of that is irrelevant to noting that such situations can have consequences inimical to the continued existence of a free society. Discontent attracts demagogues to exploit it the way blood attracts sharks.

This whole "market power" thing greatly confuses me.  Why would the latter grumble ungratefully?  If he had a better choice or a better trading partner, he would choose that trade instead of this trade. 

I think that in a society of equals this would likely not be a problem. Like, somebody gets a corner on the oxygen market? Like, he owns every oxygen mine, and every smelter that can harvest oxygen? Everybody tells him that's no good and they pay a reasonable amount to get some competition. In a society of equals it just isn't OK for one equal to get a stranglehold on an essential resource. It just isn't right.

Everybody will have an incentive to make sure they have alternate sources for everything they need to buy. Enough alternates to provide a real competitive market, not just two or three. And if you occasionally find yourself paying extra to competitor #8 to keep him in business, that's the price you pay to make sure there are 8 competitors and not just 7. Free markets are not necessarily free, they might require some maintenance expense.

But what if people are not equal? What if there are some poor people? Being poor means you can't afford to pay extra to make sure there's a competitive market. You make the deal you can get. Today in the USA there are some poor people who lack transportation, who have mainly one or two choices for where they buy their food. By coincidence, the corner store and the grocery store they can walk to happen to have rather high prices and rather limited selections. It isn't just that a few businesses make a lot of money off them. Poor people do a lot more shoplifting, and it takes extra staff to watch them. There's a chance there will be riots and the grocery store will get burned down. The biggest grocery chains aren't interested, so they get smaller chains that don't have as much bargaining clout with suppliers. Etc. It isn't just that poor people get oppressed. Also the hottest most competitive markets don't involve selling to people who don't have much money. It isn't obvious how profitable the businesses that sell to them are. But it's obvious that there isn't much competition. People who have cheap transportation have a lot of choices where to buy. People who don't, don't. Their merchants don't have a lot of competition and do have high prices. Maybe coincidence.

Of course, this happens because of government. These people get government checks, and that allows them to live places where there are no jobs. If the government didn't give them handouts, they would have to somehow collect enough money to move to someplace they could get work, and when they inevitably got real jobs they would inevitably have enough money to pay for transportation and enough money that businesses would inevitably compete for their patronage. All that is inevitable, right?

Well, but what if the only place they can find work is in company towns with company stores? Is that possible without government? If it turns out true that some people are desperate enough for work to live in company towns, then they will be desperate enough to take low pay. And then there will not be a lot of reason for competitors to come in and compete for their paychecks. It could happen, if they are desperate enough in the first place.

If there is only one business that will hire you, and you desperately need a job, you are better off taking that job than going without. But the deal you get might be pretty one-sided. If they know you have no other job prospect, they only have to offer you a deal that's better than running out of breathing air.

If you mine your sixteen tons a day and get paid in air and soybeans and corn, you might feel like you're getting a bad deal. Even though you had no better deal available when you took that one.

You should have done something else. Paid to train at marketable skills. (Except you were poor.) Paid to advertise your skills and get preferential exposure to potential employers. (Except you were poor.) Paid to intern at businesses so they could see that you would be worth hirig. (Except you were poor.) Paid to move somewhere there were lots of jobs. Etc. The obvious conclusion is don't let yourself become poor.

What if society develops three classes? There's the poor, and the "lower middle class" who can't afford much, and then everybody else. Everybody else will make sure that for anything they want to buy there are many competitors selling. Can the lower middle class make sure of that? If they can't, if they get stuck in jobs where it's hard to switch to better jobs with other employers, and they get stuck buying from a few sources, won't they get poor too?

What if society develops three other classes? There's the poor, and the middle-middle class, and everybody else. Same argument again. If the middle class can't or won't make sure there's lots of competition among their employers for employees and among their suppliers for what they buy, won't they get poor too?

It's bad for society to have a lot of poor people. A society which recognizes that might find ways to avoid it. The society could carefully offer poor people multiple chances to climb out of poverty with hard work and intelligence. And a Belt society might possibly get rid of persistent poor people by paying for their transportation to Terra. Or some other method.

Societies which allow or encourage lots of poverty tend to have troubles as a result. I'm guessing it will tend not to happen when there's a labor shortage. If you have work that needs to be done and there's nobody to do it except somebody who doesn't look like he'd be a great worker, you can still give him a try. Train him. Apply operant conditioning. Anything that might get him to work, including good wages, because you need him. There will be work that's worth doing which you can't find anybody to do, because everybody who can be trained to do it is already doing something more valuable.

That happens when labor is the limiting resource.

quadibloc on January 18, 2011, 10:57:33 pm
All I am saying is that his claims are not supported by any evidence or logic. Whether they are true or false isn't really at issue.
I don't expect you to believe me when I say "X could be a problem for AnCap", and change your mind about it being a good idea, unless I prove that X is a problem for AnCap.

But, by the same token, if you want people who think that X is likely to be a problem for AnCap to change their minds, and accept that AnCap might make them more free, then you would have to prove that X isn't a problem for AnCap.

Working-class people have, from bitter cross-generational experience, learned to think about employers not so much as helpful sources of opportunity, but instead as people with sharply conflicting interests that urgently need to be kept in check. In the past, governments took the side of the employers and the retailers and the landlords, but now, finally, the balance has turned, and it restrains those people for the benefit of the ordinary people... so they think.

And you want to take all that away.

You can say that anarchy would result in smaller businesses, and thus a more equal playing field, but it's not at all obvious that this would really make up for what would be lost - you're trying to persuade people to give up two birds in their hands for one in the bush, from their point of view.

So, quite often, I'm not trying to prove that AnCap is wrong - indeed, I hope it isn't, because it offers a hope of greater freedom - but to point out that you haven't proved it right. Which is what you would need for it to get anywhere under present circumstances.

Of course, if civilization collapses under its own weight, AnCap can help organize its rise from the ashes. If the current strategy is not political action, but biding one's time and waiting for circumstance, because it's already realized that AnCap is unpersuasive to the masses, that's another matter.