What is the Proper Republocrat Response to Concentrated Corporate Power?*

Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith sighs dramatically, puts the heel of her hand to her furrowed brow, and, more in sorrow than in anger, asks:

A question for readers: in many lines of commerce, large firms often enjoy significant cost and/or revenue advantages relative to smaller players. Over time, these industries tend to evolve to a format where many of the most successful enterprises are very large organizations. These firms typically wield considerable power relative to players smaller than they are, such as employees, suppliers, and customers, and often seek to influence governments. Moreover, many fields of enterprise have considerable barriers to entry, which further entrenches the position of powerful incumbents.

How do libertarians propose to respond to the power of large enterprises?

There is a pretty standard libertoid response to this old chestnut, which one commenter in a sea of anti-lib hate hits on: When you can find a monopoly that exists without the support of the government, ask me then. I'd add that the biggest monopolies -- on mail delivery; air, sea and land traffic control; education; use of public (and in many cases private) space; gambling; lotteries; and marriage licenses, to name a few -- are not just in cahoots with the government but are actual government entities.

But I have been pretty creeped out lately to realize how hard it is to live Google-free, so I'll bite. In cases where actual market capture occurs with no use of the state's monopoly on violence, this libertarian's response is: Wait a couple years. I don't think anybody who remembers Janet Reno's battle to free us from slavery to Microsoft can still take the pure-market monopoly argument seriously now that the Explorer browser, the Windows OS and maybe the personal computer itself are all on a one-way trip to Ye Olde Museum of Technologies Past. Sadly for political economists, babies continue to be born, and they continue to grow up and invent things that make one year's corporate villain into next year's market victim (who then pleads for help from the government).

Smith's query is an example of the liberductio ad absurdum. A Democrat complains about a long wait at the DMV and we all say, "Man, that really sucks." A Republican gets hassled by an officious cop and we say, "I feel you, bro." A libertarian calls the fire department because his house is burning down and a dozen popinjays come out of the woodwork to say, "Ha! See? You really don't want to live in your utopian fantasy of total freedom!"

So I'll rephrase the question: What is the Republican or Democrat response to monopoly power, given that Republicans and Democrats have created 100 percent of the monopolies and libertarians (let alone Libertarians) have created zero?

* Just kidding! We already know the answer. The Republocrat response to corporate power -- as was most recently demonstrated in terms a child could understand with the financial, automotive, and health insurance industries -- is to coddle, subsidize, rescue, and bail out the most powerful players at taxpayer expense, and then attempt (with mixed success) to control them.

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  • alan||

    How do libertarians propose to respond to the power of large enterprises?

    Le sigh. That's how we respond because the way you frame your question means you have not paid attention to a Goddamn word we have said.

  • ||

    Le sigh. That's how we respond because the way you frame your question means you have not paid attention to a Goddamn word we have said.

    You really nailed it. The question is answered in the very name we use "libertarian".

    ie liberty.

  • alan||

    Yep, it's pretty infuriating. I had an acquaintance of a liberal persuasion use the argument, 'your freedom ends where my nose begins' as a counter to Libertarianism! These people really bring the stupid in being uninformed.

  • MNG||

    Er, yeah, and they call themselves "liberals".

    ie liberty

  • ||

    If that is true MNG, why do liberals enjoy taking a dump on liberty?

  • ||

    If that is true MNG, why do liberals enjoy taking a dump on liberty?

  • ||

    If that is true MNG, why do liberals enjoy taking a dump liberty?

  • ||

    If that is true MNG, why do liberals enjoy taking a dump on liberty?

  • MNG||

    They don't, they just have a different idea of what liberty is all about.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Arbeit macht frei!!

  • MNG||

    Yeah jeff, the Holocaust is a constant dream of liberals. They're always talking up ethnic cleansing!

    Sheesh.

  • JoshINHB||

    Yeah jeff, the Holocaust is a constant dream of liberals. They're always talking up ethnic ideological cleansing!

    FIFY

  • Nazi||

    but we learned it from you!

    "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." -- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • MNG||

    Holmes was a Republican goofus.

  • Those were...||

    my great-grandfather's last words.

    Sorry, been wanting to use that since I thought it up in school.

  • Those were...||

    That's @Nazi.

  • Ron L||

    MNG|8.28.10 @ 4:44PM|#
    "They don't, they just have a different idea of what liberty is all about."
    Sorta like their idea that "up" = "down", right?

  • MNG||

    Hilarious! I mean, the libertarian concept of liberty is of course the only possible one!

  • ||

    That is bullshit MNG. Liberals don't claim that things like seat belt laws make us more free. They know what is best for the society as a whole, and will sacrifice individual liberty for equality and safety.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    heller, it's worse than that... liberals who believe it's kosher to force people to wear seat belts aren't doing it for the good of society - they're doing it just for the fuck of it. The power, the bullshit fines for not wearing them, the feigned interest in the public good... all bullshit.

    Same goes for righties who want to keep gay marriage off the OK list, and other nonsense they espouse - again, it's just to make themselves feel important by lording Their Ways over the populace. Just like liberals.

  • ||

    MNG, you need some lessons from Neu Mejican on sophistry techniques. You can't just come right out and say you are redefining words to mean things no one thinks they mean, that's too obvious.

  • MNG||

    How am I redefining liberty? "Liberty to" has long been seen as part of the concept, not just "liberty from." It's a live debate fellas, you don't get to win at the beginning of it because you say so...

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Good God, this smells of Obama's "positive liberties" bullshit he tried to peddle on the nation's airwaves not long ago...

  • Sam Grove||

    Liberal doesn't mean what it used to mean.

    Label thieves!

  • ||

    Er, yeah, and they call themselves "liberals".

    When was the last time Obama called himself a liberal? Pelosi? Reid?

    People often blame the conservatives for making "liberal" a dirty word.

    This is incorrect. It is the progressives who co-opted and misused the word that made it dirty.

    You are not a liberal. I am a liberal.

  • ||

    If that is true MNG, why do liberals enjoy taking a dump on liberty?

  • MNG||

    Never heard that objection before, let me think on it...

  • the right does it too||

    If that is true MNG, why do liberals enjoy taking a dump on liberty?

  • cynical||

    No, they call themselves progressives now, to get rid of any pretense of caring about liberty.

  • alan||

    If she really paid attention to what libertarians had to say about government-private sector collusion, not being a member of the tribe, she would be yelling, 'shut up! shut up! Stop talking about it. I'm tired of hearing you talk about it! Do you have any other interests in life?'

    I mean, These firms typically wield considerable power relative to players smaller than they are, such as employees, suppliers, and customers, and often seek to influence governments. Often? How about always. Look up regulatory capture, peaches.

  • ||

    Wait a couple years. I don't think anybody who remembers Janet Reno's battle to free us from slavery to Microsoft can still take the pure-market monopoly argument seriously now that the Explorer browser, the Windows OS and maybe the personal computer itself are all on a one-way trip to Ye Olde Museum of Technologies Past.

    It would be interesting to reread all those left wing boogyman fears back in the day when AOL bought TimeWarner.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    No it wouldn't, but go ahead.

  • the right does it too||

    No it wouldn't, but go ahead.

  • MNG||

    In the paragraph quoted I don't see a specific reference to monopolies but rather to "a format where many of the most successful enterprises are very large organizations." That's not the same thing, is it?

    She then goes on to argue that these large organizations have a fair amount of power via their largeness. That strikes me as correct. I've read about how Wal-Mart can make all kinds of demands of their suppliers that the latter complies with not wanting to lose that big-ass market...

  • Mr. FIFY||

    But, as always, you're okay with a large organization having lots of power as long as it's government.

  • MNG||

    You're an idiot.

    I'm fine with most manifestations of large corporate power actually, and have said so many times on H&R, and I oppose many manifestations of government largesse. You just think "Oh, he's a liberal so he must think x, y and z, Glenn Beck told me so!"

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Nice try. I don't listen to Beck.

  • MNG||

    Heh, notice no rebuttal on the idiot part though...

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You have no idea how smart/not smart I may/may not be, MNG, so I chose to ignore the "you're an idiot" non-issue.

    Nice tapdance, though.

  • the right does it too||

    Yeah, right, whatever.

  • ||

    I've read about how Wal-Mart can make all kinds of demands of their suppliers that the latter complies with not wanting to lose that big-ass market...

    and if those suppliers cannot meet those demands what happens?

    Walmart will go to another supplier who can. I really do not see how it is a bad thing that a market entity forces producers to keep prices low through the mechanics of the market.

    If such a system was at work in health care Obama would have had no excuse to overhaul it.

    Furthermore why does the left give a shit about suppliers?

    or more precisely why does the left care about suppliers who produce at high prices more then they care about suppliers that can produces at low prices?

    Personally I could give a shit about either of them.

  • MNG||

    That's a very nice and long post, but I don't think there is anything in it refuting my point: that large organizations have powers/advantages that smaller ones do not.

    But thanks for playing!

  • ||

    that large organizations have powers/advantages that smaller ones do not.

    This is true, but in and of itself that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it? Also, smaller players have at least one advantage that bigger ones do not: the ability to respond faster to changes in market conditions...

  • Greer||

    And smaller ones have other advantages. I am self-employed in Silicon Valley designing circuits. I can get things done quicker and cheaper than the larger guys can. In fact, some large companies contract me to do work for them because they know that I can get done in a week or 2 what would take their internal people 3-6 months to do. It cuts both ways.

  • ||

    And you have failed to give a response to the problem Tim had with the article: the supposition that some "response" is required to that fact.

    Big companies have advantages, even leaving aside the advantages the govt gives them (which are numerous). Yet there are few big companies that have managed to stay on top for long periods of time.

  • Logfile||

    That's probably because there are also disadvantages to being that big. That's probably especially true today due to the effects of globalization. It's hard to maintain a huge organization and remain competitive in a global market where there are probably tons of little guys trying to figure out a way to beat you and take your place.

  • ||

    That's a very nice and long post, but I don't think there is anything in it refuting my point: that large organizations have powers/advantages that smaller ones do not.

    Small organizations also have powers/advantages that larger ones do not.

    Why does the left care about one group's powers/advantages so much?

    It is not as if these are small people vs big people in a fist fight. They are corporations for Christ sakes who gives a shit about any of them?

  • MNG||

    There are perhaps some advantages to being small, but they rarely are ones associated with power. The left has a concern about power.

    Well, you guys do too. Why is a larger government more frightening to you than a smaller government, though both may have the raison d'etre of government, the 'monopoly' of the use of force?

  • Ron L||

    MNG|8.28.10 @ 4:47PM|#
    "There are perhaps some advantages to being small, but they rarely are ones associated with power. The left has a concern about power."
    What power?

    "Well, you guys do too. Why is a larger government more frightening to you than a smaller government, though both may have the raison d'etre of government, the 'monopoly' of the use of force?"
    Well, the smaller government tends to have smaller control over my life. As government grows, it takes greater and greater control.
    See, oh, healthcare, for instance.

  • MNG||

    Power doesn't necessarily mean physical coercion. It can mean influence too, or ability to get one's way, and large organizations have that more than smaller ones.

  • Ray Pew||

    Power doesn't necessarily mean physical coercion. It can mean influence too, or ability to get one's way, and large organizations have that more than smaller ones.

    Undoubtedly, but physical/legal coercion is far more objective and identifiable than "influence". The latter would shut down the very concept of democratic government.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Bigger is not always better, MNG. I'd rather do business with a mom'n'pop store than Wal-Mart, and I'd much rather have a federal government that can't tell us how to live from sunup to sundown, and in-between as well.

    But if you're fine with it, keep voting Democrat. Or Republican. The result's the same, basically.

  • ||

    There are perhaps some advantages to being small, but they rarely are ones associated with power. The left has a concern about power.

    Small firms have plenty of power. Google only 10 years ago was still in beta and yet today it can be said to have moved mountains and changed the landscape of the internet.

    You are conflating Money with power.

    The Democrats have tons of money. More then the Republicans. Yet they will still lose the house this November and there is a good chance they will lose the senate.

    Money matters in the real world far less then you think.

  • MNG||

    And far more than you think.

    I mean, if you think it matters so little, would you give me yours?

  • ||

    I mean, if you think it matters so little, would you give me yours?

    In exchange for start up with an idea as good as google's? Sure.

  • the right does it too||

    Why is a smaller government more frightening to you than a larger government?

  • MNG||

    Er, it's not. I'm for smaller government in many areas. Why would you suppose otherwise?

  • ||

    Er, it's not. I'm for smaller government in many areas. Why would you suppose otherwise?

    Cux you are here bitching to a bunch of libertarians over semantics rather the screaming on the roof tops over Obama and the Democrats giving 100s of billion to Wall Street, GM and the billions worth of sweet heart deals they gave to Insurance companies and mega pharmacy.

    If you want to bitch about libertarian's corporate mote in its eye then I would like to point out that beam in yours.

  • ||

    It does answer it.

    I really do not see how it is a bad thing that a market entity forces producers to keep prices low through the mechanics of the market.

    That's not a reply to your point that Wal-Mark can force suppliers to lower prices that smaller companies can't?

  • MNG||

    It's not a reply to my assertion that larger orgs have an advantage. Whether that advantage is a good thing or not is a seperate question, which the quote is a stab at providing an answer for.

  • ||

    Nobody hewre is arguing that large orgs don't have at least some advantages.

    We're arguing that aside from the ability to influence the state to favor them, those advantages are not really a problem.

    Ergo, just keep the government from being politically influenced to support larger enterprises, otherwise leave the market alone.

  • ||

    "Furthermore why does the left give a shit about suppliers?

    or more precisely why does the left care about suppliers who produce at high prices more then they care about suppliers that can produces at low prices?

    Personally I could give a shit about either of them.

  • ||

    Furthermore why does the left give a shit about suppliers?

    or more precisely why does the left care about suppliers who produce at high prices more then they care about suppliers that can produces at low prices?

    Personally I could give a shit about either of them."

    I'll tell you why the left cares about suppliers in general, and especially suppliers that produce at higher price points: V. A. T.

    Because the suppliers who produce at a higher price point will be able to stuff the government coffers more than low-cost suppliers once the feds put the noose of a value added tax onto their link in the supply chain for, you know, teh childruns.

    Sorry for the double post.

  • MNG||

    I can assure that you most people on "the left" don't give a rat's ass about the VAT, hell most don't what the hell that is.

  • ||

    Why the hell can't we set up a system to stop it, just because it isn't a person?

    No reason why the owner of that system has to be the government.

    Also you are making the argument that firemen = military.

    I can actually buy that.

    But should the government be involved in a military action in regards to regulating large enterprises?

    Is our economy a war zone?

  • cornholio||

    Yes, Wal-Mart can indeed make special demands of their suppliers, forcing those suppliers to be more efficient and, because Wal-Mart wants to maximize its market share, passes the savings to the consumer.

    What, then, is the problem?

  • Jim||

    Companies get large because they serve many peoples needs. What is wrong with that?

  • Sam Grove||

    So they are interesting in profits?

    One advantage big corporations have is their staffs of lawyers to guide them through the regulatory morass. Small businesses do have trouble competing in that arena.

  • Sam Grove||

    So they are interesting in profits?

    One advantage big corporations have is their staffs of lawyers to guide them through the regulatory morass. Small businesses do have trouble competing in that arena.

  • Sam Grove||

    Swear to god, I only clicked once.

  • alan||

    When you dream up these 'interesting' counters Yves how about reviewing the literature first before assuming no libertarian has ever given it consideration. Hell, you may even find that your 'brilliant' counter originated from Libertarian ideas generations ago in the first place. Do that instead of assuming you have disproved anything first. 'Oh my gosh, I never thought of that before. Since you put it that way maybe it is all a crazy idea like those democrats and republicans keep telling us, duuuhuhuh.'

  • ||

    A libertarian calls the fire department because his house is burning down and a dozen popinjays come out of the woodwork to say, "Ha! See? You really don't want to live in your utopian fantasy of total freedom!"

    Indeed. Oh shit, I actually used a public road today. Guess I'll turn in my decoder ring.

  • Edwin||

    Actually this is a big deal. Strict libertarians are kind of blind or narrow minded on a lot of issues where the private market might not work so well, or when government action might be justified.

    So the government should only restrict force and fraud? Well, guess what, a fire acts like force. It may not be a person, but it spreads rapidly and destroys things quite quickly. Every fire is everybody's business. Why the hell can't we set up a system to stop it, just because it isn't a person?

    And just to show how much of annoying nerdo-douche dicks libertarians can be, here is some libertarians hassling firemen:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3FgzRULJPo

    Something tells me that if those same firemen saved their lives later, they'd still be dicks about it and complain about "government force".

  • ||

    As far as the public roads thing, I believe it is our government's job under the requirement to provide defense. I've always thought a system of roads would be essential were we to ever face attack.

    As far as the fire departments go, I seem to remember our local volunteer fire department seemed to do pretty well when I was a kid based on donations from fund-raisers (bake sales, going to kid's parties, carnival booths, etc). It was comprised of citizens who gave their time freely to make sure their neighbors were safe. Oh, and our rescue squad was volunteer as well and whenever an event was going on where they needed extras cops, plenty of people came out and got deputized as volunteer auxiliary cops for the event...to help their neighbors.

    It can be done, because it had been done for generations.

  • Yonemoto||

    Defense? WTF?

    Dude re-read your constitution.

    Article I, Section 8, clause 7.

    Every so often I when driving cross-country, I see one of these, and it reminds me of the countless times that the fucking roads strawman has been pulled on me by libtards and how much I wish I could get it through their heads that I'm a compromise-libertarian (i.e. constitutionalist)

    http://tinyurl.com/23yr3hy

  • Sam Grove||

    I've always thought a system of roads would be essential were we to ever face attack.

    Aside from the question of who might have the wherewithal to attack the U.S. (consider the logistics), roads would likely be a benefit to invaders as well.

  • ||

    "Well, guess what, a fire acts like force. It may not be a person, but it spreads rapidly and destroys things quite quickly."

    So you want the government to make it illegal for fire to destroy things? In order for the government to use its power, a law has to be broken.

    "Every fire is everybody's business. Why the hell can't we set up a system to stop it, just because it isn't a person?"

    What libertarian says we can't do this? I'm against government firefighters because the government forces us to pay for them, even if we don't want their services. If everyone agreed that we wanted firemen for X price, then I'd be fine with it.

    Firefighting isn't wrong because the government does it, it's wrong because the government uses force to pay for it.

  • Edwin||

    "So you want the government to make it illegal for fire to destroy things"

    You're an idiot.

    "Firefighting isn't wrong because the government does it, it's wrong because the government uses force to pay for it."

    That's my point. So why isn't it also wrong for the government to force us to pay for their enforcement of non-fraud and non-force? Or are you an anarchist, or someone who thinks the free-rider problem with taxes will just go away?

  • ||

    "So why isn't it also wrong for the government to force us to pay for their enforcement of non-fraud and non-force?"

    Because the government putting out a fire is not an "enforcement of non-force." That is like saying the government should correct all instances of bad luck. I don't even see why you are arguing this. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that people who want firefighters to protect them will pay for their services. Those who do not want to pay for firefighters will either

    a. have their house burn to the ground

    or

    b. request the services of firefighters when needed and pay a large sum for their services.

  • MNG||

    "Because the government putting out a fire is not an "enforcement of non-force.""

    Beg the question much? The question is why must the government be limited to enforcement of non-force?

    "That is like saying the government should correct all instances of bad luck."

    Yeah, saying there are some instances of "bad luck" the government should correct means it must correct them all...

    "It is perfectly reasonable to assume that people who want firefighters to protect them will pay for their services."

    How about those who can't afford it, and their kids?

  • Edwin||

    Again, fire is LIKE FORCE. It may not be a person, but it is WAY MORE DAMAGING. And it SPREAD EASILY. EVERY fire is in reality everybody's business.

    If the government can force us to pay taxes to stop small time criminals and people who goe on shooting sprees, then it's reasonable to say it can force us to pay to stop fires. Your human/fire dichotomy doesn't exist, they can both be exceedingly damaging. And there's no reason why we should imit the government's role only to HUMANS who0 are a serious and immediate problem, other than silly esoteric reasons.

    And FYI, none of that implies that other forms of government regulation are also OK. Fire is ESPECIALLY dangerous and capable of spreading. Other government regulation schemes involve things that are much more open to chance, and there are more trade-offs involved.

  • Ray Pew||

    And FYI, none of that implies that other forms of government regulation are also OK. Fire is ESPECIALLY dangerous and capable of spreading. Other government regulation schemes involve things that are much more open to chance, and there are more trade-offs involved.

    Actually, your proposition has little that deliniates it's scope, seeing that as long as enough people perceive some issue as "especially dangerous" or "damaging", then they can justify government intervention. Essentially the current state of politics.

  • Edwin||

    "Actually, your proposition has little that deliniates it's scope, seeing that as long as enough people perceive some issue as "especially dangerous" or "damaging", then they can justify government intervention. Essentially the current state of politics"

    Bullshit. Only libertarians can't see the difference, because they go out of their way not to. The only way they can defend stupid is by playing stupid.

  • Ray Pew||

    Bullshit. Only libertarians can't see the difference, because they go out of their way not to. The only way they can defend stupid is by playing stupid.

    Then please explain how you will limit the scope of intervention allowed under your proposition? How are you confining the perception of "dangerous" within a limited scope?

  • Tony||

    "Scope of intervention"

    This sounds like a slippery slope. In theory democratic societies let people decide that for themselves.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "In theory democratic societies let people decide that for themselves."

    Okay... let us decide to wear our seatbelts, where we can smoke, what kinds of cars we can drive, and whether or not we want our foods to contain trans-fats or salt.

  • Edwin||

    Most people can fucking see the difference between fucking fires and other things that are a fuck lot less pressing.
    It's called being reasonable.

    Again, only libertarians pretend not to see the difference, because you have to act stupid to defend stupid.

  • Ray Pew||

    Most people can fucking see the difference between fucking fires and other things that are a fuck lot less pressing.
    It's called being reasonable.

    Again, only libertarians pretend not to see the difference, because you have to act stupid to defend stupid.

    The fact that you can't define any objective limitations to your proposal shows that you don't have a compelling argument, just an assumption that people will be "reasonable" as you believe yourself to be.

    Reality shows that people can contrive all manner of crises to argue for government intervention.

  • Sam Grove||

    And the argument shifts from crises to cost imposed on society when government pays for health care, etc.

  • hmmm||

    "It is perfectly reasonable to assume that people who want firefighters to protect them will pay for their services."

    How about those who can't afford it, and their kids?

    So government firefighting is really a welfare program for the poor?

  • hmm||

    new handle, find one heh?

  • ||

    "The question is why must the government be limited to enforcement of non-force?"

    They shouldn't. But they should be limited to actions that are non-coercive. We are talking about things the government should be doing regardless of the demand for such services.

    "Yeah, saying there are some instances of "bad luck" the government should correct means it must correct them all..."

    Yes, if the government should be protecting you from fires regardless of whether you want them to or not, why should they not, say, reimburse you when you lose money gambling? My point is that fire is not some unfair act of force directed against you that has to be corrected by the government.

  • Edwin||

    "My point is that fire is not some unfair act of force directed against you that has to be corrected by the government"

    Again begging the question, as MNG pointed out

    "Yes, if the government should be protecting you from fires regardless of whether you want them to or not, why should they not, say, reimburse you when you lose money gambling?"

    I'll write what I wrote above. Most people can fucking see the difference between fucking fires and other things that are a fuck lot less pressing.
    It's called being reasonable.

    Again, only libertarians pretend not to see the difference, because you have to act stupid to defend stupid.

  • Big Cat Kahuna||

    Yeah, saying there are some instances of "bad luck" the government should correct means it must correct them all....

    I think for some it does. The self-avowed liberals I have known--with notable exceptions--assume bad luck is caused by some manner of oppression, to always be found if one looks intently enough, and transparently deserving of redress.

  • FrankenEdwinstein||

    FIRE BURN! FIRE BURN!

  • FrankenEdwinstein||

    FIRE BURN! FIRE BURN! MAKE EDWIN ANGRY!

  • Firefighters||

    Remember, kids: Only government can put out fires!

  • Sam Grove||

    Or buy insurance to cover firefighting costs.

  • JoshINHB||

    What libertarian says we can't do this? I'm against government firefighters because the government forces us to pay for them, even if we don't want their services. If everyone agreed that we wanted firemen for X price, then I'd be fine with it.

    This kind of masturbation may feel good to you but it makes you look like a jackass and discredits all libertarian ideas .

  • ||

    So you are saying there is some other reason besides coercion that libertarians have for limiting government?

  • JoshINHB||

    No,

    I'm saying that talk of eliminating fire departments makes us sound crazy and should wait until government is 1/3 the size it is now.

  • ||

    Why does it make us sound crazy?

    Oooh god forbid some liberal doesn't agree with a libertarian idea. We must maintain the image that we are good liberals until government is small.

    Bullshit.

  • cornholio||

    While I've heard some anarcho-capitalists complain about fire departments, most libertarians confine their criticism to government bailouts, the welfare state, military adventurism, the police state, and the bloated, inefficient public education system. Public fire departments tend to rank fairly low on their list of "bads".

  • Sam Grove||

    Until recently when pension costs are zooming and people find out how much government firemen cost.

  • Xenocles||

    "A libertarian calls the fire department because his house is burning down and a dozen popinjays come out of the woodwork to say, "Ha! See? You really don't want to live in your utopian fantasy of total freedom!""

    To which this libertarian would say, "No, utopia would still be good, but I figured I'd make use out of the service I was already forced to pay for."

  • Xenocles||

    "...make use of..."

  • Edwin||

    There are two problems with the question in the first place

    Only SOME industries have advantages because they are big. There are plenty of small industries that do just fine small. Most businesses in this country are small businesses.

    And a lot of the advantages of being big COME from government regulation.
    There wouldn't even be wal-marts if it weren't for our crappy, ubiqutous, land use laws that discourage appropriate development density and restrict retail-use land.

  • cornholio||

    Oh, there would still be wal-marts. And in some places, land-use laws restrict the ability to build large stores and supermarkets. I would say that on a free market the total effect on the wal-mart scale would be neutral.

  • ||

    I would say that on a free market the total effect on the wal-mart scale would be neutral.

    You have never tried to rezone and develop property in a Growth Management locality. The time uncertainty, expertise and expense required to get a retail store permitted, licensed and built takes very very deep pockets.

  • ||

    I refuse to join the Apple cult!!!!
    Noooooo!!!!!!!!

  • ||

    ipads are cool and turtle necks are warm.

    You will be assimilated.

  • Earl of Fixxtthatforu||

    I don't believe in banditry, but there is no way to get to Lancaster by way of roadway without paying the highwayman's toll. It is necessary for me to use the trails in the woods in order to maintain philosophical and moral consistency.

  • ||

    You could overpower the highwayman and run him over with your carriage.

  • Earl of Fixxtthatforu||

    If it were only that easy, sage. Sure, you may gain advantage in one situation that goes in your favor, but the bandits are all in league with one another, and you will find yourself having to deal with the rest of them. Their numbers are in the millions though they are not in the majority. Unfortunately, the majority make a pragmatic calculation that life is far easier to pay the highwayman's toll than it is to oppose them even though they add no value to the product for which they exact a price.

  • ||

    You could refuse to produce anything until all the bandits starve to death.

  • Earl of Fixxtthatforu||

    True. And it is also true that I now make far fewer trips to Lancaster than I did even a few years ago, as the cruelty of the highwayman is without limit and his greed never satiated.

  • ||

    He keeps the road passable. Perhaps the best bet is to hide the appearance of much wealth, and he'll take what he can get.

  • Earl of Fixxtthatforu||

    That is what my grandfather, the first Earl of Fixxtthatforu would do to minimize the exacted toll. The Bandit Chieftain wised up, and put coppers in the hands of lotus eaters, and gave them the title 'Census Takers' to go about the country side and spy on us all.

  • Dennis Moore||

    Your life or your lupins, my lord!

  • Earl of Fixxtthatforu||

    My lord? Oh, ha ha ha. You mean my name. I'm Earl. Earl from Fixxtthatforu, not a lord! Just a simple man named Earl. Wait until my good friend Duke of Lancaster hears about this.

    crap. Alright, take my lupins, and damn your highwayman guile.

  • hmmm||

    "Unfortunately, the majority make a pragmatic calculation that life is far easier to pay the highwayman's toll than it is to oppose them even though they add no value to the product for which they exact a price."

    Once you pay the Danegeld, you'll never be rid of the Dane.

  • hmm||

    Jesus Christ is it take hmm's handle day or is this the moron from the other thread.

  • The Dane||

    I totally promise that I will not raise the danegeld for 95% of the people in the areas we raid. We're danegelding the rich. Anyway, you shouldn't complain about us Danes. Think about it, without us, who would protect you from raiders and barbarians?

  • ||

    A Democrat complains about a long wait at the DMV and we all say, "Man, that really sucks." A Republican gets hassled by an officious cop and we say, "I feel you, bro." A libertarian calls the fire department because his house is burning down and a dozen popinjays come out of the woodwork to say, "Ha! See? You really don't want to live in your utopian fantasy of total freedom!"

    That disparity is a natural result of Democrats and Republicans not having any principles to mock. There are very few ordinary things that a Democrat or Republican can do that others can point and say "hypocrite!" at.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    I think you might be onto something. You can watch/read mainstream pundits and intellectuals all day long and rarely will they even pretend to make any kind of appeal to any kind of "first principles". They just bounce around from one event to the next without anything more than team red vs team blue loyalty to guide them.

    On top of being an oddity, anyone who claims to have some kind of "principles" is the only one that has actually opened themselves up to any kind of test of rationality or "consistency".

    This might also explain why Republicans and Democrats are usually called out for being "hypocrites" only when they've been caught throat fucking the interns in a public bathroom or some such. Their public persona is all they ever have at stake, so that's the criteria they are measured by.

  • Robert||

    This is true not just of Republicans and Democrats, but also of independents and of the apolitical, at least in the USA. They all think they just have common sense which they can apply to any problem, and that first principles are a needless handicap. In some cases they believe a problem to be insoluble, and that therefore anyone who proposes a solution is nuts.

  • Ray||

    "In some cases they believe a problem to be insoluble, and that therefore anyone who proposes a solution is nuts."

    E.G. Unsustainable entitlement programs.

  • Pedant||

    That's what you get for being an ideologue.

  • Libertarian Pedant||

    Actually an Ideologue is someone who won't compromise. Just because someone has ideals doesn't make them an ideologue.

  • Corduroy||

    This

  • ||

    More seriously ...

    How do libertarians propose to respond to the power of large enterprises?

    My answer is that as long as the large enterprise enjoys it's monopoly without using force or fraud to maintain it, then it is not a danger to consumers or society.

    It may indeed make it harder for small competitors to enter the market, but if it is not engaging in fraudulent or illegal acts, and is not employing the state as a weapon to maintain it's market position, then it can only survive by providing better value to consumers. Nobody has a "right" to a certain slice of the market share, not even small startups.

    Just for example ... as long as Wal-Mart continues to provide lower prices and does not use anything other than consumer choice to beat it's competitors, it's nobody's business if they dominate the market.

  • ||

    That said, the crucial issue is that the state maintain complete impartiality in enforcement with respect to both businesses. It can't allow the bigger business to use political influence to skew the market in it's favor.

  • JoshINHB||

    The state intervened on their behalf as soon as the business incorporated.

  • MNG||

    "then it can only survive by providing better value to consumers"

    How do you figure that, is it an axiom or something? You don't seem to deny that a large org would have certain advantages, as long as the advantages made up for the difference between the value added by smaller competitors (which you also admit could be kept out btw) and the larger ones then it would still win in the marketplace, right?

  • Ron L||

    Uh, "General Motors" ring any bells? Being the biggest is temporary, whatever 'power' it brings.

  • MNG||

    Heh, funny Ronnie put that post up after J sub D's below...

  • ||

    Most of the arguments for why big companies might have a market advantage are based on the idea that the larger scale means they can get price discounts, and operate more efficiently. Ergo, they are able to undercut smaller competitors by offering lower prices to consumers.

    I'll totally admit that in some industries economies of scale make large-scale operations more efficient. So what? If the most efficient (i.e. cheapest) way to get a product to consumers is through a large enterprise, why is that wrong?

  • MNG||

    Well, one reason could be that a larger entity could influence government policy more, and on a more massive scale, in a way that would detrimentally effect consumers and citizens and/or confer unfair benefits on the entity. This might be one reason why both liberals and libertarians might be concerned with the size of the entities.

    Another reason may involve the same reason why you likely dislike big government: a misdeed by a large entity will negatively effect many more people than a misdeed by a smaller one.

    I would also argue that the largeness of an entity need confer an advantage only by increasing efficiency of production or being able to produce a better product for less. There are other advantages (i.e.,, advertising) that could be conferred in spite of an inferior product.

  • ||

    Well, one reason could be that a larger entity could influence government policy more, and on a more massive scale, in a way that would detrimentally effect consumers and citizens and/or confer unfair benefits on the entity.

    Which is obviously why libertarians adamantly oppose the government handing out subsidies, bailing out "too big to fail" corporations, tweaking the tax code or imposing industry specific regulations.

    a misdeed by a large entity will negatively effect many more people than a misdeed by a smaller one.

    Which would be a disadvantage to being a large entity when the liability bill comes due, wouldn't it?

    There are other advantages (i.e.,, advertising) that could be conferred in spite of an inferior product.

    IMO, advertising only works for a limited time. Eventually people figure out the product is inferior. I honestly don't see very many cases of inferior products consistently succeeeding due to advertising. Beer, for instance ... Budweiser may be able to advertisze the shit out of everyone else, but it also has to be *cheaper* to maintain it's market share. Plus consumers are always shopping for superior boutique brands. Cursory glance through the shopping center shows this is also the case for many other products ... Maxwell house has the largest share of the coffee section, but it's also the cheapest coffee on the shelf (except maybe for the generic brands).

  • MNG||

    "Which would be a disadvantage to being a large entity when the liability bill comes due, wouldn't it?"

    IF it comes due (tort reform anyone?), and even then we are talking after the fact, the wide scale nature of the harm, exactly what the liberal worried abut, already happened...

  • Ray Pew||

    Well, one reason could be that a larger entity could influence government policy more, and on a more massive scale, in a way that would detrimentally effect consumers and citizens and/or confer unfair benefits on the entity. This might be one reason why both liberals and libertarians might be concerned with the size of the entities.

    Any issue of rent seeking is an issue of concern for Libertarians, whether by mega-companies or small.

    Another reason may involve the same reason why you likely dislike big government: a misdeed by a large entity will negatively effect many more people than a misdeed by a smaller one.

    This is a valid concern. The difference between government and private is that the former bars any competition entry into the market against itself, whereas the latter has no authority to do so (not claiming they can't try or act illegally). Under most circumstances, there are several players within a given field. Not so in government.

    I would also argue that the largeness of an entity need confer an advantage only by increasing efficiency of production or being able to produce a better product for less. There are other advantages (i.e.,, advertising) that could be conferred in spite of an inferior product.

    This is of little concern, since the final decision of "value" is by the consumer. Regardless of how much advertizement one is bombarded with, the final decision of satisfaction is uncoerced. Few continue to buy a product that they are not satisfied with simply because they see commercials advertizing said product.

  • MNG||

    Purchasing power is different for large orgs. Take the movie theater industry. Where I live there are two big chain movie theaters with 10 screens each. There was a little indy upstart that had a better theater and did not show so many previews/commercials (a constant bitch of moviegoers). Most moviegoers agreed it had a better overall product. However, the big chains got the biggest and newest films first, because the big distributor that was moving many films wanted access to all those screens the two big theaters had (both the screens each theater had and the chain as a whole). This gives the big theaters a pretty weighty advantage over smaller competitors...

  • JoshINHB||

    The small movie theater could compete on a different basis, by serving alchohol for example except that government regulations prohibit that.

  • ||

    Having more screens can also be an advantage from a consumer standpoint - more selection.

    But, I seriously doubt the reason the little indy theater couldn't get the film the first week was because the distributor wouldn't let them have them (what would be the point of denying someone your product to sell?)

    The reason is probably that the distributor generally gets 100% of the gross for the first couple weeks after a film is released. Theaters make their money off of long-running films. Most likely, your indy theater purposely chose not to run new releases right after the release date. They have fewer screens, so can't afford to be letting the distributor take 100% of the gross from many of them.

  • MNG||

    The distributor doesn't want bad feelings with the big chain because they make up a huge client for them: in the long run they feel what they lose by not giving it to the indy theater too they make up for in keeping the chain happy with them. The consumer's choices are cut, but the self interest of the distributor guides the choice. Classic example of how bigness might not optimize results for consumers.

  • ||

    I don't think that's what is actually going on. I suspect that the story you've illustrated is imaginary. You're arguing that the multiplex is seriously going to refuse to take the distributor's films if they also distribute them to the indy theater. Which is kind of a wild hypothesis considering even multiplexes don't make that much money.

    What I suspect is really happening is that the distributor wants the indy theater to take the films ON THE SAME TERMS that they give to the large chain. And those terms are not profitable to the smaller indy theater, so they simply choose not to accept them.They can't afford to loose money in the first two weeks of running a film if that film turns out to be a bomb. So they choose to only run the more sucessful films after they've been out a few weeks, and they can keep more of the receipts.

  • Douche||

  • Ray Pew||

    Purchasing power is different for large orgs. Take the movie theater industry. Where I live there are two big chain movie theaters with 10 screens each. There was a little indy upstart that had a better theater and did not show so many previews/commercials (a constant bitch of moviegoers). Most moviegoers agreed it had a better overall product. However, the big chains got the biggest and newest films first, because the big distributor that was moving many films wanted access to all those screens the two big theaters had (both the screens each theater had and the chain as a whole). This gives the big theaters a pretty weighty advantage over smaller competitors...

    All of the issues you state are correct, but are of little concern. We can only choose to patronize businesses that exist, not those we wish existed. Yes, the advantages of certain companies will often drive out businesses that YOU value, but that only shows that your preferences were not shared by enough to maintain said business in the market. If more people truly demonstrated such preferences for said business, then they would have patronized said business, but in the end, they demonstrated their preference for a different model.

  • MNG||

    This a simplistic understanding of Austrian economic theory run amok. People value seeing first run movies, and optimally they would like to see said movie in a good theater with little previews/commercials. But if the bigness of theater chains gives them a near monopoly on first runs then yes the consumer now must choose between first run and quality theater and gets a less than optimal result. The bargaining power of the chain, resulting from its bigness, makes it in the interest of the distributor to restrict its supply in dealing with the chain. This could happen all over (thankfully anti-trust laws keep this happening on a large scale).

    If Wal-Mart told Heinz it would not carry its catsup if Heinz sold it at K-mart, then even if K-mart sold it in a more optimal way for consumers Heinz may quite rationally decide not to offer it there, because the loss of Wal-mart, as maybe 50% of its market, would be devastating. It's trade offs made before the consumer comes into the picture so to speak.

  • MNG||

    By your logic our two party system represents the optimal choice of voters, because if they valued any other options they would have chose it. You pay no attention to restrictions on the choices in the first place.

  • Ray Pew||

    This a simplistic understanding of Austrian economic theory run amok. People value seeing first run movies, and optimally they would like to see said movie in a good theater with little previews/commercials.

    Says who? I love previews. I don't like to be late to the previews. Your argument is flawed because you assume that people value those things YOU value.

    But if the bigness of theater chains gives them a near monopoly on first runs then yes the consumer now must choose between first run and quality theater and gets a less than optimal result.

    Again your projecting your values onto the public. I have found the very opposite in regards to "quality" of theatres and size. From my perspective, the bigger theatres provide me a quality that I am satisfied with and I have been to numerous theatre models.

    The bargaining power of the chain, resulting from its bigness, makes it in the interest of the distributor to restrict its supply in dealing with the chain. This could happen all over (thankfully anti-trust laws keep this happening on a large scale).

    And this is not a harm to the public, since they can only choose between what exists, not what they wish to be. Advantages will always exist and the public has only the freedom to choose between those enterprises that actually exist. If the players in the industry decide to license their product to one distributor then so be. I have no right to claim that they should not be free to make such decisions. The preferences of the public will show if such decisions are successfull or detrimental.

    If Wal-Mart told Heinz it would not carry its catsup if Heinz sold it at K-mart, then even if K-mart sold it in a more optimal way for consumers Heinz may quite rationally decide not to offer it there, because the loss of Wal-mart, as maybe 50% of its market, would be devastating. It's trade offs made before the consumer comes into the picture so to speak.

    And the consumer has NO claim on what the producers can or cannot do with their product. By what right does the public, that vested no labor, no capital, no risk, into Heinz' venture have in controlling it's decisions?

    The reality is that the market allows for the production of goods and services that can be tailored to the various valuations of the public. WalMart may be the leviathin of shopping centers, aimed at low prices, but Target sells much of the same products for more, geared towards those who value a "non-WalMart" experience.

  • ||

    If you followed the movie industry at all you would know that the idea of a movie theater chain having a distributor over the barrel in negotiating power is patently laughable.

  • JoshINHB||

    Economies of scale is an obsolete idea.

    In the past it was largely driven by a large business being able to distribute the fixed overhead cost of running a business over a larger sales base. Technology has pretty much completely eliminated that as a factor.

    Plus, the larger the organization because the more bureaurocratic it becomes with the associated deadweight costs.

    A number of small organizations in competetion will always allocate resources better than a single large organization.

    Any advantages of size always come from the ability of concentrated financial iterests to influence governments more effectively than diffuse interests.

  • hmm||

    Economies of scale is not linear and indefinite. Technology throws a wrench in everything. All it takes is one 4 eyed geek to realize the money is in the operating system and not the hardware (the traditional method) to change the entire dynamic. You seem to be using the crudest most simplistic examples to avoid the obvious.

  • ||

    Even supposing that economies of scale always provided an advantage in the market, I don't see how it contitutes a problem if the only advantage is obtained by enabling them to offer consumers a better product or a lower price.

    As long as they aren't paying vigilantes to firebomb their competitors or having the cops harass them for regulatory non-compliance, who cares?

  • MNG||

    "if the only advantage is obtained by enabling them to offer consumers a better product or a lower price"

    As I argue elsewhere, that may not be the only advantage.

  • ||

    Even if there are certain other advantages, getting the government involved in correcting for them just worses the chances of the government being used as a weapon of larger enterprises to crush smaller competitors. It's happened over and over.

  • hmm||

    There are often other advantages. Rents exist in many forms outside of government interference. The common example being property of soil that is more fertile than most. The more fertile soil will produce excessive returns when compared to other more common soil. This generates income over the opportunity costs, rents.

    So there are a ton of other advantages, but they are not necessarily wrong, evil, or bad. Oddly enough an argument could be made that the existence of such naturally occurring rents drives advances in technology, like fertilizer to make all soil fertile and narrowing the rents seen in more naturally fertile soil.

  • Ray Pew||

    How do you figure that, is it an axiom or something? You don't seem to deny that a large org would have certain advantages, as long as the advantages made up for the difference between the value added by smaller competitors (which you also admit could be kept out btw) and the larger ones then it would still win in the marketplace, right?

    Sure. Advantages are well described in economics. They could be considered axiomatic, since it is an axiom that individuals differ in capabilities.

  • cornholio||

    Let me explain this in terms that even CED can understand: These advantages keep out some competitors because they allow these companies to provide better value to consumers. Wal-Mart charges lower prices because of the advantages it enjoys wrt its suppliers. THIS BENEFITS CONSUMERS. If it raised its prices, and thus did not provide the same value, THEN COMPETITORS WOULD EMERGE.

  • ||

    The idea that corporate power is a problem stems from the liberal view that it is problematic that one person can be better at something than another. The true end of liberal thinking is that we should make sure that every person is exactly the same in every way. Differences are bad.

  • ||

    In short, Equality is more important than Liberty.

  • Chris||

    Here's what old Uncle Nietzsche says about liberalism (in context, he is talking about the progressivist nature of liberalism, though he doesn't use those words exactly):

    "Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. One knows, indeed, what their ways bring: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make men small, cowardly, and hedonistic — every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization..."

  • MNG||

    Er, it seems more likely that he would be referring to liberalism as meaning classical liberalism considering when he wrote...

  • Chris||

    That's why I said 'progressivist nature of liberalism'. I was accounting for that. What Nietzsche found repulsive about liberalism was what is today called progressivism.

    In any case, if you've read Nietzche you should know damn well his thoughts on 'social justice', 'equality', and all that other progressive tripe.

  • ||

    Eh ...
    I've read Nietzche and I'm pretty sure you're both wrong.

    He was probably referring to a more enlightenment humanist version of liberalism which was somewhat more collectivist in nature, but not socialist. Modern day libertarianism actually owes some heritage to both Nietizche (individualism) and enlightenement liberalism (natural rights).

  • Chris||

    "Enlightenment humanist version"

    Where do you think progressivism comes from? You basically just argued what I did, but in different language.

  • ||

    Progressivism is NOT enlightenment liberalism.

  • MNG||

    "The true end of liberal thinking is that we should make sure that every person is exactly the same in every way."

    Take that, Strawman!

  • ||

    MNG fails to distinguish between putting words into someone else's mouth (straw-man) and following someone's premises to a logical conclusion (not a straw-man).

  • Barack Obama||

    Hold on there, MNG... I like what you quoted.

  • DJF||

    To get rid of concentrated corporate power then get rid of government granted privileges to corporations

    One such privilege is limited liability for stockowners. But to be consistent you should also get rid of the limited liability from unions and the even larger sovereign immunity for the government.

  • ImaDouchbag||

    If one believes spending money is basically a form of "free speech" then there is by definition a favoring of large interests over any non-large interest in any quasi-democratic government. The only way to compete on an even footing with large, power-maximizing organizations is to also be a large power-maximizing organization. By definition, amassing power provides the means to influence government. It seems to me a basic component of liberty is not having to be powerful to have ones rights protected.

    Libertarians often dodge questions by switching between many "definitions" of what Libertarianism is -- its not like even though Libertarians have no power, Libertarians don't favor or disfavor policies put out by the "republocrats". For example, the argument Tim makes is essentially "well if Libertarians were in power then there would be no government-corporate monopolies" but fails to address what would be done to remove the existing monopolies were that to come to pass. One reads between the lines to assume the government part would be taken out of the equation but the large organizations who became large thru their corporate/government monopolies would be left in place to reap the benefits of their past collusion with government.

    Tech companies are the worst examples of monopolies (because change in the tech field is based more on, gasp, technology than market power); how about someone talks about the megabanks. Or the big gas and oil companies. Or the big military contractors. Or the big health insurance companies.

    It always seems Libertarians want to stop future government interference, but are not at all concerned about that which has happened in the past. After all, it would probably take government action to undo past government action, would it not, and Libertarians are against that. It also seems the economic aspects of Libertarianism are the only part that ever get traction in the political system; for me its a package deal, and just favoring powerful organizations ('the successful') while accepting continued degradation of individual rights isn't a good deal at all.

    WHen large organizations are able to influence the legal and political process (which by virtue of their economic power, they can), what is considered not to be fraudulent or illegal is a changing concept, usually changing in the directions desired by the large organizations.

  • alan||

    WHen large organizations are able to influence the legal and political process (which by virtue of their economic power, they can), what is considered not to be fraudulent or illegal is a changing concept, usually changing in the directions desired by the large organizations

    The John and Russ bill was the law of the land for several years. Did the influence of large organizations diminish in that time?

    Campaign law became a leftist wet dream after they completely over hauled the system once they gained control of congress on the heels of Watergate. Strict laws were in force for thirty odd years with a huge bureaucracy to accommodate, did the influence of large corporations shrink, or did they grow?

    All kinds of promises have been made since the Democrats took over congress in 2006 to limit the corrupting influence of corporations, to control dubious claims on the public interest, new standards of accountability, 'the most ethical congress in history', but what happened?

    With the concentration of power in the public sector came the increased interest of large organizations to influence it, so naturally, they got to write the laws, be it Disney and RIAA in copyright, Mattel in toy manufacturing, or the health insurance industry in the ObamaAbomination.

    Perhaps you should consider the possibility that what the word 'regulation' means in practice as opposed to what the word commonly used to mean is not at all consistent. Libertarians are not the ones with a problem with understanding how the system works, you are. We don't pine for libertopia, we tell you how your fucks ups effect the here and now, and do so accurately.

  • ||

    "If one believes spending money is basically a form of "free speech" then there is by definition a favoring of large interests over any non-large interest in any quasi-democratic government."

    Spending money isn't really a form of "free speech," but free action. Yes, larger interests have a larger voice, but they also have more to lose. If a small player who has little to lose can make decisions for a large player who has a lot to lose, is this fair?

    "By definition, amassing power provides the means to influence government. It seems to me a basic component of liberty is not having to be powerful to have ones rights protected."

    This is why strict private property law is so important. This is also why protections for said property from government interference are so important. Large interests are inevitably going to have a hand in government power for at least logistical reasons. The more powerful the government is, the more influence large interests will have in your life.

    Getting back to your original argument about free speech; an individuals increased level of free speech does not take away from my right of free speech. You really don't have a problem with speech, your issue is with INFLUENCE. I personally have no problem with businesses using their influence to protect themselves from undue harm, regulations, and taxes. If they are influencing government for specific favors and handouts that benefit them specifically (for example a green lightbulb company who lobbies to make all non green light bulbs illegal), then that is a different matter. Government is inevitably going to be influenced by the large and powerful, and that is why it is best to limit government.

    "One reads between the lines to assume the government part would be taken out of the equation but the large organizations who became large thru their corporate/government monopolies would be left in place to reap the benefits of their past collusion with government."

    True, it is not a process with overnight success, but any business that relied on government power would be forced to change or fold up and die. New competitors would appear immediately. When the dust settles, the old players may win out, but they would continue to exist in a different form and behave quite differently.

    "Tech companies are the worst examples of monopolies (because change in the tech field is based more on, gasp, technology than market power);"

    Tech monopolies? The tech industry is quite competitive. Just because Facebook is big and powerful NOW, that doesn't mean that that will always be so. Microsoft was once considered THE tech monopoly, and now it has been surpassed by Google. Change in technology will create constant change in the tech field. In fact, the massive changes make smaller businesses more successful, as they are able to adapt to new changes more quickly.

    "how about someone talks about the megabanks. Or the big gas and oil companies. Or the big military contractors. Or the big health insurance companies."

    We talk about these all of the time. What the hell is your point? Many of these monopolies exist ONLY because of government power. You remove the government power, they will quickly fold.

    "It always seems Libertarians want to stop future government interference, but are not at all concerned about that which has happened in the past."

    Except the opposite is true. Do you really talk to libertarians? I find this hard to believe. Libertarians are very concerned with undoing past damage. Yes, some past government interference has created some sunk costs that we must live with forever. It would be stupid to dismantle bridges and dams that have already been built. These things are sunk costs.

    "After all, it would probably take government action to undo past government action, would it not, and Libertarians are against that."

    No, libertarians are not against government actions that create the end result of removing and preventing government actions. Maybe if you provided some specific examples, your point would make some sense, but I fail to see what you are getting at here.

    "It also seems the economic aspects of Libertarianism are the only part that ever get traction in the political system; for me its a package deal, and just favoring powerful organizations ('the successful') while accepting continued degradation of individual rights isn't a good deal at all."

    Favoring large organizations is not one part of libertarianism. It is no part of libertarianism.


    You keep referencing "economic power" as if is something nefarious. "Economic power" exists because people own things. They bare the risks, responsibilities, and rewards of the things that they own, and they have control over such things. You keep implying that this is a bad thing. Yes, when the government attempts to control the things that somebody owns, that somebody should have the ability to push back.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Is this serious?

  • Xenocles||

    "For example, the argument Tim makes is essentially "well if Libertarians were in power then there would be no government-corporate monopolies" but fails to address what would be done to remove the existing monopolies were that to come to pass."

    No, he makes this explicitly clear. Nothing would "be done."

  • Ray Pew||

    Tech companies are the worst examples of monopolies (because change in the tech field is based more on, gasp, technology than market power);

    I fail to see how the technological advances in such companies somehow overrides market forces. If the market doesn't value said technology, then it doesn't equate to market shares.

  • ||

    WHen large organizations are able to influence the legal and political process (which by virtue of their economic power, they can),

    I refuse to take it as a given that large businesses necessarily have to have more influence over the legal and political process.

    But since we're on the subject, how is their influence an excuse to let the government manipulate the economy in any way they want?

    It seems to be that the more you open the door to "democratic" manipulation of the economy, the more you are really letting large organizations influence the economy in their favor. If, as you state, large businesses will *inevitably* have more political influence no matter what you do, does this not double or triple the need to keep the state's economic powers limited?

    Or is your answer just "Everyone's doing it, so I want my cut."?

  • SIV||

    This post kinda reminds me of SugarFree linking to the feminist blog's comments.You click and find things like this:

    Indeed many libertarians are against those voluntary exchanges which create organizations such as governments that may occasionally be run in the interests of the weak and against the interests of the strong.

  • ||

    That's totally nonsensical.

    How the fuck is government a "voluntary exchange"?

    Where's my social contract? When did I sign it?

  • ||

    "How do libertarians propose to respond to the power of large enterprises?"

    Libertarians don't have to respond... the market responds all by itself.

    In a free market, when one organization becomes very large, other organizations adapt their strategies to deal with it.

    They have a number of strategies available:

    1. Differentiate their offering and increase prices to offset lower volumes (e.g. Apple, Whole Foods).

    2. Reduce their operating/marketing costs to undercut the mass-market competition (e.g. SouthWest Air, private label brands)

    3. Collude with other suppliers to increase negotiating power (e.g. UAW, every union that has ever existed)

    4. Exit the industry and redirect land, labour and capital resources to more productive ends (e.g. 90% of businesses that have ever existed).

    Given the range of options available to industry players, there's no reason to take any regulatory action.

  • ||

    U.S. Auto sales April 2010

    General Motors - 183,614
    Ford Motor Co. - 167,283
    Toyota - 157,439
    Honda (American) - 113,697
    Chrysler Group LLC - 95,703

    It wasn't libertarians suggesting that taxpayers prop up the largest US auto manufacturer. Or the fifth.

    Fucking 'tards.

  • Gene Berkman||

    I own a small business and rely on big businesses to supply me with the goods to sell. The money I make selling books from big publishers keeps me in business, so I can sell books from small publishers.

    Small publishers themselves sell through Barnes & Noble and other big sellers.

    It is only a problem if the government creates barriers to entry, or if a large company uses high priced lawyers to screw you over contract terms.

    Increasing wealth means many people don't have to buy at Wal Mart and they can pay a premium for better quality goods sold by boutique businesses, or for the ambiance of shopping in a smaller store rather than a warehouse club.

    Big businesses do have advantages dealing with suppliers, being able to buy advertising in bigger markets etc. But they also face risks. Blockbuster Video is about to file for bankruptcy; Tower Records closed a couple years ago, and Borders is on the skids. So bigness is no guarantee of success.

  • ||

    I have at least 2 responses:

    1) What happened to ITT taking over the world in the 60's ?

    2) What happened to Japan taking over the world in the 80's ?

    3) Oh, and by the way, what happened to the USSR taking over the world for half the past century ?

  • obi juan||

    Just because a company doesn't take over the world it must be ok?

  • ||

    The point is that most scary leviathans die of their own dead weight unless they are propped up by external forces.

  • microwave oven||

    Look at Intel as a specific example (their CEO was in the new recently whining about Obama and regulation). During the past decade Intel was essentially paying businesses to keep AMD off the shelves. What is the proper response?

  • cynical||

    Boycott them and buy AMD/ATI? Although I like Intel/nVidia given that I had more problems with their competitors.

  • Argosy Jones||

    given that Republicans and Democrats have created 100 percent of the monopolies and libertarians (let alone Libertarians) have created zero?

    Yeah. Pure as the driven snow. Libertarians, never having governed, have never fucked things up. Congratulations. Another plus to this arrangement is that libertarian policies will never be tried, and thus never be proven wrong. And that's the most important thing.

    Rand Paul is right... fuck the libertarians.

  • MNG||

    It seems to me a better response to liberals who ask you guys this question was proposed by the great libertarian thinker W.G. Sumner a century ago. To paraphrase: "Ok, so you are worried about corporate power. And you admit corporations have more influence with the government. So let's make sure we don't have much or powerful government, because it will simply be influenced by and used by corporations to further aggrandize their power."

    Another answer is often given by fluffy here on H&R: it is very often government policy that fosters bigness in organizations.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Oh, we try.

  • obi juan||

    Second time trying to post this. First marked as spam...

    The CEO of Intel was recently whining about Obama and regulation. The past decade Intel was essentially paying businesses to keep their competitor AMD off the shelves. Was that actually a problem? What was the proper response if it was a problem?

  • Sidd Finch||

    Paying people to use your product is a pretty shitty business model, but I don't understand why there could be a "problem"?

  • RED||

    Have Sen Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pull some strings and propose some antitrust legislation...

  • ||

    On a somewhat related note (and after watching a relevant Seinfeld episode), I have to wonder what living in the bizarro world would be like. I actually think it would be near-utopian when compared to what we are forced to deal with today.

  • MNG||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economies_of_scale

  • Pedant||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diseconomy_of_scale

  • MNG||

    A good test to see whether bigness has a net positive or negative effect would be to look at the % of markets controlled by big firms vs. small ones.

  • Yurop||

    No it wouldn't. The big firms don't control a large share of the markets because they are big, it's the other way around. Any firm that controls a large share of the market becomes big.

  • Yonemoto||

    Uhm, doesn't monetary policy distort those sorts of statistics?

  • Max||

    Libertarians have never created shit--well, okay, shitty ideas--because they've never had their hands on anything but their teeny little dicks. Unlike, say, the commies, libertarians have never come close to putting their stupid fucking little utopian scheme to the test. Go stick you dick in soMme reblican's ass, cavanaugh

  • ||

    Libertarians ended the draft.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Max: Pol Pot is superior to Milton Friedman.

    Also, Hong Kong was close to being a minarchist state from 1950-1997. The US was close from 1866-1910. Both countries had their problems, and neither was libertopia. But they were close enough to be "proof of concept". There's nothing stopping a minarchist state from functioning except power lusting human excrement like "Max".

  • MNG||

    Max is a tool, but this Hong Kong meme is lame. Hong Kong is a city dude. If you compare it to another city, for example super-nanny state NYC, it actually comes off quite poorly economically.

  • MNG||

  • ||

    2005 estimates

    Pretty sure what baked meant by "Hong Kong was" occurred before the communists took it over.

  • Yurop||

    Hong Kong is still one of the most free states in the world.
    However, the city comparison has some flaws itself. For example, NYC's GDP could have been exaggerated by subsidies from other parts of the country. Plus, there is geographical location, international relations, etc.
    I think what we all can agree with is that, generally, a country or city which is economically free is also rich.

  • Chad||

    And Hong Kong's GDP ain't inflated the same way (and probably by more) due to the cheap labor just across the water?

    You do realize that most of the financial might of HK involves funneling money into China, don't you?

  • cornholio||

    New York City gets the benefit of being the major financial center of the US, which, thanks to its larger population, will of course have a much larger economy. Take away that advantage (which is primarily a leftover of a bygone era when New York was more free market) and New York comes of quite poorly. Also, while the urban status can explain high per-capita GDP, it does not explain the rapid growth of Hong Kong's economy. There is no special advantage, in terms of the rate of economic growth, to being a large city (as evidenced by many economically declining cities, like Cleveland and Detroit). In addition, Hong Kong didn't start out as a large, prosperous city. It started out (before the implementation of the positive non-interventionism policy) as a really crowded island-which would actually be a disadvantage in terms of economic prospects, since they were more dependent than other countries on imports of raw materials and food. The thing is, CED has rehashed this same idiotic non-sequitur fifty times, as if it were the ultimate pwnage of free markets, although the trend extends beyond Hong Kong (its just the most prominent example of the relationship between economic freedom and prosperity). In general: there is no centrally planned economy that is among the wealthiest. There can be varying degrees of government intervention, and these tend to decrease economic growth on the aggregate. In some cases, factors other than economic policy can compensate (like having lots of oil and a small population, as Norway does).

  • hmm||

    Hong Kong isn't just a city, it's a special district and a self directing colony. There is a difference.

  • hmm||

    ...was a self directing colony

  • cornholio||

    In any case, the list MNG cited does not look at economic growth rates, just absolute size. It makes sense that Hong Kong might not come off as well as New York. For one, New York was already a wealthy city when positive non-intervention was applied in Hong Kong. It's also had to deal, without any outside assistance (such as New York enjoys), with significant immigration from the mainland. Most of these immigrants, coming from communist China, tended to be poor and unemployed.

  • cornholio||

    Point being: Hong Kong has had mostly disadvantages, but a good economic policy. As a result, they overcame these disadvantages. Indeed, statist economists at the time thought that the lack of foreign aid to Hong Kong would certainly doom it to economic stagnation. That HK prospered while more resource-rich countries with different economic policies failed is a testament to the success of free-market economics.

  • Yurop||

    I wouldn't say that immigration is a disadvantage. To the contrary, for a country that is short on workers it is a great boon, both economically and culturally.

  • cornholio||

    Immigration is a disadvantage when you're trying to raise your per-capita GDP numbers. My point is that those numbers would probably be skewed downward for Hong Kong, as it went through decades of poor Chinese mainlanders immigrating there. However, because Hong Kong's economic system is awesome, these immigrants have risen relatively quickly in economic terms. This was as a response to MNG's non-sequitur comparison of the per-capita GDP of Hong Kong and New York.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Still apples to oranges. NYC was, not only the financial center of the nation (as cornholio pointed out), it was the trading center for nearly all of New York State, western New England, eastern PA, northern NJ. Up until WWII, much of the food for NYC was grown nearby. Quarries upstate or in VT & NH supplies building stone, and steel could be shipped through the Great Lakes and down the Hudson. Hong Kong was essentially isolated from the Chinese mainland, and everything - food, building supplies, machinery - had to be imported from hundreds or thousands of miles away by sea.

    If "having a port" was all that mattered, well, Macau had/s a port, too. But its standard of living, while much higher than the mainland, was (and is) less than that of Hong Kong. HK had nothing. They were an isolated outpost right next to a gigantic, potentially hostile neighbor. They built their city, along with their economy, from scratch.

  • The Brillian Mind of MNG||

    STOP CONTRADICTING MY AWESOME ARGUMENTS YOU LIBERTARDIAN! BEING A CITY AUTOMATICALLY=ECONOMIC GROWTH! WHICH IS WHY DETROIT AND CLEVELAND ARE DOING SO WELL, DESPITE WHAT YOU NAYSAYING LIBERTOIDS ARE CLAIMING!!!

  • John Mackey||

    well perhaps you can eat my teeny little dick?

  • Jimbo Wales||

    I say we ban him from my website.

  • cornholio||

    Finally, if it weren't for government bailouts, New York would now occupy its proper place as the asshole of the world.

  • ||

    Not read all the comments, but the assumption in that is that unchecked free markets will lead to monopolies and cartels. The validity of that assumption is challenged by the fact that the two nations which earliest adopted free market policies (especially free trade policies), Britain and the Netherlands, did not see monopolies and cartels until half-a-century after Germany (with its policies of state direction of industry which essentially required cartels to form) and the USA (which cannot by any stretch of the word have been called an exponent of free trade in the 19th century).

  • Max||

    I point out that libertarians have never governend shit, and you stupid fucks start talking about Hong Kong. Nobody could make this stuff up.

  • Yurop||

    Elaborate please.

  • ||

    That's not surprising, considering libertarians are generally against "governing."

  • ||

    I love (in a very non-loving way) when "liberals" describe economies of scale like it's a bad thing.
    Don't they LIKE not being a third world country? What the hell is wrong with ingenuity and prosperity?

  • The Brilliant Mind of MNG||

    It makes people unequal, and inequality is bad, m'kay? You see, it would be better if we all ate shit, than for some people to eat shit and others not to.

  • ||

    Given that Yves' blog lent tacit support to both the financial and automaker bailouts, she hardly seems to have a leg to stand on when posing this question.

  • ||

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com.....ent-155829

    Join the fight for freedom my libertarian lads!

  • ||

  • Mark||

    The author wrote:
    "But I have been pretty creeped out lately to realize how hard it is to live Google-free, so I'll bite. In cases where actual market capture occurs with no use of the state's monopoly on violence, this libertarian's response is: Wait a couple years."
    The implication is Google captured the market without using the state's monopoly on violence. Not true. Google depends heavily on IP which is a monopoly protected by the government's monopoly on violence.

  • The Brilliant Mind of MNG||

    Google is evil. If we don't impose artificial handicaps on google, they will take over the world and drink our blood. I know this because I am a totally objective intelleckshual.

  • DJ Drugs||

    I don't see Google's reliance on IP laws. I could use a little elaboration there.

  • jtuf||

    The best response to a monopoly is to start your own small business to compete with it. Facebook is very biased in the way it censors content. For example, I expect Facebook to pull down this picture soon. Luckily, I don't have cable TV. For less than $100 and half the time that most Americans spend watching TV, it's easy to start your one website. Sure, you probably won't get much traffic, but realistically, how much traffic does the average Facebook page get?

  • Big Cat Kahuna||

    Airlines seem to be an industry that demand the intervention of governments to function, certainly for international travel. Given the world we live in does it not makes sense to have an effective and competent agency to enable that process? Further, sans a completely state run organization does it not require continual interaction (meddling?) to enjoy the advantage of private ownership and operation of said airlines?

    Anecdotally, my understanding is the NTSB does fine work and is a very clear example of such an agency.

    Just curious.

  • db||

    "seem" in what way to "...demand the intervention of governments..."?

    It doesn't seem that way to me at all. I'd appreciate you elaborating on this, while I go and have a nice afternoon in the sun.

  • DJ Drugs||

    Maybe it's sweet beautiful irony? I could be wrong, of course.

  • Chad||

    When you can find a monopoly that exists without the support of the government, ask me then

    This challenge is silly: I bet you can't find a NON-MONOPOLY that exists without support of the government, either.

    The idea that monopolies can only exist because of government is just laughably silly. If you can't find any counter-examples, you first need to remove your head from a place where the sun don't shine. And oligopolies are more common than dirt. I'd be surprised if less than a third of my after-tax income went to oligopolists.

  • Chad||

    Bear in mind, I'm all for government having a monopoly. On everything. Fuck the private sector, and let it die.

  • The Brilliant Mind of Chad||

    Remember, you have to prove what you're saying, even though I'm the one making a positive claim.
    "I'd be surprised..."
    Because I have no hard data and am pulling facts out of my ass.

  • Frank Lee||

    It's a sandwich. Corporate power will continue to rise. Unfortunately, at the same time the Keynesian sir-tax-a-lots are double dipping into our back pockets! It's clearly not a recovery, and that's why people are thinking about trying new things. This article makes it all the more clear why http://pathtoasia.com is connecting so many Americans to opportunities in prime destinations!! Discover your options with Path to Asia.

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