ContraryGuy on May 11, 2011, 06:04:14 pm
I know you dont understand that socialists want everything to be fair and equitable

Yet observe, when socialists visited Cuba, and Russia, and saw brutal and terrible inequality, they loved it.

Stalin showed socialists the white sea canal project.  Doubtless he prettied it up before giving them the tour, but still what he was showing them was fear, terror, and slavery, and they loved it.

Whenever socialists were given the tour of recently existent terror states, what they were shown was not fake equality, but brutal and terrible inequality, with people like themselves on top.

When George Bernard Shaw said, during the Ukraine terror famine:
“famine, what famine? Did you ever see such an abundance of good food”,
he was in a restaurant reserved exclusively for foreign friends of the regime, not a restaurant that was faked up with supposedly ordinary Ukrainians in it.  He was surrounded by real and visible inequality, not fake equality.

Similarly, when John Kenneth Galbraith went looking for evidence for the hungry ghosts terror famine in Mao's China, he decided there was no need to look further than the kitchen of his luxury hotel.  He confidently told us that “If there was any famine in China it was not evident in the kitchen”.  Perhaps it did not occur to him that famines are seldom visible in the luxury hotels of terror states.

Those are poor, but famous, examples used to prove your point.  Of course famous pro-Socialists wouldnt venture beyond their hotels; they were interested in Socialism the ideology.  I'm talking about socialism the economic theory.

I'm quite aware that straight socialism has failed abysmally in the past.  About as badly as Sams reading comprehension.

I said, was it not possible that economic socialists might have some ideas that would improve capitalism?

To which you did not answer.

J Thomas on May 11, 2011, 07:08:05 pm
@ GlennWatson:
Quote
I am not familiar with anyone who believes elected official become omniscient.  Can you point me to a person who holds this belief?

Sure.  I will break it down for you, step by step, as if you honestly wished to know.

Are you familiar with anyone who has argued that humans need to be "kept on a leash" (figuratively, of course)?  I don't remember if that was you or CG.

Are you familiar with anyone who has argued that humans need to be governed (note the passive voice)?

If that's true, then the question is necessarily:  who or what is supposed to do the leash-holding, the governing?  The only candidates available are . . . humans, who (as per the claim) need to be on the leash or otherwise controlled.  (Stay on the bus, it's goin' somewhere.)

You claim,
Quote
AnCap libertarians are [...] like liberal communists [who] don't take into account human nature.  (slightly edited for brevity)

The "human nature" you cite, as reason why AnCap is airy-fairy idealism, is thus (from terry):
Quote
problems of limited knowledge and perverse incentives and self-interest-seeking

This human nature necessarily applies to anyone who can fill an office (the dead need not apply).

To believe that humans-in-office are satisfactory leash-holders is to believe that humans-in-office do not need to be on leashes themselves.

Why is that?

If being elected to office changes our human nature from "needing to be controlled" to "fit to be a controller", how about we all elect each other? :)

If you don't believe that merely being elected changes our nature, and
if you believe that humans need to be governed, and
if you believe that humans in office are no less bloody-minded rapacious idiots than the rest of us (i.e., not specially morally gifted), but yet are fit to govern the rest of us,
then you are engaging in what is known as "compartmentalized thinking".

So, a statist is either not really thinking the thing through fully, OR he is believing in the moral superiority of Officeholding humans.

terry could have gone either way with that one.  It remains that he's right, the statists are the idealists, divorced from reality either by compartmentalized thinking or by the belief in the apotheosis of election to office.


It could be that sometimes people have particularly bad judgement, and other times they don't. We might do better if we somehow arrange that the people who have better judgement at the moment make choices for those who are doing particularly badly.

Of course, we would have to know which is which, and we could make mistakes, and there could be opportunities there for abuse.

So for example, our traffic engineers have some fairly well-tested ideas about how safe it usually is to drive on particular sorts of roads. Some individual people disagree. They say they personally are better drivers than the norm so it's safe for them to go faster. And some people have better cars than others, cars which are less unsafe at high speeds. And yet when the worse drivers in the worse cars are going at their maximum in large numbers, it may not be safe to go a lot faster. Weave in and out of the traffic flow enough, and one of them may involve you in his accident.

I expect we can all agree that many of the fastest drivers are not qualified to drive the way they do. So in the USA we have evolved a peculiar institution to reduce this danger. We have authoritarian police who can take money from people who drive too fast, and oligopolistic insurance companies that charge people a whole lot of money if they have ever been caught driving too fast. It has turned into a cash cow for at least two kinds of giant organization. Meanwhile the individual police have opportunities to abuse their privileges.

Just for the sake of the fanciful example, I will talk like keeping people from driving too fast is worth doing. I can imagine that there are better ways to reduce accidents but let's pretend for now that this is the way to go, and that the public agrees that it's a worthy goal. And police are a bad method to pursue that goal.

Then how about this -- we could set up radars to detect people speeding, and have completely automatic weapons to destroy the vehicles which do that. Break the posted speed limits by too much, and a great big RPG round turns your car into a big fireball for other cars to maneuver around. Problem solved. The machines are not corruptible. You can't bribe them, you can't impress them. They treat all offenders the same, rich or poor, it doesn't matter whether you're a Senator's brother or a policeman's aunt. People who aren't sure they are alert enough to drive, will be careful not to drive.

Real problems will usually be far more complicated. Preventing people from speeding with radar-directed robot weapons is easy technology, but I had to make up a simple problem to use it. Still -- when we are agreed what the problem is, and when we can apply automatic solutions that don't depend on human beings to be consistent, we might actually be able to solve those problems.

And it doesn't have to be a "superior" group deciding for an "inferior" group. Somebody who believes that speeding is bad, can think otherwise when he's late. "I'll just go 20% faster this one time and get back on schedule." If he decided when he was thinking normally that it was OK to kill him if he speeds, then when he's late and his judgement is gone he doesn't have to decide whether it's a good idea. He knows he'll die if he tries it. But when he voted for the referendum he wasn't thinking about himself being a special case just this once. He was thinking about all the stupid speeders.

I'm not ready to suggest something like this would work well in a lot of cases. But now we have the ability to set up complex automatic mechanisms, and 50 years ago we mostly did not. The world has changed. It might provide opportunities we just did not have before.

mellyrn on May 11, 2011, 07:17:34 pm
Quote
I'm not ready to suggest something like this would work well in a lot of cases. But now we have the ability to set up complex automatic mechanisms, and 50 years ago we mostly did not. The world has changed. It might provide opportunities we just did not have before.

One word:  hackers.

Also, yes, we can set up complex machines (gov't itself is a kind of machine, or maybe "program" would be a better term).  And they can't make exceptions.  At least the cop, when he pulls you over and finds that your wife is in labor in the back seat, will turn on his lilghts & siren and accompany you on your urgent drive.  Or, if your son is bleeding out and your phone is dead, or something.

The world is complex enough that no mechanism can be programmed ahead of time to meet all cases well.

J Thomas on May 11, 2011, 08:54:28 pm
Quote
I'm not ready to suggest something like this would work well in a lot of cases. But now we have the ability to set up complex automatic mechanisms, and 50 years ago we mostly did not. The world has changed. It might provide opportunities we just did not have before.

One word:  hackers.

Also, yes, we can set up complex machines (gov't itself is a kind of machine, or maybe "program" would be a better term).  And they can't make exceptions.  At least the cop, when he pulls you over and finds that your wife is in labor in the back seat, will turn on his lilghts & siren and accompany you on your urgent drive.  Or, if your son is bleeding out and your phone is dead, or something.

The world is complex enough that no mechanism can be programmed ahead of time to meet all cases well.

We can never hope to meet all cases well. The best we can hope is to shift the averages. One approach is to actually convince a whole lot of individual people to do the right thing, convinced to the point they actually do it. That's hard, but it pays off provided what you convince them of is in fact the right thing.

One of my uncles died last week. He had been an engineer. His son gave a eulogy that included the following story -- a good long time before seatbelts got popular, the father personally installed seat belts in their car. Then he took the whole family to a great big empty parking lot on a Sunday, and he practiced making sudden stops. "We were convinced."

My county has a machine that lets people sit in a chair with a seatbelt and then accelerate to 25 mph or so and then get a sudden stop. They set it up at the county fair. Everybody who tries it is convinced to wear seatbelts.

I once had an adventurous girlfriend who did a variety of risky-seeming things, who always wore her seatbelt. I asked her about it. "Everybody who gets a big purple seatbelt bruise believes in seatbelts from then on."

Seatbelt use is going up, and I don't think it's about seatbelt laws or insurance that doesn't pay for people who didn't wear seatbelts. If we had cars that would not start unless seatbelts were fastened, people would get around it. The use is going up because people actually think it helps on average.

« Last Edit: May 11, 2011, 09:02:29 pm by J Thomas »

wdg3rd on May 11, 2011, 09:04:20 pm

Seatbelt use is going up, and I don't think it's about seatbelt laws or insurance that doesn't pay for people who didn't wear seatbelts. If we had cars that would not start unless seatbelts were fastened, people would get around it. The use is going up because people actually think it helps on average.


For a short while in the early 1970s, some cars were manufactured which would not start unless the seatbelts were fastened.  A few people were killed because they could not start their cars and escape attackers fast enough.  The manufacture of such cars was quietly discontinued.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

spudit on May 11, 2011, 11:02:34 pm
I wear one for the same reason I bought an extra extinguisher last week and will get more when I can, cause I ain't dumb.

But again curse the busybodies who take credit for my sensible actions. Did you know without government oversight and controls I'd be huffing spraypaint out of a bread bag and crapping out brain cells right this very second. Thank the gods they're there to save me from myself. Oh yeah, and from my own inertia too.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2011, 11:12:56 pm by spudit »
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sam on May 12, 2011, 01:51:48 am
I know you dont understand that socialists want everything to be fair and equitable

Yet observe, when socialists visited Cuba, and Russia, and saw brutal and terrible inequality, they loved it.

Whenever socialists were given the tour of recently existent terror states, what they were shown was not fake equality, but brutal and terrible inequality, with people like themselves on top.

they were interested in Socialism the ideology.  I'm talking about socialism the economic theory.

I said, was it not possible that economic socialists might have some ideas that would improve capitalism?

To which you did not answer.

Your claim, quoted above, was that socialism and socialists were morally superior.

As to the question that you asked, and I ignored, I will now answer it:  Economic socialists have nothing to teach capitalism other than poverty, slavery, and disaster.

Perhaps your argument is that if everyone pursues his own particular good, the result will not necessarily be as desirable as if all pursue the general good.  But people are unlikely to agree as to what is the general good, so this requires a ruler to decide for all what is the general good, and a bureaucracy to impose the general good on all.

The knowledge necessary to make the economy go is dispersed and inexplicit.  To make all work for the general good, all that knowledge has to be made explicit and concentrated at the center.  The planners have to know everything, and the planned know nothing.

Of course they cannot.  We get instead labyrinthine bureaucracy strangled in its own red tape.

dough560 on May 12, 2011, 03:14:54 am
Not quite, We strangle in red tape.  The bureaucrats make sure it pulls tight around our necks.  No breath, freedom, free will, innovation, or anything else which may cause the bureaucrats the least unrest.

J Thomas on May 12, 2011, 06:19:07 am

Seatbelt use is going up, and I don't think it's about seatbelt laws or insurance that doesn't pay for people who didn't wear seatbelts. If we had cars that would not start unless seatbelts were fastened, people would get around it. The use is going up because people actually think it helps on average.


For a short while in the early 1970s, some cars were manufactured which would not start unless the seatbelts were fastened.  A few people were killed because they could not start their cars and escape attackers fast enough.  The manufacture of such cars was quietly discontinued.

Great example! So if cars wouldn't start unless people wore seatbelts then we might likely be better off on average than if people wore seatbelts. It's many more people who get injured in accidents than need 3 seconds less to get away from attackers.

But we do better still when it's only stupid people who choose not to wear them. Most of us don't need a mechanical gimmick to make us do the obvious right thing.

And it helps that it's something you can do once, before you start your engine, and there's very little immediate disadvantage to it. In my example, when you already know you're close to being late, you get to make the choice over and over and over again, every time you decide not to go a lot faster and maybe make up lost time, that's only for that moment and you get to choose again the next moment when you're a little bit later.

Make a good choice once, versus make it many many times while you're under stress.

There are times that people know ahead of time that their judgement will be impaired. It might be a good thing to arrange ahead of time that you don't get faced with important choices then.

So, a free market economist whose name I don't remember suggested applying economic solutions to various other problems. And he said that air bags are a bad idea. He said we would be better off to have big spikes in front of drivers, so that if they have high-speed head-on collisions they will be impaled. He claimed this would save far more lives than driver-side air bags. Because faced with a great big obvious disincentive, drivers would be far less likely to take the risks they take now, which occasionally result in high-speed collisions.

mellyrn on May 12, 2011, 07:12:13 am
Quote
Seatbelt use is going up, and I don't think it's about seatbelt laws or insurance that doesn't pay for people who didn't wear seatbelts. If we had cars that would not start unless seatbelts were fastened, people would get around it. The use is going up because people actually think it helps on average. (emphasis added)

Funny, that.  Sounds almost like anarchy.

On a different note, while I don't mind thread topic-creep, I find thread topic-bifurcation a little jarring.  This one has "principles of anarchy/gov't" for one, and "historical trends in socialism" for another; Pedo Bear Strike has Darwin/Lamarck, how to organize companies, and public executions.  Huh. 

J Thomas on May 12, 2011, 07:23:21 am
Quote
Seatbelt use is going up, and I don't think it's about seatbelt laws or insurance that doesn't pay for people who didn't wear seatbelts. If we had cars that would not start unless seatbelts were fastened, people would get around it. The use is going up because people actually think it helps on average. (emphasis added)

Funny, that.  Sounds almost like anarchy.

Sure. When people are rational, depending on them to do the rational thing on their own is the best choice.

But if you know a particular time when you are going to be less rational, it makes sense to arrange ahead of time that you don't make important decisions then. If possible, make those choices now, while you are in your right mind.

If I drank, and I was the sort of drunk who goes out and does exciting things, I would try to limit that ahead of time. Lock up the power tools and get a neighbor to keep the car keys.

I don't want an authoritarian government where some corruptible individual decides for me. But it also does not make sense to imagine that everybody will be rational all the time. Should we let everybody do whatever he wants first and hold him responsible afterward? Or is it better to do some minimal amount of prevention? I think both extremes are bad, but we find ourselves walking between two slippery slopes.

J Thomas on May 12, 2011, 07:46:54 am
Quote
I'm not ready to suggest something like this would work well in a lot of cases. But now we have the ability to set up complex automatic mechanisms, and 50 years ago we mostly did not. The world has changed. It might provide opportunities we just did not have before.

One word:  hackers.

Also, yes, we can set up complex machines (gov't itself is a kind of machine, or maybe "program" would be a better term).  And they can't make exceptions.  At least the cop, when he pulls you over and finds that your wife is in labor in the back seat, will turn on his lilghts & siren and accompany you on your urgent drive.  Or, if your son is bleeding out and your phone is dead, or something.

The world is complex enough that no mechanism can be programmed ahead of time to meet all cases well.

See the double bind? If we don't let people make exceptions, then we are suck with bad choices sometimes.

And if we do let corruptible people make exceptions, they will make bad exceptions.

And if we just let everybody do whatever they want, then it's all exceptions. All the corrupt bad exceptions will still happen, they just won't be exceptions any more. They'll be the norm.

So given three obviously bad choices, I want to try a degree of control by machine for awhile.

"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."  Mae West

spudit on May 12, 2011, 09:06:28 am
It's not hard to start a new thread, really, it's easy.

So when these intense and to me often opaque discussions of biological theory or the 99 flavors of incorporation self generate, maybe they could carve out their own chunk of Big Head server space and live happily ever after.
Vote Early and Vote Often
for EFT
have you voted today?

mellyrn on May 12, 2011, 10:24:41 am
Quote
So given three obviously bad choices, I want to try a degree of control by machine for awhile.

Where people are actually harmed for a choice that's only potentially (if I speed to work, I might have an accident; I'm not guaranteed one) bad?  You first.

Even so, what you're asking is for a machine to remove uncertainty -- you want to determine, ahead of time, that outcomes will all be good ones.  But it won't.  It can't.  Say it works:  elevators, for example, get you from one floor to another without the risk of falling on the stairs (some people <gasp!> don't always use the handrail, despite all the signs in the stairwells of my building saying "USE THE HANDRAIL").  You can safely go to sleep on the elevator, totally let down your guard, secure in the knowledge that you will arrive at your desired floor unharmed.

Until it fails, 'cos nothing's pefect.  So, what?

"What" is this:  you have the, say, inconvenience of being stuck between floors for X amount of time.  Well, I would have the inconvenience; you in the elevator with me would have the inconvenience plus the shock of being betrayed by something you expected to work.

We see this in the news, when people who live in Tornado Alley are interviewed over the wreckage of their neighborhood and sobbing, "How could such a terrible thing happen?"  I'm compassionate enough to be sorry they lost their home, and still want to kick them in the butt.  Hey, that's life in Tornado Alley.  It's life even in my far-from-the-Alley neighborhood.

Your system will lull you into the proverbial false sense of security.

Quote
And if we just let everybody do whatever they want, then it's all exceptions. All the corrupt bad exceptions will still happen, they just won't be exceptions any more. They'll be the norm.

True, that.  And they'll still happen with a mechanized control system, by the ones who can and will find the loopholes, the gaps in the code, whatever.  I sympathize with wanting security, but it's a fool's errand, like hunting snipe or being sent for left-handed trilobite wrenches.

But by all means, try your machine.  The machine's own existence will create exceptions, edge conditions, that can't even be imagined ahead of time.

ContraryGuy on May 12, 2011, 12:38:46 pm
I know you dont understand that socialists want everything to be fair and equitable

Yet observe, when socialists visited Cuba, and Russia, and saw brutal and terrible inequality, they loved it.

Whenever socialists were given the tour of recently existent terror states, what they were shown was not fake equality, but brutal and terrible inequality, with people like themselves on top.

they were interested in Socialism the ideology.  I'm talking about socialism the economic theory.

I said, was it not possible that economic socialists might have some ideas that would improve capitalism?

To which you did not answer.

Your claim, quoted above, was that socialism and socialists were morally superior.

As to the question that you asked, and I ignored, I will now answer it:  Economic socialists have nothing to teach capitalism other than poverty, slavery, and disaster.

Perhaps your argument is that if everyone pursues his own particular good, the result will not necessarily be as desirable as if all pursue the general good.  But people are unlikely to agree as to what is the general good, so this requires a ruler to decide for all what is the general good, and a bureaucracy to impose the general good on all.

The knowledge necessary to make the economy go is dispersed and inexplicit.  To make all work for the general good, all that knowledge has to be made explicit and concentrated at the center.  The planners have to know everything, and the planned know nothing.

Of course they cannot.  We get instead labyrinthine bureaucracy strangled in its own red tape.

No, nowhere did I equate "socialism" and "socialist" to be morally or otherwise superior.  What i did was ask a question:  can society be improved by the inclusion of ideas that *might* improve fairness and equitability in wealth distribution?

Funny how you didnt answer the question I asked.

 

anything