Corporations

Rent Seeking As A Corporation's Social Responsibility

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Matt Yglesias of the Center for American Progress Action Fund ponders the logical endpoint of Milton Friedman's famous declaration that "the social responsibility of business is to increase its profit."

This implies that a business executive has not only the right as a citizen of a democratic country but amoral obligation to dedicate his energy and that of the firm he manages toward erecting regulatory barriers to competition and to begging for bailouts and subsidies. The Friedman view is that an entrepreneur who's obsessed with creating great products is not just in some loose sense a sucker compared to the one who's more focused on creating a politically entrenched monopoly, but that he's also guilty of some kind of ethical failing.

Yglesias suggests that, in the end, Friedman's notion that profit is the goal is effectively a "social responsibility to rent-seek." I'm not so sure, for a couple of reasons. 

The first—one espoused by any number of free-market business owners—is that most folks who subscribe to a basically Friedmanite view of the world also believe that the short- and medium-term profits earned through rent-seeking tend to come at the expense of a firm's long-term profits and sustainability. Perhaps a firm initially makes some money by lobbying for taxes and regulations that push smaller firms out of the market. But in the long run, those profits are the products of market distortions, and thus not healthy for the firm, which becomes increasingly reliant on favoritism and intervention rather than price signals over time. That sort of rent-seeking behavior also encourages a competitive regulatory environment, in which other firms and interested parties (bureaucrats, special interest groups, politicians, etc.) will soon seek to use similar tactics against your firm. Eventually those parties will be successful. The underlying idea behind this view is that it's bad business to work toward making rent-seeking a greater part of the regulatory environment.

The second thing to note is that Yglesias is at least partially right in that many businesses do end up accepting and embracing the notion that rent-seeking is simply part of their business. But if you think this is a problem, then the most effective response is to look for ways to make rent-seeking behavior more difficult. And since one of the basic premises when it comes to rent-seeking is that rules and regulations will almost always be gamed in favor of one party or another, and that more rules leads to more gaming, you don't accomplish this through regulation. Instead, you make rent-seeking harder by making government smaller, and simpler, and less powerful, and therefore 1) harder to manipulate and 2) less enticing, thanks to the limits on its influence, to those looking to exploit its rules. The less advantageous it is to game the government, the fewer businesses will attempt to do it.

In 2005, Reason hosted a debate over the meaning of corporate social responsibility between Milton Friedman, Whole Foods' John Mackey, and Cypress Semiconductor's T.J. Rodgers.

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  1. In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

    Instead of sitting around on the internet all day, posting pointless messages about “freedom” and abusing yourselves to pictures of loose women, why not do something productive and surrender your lives to Allah?

    Western society has become decadent, weak, and lazy, and is soon to collapse. The upcoming generation, people such as yourselves, want nothing more from life than to grow fat sitting around on computers all day, masturbating, drinking, and taking drugs. You are encouraged in this behavior by corrupt politicians and absent new age parents while your societies and economies collapse around you. Meanwhile the Muslim Ummah, or brotherhood, grows rich on oil wealth and trains its upcoming generation to serve Allah, and to fight, willing to give their lives if necessary for the cause. The 19 hijackers of 9/11 have surely earned their place in paradise as do the suicide bombers who strike daily into the heart of the devil state of Israel. We are living among you, in Europe and America, and we are outbreeding you day by day, slowly taking over.

    Allah has a plan for each of us. He means us all to be good Muslims and live by his rules, as set out to the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Your sinful lives and wicked ways go against His plans, and you will be tortured for eternity in hell for your iniquities. Repent now and revert back to the one true faith.

    Where your joke of a faith, which no one in your society believes in anyway, tells you to love, be tolerant, and turn the other cheek, the Quran teaches us to “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, capture and besiege them and prepare for them every kind of ambush.”

    It also says “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies”.

    How can you hope to win your futile so called ‘war on terror’ against us? You have become weak, and no longer willing or able to fight. You even elected a pacifist president with Muslim sympathies to try and placate us. It’s only a matter of time until we win. Even now your soldiers contine to die on the battlefields of Afghanistan, and for what? The moment you leave, it will be back to traditional Sharia law. Your technological advances count for nothing if all you do with them is watch porn and play video games. We will continue our jihad on the west, to maim and kill those who oppose or insult us. See the truth for what it is and revert to Islam immediately. It is your only hope of survival.

    Abu Akil Walid ibn Tarekh al-Hindi

    1. Let’s all look at why Muslims are upset. First of all, in the Muslim religion, you’re not allowed to have what? Sex. Good. There’s no sex until marriage in the Muslim world. Now, this would be fine except that in the Muslim religion you also can’t… Anybody? Jack off. Okay, jacking it is strictly forbidden in the Muslim religion. And what do we know about the places Muslims live? They live in? Good, sand. Now put yourself in the shoes of a Muslim. It’s Friday night, but you can’t have sex, and you can’t jack off. There’s sand in your eyes and probably in the crack of your ass, and then some cartoon comes along from a country where people are getting laid, and mocks your prophet. Well, you know what? I’d be pretty pissed off too!

      1. Re: Warty,

        It’s Friday night, but you can’t have sex, and you can’t jack off.

        You forgot: They are not allowed to drink, either. Even *I* would strap a thingy that goes boom to my belly!

      2. What was the first comment?

        People will have sex regardless of the social/religious barriers put in place.

        I think that it is the bacon ban.

        Sorry, semitic peoples but you can’t have peace and prosperity without pork.

        1. I bought a 3-pound bag of precooked bacon bits at Costco yesterday. It was the best decision of my life.

          1. I bought a 3-pound bag of precooked bacon freedom bits at Costco yesterday. It was the best decision of my life.

            And I’ll bet that since you made that purchase you’ve had nary a thought of killing infidels.

            1. Not a one. I’ve thought a lot about how glad I am that all those pigs died for my sins, though.

              1. Wait, so would pork be taboo in Judaism or Islam if pork had been the true son of god and not just a prophet?

    2. If the webmaster could do everybody a favor and get the above taken out. It takes too much space just to tell us we’re going to burn in hell for not cladding our women with burkas.

    3. Funny, you hit up all the talking points of anti-Islamists. You wouldn’t happen to be trolling us would you? Naaaaaaaaaaah.

    4. Hey Muslim, I suppose your religion has appeal for Saudi Arabians who want to marry 10 year olds girls, but most people aren’t pedophiles. So go preach about Islam somewhere else.

      Your religion is pathetic, the word Islam means “submission,” perhaps your faith should be called “Slavery” since that’s what it creates.

      Switzerland Rejects Gun Control Once Again.
      http://libertarians4freedom.bl…..t-gun.html

      1. Who are you talking to?

  2. But in the long run, those profits are the products of market distortions, and thus not healthy for the firm, which becomes increasingly reliant on favoritism and intervention rather than price signals over time.

    Hence: GM. Chrysler.

    Prices provide an accurate (as much as possible) indicator of reality. Distorted prices through government interventions, at the behest of rent-seeking partners, cannot convey ACCURATE information, thus making planning and decision-making a haphazard effort at BEST – HENCE, G.M. and Chrysler!

  3. The first?one espoused by any number of free-market business owners?is that most folks who subscribe to a basically Friedmanite view of the world also believe that the short- and medium-term profits earned through rent-seeking tend to come at the expense of a firm’s long-term profits and sustainability.

    Haven’t read the whole post yet but I just wanted to thank you for using this word in a context I feared it was long extracted and misappropriated from. I’d like to see the term liberal returned to its rightful mantle next, but baby steps and all.

  4. Did Yglesias make this comment with or without the aid of chunky glasses? What about the cape?

    Doesn’t Friedman go on and on about the problems of rent seeking, barriers to entry, licensing requirements, etc?

    Some businessmen advance their business interests by killing competitors. Does Yglesias think Friedman’s business’-social-responsibility theory directly endorses murder? Stupid question. Chile!

    1. see here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..0#t=06m19s

      Special bonus guest star: Frances Fox Piven!

  5. There’s a portion of the rent seeking equation missing in his argument, the same portion is left out of every left argument against corporations with regards to rent seeking. Companies seek profit, governments seek power. Companies trade profits in exchange for giving governments more power. Oddly the only half of that equation you will ever see argued by the left is the company side. Because I think most on the left think government is infallible when it comes to regulation of companies.

    1. It’s more accurate to say that corporations give the government money in exchange for power, which they use to increase profit.

    2. Because I think most on the left think government is infallible when it comes to regulation of companies.

      No, you see, evil Republicans and libertarians want to regulate in an evil way. And progressives aren’t infallible either. Sometimes they compromise with Republicans and libertarians, which is an act of evil. The right people need to be in government. That’s when it all works. That’s when we all hold hands and sing songs.

  6. Mods are deleting the hilarious ranting pseudomuslim troll? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    1. Well, he doesn’t have a blog to whore.

    2. umm, there are a couple of other comments going down the memory hole…what the fuck is going on here?

      1. The Mooslim invasion is hear! We have taken over the internet! You foolish libertarians should have listened to the wise neo-cons!

      2. Fuckin’ Nazi Mods, how do they work?

    3. Mods are deleting the hilarious ranting pseudomuslim troll? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      Yeah and he had already convinced so many regulars!

    4. Maybe the squirrels are rising up in solidarity with their North African and Middle Eastern brethren.

      1. Yet TRIATHALON guy can post 3000 word conspiracy screeds all over the fucking place…jeezus

        1. How many triathletes have bombed the world trade center!!!!

        2. But TRIATHLON is hilarious and utterly insane. Why would you take that away from us?

          1. Maybe even better than THE COMMANDER.

            Maybe.

          2. Dude, the crazies aren’t funny for long, unless you can get a rise out of them.

            The copy and pasted manifestos lose their charm after a few hundred views. Now if these loonies were actually posting on here and arguing, then we would have some entertainment. As it stands I have to disagree with you statement.

            1. Walid was starting to respond to posts in the morning links thread (unless he was being spoofed?), but it seems the heavy-handed damnatio memoriae seems to have driven him away.

  7. You’re telling me profit-making firms will engage in anticompetitive, anticapitalist behavior if they are allowed to do so and if it makes them more profits?

    How will a weaker government be less prone to abuse? That makes absolutely no sense. Nothing is offered to support the claim, it’s just taken as obvious libertarian truth. Why does obvious libertarian truth so often contradict basic rationality?

    1. OK this might be a little complicated for you, but if the government doesn’t have the power to regulate the economy then a corporation can’t make the government regulate the economy for its benefit. I know this is incredibly difficult and complex, but I believe in your tiny little brain!

      1. That’s not difficult and complex, it’s monumentally stupid. You’re saying that the way to prevent corporations from abusing people through regulatory capture is to let them abuse people without having to go through a middleman.

        1. Abuse people?

          1. Isn’t the important thing the negative consequences to people? I don’t give a flip about not pleasing the free market gods.

            1. Brooks answered this below with some nice sarcasm…

            2. Re: Tony,

              Isn’t the important thing the negative consequences to people?

              You mean the loss of life, property and liberty? Oh, sorry Tony: Those are the staple of GOVERNMENT. You meant from corporations, right?

              I don’t give a flip about not pleasing the free market gods.

              There are no free market gods. There’s only one true God, and that’s the State, comrade.

        2. assumption 1: the regulation was needed, working, protecting…

          I like playing spot the shitty assumptions.

        3. Unlike governments, companies have to convince people to give them money without the aid of threats of violence. This means that they have to produce things that people want to buy. Where is the advantage in abusing people? Perhaps you mean employees. How many employees of corporations would be better off without their job?

          1. Profiting from voluntary transactions? Sounds like corporate rape and pillage to me!

        4. Ah yes, I can see how Boeing and ADM will just extract money from people directly with a dramatically smaller military and no Farm Bill.

          Thank God government is there to protect us from that.

        5. Re: Tony,

          You’re saying that the way to prevent corporations from abusing people through regulatory capture is to let them abuse people without having to go through a middleman.

          Regulations do not prevent ‘abuse’; they exist to ENCOURAGE IT.

          Corporations or businesses are kept in check by their competition, Tony. Better service and a more open structure allowed Apple to dominate the personal computer market agaist Tandy and Commodore for years, until Commodore started to sell complete packages through retail stores and toystores for the home, and still providing great support and oodles of software. NO regulation was needed to ‘make’ these companies comply with what their customers wanted. It was their profit-seeking, UNregulated environment that generated ever-increasingly better products and services.

          Instead, highly regulated industries like banking and trucking continuously screw their customers up. And as more regulations are imposed, the more we get shafted. Regulations are NOT meant to ‘protect’ us, you idiot!

          1. OM you’re not credible because you have never lived in a world where there aren’t restrictions on the activities of businesses. Supply and demand is all well and good, but it doesn’t make the world go round all by itself. People don’t have perfect information and don’t always make rational decisions. It’s been amply demonstrated that corporations will abuse people if it suits their purposes and they can get away with it. The bottom-line calculation of how many people are okay to poison or how much river is okay to pollute in a corporation isn’t necessarily the same calculation that people in a modern decent democracy would make, and they have every right to require certain standards for corporations that benefit from their society and from the people themselves as a customer base.

            1. Tony|2.15.11 @ 12:55PM|#
              “OM you’re not credible because you have never lived in a world where there aren’t restrictions on the activities of businesses.”

              Thanks to sleazy assholes like you. But you might just google a place called Hong Kong. Not that you’d ever let facts get in the way of your “stupid”.

              1. Hong Kong, where all land is owned by the government? And where regulations such as minimum wage and compulsory pension have gone into effect?

            2. Re: Tony,

              OM you’re not credible because you have never lived in a world where there aren’t restrictions on the activities of businesses.

              Don’t presume to know where I have lived, kid.

              Supply and demand is all well and good, but it doesn’t make the world go round all by itself.

              Of course not. What motivates the world to go around is human greed for better things.

              People don’t have perfect information and don’t always make rational decisions.

              You’re no better than a parrot. Decisions are ALWAYS rational, dolt – that’s the DEFINITION. A person that acts irrationally is NOT deciding.

              You simply repeat tired, old neo-classical arguments about “perfect markets” as a way to justify intervention. Get this: Government types CAN’T CALCULATE. It’s IMPOSSIBLE.

              It’s been amply demonstrated that corporations will abuse people if it suits their purposes and they can get away with it.

              Ok, prove it to me – because this “amply demonstrated” of yours sounds a lot like the “study after study” cliche used by bubble heads in the Sally Jesse Raphael show.

              The bottom-line calculation of how many people are okay to poison or how much river is okay to pollute in a corporation isn’t necessarily the same calculation that people in a modern decent democracy would make, and they have every right to require certain standards for corporations that benefit from their society and from the people themselves as a customer base.

              Before you try to give me more cliches like those, read this about your beloved state:

              http://www.livescience.com/422…..laces.html

              The worst places happen to be where the least protection of private property exists.

            3. “People don’t have perfect information…”

              Neither does the government. Imperfect information is a fact of the universe we live in. But market forces work in the direction of perfect information, thus the popularity of the internet, and the rise of agent/expert occupations. Ever heard of CarFax?

              “…and don’t always make rational decisions. ”

              Yep. And when they make irrational decisions they lose economic power, while those who made rational decisions gain it. I fail to see how this is a criticism.

            4. Okay, just for the record, libertarians are way against poisoning people.

            5. OM you’re not credible because you have never lived in a world where there aren’t restrictions on the activities of businesses.

              Who has proposed a scenario where businesses are allowed to act with no restrictions? No one; this is a strawman. Libertarian ideology defines limits on how individuals may act towards each other; this applies to individuals in the business realm as well.

              Supply and demand is all well and good, but it doesn’t make the world go round all by itself. People don’t have perfect information and don’t always make rational decisions.

              The Neo-Classical ideas of “perfect rationality/knowledge” are models that have no basis in reality. They are useless assumptions for modeling the real world.

              Ironically, your attempt to use these concepts for your argument actually undercuts your position. If people can’t make rational decisions in the simple task of purchasing goods they desire, then it is impossible for them to decide political candidates who propose to do it for them. And since the elected officials are human as well, their decisions in office will be as irrational as the voters.

        6. Regulatory capture with no regulations?

        7. You’re saying that the way to prevent corporations from abusing people through regulatory capture is to let them abuse people without having to go through a middleman.

          No, she’s saying that without the regulatory, there is nothing to capture.

      2. but if the government doesn’t have the power to regulate the economy then a corporation can’t make the government regulate the economy for its benefit.

        Just because they don’t have the power at time 0 doesn’t mean they won’t later. As long as gov’t is allowed to make its own rules, as long as it has an amendable constitution — hell, as long as it’s not an absolute monarchy controlled by someone who doesn’t believe in that sort of thing — the rules can always be changed so that it does have that power.

    2. smaller =/= weaker

      But if the government is too weak to enforce the regulations being sought for the purpose of rent seeking then it’s pretty easy to see how smaller and weaker could reduce rent seeking behavior. I know confusing as hell. Those damn twice removed logical steps can be a bitch.

      1. I like to show up fashionably late…

        1. Better to come late than early, if you know what I mean.

          1. Unfortunately I know exactly what you do, er mean.

    3. How will a weaker government be less prone to abuse? That makes absolutely no sense.

      Think harder.

      1. Don’t. Engage. The sockpuppet. People.

        1. I thought my near-zero inertia response was appropriate, on the off-chance that it is just a brain-dead TEAM BLUE drone.

      2. JW|2.15.11 @ 11:14AM|#
        “How will a weaker government be less prone to abuse? That makes absolutely no sense.

        Think.”

        FIFY
        This *is* Tony; you’re asking too much.

    4. Not weaker government, smaller government. A corporation can’t rent-seek if the government has a strong stance against rent-seeking. Excepting An-caps, libertarians typically want to make there to be far few laws, rules, and regulations, but to still have some rules. And what few rules do remain they typically would see them strongly enforced and they could be strongly enforced because there would be fewer resources taken up in enforcing bullshit regulations.

      1. A corporation can’t rent-seek if the government has a strong stance against rent-seeking.

        Sure they can. Step one is to seek to knock off that strong stance against rent seeking in their case.

    5. Re: Tony,

      You’re telling me profit-making firms will engage in anticompetitive, anticapitalist behavior if they are allowed to do so and if it makes them more profits?

      Yes. Next question.

      How will a weaker government be less prone to abuse?

      Because a weaker government cannot enforce the rulez that the rent-seekers propose. USE YOUR HEAD, Tony, at least for today!

      That makes absolutely no sense.

      Would you prefer to have it explained to you with pictures?

      Weak Gov => Can’t enforce.
      Rent-Seekers => Can’t win.

      Nothing is offered to support the claim, it’s just taken as obvious libertarian truth.

      Your lack of imagination and thinking abilities do not become, all of a sudden, a libertarian’s problem, Tony.

      USE YOUR HEAD FOR A CHANGE!

      Weak Government => Can’t enforce Da Rulez
      Rent-Seekers = Lose.

      Why does obvious libertarian truth so often contradict basic rationality?

      Something that contradicts your puny views cannot be construed as “contradicting rationality”, Tony:

      USE YOUR FUCKING HEAD!

      1. I get it. As long as corporations are abusing their power without the help of government, it’s okay.

        1. Please explain what “power” corporations have and how they “abuse” it.

          Is that anything like getting congress to mandate that people buy your product or else go-to-jail?

          1. Don’t you get it? You *have* to buy their product. You *have* to shop at their store. All companies are in cahoots together and plan all of their pricing and production decisions at secret meetings.

            Really, your needs, desires and decisions don’t count because they’re all big-business-y and stuff. They laugh at your feeble consumer powers.

            1. Thanks Kommrade JW, I can be so dense sometimes. Been to Rebamacation Camp 4 times already.

          2. Businesses can pollute the environment, sell dangerous products, and engage in all sorts of unacceptable behavior that can’t be dealt with by market forces. It’s why there are regulations. Anything with power has the potential to abuse it, not just government.

            You want to claim that corporations are checked by the fact that people vote with their dollars. Well, with government people vote with their votes. Does that mean it can’t abuse its power?

            1. Re: Tony,

              Businesses can pollute the environment

              We ALL ‘pollute’ the environment. Try again.

              […]sell dangerous products[…]

              They could try, Tony. Not that the customer is going to be pleased by that.

              and engage in all sorts of unacceptable behavior that can’t be dealt with by market forces.

              That’s an assertion. Can you provide any EVIDENCE that the market can’t absolutely deal with bad behavior from corporations or businesses?

              It’s why there are regulations.

              That’s not why. They are there because corporations wanted them there.

              Anything with power has the potential to abuse it, not just government.

              Yet you HAVE to deal with the government ALWAYS, Tony. I can always NOT buy a GM truck… Can YOU stop paying your taxes?

              You are NOT THINKING!!!!

              You want to claim that corporations are checked by the fact that people vote with their dollars. Well, with government people vote with their votes. Does that mean it can’t abuse its power?

              Which one, government or corporations? Learn to write: Subject and Predicate. First lesson.

            2. Government Businesses can pollute the environment, sell dangerous products, and engage in all sorts of unacceptable behavior that can’t be dealt with by market forces.

              FTFY

            3. Businesses can pollute the environment, sell dangerous products, and engage in all sorts of unacceptable behavior that can’t be dealt with by market forces. It’s why there are regulations. Anything with power has the potential to abuse it, not just government.

              But market forces (i.e. individual preferences) do penalize companies that the consumers disagree with. To claim otherwise is to reject reality.

              You want to claim that corporations are checked by the fact that people vote with their dollars. Well, with government people vote with their votes. Does that mean it can’t abuse its power?

              All individuals and groups can abuse power; this is just reality. Free market proponents who claim or insinuate that companies will never harm or utilize unethical means to profit are fooling themselves and bastardizing the argument. The difference between government and private business is that government, by force, prevents alternatives to itself and its effects continue long after its members leave office. Private business is dynamic, with new players constantly entering the market, attempting to capitalize on the changing preferences of the public.

            4. Unlike businesses, governments don’t just disappear when people lose faith in them. Even voting in new politicians has limited effect when there is an extensive, permanent bureaucracy in place.

              1. I’d argue that people have more control over government than over the market. And it’s more fair too, since all votes are equal in government elections, unlike in the market, where you have more votes if you have more dollars. If Wal-Mart wants to come to town, destroy 3 jobs for every 2 it creates, and completely alter the local goods and employment picture, how much control do constituents of that place really have over it, except via their government? There’s a stark difference between the policy preferences of the two parties, so voting for one or the other will have policy consequences.

                1. since all votes are equal in government elections

                  Yes. Equally ineffectual.

                2. “I’d argue that people have more control over government than over the market. And it’s more fair too, since all votes are equal in government elections.”

                  Then you’re a communist and should stop pretending otherwise. If you believe that, the government should nationalize everything, flat out.

                  Of course, I already knew you were a communist. Every democrat is.

                3. “And it’s more fair too, since all votes are equal in government elections”

                  The fact that everybody has the same electoral power, regardless of what they’ve accomplished, is the opposite of “fair”.

                  Idiot.

                  1. The fact that everybody has the same electoral power, regardless of what they’ve accomplished, is the opposite of “fair”.

                    This is the most disturbing thing I’ve read all day. Congratulations. Should the poor get 3/5 of a vote, or none at all perhaps?

                    1. “This is the most disturbing thing I’ve read all day. Congratulations. Should the poor get 3/5 of a vote, or none at all perhaps?”

                      It would probably be better than equal votes. Better yet just keep the government as small as possible and let the market determine for the most part how much power a person has.

                      What you don’t get is that money is nothing but a form of social accounting. If you have a lot of money, it means you’ve done a lot of good things for other people, and they’ve rewarded you by giving you social power in the form of money.

                      It’s called reward and punishment, which are basis of civilization, although I’m sure that breaks your little vulgar egalitarian heart.

                    2. If you have a lot of money, it means you’ve done a lot of good things for other people, and they’ve rewarded you by giving you social power in the form of money.

                      If you have a lot of money, it means you have a lot of money. You could have earned it through smart, hard work providing valuable things to people. Or you could be the coke-addicted offspring of someone else who did that. Or you could have won the lottery. Or you could have made money through bad, destructive means. Jesus Christ. What you’re describing here is plutocracy, you do realize that?

                      Even the worst people deserve a vote in their government. That’s the essence of democracy. You get a say–an equal say–in how you are governed. Anything else is a form of tyranny. Wow. You can’t be serious with this crap.

                    3. Re: Tony,

                      If you have a lot of money, it means you have a lot of money.

                      Wow – a tautology.

                      You could have earned it through smart, hard work providing valuable things to people. Or you could be the coke-addicted offspring of someone else who did that. Or you could have won the lottery. Or you could have made money through bad, destructive means. Jesus Christ. What you’re describing here is plutocracy, you do realize that?

                      That’s not what he or even YOU were describing, dolt – having money does not equal plutocracy.

                      Even the worst people deserve a vote in their government.

                      The fact that the very worst governs us is proof to that truism, I guess…

                    4. “You could have earned it through smart, hard work providing valuable things to people. ”

                      80% of American millionaires are self-made. So this is not only a possibility, it’s the by far the most likely case.

                      “Or you could be the coke-addicted offspring of someone else who did that.”

                      In which case somebody who earned the power chose to entrust it to you. Exactly like a bureaucrat.

                      “Or you could have won the lottery.”

                      Lotteries are state manipulations, dimwit.

                      “Or you could have made money through bad, destructive means.”

                      Like what? Stealing, maybe? That’s why stealing is illegal. Bribing public officials? Also illegal.

                      “Jesus Christ. What you’re describing here is plutocracy, you do realize that?”

                      Yes. In an idealized market economy, a plutocracy would be a wonderful thing, because it would mean the incentive system that we call civilization is working perfectly.

                    5. “Yes. In an idealized market economy, a plutocracy would be a wonderful thing, ”

                      Let me rephrase that: “in an idealized market economy, the resulting plutocracy would be a wonderful thing.”

                      When you say plutocracy, you no doubt mean a system where the wealthy run the government monopoly. That wouldn’t be fair, but then again, there’s no way to make government fair.

                    6. Democracy itself is a form of tyranny. Government is always a mixture of consent and coercion, and its status as a “tyranny” is dependent on the relative amount of each.

                      Generally speaking, the larger the voice of the worst people, the less consent, and the more coercion — the thing about bad people is, there is no Team Evil; good people are often move inclined to help others they see as good and work against those they see as bad, but bad people don’t really give a shit.

                      Most of what the worst people want to happen to others, they don’t want to happen to them, so even if the majority of people were the worst, there would probably be low levels of consent to government in practice. They’d all say “yeah, I think the cops should bust down doors and just beat the crap out of criminals without a trial”, but then get pissed off when they get their ass beaten for pulling the tags off a mattress.

                    7. Democracy itself is a form of tyranny.

                      Tyranny of the majority is a thing. That’s why good democracies have checks on it. We have lots of them, to the extent that a minority of the country has outsize influence in both houses of Congress, and nine unelected wise people have a major policy role. If the most liberal governments in the world are called tyranny, then perhaps we’ve defined the term out of meaningfulness.

                      They’d all say “yeah, I think the cops should bust down doors and just beat the crap out of criminals without a trial”, but then get pissed off when they get their ass beaten for pulling the tags off a mattress.

                      Then you aren’t doing a very good job using the tools of democracy, free speech and thought, to spread the word. If you check out of participation because you just hate government, why do you feel entitled to complain about it?

                4. “If Wal-Mart wants to come to town, destroy 3 jobs for every 2 it creates, and completely alter the local goods and employment picture, how much control do constituents of that place really have over it, except via their government?”

                  Ummm, if nobody shops at Wal-Mart, how are they going to accomplish any of that? By shopping there, people are giving their consent. Sure, there’ll be a MINORITY of libtards who boycott or something and then whine that they have no power.

                  1. Kpres this very article is how powerful, wealthy interests manipulate government for their own ends. Why is it that the only supposed leaches you guys pay attention to are the poor ones?

                    1. —“this very article is how powerful, wealthy interests manipulate government for their own ends”—

                      So, your answer is to give the government even more authority, presumably to use at the behest of the monied interests?

                    2. Kpres this very article is how powerful, wealthy interests manipulate government for their own ends. Why is it that the only supposed leaches you guys pay attention to are the poor ones?

                      Bank bailouts, health insurance companies whose product the government is trying to force people to buy, the phrase “crony capitalism”–all of this should strike you as something that commenters here have talked about and railed against. You can try to discredit libertarianism on grounds of utilitarianism, practicality, or morality, but if you’re going after inconsistency then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Even going after it for being too consistent would be a stronger case, like the lie-to-a-murderer quandary in Kantian ethics.

                5. Tony|2.15.11 @ 1:00PM|#
                  “I’d argue that people have more control over government than over the market.”

                  You’d be full of shit.

                  1. Millions of people aligned with the Tea Party over the last two years and last November Republicans had a historically large win in Congressional elections.

                    This week, Obama’s new 10 year budget mainlines $1 trillion deficits, pretty much the same as his last 10 year budgets released over the previous two years.

                    A few years earlier Wal Mart heard from its customers: we like sell by dates on products, even canned products.

                    Faced with that feedback, Wal Mart told its suppliers: you’ll have dates on your cans by X or we won’t buy from you anymore.

                    Of course, government works better in places like China and Cuba where your opinions are assigned to you.

                6. Re: Tony,

                  I’d argue that people have more control over government than over the market. And it’s more fair too, since all votes are equal in government elections, unlike in the market, where you have more votes if you have more dollars.[???]

                  Marginal Utility and Diminishing Returns being a never mind to you, I fancy.

                  Please, READ an economics book, Tony – you’re making a jackass out of yourself.

                7. “I’d argue that people have more control over government than over the market. ”

                  Why do you people even humor this guy?

                  Clearly, if I call the White House to complain I’ll get more of a response than if I call my local McDonalds

                8. And it’s more fair too, since all votes are equal in government elections, unlike in the market, where you have more votes if you have more dollars.

                  You get an equal choice in government between a red-colored placebo and a blue-colored placebo. In the market, not every dollar is chasing the same good or service at the same time. A dollar chasing a car is not competing with a dollar chasing a loaf of bread. Mere possession of money does not improve or damage your position in the market.

                9. And it’s more fair too, since all votes are equal in government elections, unlike in the market, where you have more votes if you have more dollars.

                  Translation.

                  Why should my boss have more influence on my salary that my friends, just because he pays the bill.

            5. “You want to claim that corporations are checked by the fact that people vote with their dollars. Well, with government people vote with their votes. Does that mean it can’t abuse its power?”

              In the market, if I like Android phones, I get an Android phone. If you like an IPhone, you get an IPhone. We’re both satisfied.

              In government, one of us, maybe both, will be disappointed.

              That’s the difference. Of course, the whole premise of Democracy is an attempt restrain the government MONOPOLY by adding competing forces similar to market forces. But it’s still a monopoly meaning the minority always suffers.

              1. Yes KPres government has a monopoly over certain things. Unless you like living in what is called a “failed state,” that’s how it works. Hundreds of millions of people living in a single jurisdiction cannot each have the government they want. That means people won’t get everything they want all the time. Grow up and deal with it. Given the forms of societies people have lived in historically, you’re lucky you have a choice at all.

                1. Shut up, Tony. I’m not an anarchist. Necessary Evil, OK? I understand economics and get that there are certain cases where competition breaks down. But in general the market works better, so always go with that when you can. Get it? That’s my philosophy.

                  1. Well a minute ago you were arguing for bringing back the 3/5 compromise because poor people don’t deserve to have a vote in how they are governed, so pardon my confusion.

                2. Unless you like living in what is called a “failed state,” that’s how it works.

                  Tony, you left out the most important part. SOMALIA!

                3. —“Unless you like living in what is called a “failed state,”—

                  Somalia!!!Roads!!!

                  Drink

            6. “Businesses can pollute the environment, sell dangerous products, and engage in all sorts of unacceptable behavior that can’t be dealt with by market forces. It’s why there are regulations.”

              Yes, Tony, businesses mess up from time to time. When they do, they suffer. (Even when they don’t mess up, but the government says they do (See Toyota), they still suffer.)

              But in addition to suffering in the market, most libertarians believe that the common law remedies of tort, contract, and property are valid ways that individuals can hold offending businesses responsible.

              Businesses generally don’t like it when they are sued for tort or contract violations. But they DO like it when they get regulated, because they can influence the process so that the regulations ultimately benefit them.

              Why do you think Wall Street loves Dodd-Frank? Big companies love regulation, because they can pay the lawyers and ensure both influence and compliance.

              Small companies can’t, and thus get put out of business by government or never enter the market.

              This is what you don’t seem to understand. There are effective mechanisms to hold violators responsible, but they are not the mechanisms you support.

              1. So instead of sensible front-end regulations, you want to vastly enlarge the court apparatus (still a part of government!) in order to resolve issues in the least efficient way possible. That doesn’t make sense from any point of view, least of all a small-government one.

                Corporate America spends lots and lots of money to influence policy in its favor, yes. It tries to water down regulation, but would generally prefer not to be regulated at all. I really don’t understand this assertion that they like regulations because they can influence them. It’s just another silly attempt to twist everything around so you can blame government, the eternal bogeyman.

                1. Re: Tony,

                  So instead of sensible front-end regulations, you want to vastly enlarge the court apparatus (still a part of government!) in order to resolve issues in the least efficient way possible.

                  Sure, because people are so doggedly prone to committing the very same thing that will land them in COURT every SINGLE time sans regulations, whereas with regulations, presumably, everybody will behave in a single, expected way, right?

                  If that were true, with the 70,000 page Federal Registry, courts should have been rendered obsolete by now, Tony.

                  I mean, do you really give what you write much thought???

                  That doesn’t make sense from any point of view, least of all a small-government one.

                  You’re just making things up.

                  Corporate America spends lots and lots of money to influence policy in its favor, yes. It tries to water down regulation[…][sic]

                  Ha ha ha!!!

                  but would generally prefer not to be regulated at all.

                  You’re so cute! Oh, you schnookums you, so innocent!

                  I really don’t understand this assertion that they like regulations because they can influence them.

                  Well, that’s only because you’re thick. Nothing fancier than that.

                  1. Sure, because people are so doggedly prone to committing the very same thing that will land them in COURT every SINGLE time sans regulations, whereas with regulations, presumably, everybody will behave in a single, expected way, right?

                    I don’t understand the fundamental difference between having a regulation that businesses are, by force of law, required to follow, or businesses having legal liability for torts. The only difference is what makes more practical sense. Having regulations is, in fact, to have smaller government.

                    1. That being the case, the only reason you guys are against regulations in favor of a massively tangled tort system is because that’s what corporations want (because they know that they’d be much less liable if every complaint were required to get clogged in the court system). You’re supposed to be an independent minded idealist, not a corporate whore, but that’s the only place this argument can really come from.

                    2. Re: Tony,

                      You’re supposed to be an independent minded idealist, not a corporate whore[…]

                      “NO true Scottsman would ever ever….”

                      New urban dictionary.
                      Fallacy: see Tony.

                    3. Re: Tony,

                      I don’t understand the fundamental difference between having a regulation that businesses are, by force of law, required to follow, or businesses having legal liability for torts.

                      But you argued a difference, just a few posts ago, Tony! Here:

                      “So instead of sensible front-end regulations, you want to vastly enlarge the court apparatus […]in order to resolve issues in the least efficient way possible.”

                      You DO understand your “either-or” argument above, don’t you? You DO understand English, don’t you? You cannot afford to play dumb now.

                    4. Yeah I said the difference is one is more practical and results in smaller government. Why you guys prefer the more impractical, bigger government system is beyond me, unless you’re just parroting the policy platform of corporate lobbyists and their pet legislators.

                    5. Re: Tony,

                      Yeah I said the difference is one is more practical and results in smaller government.

                      And I already poked a big hole in your argument, by pointing out that the 70,000 page Federal Registry should have made courts obsolete. Since that ain’t so, your argument is silly. It also could not be, as making sure people follow the regulations requires an army of inspectors, which goes counter to the idea of “small governent.”

                      Instead, courts only have to look at cases one by one as they are brought up, no need to visit EVERYBODY to assure compliance. Courts are actually MORE efficient than regulatory bodies, pound per pound.

                    6. Get real. Courts are mostly there to settle disputes among wealthy and corporate interests anyway. Even today it’s pretty common for little persons to be wedged out of the system because they just can’t afford the expense. The bottom line is corporations would get away with more wrongdoing. And that’s the only motivation here! It’s certainly not smaller government, and it’s certainly not protecting more people.

                      What’s the difference, in terms of freedom or size of government, between having legal liability for torts and having legal liability for violating regulations?

                    7. Having regulations is, in fact, to have smaller government.

                      Are you drunk when you post? Such a statement is false prima facie. If the 70,000 page CFR disappeared tomorrow, a lot of administrative judges and lawyers would be out of work.

        2. Re: Tony,

          As long as corporations are abusing their power without the help of government, it’s okay.

          Only a statist fuck would construe profit-seeking as “abusing power.”

    6. Wow, that was completely unexpected!

  8. The Friedman view is that an entrepreneur who’s obsessed with creating great products is not just in some loose sense a sucker compared to the one who’s more focused on creating a politically entrenched monopoly, but that he’s also guilty of some kind of ethical failing.

    WTF?

    1. Don’t gaze too long at Yglesias’ writing. It gazes back into you.

        1. Fuck you, homophobe.

          1. gaze, not glaze

      1. I heard something about DeMint boycotting CPAC because of the gaze.

      2. Also, don’t read the comments. They’re full of strawmen. It’s stupider than shrike.

  9. Yglesias desperately wants this to be true, because rent-seeking and the expensive lobbying it entails serve as a form of profit-sharing which benefits his heroes in the government.

  10. It is amazingly polite of Matt Yglesias to periodically remind us that he has absolutely no clue what he is talking about.

  11. You lost me at Yglesias.

    His name should be YgLAZYASS because his intellectual reasoning effort is nil.

  12. Great now Reason is pissing off the Muslim trolls and we are all going to get he has set up the bombed. That’s not very reasonable for a magazine called reason.

    PS racists!

  13. Yglesias is begging the question, assuming the conclusion, one of those fallacies.

    Basically, what Yglesias is saying is that in the psuedo-fascist corporatist hell that he and his big government buddies strive to create with the redistributionist/regulatory state, businessmen will be rent-seekers. And that’s the fault of businessmen, for being rational actors in the environment they are given.

    But first, you have to have an environment where rent-seeking is the road to success.

    The real question is whether Friedman was saying that companies should work to create this environment. I don’t think he was – the deadweight losses of big government eventually come out of profits.

    1. He looks like a donut with glasses.

    2. My god, he has “epsilon male” written in crayon on his forehead. He just needs a PBR in hand and everything is finished.

      1. Better that than ARSE

    3. Where’s his pork-pie hat?

      1. He ate it.

      2. You guys are making me hungry with all of this talk of ‘donuts’ and ‘pork-pie’.

        How awesome would a pie made of donuts and bacon be?

        1. Wicked awesome.

        2. While a quick Google search showed extensive references to both bacon donuts and donut pies, I found no reference to a bacon donut pie. I think you could be on to something original here.

      3. I laughed.

  14. Isn’t the important thing the negative consequences to people?

    Of course it is; that’s why we all believe the government should only allow a single provider in any industry, so those poor consumers won’t have to worry about complex decisions like price- and quality- based competition.

      1. hold your positions…

          1. Externalities!!!

            (I win)

            1. Re: hmm,

              Externalities!!!

              Wait for Chad – he loves that red herring so much, it brings tears to one eyes.

              1. How is it a ? Externalities are the crux of this entire argument, and you can’t make them go away just because they are inconvenient to your case.

                1. You can’t make them go away with government. You can shift them around a little though so that the people who want to be in government and their buddies profit from them!!

                  1. You can attempt to mitigate the problem of people paying for costs of transactions they are not a part of. If you don’t even try to do that, then forget about rational market action, there isn’t even consent!

                    1. Tony|2.15.11 @ 1:17PM|#
                      “You can attempt to mitigate the problem…”

                      Translated from ‘brain-dead ignoramus’:
                      “You can make up names for laws that fool people into thinking the laws might have some value. And since lefties don’t care about results, that’s good enough”.
                      Thanks, Tony for once again proving your brain-cell lacks company.

                    2. Re: Tony,

                      You can attempt to mitigate the problem of people paying for costs of transactions they are not a part of.

                      Like what, for instance, Tony? You have very little grasp of the subject you try to talk about.

                      There’s only ONE cost: Opportunity cost. What you think is a ‘cost’ (what will cost me to buy something) is a financial term. The economic cost is whatever you cannot do because you are doing something else.

                      One of the most often cited “externality” is, supposedly, air pollution. People in the cities are supposedly made part of a transaction without their consent, receiving dirty air they did not produce. Except, this is INCORRECT: People ALREADY take into consideration the tradeoff between living in a city and living somewhere else. The opportunity cost of not living near employment, stores and services is greater (in the mind of the city dweller) than whatever clean air he or she may receive in exchange. People DO take into account the so-called “externalities”, all the time. YOUR lack of imagination in this case does not become my or someone else’s problem, Tony – it’s YOURS only.

                    3. You, which you mean government, can try, and fail, to do a lot of things. Your rational(which I assume you mean efficient) market comment assumes that you first assertion is effective, when the effectiveness of regulation with respect to externalities is questionable at best.

                2. Re: Tony,

                  Externalities are the crux of this entire argument, and you can’t make them go away just because they are inconvenient to your case.

                  No need to “make them go away” – the concept is SILLY in its face. “Externality” ends up being “whatever I happen not to like,” a mere OPINION.

                  http://mises.org/pdf/asc/2003/asc9simpson.pdf

                3. “How is it a ? Externalities are the crux of this entire argument”

                  The point is that 90% of so-called externalities aren’t really externalities. I saw Robert Higgs did a blog not too long ago showing how the English successfully employed private lighthouses in the 18th century simply by having the lighthouse charge the harbor. So much for your sacred cow of a “public good”!

  15. Business-government collusion is a problem not just because government is big and powerful. It’s a problem because government thinks that central planning > markets.

    1. You know who else liked collusions between business and government?

  16. how glad I am that all those pigs died for my sins, though.

    DUNPHY!!!!!!

  17. From Friedman’s statement, Yglesias is warranted in making this assertion. While Friedman was a major player in arguing for more market freedom, he was still a product of the Chicago School. His answer exhibits the empirical roots of this training. A quantifiable term is assumed to be a “social responsibility”.

    Corporations, in fact no one, has any social responsibility, as there is no one “society” to be accountable to. There are numerous groups within society, all with varying and often conflicting wants.

    Corporations have only the responsibility to be moral towards others. Everything after that is personal preference.

  18. Perhaps a firm initially makes some money by lobbying for taxes and regulations that push smaller firms out of the market. But in the long run, those profits are the products of market distortions, and thus not healthy for the firm, which becomes increasingly reliant on favoritism and intervention rather than price signals over time. That sort of rent-seeking behavior also encourages a competitive regulatory environment, in which other firms and interested parties (bureaucrats, special interest groups, politicians, etc.) will soon seek to use similar tactics against your firm. Eventually those parties will be successful. The underlying idea behind this view is that it’s bad business to work toward making rent-seeking a greater part of the regulatory environment.

    OK, but who’s to say that if you don’t, they won’t either? It’s one thing if it’s nuclear deterrence, 1 on 1, but in an environment of many where anyone can start something, best it be you first. Your restraint is unlikely to be modeled universally.

  19. “profits earned through rent-seeking tend to come at the expense of a firm’s long-term profits and sustainability”

    *FINGERS CROSSED*

    General Electric General Electric General Electric

  20. Well, with government people vote with their votes.

    Tony, it would still be wrong to kill you even if we all voted for it.

    Get back to me about the efectiveness of voting when public employees have to work for what we vote to pay them.

    A person who votes with his dollars is giving value in eachange for what he receives. Voting with your vote is the equivalent of a three year old crying “gimme, GIMMEEEEE!!!!”

    1. I’m well aware you guys have almost total disdain for democracy because it doesn’t give you everything you want. (Speaking of children crying.)

      1. Tony|2.15.11 @ 1:02PM|#
        “I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears as yell ‘I can’t hear you'”

        Tony, if you didn’t exist, well, we’d all be in a better place.

      2. Re: Tony,

        I’m well aware you guys have almost total disdain for democracy because it doesn’t give you everything you want.

        No, dolt – the problem with Democracy is that it gives everybody EXACTLY what NOBODY needs: Mob rule, progressively worse rulers, too many laws, progressively less freedoms.

        1. And which form of oligarchy is better for freedom?

          1. Tony|2.15.11 @ 1:44PM|#
            “And which form of oligarchy is better for freedom?”

            Which form of animal excrement are you having for lunch?

          2. Re: Tony,

            And which form of oligarchy is better for freedom?

            I can tell you which one is NOT: Government.

            1. You will never, ever be without some form of government, OM. I would argue that in fact you cannot possibly be without one. Have you ever considered addressing reality, or are you content to spend your days fantasizing about utopias that can be as perfect as you want because they will never exist?

              1. Re: Tony,

                You will never, ever be without some form of government, OM.

                Well, I beg to differ, Tony, because government is not omnipresent (thank ye gods!). I do NOT live under a government when I come home, my relationship with my wife being entirely voluntary. I choose my friends, they are not chosen by government. I choose my clothes, my computer, my blogs, my TV, not the government. So pretty much my life IS without government. Maybe I misjudge you because you may live inside a government-run institution for the terminally incompetent and so you can’t know any better, but I doubt it.

                I would argue that in fact you cannot possibly be without one.

                You would argue fallaciously if you tried. Because unless you need government to feed you and remind you of breathing, you DO live without one.

                Have you ever considered addressing reality

                Have YOU?

                […]or are you content to spend your days fantasizing about utopias that can be as perfect as you want because they will never exist?

                Funny, I was going to ask YOU the same thing, having idolized government to the point of quaint absurdity.

                1. You only think I idolize government because I believe it has its uses, and apparently anything to the right of anarchy = state worship, to you.

                  Yeah there are elements of life that aren’t directly influenced by government. But try having such a liberty-filled home life in the absence of a stable society with its police, infrastructure, and peace.

                  1. Re: Tony,

                    You only think I idolize government because I believe it has its uses, and apparently anything to the right of anarchy = state worship, to you.

                    No, you fool – I believe you idolize it because you give it properties it does not HAVE. It’s like the anthropomorphizing of dogs: People suddenly think their dogs are like children. You show the same quaint feature when it comes to government.

                    Yeah there are elements of life that aren’t directly influenced by government.

                    Thus it can’t be true that I need government in order to BE, right? Because BEING encompasses MANY things, Tony.

                    But try having such a liberty-filled home life in the absence of a stable society with its police, infrastructure, and peace.

                    You mean it’s not possible, or are you just guessing it’s not possible?

                    1. I may come across as being enamored with government, since I’m a liberal on a libertarian blog. If I were on a fascist blog, I’m sure I’d come across as a libertarian.

                      I don’t think it’s possible to be without government of some form. Even your household is governed, albeit informally. I think that as the jurisdictions increase in scope, governments will fill the vacuum. In the absence of popular vigilance, it will be an autocracy of one form or another. Someone will assert control over you. With luck you can have a stable, peaceful democracy instead.

                      What’s fantastic is your notion that if only everyone believed in the golden rule and respected a few individual rights, we’d all live in harmony. Yeah, if only.

                    2. Re: Tony,

                      I may come across as being enamored with government, since I’m a liberal on a libertarian blog.

                      I don’t think you understand, Tony. You don’t come across as a liberal at all. You come across as a statist fuck.

                      If I were on a fascist blog, I’m sure I’d come across as a libertarian.

                      Don’t flatter yourself so much, you are liable to believe it.

                      I don’t think it’s possible to be without government of some form.

                      People scared of decisions and risk-averse usually think that.

      3. I’m well aware you guys have almost total disdain for democracy because it doesn’t give you everything you want.

        And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.

  21. When you competitor rent seeks, you have to rent seek too. You see this most clearly with patents. Someone gets a patent and uses it as a club against you, so you build up your own patent portfolio to fight back.

    1. Or steal the patent, claim it’s yours, and bury your competitor in years or legal action.

      1. Facebook, is that you?

  22. I’m well aware you guys have almost total disdain for democracy because it doesn’t give you everything you want.

    No, our disdain for democracy arises from the ease with which it is abused to violate human rights.

    1. Such as the right not to pay taxes, I suppose? You have a better alternative to democracy? The only one I see you guys implying is a form of libertarian despotism. Which translates to “waah I don’t get everything I want, so I should be in charge!”

      1. Re: Tony,

        Such as the right not to pay taxes, I suppose? You have a better alternative to democracy?

        There WAS already one, nincompoop: Federalism.

      2. Tony|2.15.11 @ 1:29PM|#
        “You have a better alternative to democracy?”

        You stupid shit, we have a republic to save decent people from people like you.

      3. What we need is a Democracy with better checks and balances. Obviously, the ones we were set up with have failed.

      4. You have a better alternative to democracy?

        Um, you do realize we live in a democratic republic, yes?

        1. Save your stupid canned freeper pedantry. I know what form of government we have, and it has nothing to do with libertarianism or right-wing fanaticism of any kind.

          1. Re: Tony,

            I know what form of government we have, and it has nothing to do with libertarianism[…]

            And there lies our tragedy, Tony – the government has NOTHING to do with liberty or something resembling it.

            1. There would be no individual liberty without government, because there would be no way to live a free life without something preventing others from infringing upon your liberty. Asking everyone to just get along won’t cut it.

              1. Re: Tony,

                There would be no individual liberty without government, because there would be no way to live a free life without something preventing others from infringing upon your liberty.

                You mean… like my two good friends, Smith and Wesson?

                1. Such an appealing picture of society you paint. Might makes right?

                  1. OM answered your question. If the government doesn’t protect you, you protect yourself. Your argument is that if the government doesn’t protect you, your goose is cooked.

                    Are you capable of embarassment?

                    1. If government doesn’t protect you, then whoever has the biggest gun is the only one who is safe. What makes you guys so sure that would be you?

                    2. Re: Tony,

                      If government doesn’t protect you, then whoever has the biggest gun is the only one who is safe.

                      Hence, the government gets the bigger guns to feel SAFE from the people.

                      What makes you guys so sure that would be you?

                      Well, you can try an experiment… I normally use buckshot. Nice holes.

                    3. I somehow doubt you’d be able to get your hands on a nuke. But somebody would. Without strict government regulation, they’d be all over the place. Then the cockroaches will get to indulge in the wondrous virtues of anarchy.

          2. Damn, and all this time I was basing my arguments on the right-wing fanaticism I assumed was in the Constitution.

  23. 1. Business has a responsibility to increase its profit WITHIN A MORAL FRAMEWORK.

    2. Rent seeking is immoral.

    3. Hence, Yglesias is a moron.

    I think my logic is rock solid.

    1. Re: robc,

      Business has a responsibility to increase its profit WITHIN A MORAL FRAMEWORK[.]

      Moral Framework being natural rights and the Golden Rule.

    2. I think it would be clearer if the corporate charter itself laid out the moral framework (respect for the law of the government that granted the corporate charter being a given).

      It would also be interesting, since such a framework would be as legally binding as contract law would allow — any violation could at the very least allow for a shareholder lawsuit, and presumably as an interested party to the charter, the state that granted it could also file suit.

      Certainly corporate management isn’t the only place where a person has an ethical obligation to a client that conflicts with their ethical obligations to society. I would be curious what Yglesias has to say about criminal defense attorneys, or doctor-patient privilege.

  24. Or you could be the coke-addicted offspring of someone else who did that a Kennedy.

    For example.

    Such as the right not to pay taxes, I suppose?

    Democracy is not a guarantee of human rights; it merely assures that they will be violated to the cheers of the mob.

    1. The Salem Witch Trials were a perfect exercise in democracy.

    2. A Kennedy ? You mean America’s First Family ? American Royalty ?

      Barf

  25. [This one was too delicious to be left in a thread]

    Re: Tony,

    Yes KPres government has a monopoly over certain things. Unless you like living in what is called a “failed state,” that’s how it works.

    Begging the Question much, Tony? A “failed state”? Did you really assume a state without monopoly is a “failed state”?

    Hundreds of millions of people living in a single jurisdiction cannot each have the government they want.

    Again with the question-begging, Tony? A single jurisdiction?

    That means people won’t get everything they want all the time.

    So if people don’t want a government, well they can’t have that either, right?

    1. Did you really assume a state without monopoly is a “failed state”?

      The definition of a failed state is one in which government doesn’t have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

      Again with the question-begging, Tony? A single jurisdiction?

      Well, it is fact that it is the territory of a nation-state, and there is no such thing as millions of individual sovereignties. For good reason. Look at all the problems that exist just in a world with fewer than 200 countries. You think hundreds of millions of individual person-states could interact peacefully and efficiently?

      So if people don’t want a government, well they can’t have that either, right?

      No. Apart from the fact that anarchy is almost logically impossible, it’s not something the vast, vast majority of people would ever actually want. You are free to attempt to claim someone else’s territory as your own personal duchy, but a) that would be stealing and b) good luck with that.

      1. Re: Tony,

        The definition of a failed state is one in which government doesn’t have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

        *smacks hand into forehead*

        Oh, fuck. Sorry, dudes – your usage of your self-defense right creates a failed state.

        Well, it is fact that it is the territory of a nation-state, and there is no such thing as millions of individual sovereignties. For good reason.

        Counties and Townships being a never mind to you, I fancy.

        Apart from the fact that anarchy is almost logically impossible, it’s not something the vast, vast majority of people would ever actually want.

        That wasn’t the question. You just assert they can’t have it, then you throw this red herring.

        You are free to attempt to claim someone else’s territory as your own personal duchy[…]

        Don’t think for me. I prefer a barony.

      2. It is just an assertion, and one not backed by anything other than force, to claim that the land in any country is the property of the state. Yes, the state is capable of enforcing their rules over that entire geographical area, but that’s as true of Kim Jong Il as it is of democratic governments. States did not farm the land, it didn’t build houses on it, and when it improves land at all, it does it using other people’s money. Explain to me how this results in a legitimate claim of territory and I will be a liberal by tomorrow morning.

        “You think hundreds of millions of individual person-states could interact peacefully and efficiently?”

        Nope. I think they would interact messily and inefficiently – just as nation states do. But they’d have to interact consensually, which is the important thing.

        “…almost logically impossible…”

        Demonstrating a good understanding of concepts there.

        1. that’s as true of Kim Jong Il as it is of democratic governments.

          Which indicates the broad appeal of the idea. Even if we accept a philosophical claim that sovereignty is illegitimate, it’s not going away, so what’s the point of talking about such meaningless abstractions?

          Explain to me how this results in a legitimate claim of territory and I will be a liberal by tomorrow morning.

          Territory is acquired, and held, by force. That may not be morally appealing, but it’s the way things are, and being on the business end of an army is quite a bit more convincing than “finder’s keepers” or “we farmed this land, thus we have a moral claim to it.” At least in a democracy the people own the government and hence share the territory as their own.

          Nope. I think they would interact messily and inefficiently – just as nation states do. But they’d have to interact consensually, which is the important thing.

          Except for some reason they aren’t entitled to form representative cooperatives and social contracts, things which exist all over the world for good and practical reasons? Sometimes big tasks need to be accomplished, and so you need to find ways to legitimize consent of many people. You can’t escape that issue. Society won’t be organized any way close to efficiently by the random interactions of millions of people. Unplanned collective action can do lots of things, but it can’t do everything.

          1. So people are not be able to interact together voluntarily therefore they must be forced to interact together under the threat of death by the one with the most guns?

  26. Oh, fuck. Sorry, dudes – your usage of your self-defense right creates a failed state.

    Having a monopoly on the legitimate use of force doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that can use force. But your right to use force in self defense (or the right of a private security guard to beat someone with a stick) is granted by the state.

    That wasn’t the question. You just assert they can’t have it, then you throw this red herring.

    I suppose, to venture into impractical nonreality as you so like to do, it’s possible for a citizenry to establish anarchy for themselves. But in practical reality, anarchy is inherently unstable and will quickly be replaced by some form of government, probably a much worse form than anything you’ve experienced.

    1. “But in practical reality, anarchy is inherently unstable and will quickly be replaced by some form of government, probably a much worse form than anything you’ve experienced.”

      Let’s say I don’t even ask you to demonstrate the validity of that statement, because I’m super-duper nice, and just accept it at face value. How about this: we have an institution, paid for voluntarily, that protects us from murder, assault, rape, kidnapping, theft, fraud, vandalism and trespassing? Does that fall foul of any of your objections? No? Goodo.
      I will not give thanks for a state that tells me how to live my life and confiscates a percentage of the money I earn on the spurious basis that the land I live on actually belongs to them because it could do worse things to me. I will not thank someone for not raping me in the ass. That would be pathetic.

      1. No need to accept the claim at face value. It’s not a trivial truth, and I’d be happy to explain why I think that long-term anarchy is impossible: where are the examples of its success? I hate to play the evidence card.

        How about this: we have an institution, paid for voluntarily, that protects us from murder, assault, rape, kidnapping, theft, fraud, vandalism and trespassing? Does that fall foul of any of your objections?

        You’re describing government. This nebulous thing you envision of carrying out these tasks on a voluntary basis is only practically possible if it takes on the characteristics of modern democratic governments. Eventually, in order to cope with the fact of new people being born into a territory and the fact that even the services you list can’t work if they require individual explicit consent–that some things have to be done one a universal scale–then that’s when you need a social contract and a government.

        I will not give thanks for a state that tells me how to live my life and confiscates a percentage of the money I earn on the spurious basis that the land I live on actually belongs to them because it could do worse things to me. I will not thank someone for not raping me in the ass. That would be pathetic.

        Or you could have a little perspective. You live in one of the most liberal societies that has ever existed. Not much to complain about fundamentally, unless you’re just a brat.

        1. You might call what I’m describing a government if you want, but it’s got several fundamental differences:
          There is no unique right to be obeyed.
          It cannot levy taxes.
          It has no monopoly on force.
          But modern democratic governments don’t work on a voluntary basis. I agree that you shouldn’t need anyone’s consent to stop them from murdering people. That would be insane. If the use of force is what I’m opposed to, why wouldn’t I want to stop murderers even without their permission? You do however need people’s explicit consent to take their money. I think you tell people there won’t be a police force unless they pay for it, people are going to pay for it.
          Anyway, my point was that I’m not going to be thankful that the government isn’t worse. Do you seriously think you should praise someone because they show some restraint in how they treat you, not because they actively treat you well? I’m well aware that all the governments that have come before have been worse than modern ones – those governments were immoral. The fact that modern governments are better doesn’t mean they’re not immoral too. You can’t win this argument with accusations of bratiness.

          1. Stop being childish you brat. Do as your told or you’ll be beaten harder.

  27. Re: Tony,

    Having a monopoly on the legitimate use of force doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that can use force.

    Who cares? By virtue of not having the monopoly, it’s a failed state. Just like not being omnipotent makes you not a god.

    But your right to use force in self defense (or the right of a private security guard to beat someone with a stick) is granted by the state.

    The State does not grant rights, Tony. If you think it does, then please explain to me from where it gets its own rights – and don’t try the circular argument of “from the consent of the people”, because that would mean the very same people the State grants rights to. That’s third grade shit and I am too old for that.

    I suppose, to venture into impractical nonreality as you so like to do, it’s possible for a citizenry to establish anarchy for themselves.

    It’s not just possible, Tony – it happens all the time. The State is NOT omnipresent.

    1. Who cares? By virtue of not having the monopoly, it’s a failed state. Just like not being omnipotent makes you not a god.

      I’m not following. If there is no government monopoly on force, you have a failed state. Maybe you want to live in a failed state. Good luck finding a pleasant one. Just because there are rights to self-defense and private security guards doesn’t remove the monopoly. It just means the state has sanctioned private force in limited circumstances.

      The State does not grant rights, Tony. If you think it does, then please explain to me from where it gets its own rights – and don’t try the circular argument of “from the consent of the people”, because that would mean the very same people the State grants rights to. That’s third grade shit and I am too old for that.

      The state doesn’t really have rights so much as it has power. It gets its power from lots and lots of weapons, mostly, but having the consent of the governed certainly helps. Hopefully it can channel that power into protecting certain individual liberties, which when legally recognized are called rights. Where do you think they come from?

      It’s not just possible, Tony – it happens all the time. The State is NOT omnipresent.

      Nobody said it was. There is a continuum between anarchy and total state control, you know.

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